August Issue Inviting Arkansas

August 17, 2017

From big hats to faux horse races, Southern Silks is one of our favorite and biggest events of the year! What better way to support behavioral and mental health care for Arkansas children and families than with a post-race Kentucky Derby inspired soiree? Last May, we spent the evening celebrating with live and silent auctions, dinner and libations, and more! In case you missed August’s issue of Inviting Arkansas, we’ve included a little Q& A below to give you some insight on the event and our organization. Check it out! Q: What is Methodist Family Health? A: Methodist Family Health is a nonprofit organization started in 1899 that provides support and hope for Arkansas children and families facing emotional and behavioral challenges. With nine clinics all across the state, we are able to help make sure no family or child goes without the care and support they need. Services include the following: Individual, family and group counseling Play therapy Grief and trauma specialists Psychological testing Medical consultation and management Board certified psychiatrists and child psychiatrists Case management Behavior management planning and techniques Parent support and education School-based counseling services in select cities Q: What is Southern Silks? A: Southern Silks is one of our largest fundraisers of the year and allows us to raise money in order to provide our patients with the best care possible. It’s a night of faux horse races, dinner and libations, live and silent auctions, a hat contest and much more. Our theme for Southern Silks is Kentucky Derby-inspired and happens the same weekend as the Kentucky Derby as a post-race soiree. Q: How can I learn more about or support Methodist Family Health? A: From volunteering to donating, we have a variety of ways you can help be a part of our mission! Check out our website and social media pages for more information and to stay up to date on events and opportunities! Facebook – Instagram – Twitter –

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Ease Back Into Back-To-School Mode

August 10, 2017

For many parents, summer is the time to relax the rules and put bedtimes on hold. But then August rolls around, and parents start to panic. “School is only two weeks away!” There are classes to confirm, backpacks to fill, jeans to buy and lunches to plan, all while preparing our kids mentally and emotionally for a new school year. To help make this a successful transition – meaning less anxiety for kids AND caregivers – here are a few tips to start using now. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy summer to the fullest! These are just simple ways to make the back-to- school changeover easier on everyone. So when those school ads hit, the whole family will be ready. Or at least ready-ish. Make casual conversation. Many kids are in blissful oblivion when it comes to summer. School is in a whole other universe! Instead of letting it take them completely by surprise, start weaving school into the mix. See a fun shirt at the store? Say, “That would be great for school!” Start gathering up potential school supplies around the house. Designate a homework zone at home and let your child decorate. Remember to be positive! Instead of focusing on summer “ending” (summer lasts a long time in Arkansas!), remind kids that you will still be doing fun outdoor things even after school starts. Point out the things your child enjoys about school: cool supplies, seeing friends every day, a new class, great teachers, etc. Adjust their schedule – slowly. Now is the time to gradually start waking kids up earlier. Just 10 minutes earlier every few days will ease the shock of the early mornings to come. That means earlier bedtimes, too. For older kids, tweens and teens, a set “bedtime” is probably long gone. But you can still introduce calm, relaxing evenings to encourage winding down earlier and earlier. Maybe it’s snuggling up with a family movie, or encouraging everyone to read in the evenings. Phones, tablets, computers and TVs can keep kids up late into the night, so now is a good time to discuss (and perhaps easing into) guidelines for late-night tech. Tour the school and new classroom. A great way to help re-familiarize your child to the school environment is by scheduling a time to stop by the school or even the new classroom. This is especially important for children entering kindergarten, kids transitioning to a new building or to a new district. Certainly, in this age of technology, even getting on a school-sponsored Facebook page and arranging a play date for kids of the same grade/class can be a way for kids to make friends and have a familiar face on the first day of class. Plan one-on-one time. Schedules are hectic, and just carting kids from point A to point B can be a challenge. But planning intentional time can go a long way toward easing stress and slowing down – and it doesn’t take long to make the connection! Set aside 15 minutes for each child, every day. Read a book to your younger child. Take a walk or go for a drive. Shoot some hoops. Prep ingredients for dinner. Building in quality time is a great anchor for kids AND parents, and forces us to slow down and focus on the good stuff. Keep it up after school starts for healthier, happier kids all year long. Amanda Owens is a licensed clinical social worker with Methodist Family Health. Methodist Family Health’s emotional and behavioral healthcare services are designed to help children, adolescents and their families. Methodist Family Health offers inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for children ages 3 to 17; outpatient counseling clinics; grief counseling services; psychiatric residential treatment centers and more. For more information, visit

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Keep Summer Break From Breaking You

July 5, 2017

  For many parents, school can’t wrap up fast enough. The early-morning scramble, the late-night projects, the checking backpacks / homework / due dates / EVERYTHING – it all adds up to overwhelming. But now that we’re well into the break, a whole new dynamic could be making these long summer days seem a little too long. Can you keep sibling squabbles, activities, childcare issues and more from putting a damper on your summer? Yes! Read on for tips on staying sane and making the most of these next few weeks of freedom.   SPEND SPECIAL TIME TOGETHER. Sure, you could knock their socks off with a surprise vacation or elaborate, color-coded schedule of summer activities. But some of your best family memories will be far simpler: making homemade ice cream, having an epic water balloon battle, catching lightning bugs (yes, it’s still magical) or picking out the perfect watermelon from a roadside stand. Meaningful family time doesn’t come with a set price tag, or require hours of research and planning. In fact, you get bonus points for keeping it low-tech! The real beauty of summer, maybe even the whole point of it, is to slow down and just enjoy each other. Live in the moment. Appreciate where you are – and who you’re with.   LET KIDS ENTERTAIN THEMSELVES. As students become more and more involved in extracurricular activities throughout the school year, family schedules are getting packed tighter than ever before. Add to that the lightning-fast rise of gaming consoles, streaming content and phones for everyone, and we’ve got a whole generation who seems to struggle with downtime. What’s a parent to do? Nothing. Literally. When your kids are bored, you might suggest a few activities: reading, crafting, playing with pets, building a fort, etc. Then move on. Letting kids bust boredom on their own does more than relieve the entertainment burden on parents. Research suggests that occasional boredom encourages daydreaming, which can boost creativity. Win-win!   SET ASIDE TIME FOR YOURSELF. Summer is more than a break for the kids. It’s a break for YOU. Yes, work still goes on. No, the chores will not do themselves (actually, the kids can be doing more of that!). But parents and caregivers should enjoy some summer fun of their own. Give yourself permission to go see that blockbuster movie. Grab that book you’ve been meaning to start and head outside to read in the shade. Meet a friend for lunch and order dessert in the middle of the day. YOUR summer matters, too. Because few people work harder – and deserve more of a break – than the ones raising kids. And take it from us: YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB.

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Budget Summer Activities

June 29, 2017

  Summer time brings about exciting opportunities for children and families as well as many potential challenges. Keeping children active, entertained and giving them continued room to learn and grow can sometimes be difficult for parents who are working or who have limited finances. It’s also important to keep in mind your child’s individual needs especially for those children who experience sensory related issues, struggle in social situations, or who are impulsive or easy to anger. Here are a few fun and simple activities to get you started on summer adventures that won’t break your bank. Books in the Park Take your child to your local bookstore and find a few books they find interesting to rent. If you are unable to go to the library, bring their favorite books from home. Pack a picnic lunch and go to the park. Encourage your child to read, eat lunch and then allow for free play time. Make Your Own Playdoh Playdough is easy to make and great for kids of all ages! It’s a great way for children to be creative and express themselves. Ingredients   1 cup of flour (whatever kind you have on hand)   ¼ cup of salt   ½ cup of water   3 to 5 drops of natural food coloring Instructions Mix together the flour and the salt. Mix together ½ cup of warm water with a few drops of food coloring. Slowly pour the water into the flour mixture, stirring as you pour. Stir until combined, then knead with your hands until the flour is completely absorbed. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it doesn’t stick at all. Color Scavenger Hunt A color scavenger hunt gets your kids outside and exploring all that nature has to offer. Just grab some markers and a paper bag and you have a fun adventure ahead of you! Supplies: – white paper lunch bag – markers Directions: Write “Color Scavenger Hunt” at the top of your white paper lunch bag. Choose the colors you want the children to hunt for and use your colored markers to scribble small squares onto the front of the bag of each color. Pass out the bags to the children and let them have fun finding all of the colors on the bag. When they find an item that matches one of the colors, place it in the bag. When everyone is finished, sit in a circle and have a fun time having a show and tell about all of the items everyone found. Flashlight Tag Flashlight tag is essentially hide-and-seek taken to a whole new level. One person is chosen to be “it” and is given a flashlight. Everyone else gets to hide in the back yard and wait to be found. The person who is “it” uses the flashlight to find everyone who is hiding. The first person to be found then becomes “it,” and the game starts over again. This game works for groups of kids, but it can also be played by as few as two people. Caitlin Forrest, LCSW, is a registered play therapist with Methodist Family Health. Methodist Family Health’s emotional and behavioral healthcare services are designed to help children, adolescents and their families. Methodist Family Health offers inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for children ages 3 to 17; outpatient counseling clinics; grief counseling services; psychiatric residential treatment centers and more. For more information, visit      

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Summer Sibling Health

June 23, 2017

  Every kid looks forward to summertime because it means some time off from school, but it has the potential to be much less exciting for parents of multiple children. Playtime can quickly turn into arguments, which can escalate into screaming and crying. Summertime arguments between siblings leave everyone unhappy. If you have a close relationship with a sibling, you know that the friendship between siblings is something special. Ashley Petray, therapist at Methodist Family Health, has put together a few activities to help foster these friendships in your own kids and keep them from bickering all summer.   Encourage teamwork Your kids are most likely to bond when they’re working together towards a common goal. This can happen in a number of ways – through work and play. Give your kids specific tasks in joint chores they have to complete together. Washing and drying the dishes, tidying up the living room, washing the car – whatever the task, it will require cooperation to get done, and they’ll want to get it done as quickly as possible. Plus, it means a little less work around the house for you. Teamwork can be fun, too. Give your kids structured games or let your kids get bored together – get them away from screen time and encourage them to make their own fun. Kids are often the most creative when they’re allowed to use their imagination, and the games they come up with when creativity is encouraged are often some of the best ones.   Practice respect and fairness “That’s not fair!” A phrase parents of little ones hear all too often. From an early age, kids start to pick up on how their relationships with their parents compare to those of their siblings. With this in mind, it’s important not to treat your kids exactly the same, but to make sure your kids believe that your treatment is fair. Sibling relationships are more positive if they feel that their parents show them similar levels of affection, praise and discipline. Sibling relationships can also benefit when kids are taught how to identify, monitor, evaluate and relate their emotional reactions to their siblings. Parents can help their children express themselves appropriately by helping them identify feelings when conflict occurs. When their siblings start to push their buttons like only siblings can, they won’t react as intensely. They’ll also be better communicators and will therefore have a more positive play experience.   Be together Set aside time for regular family discussions. Eating meals together without electronics or phones is a great place for this. Being together as a family creates opportunities for everyone to speak up about their grievances as well as their celebrations. This helps your kids find solutions to their problems in a much calmer and easier way than arguing it out and encourages healthy communication between siblings. It also strengthens your kids’ relationships when you set aside time to just be together as a family. Whether it’s something as simple as taking a walk around the neighborhood together or going on a road trip, family time encourages your kids to work as a team and makes them feel like valued members of the family.   Ashley Petray is a registered therapist with Methodist Family Health. Methodist Family Health’s emotional and behavioral healthcare services are designed to help children, adolescents and their families. Methodist Family Health offers inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for children ages 3 to 17; outpatient counseling clinics; grief counseling services; psychiatric residential treatment centers and more. 

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