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Hilber Psychological Services

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5 Proven Benefits of Play

Summer has come to an end and children are back in school. Back to school means waking up early, attending school, working on homework, doing extracurricular activities, and then off to bed early. This routine is beneficial for a growing child, but who is setting aside time for play? With all of these important obligations, are children getting the time they need to let loose and play? “5 Proven Benefits of Play,” written by Anya Kamenetz, reminds parents, teachers, and pediatricians of the importance of play and how it can help the development of children.  

1.     Play is essential for healthy brain development.

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Just as adults use puzzles and crosswords to exercise our brains, children can use play to help develop their brains. Brain-derived neurotrophic factors, or BDNF, allows the brain to grow and develop healthy connections. Studies have proven that play, such as roughhousing and tussling around, can change the expression of genes to increase the production of BDNF. 30 minutes a day of this kind of play can encourage proper development of the brain.

2.     Play reduces obesity and associated diseases.

Just as adults go to the gym to stay in shape, children need to exercise and play in order to stay in shape. A child who plays a lot at a young age, the more likely they are to be active and healthy adults. At least one hour of play outdoors has proven signification improvement in body mass index. A study showed that “children who actively play outside are 42 percent less likely to be overweight.”

3.     Play helps children manage stress and even recover from trauma.

Most adults are aware of the term “self-care”. Practicing self-care is a way to increase your health and well-being. Similarly, a study showed that children who play regularly, one-on-one with a teacher, taking their own lead, improves behavior and reduces cortisol, a stress hormone. The connection built between the child and teacher is known as “banking time,” the building of a warm, relationship.

4.     Play helps families bond.

Just as “banking time” builds relationships with teachers, it also builds relationships with families. “Hirsh-Pasek points out ‘the conversation with kids that come out in play are brain-builders.’” Playing allows children to regulate their emotions by “getting on the same page” as others they are playing with. This connection can help children in their future when they are faced with difficult situations.

5.     Play contributes to academic skills.

When children play using their imagination, they are developing their language development, general knowledge, and intrinsic motivation. This development leads to improved test scores. By connecting objects, words, and feelings, children are building STEM learning skills, which will benefit their education.  

Life can be busy and overwhelming at times. This blog is a reminder to let your child play. Not only does it release energy so bed time is easier, but it has many proven benefits for your child ranging from brain development, social skills, and academic improvement.

If you have questions about children development please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services. 

~Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: Kamenetz, Anya. “5 Proven Benefits Of Play.” NPR, NPR, 31 Aug. 2018, www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/08/31/642567651/5-proven-benefits-of-play.

Rude vs Mean vs Bullying Behaviors
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Singe Whitson, a child and adolescent therapist, spoke about the importance of identifying rude and mean behavior compared to bullying behaviors. It can be easy to categorize bad behavior as bullying, but it is important to not overgeneralize this term. Although a therapist never wants to minimize a client's situation, we all must learn the difference between these terms in order to not simplify the term "bullying". In reality, bullying is a very serious issue.

Whitson defines rude as, “inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else". These may be seen as social errors such as, burping in someone's face, cutting in line, or kicking a ball at someone. The problem with this is that rude situations are often spontaneous. A child does not mean to burp in someone's face, but without meaning to do so, they are hurting someone else. 

Being mean involves “purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice).” Whitson explains,  “mean behavior very much aims to hurt or depreciate someone….Very often, mean behavior in kids is motivated by angry feelings and/or the misguided goal of propping themselves up in comparison to the person they are putting down.” Although both mean and rude behavior needs to be corrected, it is important to understand how they are different from bullying. 

Bullying is “intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power….Kids who bully say or do something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse -- even when targets of bullying show or express their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop.” There are many different forms of bullying including, physical, verbal, relational, and cyberbullying. The reason bullying is worse than mean or rude behavior is because of the repeated actions that leave the person being bullied feeling helpless. 

Although bullying has become a topic of greater interest, it can never be talked about enough. Bullying has many long lasting effects on children and adolescents. It is important for parents to be aware of the signs that your child is bullying someone, or being bullied. Preventing bullying will make a difference. 

 Contact us for more information on individuals who are suffering from bullying, people who may have lasting effects such as anxiety or depression, or for help with children who are struggling.

~Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: “A Mighty Girl.” Www.amightygirl.com, 16 Apr. 2018, www.amightygirl.com/?https=true.

 

Top 7 things anxiety sufferers want those without it to know
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Sometimes suffering from anxiety can be hard to understand if you don't suffer from it yourself. People without anxiety often think "Just breathe and you'll be fine" or "What's the big deal?". But to people with anxiety, it's a really big deal. Here are the top 7 things anxiety sufferers want those without it to know. 

1. People with anxiety obsess over the little things. 
Things that seem like little things to you, are actually really big things to people who suffer with anxiety. Something as "small" as being looked at wrong or ignored can be very daunting. Situations like these stick with them throughout the day causing even more problems. So the next time something "small" happens, recognize it can be big to them. 

2. People with anxiety have every intention of going to an outing, but at last minute cancel. 
As these daunting ideas continue through out the day, our decision to go out to the movies or dinner becomes the worst idea in the world. Although people with anxiety want to go out, their thoughts often get the best of them and lead to only one decision, canceling. 

3. We are exhausted. 
The constant thinking and question can take a toll on a person who suffers from anxiety. Distracting thoughts throughout the day lead to staying up late at night constantly thinking. This leads to a lack of sleep and struggle to wake up in the morning. Waking up is a struggle for everyone, but imagine what it's like for someone with anxiety. 

4. Anxiety sufferers replay conversations in our head.
When your mind is constantly thinking and running through every possible scenario, you often start to explain a topic faster than possible. All of a sudden, what you're saying isn't making sense. This can be embarrassing for someone who suffers from anxiety. With that feeling of embarrassment, they often shut down. This doesn't mean they're in a mood, they're just struggling with that moment. 

5. Anxiety sufferers compare themselves to others. 
It's hard for someone with anxiety to understand how easy it is for people to get over things. When they see in person or on social media everything that is going on in other people's lives, they often question why it's so much harder for them. This causing even more of an issue when they begin worrying about why they're so worried all the time. 

6. Anxiety sufferers obsess over mistakes and beat ourselves up over it:
When something goes wrong, they often blame themselves. Therefore, when they make a mistake, they obsess over it. Doing things wrong and believing they're not good enough can lead to bigger problems. It's no surprise they're perfectionists. 

7. Finally: please, please don’t give up on us.
Sometimes, when a person with anxiety has no other option than to give up on themselves, they really need YOU to not give up on them. Although it can be frustrating and hard to understand, don't give up on them. 

People who suffer with anxiety are aware of how irrational they may sound. They know what they are going through and they're trying their hardest. Before giving up on them, try to understand them. 

While this information is geared towards individuals who suffer with anxiety, this same information about empathy and understanding emotions can be used to all individuals with disasbilties. 

 Contact us for more information on individuals who suffer with anxiety, learning and expressing emotions, or for help with children who are struggling.

~Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: Mazza, Laura. “Top 7 Things Anxiety Sufferers Want Those without It to Know.”Love What Matters. 

The Cognitive Triad and Cognitive Distortion Part 2:  by Dr. Ben Alpert

In our last blog (Click here to read if you missed it) we found ourselves in math class and for some reason our friend wasn’t talking to us. We didn’t know why and so instead of just paying attention in class and then calmly asking them afterwards we tried to figure out what was wrong without any facts. We thought they might be angry at us, that we might have done something wrong or that something bad might have happened. Having these thoughts then led to a shift in our mood, now by creating those thoughts, we may be experiencing anxiety and depressive symptoms. Eventually these thoughts and feelings might lead to a fight with our friend or perhaps we may hold a grudge or stop talking to them altogether, simply because we created a false reality without any facts to support it.  This false reality is called Cognitive Distortion.

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Humans are psychologically lazy and so we put together bits and pieces of information without knowing the whole picture in order to save time. Sometimes this works out great, but without all of the pieces, this picture of reality becomes somewhat distorted or skewed and over time can lead to truly negative thoughts about ourselves and feeling intense emotions that start to control our lives. We become Mind Readers stating that we know what others are thinking and feeling without having any idea and so we become convinced that they have negative thoughts about us. We become Fortune Tellers, negatively predicting what the future holds and inhibiting our progress at work, school or in relationships and so we don’t try for that promotion or honors class or relationship.

Life hands us plenty of real problems and issues that we have to deal with, adding this extra layer of distorted stress and pain certainly doesn’t help any of that. Exploring these distortions places emphasis on facts rather than guessing what might be facts. It’s hard, but if we jump back to that classroom desk, we can say to ourselves, “I am not sure what is going on right now, but let’s focus on math and I can speak to my friend afterwards to find out what is going on”. Another great example of this in all of our lives is if we text someone and they don’t immediately text back. Maybe you did something wrong maybe not, but spiraling into depression and anxiety is not the answer and learning how to communicate without jumping to conclusions solves the majority of these dilemmas. If we simply change the first thought from negative to positive or even just neutral, we prevent the intense negative emotion and we stop the negative behaviors.

Deconstructing and limiting cognitive distortions is a difficult process but attending therapy can provide you with the skills to analyze your thoughts and feelings leading to diminished depression and anxiety as well as significantly less couple and familial discord. We will be happy to help you on this journey!

Be well,

Dr. Ben Alpert

To discuss this and other issues or behaviors in detail, contact us at Hilber Psychological Services. And if you want to read previous posts about cognitive distortion, click here

Burns, D. D. (1999). The feeling good handbook. New York, N.Y., U.S.A: Plume.

Greenberger, D., & Padesky, C. A. (2016). Mind over mood: change how you feel by changing the way you think. Second edition. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.