What You Need to Know About Taking a Child to Therapy

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Disclosure: CHOC Children’s is a Tiny Oranges Partner

This post will hopefully explain any questions you might have about taking a child to see a therapist thanks to the expert advice of Dr. Carlos Konishi Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist at CHOC Children’s. We will cover how to find a therapist for your child, what to prepare for your first session, some questions you might want to ask and most importantly, how to know you have found a good one.

Kids’ mental health.  We need to talk about it.

But there are still stigmas and misinformation around mental health because we don’t understand mental illness like we do physical illness.

If your child was complaining about a persistent physical pain, what would you do?

Make an appointment with your doctor.

You probably wouldn’t even think twice about it, right?

What if you noticed persistent and noticeable changes in your child’s emotional or mental state or behaviors, what would you do?

The answer is not as clear as a physical ailment, is it?

But it should be.

Make an appointment with your therapist.

If you have never seen a therapist before, the idea of taking your child to one might seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. The first step is often the hardest but the end results will be well worth it.

Here are some of the questions I had for Dr. Konishi. If you have any to ask him, please comment below!

My child needs therapy, where do I start? How do I even find a therapist? 

“The best place to start is often with your pediatrician who can give you a referral or provide you with list of providers contracted through your insurance. When researching therapists for your child, it is extremely important to find someone who specializes in working with children, because it takes a specific skill set. It is also helpful to see if the provider has experience working with the issue you are seeking treatment for,” Dr. Konishi explained.

I made an appointment, do I need to prepare anything for our first meeting?

“Just like an initial doctor’s appointment, there will be a good amount of paperwork to complete prior to the first session. It is helpful to ask if you can get the paperwork ahead of time to allow you to arrive with everything filled out,” he suggested.

You can also bring in any information that will help the therapist learn more about your child.

“Documents like IEP’s, grades, special testing results, teacher or coach feedback, any information that will help the therapist get a more complete picture of your child is extremely helpful.”

He also recommended writing down any questions you have for the therapist before going in so you can leave with all your questions answered.

To that point, what questions are good to ask the therapist?

Along with the questions you come up with, Dr. Konishi said there are some good ones to address in the first session:

How often will we meet?

Will the sessions include both myself and my child? Or will you also want to meet with us alone?

What are the specific goals of therapy?

How are we going to be able to identify progress in a way we can objectively track?

What’s the best way to communicate with you if I have questions or concerns in-between sessions?

Which led me to my next question..

How do I explain therapy to my child?

Dr. Konishi said you can simply describe therapy as going to see a person whose job it is to help them feel better.

“Some parents have helped prepare their child for a first therapy visit by comparing a psychologist to a school counselor. Most students know who a school counselor is and usually have a positive impression of them,” he explained. ” They also understand that they are there to help, even if they have not gone and seen one themselves. Using this example can help remove the fear of the unknown.” 

For those who like books as conversation starters, he suggested a book called “Feeling Better” about therapy on Amazon (affiliate link) you can get and read together with your child.

If your child is older, like tween or teenager, “It might be a good idea to ask them what they would like to get out of therapy and what their goals are? This gives them ownership and power over the process,” he said.

What should I expect in the first session with my child?

“The first session is typically spent building rapport with the child and family while gathering information about the child’s strengths, interests and life situations.”

The therapist will also likely cover any relevant history like asking about any family history of mental illness, traumas, developmental or social delays, etc.

It might seem very personal but all of this information will help the therapist devise a plan for therapy and treatment that will be most effective for your child.

“It is important to know that everything said in a therapy session, barring any information about the child being a danger to him or herself, to others, or being the victim of acts that put the child in danger, are kept strictly confidential by HIPPA law,” Dr. Konishi stressed.

How long will it take for therapy to work?

“It is really important for parents to exercise patience when assessing the effectiveness of therapy.  The first 2 – 3 sessions are generally spent building rapport with the child and making them feel comfortable,” he expressed.

Before making any knee-jerk reactions or conclusions about therapy not working, he said to give it at least 5 sessions and sometimes it might even take up to 10 before you might start to notice any improvements.

“Change is hard for anyone, and changes do not happen overnight, so it is important to trust the process and give it some time before evaluating.”   

What if I don’t think therapy is working for my child?

The most important component of therapy is having open communication with your therapist about the things that are working but also any concerns you might have.

“Knowing this information gives the therapist insight and opportunity to tweak their approach,” he explained. 

But Dr. Konishi, isn’t it insulting to tell my therapist if I don’t think they are being effective for my child? The therapist is the expert after all, right?

“Yes, therapists are experts in how to work with certain problems and behaviors, but you are the expert when it comes to your child,” he clarified.

No one else on this planet knows your child like you do, so it is absolutely appropriate to share feedback with your therapist.

How do I know if I have found a good therapist?

Your therapist should make you and your child feel comfortable and be able to lay out specific goals for therapy so you can work together to meet these goals and help your child feel better.

“A good therapist should view therapy as a collaboration between the child, the child’s parents and the child’s medical team with the goal of treating the whole child, mind AND body. Collaboration takes communication, so it is important to communicate with both your therapist and your doctor what is going on with your child to give them better insight in treating your child most effectively,” he stressed.   

Lastly, a good therapist will also be open to hearing your honest feedback and work together with you on the best way to treat your child. 

Any final notes?

Dr. Konishi answered, “Don’t expect perfect progress. Therapy doesn’t work that way.”

It’s not like taking an antibiotic for an infection, where you take it for 10 days and you are done. Therapy is a series of progress and setbacks. You might see some steps moving forward, but then a life stressor or situation might arise, and you might see a few steps back.

“What’s important is you continue to communicate these life circumstances so your therapist can integrate proper coping tools to help get the child back moving in the right direction.”

If you would like to learn more about CHOC Children’s Mental Health services and programs please visit www.choc.org/mental-health.

6 Conversation Starters About Mental Health

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Galileo Innovation Summer Camp Giveaway!

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This post is brought to you by Galileo Innovation summer camps for kids

This time of year something happens in the psyches of moms everywhere.

Once Spring Break is over we know what is coming. We brace ourselves and hold on to our hats and glasses because it is one wild ride to the end of the school year. I am convinced time actually speeds up.

For real.

Given summer will be here in the blink of an eye, the ubiquitous planning and strategizing to get the kids registered for summer camps goes into full effect about now. Are you there yet?

Now I am sure you have your same ‘ole favorite tried-and-true camps you do every summer, which is great. But this summer I urge you to consider sending your kids to a totally NEW, totally INSPIRING, totally EDUCATIONAL (but not boring educational) summer camp. It’s a camp that will inspire and expand their creativity and minds, Galileo Innovation Camps, where kids’ wildest ideas come to life.

For real.

Galileo Innovation Summer Camps are designed for Pre-K through 8th grade kids with the goal to create and nourish a love for innovation. At Galileo, they believe the world needs innovators, and in the imaginations of children is where ideas begin.

You in? Yes?

Then you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity…Galileo is
🎉 GIVING AWAY ONE FREE WEEK OF CAMP🎉
in Orange County or Carlsbad to one of my readers!!! Details below. Keep on readin’…

Galileo Innovation Camps

Galileo Camps can be found throughout Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and the Bay Area (for any of our readers up north). With over 20+ locations in SoCal, you are sure to find a location near you. For my friends with tiny and tween oranges, the Galileo Camps in Orange County and close-by in Carlsbad can be found in:

Costa Mesa @ Mariners Christian School
Irvine @ Northwood Elementary School
Ladera Ranch @ Oso Grande Elementary School
Newport Beach @ Andersen Elementary School
Carlsbad @ Aviara Oaks Elementary School

All camps officially run 9am – 3p, but extended summer camp care is offered from 8a – 9a and from 3p-6p for those who need it. I know finding quality Orange County summer camps with extended care can be a challenge. Look no further!

What is Galileo All About?

Powerful things happen at Galileo that don’t happen at other camps.

In the midst of having crazy fun, the kids are also learning. Through hands-on exploration and a revolutionary innovation process inspired by Stanford, kids learn how to dream, create, invent, and design giving them self-confidence and an internal boldness to try new things.

They also learn how to fail. Not in a dispiriting way. Rather, they are taught to embrace their mistakes, use them to learn and improve, try again, as a result build the skills it takes to be a risk-taker and problem solver.  You know, the things that take grit! Here’s a peek at what you could expect to find at Galileo this summer…

2018 Galileo Summer Camps Orange County

Camp Galileo (Pre-K – 5th Grade)

For younger innovators ages pre-K through 5th grade, Camp Galileo offers unique immersion experiences in art, science and the outdoors through different weekly themes.

The 2018 summer themes include:

The Incredible Human Body: The Art and Science of Being Human

Space Explorers: Cosmic Art and Astronaut Science

Materials Challenge: Art and Engineering with a Single Supply

Road Trip Adventure: Art and Engineering Along Route 66

Galileo Summer Quest (5th – 8th Grade)

For older innovators entering 5th – 8th grade, Galileo Summer Quest gives campers the opportunity to dive deeper into specific topics by choosing different “majors” for the week. Galileo Summer Quest is offered at the Costa Mesa and Irvine Locations.

Costa Mesa Summer Quest themes include:

Chefology: Supreme Sweets or Breakfast Club

Mystery Room: The Great Escape

Robot Pet

Go-Kart Builders

YouTube Producers

Irvine Summer Quest themes include:

Mystery Room: The Great Escape

Robot Pet

Go-Kart Builders

YouTube Producers

3-D Modeling & Printing

Catapult Builders

Register Now!

Registration is open now! But don’t wait. Spaces at each camp are limited, so if you see a camp that would be perfect for your kiddo, get them signed up today.

Have a friend that would like to go with your child? Make sure to look for any special referral bonuses at your location for bringing along a friend (or two, or three!) And, if you refer a new family, both you and your friend will receive a referral discount of up to $100 (varies by location, check website for details)!!

Camp For All! 

Galileo has a robust financial assistance program, and last year, they awarded over 4800 weeks of specially priced camp. For anyone seeking financial assistance to give their child the opportunity to attend a Galileo camp, visit www.galileo-camps.com to learn more. 

Enter to Win a Free Week!

Okay mamas, now we get down to the extra fun part! Galileo is giving away one free week of camp at one of the 4 Orange County locations OR the Carlsbad location. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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5 Favorite Instant Pot Recipes for Beginners

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After my last, heavy post on grief, I wondered how I could segue into a light and fluffy post on my five favorite no fail Instant Pot recipes for beginners? From grief to recipes? Really? I pondered this question with my sister to which she replied, “Jen. No matter how deep we are in grief or what kind of day we have had, the kids still need to eat.”

Truer words have never been spoken, and my sister has been right there with me. We could have the worst day, filled with tears, sadness and heaviness but the kids still need dinner. Life goes on, and moms have to take care of business. So we wipe our eyes, and move on. One foot, and one dinner, after another. And my Instant Pot has been a life saver.

Disclosure: Links to the mighty Instant Pot in this post are affiliate links. Which means if you were to click on the link here and buy, I get a very small portion. No cost difference to you. Just need to let you know. 

The Instant Pot: Appliance, Myth or Legend?

My friends were making this appliance seem like the answer to all my dreams. Suddenly they were all professing their love of their Instant Pot like they were infomercial actors. The perfect hard-boiled eggs in 5 minutes! Cook a whole chicken in just 25 minutes! Steel-cut oats cooked to perfection in 4! But wait! There’s more! 😂

My sister told me this appliance would, and I quote, “change my life.” I mean, seriously.  Change my life. I wanted to laugh, but she was serious. I told her, “But, I like my Crock-Pot…” to which she replied, “When you get the Instant Pot you can THROW AWAY your Crock-Pot!”

With an endorsement like that, I didn’t think twice about clicking to buy it when I saw the Instant Pot go on sale on Amazon (and it’s on sale NOW!!!) Get it mamas. It WILL change your life.

When my Instant Pot arrived I was scared. It is intimidating, especially for a cooking-challenged person like me. There are a whole lot of buttons, and scary beeps, and steam, and sounds. Hold me!!!!!! One of the first times (I think) I turned it on right, I just stood there staring at it while it started to come to pressure.

I was just a girl, standing in her kitchen in front of the Instant Pot, hoping everything would be okay.

And it was! Most of the time that is. There are fails. But we have to learn and move on. And once I got the hang of it, and I am getting the hang of it, I have to admit it is pretty darn amazing. I use it 3 – 4 times a week and I LOVE IT!!!

So I wanted to share five recipes that even a newbie like me was able to figure out which were DELICIOUS.

All photos compliments of their respective blogs and I will link to each in the recipes. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

This was one of the first recipes I mastered. Soups are amazing in the IP, because you can sauté and soften your veggies on the Sauté function IN the IP before you add your liquid! Then, this recipe instructs you on how to cook the WHOLE chicken for your soup also in the IP. It’s a one-pot wonder! My kids love CNS (chicken noodle soup) and we love this recipe.

Click here for this Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup recipe

Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches

I get tired of the same stuff for dinner, so it is fun to mix a warm sandwich into the rotation. This is a great meal for the family because you can prepare the meat and then fix the sandwiches when you get home from running around doing all the things we do every day as moms!

Click here for this Instant Pot French Dip Sandwich Recipe

Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

You guys. This quite possibly is the BEST. MEATLOAF. EVER! It’s like magic done in the IP. And you cook your potatoes right there underneath your loaf! Juicy and delicious. I subbed ground turkey, omitted the BBQ sauce, and added in some shredded parm like she suggests in the recipe. Didn’t brave the sprouts. It is truly spectacular. Kids don’t like meatloaf? They will like this one. Try it!

Click here for the Instant Pot Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes recipe

Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

Cheese. Tacos. Pasta.
Three of life’s greatest foods in one easy to make Instant Pot dinner that will knock your socks off! It’s only calls for 6 ingredients and will be done in 30 minutes. Sure to become one of your weeknight dinner staples!

Click here for this Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta recipe 

Instant Pot Perfect Steamed Broccoli 

 I HAVE to share this method for cooking the best steamed broccoli because broccoli is one of the few veggies my kids like.  I didn’t even KNOW cooking something in the IP for ZERO minutes was a thing! It is. Here’s how to do it…

Click here for the Instant Pot Perfect Steamed Broccoli Recipe

Do you have some favorite IP recipes to share? Ones that are easy for beginners? Please link in the comments below!

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CHOC Children’s Mental Health Inpatient Center

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CHOC Children’s is a partner of Tiny Oranges, but this is not a sponsored post.

As a proud CHOC Children’s partner, I was invited to tour their brand new Mental Health Inpatient Center before it opens its doors to patients this month. The desperately-needed facility will provide 18 beds to treat children ages 3 – 17 in a mental health crisis and allow them to receive care close to home.

An estimated one in five children has a diagnosable mental illness during childhood. That would be 150,000 children in Orange County alone. But until now, children under 12 that were a danger to themselves, others, or gravely disabled didn’t have any inpatient bed options in O.C.  The children would have to wait in Emergency Rooms until they stabilized enough to be moved to an inpatient bed outside of the county. That, to me is tragic!

This new facility will fill a big hole in the system and undoubtedly will make a big difference in the lives of local children and their families in the middle of mental health emergencies.


CHOC Children’s Inpatient Health Center, which will be a major component of the comprehensive system of mental health care CHOC is creating, was built to provide the highest level of patient safety in a relaxing environment that promotes healing.

All of the 18 patient rooms are private, and there is an option for parents to stay overnight with their children, both of which are unique for the state of California.

Every single detail has been considered with patient safety in mind. For example, the windows are made of shatterproof glass and every fixture is designed to not be a “tie-off” opportunity. You can see an example with one of the doorknobs in the photo collage below.

I can only imagine the peace of mind it would give parents knowing their child was in a safe place to get help during a crisis.

The average length of stay is typically 5 – 7 days and will include mental health screenings and access to care through CHOC’s mental health resources. In most centers, programming is not available on the weekends, but CHOC’s center will provide the full scope of programming seven days a week.

In addition to their medical care, patients will also have access to complementary therapies such as art and music therapy, mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and two sensory rooms, high and low, for patients requiring sensory therapy.

When a child is discharged, care planning for the future has already been underway, including connections to outpatient therapy, schools, medical care, support groups, parent assistance. The goal is to provide support after a child leaves to reduce the risk of re-admittance.

Early Intervention is Key!

Mental health is just as important as physical health.

In childhood, many troublesome behaviors might be dismissed with the thoughts, “It’s just a phase.” or “He/She will grow out of it.”

However, as parents, we know our children best. We also have the gift of parental gut instinct. If you sense something might be wrong with your child, don’t wait to get seen by a professional.

There are a wide array of mental health services available to help children who are struggling to give them the tools they need to heal.

For more information visit: www.choc.org/mental-health

 

 

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Goat Yoga is a Thing. A Real Thing.

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I got a press release this week in my email box with the title, “Goat Yoga Experience at Centennial Farm,” and I thought, oh the poor person who sent it out with an obvious typo. GOAT YOGA?!  I started to giggle and opened it to come to find out that goat yoga is a THING. Like a REAL THING.

Did you guys know this??

And since it is a real thing, and brought me a huge giggle and smile, I wanted to share the info with you.

Goat Yoga at OC Fair & Event Center

Two goat yoga sessions offered by Spectrum Yoga in Costa Mesa will be held at Centennial Farm in front of the barn on April 21st, 2018 where adults and (human) kids 9+ accompanied by an adult can experience a traditional yoga class combined with pygmy goats that skip around and climb on class participants.

Again, this is for real.

The classes are limited to 50 participants, $40pp. Tickets are available here.

Free Farm Fun Day to Watch

On this day families can come out for FREE to watch the yoga, take photos and play with the goats, and take a tour of the Centennial Farm.

For more information visit www.ocfair.com.

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