Welcome to our new Blog! Current articles and interviews with our clinicians and staff will be posted periodically. For the holidays here is an article about the holiday season and an interview with Jeff Sosne:
TIS THE SEASON…..
Tis the season, to be…..Jolly? Busy? Overwhelmed? Dare we say, sad, anxious, disappointed? Notwithstanding the joy and excitement of the holiday season, it is important to emphasize that with the possibility for joy, connection, and love comes the other side of the coin: sadness, isolation and discontent.
With the arrival of the December holidays, it is important to keep in mind that this time of year often brings a mixed bag of experiences. Your child didn’t get the toy he wanted? You have to spend time with unpleasant family members? You are stressed about the financial burdens of celebrating? You are experiencing the pain of celebrating without a loved one? You are feeling overwhelmed by the lack of structure and the significant amount of long school-free days? There are so many aspects of this time of year that can be unsettling for children and adults.
How do we enter this season of joy and happiness with an awareness that it may be more difficult? It may be helpful to go in with mental preparation for the excitement- and challenges– that lay ahead. You may find that through doing this you are able to create plans to help navigate the more difficult issues. Take a moment to think through an upcoming stressful situation and plan on how to approach it skillfully, and identifying helpful strategies to get through whatever is coming your way.
Or, it may help knowing that some things may remain difficult, and there is little you can do about it. That is okay too. Take a moment, notice the feelings that arise, and allow them to be. Try to smile at them good-humouredly and invite them to the holiday festivities (just keep them on a leash!). You may even want to try giving reoccurring difficult thoughts or feelings a humorous name that makes you giggle. Approaching these moments with honesty and compassion, and allowing them to just be, may make these days richer and more meaningful for you and your family.
What’s more, allowing your children to watch you deal with difficult feelings that come up even in joyous times models for them the truth that nothing is ever black and white. Celebrations and joy may (and often do) come with tag along monster friends that feel more uncomfortable, but by allowing all these feelings in, by noticing them, watching them, and perhaps allowing them to exist without judgement, provide great lessons for your children and hopefully allow them to embrace complicated feelings and situations themselves.
Practical Tip: How to be present and reacquaint yourself as a human “being” rather than a human “doing”:
In a quiet space, take a few moments to pay attention to your breathing. Don’t manipulate your breath, just notice it and watch it as you inhale and exhale, as if you are discovering something for the first time. It may be helpful to choose a place on your body where you feel your breath more vividly, such as the rise and fall of your abdomen, or the back of your throat or the tips of your nostrils. See if you can watch and notice your breathing as it goes in and out, gently guiding your attention back to the breath as your mind wanders (as it will!). When you are done, take one more brief moment to pay attention to how you are feeling after doing this brief mindfulness exercise. What feelings arose? What did you notice your mind telling you? How did it feel to bring yourself back to the present, over and over again?
Staff Interview with Dr. Jeff Sosne:
For more than 40 years, Jeff Sosne has worked with families as a clinical psychologist, educator, author and Clinic Director of the Children’s Program. Today he is widely recognized as a leading authority on ADHD. Here, Dr. Sosne reflects on the life of pets, parenting advice and the future of the Children’s Program.
What is your current state of mind?
Then we’ll make this quick. How did you change from Bachelors in Economics to a Doctorate in Psychology?
In college I signed up for the Big Brother Program – how I got there is another story – but I was assigned to a young boy with Autism. We started working together and I realized the enjoyment I received from helping children. That changed my trajectory forever.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’ve been called stubborn, and for the life of me, I don’t know why people would say that.
What are the greatest loves of your life?
Number one is my family. Number two is the clinic. Number three is our pets. Number four is my trading card collection. (A small fraction of which graces the walls of the clinic)
If you could be reincarnated, how would you come back?
As one of my wife’s pets. Have you met Charlie Rose? (The clinic’s therapy dog extraordinaire) He has the perfect life.
Which brings me to, why did you name your dog Charlie Rose?
He was given the name Hannity at birth, which did not appeal to my wife and me. So we picked someone we admire and watch on PBS – Charlie Rose. He’s a legend.
As a freebie, can you share a piece of parenting advice?
I wish I would have told my younger self, don’t get so stressed out at things that will not matter down the road. Life is a long journey and things have a way of working out.
What do you like most about being a child psychologist?
I like the people I work with. I enjoy the opportunity to share families’ experiences, and then take what I learn and share it with other families. I’m continually reading and thinking about ways to help children; I take the information and present it to parents in a usable way.
What’s next for the Children’s Program?
I’m interested in using media and technology to broaden the way we help children and families. We have developed education software, materials for parents and teachers, and a variety of new classes.