War, Finance, and Politics—Child Psychologists in Littleton Discuss With Your Child

The world is a pretty scary place right now. Child psychologists in Littleton are as busy as ever with our normal concerns including ADHD, social skills issues, school problems, divorce, and learning disorders. But what about when your kid is concerned about “adult stuff” that they might see on the news or hear others talking about? Keep reading to see how child therapists in Littleton discuss these issues with kids of all ages, and how you can put their minds at ease at home.

Ask What Your Child Already Knows

When your child asks about “adult issues” like war or politics, start by finding out what they know already. This gives you a chance to understand more about what they are concerned about, and to correct any misunderstandings. This is also a great time to ask why they want to know, and where they heard about these things from. Asking if there’s anything that they have nightmares about or “worries that get in the way of doing schoolwork” which can be signs that it’s time to meet with a child psychologist in Littleton.

Share the Facts, History, and Rules When Discussing Sensitive Topics

Most of the contentious issues on the news have at least two sides—so try to stay neutral and let your bright, capable child form her own opinions. Your role is to share the facts, history, and rules as well as you can. Are two nations at war? Instead of “choosing” a side, go on a history search with your child to see if you can understand what started it and why it’s happening today. Is your child asking if a public figure has done something illegal? Help them understand the laws that govern these public figures so they are better informed. This not only answers questions, but builds important critical thinking skills that child psychologists know are important for a healthy life.

Stay Age-Appropriate

The answers you give to a 4-year-old should be very different from the answers you give to a 16-year-old. Younger children have a more concrete understanding of the world, and are built to be self-focused. A young child asking about war is likely to be most interested in reassurance that they will be safe, that nobody will “come and get them” due to the scary things they hear on the news. An older child may be more informed, or may have a personal stake in the conflict—such as religious affiliations or personal beliefs. It’s okay to simplify things for young children, such as saying “these two groups don’t get along and they are fighting, but they are far, far away.” For an older child, knowledge is power, so head to your local library or trusted internet sources to empower them!

Plenty of adults visit a psychologist in Littleton because the news is too stressful—keep your kids focused on age-appropriate tasks and away from the 24/7 news machine. Help them learn the valuable life lessons of the adult world gradually and safely, and don’t hesitate to contact a child psychologist in Littleton for help!


Couples Therapy in Littleton Can Help You Avoid This Top Relationship Destroyer

What problem is so common that up to a third of couples cite it as a stressor on their relationship? Couples therapists in Littleton know that financial disputes and money management can destroy marriages. Here’s how to avoid this potential destroyer of your relationship!

Clear Communication Is A Must

One of the most common goals for couples who visit a therapist in Littleton for couples therapy is to learn how to communicate better or more effectively. This is especially true when planning or managing finances—and even more so when the finances are tight! From the moment you take your relationship to a serious level, you should be open about your expectations and goals with regard to finances. Do you and your partner share everything, or do you keep separate accounts, plus one for shared expenses? Is one person happy to turn over financial planning to the other, who manages it with finesse? What’s most important to both of you, and each of you? Communicating about these needs in advance can help you avoid conflict later down the line.

When Finances Become a Metaphor

For many couples, financial challenges are a metaphor for underlying issues in the relationship. Are you really angry that your spouse spent all the household funds on a new car… or are you more angry that your spouse is out driving that car all the time instead of spending time with the family? Unmet needs, family history, and past financial mishaps can make even “simple” financial decisions seem loaded. By discussing and understanding your motivations, you can figure out if it’s really the money that’s bothering you, or if there is something more underneath.

Don’t Wait to Call A Couples Therapist in Littleton

If you and your partner are having frequent disputes about finances, cannot see eye to eye on spending, or are starting to “stash away” funds for other purposes, you may benefit from working with a couple’s therapist in Littleton. Your accountant can advise on things like spending limits and budgeting, but your therapist can help you figure out how to balance both people’s priorities, needs, and wants, and facilitate helpful conversation about these difficult topics.

Most couples wait way too long to see a couple’s therapist. If you want a strong return on investment, choosing to invest wisely in your relationship is a good start. Scheduling couples therapy in Littleton could be your first step to a stronger relationship, including handling financial disagreements in a way that works for everyone.



, ,

This is What Video Games Do Right To Motivate Your Child

Child psychologists in Highlands Ranch hear the same complaint every day: your child can’t seem to focus on his homework or chores for more than 5 minutes, but can spend endless time working toward the next level on his video game! How are video games so motivating, and what can parents, educators, and counselors learn from them?

Video Games Don’t Punish—And Neither Should You

Bad news from science: punishment doesn’t work. It doesn’t help a person learn how to do a task, doesn’t meaningfully reduce unwanted behaviors, and increases the risk of the person disengaging or becoming rebellious. If a video game punished a player for losing, more players would “rage quit” than continue to play. So what do game designers do instead? Video games today usually use the term “respawn” or “go back to a previous checkpoint.” In real life, this looks a lot like “try again.” Your child may be frustrated to hear that her character has perished and must now “respawn at the last checkpoint,” but she’s still motivated to keep trying—all day and night! You can use some of the same principles to shape behavior.

Child Psychologists Explain Intermittent Reinforcement

If you’ve played any ad-supported phone games lately, you’ve probably noticed the trend to have a “prize of the day” or “lucky wheel” to spin for a free prize. Usually, these prizes are “worth” almost nothing, but there are a few amazing prizes mixed in, like lots of game currency or special abilities. What keeps kids (and adults!) coming back to click these low-reward boxes so often? The principle of intermittent reinforcement. Much like slot machines at a casino, or winnings on lottery tickets, there is a very low barrier to entry and the chance of a very high reward. When that reward does arrive, it’s so big and exciting that it floods the brain with reward chemicals—driving the person to come back again and again. Intermittent reinforcement makes behavior more likely—so make sure you use it to reward good behaviors, not to give in to temper tantrums.

Video Games Borrow Tools From Children’s Play Therapy

When you bring a child to see a play therapist in Highlands Ranch, you can expect the therapist to start out by making each visit as fun and easy as possible. Just like the first few levels of a video game, where “leveling up” is easy and rewards are frequent, your child’s first few play sessions are geared to increase engagement and build positive associations. As play therapy progresses, you may notice that your child’s therapist offers choices and lets your child take the lead—turns out, video game designers took notice of this as well! If you get a chance, observe your child when he first starts playing a video game. Does he go to the battle or race immediately, or check out the boosters? Does he work toward daily goals, or have his own plan? No matter what he chooses, he will see progress in the video game—and he’ll feel pride and ownership because he chose his own course. Any external goals are clearly defined and come with clearly-defined rewards and prizes, so your child can choose what is most important.

Gamification (making things seem more like games) is a tool that has shown good results in the workplace, school settings, business, and marketing—any place where “hard work” can be transformed into “good fun.” Next time you’re struggling to motivate your child, ask yourself how a video game might do it. For more tips and personalized help, call a child psychologist in Highlands Ranch.




Is Your Partner a Narcissist? Toxic? Gaslighting? Littleton Psychologists Discuss Terms!

More and more psychologists in Littleton are getting calls from clients who want help with their “narcissist,” “toxic,” or “gaslighting” partner. These are just a sample of the terms that are being tossed around in-office and online, and not all of them are very accurate. Keep reading to see how today’s online discourse makes these words commonplace and why they can be hurtful!

Only Psychologists Should Diagnose Personality Disorders

Many people throw around descriptive names for behaviors that sound an awful lot like personality disorders. Narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder are all serious, lifelong mental health conditions that should be left to the best psychiatrists and psychologists in Littleton. That’s why your couple’s therapist may ask “Who diagnosed this?” Remember, just because someone you love shows negative patterns of behavior, or even symptoms of mental health disorders, they may not fully meet criteria. Making these technical terms mainstream does a disservice to those living with these conditions.

Real Therapists in Highlands Ranch Don’t Name-Call

Everything that someone doesn’t like these days is “toxic.” Unless you’re talking about asbestos or rat poison, you should try to use more helpful and descriptive language, especially while talking to or about your partner. Is your partner “toxic” because she didn’t pick up the dry cleaning? Try a more accurate word, like “forgetful,” or express your feelings clearly by stating “I feel really disappointed when you don’t help out with household chores.” Is your partner really “crazy,” or would a more accurate statement be “I don’t understand why you made that choice.” When you use diluted, negative words instead of expressing your real feelings, you’re just calling names. Marriage counseling in Highlands Ranch can help you express yourself more accurately.

Couples Counselors in CO Know That Disagreement Isn’t Gaslighting

Everyone on the internet is gaslighting or being gaslit today—or are they? When couples visit their therapist in Colorado, many instances of “gaslighting” are really better explained as “disagreements” or “pure stubbornness!” If you’ve ever seen the movie Gaslight (which is where the term came from—know your memes!), you’ll know that the gaslighter in the film didn’t just disagree with the other person’s account, or have a different experience—they were purposely engaging in “crazymaking” and trying to convince the other person that their thoughts and reality were inaccurate. Denial can be strong, so keep in mind that your partner may actually be clueless, aloof, checked out, avoidant, or disengaged before assuming gaslighting.

Today’s digital culture makes it very easy to hashtag a hot term and use it without knowing exactly what it means. Leave that sort of communication for celebrity gossip and put more effort into your marriage communication. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to a couples counselor in Littleton.



, ,

Child Psychologists in Littleton Avoid These Two Tear-Inducing Words

Kids cry—a lot. In fact, many parents bring their child to visit a child psychologist in Littleton because they cry so much that it gets in the way of other activities. Does your child’s crying interfere with daily routines, mealtime, school, and recreation? Is the behavior interrupting your marriage? Keep reading to find out the two words you should avoid saying—and what works better instead.

Why Do Kids Cry?

Do you remember being a child? If you can remember your elementary school years or even preschool years, you may remember crying over “little” problems, like a sticker ripping in half instead of coming up neatly, a dropped ice cream cone, or the dreaded torture of clothes that don’t feel right! As an adult, you are so fortunate to have a hundred solutions for each of these problems—including getting in the car, driving to a store, and buying more stuff to fix those problems! Now you probably only cry when you are really injured, when someone breaks your heart, or when something devastating happens to your loved ones—problems that have no solutions. Crying serves a purpose. When kids talk to a therapist about what makes them cry, they describe feeling helpless, frustrated, and powerless when they cry. Think back to before you could leave situations on your own, before you could buy your own supplies before you know how many cool things were in the world—those little things do feel devastating, and having no power to change them feels even worse.

Why This Common Phrase Usually Backfires When Managing Kid’s Emotions

If you were deeply upset, and someone told you “stop crying,” would it work? Most adults can see that if their partner responded to them in this fashion after a loss, that partner would get an earful in return! Just like you, your child doesn’t want to cry. Crying is uncomfortable and can be embarrassing in our society—and it often feels out of one’s personal control. Telling someone to just “stop crying” is like telling them to stop feeling pain after being stung by a bee—we wish it was that simple! When your child is upset and you tell them to stop crying, you’re just piling another failure on their plate.

How To Help Your Child Stop Crying

So what can you do to help your child stop crying? Figure out what the problem was and help them to solve it or accept it. Child and family psychologists in Littleton know that not every problem can be solved, but when it can, you can guide your child to that solution. Help your child externalize the problem by naming it, and don’t hesitate to have a little fun—if your child is melting down over a pair of shoes that just won’t tie, why not throw those “mean shoes” to the back of the closet to be “forgotten forever!” and choose a different pair? If the misery is about a broken item, would your child be interested in taking it to “toy hospital” or shopping online for a replacement? For problems without solutions, focus on helping your child calm down again after expressing sadness for a while. Yes, this means that you’ll have to listen to that crying for a few minutes—but you’ll live! Once your child shows signs that they are ready to listen and move on, speak in soft, soothing tones and help them to regulate their body by encouraging things like “take a deep breath,” “have a sip of water,” or asking if they would like a hug.

It seems intuitive that a direct order to “stop crying” would work, but it often has the same effect as throwing water on a grease fire. Next time your child is crying uncontrollably, remember that you need to address the cause of the fire—or emotional upset—and connect your child with the tools they need to extinguish it. If you need help with this process, or if nothing works to help your child stop crying, visit a child psychologist in Littleton for parenting tools and play therapy.



, ,

Try These Fun Activities At Home To Build Attention, Focus, and Planning Skills

Paying attention is hard—especially for kids! Child psychologists in Littleton know just how short little attention spans can be, and how challenging other tasks of executive functioning, such as planning ahead, paying attention to detail, and multitasking can be. Whether your child has been diagnosed with ADHD or not, try these fun activities at home to help build up these important skills.

Cook and Bake To Help Kids Practice Following Directions

Do you have memories of baking cookies with grandma, or helping your parents prepare dinner when you were a child? You probably didn’t realize it at the time, but they were helping you to learn valuable life skills! Baking in particular requires careful, accurate measurements, and attention to time. Just an extra teaspoon or a few extra minutes will turn tasty cookies into a hard, burnt mess, and these natural consequences can help children realize how important it is to stay focused on the task at hand. A tip from Highlands Ranch play therapists is to “reserve” some of the materials just in case. Ending on a successful note makes everyone happier!

Explore Natural Consequences and Reactions with Science Experiments

Is your child always asking “what would happen if…?” Indulge some of those curiosities and explore cause-and-effect when you invite your child to perform some science experiments! This could be as simple as mixing slime or homemade dough, as spontaneous as mixing leftover kitchen ingredients, or as complicated as your older child would like it to be. Whether you are performing advanced chemistry or just trying to see “will more soap make even more bubbles?” make sure to invite your child to think about and predict the reactions, then to interpret the consequences. Child behavior psychologists use similar in-vivo activities to help children understand that their actions have consequences (good and bad, sometimes explosive!) and to plan for the future.

Try “Racing” To Build Time Awareness

If your child is always running late, taking too long, or feeling rushed, it can help to improve her awareness and sense of time. Turn it into a game and you’ll be amazed at the results! Proposing a “race” (either against a parent, or against your child’s best time), can be a good way to shift the focus to speed without rushing or pressure. For example, time your child’s bedtime routine to see how fast she really can get teeth brushed and pajamas on, or measure how long it actually takes to complete homework. With repeated practice, this can help your child “sense” how long blocks of time (a minute, 5 minutes, an hour) may actually be. Since little brains are still developing, your child therapist reminds you that this can take years of practice to perfect!

Some of the games, routines, and rituals that parents have practiced with children since the dawn of time can teach valuable life lessons. If everyday interventions and tips are not enough to help your child manage life at home and at school successfully, you’re not alone. Consider working with a child psychologist in Littleton for ADHD evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.




These Three Things Help You And Your Children Recover After Divorce

After you and your partner have decided to divorce, you have a long way to go. Couples
therapists in Highlands Ranch work with many individuals and couples who have gone through a
divorce to help them get back on track and feel settled about what has happened. For those who
have children, it is even more important to work toward divorce recovery, as your kids need both
parents to be at their best. Here are three tips from couple’s therapists in Highlands Ranch that
can help you and your children recover after divorce.
Embrace and Express Feelings Related to the Divorce
Divorce creates a lot of feelings, and not always feelings that either party likes. As psychologists
in Littleton often remind our clients, there is no such thing as a bad feeling. Healthy people can
feel and express a full range of feelings, including uncomfortable ones like sadness, regret, guilt,
and anger. In fact, coming to terms with these feelings and expressing them appropriately is one
of the best ways you can recover after divorce. The same is also true for your children, so open
doors for them to talk about their feelings, worries, and thoughts related to the divorce.
Go Slow When Recovering From Divorce
After making a major life decision, give yourself a break. This isn’t the time to change careers,
start a new routine for self-improvement, or pick up a new project. When your health takes a hit,
you spend time recovering; similarly, when your relationship health is in peril, you need time to
recover emotionally. Jumping into a new relationship is ill-advised, and worse if you have
children. Couples therapists in Highlands Ranch advise you to go slow. In fact, you probably
have so much to focus on, including co-parenting, consistency between homes, dividing assets,
and planning for the future, that a break is advised!
Consider Working With A Professional in Divorce Recovery
If you find that you cannot concentrate at work, that your health is mysteriously taking a turn for
the worst, or your kids seem to be coming apart, it’s time to work with a professional in divorce
recovery. Your skilled psychologist can help you process your emotions, help you and your ex
see eye-to-eye on co-parenting issues, and can provide expert advice on how to navigate the
stages of divorce. If you’re fortunate enough to work with an animal assisted therapist, even
better—a four-legged professional can often make difficult discussions easier.
Divorce doesn’t have to be conflictual, messy, or destructive. Even if your relationship is moving
in this direction, you can still seek help for yourself, your children, and your family unit.
Working with a psychologist or seeking couples therapy in Littleton can help you and your loved
ones express feelings appropriately, community constructively, and build a separate life for the
future. Call or email today to start couple’s therapy with Dr. Steve and his therapy dog, Zeke!


Why You Should Make Time For Couples Counseling During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a stressful time—ironically, it’s also a time when couples therapists in Highlands Ranch see far fewer clients! Why do so many people skip out on marriage therapy during the holidays, and why is it the worst time ever? Keep reading to find out!

“Not Enough Time” for Couples Counseling

The main reason why people report that they stop seeing their couples counselor during the holidays is that they just do not have enough time! Between planning and coordinating family events, cooking meals, traveling, and managing childcare when the kids are off school, busy people just don’t have free time, and therapy is one of the things that tends to be trimmed away.

The Holiday Season Increases Stress

Not only are you likely more busy during the holiday season, you are likely to be under more stress. For most people, the holidays are a time for a lot of activity, which can be stressful, even when it is good. Even more, this time of year tends to be associated with emotionally-charged memories, and you may be seeing people you haven’t seen in years. This can bring up a lot of emotional and relationship issues that can impact your marriage. This is a time when you could use the problem-solving skills of a skilled couples therapist in Highlands Ranch more than ever!

Couple’s Therapy Can Make Life Easier

While taking an hour or two out of your day to attend couples counseling in Highlands Ranch may seem like another bite out of your already overbooked schedule, you may actually make your life easier by participating in couples therapy. Think about all the time you spend arguing, miscommunicating, or not seeing eye-to-eye. Could you imagine how much you and your partner could get done if you were on the same page throughout all of those activities? Do your holiday plans ever get waylaid by relationship issues—or is it the in-laws who are ruining your special events? You can work together in couples counseling to develop action plans to handle these more easily, or to set clear and effective boundaries. Making life smoother is often better than just getting an extra hour or so of free time.

If your relationship is important to you, you can keep it even stronger by continuing your couples counseling during the holidays. Dr. Steve and his trained couples therapy dog Zeke are waiting to help. Schedule now to get the best times that work with your busy schedule!



, ,

My Child Doesn’t Talk in Therapy. Are They Getting Anything Out of It?

Making the decision to bring your child to see a child psychologist in Littleton is an important one, and one you have probably considered carefully. After all, you wonder about your child’s future mental health, your parenting strengths, and the costs of those sessions. So if you observe that your child does not talk, or if your child reports “we don’t really talk at therapy,” should you be worried? Is it a waste of time, or is your child getting something out of those sessions? Keep reading for insight into the process of therapy and counseling with kids and teens.

Play Therapy for Pre-School Kids

If your child is very young, such as those in preschool or kindergarten, you may be working with a play therapist in Highlands Ranch, or at least a child psychologist well-versed in play-based therapy. Unlike adult talk therapy, play therapy is all about experience—just like your little one learns! Because children at this age have a limited vocabulary, your child psychologist will work to understand her needs in different ways, such as her actions, facial expressions, and reactions. Every action is communication—words are not always necessary. By celebrating successes, guiding expression, and providing new and different opportunities to approach and solve problems, your child is learning without talking very much.

Therapy for Elementary School Children

This is the age where kids often tell their parents (quite proudly) “we didn’t talk at all today!” That’s because children this age often lack insight into the deeper meanings of things, and may not see the connection between role-playing, pretend play, and other tools used by child psychologists to create behavior change. For a child who is being bullied, talking about it can feel like torture. However, playing a game where all the soldiers in the castle pick on the littlest soldier, only to have that soldier save the day later, can boost confidence and remind the client of his strengths—without all that “talking.” Children will often express their needs through play, such as repeatedly being drawn to toys representing past traumas, current hurdles, or specific emotions.

Talk Therapy For Teenagers

By the time your child is in middle or high school, they’ve probably moved past the toys and games and are ready for what looks like “adult” therapy. But parents can be frustrated to find out that their child spends the session talking about their favorite TV show, the fun they had with their friends, or seemingly “random stuff.” Once again—every action is communication. Exploring the role of feelings and relationships through fantasy (like TV shows or video games) is the big-kid version of playing with toys. It allows the child to explore those things without the real consequences, or to imagine life at its extremes.

When you bring your child or teenager for therapy in Littleton, don’t fixate on “how much” or even “if” they talk. Your child or adolescent psychologist is adept at interpreting communications of all kinds, and changing behavior through interactions. Call today to start seeing change.



, ,

New 2022 study shows Pandemic caused increased internet addiction

Here is a recent study that came out in 2022 indicating some key points of the effects of internet addiction.

People from the study defined with severe internet addiction were 8x more likely to have depression, 9x anxiety and 14x more likely to have both depression and anxiety

The study highlights the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and how it negatively impacted people.