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1614 X St., Suite A
Sacramento, CA 95818
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916-287-3430

Thrive Therapy & Counseling provides high quality therapy to Highly Sensitive People and to kids, teens or adults struggling with anxiety, depression or self-esteem.

Blog

This blog is written by a therapist in midtown Sacramento and focuses on the concerns and struggles of highly sensitive people (HSPs) and of kids, teens and adults struggling with depression, anxiety or just trying to figure out what they want for themselves.  There's help and hope through counseling and therapy!

For Goodness Sake, Get Outside and Play!!

Ivy Griffin

On a somewhat regular basis, I try to make sure my kids get outside and eat some dirt. Just kidding about the eating it part! But, we definitely get out to play in the dirt. We ‘garden’ together. The gardening usually consists of me putting plants and soil in pots, then my five year old moving all around - barefooted - digging either in the pots or in the ground, finding worms, collecting acorn ‘hats,’ and finally plunging herself onto the grass.

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Your eyes direct your path

Ivy Griffin

This sounds like advice from an eight ball, right? Or, from some sage old monk. Funny how words of wisdom can seem profound and trite at the same time. This little nugget actually came to me from an unexpected source when I was in college. See, I’ve always had some fondness for adventure, and at the end of my junior year, I convinced two of my girlfriends to go with me on a 3 week trip through the southwest with the student Outdoor Center. The trip involved some hiking and camping, which we all loved, and a lot of rock-climbing and mountain biking, which none of us had ever done before. 

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5 Tips on Building Frustration Tolerance in Your Teen

Ivy Griffin

“I hate math! I’m done!” shouts your 14 year old as he slams his book shut and jumps up from the kitchen table, almost knocking over the chair with him. You watch the severe scowl of irritation on his face and his I’m so totally done with homework tonight vibe with some bewilderment. You wonder why he gave up so quickly or what was so challenging about the work. The recurring theme for your kiddo is his impatience and unwillingness to put in the extra effort. 

I see it in my office a lot—a low frustration tolerance in teens when they fail. Failing is tough for all of us! That’s why is it so important now for your child to learn how to cope when frustrating moments happen in life. 

Here are my tips on how to build your teen’s frustration tolerance up:

  1. Let them struggle: That’s right, I said it. Let them struggle! The natural parental instinct is to help your kid, especially when they begin to get frustrated. But guess what? It is time that your teen learns what it feels like to sit with his frustrations. Don’t put on your Super Parent cape and rescue them. They have to experience this frustration. So stand back—and let go. Count to 10 if you need a moment to help cope with your feelings about this. ;)

  2. Model Your Coping Skills: We adults experience frustration every day, so how do you handle it? If you have a meltdown when you’re frustrated, your teen has more than likely picked up on it. (They really do absorb what we do, even if it seems like the last thing they’re doing is paying attention to us.) Or, on the flip side, maybe you verbalize your feelings and express what you need by saying something like, “I am so frustrated right now; I need a break.” Or, “I’m feeling super stressed out, I’m going for a walk.” Guess what? Your teen will pick up on this too! If you can step up and model good coping skills around your frustration, his will more than likely start changing too.

  3. Positive Re-framing: With behavior there is always an underlying message. So, what is your teen really saying when he shouts, “I hate math! I’m done!”? Maybe he is tired of failing and getting hurt. Emotionally translate his first statement into: “I am so frustrated with my homework, and I feel stupid by failing over and over.” Yikes, now it’s much easier to empathize with him—don’t we all hate feeling stupid?  So, focus on responding to his behavior through understanding, patience, and having a positive mindset. Even Batman struggled with this failing. It was his father who taught him, “Why do we fall? So that we can learn how to pick ourselves back up.” 

  4. Identify Feelings! It is as simple as it sounds. Help your teen label his frustration and name it out loud. Let him vent about his ‘stupid homework’ and express his feelings around it. Maybe even help him by reflecting his feelings back by saying, “I can see and feel how frustrated you are. This homework sounds tough!” Identifying emotions is a helpful way of taming them when we feel out of control or under stress. 

  5. Breaks are a necessity: Allow for breaks, especially if emotions are running high. This is true for homework or any other challenging task. If need be, let your teen take 10-15 minutes, and come back after listening to some music, watching a youtube video, taking the dog for a walk, etc. You might even offer or bring over something to drink or a healthy snack. Then, once break time is over, support your teen in getting back in there.  

Even with these coping skills, there must be boundaries, such as time limits and always coming back to finish as much of the homework as possible. As your teen builds up his frustration tolerance, remember—yours will be building too! Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make better. 

By Arielle Grossman

And, if you need support for you or your teen, we're happy to help! 

Thrive Therapy & Counseling
1614 X St., Suite A
Sacramento, CA 95818
916-287-3430
thrivetherapists@gmail.com
http://thrivetherapyandcounseling.com/teens

Getting past the small talk

Ivy Griffin

Have I mentioned that I hate small talk? I can handle about 30 seconds of it, and then . . . I’m boooored. The meaningless banter makes me wish I was at home reading a good book. But, give me some depth, catch my interest on a topic, go beyond the ordinary chatter, and I’m hooked. I love stories SO much.  I could listen for hours as a story unfolds. Yes, it’s one of the reasons I became a therapist, and it’s one of the gifts of therapy—we very quickly move past the shallow small talk and dig into what’s real and what matters. As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), this stirs my soul. I come alive with such deep and meaningful conversations.

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What do we do when we fall?

Ivy Griffin

You know that old saying, “What do we do when we fall? - We get back up!”? It seems that our youth are really struggling with mastering this important life skill. There is a trend of perfectionism and a lack of resilience among teens that has caught the attention of mental health and education professionals, as well as parents. When we have adolescents who can’t bounce back from failure (i.e. are not resilient) and aren’t given the appropriate level of independence they need for healthy development, we end up with young adults who are incredibly anxious and depressed.  

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Why am I so bothered by things that don't affect other people?

Ivy Griffin

I often hear the frustration and sadness and defeat in the voices of highly sensitive people (HSP) when they share how they become more emotional, overwhelmed, shut down, or worn out in situations that don’t seem to affect other people. This difference can make HSPs feel like outsiders, like there must be something wrong with them because they are abnormal compared to everyone around them. 

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The myth of suicide

Ivy Griffin

Our society has made suicide a taboo topic to talk about, which is unfortunate since suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year old Americans. Despite the myth, talking about suicide does not lead people to commit suicide. In fact, talking honestly about suicide can be a tool for prevention. Being open to talking with your teen about their feelings and about any thoughts of self-harm can actually help educate and support them with their mental health needs. 

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5 traits of codependency

Ivy Griffin

Codependency can often feel like a scary word when first brought up in a therapy session. The first sign for me when working with someone struggling with codependency is being the proverbial “Super Woman/Man.” This person is unable to say no to those around them--often placing themselves last in every way--rushing in to save the day emotionally, mentally, and physically without stopping to look at the consequences of doing so and ignoring their own feelings to prioritize the comfort of others.

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When emotions are too big

Ivy Griffin

Do you have those moments where it feels like your entire body has been taken over by a feeling? Almost as if you’ve been consumed by a strange creature, and you’re not sure if there’s going to be a “you” when it’s all said and done?? I imagine most of us highly sensitive people (HSPs) have had and will continue to have these moments—much to our chagrin. We hate them, right? I have that sense of ‘Wait, seriously, seriously?’ when it starts to happen.  Like, are you kidding me—I’m here—AGAIN?! 

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How can DBT help my teen?

Ivy Griffin

You may have heard of DBT but have no idea what it is actually used for. Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT is a form of mental health treatment originally developed for adults who struggled with extremely intense and unstable emotions, as well as self-injurious behaviors like cutting and chronic suicidal thinking. Dr. Marsha Linehan is credited with creating this model of treatment, and over the past 30 years, it’s been found very beneficial for all kinds of issues, like depression, anxiety, impulsivity, eating disorders, etc. 

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You are not alone

Ivy Griffin

I often hear from highly sensitive people (HSPs) how different and alone they feel. “I’m too sensitive,” “I need to grow a thicker skin,” “Why can’t I just let it go like everyone else?” are common refrains. Such beliefs often stem from a lifetime of conscious and unconscious messages from well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning people about how there’s something wrong with the way you are. And, the reality is--highly sensitive people are not the norm. We know this because research has found that 15-20% of people in any given population in any given culture carry the personality trait of being highly sensitive. 

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How to motivate your teen

Ivy Griffin

Do you see your teen lounging around--eyes glued to their phone constantly--and worry about what kind of adult they’re going to become and what on earth they’re going to do with their lives? You might be frustrated with their lack of caring . . . about seemingly anything serious or with their ability to sleep 17 hours a day or with how you have to tell them 8 times to unload the dishwasher, and you wonder when they’ll fiiiiinally get it together. 

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Tis the season . . . for stress?

Ivy Griffin

How many times have you said, “this year I’m going to start preparing for the holidays early,” only to see mid-December roll around and have nothing done? You are not alone! Most of us are so busy throughout the year that we’ve broken that promise over and over again. Then, inevitably, the stress level raises and we rush through the holiday season, documenting memories through social media posts, and completely missing out on being fully present with our family and friends. Suddenly, Valentine’s Day is upon us and we shake our heads in disbelief that yet again that ‘special and magical’ time of year passed us by.  

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On setting (and holding) boundaries

Ivy Griffin

Imagine this scenario:

Your friend or family member is going through a separation, and you know they’re having a hard time. You empathize with their struggles and offer them support, reminding them that it will get better again. They start to lean on you more, needing more time and asking for more favors. You begin feeling resentful, but you don’t want to hurt your loved one’s feelings, especially when they’re struggling so much. This goes on for a couple months, and you become more and more frustrated. Of course, you have your own life and struggles to manage!

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