Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Parent a Child Who Has Intense Emotions

If you are interested in the topic of DBT and Parenting:
Save the Date: Friday, April 16th, 2010, from 11:00a.m. to 12:30p.m. Eastern Time.

NAMI Child and Adolescent Mental Health announces:

“We are very pleased to have special guest, Pat Harvey, LCSW-C, co-author of Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Help Your Child Regulate Emotional Outbursts and Aggressive Behaviors on our April Children’s Conference Call with Dr. Ken Duckworth , NAMI Medical Director and child and adolescent psychiatrist, to discuss how to use dialectical behavior therapy skills to parent a child who has intense emotions. Pat is a licensed clinical social worker and has extensive experience in using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills with children and adolescents.

Friday Children’s Conference Calls with Dr. Duckworth take place on the third Friday of every month. The calls are toll free and are scheduled from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. E.T. To access the toll-free call, please dial 1-888-858-6021; access number 309918#. We hope that you will join us!”


April 14, 2010 at 7:43 am Leave a comment

Preschooler’s and Meditation

Lesley Grant, the director of the Marin Mindfulness Cooperative in San Anselmo teaches mindfulness to preschoolers. The purpose: “to lower stress in anxious teachers and students.” Through pictures and stories they guide children in following their breath.

Here is a sample of a Mindfulness exercise used for kids ages 2 1/2 to five.

My mind is a clear, blue sky, my mind is a clear blue sky.

And I breathe in, and I breathe out.

And my mind is a clear, blue sky.

My mind is a clear, blue sky. And the feelings come, and the feelings go.

And my mind is a clear, blue sky. My mind is a clear, blue sky.”

For more on this story, follow the link: Preschoolers Practice Meditation

April 12, 2010 at 6:50 am Leave a comment

Mindful Breathing to Reduce Stress

Breathing is a way to connect your body to your thoughts and, when your mind becomes scattered is a way to refocus. Learning to focus on your breath can help to anchor you in the present moment. Focusing in breathing also generally has a calming effect.

Continue Reading April 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm Leave a comment

Non-judgmental Mindfulness: Changing Your Thinking

Good, bad, fair, unfair, superior, awful, excellent, dreadful, worthy, shoddy, should, shouldn’t.  If this is the soundtrack in your mind, then this exercise will help you to re-focus on the skill of non-judgmental.  Part of our mind is constantly comparing our experiences with others we’ve had or holding them up to some expectations we’ve created.  These judgments happen in our minds, can trigger intense emotions and distract us from the moment. If you’re trying to concentrate, but you keep getting distracted by judgmental thoughts then it’s time to practice non-judgmental thinking.

In order to change your thinking, you must focus attention on your thoughts.  Notice them as clouds floating in the sky.  They change and pass with time.  Bring your awareness to the content of your thoughts.  Observe each time a judgmental word or thought crosses your mind.  At this point you can either simply allow the judgment to float by or you can begin to change your thinking. 

To change your thinking, try to describe the situation, rather than judge it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  You can acknowledge whether something was helpful or harmful for you, acknowledge how it made you feel or simply describe to yourself the observable parts of the situation, without placing a value on them.

It’s very hard to think in non-judgmental terms, but it’s an important skill to learn.  Judgments have a significant effect on the way we feel.  They also can cloud our perceptions and leave us responding not to a situation as it is, but to a situation as we’ve judged it to be.

March 28, 2010 at 3:20 pm 2 comments

Keeping Relationships: Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills

In DBT the skill designed to keep relationships is called the GIVE skill.  It is an acronym, with each letter standing for a behavior that will help you keep a relationship.  You will find that it is a skill that you likely already use on a regular basis with people that you care about and whose company you enjoy.  However, these skills can become much more difficult when you are in a situation with people that you don’t like or enjoy.  A demanding boss, irritating co-worker or incomprehensible manager may test your abilities to stick it out with the GIVE skill.  If you feel angry, hurt, like someone doesn’t respect your opinion, or that you’ve asked for something skillfully and the person still hasn’t responded you may find this skill more difficult. However, if you find yourself at odds with the people in your life, then GIVE is likely a skill that will decrease the conflict you experience and increase your ability to ultimately get what you want from others.  The trick is to remember and use the skill while you are interacting with the person.

G:  Be Gentle.  No attacks or threats.  Be considerate.

I:  Act Interested.  Listen to the other person and their point of view.

V:  Validate the other person.  To validate you have to figure out what problems the person might be having.  Then you have to acknowledge those feelings or problems. 

E:  Use and easy manner.  Try to be lighthearted.  Use humor.  Smile.  Ease the person along.  People don’t like to be bullied or made to feel guilty.

March 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm Leave a comment

Surviving a Crisis with Self-Soothing

When you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, be kind, gentle, and comforting to yourself. 

VISION:  Look at things that make you feel calm and soothed, like… stars, clouds, sunsets, sunrises, trees, artwork, posters, paintings, flowers, birds, watch the ocean, watch a fire in a fireplace, nice houses, dream catchers, glass animal figurines, stained glass, fish tanks, fireworks, art books, comic books,  waves, the beach, architecture, lakes, pictures of family, dolphins.

 SMELL:  Smell things that are comforting to you, like… cold air, cookouts, incense, scented candles, campfire, salt air at the beach, bubble bath, lotions, baby smell, clean blankets, sheets, and clothes, rain,  shampoo, favorite foods, soap, flowers, roses, deodorant, powder, wood burning, soda (root beer, grape, orange),  tea, potpourri, popcorn, a pillow.

 HEARING:  Listen to things that make you feel calm and gentle, like…  music, chimes, opera, soft rock (Rod Steward—Faith of Heart), Oldies, dolphins, classical music, 80’s music, birds in back yard, Celine Dion, Moody Blues, sounds of fans, being read to by others, tapping of typing, water falls, frogs.

 TASTE:  Taste things that are comforting, like… pudding, ice cream, herbal tea, chocolate, favorite meal, favorite soda, fried eggplant, seltzer,  strawberries, tic tacs, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, spaghetti, shimp, lobster, Popsicles, potato chips,  brownies, a snowflake, pizza, Peanut Butter and Jelly, toothpaste.

 TOUCH:  Touch things that are comforting and soothing, like…petting a cat or dog, running hands under warm water, bubble bath, running fingers through clean hair, pillow, sitting in a recliner, hot bath, laying on satin/ silk sheets, hot shower, cool water on face, comfortable clothes/ silk, walking on the beach (sand and waves), fuzzy blanket,  soaking feet.

Sometimes when we’re stressed and overwhelmed, we forget to take care of ourselves.  Giving yourself time to self-soothe will increase your ability to manage and function during times of stress.

March 20, 2010 at 8:46 am 1 comment

This Is It


It’s easy in life to get caught up in ruminations about the past or worries about the future.  For many, this is a particularly unstable time.  People are worried about their jobs and maintaining financial stability.  Parents worry about the environment in which they are raising their children.  We worry about war, health and making a living and ruminate on how we got here. 

In the process of ruminating and worrying we can miss what is going on right now.  Often, what’s happening right here in the present is worth paying attention to.  This is the life we are living.  Only by paying attention will we know if it is the life we want to live.

Try reminding yourself from time to time: “This is it.” See if there is anything at all that it cannot be applied to. Remind yourself that acceptance of the present moment has nothing to do with resignation in the face of what is happening. It simply means a clear acknowledgment that what is happening is happening.
Wherever You Go, There You Are by
Jon Kabat-Zinn

March 14, 2010 at 4:09 pm Leave a comment

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