Dr. Renee Appears on Martha Stewart Living Radio

Dr. Renee was interviewed by Betsy Karetnick, host of “Living at Home,” which airs on Martha Stewart Living Radio on SiriusXM Satellite Radio (Channel 110). During the interview, Dr. Renee talked about negotiating with your children. To hear the segment, click here: Dr. Renee Appears on Martha Stewart Living Radio

Dr. Clauselle Appeared on FiOS1 News

Dr. Clauselle appeared on FiOS1 News to discuss how parents can detect mental illness in children in the wake of the school tragedy in Connecticut.

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Newsday: Facing Fear Borne of Newtown’s Tragedy

Many parents preoccupied with helping their kids cope with the murders in Connecticut are simultaneously trying to deal with their own anxieties over the tragedy. Read the full story »

Dr. Renee Appears on “News 4 New York at 7”

Dr. Renee Clauselle appeared on “News 4 New York at 7” to talk about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and how to help children deal with these events.

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Dr. Renee Sends Out Prayers to Families in Connecticut and Offers Tips on Talking to Children About This Tragedy

Dear Friends,

I grieve with all of you. I will try my best to offer some healing as we get more details about this horrific tragedy. Many have asked for tips on speaking to children. It is difficult when the pain is so raw and the emotions still so fresh. Please know that these tips are NOT for people who are immediately affected by this or those who live in Connecticut. Please inbox me directly if you are in that category.

For the rest of us I humbly offer what I will be doing in my own home:

1) Keep kids away from the television. Media outlets tend to give us raw emotions. That is not what your children need to see right now.

2) Children are on a “Need to Know” basis. Be honest without providing too many details and be developmentally appropriate.

3) Be on the look-out for trauma responses in your children and notify a professional for help if they are evident (avoiding school, wanting to know more information than necessary, unusually fearful, problems sleeping, and avoidant behavior).

4) They can sense fear and sadness in your eyes…our goal is to help them feel safe. Sometimes parenting requires our best acting skills. I tell my clients to practice talking like a news reporter…calm…just stating facts. Do what you need to do to help your kids feel safe.

5) Try to help them feel there is still someone in charge and in control. Kids depend on us to protect and control situations (even when we cannot control and protect them everywhere). Highlight the ways adults are working to protect children and will do so even more now (i.e. the president, law officials, etc.) Even if you don’t believe that, you must give this message to your children. We cannot pass on our feelings (mine included) of “What has the world come to?” Remember they will hopefully be in this world longer than we will. So we need express that there is order and protection, and that authorities will work together on this incident.

6) Lastly, PRAYER AND FAITH. If you practice a religion/spiritual practice in your home, now is the time to call on God. Teach children that FAITH is important and that what is too hard for humans, is not too hard for God.

Hope this helps some….again, I am very humbly presenting what will happen in my household.

Wishing you all healing,

Dr. Renee

Vote for Dr. Renee in LI Press’ “Best of LI 2013”!

Dr. Renee Clauselle has been nominated for Best Psychotherapist in the Long Island Press’ “Best of LI 2013.” Click on the link here, scroll down to Psychotherapist and vote for Dr. Renee Clauselle. Vote as many times as you like. Voting ends December 15.

Family Routines to Take You Into the Fall Season

Kids crave routines because they are consistent.  When families are consistent, children feel safe, secure, and loved.  We’ve all heard that kids need routines from a variety of sources like the pediatrician, teachers, other parents, child care providers, and even your mother-in-law.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, healthy routines make for healthy families by providing a safe, secure, loving, and stable environment for children.  The key to a healthy routine is to establish a happy family compromise between the disorder and chaos which occurs without one and is not so consistent as to be inflexible and unyielding.

Kids thrive with family routines because they know their needs are being met and when they will be met.  On a very basic level, this is reassuring and affirming.  Routines also give families valuable opportunities for children to experience success in what they are doing.  This success promotes confidence, self-control, and empathy.  Here are some ideas for setting healthy family routines that work.

Morning – Morning can be one of the most chaotic times for any family.  The key to establishing an effective morning routine is to know what needs to be done to get ready for the day ahead.  Here are several things to do which will make the morning routine run well:

  • Set out as many things as possible the night before.
  • Be positive, cheerful, and encouraging with your family wake-up routine.
  • Make sure you all have breakfast.
  • Round off the morning routine by giving your child a simple hug or wave.  This gives them a positive feeling which can last all day.

After School – All kids need healthy adult supervision from elementary school to middle school.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children come home to a parent, adult, or a responsible adolescent.  Kids who lack adult supervision after school are more susceptible to risk-taking, anxiety, and misbehavior.

Dinnertime – Having dinner together as a family fosters resilience, builds self-esteem, and enhances family communication.  As often as possible, all family members should eat together at a communal table without any distractions.  Discussing the day’s events and having a face to face conversation, without any negative comments or criticism, is a great way for families to bond and can even enhance digestion.

Bedtime – Children need a regular time to go to sleep at all times; particularly on school nights.  Lights can go out at different times for different kids – depending on how much sleep they need.  Nighttime rituals like reading aloud, conversation, songs, and storytelling all help calm children and give them a sense of security.

Weekends – For family togetherness time, weekends cannot be beat.  You can get together and visit museums or zoos, go shopping, take a hike or bike ride, do chores that everyone participates in, or even attend religious services.  Older children can be allowed a later bedtime than on school nights.  Just bear in mind that, in addition to family time, parents need to set aside some time just for themselves.

While adults have the luxury of controlling many aspects of our lives (child care, appointments, time with friends, work schedules, etc.) to enhance them, children do not.  How would you feel if you had no idea what to expect in your day or who was driving you to your destination or when you are going to go to the bathroom or what you will eat?  Children have little control over their environments.  Consequently, children can find ways to control their surroundings in negative and positive ways.  Negative behavior like tantrums, defiance, and other inappropriate actions are ways for children to try and control the uncontrollable.  Dr. Renee says that having healthy routines and schedules is a way to help kids make sense of their surroundings and know what to expect. When kids know what to expect, they tend to make more positive behavior choices than negative.  Healthy family routines and schedules reduce anxiety and apprehension, which allows kids time to learn from their surroundings rather than be stressed out about them.

Healthy family routines provide boundaries for kids to know what is expected of them.  Having family meals at a regular time, regular sleep times, and even regular chores and household responsibilities assures kids that they can trust and count on their parents (or other adults) to take care of them and meet their needs.  With this comfort and consistency, kids develop resilience, self-confidence, and often exceed expectations. Chaos doesn’t need to rule the roost and routines don’t have to be boring to make daily life more structured and enjoyable. Setting stable family routines benefits everyone by providing contentment and consistency.

Summer Braces

Dr. Renee knows that looking good is all part and parcel of building healthy self esteem and feeling good about yourself.  Summer is certainly a time for kids to relax and kick back, but many parents take full advantage of the summertime to schedule kids’ doctor appointments, dental appointments, and physicals.  By helping our kids make healthy choices, treating them with respect, and guiding them to be their best selves, parents are giving kids lifelong, sustainable skills which will both enhance their lives and increase self-esteem.  Dr. Faust is a good friend of Dr. Renee’s and has some excellent information about healthy kids and why considering braces in the summertime is a good option for families.

Summer’s here! Without a doubt, plans are being made for kids once school ends.  Perhaps you are deciding between sleep-away camp, travel abroad, or a visit to relatives for your child. One thing you may not have considered is that now is the perfect time to consider orthodontic braces for your little one.

Every summer, at the end of the school year, my staff and I launch an annual campaign to raise awareness about the importance of early orthodontic treatment. Consider the following:

  • The American Association of Orthodontists (www.braces.org) recommends that children have their first visit with the orthodontist at the age of 7 to screen for any potential problems with their teeth or bite.
  • It is much easier to correct teeth problems in growing children.  Treatment is shorter and extraction of adult teeth can usually be avoided.
  • 50% of our patients are adults- most of whom have severe bite problems that should have been corrected in childhood or adolescence.

I believe the best ages for orthodontic treatment are between the ages of 7 and 14 years, depending on the child’s maturity level and capacity for cooperation. Completing treatment prior to high school eliminates the social anxiety of wearing braces during the extremely self-conscious high school years. It also ensures a perfect smile well in advance of senior pictures, prom, and graduation, which are of utmost importance to children and parents.

In my daily encounters, it is surprising to see how many parents are unaware of the importance of wearing braces when they are necessary.   Straight teeth and a proper bite prevent jaw problems, gum disease, and uneven wear or grinding of the teeth. A beautiful smile, increased confidence, and self-esteem are the icing on the cake!  Decades later, your child will thank you for it.

Dr. Faust is the owner of Elite Orthodontics in midtown Manhattan and has practiced orthodontics for over 10 years.   For more information visit www.eliteorthonyc.com or call 212-262-2948.

Setting Boundaries with In-Laws

As someone who uses Nannies often, Dr. Renee knows that it is important to set boundaries right away; especially with a live-in nanny.  Because a nanny can become like part of the family, it is important to negotiate and navigate some important relationship rules – both with your immediate family, extended family, in-laws,  and friends with regards to your nanny.  Liveinnanny.com gives us some helpful ideas on how we can do that with our in-laws.  Here is what they have to say:

Having an open, loving, and friction-free relationship with our spouse’s parents, it just isn’t always the case. All too often, disputes arise, causing trouble between your partner, their parents, and your relationship with them both. More often than not, these difficulties begin to rear their ugly heads about the time that children enter the picture. Becoming a grandparent, especially for the first time, greatly changes someone’s perspective. The urge to share their wisdom and hard-earned experience may be accompanied by the best of intentions, but unsolicited advice, overbearing attitudes, and disagreements over parenting tactics can be impossible for a new parent to handle gracefully.

Communicate Your Feelings, but Be Prepared to Hear Theirs As Well

Announcing that you’ve hired a nanny and will not be calling upon the grandparents for childcare can come as a blow to your in-laws, especially if they were under the impression that they’d be pitching in regularly with childcare. To soften this blow, it’s essential that you communicate calmly and clearly to them that how you feel about them as people, as parents, and as grandparents has nothing to do with your decision. Explain your reasons for choosing to hire a nanny honestly but gently, avoiding any inflammatory or accusatory statements. Stand your ground on the issue, but be open to hearing what they have to say as well. Regardless of how much you may disagree on a particular issue, their feelings and concerns are valid and deserve to be heard.

One important aspect of communicating the rules and guidelines that govern your new family is to be direct and to say things that you feel need to be said yourself. It’s not fair to expect your spouse to step in and intervene with their own parents, especially if your spouse isn’t as committed to the issue. Take the bull by the proverbial horns and speak with your in-laws openly like the poised and graceful adult that you are.

Avoid Unnecessary Arguments

Once burned, bridges can be particularly difficult to rebuild. With this in mind, it’s important to make every effort to keep conversations with your in-laws about boundaries firm but respectful and kind. Avoid using incendiary statements or sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” during the course of your conversation. It’s possible to stick to your guns without being inflexible and stubborn, though it’s a delicate balance to strike. Do your best to keep the conversation as positive and uplifting as possible, especially during discussions about parenting and childcare arrangement details that they disagree with. Remember that even in their most irritating moments, your in-laws are acting out of love for your children and a desire to help them grow up in a safe and loving environment.

Avoiding arguments with your in-laws will also help you avoid similar arguments with your spouse, which can very quickly turn ugly if he feels that you’re leveling a personal attack at his parents and family members. Even if your spouse agrees with you on each individual point that you make during the course of your discussions with him and his family in relation to your in-laws and the boundaries you wish to establish, he will not take kindly to any methods of expressing those feelings that leave his parents hurt or insulted.

Address Issues with Your Spouse First

Before launching into a discussion about boundaries with your in-laws and demanding that they abide by a set of rules that you’ll be strictly enforcing, it’s wise to have a conversation with your spouse. This conversation is a chance for you to address concerns that you have and even to air grievances, provided that you do so respectfully and calmly. It’s perfectly acceptable to be frustrated at your in-laws when they’re behaving in a way that you feel is intrusive; it’s not okay to attack them, or your spouse, as a result of that frustration. By discussing the situation honestly with your spouse before approaching your in-laws, you’re giving him the chance to get on the same page so he can feel that you are part of one cohesive team, rather than two people with disparate aims.

There’s a very good chance that your spouse will not only agree with your decision, but also with your assertion that his parents are behaving in a way that is intrusive and disrespectful of your abilities to parent your own child. However, blindsiding him with that information in the middle of a confrontation with his parents isn’t likely to inspire his loyalty. It’s imperative that you have the support of your spouse when attempting to establish boundaries with his parents, so you should be respectful enough of his feelings that you speak to him first. You should also be prepared to take his side, should a similar situation arise with your own parents in the future. Boundaries must be established on both sides to maintain a healthy, functional extended family unit.

Dr. Renee knows that having a healthy, fully functioning family takes work – especially in terms of healthy boundaries.  In-laws are a crucial part of any family life and with a live-in nanny there may be some unique communication issues to address.  Creating family harmony is possible and very much worth the effort.  These tips from Liveinnanny.com are an excellent starting point for integrating in in-laws with your extended family which includes your nanny.  Practicing healthy communication skills, setting good boundaries, and learning how to integrate everyone into family life is well worth the effort

Beating The Summer Camp Blues

Toasting marshmallows over a crackling campfire, learning new skills, swimming, exploring nature, and hiking are many of the things kids look forward to about going to summer camp.  The memories which last a lifetime can easily be tainted when homesickness sets in.  Thinking positive and distracting campers with fun activities are two strategies that work in curing those pesky summer camp blues.  Here are a few others.

The American Psychological Association research shows that older children often get less homesick than younger ones.  This may be due to having had more experiences away from the home and, therefore, more practice coping with the summertime blues.   When kids have strategies for reframing time and know how to change sad feelings to happy, according to the APA, they know how to beat the homesickness that can come with the experience of sleep away camp.

Relax!  It’s normal.

According to Dr. Christopher Thurber, co-author of The Summer Camp Handbook: Everything you need to find, choose and get ready for overnight camp and skip the homesickness, over 95% of kids will experience homesickness at camp.  While almost all kids feel some form of homesickness, many children experience such distress from homesickness that it impedes their camp activities significantly.  Fortunately, there are many things kids and parent can do to minimize that homesick feeling so that it does not interfere with the fresh-air outdoor experience that sleep away camp provides.

Strategies that work

Beating homesickness is easy with the right strategies that work.  Homesickness is not necessarily a bad thing; it simply means that your child loves their home and their family.  Here are some of the key strategies that work to beat homesickness:

  • Talk about it – No child should be forced to attend camp, but by talking about it together, parents may be able to convince a reluctant child to attend camp by getting any concerns out in the open.   Everyone may feel a little apprehensive about what will happen when the child is away at camp.  Talking about it as a family helps.  Another great resource is to ask a child who has already attended camp to talk about it as well.
  • Include kids in the decision making – Kids as young as 7 years old can enjoy sleep away camp.  However, if any kid feels forced to go to camp, they may be more likely to feel homesick. Listen to your child to determine if they are ready for camp.  Once a child initiates the camp experience by showing interest, it is easy and fun to include them in choosing the location, type of camp, and length of stay.
  • Practice makes perfect – If your child has not spent much time away from home, it may be a good idea to arrange a few practice visits to a friend or relative’s home.  You can easily simulate the camp experience by writing letters instead of talking or texting on the phone.  When the visit is over, discuss what coping strategies worked for making the time away a success.

Parental Anxiety

Kids are not the only family members who will experience some separation anxiety – parents do, too.  When you are helping your child address their homesickness concerns, it is also a good idea to contemplate how the adults will cope with any childsickness.  Address any concerns you may have by writing them down and discussing them with the camp director.  If you are feeling uneasy about your child being away, find some other camp parents to talk about it with.

Staying in Touch

Most sleep away camps do not allow phone calls, so staying in touch by writing letters is a grand idea.  Just don’t be discouraged if you do not receive many letters back.  Campers will, hopefully, be so busy having fun and getting fresh air that they may not have time to write. One experienced camp mom has found that sending letters before a child leaves for camp, so that the letters arrive on the first day, is a great way to communicate.  Another camp parent hides encouraging notes in his daughter’s suitcase, soapdish, and socks to find.  Just be sure that the tone of the letter is upbeat, chatty, and encouraging.

If you do ever receive a homesick letter, bear in mind that it may be a few days old.  If the camp hasn’t given you a phone call, your child may have found strategies to work through the homesickness and is now having fun.  There are, of course, rare instances when a shortened stay is the right solution.  If a child has to leave camp earlier, be sure to frame it as a success experience.  Many kids who leave camp early one year will often return happily to camp the following year.

Kids have the opportunity to increase self-confidence, make new friends, develop empathy, and learn many new skills at camp.  Dr. Renee knows that when families help prepare for camp psychologically, the experience is happier and more successful for everybody.   In addition to  getting all the right camp equipment like bug spray, sleeping bag, and extra socks; helping kids prepare psychologically is an important part of the whole camp experience.  Beating the summer camp blues is easy with healthy family communication and preparation.