How to Have a Healthier Family Through Better Co-Parenting

February 6, 2018

Moving forward after divorce is difficult for everyone, and trying to figure out how to co-parent complicates things even further. Here are some tips to help you co-parent with your ex. Put Your Child First Putting your child first is an absolute necessity for successful co-parenting. Always consider their wants and needs above your own. […]

How to Have a Healthier Family Through Better Co-Parenting

Moving forward after divorce is difficult for everyone, and trying to figure out how to co-parent complicates things even further. Here are some tips to help you co-parent with your ex.

Put Your Child First

Putting your child first is an absolute necessity for successful co-parenting. Always consider their wants and needs above your own.

Putting your child first doesn’t mean that you stop taking care of yourself. Your child also deserves a parent that’s happy and healthy. Self-care is vital, so be sure to rest, eat healthy, exercise and make time in your busy schedule to do something special for yourself. This way, you give your child her parent at their very best.

The Golden Rule

The best co-parenting relationships have the best communication. To practice the golden rule, share the information you would like, and expect, to have shared with you. Neglecting to share information could risk unintended negative consequences for your child.

For example, if you get your child immunized for school and don’t tell your ex, your ex might also get your child immunized for school. This could have unintended consequences for your child.

If you’re having difficulty communicating with your ex in person or by phone, try text or e-mail.

Be Consistent

Children need structure to feel safe, secure and loved. Therefore, it’s important that you and your ex create a united front for the sake of your child and try to keep schedules as similar as possible. Resist the urge to give in to demands out of guilt: it’s familiarity and routine that will make your child feel loved and cared for.

Accept Differences

Even with the best of intentions, things will not be as perfect as we would like. If your ex lets your kids eat sweets or stay up late, you must learn to accept the different ways your homes are run. If you let go of control you’ll put less anxiety on your children, and relieve yourself of the stress of trying to control something you can’t.

Respect Each Other

Regardless of what happened in your personal relationship with your ex, your ex is still your child’s parent. To that end, you must respect your ex for the sake of your child. Don’t speak ill of your ex in front of your child, and don’t talk to your children about issues or difficulties with your ex.

Although your relationship with your ex didn’t work out, your relationship as co-parents of your child is forever. Let your child feel the love from both of her parents without feeling like she has to choose. A stable home and positive role models will help ensure your child grows up to be a happy, productive adult.

If you need help developing better and more positive communication with your ex, give me a call today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families

3 Natural Ways to Help Your Child’s ADHD

January 20, 2018

It is estimated that ADHD affects roughly 9% of American children between the ages of 13 and 18. ADHD can make ordinary childhood activities like going to school and being part of a sport’s team incredibly difficult. It can make life at home challenging as well. (SOURCE) Children with ADHD may exhibit one or more of […]

3 Natural Ways to Help Your Child’s ADHD

It is estimated that ADHD affects roughly 9% of American children between the ages of 13 and 18. ADHD can make ordinary childhood activities like going to school and being part of a sport’s team incredibly difficult. It can make life at home challenging as well. (SOURCE)

Children with ADHD may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Easily distracted
  • Easily bored
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Easily loses things
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Fidgety behavior, can’t sit still

Every child is different and the severity of symptoms can vary greatly depending on environment, diet and other factors.

Treatment

ADHD is commonly treated with medications such as Ritalin and Adderall. While each child is different, and medication can be an effective treatment method for some, it’s important to remember that these medications come with a host of side effects. Ritalin stimulates the central nervous system and can cause agitation, anxiety, insomnia, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and even psychosis.

Adderall is a highly-addictive amphetamine whose potential side effects include hallucinations, tremors, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and extreme mood swings.

These are very scary side effects, particularly when talking about children sometimes as young as five-years-old being prescribed these medications. It’s easy to understand why parents would want to seek natural alternatives.

The good news is, there are natural remedies that have been found very effective at helping your child address ADHD behavioral challenges. Again, each child is different, so it’s important to recognize that what is appropriate and works for one child might not for another. But these are good natural strategies to implement and see if they can help your child.

1. A Clean Diet

Many researchers are pointing to modern foods as the cause of the increase in ADHD cases seen each year. And is it any wonder? Much of our modern food is laden with toxic additives like artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and food colorings. Many of these can be found in foods geared toward young kids.

One of the best ways to treat ADHD naturally is to clean up your child’s diet. Ensure your whole family eats additive-free, unprocessed whole foods. This means spending more time shopping on those outer grocery aisles and less time in the middle ones where packaged foods line the shelves.

2. Supplementation

Even when eating a clean diet rich in fruits and veggies, we often can’t get enough nutrients from our food and must turn to supplementation. The EPA/DHA in fish oil are critical for brain health and can reduce symptoms of ADHD and improve learning.

Since ADHD has also been connected to digestive issues, a quality probiotic that can improve gut health is also recommended.

And finally, a multi-vitamin that contains all of the B-vitamins is essential. B-vitamins help with the formation of serotonin. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to ADHD.

3. Exercise

Too many children are sitting in front of the TV or their smartphones, playing video games and texting their friends. But young people with ADHD have an excess of energy, and it’s got to go somewhere. Along with diet and supplementation, physical exercise is key in treating ADHD naturally.

Make exercise something the whole family can do together. Go hiking or bike riding, climb a rock wall at your local gym, or go kayaking. Exercise will help your child’s symptoms and bring you closer together.

Family therapy is another way to heal the pain or confusion that has been caused by ADHD. If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

Helping Your Teenager Transform into a Happy, Well-Rounded Adult

January 12, 2018

Raising kids is one of the toughest jobs on the planet. You do everything you can to make sure they stay safe and healthy. And then a study comes out that states that happy kids grow up to be more successful adults. (Great, so now they have to be happy as well!). It turns out that happiness is a […]

Helping Your Teenager Transform into a Happy, Well-Rounded Adult

Raising kids is one of the toughest jobs on the planet. You do everything you can to make sure they stay safe and healthy. And then a study comes out that states that happy kids grow up to be more successful adults. (Great, so now they have to be happy as well!).

It turns out that happiness is a big advantage in the real world. According to the study, happy people are more likely to earn a college degree, land a good job with better pay, and get promoted more quickly than unhappy people.

So how exactly can you help your teen transform into a happy and successful adult?

Build Resilience

Part of being happy comes from knowing your own resilience; knowing that when life knocks you down, you’ll get right back up. Resilience isn’t a latent talent, but a skill that can be developed.

You can help your child build resilience by teaching them how to put things into perspective. Being able to face challenges and adapt to constant change means recognizing the significance, or insignificance, of life events. Teach your kids not to sweat the small stuff and choose their battles wisely.

Instill Productivity

Feelings of accomplishment naturally lead to happiness. We feel good about ourselves when we are productive individuals. You can instill productivity in your child by helping them make decisions on their own over time. The more autonomy an individual has, the more able they are to get things done.

It’s also important that you help your teen discover their interests, talents and abilities. People that known their passions and what makes them tick have a knack for reaching goals.

Encourage Independence

It may seem counterintuitive, but teenagers cannot gain independence on their own. They simply don’t have the perspective or experience necessary to separate from you. Independence is actually a gift you give to your children. You can help your teen become more independent by:

  • Teaching responsibility – Help your kid have a clear understanding of what is expected of them at home and at school as well as the consequences for not fulfilling those expectations.
  • Demand Accountability – Make sure you stick to your guns and see those consequences through to the end. If you don’t hold your child accountable for their own behavior and actions, how will they be able to hold themselves accountable as adults?
  • Practice letting go – It’s important not to send mixed signals to your teen during this time. As you help them become more independent, practice letting them go. Be open to stepping back as they step forward.

You and your teenager are embarking on an exciting journey; one with many ups and downs. The best thing you can do is to let your kid know you are there for them and that they can talk to you about anything. Good communication is crucial during this time.

If you could use some help talking with your teenager, consider family therapy. A therapist can facilitate effective communication and offer tools that will help your teen become the adult they are meant to be.

If you’d like to explore therapy, please be in touch. I’d be happy to discuss how I might be able to help you.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety as a Parent

December 18, 2017

The hard work and unpredictability that makes parenting so rewarding can also cause a great deal of anxiety. Here are some simple ways to bring yourself to a place of calm. Make a To-Do List Ruminating on worries can cause lots of stress. Clear your mind by making a to-do list. Put down everything that […]

5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety as a Parent

The hard work and unpredictability that makes parenting so rewarding can also cause a great deal of anxiety. Here are some simple ways to bring yourself to a place of calm.

Make a To-Do List
Ruminating on worries can cause lots of stress. Clear your mind by making a to-do list. Put down everything that needs to be done into your phone or onto a sheet of paper, and as you write them down, visualize yourself removing this task from your mind onto the list.

Watch Your Language
Many times parents believe things will get better when their children move on to the next phase of their maturity. However, the truth is that the worry will continue until you change your pattern of thought. To do this, watch the language you use to describe things. Don’t use phrases such as, “this will be a disaster if I don’t get it done on time” or “I’ll die of embarrassment if I forget.”

Also change thoughts of “I have to” to “I want to”. For example, instead of saying “I have to sign the kids up for karate” say, “I want to sign the kids up for karate because I know they’ll love it.”

Get Some Fresh Air
There’s nothing like some fresh air and sunlight to ease anxiety. Put your baby in a stroller and go for a walk around the block, to a neighbor’s house, or a local park. Take your kids to an outdoor mall or sit on the patio of a frozen yogurt shop and share a frozen treat. You can also try your local library. Some libraries also have outdoor patio areas where you can read with your kids.

Practice Mindfulness Exercises
If your anxiety is difficult to control, try deep-breathing from your belly. While you do this, concentrate on five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. This can help calm you when you’re feeling a panic or anxiety attack start to arise.

Use Your Support Network
Call your friends or family to chat or ask for advice. It may also help to vent with a Facebook parenting group or other online message board. You can also call your therapist and make an appointment and work through your challenges.

Try these tips to control and cope with your anxiety, and enjoy the time with your children free from worry.

If you find your anxiety to be impacting your ability to be a happy, successful parent, it might be time to speak with a professional who can help. Please contact me today for an initial consultation.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

3 Reasons Why Play Therapy Is So Effective

December 5, 2017

Through play, children discover the world around them and their feelings about it. Play is also how children communicate these often-complex feelings. This is what makes play therapy such a powerful treatment. Pretending offers children the opportunity to “finally” be in charge and express what if feels like to be them. Here are some more […]

3 Reasons Why Play Therapy Is So Effective

Through play, children discover the world around them and their feelings about it. Play is also how children communicate these often-complex feelings. This is what makes play therapy such a powerful treatment. Pretending offers children the opportunity to “finally” be in charge and express what if feels like to be them.

Here are some more reasons why play therapy is so effective:

Play Reveals the Child’s Emotional Life

Though the characters of the real world and play world may be different, the storylines tend to be the same. A young girl may walk into a therapist’s office, spot the plethora of toys, grab a stuffed horse and kitten and make the horse hit the kitten repeatedly, all the while the kitten begs the horse to stop. While some adults might watch and perceive this young girl to be aggressive, a trained therapist recognizes this child is revealing a world of pain; the pain of living in a home where one parent routinely abuses the other.

Feelings can overwhelm children. Add to this their lack of a developed vocabulary to express these feelings and you have a young person with pent up emotions and nowhere to put them. Play therapy helps children reveal their inner emotional world.

Play Therapy Explores Other Options

Children are instinctual and impulsive. They haven’t yet developed the ability to stop, reason, and determine best courses of action.

Play therapy allows young people to explore different options, behaviors, and ways of feeling and thinking about things. Through play, a child may learn, for example, that aggression isn’t the only reaction, or even the best reaction, to a particular situation they are facing in home or at school. Understanding this is an area the child needs to work on, the therapist can assume a role or character and guide the dialogue and action of play toward a beneficial resolve and lesson.

Play Therapy Helps Children Feel They Will Be Okay

Children are often sent to therapy because they have been acting out at home or at school. By helping them work through their complex emotions, as well as making them feel heard and respected, play therapy helps children feel safe and okay, which results in the development of acceptable social behavior.

If you feel play therapy might be right for your child and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. I would be happy to discuss how I might be able to help your child work through their emotions.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce

November 15, 2017

Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful and emotional times in a person’s life. It’s hard enough wrapping your own head around the event, but trying to break the news to your children can be especially difficult. Many parents struggle having this conversation because they worry they may not be able […]

How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce

Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful and emotional times in a person’s life. It’s hard enough wrapping your own head around the event, but trying to break the news to your children can be especially difficult.

Many parents struggle having this conversation because they worry they may not be able to keep their emotions in check. They also wonder if shielding their kids from the ensuing pain isn’t the loving thing to do.

Though it may seem like avoiding this conversation is the right idea, it can actually be quite detrimental to your kids and, in the end, cause behavioral or emotional issues. While it will no doubt be difficult and uncomfortable, having an open and honest conversation about your divorce is the best thing to do.

Here are some guidelines:

Have Both Parents Break the News

This might be difficult for some couples, but ideally, a joint conversation with your children is the best option for a few reasons:

  • They’ll get the same message from both of you instead of a he-said, she-said scenario.
  • It shows them that no matter what, when it comes to parenting, you are both committed and on the same page.
  • It instills a sense of security that though family dynamics are changing, there will still be a family structure that you will all create together.

Be Transparent

You may feel uncomfortable during the conversation and want to be… less than honest at times, but it’s important to be completely transparent while speaking with your kids.

First of all, children have a knack for sniffing out dishonesty in adults. Trying to pull one over on them, even if you believe it’s for their own good, may only cause them to feel angry and resentful. Also, if you don’t give kids truthful answers, they will wind up creating their own answers just to quell the anxiety.

Obviously, there may be age-appropriate guidelines to the discussion, and specific language may have to be either included or excluded, but at the end of the day, honesty truly is the best policy.

Discuss Upcoming Changes

When children are told their parents are getting divorced, they can’t conceive of what that means in terms of what life will be like in the future. It’s important that you let them know what they can expect when it comes to things like where they will live and how much time they will have with each parent. If you yourselves don’t have all of those answers yet, then communicate this to your children and let them know you will share this information as soon as you’ve made decisions.

Don’t Push Your Children for a Reaction

Once the news has been broken, many parents want immediate feedback from their kids. But it’s important to remember that children will all process the news differently. Some kids may feel comfortable talking openly about their feelings, while others may struggle. While your intentions may be good, pushing your children to give you a reaction before they are ready to react can be detrimental.

The best thing you can do is to let your children know you love them, and that you are available to them whenever they are ready to share their thoughts and feelings, or if they have more questions.

The divorce process will be difficult for all family members to cope with, and it may be difficult for everyone to communicate effectively when emotions are running high. If you feel you could use some help, it’s a great idea to seek support and guidance from a family therapist. They will be able to facilitate loving and open communication and help your family adjust to the changes that lie ahead.

If you’d like to explore treatment options, please be in touch with me. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

How to Tell if You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

November 6, 2017

Some people seem to be born with nerves on the outside of their skin. These people tend to be more sensitive than their parents, brothers and sisters, or the kids in their class. They can’t get through a movie (even a comedy!) or a TV commercial without shedding a few tears. The slightest bit of […]

How to Tell if You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

Some people seem to be born with nerves on the outside of their skin. These people tend to be more sensitive than their parents, brothers and sisters, or the kids in their class. They can’t get through a movie (even a comedy!) or a TV commercial without shedding a few tears. The slightest bit of criticism causes them real pain, and they are empathic to anyone around them.

Chances are these people are told by everyone, “You’re too sensitive!” Well the truth is, some people are more sensitive than others. They are not only sensitive to emotions, but also to energy, sound, light, and other physical stimulus. These people are, literally, called Highly Sensitive People, or HSP for short.

Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

Do the following characteristics ring true for you?

You’re very emotional

Whether positive or negative, you experience emotions intensely, react strongly to them, and cry easily.

You’re very compassionate and generous

You have always been a natural caretaker, seeking to offer comfort and help to those who suffer. You also go out of your way to avoid offending anyone or hurting their feelings.

You’re sensitive to criticism

Criticism doesn’t feel constructive so much as it feels personal and painful. You are not able to let it roll off your shoulders as others do, and therefore allow criticism to keep you safe in your comfort zone.

You feel different from everyone else and sometimes alone

You’ve always known, or had it pointed out to you, that you were somehow different from everyone else. Because other people have told you that you need to “toughen up,” you see your sensitivity as a weakness and often feel alone.

You’re sensitive to external stimuli

While no one else around you seems to notice that the buzz of the overhead lights is driving you nuts! As is the sound of your coworkers chewing, the rough fabric of your shirt and the smell of the extravagant flower arrangement.

You overthink and worry

You notice every detail and overthink what should be a simple decision, like where to go for lunch. You also get stuck in the rehashing and what-if rut.

You’re intuitive

You walk into a room and instantly get a “feel” for it. You know how people are feeling. This is fine when the energy is positive, but when it’s negative… watch out!

You’re often tired and overwhelmed

Because you deal with the emotions of yours and others, as well as so much stimulation all day-every day, you easily become overwhelmed by all of it and feel as though you need to sleep more.

What You Can Do

Living life as an HSP is not easy, but there are some things you can do:

  • See your sensitivity as a positive, not a negative
  • Remind yourself there is nothing wrong with you and you are not alone
  • Avoid negative people, places and situations
  • Set boundaries with people who take advantage of your compassion
  • Learn to relax through exercise and meditation
  • Give yourself the same sympathy and kindness as you do others

If at any time you find yourself feeling depressed or anxious because of your sensitivity, it’s important that you seek the guidance of a therapist who can help you manage your emotions.

If you or a loved one are an HSP and would like to seek treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

Why People Misunderstand Anxiety

October 19, 2017

Did you ever play the game called “telephone” growing up? One kid whispered a secret message into the ear of the kid next to him. That kid then whispered the “same” message into the ear of the kid next to her. On and on each kid would whisper the message around the circle until you […]

Why People Misunderstand Anxiety

Did you ever play the game called “telephone” growing up? One kid whispered a secret message into the ear of the kid next to him. That kid then whispered the “same” message into the ear of the kid next to her. On and on each kid would whisper the message around the circle until you came to the last kid, who would then announce the secret message aloud.

Often the final message sounded nothing like the original message. That’s because every person has their own way of hearing and sharing information. Sometimes it’s accurate – sometimes it’s not.

In this way, you could say that language is a necessary evil. Without it we would not be able to share ideas and information with each other. But when each person has their own language filters, information can become skewed.

Personal information and language filters can make discussing and understanding anxiety disorders difficult. While we all experience anxious moments from time to time, 18% of adults in the United States are actually affected by a form of anxiety disorder.

But how many times have you heard a friend or a coworker say something like, “I was totally having a panic attack yesterday when you didn’t show up!” They weren’t actually having a panic attack, they were merely concerned you were late.

When everyone assumes they have an issue with anxiety, they believe they have first-hand experience of the disorder and therefor know what it is. But using certain language that may or may not be accurate to convey a common feeling (ie – being nervous before a job interview) is not the same thing as truly knowing something.

Panic Disorder VS Social Anxiety

There are two main types of anxiety disorder and for this discussion, it’s important to make the distinction between each.

Panic Disorder

People who have been diagnosed with and suffer from panic disorder believe very strongly that the “panic attacks” they experience mean something is physically very wrong with them. For instance, many sufferers believe they are having a heart attack. Some may believe the dizziness and shortness of breath is a result of some serious and undiagnosed illness such as a brain tumor.

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

People with social anxiety disorder experience anxiety when faced with social situations. They do not believe their anxiety is related to an illness or disease, yet have little control over their fear of social interactions. Their anxiety becomes debilitating when the person feels they may be singled out, embarrassed or ridiculed.

People who suffer from social anxiety disorder will do anything to alleviate their fear. This means decreasing the amount of social interactions they have on a daily basis as much as possible. This disorder negatively impacts the person’s ability to emotionally connect with others, and holds them back in their career and academic life.

Because of language discrepancies, those who don’t have an anxiety disorder sometimes believe they do, while those that do may assume they don’t.

The main point to get across here is this:

It is normal to feel anxious, fearful and worried from time to time. But feeling anxiety on a daily basis, to the point where you are concerned for your physical health or are compromising your career and personal relationships is not normal.

Anxiety Disorders Are Treatable

No one should have to live with a debilitating anxiety disorder. The good news is, anxiety disorders are treatable. A therapist can help to uncover the root cause of the fear and provide tools and strategies to cope.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

5 Reasons Why Parents Don’t Discuss Child Sexual Abuse

October 10, 2017

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the time they are 18, and 44% of rape victims are under age 18. Sadly, but not surprisingly, victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, […]

5 Reasons Why Parents Don’t Discuss Child Sexual Abuse

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the time they are 18, and 44% of rape victims are under age 18. Sadly, but not surprisingly, victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and four times more likely to contemplate suicide according to the Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN).

Recognizing the real threat of sexual abuse against children is only half the battle. Talking to children about it is necessary to keep them safe. Unfortunately, many parents, particularly those of little children, have a hard time speaking to their kids about sexual abuse.

Here are some of the top reasons parents don’t discuss sexual abuse with their children:

  1. Child Sexual Abuse Doesn’t Happen in My Community

Wrong. Child sexual abuse happens everywhere, from big cities to small farming communities and everywhere in between. No matter your location, religion, race, or yearly income, your life can be affected by it.

  1. Our Children Know Better Than to Talk to Strangers

Sadly, 93% of all child sexual abuse happens at the hands of someone the child knows and trusts. Parents who teach only stranger danger are doing a disservice to their child.

  1. My Child is Too Young to Handle This Discussion

You may be surprised to learn that the appropriate age to begin discussing the topic of child sexual abuse prevention is when a child is three years old. You can teach your young child about appropriate and inappropriate touch by saying something like, “Did you know that the parts of your body covered by your bathing suit are private and are for no-one else to see or touch?” Be sure to include any exceptions to this rule for potty training, hygiene and doctors’ visits. Also, explain that if someone does give them the “bad kind of touch,” that they are to tell Mommy or Daddy or their teacher.

  1. I Don’t Want to Frighten My Child

You most likely don’t refrain from teaching your child about traffic safety for fear that your child will be scared to cross the street. Teaching body safety is equally important and, if done properly, can empower children.

  1. My Child Would Come to Me if Something Ever Happened

Most children don’t immediately tell their parents. Typically, the perpetrator convinces them that the act is “their little secret” or that their parents will be angry with them. Be sure to tell your children that you would never ever be angry at them and they should come to you immediately if they ever became a victim of sexual abuse.

Children who have been the victim of sexual assault will require love and support. Parents of victims should consider seeking the guidance of a trained therapist who can help the child communicate facts and handle feelings.

If you or someone you know is a parent of a child who has been sexually abused and is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

Sleep as a New Mom: 4 Strategies to Restful, Restorative Sleep

September 20, 2017

Life before the baby came was so different. You were cleaner. You ate out more often. And the hours and hours of sleep you used to take for granted! If you’ve recently had a baby and are having a hard time getting enough rest each night, you’re not alone. According to a study by PLOSone, new […]

Sleep as a New Mom: 4 Strategies to Restful, Restorative Sleep

Life before the baby came was so different. You were cleaner. You ate out more often. And the hours and hours of sleep you used to take for granted!

If you’ve recently had a baby and are having a hard time getting enough rest each night, you’re not alone. According to a study by PLOSone, new parents, particularly new mothers who are breastfeeding, are often sleep-deprived. And this deprivation can last for a long time, with mothers registering “medically-significant levels of sleepiness” even after 18 weeks.

Besides having nightly sleep cycles interrupted with feedings every 2 – 4 hours (or 1-2 hours!), new mothers also experience a combination of euphoria and nervous energy, which can also keep them awake all night long.

The result?

They are zombies the next day – zombies who are still expected to take care of their newborns while working an outside the home job, or being a full-time mother and also expected to clean, go grocery shopping, etc.

But sleep deprivation can be very dangerous. According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, people who sleep less than five hours per day are four to five times more likely to be involved in a sleep-related crash. This is because a lack of sleep hinders our physical coordination and reaction times as well as our ability to focus.

If you’re a new mother who would give her front teeth to get more sleep each day, here are 4 helpful strategies:

  1. Lie Down, Even If You Can’t Sleep

Sometimes, just getting off your feet for half an hour is enough to help your body relax and rejuvenate. Don’t stress if you can’t fall asleep, simply lie there and let your body relax.

Diana Lynn Barnes, president of Postpartum Health International, tells new mothers, “Get off your feet, relax on the couch, and stay off the phone.”

  1. Get Some Help with Those Nighttime Feedings

One of the best ways to get a solid stretch of sleep is to get help from your husband, partner, in-law, friend, anyone who is willing to take on those nighttime feedings. It will be easier to hand over this job if you’re bottle-feeding, but even if you’re breastfeeding, you can pump so that someone else may feed the little one during the nighttime hours.

Or make things even easier on yourself by having your partner get the baby and bring your little one to you in your bed, and return your angel to their crib. That way you are at least partially sharing in the duties of nighttime feedings.

  1. Don’t Partake in Counterproductive Activities

It’s important that new mothers don’t unnecessarily sabotage their own efforts to get sleep. For instance, though it may be tempting to chug down a mug (or three) of coffee in the morning, overdoing it tends to mask your need for sleep and can actually prevent you from taking those much-needed cat naps when the baby is sleeping. It’s also worth mentioning that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that nursing moms try to limit their caffeine consumption to one cup a day. That’s one small cup, not one vente latte.

Also, after a hard day of being a new mom, many women sit down in front of the TV or computer to unwind, but the light that is emitted from these devices is stimulating and typically keeps us awake and alert. It’s much better to take a warm bath, get into bed, read a physical book or magazine, and drift off to sleep.

  1. Realize Sleepless Nights Won’t Last Forever

Sometimes just the stress of what you’re going through is enough to keep you awake. Though being a mother to a newborn can be likened to a sweet form of torture, it won’t last forever. Remind yourself of this every chance you get.

As a new mother, it’s natural to be scared and worried about this new and significantly important role in your life. If you find that what’s keeping you up many nights are the overwhelming emotions you are experiencing as a new mother, talking with someone can help. If you’d like to explore therapy, please give me a call, and let’s discuss how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.