The Healthy Sex Talk: Teaching Consent to Children Of All Ages

Found this fantastic article this morning with clear and concise tips (and examples!) for parents about how to teach children of all ages about consent and body rights. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to pass it along!

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Whip ‘Em Out!

Some close friends of mine have recently begun or recently finished nursing their new infants, so I’ve been thinking lately about the importance of breastfeeding. And wouldn’t you know, August is national breastfeeding month!  Although it’s not here yet, there are some great PSAs starting to come out to help raise awareness.   I wanted to share this awesome video with you all, and I’d love to hear your thoughts, too!

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For Parents and Providers: Understanding Postpartum Depression

I’m always on the prowl for helpful books and resources to offer parents and providers, and I just came across PsychCentral’s review of the book, “Beyond the Blues: Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression” by Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D., and Pec Indman, Ed.D., MFT.

“This book set out to help caretakers of new mothers diagnose such problems as well as give several types of solutions for the various types of PPD. It also was written in such a way that the average person can understand what this terrible disease really is and how we might better help our families and friends through these hard times. It does a good job of removing the stigma and shame that has surrounded such problems. Hopefully, this will give pregnant women the courage to let their doctors know what’s going on even if it might feel embarrassing or confusing to the patient herself.”

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For Providers: Assessing Posttraumatic Play

As a psychologist-in-training specializing in child trauma, I am constantly looking for reliable ways to assess posttraumatic symptomology, especially in young children who often cannot report their symptoms to adults.  Children express distress differently than adults; even the DSM-IV-TR acknowledges that children manifest symptoms differently than adults, and makes special note that “in young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed.”

Psychologists often refer to this type of play as “posttraumatic play” or as play that includes “posttraumatic play behaviors” or PTPBs.  However, identifying and assessing posttraumatic play is much more difficult than simply defining it.  If you are a provider looking for an objective measure of posttraumatic play, keep reading. Continue reading

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For Parents: Identifying Problematic Play

In my practice working with parents of child trauma survivors, the issue of posttraumatic play often arises.  Parents sometimes don’t understand what posttraumatic play is.  Some of the questions I’ve heard include:

  • “When my child plays “doctor” with his or her friends, does that mean they’ve been sexually abused?”
  • “I read that children who have been sexually abused typically use red and black in artwork; my child often uses those colors. Should I be worried?”
  • “My child’s play is concerning me; how do I know if they’re reenacting some element of a traumatic event(s)?”

In this entry, I’m going to identify some features of posttraumatic play.  To be perfectly honest, my hope is to lay some of your fears to rest.  Most children display some themes of aggression or violence, sexuality, and power at various times throughout their development.  Introduction of this content into play does not necessarily indicate abuse!  In fact, as you’ll see in the following descriptions, it is not the content of the play that is the most important, but the process or experience of the play that is problematic in posttraumatic play. Continue reading

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Upcoming Speaking Engagement

Wondering how to blend play therapy and evidence-based therapies in treatment and assessment?  Come hear me speak about it at the Southern California regional conference of the California Association for Pay Therapy on March 11 and 12 in Rancho Cucamonga.

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Advocacy Opportunity: End Human Trafficking

Over 30 million people are enslaved in the world today.  Many of these are children.

The advocacy group, Not For Sale, is a fantastic resource for gaining information about human trafficking and modern-day slavery.  Additionally, Not For Sale is hosting the 2010 Global Forum on Human Trafficking on October 14-15 in Yorba Linda, California.  Orange County residents: consider attending and learning how YOU can get involved to end modern-day slavery and protect our children!

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The Recession’s Impact on Children

Novotney, A. (2010).  The Recession’s Toll on Children.  Monitor on Psychology, 41(8), 43-43-46.

In the most recent issue of Monitor on Psychology, Novotney summarizes research on the outcomes of low-income environments on children’s cognitive development.  She goes on to detail some promising interventions that have recently emerged.   Continue reading

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The Birds and The Bees…

A lot of parents wonder how to have the (often dreaded) sex talk.  When is the right time?  What do I say?  I feel weird talking about something so mature with my child!  These are very common fears and questions.  I usually encourage parents to frame their conversation with their child by two main handles. Continue reading

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Part II: A Guide to Juvenile Dependence Proceedings

In Part I of this post, I gave a general description of the legal process following a child’s removal from the home due to allegations of abuse or neglect.  If you are caring for a child who is a dependent of the court, then Part II of this post is for you, as it details the kinds of information that may be helpful to provide the court during a Six-Month Review or Permanency hearing.

As the primary care-giver for a child during what is usually a very upsetting and disruptive time in a child’s life, you are likely to have gained insight as to the child’s development and needs.  However, the way you communicate this information to the court is perhaps equally as valuable as what you communicate, because this can make your insight more or less likely to be considered.  Following are some recommendations for caregivers who are either writing reports for the court’s consideration or who plan on attending a hearing.

Continue reading

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