Making and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

new year's resolutions

The New Year’s resolution: love it or hate it, it’s a time-honored way to start fresh with new goals for a new year. However, we all know how difficult it can be to stick to those resolutions by the time February rolls around. It is no easier for your child than it is for you.

Age-appropriate New Year’s Resolutions

Should your child set New Year’s resolutions?  Yes, but they need to be achievable and age-appropriate. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that preschoolers focus on specific ‘helping’ goals like picking up toys each day; ‘health’ goals like washing hands, or ‘social’ goals such as sharing toys with friends.

The AAP says children ages 5-12 can understand and tackle specific goals, from improving health and study habits, to speaking up if they see or experience bullying. Teens 13 and up can set goals that encourage them to take responsibility for their choices and actions, e.g. volunteering more, self-care, family responsibilities, academics, and use of leisure time.

Take Time To Reflect

Start by having a reflective, open discussion with your child about the previous year. What did they enjoy? What gave them a sense of accomplishment? What attitudes, actions or habits would they like to improve – or leave behind? Is there anything that they didn’t get the chance to explore? Talk about areas where you, as parent, feel some goal-setting would help, and encourage these to become your child’s goals as well as yours.

Listen and work with your child to choose just a few important resolutions.  Then give your child the best chance to succeed by framing SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, time-bound) goals. Make sure they understand what these goals will require of them, and that you’ll be there to encourage them every step of the way.

Which New Year’s Resolutions Are On Your Child’s List?

Resolutions are as unique as your child. He or she may want to focus on any of the following areas – or they may have completely different ideas about what matters!

Make Friends

If your child’s ultimate goal is to make friends, help them to set smaller goals such as ‘talking to two new people a month’ or ‘planning one Zoom hangout a month’.

Earn Better Grades

If your child has been struggling with schoolwork, help them set specific goals, such as earning one letter grade better on tests. From there, create a game plan, such as studying for an hour per day for a week leading up to each test. As well, your child’s teacher might have insights that will help your child succeed in his or her academic goals.

Eat Healthier

NYE Resolutions

Healthy eating goals are well worth pursuing, with benefits that include controlling weight, preventing disease, improving mood, and more. If your child wants to eat healthier, help them set SMART goals; e.g. eating one cup of vegetables three times a week for a month. This diet change helps your child shift toward healthier eating practices, but sets a time limit for trying it out. At the end of the month, evaluate this approach with your child, and decide how to continue. Bon appetit!

Read More

If you and your child set a goal to read more in the coming year, think about quantifying it (for example, ‘read 12 books in 2021’) and plan to make a monthly trip to the library or bookstore. Remember to consult your librarians or bookstore staff for enticing titles that appeal to your child’s reading preferences and level.

Save Money

If your child has a job or an allowance, it’s never too early to start teaching them the value of saving a little for the future. The general rule of thumb is to save 20% of a paycheck: this might be achievable for your child if they don’t need to help with other expenses. Another approach might involve saving a certain amount of money by year’s end. Those first big purchases like cell phones, cars and college aren’t far away, so teaching your child the patience to save now will pay off all their lives.

Tips for sticking to New Year’s Resolutions

Do it together (if possible). Consider making family resolutions. If your child’s goal is something that would benefit everyone, like exercising, reading more, or eating more healthy foods, make it a family goal. Not only is it a great bonding opportunity, you’re increasing your child’s chances of successstick to your NYE resolutions and doing something that’s good for all of you. Some families might enjoy setting up a competition, but keep it healthy and never force anyone to compete if they don’t enjoy it.

Be flexible. Even with specific milestones to achieve, life can get in the way. If your child doesn’t meet his or her monthly goal, don’t make an issue of it. Do encourage them to keep right on trying. If you’re too strict or show too much disappointment, your child may not want to continue, so keep it positive and focused on ‘next time’.

Don’t nag them. Of course you want your child to succeed and to know the satisfaction that comes from achieving their goals. However, putting the work in to meet that goal is ultimately up to your child. No amount of pestering will make them achieve it faster and in fact, too much pressure will make them resent the process.

Be ready to adapt. Be comforting, empathetic and supportive, both when they succeed and especially when they don’t. If your child is having trouble making progress, think about whether the goal should change. You’ll only know by checking in with your child. If motivation is the issue, think about little incentives that could encourage them: e.g. for each book read, they get to pick the dinner menu. Be creative and always communicate with your child.

If you and your child need a break, visit our Take a Break page or sign up for one of our fun and free Wellness Wednesday Webinars.  Good luck!

Why your child could be suffering holiday stress

sad-holiday-1024x581

The holidays can be an especially anxious time for anyone. If you’re noticing more tension than usual, your child may be experiencing similar feelings. Your child might seem a bit withdrawn or irritable, may sleep more than usual, or is exhibiting other signs of stress. Some stress is okay, but when these feelings start to overwhelm your child, it’s time to intervene.

Reasons for holiday stress and anxiety

 

fewer daylight hours and changes in routine

The ‘holiday blues’ are real, and have many underlying causes:

  • Fewer daylight hours. The decreased number of daylight hours can have a significant effect on mental health, including your child’s. Even in the Sunshine State, many begin to feel the effects of seasonal depression during these shorter winter days.
  • Changes in routine. When your child is off from school for winter break, the whole routine changes. Even if they don’t recognize it, your child could be affected when the familiar daily structure of school, bedtime, and mealtimes becomes less rigid.

Tips to help your child with holiday-related stress and anxiety

 

Even if your child isn’t showing any particular signs of holiday stress, these tips are great for fostering a healthy and strong family connection.

  1. Take care of yourself. Kids are attentive, and they pick up on family ‘vibes’ more than you might think. If you are in a bad mood, it can affect their mood as well. When you are stressed and anxious, it can increase their levels of anxiety as well and make them more irritable. Although the holidays can be a busy time, make sure you set aside time to take care of yourself and unwind. Your body and mind will thank you for it and so will your children. You can start by exploring these ideas for taking a break.
  2. Stay active. Staying active as a family can be difficult, but keeping up with physical activities is crucial for a happy family and healthy children – and parents! If your child plays a sport, winter break might be their off season, but that doesn’t mean that all physical activity should stop. Physical activities aren’t just limited to sports, either. Here are some ways to help your child and your family stay active:
    1. Start a dance party in your living room with a fun dance cardio routine
    2. Start a small garden and celebrate that we can do that in Florida in December!
    3. Do some family-friendly yoga
    4. Create a scavenger hunt
    5. Here’s a list of even more fun activities 
  3. Eat well. Eating well is another crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle, but it can be difficult and sometimes inconvenient for busy families. It’s also difficult during the holiday season when many want to simply indulge. Along with their holiday treats, make sure your children are getting the proper nutrition they need daily. Involve your children in menu planning, shopping, and cooking!
  4. Meditate. Meditation can be intimidating at first, but can be extremely beneficial to anyone experiencing high levels of stress and take time to relaxanxiety. A guided body scan meditation can be a great introduction to meditating because the purpose is to check in with yourself and your feelings. Try this body scan meditation as a way to relax for yourself, or for your family to unwind together.
  5. Foster open communication. Talk to your children about your holiday traditions and be open to their answers. If they don’t like a certain tradition, talk about ways to change it and make it more special for your family. If family dynamics have changed (such as a divorce, new partner, or a death in the family), talk about that too. Let your child know that it’s okay (and encouraged!) for them to come to you and to be open with their feelings.
  6. Give your child control. During winter break and without a set routine, life can feel a bit unsettling. Talk to your child about what they want the winter break routine to look like. Having a discussion with them about their new schedule will give them a sense of autonomy and ownership over their own lives.
  7. Manage gift expectations. Gift-giving comes with its own stress, both for you and your child. If you know your child wants something out of your price range, be honest with them ahead of time. If your child believes the gift will come from Santa, be ready to deal with those expectations as well.
  8. Get crafty. Being creative is a lot of fun and a great family bonding activity. Have your kids choose and help with a new recipe, make some cookies that they can decorate, or create some fun holiday decorations and gifts. The possibilities are endless and anything that gets the creative juices flowing is a great stress reliever.
  9. Enjoy holiday stories, movies, and music. Even though some favorite community and school events have been canceled due to the pandemic, there are still many wonderful events happening online and through the creative programming of libraries and museums. Enjoy!

Don’t let the holidays get you and your family down.

If you need help talking to your child about changing family dynamics or just want to learn more about parenting, browse our parenting workshops or call us to schedule an appointment.

You Need Exercise – and So Does Your Child

you need exercise

We know staying active is part of a healthy life. Regular activity can help you sleep better, maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress. So why is it so hard to build good exercise habits? 

The habit of staying active often starts in childhood. Without a strong foundation, it’s hard to prioritize an active lifestyle as an adult. If you help your child stay active regularly, it can help them build strong muscles and bones, stay mentally healthy, and decrease their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.  

Regular activity is also a great way to bond with your child through playful competition. 

Make Exercise Funencourage kids

You and your family can have fun and be active at the same time. Kicking a soccer ball or throwing a baseball aren’t the only ways to get movingListen to your child as they express their level of interest in different activities. If they’d rather do a “Ninja Warrior” style obstacle course than play a team sport, encourage them to pursue it. 

Even when they choose an activity they enjoy, don’t put too much pressure on them to excel and become a prodigy – let the focus be fun and exercise.  

Create an Exercise Plan 

Make a weekly exercise goal with your family. If this is the first time that you’re trying to be active, avoid setting unrealistic goals. This will deter you and your family and make it harder to stick to a plan. For example, consider starting with a family walk or easy bike ride instead of running. 

When you are exercising, listen to your child’s needs. Take a break if they need water, a rest or simply don’t want to play anymore. They’ll have more fun next time if you don’t push them past their limits this time.  

Be a Good Example of Healthy Lifestyles 

Parents are often a child’s first role models. If you want your child to live a healthier and more active life, it helps to be a good example. Approach your activity plan with a good attitude. Your child will feed off your energy. If you’re having fun, there’s a better chance that they will have fun too.  

Exercise as a Family 

Exercising as a family can help make staying active fun. If you or your partner are passionate about a sport, then that’s a great place to start. Grab the ball, bat, glove – whatever it is – and spend some time teaching your child the basics. They will learn a new skill and spend valuable bonding time with you.  

If you and your family aren’t sports fanatics, there are still plenty of ways to be active.  

Non-sports Exercises: 

  • Go for walks/walk the dog 
    • If you have a dog, then exercise should be easy. Take your children with you when you take the dog for daily walks. If you don’t have a dog, taking a family walk is still a great and easy way to exercise. Block off time in the day when everyone is free and take a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood. If 20 minutes is a lot, start off slow with a 10-minute walk. You can make it a family competition and try to add 5 minutes to that walk each week and see how far you can go as a family. 
  • Have a dance party 
    • Clear some floor space, get some fun lights or decorations, and have a dance party! Create a Spotify playlist of kid friendly songs to dance to or turn on the radio. Dancing is great cardio and a great way to relieve stress. If you want to follow along to some dance moves, there are great YouTube videos that feature family-friendly dance cardio workouts 
  • Garden 
    • If you have the space in your front or back yard, gardening can be a lot of fun. You may not even realize you’re getting a workout! Gardening is a great full-body exercise and with just 30 minutes of gardening you’ll workout your arms, legs and back. Go to the store with your kids and let them pick out a few flowers to plant. This will include them in the process and can get them excited to participate. 
  • Go to the park 
    • The park is full of endless possibilities. Play tag, hide-and-go-seek, or create a scavenger hunt. Make some sandwiches or snacks for break time and bring plenty of water.  

exercise with kids

Exercising doesn’t have to be tedious. Make a plan. Make it kid-friendly. Make it fun.

For an easy way to be active with your kids, sign up for our newsletter and view our Wellness Wednesday Webinars. We often have Zumba, Yoga, How to Grow Your Own Garden and more!  

Past Wellness Wednesday Webinars: 

Online School: Making It Work for Your Child and Your Family

Girl in online school who may be struggling with mental health challenges from virtual classes

What we want back-to-school 2020 to look like: excited children, seeing friends and meeting teachers.

What back-to-school 2020 actually looks like for many Florida students: laptops, online platforms, and learning at home.

Whether online school is a temporary, permanent, or part-time experience this school year, it’s important to set up your children and the whole family for success right from the start.

If you’re having difficulty adjusting to a virtual school day, your children may be as well. Try these tips to help everyone settle into this ‘new normal’.

1. Build an online school routine.

Every family’s lifestyle, dynamics, and living situation is unique, and so is the routine that makes it all work, including remote schooling. As the school year begins, and as it progresses, hold regular family meetings, and ask your children for input. Creating and managing routines together will help them understand what’s expected, and also reinforces a sense of control and ownership.

Some online school options follow the school day period by period, while others allow students to work at their own pace. Be sure to understand the school’s expectations and those of the various teachers who work with your children. Communicate early regarding any issues concerning your children and the routine that works best for them.

As you work out your family’s daily and weekly routines, remember to block off specific times for your children to watch lessons, complete homework, and do assignments. Involve each child in determining the length of these timeStudent establishing routines for online school blocks. For example, one child may need more time for reading and less time for math, and the schedule you create together can reflect that.

Make sure you schedule plenty of breaks as well. Depending on the age of your child, take breaks for snacks, naps if needed, exercise and play, or just “doing nothing” to process and absorb what they’ve learned. Browse our Take a Break page for more ideas.

Remember, the plan works when not only your child but also you, the parent, follow it. Resist spontaneous ideas to alter the routine without good reason for doing so.

Routines and structure are helpful, even essential, but so is flexibility. Life happens. Children and teens have days when they’re tired or just feeling less than motivated – and, let’s face it, days that turn into complete meltdowns. It’s okay to adjust the routine, take the breaks they need, and if necessary, talk with teachers when it just isn’t working for you or your child.

2. Create your child’s remote learning workspace.

A designated workspace helps signal your child that it’s time to focus and to work. In deciding where your child can work most successfully, consider your home’s interior and exterior spaces, and the needs of working adults as well.

Think about supervision as well. Some children need more oversight, while others work well on their own. If you have an office in your home, consider making a space for your child to work alongside you. This may help to limit distractions from other family members and from phones, toys or other entertainment.

If your child’s workspace is part of a communal area, such as the kitchen, help family members understand the importance of staying as quiet and unobtrusive as possible during class time.

An inexpensive free-standing cardboard trifold poster, such as those used for school projects, is an easy, space-saving way to create some privacy, block out distractions, and serve as a bulletin board, all in one. Together with a kit of school items for each child, it creates a private workspace that is easily set up and put away at the end of each class day.

Try to make your child’s space both comfortable and as ergonomic as possible. If your child doesn’t work at a desk, consider getting them a comfortable chair cushion. No one wants to spend hours in a hard dining room table chair.

In a computer-based learning environment, physical problems can develop quickly. Look for ways to set up your child’s workspace with an eye to ergonomics. For example, when typing or using a mouse, your child’s shoulders should be relaxed, arms close to the body, wrists straight, and hands at or slightly below elbow level.

For further information: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169

In addition, blue light glasses are helpful in reducing eye strain, and good headphones can both limit distractions and make it easier for your child to hear their teachers and classmates.

3. Become familiar with your online school platform.

Both you and your child should take time to get to know the online learning platform that your school uses. This may seem obvious, but in the chaos of getting used to a new routine, it can be easy to overlook. Take advantage of any training available. Make sure you review any parent-specific features, such as how to communicate with teachers and keep track of your child’s schedule, homework and project deadlines, and tests.

Even for computer-literate students and parents, every platform has its quirks, and taking time to understand it can avoid frustration later. Find out who to contact, should issues arise, and it might also help to pool your knowledge with that of other parents.

4. Understand that everyone needs to show extra patience and understanding.

Students and parents alike need extra patience for online school

It’s normal to feel increased stress during this time. Online school is still new for everyone involved in the learning process. It’s a time that calls for extra levels of stress management, patience with self and others, and regular communication with the school, teachers, and family members.

You are an advocate for your family and your child, but don’t forget to look after yourself as well. If you feel the stress building up, take a break. Take some deep breaths or go for a quick walk. Talk to your spouse or partner, or to a trusted friend. Hold family meetings to work out difficulties and adjust routines and expectations, if needed.

Professionals like our team at The Bougainvilla House are here to help. Explore our website resources or call us for support anytime. We are also continuing to offer our Wellness Wednesday webinars, with new videos every week. You can explore past topics and register for upcoming sessions on our Wellness Wednesday page.

5. Communicate with your child.

Your child knows what he or she needs. Check in regularly to see how they are doing. Cultivate a relationship that allows them to be open and honest, without fear of being reprimanded. Ask them how they’re feeling, and give them space to vent their frustrations.

If you’re not used to open communication with your child, try adding in a weekly check-in to your routine. Make it clear that their honest feelings are welcome during this time, and that you’re there to listen. This will go a long way toward helping your child feel supported.

6. Respect classroom relationships.

Online school offers you an unusual window into your child’s day-to-day classroom life. This can be useful and illuminating, but also requires restraint on your part. Respect the relationship that needs to exist between your child and his or her teacher, and between your child and other classmates. Before acting on anything you overhear, talk to your child, and resist the urge to intervene unless necessary. If ever there was a time to ‘pick your battles,’ this is it.

7. Work together.

This is a strange time, with few rules to guide parents, students, and educators. What may work for you may not work for your children or your spouse/partner. It’s okay to have disagreements and frustrations. Create opportunities to promote honest communication within your family. Listening, understanding, patience, a sense of humor, and an ongoing effort to work it out together will make all the difference as your family adjusts to the new normal.

 

Looking for even more resources? Browse our various Wellness Wednesday Workshops, which offer topics such as communicating with your child, dealing with family dynamics, the importance of role models and more.

Talk To Your Kids

When communication falls short, teens and adolescents take other measures to express their emotions. That’s why it’s so important for parents to talk to their kids about the challenges they face every day. Our youth is experiencing a new wave of bullying and social anxiety like we’ve never seen it before. Whether or not they make all the right choices, it’s imperative that their voices be heard and supported. 

Here at The Bougainvilla House, we’ve received a lot of phone calls recently from kids in distress. So we put together a list of crisis prevention tips to share with your family and friends.

Tip #1: Learn the warning signs.

These won’t be obvious, so you’ll need to look hard. Really, really hard. Reckless behavior often indicates a lack of direction. Increased substance use or social withdrawal may be associated with depression. The red flags are there. We just have to see them.

Tip #2: Don’t just hear, listen.

Pay close attention to what your teens say, the way they talk about themselves, and the people around them. Be mindful of their feelings and avoid interruptions. Most importantly, be present and open in times of sorrow. That’s when they’ll need your support the most.

Tip #3: Encourage transparency.

Keep an open line of communication and talk about therapy as a healthy alternative. The benefits of seeing a therapist are endless, even for people who seem to manage bullying and anxiety well. Make sure they understand it’s okay to ask for guidance.

Tip #4: Reach out for help.

Sometimes it’s hard for family members to talk openly about their concerns. Find someone your teen or adolescent can chat with. Whether it’s a teacher, family friend or our team of trained behavioral health specialists. It’s not about when they’ll talk. It’s about who they talk to.

Know whatever your family is facing, we’re here to lend a helping hand. The Bougainvilla House is committed to reconnecting relationships through guided child and family therapy. If your teen is showing signs of distress, don’t wait for a crisis to occur. Help is just a phone call away.

How Is Social Media Effecting American Teenagers?

For many teenagers, social media is a fun and easy way to stay connected with friends. However, there are dangerous risks in every new profile created. And Child Psychologists are starting to take notice! While there is still much to be learned about the implications of social media, here are the facts…

  • Over 75% of teenagers in the U.S. are using social media. 
  • Over 50% of teenagers in the U.S. use social media on a daily basis. 
  • Over 25% of teenagers in the U.S. are considered “heavy social media users” 

Social Media Is Addicting 

According to scientists, American teenagers are becoming addicted to social media. Why? It’s all about the likes! A study at UCLA observed that likes, especially on personal images, send a positive signal to the reward region of the brain. The brain’s reward region is significantly more sensitive during adolescence, leaving teens vulnerable to the gravitating effects of social media and the risk it poses on their mental health. 

Behavioral Health Risks

At The Bougainvilla House Family Therapy Center, we work closely with our clients to identify and resolve sources of teen anxiety and depression. The 21st Century is a fast-paced and interesting time to grow up in! Phones now serve as mini-computers, social apps connect users with major influencers across the globe, and risky behavior is propagandized throughout every media outlet. 

Now, more than ever, teenagers are pressured to conform their bodies, minds, and habitats to follow mainstream status quo. Furthermore, expecting to capture every moment perfectly, creating virtually appealing posts and avoiding scrutiny from cyber-bullies. Bullying has long threatened the likelihood of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem amongst teens. And social media creates a new platform for bullies to lurk victims and attack users without confrontation. It’s difficult for anyone to handle! 

Working Together 

Social Media is affecting American teenagers in ways we haven’t even begun to measure. While we can’t do much to stop negative user activity, we can teach teenagers how to manage the anxiety they are feeling about their social media. The Bougainvilla House Family Therapy Center helps families to establish healthy routines together and dissolve risks of social media on adolescent behavioral health. 

If your teen is showing signs of socially induced anxiety or depression, please reach out to us. We’re always here to answer your questions. Fill out our online form or call now to schedule an appointment.

⦁ Over 75% of teenagers in the U.S. are using social media.
⦁ Over 50% of teenagers in the U.S. use social media on a daily basis.
⦁ Over 25% of teenagers in the U.S. are considered “heavy social media users”

What is a Community?

There are two popular definitions of the word community. The first is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” This definition is how perhaps people from the outside might view people who come to a treatment facility. It is definitely true, on the surface, everyone is living there and they are there for the common purpose of beginning recovery from various types of mental health challenges and addiction.

However, at The Bougainvilla House, there is so much more to treatment than just people getting together in a shared space with a common characteristic. The sense of community is maybe not something that is visible on the surface. Rather, it is something that truly binds people together. When we choose recovery, we become more like the second definition, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

More than Commonalities

It would be easy to come together with all that we have in common and just form groups of people in recovery. But recovery isn’t like having a barbecue or other social event. Recovery is where we dig into the depths of our souls. We find the very best and the very worst in ourselves, and everything in between. We suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And we make life-changing transformations, too.

At The Bougainvilla House, we are never asked to do all of that alone. Amongst the people with which we have both differences and commonalities, we also find fellowship. We are all on this path together, even many of the employees, and so when one of us is suffering, we all suffer. When one of us has a breakthrough, we all rejoice. We cry together, laugh together, and help each other stand when maybe alone we didn’t feel like we could.

Although each of us has our own journey in recovery, it is impossible to do it all on our own. So we reach out to those around us who support us, and we support them. They are people with commonalities and differences, people with strengths and weaknesses, people who have good days and bad. They are just like us and yet different from us, but ultimately, we all share the same goal: to be well. It becomes a fellowship of freedom from our addictions and a family of warriors for life.

Building Relationships in Recovery

Friendships made in recovery are made stronger because of the incredible things we go through during the treatment and recovery process. Also because we are learning to be present, sometimes for the first time, we are able to learn about healthy relationships. We can ask for help, learn to trust, and we can reciprocate help, too. Despite the fact that we are all pretty raw, we can build a support system of friends that we can lean on and they can lean on us.

These friendships are different from some we may have had before because we are all healing together. We all share the same guidelines, we are learning together how to set healthy boundaries. We know better than to be distracted by romantic relationships because we are carefully rebuilding our lives and our hearts. Instead, the relationships we build while starting out in recovery are the kinds of friendships that will fortify us and help us to find our feet again. The kind of friends that we know we could call at any time, and we know they will be there for us.

The Community of Family

Within recovery, those who believe in us, stand by us, and lend us a hand when we think we can’t go on become closer than typical friends, they become like a family. They understand what we have been through, because they have been there, too. They understand where we are at, because they are right here with us, too. And we know they will be a part of our future because together, we are stronger. Not only do they reach out for us to lift us, but we can reach out and help them, too. 

The friends and family we have had prior to recovery may or may not understand us, it may not even be healthy to keep them in our lives. But the family that we make while in recovery will not let us get away with anything, will call us out when we need it, and love us for who we are, no matter what. And we can do the same for them. It is truly a gift in our lives to join this fellowship of wellness.

Do we feel alone and helpless?

At this time of the year, wouldn’t it be nice to become part of something bigger than ourselves? This is the perfect time to recover our lives and give ourselves a new kind of family,  the gift of community.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges and/or addiction, don’t fight it alone.

Call Now: 954-764-7337

The Gift of Community

community family friends

The holidays are approaching, and regardless of whether we are making the decision to enter into recovery, or are well on our journey, it can seem depressing in comparison to the ways that other people might be celebrating the holidays. But if we step back and look, we have just given ourselves the greatest gift we could ever receive. Recovery is not the only gift, either. Along with recovery comes the gift of community.

What is a Community?

There are two popular definitions of the word community. The first is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” This definition is how perhaps people from the outside might view people who come to a treatment facility. It is definitely true, on the surface, everyone is living there and they are there for the common purpose of beginning recovery from various types of mental health challenges and addiction.

However, at The Bougainvilla House, there is so much more to treatment than just people getting together in a shared space with a common characteristic. The sense of community is maybe not something that is visible on the surface. Rather, it is something that truly binds people together. When we choose recovery, we become more like the second definition, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

More than Commonalities

It would be easy to come together with all that we have in common and just form groups of people in recovery. But recovery isn’t like having a barbecue or other social event. Recovery is where we dig into the depths of our souls. We find the very best and the very worst in ourselves, and everything in between. We suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And we make life-changing transformations, too.

At The Bougainvilla House, we are never asked to do all of that alone. Amongst the people with which we have both differences and commonalities, we also find fellowship. We are all on this path together, even many of the employees, and so when one of us is suffering, we all suffer. When one of us has a breakthrough, we all rejoice. We cry together, laugh together, and help each other stand when maybe alone we didn’t feel like we could.

Although each of us has our own journey in recovery, it is impossible to do it all on our own. So we reach out to those around us who support us, and we support them. They are people with commonalities and differences, people with strengths and weaknesses, people who have good days and bad. They are just like us and yet different from us, but ultimately, we all share the same goal: to be well. It becomes a fellowship of freedom from our addictions and a family of warriors for life.

Building Relationships in Recovery

Friendships made in recovery are made stronger because of the incredible things we go through during the treatment and recovery process. Also because we are learning to be present, sometimes for the first time, we are able to learn about healthy relationships. We can ask for help, learn to trust, and we can reciprocate help, too. Despite the fact that we are all pretty raw, we can build a support system of friends that we can lean on and they can lean on us.

These friendships are different from some we may have had before because we are all healing together. We all share the same guidelines, we are learning together how to set healthy boundaries. We know better than to be distracted by romantic relationships because we are carefully rebuilding our lives and our hearts. Instead, the relationships we build while starting out in recovery are the kinds of friendships that will fortify us and help us to find our feet again. The kind of friends that we know we could call at any time, and we know they will be there for us.

The Community of Family

Within recovery, those who believe in us, stand by us, and lend us a hand when we think we can’t go on become closer than typical friends, they become like a family. They understand what we have been through, because they have been there, too. They understand where we are at, because they are right here with us, too. And we know they will be a part of our future because together, we are stronger. Not only do they reach out for us to lift us, but we can reach out and help them, too. 

The friends and family we have had prior to recovery may or may not understand us, it may not even be healthy to keep them in our lives. But the family that we make while in recovery will not let us get away with anything, will call us out when we need it, and love us for who we are, no matter what. And we can do the same for them. It is truly a gift in our lives to join this fellowship of wellness.

Do we feel alone and helpless?

At this time of the year, wouldn’t it be nice to become part of something bigger than ourselves? This is the perfect time to recover our lives and give ourselves a new kind of family,  the gift of community.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges and/or addiction, don’t fight it alone.

Call Now: 954-764-7337

How to Avoid a Holiday Relapse

holiday sobriety

One of the most difficult parts of recovery is the reality of relapse. Typically, between 40-60 percent of people will relapse within their first year of recovery. While those numbers decrease the more years we are in recovery, it is possible for anyone to relapse at any time. It is what we work to protect ourselves against every single day.

Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, the average American drinks as much alcohol as they do the whole rest of the year. That is a 100 percent increase. Which means that the likelihood of relapse is probably at least double for us as well. 

With all of that alcohol flowing, all of the parties and social engagements we are invited to, especially family gatherings, how do we maintain integrity in our recovery? How do we manage what are often stressful family events, the pressures of time, money and more at this time of the year without turning to drugs or alcohol for help? 

Be Gentle with Ourselves

The holidays are hard for everyone. Exponentially hard for us. So let’s be kind to ourselves. We can double-down on our spiritual habits, especially prayer and meditation. The holidays are a great time to evaluate the past year, so we can make a list of all our accomplishments, highlighting our progress in recovery. It is a time to be grateful, and along with acknowledging ourselves, we can acknowledge those people in our lives who have helped us reach this point.

Remember it is okay to feel, it is okay to cry. It is also okay to feel joy and to laugh. If we are alone, we don’t need to be lonely. Think about what we would like to hear from someone, in that moment, if we start to feel lonely and then reach out and tell someone else that. Loneliness disappears when we reach beyond ourselves and create joy for others.

Keep our Wellness Schedule

The old adage is “Eat, drink and be merry.” Perhaps around the holidays, we should use “Eat, exercise, and be wary.” It is twice as important to keep our wellness habits around the holidays. Imagine if we were diabetic and we failed to eat or ate poorly. Addiction is a disease just like diabetes, and we are more susceptible to substance cravings and therefore relapse if we are careless about our wellness.

Exercise needs to be a regular habit for us and is another way to fortify us mentally and physically. Additionally, it helps us to stay on our schedule and keeps us meaningfully occupied. Even if the holidays are very busy, our wellness habits need to be the first priority. Not only to keep us healthy but also to show ourselves and others in our lives that our health matters. We matter.

Find Alternative Events

If there is an event or situation that we know will be a trigger for us, we can politely decline it. Yes, even work or family events. Our health and recovery are far more important than anything else. If we feel we must go, we should make a plan. We can bring something that we like to drink, or practice declining offers of substances. It is also a great idea to set an alarm for ourselves and leave an event earlier rather than later.

The safer bet is to just to find something else to do where we won’t be tempted to drink or use. There are so many things going on at the holidays, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a community event where substances are not even served. Or we can plan our own event – find some recovery friends and have them over, go out to dinner, or even just see a movie or have a game night together. We can make our own new holiday traditions and not risk throwing away all of our hard work by relapsing.

Reach for Support

We know when we get to that point. We may be down, lonely, or just flat out too emotionally exhausted to resist the cravings. Whatever the case, we can always ask for help. We can call our sponsor, a friend, family member or someone who loves us. It might also be helpful to organize a holiday support group, in addition to our normal meetings. Get some friends from recovery to help organize a group from November through January, and meet more than once a week, if needed. Being fiercely vigilant with ourselves and our recovery will bless our lives as well as the lives of others.

Volunteer

People tend to be a little selfish at the holidays. Or they drop some change in a can and feel like they have done a good deed. But we can roll up ourselves and truly get involved in our community and give our time and our hearts. This is rewarding for us and for others and is like a protective shield for us to keep us well.

The holidays can be a magical time,
or they can be the catalyst for relapse.

We can prepare ourselves and strengthen our bodies and minds, taking each day as it comes. With the help of The Bougainvilla House, you will get you the individual help you need along with group and family therapy sessions to help you build a new community of health and happiness. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t fight it alone.

Call Now: 954-764-7337

Do as I Say: A Message to Parents

parenting by example

We’ve all heard the expression, “Do as I say, and not as I do.” It means to follow the rules, follow what someone says, but don’t follow their actions. It means the person using the phrase is telling you to do something, but they, themselves, refuse to do it. Unfortunately, too many people are living by these words, but when it comes to parenting, this phrase can make or break the relationship we have with our kids.

We want our kids to be better than we are, to strive for more, and live a life of success, but when we follow this adage, we are forgetting what it means to be human. Kids, by nature, soak up their surroundings and internalize them. What they see is literally what they do because that’s exactly how humans learn, especially in their formative years. This means, as adults, it’s time to call our integrity into question, especially if we are doing the same for our kids. It’s time to ask ourselves if we are being the best role model possible, and if not, what can we do to get there?

How the ‘Do as I Say’ Method Backfires

There are two things that happen when we don’t act as role models, and they work together. First, whether we want to believe it or not, our children start picking up our behaviors because they live with us and see us every day. From day one, everything we do and say becomes an internalized narrative. Think about how kids learn to eat their food, speak, and play. We are the gatekeepers of knowledge, modeling all behaviors. But when kids grow older, the stakes grow larger.

For example, if you tell your kids not to get in a car with someone who’s been drinking, and you have a beer or two at dinner then drive your family home, you’re teaching your child it’s okay. If that doesn’t resonate, think about how you speak to your friends and even how you speak to your kids about others. If you are constantly name-calling, blaming, or refusing to take ownership of your behaviors, then how do you expect your kids to know any differently? You set the bar for kindness, compassion, and ownership because they have no other outlet to learn in the first 5-6 years of their lives. And the older they get, the more aware they become to who you are and what you are saying.

The next piece stems from respect. As parents, if we are constantly asking things of our kids, and we are doing the opposite, then we are providing mixed messages. Therefore, it’s easy for them to lose respect. You might say, “They are my child; they should respect me.” While that may be true if you’d tell your child to watch out for a specific behavior, yet you are exhibiting said behavior, your child is caught in a place where they aren’t sure what to think. And the more we act in ways we deem wrong, the more our child is going to pick up on it and see us in that light. For example, say you tell your child lying is wrong, but they watch you lie to your boss or your spouse. They may be young and naïve, but they can surely spot a liar. Now, since you’ve done it, they may feel it’s okay to lie occasionally, too.

This all boils down to integrity. Integrity means doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. If we aren’t doing the right thing when they are watching, they have no way to make the best decisions for themselves when we aren’t around.

How Can We Teach Our Kids to Have Integrity?

The easiest way to teach good behaviors is to lead by example. No one is asking you to be perfect, but the more we can model compassionate and morally sound behavior, the more likely our kids will pick up on those traits and behaviors, as well.

Think about it this way. Have you ever had a boss you simply didn’t respect? Think about the worst boss you’ve ever had and analyze those behaviors. Maybe they had an attitude, they didn’t follow through with their objectives, or simply did nothing to contribute. What did you gain from that environment? How did you feel when they didn’t follow through or simply did nothing in their position? Now, think about your kids. In a lot of ways, you are their boss for the first 18 years of their lives. You organize, you provide structure, and you give them the tools to succeed. How would they rate you as a boss? Are you following through? We can’t expect kids to follow a meaningless command and retain their respect. We wouldn’t want our kids to do the same with others in their lives, so it’s time to step up and be the leader we all need.

Leading by example can be hard when it comes to addiction. If you or a young adult you know is struggling with addiction, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families. Call us today to see how we can help 954-764-7337, or use our convenient Contact form.

Bullying

Bullying amongst adolescents and teenagers has been going on, in one form or another, since the beginning of human relations. Unfortunately, we have only really established the ability to engage in a serious dialogue about the negative effects of bullying since the early 2000’s. In 2005, the first data on bullying began to be collected by the federal government and at this time, according to the US Department of Education, the prevalence of bullying was shown to be at approximately 28%. As of 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that the prevalence rate had dropped to 20.8%, showing that while bullying overall has shown a decrease, the prevalence of it in middle and high schools is still 1 out of every 5 children.

The Effects of Bullying
Although overall, we may be seeing a decline in bullying nationwide, we cannot afford to become content with these numbers as just one instance of bullying can be a traumatic event for the victim. Generally speaking, victims of bullying do not experience one instance but rather on average, experience bullying at least 1-2 times per week. Bullying can induce a myriad of horrific effects on the victim such as increased isolation, shame, low self-esteem, anxiety, decreased performance in school, and symptoms of depression. Due to the consistent and persistent nature of bullying that is left without intervention, the long-term effects of bullying include potential PTSD, anxiety and depressive disorders, substance abuse, loss of trust, and even an engagement in self-harm as well as suicide. While there are some individuals who argue that bullying behavior can be a natural part of growing up, and they may be right, this notion doesn’t provide solutions for the victims and families who experience very real suffering due this type of behavior left unchecked.


What Are Some Possible Solutions To Bullying?

As the ability to engage in open dialogue about the effects of bullying becomes more realistic, we ought to first look at assertive communication as a primary mode of recourse. Typically, the bully has some real or perceived advantage over the victim which is manifested through physical strength, verbal aggression, or intimidation techniques. Bullies look for what they believe to be individuals who are weak-willed, shy, or defenseless; one way we can fortify ourselves against this kind of susceptibility is to let the bully know, verbally, that we will not stand by and be victimized. The “Three Strikes” rule is effective because it communicates to the bully that we will not stand passively by and allow this behavior. Upon the first incidence of bullying we let them know that this is unacceptable and will not be tolerated; upon the second incident, we communicate that should this happen again, we will notify the relevant authorities. Often times, this will signal to the bully that we will not stand for this treatment, and also that we are willing to make it difficult for them to continue this behavior without punishment. Clearly, this is not a catch-all solution, however, the establishment of confident and assertive language in the potential victim is often enough to deter further attempts at bullying.

Victims Become Victimizers
One of the most primitive psychological defense mechanisms is what’s known as displacement. This occurs when an individual is stripped of their power through the tyrannical actions of another; they cope with this loss of power by reclaiming it through disempowering another, often times through bullying. In other words, bullies tend to have difficult home lives, often times having to endure abuse and neglect of their parents which they can, in turn, take out on classmates in school. In order to address instances of bullying effectively, it is advantageous to understand the forces driving the bullying behavior, so we look to create a connection with bullies in order to show them compassion and understanding.

Cyberbullying
With the rise and ubiquitous nature of social media in contemporary society, cyberbullying has become a prominent subtype of bullying due to its accessibility, convenience, and potential anonymity. While typical bullying can have its limitations due to the fact that many individuals wouldn’t bully another if it required a face to face engagement with the person, social media allows for individuals who might not otherwise bully to engage in intimidation, slander, and humiliation via a medium that alleviates some personal connection and responsibility. Another reason cyberbullying is arguably as harmful as traditional bullying is due to the tendency for a pack mentality to arise in the context of social media where typical constraints on bad behavior might otherwise be regulated. It creates a landscape where, because of the distance of the interactions, individuals feel less personally responsible for their actions and therefore might act crueler than they would should they be faced with the victim in person.

Where Do We Go from Here?
Now that we have examined the effects of bullying, the possible solutions, and the importance of trying to connect with the victims as well as bullies themselves, what can we do in the meantime? Coordinating and communicating with school administrators in order to understand their bullying policies and what should be done in the event that an individual is bullied is a good place to start. Encouraging our children to speak up when they see bullying is another effective way of combatting bullying as well because it communicates to the victimizer that their behavior will not be tolerated. Finally, it is imperative that we seek the help of professionals, such as The Bougainvillea House, in order to foster open communication and compassion for families and children faced with bullying. Remember, we are not alone and The Bougainvillea House can help!