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Are you finding yourself yelling at your kids? If you are, have you stopped to consider why? Some parents say that they feel like they have to yell to get through to their children and that no other tone seems to work. Others will admit that they yell out of frustration and anger because they feel disrespected or have lost a sense of control. If you are emotionally exhausted and want to repair and reconnect with your child or teen, there is hope. The repair starts with you and involves developing self-awareness, gaining a new mindset toward parenting and adjusting your communication style. If you decide to make a change, know that our habits are stubborn. If you blow it, have compassion and patience with yourself, understanding that change is a process and that it rarely happens overnight.

Gaining self-awareness involves becoming cognizant of your thoughts, the feelings that rise out of you, and the actions you take in response to your feelings. It’s especially important to identify your triggers and the patterns of behavior that lead to explosive emotions and actions. Recognizing the signs that indicate you are about to emotionally “take-off” helps you to take steps to slow down and “keep your plane on the ground.”

Reflecting on and identifying your emotional wounds is another key for understanding your emotional responses to your children. For example, if your child rejects your attention, acts ungrateful, or is inconsiderate toward you and you have had previous wounds of rejection or disrespect, your emotional reaction may be out of proportion to your child’s infraction. It is critical that we recognize our wounds and sensitivities and work on healing them. Consider the possibility that you may be holding your child or teen responsible for helping you manage your emotions. Perhaps you expect them to be happy around you because, if they aren’t happy, you will feel like a bad parent. Ask yourself when you feel irritated with your child’s complaining or whining, “Why am I having this reaction?” Remind yourself that it’s not your responsibility to make them happy or fix their issue. Resist saying, “You have nothing to complain about, you have all you need,” or “I don’t have time for this, it’s always something with you!” If you listen without judgment and reflect back what you are hearing and help them identify what they are feeling, they will feel heard, not alone in their feelings, and they will move on more quickly from the emotion they are displaying.

Remind yourself that your child or teen is a developing human being learning to deal with the world and its challenges. They are not yet fully equipped to handle all that is being thrown at them in life because their brain is not yet fully developed. The parent’s job is to help them learn to navigate life by example and to provide stability in the storms. Try listening without judgment to what they are experiencing no matter how whiney or ridiculous it sounds to you. Listening to their negative thoughts and feelings does not reinforce the negativity, it helps them process and release it. If you try to minimize their concerns or pull them away from their problems, they will hold on to them more tightly. A child or teen who isn’t heard feels alone in their emotion, and it can become overwhelming for them. Ask questions to help them explore their thoughts and feelings and reflect back what you hear them saying so they know you heard them. Empathize with them with statements like, “That sounds like it was really hard." Downplaying their emotions or telling them they shouldn’t feel that way just alienates them from you when we know that connection is key for better communication and relationship.

In addition to understanding our thoughts and emotions, it’s crucial to consider how our physical bodies are responding when we are engaged in a verbal conflict. When we perceive a person as a threat, the sympathetic nervous system produces the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones provide energy and sharpen our senses to protect ourselves from physical danger, whether actual or just perceived. Have you noticed the sense of urgency you feel in a verbal conflict? We talk faster; we raise our voices, and it feels like everything is speeding up. In this state, we are not in our rational brains and are not equipped to listen or learn. The goal at this point is to employ our parasympathetic system which helps us calm down. Increased oxygen in the bloodstream signals our sympathetic system to stop producing the stress hormones, and movement helps our bodies release the hormones. We can assist our bodies by breathing deeply, walking, or exercising. It can take 20 to 30 minutes for our bodies to recover from this activated state. Being aware of this may help you recognize the futility of having a meaningful exchange with your child or teen if either of you are in this state.

If you feel you would benefit from learning self-awareness, improving your parenting mindset, and learning effective communication skills with your child or teen, contact Keystone Services, LLC at to set up an appointment with a counselor who can come alongside you and provide tools for change. It’s never too late to make a repair with your child or teen and reconnect with them.

Resource Links


Communication with Children and Teens


Crystal Crum, MS

Licensed Resident in Counseling

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When a child is getting ready to start individual or group counseling sessions, parents often wonder how best to introduce the topic to their child. While many older pre-teens and adolescents have a general understanding of therapy and the basic goals of therapy work, children may feel a bit confused about spending time in an office with a new adult. Here are a few recommendations that may help guide an effective conversation with your child:

  1. Always choose an appropriate time. Avoid mentioning therapy when your child is experiencing big emotions. Talking about therapy during times of dysregulation may make therapy seem like a punishment, threat or a consequence. Instead, talk to your kiddo about going to individual or group therapy sessions when your child is calm and rested. Be sure to give your child time to process the information prior to the appointment.

  2. Explore what your child already knows about counseling. Most kids have had some exposure to counselors through their school environment. Ask them what they know about counselors and any questions that they may have about what a counselor does. This will help you keep the conversation efficient by avoiding emphasizing information a child already knows.

  3. KS Services provides free consultations prior to the first session. This will ensure that each parent has an understanding of what can be expected in a given session. For children twelve and under, counselors at KS Services will work to understand a few of the child’s interests in order to incorporate those in session (ie Legos, paint, drawing, etc). Use this information to provide a glimpse of what therapy will be like and what the child can expect in their first session. Let your child know that individual or group therapy will involve more than just talking - kids have freedom to paint, play games, build, and even pet emotional support animals!

  4. Kids like a preview of what topics may be covered. If you are signed up for a group, use the information provided to give your child an overview of some of the topics that may come up. Let your child know that therapy is flexible and often counselors will focus on the topics that the kids bring up. Reassure your child that therapy isn’t only about things that are hard, but therapists love to hear about things that are going well too.

  5. Present counseling sessions as learning experiences that are fun and engaging. Let your child know that they are signed up for a group or individual session as an opportunity to learn more about themselves, their friends, and their family. Present counseling sessions as an adventure in self-discovery. Let them know that this opportunity is a learning opportunity just like any other after school activity that they participate in. That may sound something like, “Just like we sign up for soccer so we can learn how to be a good teammate and skills for the field, we signed up for this to learn how to understand our own feelings and thoughts and learn skills for everyday communication."

If you have any questions about how to approach this conversation with your child, do not hesitate to reach out to KS Services at And if you have not yet had a chance to sign up for a group that KS Services is currently offering, please check out our "Join A Group" page here.

Laura Waller, MS, LPC, NCC, ADHD-CCSP

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Updated: Aug 30

KS Services is excited to host fall groups for children, teens, and adults starting mid-September. Groups provide a unique opportunity to engage in connection with peers who are typically experiencing similar life stages and stressors. While each group is different depending on overall group goals, group therapy provides opportunity for normalization, feelings of reduced isolation, and support.

Check out the three groups currently being offered at KS Services listed below:

Emotional Literacy for students in 3rd - 5th grade

In this group students will engage in activities to enhance their ability to effectively identify, regulate, and communicate about their emotions. Emotional literacy skills will be taught through the use of therapeutic art, games, and play. Topics covered in the group will include understanding and naming complex emotions, identifying effective coping strategies, and improving social skills to foster connection.

The group will meet on Wednesday nights from 6:00-7:00 pm starting Wednesday, September 20th. Please reach out to for more information and to register.

High School Process Group for students in 9th - 12th grade

The KS Services weekly high school process group is specifically designed to be a small group of up to eight students looking to engage in a safe, non- judgemental space for support and connection. Group sessions are tailored to address specific issues raised by group members. Common themes include depression/anxiety, academic and social pressures, relationship conflicts, family dynamics, and life paths/transitions. In a process group, members will be asked to share their own concerns and experiences while being open to receiving feedback from other group members. The counselor will facilitate the conversation and provide psychoeducation.

The group will meet Thursdays from 6:30-8:00 pm starting Thursday, September 21st. Please reach out to for more information and to register.

Community Connect: A virtual group for parents of children and teens with ADHD

Community Connect is an ongoing virtual group for parents of children and teens with ADHD. Each group session provides a space for parents of children and teens with ADHD to receive support, connection, resources and psychoeducation. While there is no set agenda for this group, common themes include strategies for executive functioning (time management, organization, motivation) as well as strategies for supporting emotional regulation.

Community Connect meets virtually the first Friday of each month from 12:00-1:00 pm. Please reach out to for more information and to register.

Laura Waller, MS, LPC, NCC, ADHD-CCSP

Licensed Professional Counselor

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