About Marcella Marino Craver

Marcella Marino Craver, MA, MSEd, CAS is a certified School Counselor and School Psychologist in New Jersey. She is the author of Shield Up! How Upstanding Bystanders Stop Bullying, Learn to Study: A Comprehensive Guide to Academic Success, Joey Daring, Caring and Curious: How a Mischief Maker Uncovers Unconditional Love, and Chillax! How Ernie Learns to Chill Out, Relax and Take Charge of His Anger. Chillax! How Ernie Learns to Chill Out, Relax and Take Charge of His Anger was awarded the Mom's Choice Award for Juvenile Books-Self-Improvement (Gold) and the Gold Medal Moonbeam Children's Book Award for Comic/Graphic Novel. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

Emptying the Emotional Backpack

As adults we expect to encounter daily challenges, often simultaneously! In some instances, we can easily say, “There is always a problem!” Over time we've learned to manage multiple difficult situations by remaining calm, and employing various successful strategies in the moment so that we can resolve the issues. How have we learned to remain calm? Some of us exercise, vent to a friend, or take a yoga class. We incorporate successful strategies into our regular routine and disregard those that are less helpful. As adults, we are typically able to remain clam when a problem arises, allowing us to think our way to a solution. To solve daily issues, children and adults need to keep calm and think their way to solutions. If your child or teen feels too frustrated in the moment to generate and apply problem solving techniques, then they may benefit from some guidance on how to calm themselves. This will improve their overall mood and improve their ability to face a new challenge. Letting issues go unresolved can lead to continuing frustration down the road. They fill an emotional “backpack” with problems that become too heavy for them to carry. The unresolved worries intensify the next difficult situation, which further overloads the backpack, and makes subsequent problems more difficult to solve. Learning and practicing strategies to empty the emotional backpack helps kids figure out that they can improve their mood, increase their ability to remain calm, and think through challenging situations.  Once the strategies become routine, the hope is that kids will practice them independently. The most beneficial strategies may be encouraging your child to engage in activities he or she likes: sports, art, music, time with pets, writing are all examples of strategies they can use to help center themselves. Here are some strategies to introduce to your children and teens during down time. Spending time with nature and finding some sunshine The sun is a natural mood elevator due to the vitamin D it provides.  And when we spend time in nature, be it in the woods, in a park or by the water, we naturally decompress. Ask your children to be mindful about their surroundings when outside. Maybe focus on colors, scents, sounds for a few quiet moments and then compare notes. Did you hear the babbling water? I heard the birds. The key is to be present in the moment and focus only on the environment. Talking Encourage your children to talk about what is concerning them, even if it is with a different adult they trust. Is there a favorite relative nearby or does the School Counselor have a quiet office? Sometimes a coach or a Scout leader is a natural fit. Kids may also be more talkative when you are not staring at each other--for example, a quiet car ride where you are both looking forward, or when taking a walk or playing catch. Remember to reflect the feelings your children and teens convey during

Read More
Emptying the Emotional Backpack 2018-12-03T09:27:42-05:00