5 Tips for Encouraging Regular Activity within Your Family

Family TherapyThe average child between 8 and 18 years old spends about 7.5 hours per day in front of a screen (TV, computer, phone, etc.), according to the U.S. government (1). This is a very sad statistic that has many people worried about the activity level of our children. It is recommended that children have at least 60 minutes of activity per day, but that goal is not always reached.

In fact, a study of high school students in 2013 found that less than 30% had reached that goal in the previous week (2). Physical activity is defined as “any body movement that works your muscles and requires more energy than resting (3).” Some people think that physical activity means playing sports, but there are many other things that quality. Doing yard work, going for a walk, or going for a swim in the pool are all examples of physical activity. If you are a parent that is striving to keep your kids active and away from the screen, here are a few things that could help.

  1. Promote it. If you do not show interest in physical activity, chances are good that your children won’t either. Kids will be deterred from outside play when they hear parents or other kids complaining about how hot it is or how tired they are. Physical activity needs to be portrayed as something fun and something to look forward to, not something to dread. One common mistake that people make is to promote physical activity in boys more than girls. Girls need just as much exercise as boys and they are just a capable of doing vigorous activity (4).
  2. Participate in it. Don’t tell your kids to go outside and play – go with them. Play catch, make up a game, go for a walk, or anything else that your kids mention that they want to do. Instead of telling them to go rake the yard, grab a rake and do it together. Make it fun by making it a competition or offer a reward for a job well done.
  3. Mix it up. Kids need a variety of activities to keep them interested. Play in your backyard, walk to the park, go to a gym, visit the zoo, go to the beach, schedule a play date with friends – all of these things can promote healthy habits in your kids without calling it “exercise.”
  4. Give them the opportunity. There are many kids that would love to try a sport, learn karate, do gymnastics, etc. but are never given the chance. If your child shows interest in something, do your best to give them the opportunity. Instead of spending money on a video game, spend it on sports equipment for your home or use it join a team sport (5).
  5. Reward it. Watching television or playing games is not bad in moderation. After a long day of yard work, reward the kids with a trip to the movie theatre. After a long walk to the park while on a play date with friends, let them play a game together. Cutting out screen time altogether will most likely have adverse effects.

No matter what your children enjoy doing, make regular activity one of them. By promoting it, participating in it, mixing it up, giving them the opportunity, and rewarding them for taking part you can help encourage your family to get active daily.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

  1. Reduce Screen Time, Screen time statistics, 2013, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/reduce-screen-time/
  2. Physical Activity Facts, Activity level statistics, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/physicalactivity/facts.htm
  3. What Is Physical Activity? Definition of physical activity, 2011, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/physAdding Physical Activity to Your Life, Tips for staying active, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adding-pa/activities-children.html
  4. Parents’ Endorsement of Vigorous Team Sports Increases Children’s Physical Activity, Say Researchers, Parents promoting sports, 2009, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2009/07/parents-exercise.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

Coping with PTSD as a Family

Coping with PTSD as a FamillyPTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety problem that develops in some people after extremely traumatic events, such as combat, crime, an accident or natural disaster, according to the American Psychological Association. (1) PTSD is often acted out through nightmares, hypervigilance, flashbacks, anger, or depression and can often complicate close relationships like families.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), PTSD is considered one of the mental health conditions most likely to lead to relationship problems (2) but families can find hope in learning new ways to cope.

  • Stress management skills. Families should take the time to learn stress management skills. These skills may include eating healthy, getting active, allowing for alone time, getting adequate sleep, and establishing necessary support. By learning these skills as a family you can help one another along the way.
  • Realizing everyone is impacted. In most scenarios, one family member, often mom or dad, is diagnosed with PTSD- not the entire family. But this does not mean that others are not affected too. In fact, the APA stresses that everyone in the family is affected by PTSD even if it’s not apparent at first or some members aren’t as quick to show it.
  • Everyone processes trauma differently. Like with many emotions, there are a variety of ways to process trauma. Not everyone will react in the same way as you. Realizing this will help you understand one another and in return, be able to offer help when needed. Just because someone doesn’t handle trauma in the same way you do, does not mean they aren’t experiencing affects.
  • Establishing a universal plan. Together, families need to establish a plan. How are you going to address the event to outside family and friends? Especially for emotional traumas such as rape or abuse, this step can be important to healthy coping. Establish a universal plan that everyone agrees with.

To families experiencing it, PTSD is so much more than a stress disorder. It’s a mental illness that threatens to tear their family apart. By turning to each other to cope instead of trying to tackle extreme traumas individually you can better help lessen the relationship effects of PTSD. Coping with PTSD as a family means learning stress management skills, realizing everyone is impacted and processes trauma differently, and establishing a universal plan. Together you can cope, conquer, and thrive as a family despite PTSD.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Definition of PTSD, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/ptsd/index.aspx
  2. Helping Families Cope with PTSD, Relationship impact of PTST, 2015, http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan08/helping.aspx

 

 

Helping Children Cope with Tragedy

Cope with TragedyIt’s unfortunate today, how tragedy has become such a routine part of our lives. Whether on a small scale, such as the death of a loved one or on a national scale with the influx of terrorism, tragedy is hitting home far more frequently than ever before in our history. We would be gullible to believe these tragedies aren’t affecting our children too.

Helping children understand, cope, and live through tragedy can be challenging but it’s important they know they are not alone. Teaching them how to move forward in a positive manner is key to them living a successful adult life as a member of society. To better equip you, here’s how to help children cope with tragedy.

  • Recognize. The first step in helping a child cope with tragedy is being able to recognize the signs of disaster-related stress. According to FEMA, these signs could include difficulty communicating thoughts, difficulty sleeping, limited attention span, headaches/stomach problems, colds or flu-like symptoms, depression, fear, or overwhelming guilt. (1)
  • Communicate. While it may be difficult at first, it’s important to keep communication open between you and your child. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings about the tragedy including how it made them feel. And answer any questions they may have honestly. Maintaining a calm persona will help them feel at ease.
  • Listen. As your child shares their feelings about the incident with you it’s important that you listen intently. “It’s also key to listen closely to your child for misinformation, misconceptions, and underlying fears,” according to the Mayo Clinic. (2) Turning an ear to these details can better help you correct any misinterpretations and reassure them of any concerns of new fears they may have.
  • Limit. For coping with large, media-based tragedies, it may be best to limit your child’s time spent listening or watching media. This allows you to control exactly what your child sees and hears about the event.
  • Seek help. Parents should never be afraid to seek help for their child. By finding a professional to speak to you can better help your child cope with the tragedies happening around them. A professional will also be able to direct you and provide additional tips for assisting your child.

Tragedies happen almost on a daily basis it seems. No matter how small or large a tragedy may be, it’s important to take the time to help your child cope. They are likely fearful, sad, and unsure. By recognizing these stress signs, opening up communication and listening, limiting their media exposure, and seeking help you can offer your child the loving support they need.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation

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Sources:

  1. Coping With Disaster, Disaster-related stress signs, 2015, https://www.fema.gov/coping-disaster
  2. Helping Children Cope, Listen closely quote, 2012, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/helping-children-cope/art-20047029

 

 

 

 

Is Screen Time Weighing On Your Child?

Child Behavioral HealthBetween televisions, video games, tablets, computers, and smartphones children today are bombarded with an overwhelming supply of screen technology but is all the screen time weighing too heavily on your child? In 2013 the average 8 to 10-year-old spent nearly 8 hours every day with a variety of different media, and teenagers spent eleven or more hours per day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).(1). Yikes!

While these numbers may seem shocking, they certainly are not that surprising if you truly take a moment to ponder your child’s day to day activities. Much of what we do with our time as adults requires one form of technology or another- the same goes for our children. Should parents be concerned?

Absolutely! In May, 2014 a prospective study testing the effects of parental monitoring of children’s media use concluded that “encouraging parents to monitor children’s media carefully can have a wide range of health benefits for children.” (2) To help your children begin reaping those better health benefits here are a few tips for monitoring screen time in your child’s daily life.

  • Limit. Obviously, enforcing a zero tolerance for screen time is quite unrealistic. After all, when used in moderation, screen time can be beneficial in key areas like education. Instead, try to limit screen time to only 1 to 2 hours each day.
  • Monitor. It’s vital to not only limit screen times in your child’s life but to also monitor the media they are accessing. By activating parental settings on media such as internet and television you can better control the media your child is able to view.
  • Move. These days, it seems as if every bedroom within a house has its own TV. An easy way to monitor your children’s screen time is by simply moving the televisions out of the bedrooms and having one or two common room TVs for the entire family to share.
  • Model. Making a point not only to limit and monitor the screen time of your children, but also your own is a great way to model through active parenting, according to the AAP. (3) Create a family home use plan for media and enforce it together, allowing each member of the family- young or old- to gain the health benefits of less screen time.

With so much of our youth spending 8 or more hours in front of a screen every day, it’s no wonder parents are beginning to grow more and more concerned. By being a part of your child’s media use you can better help them reap the good health benefits that come with less screen time. Begin limiting, monitoring, moving, and modeling your way to better health with a little less screen time.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

  1. Children, Adolescents, and the Media, Average time spent daily on media, 2013, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/132/5/958.full
  2. Protective Effects of Parental Monitoring of Children’s Media Use: A Prospective Study, Positive health benefits of media monitoring, 2014, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24686493
  3. Children, Adolescents, and the Media, Model through active parenting, 2013, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/132/5/958.full

Is Kindness Contagious?

I’m confident you have heard the saying, “Kindness is contagious,” before right? Well, if you hadn’t- now you have! The idea that showing someone kindness, even through just a smile, can be passed on to that person making them more likely to be kind to someone else is one that has been handed down through generations.

Just recently new research was conducted that may unlock the mystery; is kindness really contagious? According to a 2010 study done by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Plymouth, “It is natural for people to seek the positive emotions that accompany seeing and doing acts of kindness.” (1) Because there is moral beauty in being kind, humans have a natural desire to see others be kind, and in return to be kind themselves causing a natural high-like sensation. Research published in the journal of Biological Psychiatry has even aimed to learn what these moral, high-like elevations actually look like in the brain and human body. (2)

So, what does this mean for you?kindness

It means to be kind, of course! When we take the necessary time to be kind to those around us in both big and small ways we can pass on our kindness to everyone we cross paths with. Believe me, there are far worse things in life than creating a society of kind people who love to spread their kindness to others! Here’s a few ways you can show kindness today!

  • Smile. You can impact a large number of people with kindness simply by smiling. It doesn’t take any more time to smile than it does to frown. In fact studies have shown when you frown you actually use more muscles than you do when smiling. Remind yourself to offer others smiles whenever you get the chance.
  • Help. Whether it’s through simply being aware of your surroundings when you witness people needing help, or by volunteering your services to a needy cause by helping others you can show kindness.
  • Listen. A listening ear is a kind ear. Often times people are just looking for someone to talk to who will listen. Be kind today by listening to a loved one, friend, child, or even a complete stranger. Kindness knows no bounds.

For once, an old wise tail passed down from generation to generation is ringing true according to science. Kindness is truly contagious. Spread the word, and the love by being kind to one another every chance you get.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Kindness is Contagious, New Study Finds, Kindness is contagious study findings, 2010, https://helix.northwestern.edu/article/kindness-contagious-new-study-finds
  2. Autonomic and Prefrontal Evens During Moral Elevation, Research on moral elevations, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25813121
Tom Naratadam

Tom Naratadam, Psy.D., LCPC

Dr. Tom Naratadam chicago illinoisDr. Tom Naratadam earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and both his Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) and Masters Degree in School Psychology (Ed.S.) from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  He completed his Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) certification in Illinois in 2015.  His professional work experience is diverse and includes work in multiple settings including residential, inpatient, outpatient, community mental health, group private practice, and school-settings throughout the Metro Chicagoland area.

Dr. Naratadam has worked as an outpatient provider with Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. since 2010. In addition to his work with Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C., Dr. Naratadam works as a bilingual school psychologist at the Chicago Public Schools – performing extensive diagnostic testing and spearheading group therapy with children and adolescents.

Dr. Naratadam has expertise working in multicultural populations and has conducted numerous workshops on cross-cultural issues related to the Latino and Asian-Indian cultures. His experience also includes several years of assessing and working with children and adolescents who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Conduct and Mood Disorders, and issues related to adolescent sexuality and identity.

Dr. Naratadam is proud of his Asian-Indian heritage. He enjoys traveling, enjoying Chicago’s wide array of restaurants, and spending time with his family and friends. Dr. Naratadam is fluent in Spanish.

Mark Parisi

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D., Licensed Clinical PsychologistDr. Mark Parisi is Licensed as a Clinical Psychologist In Illinois and Florida.

He earned his Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1991. Dr. Parisi went on to earn a Master of Science (M.S.) in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology and his Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) Degree in Clinical Psychology from Florida Institute of Technology In 1995.

He is also certified as a Professional Mediator through the Association of Conflict Resolution Institute. Dr. Parisi finished his internship and residency while serving on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1995 – 1998 and specialized in Child and Adolescent Psychology, Community Mental Health, and Traumatic Stress Disorders.  He deployed overseas to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, in 1997 with the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army as part of Task Force 2-87.  He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for his active duty military service in 1998. Dr. Parisi has worked post-residency since 1998 and opened his practice in the Chicagoland area back in 2000.

He has served as a consultant to schools and businesses on a wide variety of mental health topics.  As a child psychologist, Dr. Parisi has worked as a child advocate, as a consultant for Head Start, and as a pediatric evaluation and treatment expert.  He has highly specialized training in disruptive behavior disorders of childhood under Drs. Russell Barkley and Robert Brooks.

At his clinic, Dr. Parisi maintains a broad-based practice serving children as young as three years old and adults well into their golden years.  He provides individual, group, family, and couples’ therapy utilizing a Cognitive-Behavioral / Solution-Focused treatment style.  In his work as an I/O Psychologist, Dr. Parisi has performed personnel selection and job analysis for both military and civilian agencies.

In addition to his work as child psychologist, Dr. Parisi has a sub-specialty in geriatrics and has worked tirelessly as a champion for mental health issues among the elderly and chronic mentally ill.  He serves as a consultant to several area nursing homes and long term care facilities and designs state-of-the-art programs tailored to the unique needs of skilled nursing facilities around Metro Chicagoland.

Dr. Parisi grew up in Park Ridge.  He is married and lives with his family in Skokie where he enjoys family time, attending movies and plays, reading, hiking, and running.  Dr. Parisi is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Skokie Valley Rotary Club.  He presently serves as a Lieutenant Commander in the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Naval Reserves and is a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

 

What You Need to Know About Bullying This School Year

The news is constantly buzzing with news about the tragedies related to bullying. It has become an epidemic in our children’s schools. But what can you do?

First, we must understand what bullying is. We all get picked on or teased at times from a sibling or friend. This is in a jokingly manner. This is not bullying. There comes a point when this crosses a line. Bullying is intentional. It is meant to be mean and hurtful. Bullying is aggressive and unwanted behavior that is often repetitive and torturous for the person being bullied. It can be physical or verbal threats. It is spreading rumors. It is insulting. I can even include excluding someone from a group. It is serious and very harmful. In today’s world, much of bullying is not even happening with the child near. Electronic devices and social media are often used to say hurtful things and taunt another child. Bullying can cause physical harm, but it usually inflicts severe emotional pain for the person being bullied.

How do I know if my child is being bullied?

Obviously, any physical injuries are worth a full investigation. It is the emotional damage that you have to be more cautious of. Watch for signs that your child is unhappy or uncomfortable, especially going to school. Perhaps your child doesn’t want to ride the bus any more or even go to school. You may see a change in mood or eating and sleeping patterns. You child may act anxious or start to be more withdrawn. If you have more concerns consider a low cost psychiatrist in Chicago.

Having conversations and asking your child about bullying is a good way to keep communication open. If you child is reluctant to talk about it, try to find ways to relate. If you see an example of bullying, maybe in the news or in your life, use that as a starting point. Ask if something like this has ever happened to them or if they ever see others being bullied. Try to help make it more comfortable to talk about and let them know that if they see it happening it is ok to talk to another adult to help the person. If you need further help recognizing signs, a Chicago counselor at Dr. Parisi and Associates can help.

How do I help my child if I think she is being bullied?Chicago counselor | Dr. Parisi | Bullying

Bullying is not something that should be “toughed out.” It needs to be address. You have to be willing to listen and believe. If you child tells you she is being bullied, take it seriously. Listen to her talk about what is going on and make she sure knows you are a safe place.  Do not pass any judgment and make sure you validate your child’s feelings. Thank her for opening up and let her know you are proud of her for taking this step.

Some children feel like it is their fault they are being bullied. They need to know that no one deserves to be disrespected or mistreated. Explain that although bulling is very wrong, it is common and that many people experience it at some time. Perhaps you can share a time when you experienced bullying with your child. Praise your child for doing what is right by letting you know. It is vital that the child know that is the bully who is doing something wrong, not them.

Also, make sure you take action. Let you child know that this is something that must be addressed and taken care of. If the bullying is happening at school, you will need to discuss a plan with them. Schools and community organizations have a policies and rules to help stop and prevent bullying. Many times children like to be involved and what the plan of action is. An affordable Chicago counselor or the school counselor can be great help.

To help your child in the moment, tell them to avoid the bully and hang out with a friend. Bullies thrive on making other students mad and react. Let your child know that it is hard, but try not to react or show the bully that whatever they are doing bothers them. Walk away and ignore the bully, but then go tell an adult when the bully is no longer near.

Make sure you child doesn’t feel alone and that there are many people supporting her. Be encouraging and supportive. Help your child find friends and positive influences. Often, children lose a little confidence when being bullied. Help build them back up and make them know it is not their fault.

If you need more help in the Chicago and surrounding areas including Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Barrington, Hinsdale, Skokie, Lincolnwood, Park Ridge, and Wilmette, Dr. Parisi is an affordable psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in Biofeedback Training for Stress / Anxiety Reduction.

Keep Back to School Cool for Your Child With Anxiety

It is coming, faster ever year (or so it seems). It is back to school time again. For some (parents mostly), this is a great and exciting time of the year—A great fresh start. For the students, it is the end of something epic. For students with anxiety, this time of the year is especially stressful.

If your child is one of those students, we have a few tips for you:

  1. Dr. Parisi | affordable psychologistSet a schedule and stick to it. Children who suffer from anxiety can better anticipate and know what to expect if things are organized. Make sure there schedule is predictability, structured, and follow a routine. This will make transitions easier.
  2. Schedule a visit. See if it is possible to schedule a trip to the school. Let you child walk around, meet the teacher, and get more comfortable with the environment before there is a crowd.
  3. Make health a priority. Use a healthy diet full of protein and limited sugar to help your child feel his or her best. Make sure sleep is a priority. Have some time to calm before bed and make sure you stick to bedtime.
  4. Be comfortable. Make school as fun and special as possible. If it is a favorite outfit, an old sweatshirt, or a lucky backpack charm, find something that is a comfort to your child and helps them feel connected to you.
  5. Talk. Make sure you child feels comfortable and discuss the issues or scenarios that make your child most uncomfortable. This will give you and your child a chance to walk through a situation and how to deal with it before it happens.
  6. Consider behavioral therapy. Back to school is a hard time for children with anxiety, but if after a couple weeks your child isn’t settling in or you are seeing increased issues, inform specialists at school and contact an affordable psychologist or psychiatrist for further counseling.

If you need more help in the Chicago and surrounding areas including Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Barrington, Hinsdale, Skokie, Lincolnwood, Park Ridge, and Wilmette, Dr. Parisi is an affordable psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in Childhood Attachment Studies and Intervention (Marshak Evaluations)and Biofeedback Training for Stress / Anxiety Reduction