Kate Nelson-Dooley LICSW. Primary therapist and founder of Jubilee Counseling LLC.

Jubilee Counseling Blog

Emotional Wellness Matters at Every Age

Introducing Jubilee Counseling Blog

      Are you interested in learning more about emotional wellness? Perhaps you desire to improve your relationships. Do you want more information about mental illness? You have come to the right place if you answered yes to any of these questions. Welcome to Jubilee Counseling LLC’s blog, a monthly discussion about mental health. You will read tips and tricks that will help you improve your emotional health. You will learn about mental illness and ways to help those suffering from emotional and behavioral challenges. Does this interest you? Great! Then please continue reading the following paragraphs to discover more.

      It is time to meet the author. My name is Kate Nelson-Dooley and I hold licensure as an independent clinical social worker in Alabama. My licensure shows that I have the education and experience to provide psychotherapy services to the community. I have 12 years of experience providing clinical services to culturally diverse populations. I have dedicated my professional career to helping individuals and families feel happier and healthier through my role as a therapist, which is the reason I founded Jubilee Counseling LLC.

     Please allow me to tell you more about Jubilee Counseling LLC. Our mission is to provide behavioral health services to children, older adults, individuals, and families who experience mental illness and a broad range of obstacles toward emotional wellness so that they can lead happier and healthier lives. We hope to end mental illness stigma by educating others and raising awareness. This blog will help us fulfill our mission by serving as a venue to educate and raise awareness about mental illness issues. Additionally, we hope that the blog will decrease the stigma of mental illness. Thank you for reading.



Written by Kate Nelson-Dooley LICSW on May 11, 2020

Jubilee Counseling Blog

Supporting Emotional Fitness


How Do I Speak to My Child About This? Discussing Uncomfortable Topics with Children.

June 23, 2020

     Hello everyone. Thank you for visiting the Jubilee Counseling Blog again. I am delighted you took the time to visit me here. Boy, this past month has been a doozy. Here in Baldwin County, we were just becoming adjusted to isolation protocols set forth to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Businesses began slowly reopening and with that came many changes ranging from sanitizing stations to mandatory face masks. It felt as though our entire country was turned upsidedown. Our citizens began experiencing more stress and anxiety resulting from job loss and fewer supports. Marginalized populations experienced stressors at a much higher rate. Sometimes problems that were previously ignored come into the spotlight during a crisis such as this. And that is exactly what happened. The murder of George Floyd by four police officers seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Black Lives Matter protests began appearing in every state and around the world; as they should. Truthfully, I did not know what to write this blog about with all that went on. I went back and forth considering writing about coronavirus or racism. I just could not pick one because both topics are incredibly important and particularly now. I asked myself, what is the common aspect of everything that is going on. Finally, I realized that communication was a common element. We use communication to educate people about illness and racism. Since I provide psychotherapy to children and families, it would only be natural to write about opening up communication with children about the hard topics we face today.

      Parents and guardians have an instinct to protect the young ones they love which may mean that they avoid uncomfortable conversations involving topics such as violence, illness, death, racism, divorce, and sex. Some parents fear that speaking about these topics may cause anxiety in the one they love or encourage undesirable behaviors. In actuality, the opposite is true. Creating an open and safe place where children and youth can express big feelings and thoughts about uncomfortable topics is highly therapeutic.

So now we know that having uncomfortable conversations with children is essential for healthy development. But how do we start? The first step is to understand your own experiences and feelings regarding each topic. Are there any fears you hold? Perhaps you had a negative experience which is preventing you from talking with your child. Take a few moments to embrace and process your emotions.

        The second step is to consider the child's developmental level by assessing their understanding, how they learn, and what information may be too much for them. Developmentally appropriate is not necessarily age-appropriate. Children learn at different speeds and at different times in their lives. No child is alike in this respect. Typically, I suggest beginning conversations as early in a child's development as possible. Consider that the information you tell a two-year-old is significantly different from what you tell a twelve-year-old. Uncomfortable conversations should come from a loving, nonjudgemental, and understanding place. Children's books are a wonderful way to begin having these conversations. I have listed books and tips based on uncomfortable conversations below.


Racism

      Let’s face it, racism exists, and it begins early. Children begin noticing racial differences as early as 6 months of age. Studies have noted that children can begin showing racism at 3 years of age. So talking about race, culture, and ethnicity early can improve your child's social functioning. Children are smart and many have already heard about the recent tragedies involving Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, among many others. They may have questions about the Black Lives Matter movement that has spread across the country. Avoiding talking about the subject can lead a child to believe misinformation or become confused. For instance, some children believe that people who are killed are bad which was not the case. Be truthful and use concrete terms such as black and white. Teach them how to identify racism and what to do if they see it. This may also be a good time to discuss bullying. Talk about what they can do if they witness bullying and how to stay safe.

  • Let’s Talk about Race by Julius Lester


The Pandemic

    The coronavirus pandemic is still impacting communities worldwide. Children already know that life has changed drastically. They hear about it from others or maybe on the news. It may seem as though life is back to normal with the phased reopening, but I assure you it is not the same. Talk about the virus and the reasons children were forced to leave school. Talk about taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I like to think about precautions as similar to wearing a seatbelt. I don’t plan on getting into a wreck and needing my seatbelt, but I put it on in the event it may happen. Telling your child that children are less likely to become very ill may be a source of comfort. Here are a few books that you can print and read to your child today.

Separation/Divorce

    Separation and divorce can be one of the most difficult decisions that a partnership/couple come to. It is more difficult when there are children involved. Discuss the divorce calmly and lovingly to your child to prevent confusion. If it all possible, both parents would be present for the conversation. Avoid blaming your partner or complaining about them to your child. You can say something like Mom and Dad decided to separate/divorce and we will be living apart. Many children blame themselves for the parents' divorce so reiterate that it is not their fault. Some books that may help with the subject include…

Sex

    Children should learn about sex as early as possible so that they can know how to protect themselves and treat others. I suggest starting by using appropriate words for male and female anatomy such as the vagina and penis. Then, begin talking about safe touch and unsafe touch at around two years old. This would be a good time to discuss taking care of their body as well. Once a child grasps those concepts,  begin talking about how babies are made. Some children begin masturbation at younger ages which is okay. Talk to the child about when and where to masturbate. Begin talking about sex when the child is 5 or 6 years old. Knowledge is power in this instance. So informing them about pornography and how to say no can help them make healthy decisions. Continue to talk regularly and in more in-depth detail as the child grows. Certain subjects such as transgender and sexuality are essential components of the sex talk. Luckily, there are some good books to help you discuss sex with your child.

  • What’s the Big Secret by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

Death

    Ideally, we don’t want to speak about death, right? So it would only be natural to avoid the topic with children. Sometimes the topic is unavoidable. For example, there may have been a death in the family or a child witnessed a death. One way to describe death would be to say that, “their heart stopped beating and they died”. Knowing the stages of grief can be helpful for the entire family. The stages of grief include denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. Remember that bereavement is a process and that everyone processes it differently. There are many books to help you discuss this with your child. The few below are some of my favorite books.


     Now you have a great start to many types of uncomfortable conversations. These conversations will bring your family closer together while keeping everyone safe. The books are great to read for fun. Please feel free to contact me if you should have any questions or suggestions.