Monday, May 22, 2017

Social Emotional Development: First 9 Months

Social Emotional Development: Ages 0-3 months, 3-6 months and 6-9 months

Babies start to develop relationships with the people around them right from birth, but the process of learning to communicate, share, and interact with others takes many years to develop. Developing the ability to control your emotions and behavior is also a long process. Children will continue to develop their social-emotional skills well into their teenage years, or even young adulthood.

The following are some of the typical developmental milestones for children 0-3 months of age:
  • See clearly within 13 inches from her face
  • Be comforted by a familiar adult
  • Respond positively to touch
  • Quiet when picked up
  • Listen to voices
  • Smile and show pleasure in response to social stimulation
The following are some of the typical developmental milestones for children 3-6 months of age:
  • Give warm smiles and laughs
  • Recognize faces
  • Cry when upset and seek comfort
  • Show excitement by waving arms and legs
  • Notice a difference between two people based on the way they look, sound, or feel
  • Smile at self in the mirror
  • Enjoy looking at other babies
  • Pay attention to own name
  • Laugh aloud
The following are some of the typical developmental milestones for children 6-9 months of age:
  • Express several different clear emotions
  • Play games like Peek-a-boo
  • Show displeasure at the loss of a toy
  • Respond to you when you talk or make gestures
  • Start to understand your different emotions (i.e. your baby might frown when you speak in an angry tone of voice)
  • Show more comfort around familiar people, and anxiety around strangers
  • Possibly comfort self by sucking thumb, or holding a special toy or blanket
Red Flags:
  • Not responding to sounds
  • Not smiling or responding to you the way you expect
  • Avoids close contact or cuddling
  • Is inconsolable at night
  • Cannot seem to self-soothe or calm self
  • Your child has no interest in games like peek-a-boo
If you notice any of these by the time your baby is 8-9 months old, you may want to talk to your doctor or another health professional such as a mental health clinician, a speech-language pathologist, or an occupational therapist.

Read our other article on the first year of development.


Post by Isa Salvador, LCSW, IMH-E III, CCYT

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Impulse Control and Social Skills

Impulse Control and Social Skills

Now that we have discussed what impulse control is and how a child may struggle with their own impulsivity, it is important to draw a connection to the different aspects that can be affected by having good vs. poor impulse control.

One of the major areas that can be affected by impulse control is socialization. Social skills are very important skills for a child to practice on a daily basis. They influence a child’s ability to develop interpersonal relationships with others, follow “hidden rules” of life, feel a sense of belonging and commonality amongst their peers, and not put them in a position to be victimized for inappropriate or “unexpected” behaviors. Children that struggle with impulsivity also tend to struggle with social skills and making friends. Therefore it is essential that we teach our children about impulse control and how it relates to socializing in an expected way.  How can we do that?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Therapy Dogs: The Power of Animals

I recently got my dog licensed as a therapy dog and it has been a very exciting new journey for the both of us. Even though it has only been a few short months, I have already been able to experience the true power that animals (specifically dogs) can have on people. Working with children and adolescents who struggle with a wide range of issues each day has given me the opportunity to utilize animal assisted therapy with my own dog.

Animal assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment. The goal of AAT is to improve a patient's social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.

Sometimes just the sight of a dog can lift someone’s mood. Recent studies have shown that a correlation was acknowledged between the human /dog bond and the emotional health of humans.

Studies have shown that a person holding or petting an animal will cause a lowering of blood pressure, the release of strain and tension, and can draw out a person from loneliness and depression. 

Other emotional disorders that can greatly benefit from therapy dogs include: 
  • PTSD, 
  • ADHD, 
  • Autism, 
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
Working with grief / loss and improving communication skills are also added benefits.

In my own experience, my dog serves just a few simple purposes. He doesn’t have to jump through hoops or weave in and out of cones. He simply has to be present and ready to give and receive love from others. It is the magic of conducting therapy with dogs. Their simple presence can calm someone, give comfort and even a sense of peace. 

It can allow a child (or any client) to express emotions through the dog, increase endorphins and provide a feeling of unconditional love. 

It has truly been an eye-opening experience for me already. The amount of smiles that my dog brings to people’s faces on a daily basis is priceless and I look forward to the many more opportunities that come our way as we continue this journey together.

Shawna Paplaski, LCPC


Sunday, April 2, 2017

What is Impulse Control?

What is Impulse Control?

Lately, I have been working with a number of children who struggle in a variety of settings with their "impulse control." But what does this really mean? What does it look like if a child is struggling with it? And how is that control gained back?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

DBT Dialectical Behavior Therapy Part 3

VERY IMPORTANT Parenting Tip

DBT Dialectical Behavior Therapy Part 3: Emotion Regulation


Emotion regulation is another skill used in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).  In a nut shell, emotion regulation is how you manage unwanted or “unjustified” emotions. As a parent, when you learn to manage your own emotions, you are not only more available to hold your children's feelings, but you model good coping skills to your children.  Read more on how to do this...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Calm Breathing for Children

As a parent, you can help your child learn “calm breathing.”  

This will help them to ease anxiety and anger on their own, as well as minimize the intensity of "big feelings.” 

Teaching your children to use calm breathing to regulate their emotions is important because it shows them how to change their breathing to decrease the effects of their emotions.

It is helpful to practice with your child daily and while they are calm. If they learn to do it comfortably in a calm place, they will become secure in their breathing skills and able to use them when experiencing “big feelings.” 

This is a list of different breathing techniques you can try with your child:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Yoga for Children

Have you ever wondered about the possible benefits of introducing yoga practice to your children?

Yoga provides some significant support and outlets for children. Here are just a few benefits to consider:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

DBT Dialectical Behavior Therapy Part 2

DBT Dialectical Behavior Therapy Part 2: Distress Tolerance for Parents


Distress tolerance is another skill used in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). In a nut shell, distress tolerance is how we handle crises or other emotionally challenging situations. 

Something important to ask yourself is this: "When I am in a situation I cannot change, how do I get out without making things worse?”
This phrase is really important for parenting and learning to pick and choose "battles."

Some simple strategies for distress tolerance are listed below:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

“Tween” Coping Skills

Preteen “Tween” years can be very stressful and overwhelming for many of our youngsters.  

The stress of entering puberty and handling this new rush of hormones along with the navigation through friendships, peer “drama” and developing social skills can really take a toll.  

Not to mention, many of our children are trying to manage the academic pressures of testing and high school admittance. 

Sometimes, tweens may find it difficult to generate “coping skills” when already emotional or stressed out. Therefore, it is helpful to have a “tool box” of coping skills that can be beneficial in times of need, whether it is to help them stay calm or even just have a distraction. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It is an approach that, historically, has been used by many clinicians to help people relax, focus, and center themselves so they can manage their emotions and behaviors and have healthy relationships. Over the years, it has gained more and more attention for its effectiveness and parents are learning to incorporate these techniques into their own lives and help their children do the same.  

However, DBT has many components to it and to really “master” it, one must spend a great deal of time learning, practicing and basically eating/sleeping/breathing it.  So, I thought I would give you the "cliff notes" and some quick and easy ways you can help yourself and your child incorporate it into everyday life.