How to Help Your Child Transition into a 2-Home Scenario After Divorce

October 23, 2018

Going through a divorce can be a tumultuous time for any adult, and for children it can feel like their world is falling apart. It can be confusing for children to have two homes, particularly in the early stages of divorce. But there are ways to bring positivity and excitement to this change, while reducing […]

How to Help Your Child Transition into a 2-Home Scenario After Divorce

October 23, 2018

Going through a divorce can be a tumultuous time for any adult, and for children it can feel like their world is falling apart. It can be confusing for children to have two homes, particularly in the early stages of divorce. But there are ways to bring positivity and excitement to this change, while reducing your child’s stress significantly.

Provide Stability

Help your child adjust to the changes in your family by providing as much stability as possible. Having established routines and continuity between their two homes will help your son or daughter feel safe and secure. You don’t need to have a strict schedule, just routines that your child can expect when they wake up, before they go to bed and when they come home. For example, there’s always a bath or a story before bedtime, and a healthy snack when they get home. Resist the temptation to overcompensate by lavishing your child with gifts, or letting them get away with things they normally would not. Structure in your home will help your children feel calm and stable.

Ease The Transition

Help ease the transition for your children by having a neutral pickup and drop off spot, such as your child’s school. You can drop your son or daughter off at school in the morning, and your ex can pick them at the end of the school day. This also eliminates stress for the child and sad goodbyes. Children are very perceptive and will be keenly aware of any sadness, anger, or frustration you may be feeling if you drop them off at your ex’s new place.

Give Kids Choices

Allowing your child to have a say will help them feel empowered, lessening any feelings they may have about things being out of their control. Have them pick out a new bedspread or pillows to decorate their space, or ask them to decide on a special dinner over the weekend. You can make them their favorite meal, try something new, or they can choose a restaurant they’d like to go to.

Reduce Stress on Arrivals

You can help your child adjust to the changes between two homes by making their arrival from your ex’s house as positive and structured as possible. Come up with a special but simple routine for when they come home. Something pleasant and comforting, such as sharing a snack or playing a game. Resist the temptation to bombard them with questions; let them unwind and process the change in their own time.

 

Your child has two parents living in two separate homes, but they only have one childhood. By remaining a positive force in your child’s life and maintaining stability, you can help them transition into their new normal.

Are you struggling with divorce, and need the support and guidance of a licensed professional? I can help. Please give my office a call today, and let’s schedule a time to talk.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Practitioner 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.

4 Fun Activities for You & Your ADHD Child

September 4, 2018

If you have a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD, you know one of the main symptoms is hyperactivity. In other words, your child may seem to have an excess of energy, and all of that energy needs to be channeled. Unfortunately, modern kids are far less physically active than kids from just 20 […]

4 Fun Activities for You & Your ADHD Child

September 4, 2018

If you have a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD, you know one of the main symptoms is hyperactivity. In other words, your child may seem to have an excess of energy, and all of that energy needs to be channeled.

Unfortunately, modern kids are far less physically active than kids from just 20 years ago. It used to be natural for kids to be outside running around and riding bikes, but many of today’s kids spend their time sedentary, watching television, and playing video games.

Clinical psychologists and psychotherapists are taking note of this change and expressing concern. Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School has said, “Being outside provides ADHD children with a more open environment to appropriately express their energy.”

And psychotherapist Terry Matlen, ACSW, agrees, “Children who are hyperactive and impulsive can release tension far easier being outside running, jumping, swinging, and playing sports than sitting indoors.”

If you want to reduce ADD/ADHD symptoms in your child, help them get their body moving. As a bonus, all of this physical movement will help your child improve their balance, coordination, and other gross motor skills.

Here are some fun activities you can enjoy with them.

Riding Bikes

Not only is bike riding a terrific aerobic exercise that is gentle on growing bones and joints (as well as aging bones and joints!), it’s a great way to explore your neighborhood or local community. When we drive by places in our cars, we tend to overlook many of the details and things that make our local communities special. But when we ride our bikes, we can take in much more.

Family Sports

If you’re lucky enough to have family members nearby, consider having a weekly family team sporting event. This could be family soccer games, touch football games, softball games, or whatever you come up with. Make the prizes fun, like losers cook winners’ dinner or losers mow winners’ lawn.

Yard Work

Speaking of mowing the lawn, having your kids help out with yard work can be a great way to spend time together while getting important tasks accomplished. Painting fences, raking leaves, and hauling things in the wheelbarrow are great ways for your kid to release energy. Plus, when you’ve completed a project together, your child will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Treasure Hunt

Whether it’s in your backyard, at the local park, or in a forest at the end of town, a treasure hunt is a creative way to get your kid exploring in the great outdoors, moving their body, and having an awesome time. Your treasure hunt could have an educational theme, like finding and solving math problems to get the next clue or learning about American Presidents with each treasure found.

Kids with ADD/ADHD are constantly being told to calm down and sit still. So getting them outdoors where they can move their bodies and explore will not only calm their hyperactivity and impulsiveness, but will also make them feel better about themselves.

If you or a loved one has a child that has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch. 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 Practitioner 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

4 Tips for Parenting an Above Average Child

July 15, 2018

If you’re the parent of a gifted child, you may be challenged with a unique set of circumstances. Your gifted child might be mentally above average, but have difficulty interacting with their peers; they may be immature, impatient, or easily bored. Your friends and family may look on in awe at your child’s abilities, blissfully […]

4 Tips for Parenting an Above Average Child

July 15, 2018

If you’re the parent of a gifted child, you may be challenged with a unique set of circumstances. Your gifted child might be mentally above average, but have difficulty interacting with their peers; they may be immature, impatient, or easily bored. Your friends and family may look on in awe at your child’s abilities, blissfully unaware of the difficulties you face on a daily basis. Here are four tips to help you parent your above average son or daughter.

1. Have Your Child Assessed
Although testing shouldn’t be the sole source of identifying a gifted student, tests are a good way to identify a gifted learner. Contact your school to have your child assessed for gifted classes or programs. Since there are no national guidelines for identifying gifted students, your school district will have its own standards. You can also have your child tested by a licensed psychologist experienced with gifted children.

2. Find Programs for Gifted Students
Your school district may have special programs or classes for gifted students. Search online or check with your local library for special classes or groups. You might even consider taking your child to a class or seminar that would interest them. This will give you special alone time with your child as well as help entertain and educate your gifted son or daughter. Finding special programs may require additional time and travel on your part, but it will provide your child with unique learning opportunities that will benefit them for a lifetime.

3. Help Them Improve Social Skills
While it’s important to help your gifted child in their search for knowledge, it’s sometimes easy to forget that it’s equally important to nurture their social and emotional development. Provide your child with opportunities to interact with their peers. Contact their school or the local park or community center to find out about social or interest groups that would benefit your child, or talk to other parents for recommendations.

4. Have Realistic Expectations
When you have a gifted learner for a child, you may come to always expect their extraordinary achievement and ease in learning. However, this is not realistic; your child may be gifted with math, but have more difficulty with reading and writing, or vice versa. It’s important to maintain reasonable expectations. These expectations may also include their behavior. Despite their amazing ability to learn, your son or daughter is still a child, and will not necessarily have the emotional maturity to match their intellectual maturity. Recognize and acknowledge your child’s strengths, and be patient and supportive when they need extra help.

For additional help and resources, visit the National Association for Gifted Children at http://www.nagc.org or the Davidson Institute at davidsongifted.org.

Are you having difficulty parenting your gifted child, and need the guidance of a licensed professional? Call my office at your earliest convenience, and let’s set up an appointment to talk.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Practitioner 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 You Should Limit Phone Time For Your Teen

June 15, 2018

When your child was small, they most likely couldn’t go to bed at night unless they had their favorite blanky or stuffed animal. Well, just because they’re “all grown up” doesn’t mean they still don’t have dependencies. Teens today can’t seem to go to bed, or anywhere else for that matter, without their beloved smartphone […]

Why You Should Limit Phone Time For Your Teen

June 15, 2018

When your child was small, they most likely couldn’t go to bed at night unless they had their favorite blanky or stuffed animal. Well, just because they’re “all grown up” doesn’t mean they still don’t have dependencies. Teens today can’t seem to go to bed, or anywhere else for that matter, without their beloved smartphone by their side.

When I was a teenager, my friends and I would go out bowling or to get a pizza. We’d actually make eye contact with one another and, you know, talk. But pay attention to the gaggles of teens in malls and other public spaces and they all have their heads down, eyes glued to their phones! It would seem cellphones are the modern security blanket and no teen wants to be without theirs.

In this way, you could almost classify this dependency on technology as an outright addiction. A strong word for sure, but perhaps one that fits perfectly in this case.

The University of Maryland conducted a study as part of The World Unplugged project where researchers evaluated students from 10 different countries to see what would happen when the students had to forgo their phones for 24 hours. Their results were eye opening. They found that the majority of students experienced distressed during this 24-hour period.

Another large-scale study involving more than 2,500 college students found that 60% of them admitted to being addicted to their phone.

But this addiction can sometimes lead to unhealthy mental behaviors. For instance, researchers at the Catholic University of Daegu in South Korea found that teens who used their smartphones the most showed troubling psychological issues such as aggression, depression, anxiety and tended to withdrawal more.

While more research is needed, and while not everyone in the mental health community categorizes cellphone addiction as a real disorder, yet, it is clear that teens are having trouble curbing their own technological desires.

Signs Your Teen May be Addicted to Their Phone

How do you prevent your own kid from experiencing the aggression, depression and anxiety associated with overuse of a smartphone? First, you must recognize signs that there may be a problem:

– They feel the need to respond to everything immediately. They seem unable to resist that urge.
– They constantly check their phone, even when it isn’t ringing or vibrating. This behavior actually has a name and is called ‘phantom vibration’. This is a definite sign that your teen may have an addiction.
– They are disconnected from the real world and ignore what is happening right in front of them.
– They feel anxious and even angry when they are away from their phone.

What You Can Do?

First, try speaking with your teen about their phone use. They may or may not be receptive to the talk, but it’s a good idea to make the effort before you suddenly throw down new cellphone rules and regulations.

Next, set some rules. Understand this will be hard for your teen to accept, so go a bit easy. You may want to start by saying cellphones are not allowed at the dinner table. Of course, you as a parent must follow your own rules.

Next, you might want to enforce a “no bedtime” rule. Studies have found electronic equipment like laptops and cellphones hinder sleep. Try and encourage your teen to leave their phone in their bag and try some quiet time before bed by reading or listening to music.

Above all, encourage your teen to start regulating their own behaviors. That’s what growing up is all about. Ask for their input before setting rules but be firm about enforcing them.

If you find you have trouble speaking with your teen, you may want to seek the guidance of a trained therapist who can facilitate communication and offer tools for managing any upsets moving forward.

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


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Practitioner 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

Isn’t My Child Too Young for Therapy? (Myth vs. Reality)

May 17, 2018

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your child from harm and make sure they grow up healthy and happy. You make sure they wear a bike helmet and knee pads, but if they do take a tumble and break an arm, you immediately seek medical attention. Some “boo-boos” aren’t as noticeable […]

Isn’t My Child Too Young for Therapy? (Myth vs. Reality)

May 17, 2018

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your child from harm and make sure they grow up healthy and happy. You make sure they wear a bike helmet and knee pads, but if they do take a tumble and break an arm, you immediately seek medical attention.

Some “boo-boos” aren’t as noticeable as a broken bone, but these emotional wounds hurt just as bad. If left untreated, these emotional injuries can result in further problems as your child grows. This is where therapy comes in.

“But isn’t my child too young for therapy?” you might be wondering. In my practice, I have seen children as young as three years of age. Trauma and behavioral issues don’t have an age restriction, they can affect a child at any age.

Signs Your Child May Need Therapy

Instead of focusing on the age of the child, it’s better to address the particular problems he or she may be having. As the parent, you know your child best. While a friend or family doctor may tell you your child is just “going through a stage,” you may recognize that something seems… off or not-right. Trust your instincts.

With this in mind, here are some signs that may indicate a problem that may require specialized attention. Your child:

  • Is having trouble at school (grades, bullying others, talking back to teachers…)
  • Is attempting to injure themselves
  • Avoids family functions and ignores friends
  • Experiences frequent mood swings and/or extreme emotions (anxiety, angry outbursts)
  • Has difficulty concentrating
  • Had difficulty sleeping
  • Is eating far more or far less than before

This is by no means an exhaustive list but gives an indication of the kinds of behavior that may need addressing.

It is also important to mention that other things can be ruled out before you decide to give therapy a try. For instance, has your child had a full medical work-up recently? Her difficulties at school could be caused by an emotional disturbance, OR they could be caused by poor eyesight. His insomnia could be caused by anxiety, OR it could be the result of a biological issue that is causing him pain. Are you and your partner arguing more? Is your child’s behavior a natural response to an emotional situation at home?

Talk to Your Child About Therapy

While you may be worried your child is too young for therapy, your child may quite like the idea of talking to ‘someone special’ about how they feel. And, at the end of the day, your child is taking cues from you on how to feel about things. If you feel therapy has a certain stigma, your child will feel shame and not want to explore this option. But if you see therapy as beneficial, chances are your child will as well and be open to trying it.

Once you decide to explore treatment options, look for a therapist who specializes in helping very young children. They will most likely put an emphasis on art and play therapy, allowing your child to express themselves in a way that is natural for them.

Be sure to ask as many questions as necessary to select a therapist you feel comfortable with, and speak openly with your child about treatment so they can know what to expect.

If you believe your child may benefit from therapy and would like to speak about treatment options, please get in touch. I would be more than happy to see how I may help.Isn’t My Child Too Young for Therapy? (Myth vs. Reality)


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

Common Signs Your Kid Is Being Bullied

May 2, 2018

For many parents, bullying brings up memories of the schoolyard. You may have memories of yourself or a friend being bullied in the classroom or on the school bus. But today, social media has created a whole new realm for bullying, expanding the problem and making it easier for children to be harassed. If you’re […]

Common Signs Your Kid Is Being Bullied

May 2, 2018

For many parents, bullying brings up memories of the schoolyard. You may have memories of yourself or a friend being bullied in the classroom or on the school bus.

But today, social media has created a whole new realm for bullying, expanding the problem and making it easier for children to be harassed.

If you’re concerned that your child may be being bullied, look for these signs.

Difficulty Sleeping

Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or tiredness in the morning could be a sign of bullying or depression. Your child may be too anxious to fall or stay asleep; they may be crying themselves to sleep or having nightmares. Wetting the bed is another sign of fear or anxiety in a child.

Unexplained Injuries

Does your child come home from school with bruises, scrapes, cuts or torn clothes? When you ask your child about the injury or ruined clothing, do they appear nervous or avoid answering your questions? Attempt to assess if these are normal injuries as a result of play, or a sign of playground bullying. Ask them open-ended questions such as, “What happened at recess today?”

Avoids Social Situations

If you notice your child has lost friends or has developed a reluctance to spend time with them, this may be a sign of bullying. You may also notice your child is afraid to ride the bus or avoids school entirely by skipping classes or feigning an illness. They may go to the school nurse with a mystery ache to get you to pick them up early from school. If you’re beginning to notice a pattern, try talking to them about it. “I’m starting to notice you’re feeling sick a lot lately. Is everything okay at school?”

Changes in Eating Habits

If you notice your child’s eating habits are changing, such as skipping meals or binge eating, this can be a sign that something’s wrong. If your child comes home from school very hungry, it could be because they didn’t eat lunch. They could be too nervous during lunch time to eat, getting their lunch or lunch money stolen, or possibly avoiding the cafeteria entirely because of bullying or harassment.

Changes in Social Media Habits

When a child is being bullied online, they may start spending too much time on their devices or avoiding them entirely. Monitor their social media sites by friending or following, and if you suspect bullying, check their phone for harassing messages. You may also want to look into parental control and monitoring apps.

If you believe your child is being bullied at school, contact their teacher, the school principal or the school counselor or psychologist. You can also visit StopBullying.gov for more help and resources. If you or your child need professional help to deal with a bullying situation, please call my office today so we can schedule an appointment.


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

4 Ways Play Therapy Can Improve Your Child’s Life

March 15, 2018

Children have great imaginations, and they use it in every aspect of their lives. Play is a huge part of children’s lives and they create imaginary scenarios with their toys all the time. If something is going on in a child’s life, one of the best ways to discover their true emotions is by watching […]

4 Ways Play Therapy Can Improve Your Child’s Life

March 15, 2018

Children have great imaginations, and they use it in every aspect of their lives. Play is a huge part of children’s lives and they create imaginary scenarios with their toys all the time. If something is going on in a child’s life, one of the best ways to discover their true emotions is by watching them play.

Play therapy is a psychotherapeutic treatment, specially developed to help children between the ages of 3 to 12. A play therapist works with the child to explore and resolve their issues through the therapeutic use of play.

A safe space called a playroom is created. This allows the child to play with specially chosen toys, encourages them to express their feelings and helps them develop healthier behaviors. A a variety of techniques such as drama, storytelling, sandplay, painting, drawing and creative visualisation can be used.

Who can benefit from play therapy?

– Children who are constantly aggressive and willfully disobedient.
– Children who are ill or grieving
– Children who have depression, anxiety or attachment problems
– Children who are involved with fostering or adoption
– Children with conditions like autism and speech problems

Here are some ways play therapy helps children:

1. It helps them heal from past traumatic experiences- When children go through traumatic events, the negative experiences can create emotional and behavioral problems. Play therapy helps them make sense of the traumatic experience, by using their imagination to express themselves through toys. For example, a child who has witnessed domestic violence may make his toys fight each other. Play helps the child unpack emotions, understand the experience better and heal.

2. It enhances creative thoughts and ideas- During play, children use their imagination and creative skills to learn through play. During play therapy, children get to create different scenarios with different endings. This gives them a better understanding of what’s happening in their lives, and helps them cope.

3. It helps them deal with difficult emotions and situations- Play therapy involves activities that helps the therapist discover how the child deals with difficult emotions and situations and help the children address these difficulties. For example, a child may feel like they caused their parent’s divorce by being naughty. The therapist can help correct this wrong belief and help to eliminate feelings of guilt by encouraging positive thoughts.

4. It gives the child emotional support and helps them communicate their problems and concerns with others- In play therapy, children learn to work through difficult feelings and memories that they may not know how to put in words by expressing themselves symbolically with the use of toys. This helps the adults in their lives understand what children need in order to provide the right type of help and support.

Play therapy is quite beneficial to children, and kids who go through play therapy show great
improvement and display a higher level of confidence. Working through difficult feelings through play can be deeply restorative for children.

If you would like your child to see a play therapist, please contact me to book a session.


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 Help Children Understand Terrifying Events

March 1, 2018

As a parent, your job is to make sure your kids grow and develop in a safe and healthy environment. While it’s possible for you to control your immediate environment – your home –  it’s simply not possible to ensure the greater world around your child is safe and free from trauma or natural disasters. […]

How to Help Children Understand Terrifying Events

March 1, 2018

As a parent, your job is to make sure your kids grow and develop in a safe and healthy environment. While it’s possible for you to control your immediate environment – your home –  it’s simply not possible to ensure the greater world around your child is safe and free from trauma or natural disasters.

The latest research points to the utter futility of trying to keep kids shielded from any form of violence. According to Caroline Knorr, parenting editor for Common Sense Media, the online resource for vetting kids media, “Ninety percent of movies, 68% of video games, and 60% of TV shows show some depictions of violence.”

What does prolonged exposure to this media violence do to children’s brains and psyches? The research is woefully out of date and incomplete.

What we do know is that controlling what kind and how much media our children consume is far easier than shielding them from real-world violence and devastation.

No child should have to learn about a school shooting, terrorist attack, or the fact that adults and children were killed in an earthquake somewhere in the world. But protecting them from hard truths is not the answer.

The reality is that parents have to talk to kids about reality. Children will hear about terrifying events eventually, and it could scare your child more if you are reluctant to speak with them about it.

Here are some ways you can help your child understand terrifying events:

Try to Stay Calm

Children not only listen to the words you tell them, they, at the very same time, look for your emotional reaction. From this they gauge what is actually going on and how they should react.

Though it may be difficult, it’s important that you try and remain as calm as possible to reassure your child, while, at the same time, letting them know it’s okay for them to feel upset. A delicate balance? You could say that.

Determine What Your Child is Really Worried About

When children hear about scary events, they will have many questions, such as, “Did people die? Why would somebody hurt people? Were they bad people? Will I be killed by a bad person? Are we going to war?”

Some children will ask many more questions than this, but what they are really trying to determine is if THEY are safe. The answers you give should be truthful but age-appropriate, with a final assurance that your family is safe.

Keep Your Daily Routines

Scary stuff is unpredictable stuff. Therefore, your child will be reassured by predictability. Stick to your routines as best you can. Along with talking to your children about the events, make sure they have a sense of regularity in their lives.

Seek Professional Help if Necessary

If your child continues to show signs of stress or agitation, it might be a good idea to talk with a licensed mental health professional who can help your child express their concerns and offer coping strategies.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a traumatic event and would like to speak with someone, please be in touch. I would be 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

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

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, 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.

How To Lessen Your Teen’s Back-to-School Stress

September 10, 2017

It’s almost fall, which means store shelves are stocked with low-priced notebooks and markers and glue, et al. Soon the familiar brake hiss of school buses will be heard in neighborhoods across the country as kids head back to school. While some kids begrudge alarm clocks and mountains of homework, they still look forward to […]

How To Lessen Your Teen’s Back-to-School Stress

September 10, 2017

It’s almost fall, which means store shelves are stocked with low-priced notebooks and markers and glue, et al. Soon the familiar brake hiss of school buses will be heard in neighborhoods across the country as kids head back to school.

While some kids begrudge alarm clocks and mountains of homework, they still look forward to school; to enjoying friendships and new activities. Some children, however, have a real fear of going back to school. They worry about potential bullying or even violence at school. Some have trouble coping with social pressure, while others feel overwhelmed at what they will be expected to learn.

If your child is feeling stressed at the thought of going back to school, here are some ways you can help:

Ask Them What’s on Their Mind

Some kids might voluntarily share any worries they have about going back to school, but many won’t. If your child is keeping mum, ask them how they’re feeling about school starting up again.

Older kids and teenagers often shut down when questioned about, well, anything really. So try to make a leading statement like, “Seeing your friends every day will be cool. But I’m guessing there is stuff that you might not be looking forward to…” Then wait for a response.

If they don’t respond, try again the next day. Eventually, they will open up to you, and when they do, the important thing is not to say the exact right thing but to simply listen, show interest and concern, and never judge.

Get Them Involved

To some children, summer means a taste of freedom, of making choices for themselves, while school means little or no autonomy. To help counter this feeling, get your kids involved in decision-making at the very beginning.

Hold a “going back to school” family meeting, and make sure there are no media distractions like smartphones or TV on in the background. Discuss the year ahead, plan and set schedules for meals, homework, sports, school activities, and bedtime. Write these plans down and stick a copy on the fridge.

Talk About Bullying

Kids of all ages worry about bullying, so it’s important to bring up the topic. You could make a simple statement, something like, “Bullying is really common and it’s never OK, nor is it the victim’s fault when it happens. If anything happens to you or you see it happen to someone you know, I want you to tell me about it. We can make a plan together of how to handle it.”

Then there are those children who worry about starting school because they have issues with anxiety and depression. These children need help from a professional therapist who can uncover where the issues are coming from and offer tools and resources for coping in the real world.

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.