Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nine Tips to Teach Your Child Gratitude

Nine Tips to Teach Your Child Gratitude
By Jamie Perillo, LPC

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude." ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

1. Use a Gratitude Journal. Help your child focus on the positive by stating something good or something they are grateful for each day. They can write, draw, or scrapbook in their journal.

2. Play the Gratitude Game. Have each person take a turn stating something they are grateful for.  A great game for the dinner table!

3. Send Gratitude Cards. Have your child make a "Gratitude Card" for a family member, friend, or someone who has helped them.

4. Teach your child to look a person in the eyes when they say thank you. Not only will their message be better received but they will observe the recipient's response of a smile or nod.

5.Work towards something. Today's kids - the "instant gratification generation" receive information and often things rather quickly. Have your child earn that toy or game they desire. By working towards something there is a greater appreciation for the item and the person who gave it.

6. Send thank you notes.

7. Volunteer together.Teaching your child to lend a helping hand to those in need increases their understanding of what it means to be grateful. It also increases Serotonin, the "feel good" hormone.

8. Be the example. Say thank you, make gratitude statements, and  observe the positive with your child. Children who hear and observe adults express gratitude are more likely to identify gratitude themselves.

9. Don't forget to tell your child why you are grateful for them!

Monday, November 19, 2012

6 Things I Learned From Hurricane Sandy

6 Things I Learned From Hurricane Sandy
By: Jamie Perillo, LPC
Photo by Tina Woods, Publisher of Natural Awakenings Magazine, NYC edition

Almost a month after Hurricane Sandy, many on the East Coast are continuing to feel the effects. Relief efforts are in full swing and families are trying to piece their lives back together. As Thanksgiving is soon upon us, Sandy is a reminder of all that we have to be grateful for. 

Here are a few things I learned from Sandy:

1.       Sometimes we need to surrender. In an attempt to feel somewhat in control before the storm I cleaned. That’s right – I vacuumed, dusted, washed laundry, and even washed the floors. Somewhere between folding towels and vacuuming I heard myself saying the mantra I was taught and now end my yoga classes with. “Peace to yourself, peace to others, and peace to those things we have no control over.” I realized I was trying to feel in control of something much bigger than myself. I gave up cleaning, surrendered, and sat down to focus on the moment – safe at home with family.
2.       I have attachments. In the past decade social media has changed the way we live and it was magnetized for me during the storm. Fortuitously my very outdated scratched screen, flip phone’s time was up two weeks ago. Deciding to update myself, I purchased an IPhone which allowed me to “stay connected” during the hurricane. I was comforted by seeing friend’s posts knowing they were okay, received updates from my newly downloaded Hurricane app, and texted family members for assurance. Then when the power went out I needed to preserve my phone, so I put it aside. When I did this I noticed something – I relaxed. On a typical day, due to my work, my phone is constantly ringing, voicemails are left, and texts and emails are received. Being away from my phone allowed me to observe my attachment as a quiet stress inducer. I was reminded to put it aside more often.
3.       Quiet is nice. When the lights were out and the heat off I had little to do but snuggle under my blanket, read by candlelight, and listen to the radio gently playing in the background. I imagined my ancestors years ago living this simply and relaxed into it. I ate dinner by candlelight focusing on the meal instead of TV in the background, telephone calls, or email notifications. My mind and body felt relaxed devoid of all the regular stimulation – as if I had just left a two hour yoga class. Lesson learned. I will unplug more often.
4.       We need to take better care of Mother Earth. She can be uncontrollable, relentless, and sometimes even vicious but she’s also beautiful, healing, and a provider of life. As I watched the trees blowing furiously in the wind I noticed the pine trees in the back yard moving to and fro but not budging. I was lucky to keep most of my trees. The next day as I inspected the damage I realized the trees were here first. The recent weather patterns are speaking to us regarding climate change. It is time for us to listen.
5.       In times of great despair and suffering people’s good nature shines. News reports cast images of heroic men and women risking their well-being to help others who could not help themselves. Neighbors came together to offer a hand and friends offered their homes for comfort to those who were affected. Why do we wait for tragedies to express this human part of us?
6.       Humans have a great capacity to overcome and heal. In his book, Everything Beautiful Began After, Simon Van Booy writes, “After every chapter of devastation, there is a rebuilding; It happens without thought. It happens even when there is no guarantee it won’t happen again. Humans may come and go – but the thread of hope is like a rope we pull ourselves up with. “
I am reminded we have the ability to overcome, to trudge through the messes and puddles and hurts to grow stronger, rebuild, and to heal. When we do this together, lifting one another up, the results are more than what we started with.
7.       Focus on appreciation. We live in a fast paced society that is constantly thinking ahead instead of appreciating the moments we are in – hello Christmas commercials in October? I am grateful for the many blessings in my life, my friends and family. Sandy was a reminder these blessings, not things, are what matter.
Today I wish you to remember when to let go, use your supports, appreciate what you have, and know you are stronger than you believe. To those affected by Hurricane Sandy may the road to recovery be an easy one filled with love, support, and comfort from others.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Your Survival Guide for the Car Ride

 By; Jamie Perillo, LPC

Traveling with kids, especially long drives during the summer season, can be an adventure. Here are some tips to help you travel with ease and enjoy the ride.

1.     Give each child (mom and dad too) a throw away camera, journal, and photo book. During your car ride and vacation they can use their creativity and log their favorite moments.
2.       Pack a survival car kit for you and your kids. Essentials are extra headphones, batteries, Aspirin, Dramamine, Band-Aids, and any necessary medications. Then pack the “Fun” items such as a new DVD (I do not typically recommend watching DVDs in the car UNLESS it is a long car trip), travel games,  books, and special snacks. These can be thrown out throughout the trip as extra “surprises.”
3.       Use your “Fun” items for rewards. When everyone is sharing and keeping hands and feet to themselves they earn  a travel game.
4.       Spend time before the trip reserving CD’s from the library so each child can make their own vacation play list or CD for the trip.
5.       For long trips try book on CD.
6.       During travel breaks designate one child to be the leader for post drive stretching. Take turns.

 Don’t forget to make frequent stops and most importantly enjoy the ride!

What travel strategies do you use? We'd love to hear from you!

Monday, November 5, 2012

What are you feeling today?

 Help Your Child Communicate Their Feelings Effectively. Try Greco's Feeling Faces.
By: Jamie Perillo, LPC

    Has your child walked in the door from school looking withdrawn but unable to express their feelings? Did they have a terrible meltdown but cannot tell you why? Try using our tool, Greco's Feeling Faces, to help your child express their feelings and communicate  effectively.

     Show your child the chart and ask them to point to their feeling for today. If you are discussing an incident that happened earlier have your child think about their feeling in that moment and point to it. This strategy can create a starting point for conversation, have your child feel understood, and for you to understand your child.

     When using Greco's Feeling Faces do not forget to validate your child's feelings. Also, discuss a plan for what to do when your child is experiencing the feeling.

Examples, "When you feel nervous take five deep breaths."
                 " If you are scared tell Mom or Dad."
                  "When you are angry because a friend called you  a name in school tell the teacher."

Greco's Feeling Faces will be available soon for free download on our website. Check back soon!