When Passion Shows Up

I’ll never forget the first time I saw play therapy. When my late supervisor allowed me to observe my first play therapy session I fell in love at first sight. It felt right. It felt natural to me and I loved how it worked with where the child was in their development.


That session was a pivotal moment for me. It started a passion that motivated me to pursue my career and specialty as a play therapist and play therapist supervisor. I had so much to learn, but it didn’t stop me from moving towards my goals.


I had no idea what kind of challenges lay ahead, including difficult work environments, heavy caseloads, and the level of trauma and complex issues that my young clients face with courage.


I have non-therapist friends ask me “how do you work with …(place favorite issues here). What I tell people (and myself when I’m faced with challenges of my job) is that yes, but I get to see a child heal from a trauma, connect with their parent, make new friends, learn how to stop being afraid and live a full life. I get to watch people heal and increase their faith in their God and themselves. I get to spend my day alongside young ones who deal with so much they should be too young for.


At the end of the day it’s encouraging work. It’s worth it. Some cases are sad. True. I have to constantly balance my work life, and personal life, true. I have to keep my emotions in check sometimes and my support systems close. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it.


What’s your passion? What fuels you? Leave a Comment Below about how you found your passion.

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How Do I Help a Child Involved in Bullying? Show Notes from Justice For Nate

girl with paint on faceiStock_000063932169_MediumLast April I had the amazing opportunity to be interviewed on Thrive Global Network in response to a death of Nate Wombles
Unfortunately many children and even adults are involved in the bullying cycle.

Many parents feel stuck  if their child is involved in a bullying situation. How do you teach your child to respond without egging on the child who bullies?

What is Bullying, and What do I do about it?

Bullying is aggressive, threatening behavior by one child or adult towards another child/adult. The whole goal of the bully is to gain power or control over a person who they perceive is weaker than them.

Bullying can be verbal, emotional or physical or through technology, called “Cyberbullying.”


Bullying can occur either by one person or groups. Groups of bullies may also be called gangs.

Bullying is not just for kids, bullying can occur at any age, even into adulthood.

What roles do people play in a bullying situation?

There are different roles students play in a bullying situation.

The person doing the bullying

The person being bullied

Someone who is both bullied and being a bully towards others.

Those who defend or stand up for the person being bullied.

Those who assist the bully.

Those who reinforce the bully by becoming bystanders.

A person can both be the victim of bullying and also bully others at the same time.

What are signs a child is being bullied?

Signs a child may be a bullying victim are:

Unexplained bruises, scrapes or marks

Changes in behavior such as eating habits, nightmares, stomach aches, making excuses to not go to school, ride the bus.

Unexplained  damage or loss of belongings

Child coming home hungry

Changes in grades

Child becomes sad, anxious, angry, or depressed

Child beginds withdrawing from others

Stops hanging around friends

Sources:  http://www.stopbullying.gov/“Bullies are a pain in the brain”, and www.Safechild.net

What do I do if I think my child is being bullied?

What parents can do if a child is being bullied:

  • Address the situation immediately.
  • If you’re not sure communicate with your child by stating the changes you’ve noticed and asking what happened. http://info.character.org/blog/bid/128143/19-Signs-Your-Child-Is-Being-Bullied-and-What-to-Do-about-It
  • Role play ways to respond to the bully with your child.
  • Listen to your child when they want to talk about it.
  • Don’t encourage the child to ignore it or fight back
  • Encourage confidence and assertive communication
  • Talk to your child about who to tell if they are being bullied, create a safety plan with your child.
  • If the school is involved, allow school officials to address the other parents rather than calling them yourself
  • Seek counseling for your child if he or she is in distress (anxious, depressed, withdrawing, etc…)

What your child can co if he or she is being bullied.

The main thing to teach your child about preventing bullying is how to show confidence.

  • Don’t cry, and stay calm (crying gives them satisfaction)
  • Stay away from groups of bullies/gangs
  • Tell an adult if they see weapons, are being teased/bullied, you can help your child make a list of people they can go to
  • Go a different way than the bullies if having to walk home or go to a different part of the playground
  • Spend time with other friends
  • Run away from the situation if they are after them, preferably to an adult he or she trusts.
  • Tell their friends, friends can even help stand up for them.
  • Stick up for him or her self by using a confident voice “I don’t like….”
  • Practice what to say
  • Remember the bully wants power, it is more about their need for power than about you
  • If a child is alone and the bully wants their stuff, teach them to give it to them and leave the situation.

Some don’ts when dealing with bullies (Romain)

  • Don’t cry
  • Stay calm
  • Don’t ignore
  • Don’t taunt the bully.
  • Don’t beg the bully not to hurt you.
  • Don’t believe the names they call you are think negative about yourself
  • Name call back or agree with them
  • Try to fight back

What can bystanders do to help bullying?

“Research shows that bystanders intervene only 20% of the time, but when they do, bullying  stops about 50% of the time,” Bazelon said.

Even the smallest act of intervention can work wonders, she added. “Bystanders can help in many ways, simply by standing with the victim or touching their shoulder during an incident, or even by sending a supportive text or calling them on the phone afterward.” http://info.character.org/blog/bid/177221/Be-More-Than-a-Bystander-Speak-Up-Against-Bullying-and-Violence

  • Stand up for the person being bullied
  • Don’t give bullying an audience
  • Help the child being bullied get away without getting yourself in harms way.
  • Tell a trusted adult
  • Be friends

What teachers and schools and organizations can do if bullying is occurring:

First get the facts from multiple sources.

  • Listen to those involve without judgement or labeling
  • Separate children involved
  • Make sure person doing bullying knows what the problem is
  • Identify reasons child may have bullied
  • Have clear consequences:
  • have class discussion, role play situations
  • Attempt to help children make amends
  • stopbullying.gov has several tips on involving person doing bullying in consequences , including apology letters, doing good deeds, and what to stay away from
  • Provide opportunites for bullying education

Signs your child is bullying other children:

  • Gets into frequent arguments or fights with others
  • Is angry
  • Blames others for their problems
  • Unexplained new belongings or money
  • Frequent trips to the principle’s office at school.

There is a quiz at the end of Bullies are a Pain in the Brain to screen if your child is bullying others.

What to do if your child is bullying others?

  • Don’t get defensive, take responsibility for your child.
  • Talk to your child to tell you what happened and listen to their side.
  • Try to find out the issue your child is dealing with that led to the bullying behavior.
  • Set limits.
  • Apply consequences to the behavior
  • Provide alternatives to aggressive behavior.
  • Ask your child how you can help.
  • Seek professional help for your child if necessary to deal with the source of the issue.

Why do people bully others? According to stompoutbullying.org

  • Power and Control is the main issue surrounding bullying behavior
  • Sometimes someone else is also bullying the child
  • Child may be having difficulties at home or have experienced abuse, neglect or witnessed aggressive behavior themselves
  • To avoid getting bullied
  • For social power
  • Some plan their bullying and are liked by others but not their victims

Why don’t kids tell?

stopbullying.gov reported on the Indicators of School Crime and safety that bullying is reported to adults less than 40% of the time

  • Feeling helpless
  • Fear or intimidation by others
  • Not wanting to be seen as a tattletale
  • Feelings of isolation and withdrawal

What are the risk factors for being bullied?

It’s important to note that while these are risk factors, not all children with these characteristics are bullied.

  • Seen as quiet or different by other children
  • Difficulty speaking up for themselves
  • Difficulty with peer relationships
  • Are anxious, depressed or low self esteeme

What are the risk factors for bullying?

There are two types of those who bully defined by stopbullying.gov

Those whose goals are concerned with popularity, power, control.

Those who are more isolated, have low self esteem, less involved in school, less social involvement with peers.

Other risk factors include:

  • Are aggressive
  • More difficulties at home
  • View violence as a way to handle their problems
  • Less involvement from parents,
  • Negative view of others
  • Difficulty following rules
  • Have friends who bully

What are the long term consequences of bullying?

  • A NY Times article summaries a study by the JAMA network on psychiatry that found long term consequences of childhood bullying into young adulthood.
  • Young adults were interviewed/assessed on which role they played in the bullying scenario and placed into different groups
  • Outcomes included increased anxiety and panic for those who were victims, increased panic for those who were both bullies and victims and increased instance of adult antisocial behavior for those who were bullies but not victims.

“A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.” www.stopbullying.org

Resources and links

“Bullies are a Pain in the Brain” written and illustrated by Trevor Romain

“Cyber Bullying Not More” by Holli Kenley, MA







How to Stop Bullying? Listen Live Tonight!

On April 26th, a group of teens were walking home when a Jeep containing several more teens followed and harassed them. In the end, Nathan Wombles was senselessly and brutally struck and killed in front of his family while protecting his brother, who was in the group of teenagers walking home. On Wednesday’s Thrive Global Network’s show, I am on with Kellye Williams and Mary Nichelson. They will talk with Nathan’s wife regarding the incident and to learn more about the man that Nathan was. Then they will be joined by myself, Thrive’s own Jill Osborne-licensed professional counselor-as I helps them work through the reality of bullying. We are dedicating this 1-hour special to the Wombles family, Nathan’s memory, and to acquire hands-on advice in dealing with a subject that impacts everyone. It’s an all new Thrive Weekly Magazine at 7 PM EST. http://www.revmediatv.com/radio/thrive-global-network -with Sandra Finley Ludwig

How To Help a Child Grieve the Death of a Sibling

iStock_0littlegirl in snow MediumOne of the questions I addressed to the listeners on Thrive Global Network dealt with the difficult loss of a sibling.




“What is the best way to help children deal with the loss of a sibling? (Our children were young when we lost 2 babies, but even as teenagers, their grief is very real and very present)”


Tips for parents with a loss of a sibling:


Loss of a child is one of the most difficult things families I work with deal with. Especially when you yourself are grieving and are caring for another child who is also grieving the loss.

In general there are 5 stages of grief. I like to look at it as more of a cycle because I think that people experience grief and loss in some way as they grow and change. For example holidays and anniversaries/birthdays you may experience sadness, grief of some sort even if you have come to accept the death of a person.

Also as a child grows they gain new insights to their lives and may experience the grief emotions differently as they grow. As children become teenagers they now may have a better understanding of the situation and have developed more insight. It is important to find some way to remember the person during these times and to allow yourself to feel the emotions of grief.

  • Accept where the child/teen is in the grief process
  • Encourage, but don’t force expression of emotions
  • Grief is not a “problem to be fixed”, but something that must be experienced and felt. I see it as part of the healing process after a death or a loss
  • Talk to your kids about how they may experience these feelings in their life again and it’s ok
  • Continue to set appropriate limits with your children, “you feel____ but it is not ok to show it by throwing the toy or hitting your brother”
  • Keep regular routines
  • Reinforce positive memories, show pictures, create a memory book or photo album
  • Ok to be honest about your own feelings (I feel sad) without being too overwhelming
  • Adolescents can really benefit from participating in memorial events (not forced but given the opportunity)
  • Sometimes the questions children have or the explanations can be uncomfortable for adults, and many adults try to protect children by avoiding clear terms, but it is important to understand that these questions are part of a child’s normal development and how they are trying to understand what has happened.

A story that I use with young children who’ve lost a sibling is called “Always My Brother” by Jean Reagan, which addresses sibling loss. Stories are great because they break down sometimes difficult issues in to a language children can understand

There are Five Stages of Grief : As presented by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross who “On Death and Dying”

Shock/Denial: disbelief that the death has occurred, or feeling numb to the death, others may mistakenly believe the person is fine because they are not crying or acting out or are showing little emotion.

Anger: either anger at the person who died, themselves (may blame self) or circumstances, child may act out or feel out of control

Bargaining: “If I am a good kid God can bring the person back” may have feelings of guilt

Depression: sadness, withdraw, realization the person is gone, feeling lonely, wanting life the way it was before the person died

Acceptance: Understands the reality that the person is gone and life is changed, misses the person but feels hope that things are going to be all right

Children experience losses differently depending on their age and development, and while the death may have occurred while they were small, when a person gets older you develop more insight into your life and issues and events or reminders or life events may bring up some feelings about the deaths.

Have you experienced the loss of a sibling yourself? Or have a question or comment about todays post? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.