Perthes: Mental & Emotional Health

A child's Perthes journey can be quite challenging, both physically and mentally. In addition to the various physical treatments with crutches, braces, surgery, wheelchairs, etc., it is equally important that we take care of and nurture a child's emotional and mental state, as they go through this journey. 

Yes, there will be some very tough days, but below are a few tips that can help with maintaining a strong, healthy and happy state of mind for your child. Perthes Kids Foundation is currently working on a psychological study that will go into more depth with the mental and emotional aspects of Perthes, and how it not only affects the child, but also the entire family.

 

The Feelings Wheel, developed by Dr. Gloria Wilcox

 
 
 LORI KENNEDY, Professional Child Therapist, Perthes Mom, Camp Perthes Counselor and Perthes Kids Foundation Advisory Board Member

LORI KENNEDY, Professional Child Therapist, Perthes Mom, Camp Perthes Counselor and Perthes Kids Foundation Advisory Board Member

YOUR CHILD & MENTAL HEALTH

Lori Kennedy, a children’s therapist in Frisco, TX, is the host of Mental Health Mondays, which is a bi-monthly, Q&A session that takes place within the Perthes Kids Foundation’s support group on facebook. Lori donates her time to help advise parents with children diagnosed with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease. MHM is available to any member of the PKF facebook group, but highlights of the session will also be available on the PKF website.

Lori is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a National Certified Counselor (NCC), a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) and has a Masters Degree in Clinical Mental Health from the #1 Play Therapy University in the world. She has presented to local, regional, national and international audiences on various subjects focusing on supporting children’s mental and emotional health through counseling, play therapy and expressive arts.

“But my MOST IMPORTANT credential is that I am the Mom of a 12 year old boy with Perthes. My son Matthew was diagnosed at six years old, right after kindergarten, and he is now a thriving middle school pre-teen. So to say ‘I get it’ is an understatement. I am not just another professional with an opinion. I am a Perthes Parent, walking this journey by your side.” — Lori Kennedy, MS, LPC


emotional connection

There are so many buzzwords flying around us these days including things about mental illness, anxiety, depression, suicide... It is easy to get caught up in the headlines. But where I want us to start, is with the basics. As we work together as a community of support, we will build on our knowledge and strength. We need a foundation first!

Here is what I want you to know today. When we are talking about kids and teens, we have to learn to connect before we can ever hope to heal. Children and teens are not able to connect in the same way adults do, so we need to learn their language. Children under the age of 8 communicate, explore and express through play. Children under the age of 12 communicate emotions primarily through behavior. And teenagers hit the whole continuum with a full blast of 10 on the 1-10 scale of extreme (and often misguided) expression!

Let’s learn the skill of Reflection of Feeling and talk about how to understand what our children are telling us. You have to be able to correctly understand the emotions you are seeing before you can know what to do with them.


reflection & honesty

Sad is one of hardest emotions for us to tolerate in our kids. Nothing will make a parent flip into rescue mode faster than authentic tears. With reflection, you are allowing their expression. It will take the intensity and power away from the emotion for them because they are expressing as a bid for connection. Try some of these responses next time.

As Perthes parents, it is SO IMPORTANT for us to express our full range of emotions for our kids. If he is sad, you are probably sad too. This is called normalizing. If they see you all happy faced and strong with all of this hard stuff, then they are going to be confused why they feel the hard stuff. BE HONEST. That is not weakness my friends. That is strength, and it is healthy for all of you. Cry together, celebrate together, be mad together.

Show Empathy through Therapeutic Intervention & the Parenting skill of Reflection of Feeling:
— Gains insight into child’s emotional responses
— Validates child’s emotional experience
— Teaches a child an emotional vocabulary
— Focuses on the need expressed, not the behavior
— Decreases the need for escalation
— Increases connection
— Reduces anxiety in parent and child
— Gains insight into child’s emotional responses 
— Validates child’s emotional experience
— Teaches a child an emotional vocabulary 
— Focuses on the need expressed, not the behavior
— Decreases the need for escalation
— Increases connection
— Reduces anxiety in parent and child

 

To see more information, questions and tips, from the last session, please refer to the comments section within PKF’s event page for Mental Health Mondays. If you need additional help with any of these topics, feel free to send us a private message below. Also, please check the calendar and join us for our next session of MHM within the Perthes Kids Foundation’s support group on facebook.

 
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