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Playing games with your children may feel like a chore at times. Explaining rules, kiddos getting frustrated they aren't winning, maybe even some pieces go flying. However, playing games with our children is an excellent way to bond and create shared memories while promoting their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Here are some tips to make the most out of gaming with kids:


1. Choose age-appropriate games: Children have different abilities and interests, so pick games that are easy to understand, fun to play, and relevant to their age and stage of development. For example, young kids may enjoy simple board games or matching games, while older ones may prefer more complex games that require higher level thinking.


2. Encourage cooperation and communication: Games can teach children how to work together, problem-solve, negotiate, and express themselves. Encourage them to take turns, follow rules, show empathy, and communicate in healthy ways. Celebrate their successes, offer feedback and support, and avoid being overly competitive or critical.


3. Use games to teach new skills: Games can be a valuable tool for teaching children new concepts, such as math, language, geography, or science. You can create your own educational games, adapt existing ones, or invite the child to design their own. Make it playful, interactive, and relevant to their interests.


4. Make it a regular activity: Playing games with children should not be a one-off event but a regular part of your routine. Set aside a specific time for gaming, such as after dinner or on weekends. Allow children to suggest games, pick the rules, and contribute to the setup.


5. Have fun: Finally, remember that playing games with children is supposed to be fun and enjoyable for both parties. Avoid putting pressure on the child to win or achieve a specific goal, allow for some spontaneity and creativity, and enjoy the shared experience. Laugh, relax, and enjoy the time spent together.




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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I made the decision two weeks ago to move away from meeting with my client in person and enter the new world of providing counseling via telehealth. Today in the blog I thought I would address some of the benefits of continuing counseling via telehealth, some of the challenges (and solutions), and how I am providing play therapy without my awesome office full of toys.


Benefits:


  • Your mental health is more important than ever right now. We are all experiencing a crisis at the same time and while some are adjusting better than others, the changes are pretty big. This can cause stress, anxiety, depression... you name it! And your therapist is there to walk with you through it.

  • No special equipment needed. You can be seen from your computer, smart phone, or tablet.

  • No travel time. You get to attend sessions from the comfort of your own space. (You can even wear your jammies... we won't tell!).


Challenges:


  • Privacy: Many of us are home with our entire families and finding somewhere private and quiet to have a session can be a challenge. Make a plan with your family for you to have some "me" time and locate a quiet part of the house to sit in. You can also escape to the car for a little bit if that's the only place you can find. Continuing counseling is a KEY part of self-care.

  • Insurance: While the majority of insurances have waived the requirements for telehealth to be covered, others have not. If you are finding that you do not have telehealth benefits I highly recommend you advocate for yourself. This looks like contacting the person in your company who takes care of benefits and finding out how to get telehealth benefits added to your plan. Counselors all over the country are coming together to advocate for this benefit to be universal and you can help us by contacting your insurance company as well.


Play Therapy:


Kids are SO adaptable! My week of play therapy via video has given me the opportunity to see children in their environment and has allowed them to show me all the important things in their life. Children seem to know exactly what to do with someone on video. Probably because they know this technology much better than we do. I'm able to read books, provide art prompts, talk about life, use mindfulness cards, Legos, playdoh, etc to interact with children. So if you're worried that play therapy can't continue because your child can't come to the office please reach out to your child's therapist to discuss those concerns and give the therapist an opportunity to share how they plan to hold sessions.



So hang in there, continue the work you were doing with your therapist, make self-care a priority, and stay well!








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If you saw my FB live today then you heard me say I'd be compiling a list of resources and tools available for helping reduce stress and anxiety. These are stressful times y'all. Lots of uncertainty and it is impacting all corners of our lives. I know how hard it can be to release anxious thoughts and the stress you are feeling. I hope these resources can give some relief. Please know that you are not alone and if you need help finding other resources please reach out to me or another helping professional.


Apps/websites:


Calm App - this app provides guided mediation and you can try it for free. Make sure to check out their blog too. There are a lot of great articles on how to reduce stress and anxiety.


Headspace - It's another mindfulness app that is offering free support right now


Stop, Breathe, and Think Kids - This app is designed for kiddos ages 5-10 and offers "missions" in calm for children to complete.


Coping Skills for Kids - amazing website with a lot of resources for helping kids cope during COVID-19


Activities:


5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Activity - Bring yourself to the present by using your 5 senses

  • 5 things you can see

  • 4 things you can hear

  • 3 things you can touch

  • 2 things you can smell

  • 1 thing you can taste


Square Breathing - Imagine you are tracing a square with your breathe

  • Breathe in for 4

  • Hold for 4

  • Breathe out for 4

  • Hold for 4

  • Repeat


Blow Bubbles


Blow a Pinwheel


Go for a walk


Yoga - There are free yoga videos on YouTube. Kids especially love Cosmic Kids Yoga and you can join them in it.


Light a candle, brew a cup of tea or coffee, and use imagery to imagine you are in a calm, chill place.


 

I hope these resources are helpful. The key to reducing anxiety and stress if finding what works best for you.


Hang in there and stay well!








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