Play Therapy Community Inspiration, Information, & Connection for Child Therapists Around the World | ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Child Parent Relationship Therapy, School Counseling Behavior Therapy, Sandtray Therapy,

Play Therapy Community will present a fresh, insightful episode once a week, usually on Thursday mornings. On this podcast, we will cover topics such as play therapy techniques and resources, group therapy, maternal mental health, picky eaters, struggles in school, behavioral issues, grief and loss, and so much more. We’ll also delve into specific diagnosis such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Learning Disabilities, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, etc. Difficult topics, such as parenting through separation/divorce, depression, anxiety struggles, relationship struggles, and such will be explored as well. As the host of Play Therapy Community, I feel honored that you are joining us on this journey for knowledge to truly help our children in a way that honors their mind, body, and soul. My name is Jackie Flynn, and I’m a Licensed Psychotherapist, Registered Play Therapist, Education Specialist, Adolescent Life Coach and a Parent Educator.
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Play Therapy Community Inspiration, Information, & Connection for Child Therapists Around the World | ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Child Parent Relationship Therapy, School Counseling Behavior Therapy, Sandtray Therapy,




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Now displaying: March, 2016
Mar 31, 2016

Parenting in the Rain, Episode 14

Meeting My Sister, Melissa: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Connection

In This Episode:

  • In this episode, I share a story that is close to my heart.   A story about meeting my sister, Melissa, which was adopted at birth.
  • At the time of her adoption, our sweet mom was struggling, without the means to even provide food and shelter for herself, much less a baby.  
  • My sister found out later in life that she was adopted and started searching for us.  Eventually she found us in January 2015.  
  • I will remember the day that I first met her.  We spoke via phone since she lives about 1,000 miles away from us.  It felt surreal.   
  • In March, just a couple of months later, her husband and sons flew down to meet us all in person.   We had a big family gathering with BBQ, tug-of-war, and family togetherness. I cherish the pictures that we took that day, as they bring back so many warm memories.
  • Unfortunately, our mom was diagnosed with lung cancer.  As you can imagine, we were all devastated at the thought of losing her to cancer (my dad died from lung cancer 3 years earlier), but we felt so grateful that she had a chance to connect with Melissa after 49 years.   
  • Melissa, with a kind and accepting heart, gave my mom so much peace and healing during her last few months of life.  
  • In this episode, Melissa shares what this experience was like for her.  
  • We are forever grateful that she found us when she found us.  


(Some of These Resources Are Affiliate Links)

Mar 24, 2016

Parenting in the Rain, Episode 13

Nurturing Emotionally Healthy Kids through Play with Debra Wessleman, MS, LIMHP

In This Episode:

Debra Wesselmann, the author of Integrative Parenting: Strategies for Raising Children Affected by Attachment Trauma, gives us 6 tips to help nurture our children’s emotional health through play.

  1. Stay Attuned By Staying Present – Put away the electronics and truly connect with your child through play.
  2. Stay Attuned By Letting Your Child Take The Lead – Let your child choose what and how to play.  This helps support your child’s feelings of self-worth and self-efficacy.  It also strengthens relationships.
  3. Be Aware That Your Child’s Play Activities May Not Match His Or Her Chronological Age – Meet your child where he is at.  Resist the urge to influence him to play with games and toys that you consider to be appropriate for his age.  For example, an adolescent may like to play with dolls and that is okay.
  4. Keep It Fun By Finding Ways To Play That You Both Enjoy – It’s important that  you are able to play with the child and enjoy playing too.  Have materials and activities available to choose from that you like.  It enhances the experience.
  5. Playtime Is Not Teaching Time – It’s tempting sometimes to double up playtime as teaching time.  Teaching during this time can diminish some of the benefits from free play.  Resist the urge to make statements such as “how many blocks are there”, “what color is the barn”, and such.  Just simply enjoy the play for what it is, that’s where the beauty of its benefits can flourish.
  6. If You Observe Your Child Reenacting Traumatic Experiences In Play, Communicate With Your Team – If your child has a therapeutic team be sure to share observations that relate to playing out any trauma with them.  They can help him process through it in a healthy supported way.


Mar 17, 2016

Cutting to Cope: Understanding the Emotional Desperation behind Self-Harm

In This Episode:

  • Self-harm can be used as a desperate attempt to relieve some physiological and psychological tension.
  • Self-injurious behaviors include: cutting, carving, scratching, branding, marking, burning, scraping, biting, bruising, hitting, and other ways of hurting oneself. 
  • Self-harming behaviors can increase the risk of suicide because of the emotional problems that trigger self-harming behaviors, but it doesn’t meant that the person is suicidal.  Seek professional help is you or your child is engaging in self harming behavior.
  • Self-harm is more common with teens, than any other age group in the life span.  It has become an “epidemic” in some populations.
  • Finding out that your child is harming themselves can feel frightening, mysterious, and confusing.
  • Self-injury is sometimes used as a desperate attempt to diminish tough emotions, to achieve proof of “alive-ness”, or relieve emotional pain.  
  • Sometimes, when kids hear that someone in their peer group “cuts”, they may see self-injurious behavior as a choice for them as well.  
  • It’s important to put healthy coping skills in place. Mindfulness techniques can be really helpful.
  • Self-harm creates a distorted relationship with one’s own body, as the person inflicting the harm, is also the person being harmed.
  • It’s important to identify what’s going on for the client and address any underlying issues that are triggering the self-harming behaviors.
  • As parents, we need to remember what feels stressful is for our child / teen may not seem stressful for us.  Using empathy is so important.  Empathy is a wonderful and beneficial skill for parents to have.  It not only gives us insight, but connects us with our kids in a way that they know that we understand.  
  • Empathy can strengthen parent/child relationships.
  • It’s so important to seek out professional help if you notice signs of self-harm with your child/adolescent. 
  • Some teens that self-injure are often attempting to deal with overwhelming stress and difficult emotions such as loneliness, hopelessness, anger, isolation, and persistent thoughts.  Self-injury is really a maladaptive coping tool. 
  • The effects of self-injury can feel absolutely devastating. Unfortunately, self-injury can become somewhat addictive in nature.  Sometimes teens go back to “cutting” to relieve emotional pain when the emotional disturbance feels heavy again if healthy coping skills aren’t integrated into their life. Addressing the tough emotions can decrease the desperate, determined search for relief from the emotional pain.
  • Providing an emotionally safe environment for children to learn and experience healthier, more effective coping skills to use when the difficult emotions overwhelm is important.
  • Keeping teens safe and emotionally stable is at the core of support, but it really goes far beyond that – to help them feel PEACE, JOY, and HOPE in their life again is important.
  • If you or someone that you love self-injures, there is HOPE.  This can feel scary for everyone involved.  Support is vital. I know first-hand that support can help. Therapy may help.
Mar 10, 2016

In This Episode:

  • Internet safety is really more about the relationship with our children than it is about the technology.
  • It’s important to know more than our kids about the internet.
  • It’s like teaching our kids how to drive – teaching them the specifics, then giving them expectations, and then moving forward with trust.  
  • Training our kids how to be safe on line is so important.  
  • Teaching them how to navigate the internet responsibly is key!
  • The child/parent relationship is so important!
  • Mark recommends teaching children to come to their parents when they see things on the internet that they are unsure of, embarrassed, or nervous about.
  • Some children have such advanced technological knowledge, so it is important to keep up to date and have access to monitor.  
  • Sometimes children will “friend” a parent on a social media account, but then create another account that the parent may not know about.
  • Mark talks about Digital Citizenship, being a good person online.   Having good character is so important.
  • Cyberbullying can be so painful.  We want our children to know at the core of their being - who they are.  
  • Ask your child “What kind of person do you want to be?” before online situations come up.
  • Sometimes children wake up in the middle of the night to access their electronics.  After-hours access can be prevented by designating a charging station, taking away phones, turning of the Wifi, turning of service provider, etc.  It is really helpful to set the example by putting their phones away after a certain time as well.   It’s really about trusting your kids and trusting them to abide by the rules that you agreed to as a family.
  • It’s so important for kids to get enough sleep.  It’s important really for everyone to get sleep – including parents. Getting texts at night can cause us to lose sleep.  Also, children may not be as willing to go to sleep and rest will with the temptation of the technology within their reach.
  • It is SO IMPORTANT to be aware of what apps your children are downloading and using.  Mark tells us about a story where a girl downloaded an app that had pictures of girls in swimwear uploaded on it.  In that situation, the app was written by an international company with different laws about privacy.  Parents should be aware and cautious about apps.
  • Mark tells us about a story where a father and daughter played online games together.  It helped with online safety risk level and strengthened their relationship by enjoying something they both loved together.
  • Relationship building is KEY!
  • Tom (my husband) asked if there is a way to monitor all of the internet activity from the various devices.  Mark mentioned that there’s some software that can monitor some activity, but nothing that he knows about that can cover everything such as gaming devices, phones, incognito tabs, etc in with one service or device.  Mark recommends creating a master admin account for yourself, then creating an account with parental controls for the children.
  • Mark mentioned that some apps can be deceptive, such as ones that look like a calculator app but turn into a file manager when a certain number is entered to access a part of the app that can be used to upload and download files.
  • Mark says that there isn’t a way for technology to totally keep your child safe, the key is to be aware as a parent and build a strong and meaningful connection with your kids that incorporates training, expectations, setting good examples, and trust. 
  • Educate your child. Tell them how be responsible online and how to overall just be a good person.  
  • Mark said to contact him directly if you have any questions.
Mar 3, 2016

Parenting in the Rain, Episode 10

11 Tips to Homework Success  for You & Your Child with Attention Deficit Disorder

In This Episode:

1st Tip: Routine

Is it difficult to fit homework into your busy schedules?  Have you ever been up with your child at 10pm or later struggling to finish homework?

Scheduling a set time each day, preferably right after school, can help tremendously.  Routines help people feel secure, safe, and in control.  This holds especially true for children with focus issues struggling with homework productivity.  A solid routine should look, feel, and sound the same each day.   

For example:


  • 4:00 pm Eat Snack, Drink Water, Take Shoes Off
  • 4:10 pm Set Up Homework Materials (paper, pencils, pens, books, etc) in the same, distraction reduced/free place each day
  • 4:30 pm Take a 1-2 Minute Stretch Break , Walk Around (Set Timer)
  • 4:32 pm Resume Doing Homework (20 Minutes Later Take Another Break)


2nd Tip: Enjoyment

Do you ever feel like a “tyrant” parent at homework time? Yelling, threatening, and shaming your child into completing assignments, only to realize that success is costing you and your family happiness and feelings of his self-worth?  

Upbeat, positive support during homework time makes the tasks easier to deal with, while utilizing energy for homework itself.  Remember, our children will often reflect our mood as their own.  So doing our best to keep itmpositive and cheerful can result in the same from them.  However, the same is true for negativity.  If we are grumpy, our child will likely mirror that as well.

3rd Tip: Visual Timer

Has your child ever continuously asked “When can I be done?” so many times that it inhibits her ability to focus on the task at hand?  

A visual timer can help. Provide your child with some type of a visual timing device (i.e. clock, timer, etc.…).  This reduces the distraction of time, which enhances focus.  Here’s one that I recommend…   Homework Time Tracker * an affiliate link for a product that I love!

4th Tip: Organized Space

Do you struggle to find a spot for your child to do homework?  

Clutter can destroy motivation and productivity!  Block off 30 minutes to create an organized space that minimizes distractions, allows for comfort, and is clutter free.  Simply put, people are more productive in such environments. This will be time well spent.

5th Tip: Managed Movement

Do you ever find yourself continuously asking your child to sit down and get back to work? Do tolerance levels decrease while frustrations go through the roof?

Allowing your child to move can help.  Sometimes standing at the table can help, sitting on balance ball chair, allowing for wiggling in the seat can help, especially for children with Attention Deficit Disorder.  Some people have great success with putting painter’s tape to create boundaries for the child to move in, while remaining at their work station.  

*here’s an affiliate link to an excise ball that I use with my kiddos Balance Ball Chair

6th Tip: Frequent Breaks

Have you ever tried to power through homework time, only to realize that it took 3 times the amount of time you estimated?

Frequent breaks can help.  The benefit of frequent breaks should not be underestimated.  A 1-2 minute stretch break can make children’s ideas flow more freely, allow for a release of pinned up energy, and help the brain to function more efficiently.  Movement is SO helpful for brain function, especially for children with Attention Deficit Disorder.  Time well spent, for sure!

7th Tip: Proximity for Productivity

Have you ever walked in to the room to find your child goofing off, when they were supposed to working on homework or studying?  

There is no substitute for being physically close (remember to be respectful of his personal space) to him during this time.  The amount of closeness varies depending on his needs, but in general there is no substitute for being there.  Closeness demonstrates support, reduces the temptation to go off task, and allows you to help redirect and refocus as needed.  It is important to know that some children thrive with 1 on 1, while others my just prefer you in the same room.  Remember, to keep the closeness as a positive, not something to use as a punishment or shameful remark.

8th Tip: Distraction Free Zone to Increase Productivity

Does your child seem to take forever to finish a simple task or get easily frustrated when asked to get back to work?  

Well, taking away distractions such as cell phones, tablets, televisions, games, people, etc… can be especially helpful.  A distraction free workspace increases productive, on-task behaviors.

9th Tip: Positivity for Long-term Happiness and Self Worth

Have you ever yelled hurtful things to your child during homework time, leaving you feeling guilty, inadequate, and empty at the end of the day?  

Well, you are not alone.  As human beings, we are subject to our own emotional overloads as well.  Knowing this can help you to mentally prepare for this time by saying positive statements to yourself and your child.  Statements such as “I will remain calm”, “when I am calm, it helps her to be calm”, “I will do everything I can to set myself and my child up for homework success, but I will not expect perfection”,  “Trying your best is all that I expect of you”, and such.

10th Tip: Praise vs Specific Statements to Repeat Wins

Do you ever find yourself saying “good job” only to wonder if it helps?

Specificity, makes a difference.  Generic praise can sound fake and not produce the intended result of letting the child know that you like what they did, with the hopes of similar behavior in the future.  Specific phrases such as, “You chose to finish your homework, now you get to go outside to play with your friends for an hour” not only lets her know exactly what to repeat, but it also teaches her that their choices have consequences good and bad, which is a wonderful lesson to learn.  

11th Tip: Water / Healthy Snacks to Boost Brain Power

Has your child ever been cranky, sensitive, or unproductive during homework time?  

Providing a healthy snack such as a fruit and/or vegetable, energy bar, and such can give him the extra needed boost to get them through the homework tasks.  Many children on medication report not being hungry during the day, but by the time they get home they are famished.  Also, water is essential.  Skip on the sugary drinks.  Water hydrates the brain, which helps her perform at her best.