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Presenter: Emilio Amigo, PsyD

Dr. Amigo is a licensed psychologist who works primarily with children with ADHD or those involved with abuse or divorce. Life-sized outlines the youth had traced of each other on paper were displayed on the wall during Dr. Amigo's presentation. The families could take these home. These outlines were created earlier in the day in Dr. Amigo's workshop on self-esteem for the teens and young adults with MSUD.

Dr. Amigo began by explaining the life-size outlines the youth made in the self-esteem workshop he conducted. The outlines identified their personal boundaries. To help them understand self, they were asked to follow certain instructions. For example, they put the names of family members and others inside or outside the outline depending on how they felt about those persons. In various ways they illustrated their attitudes, limits, choices, talents, desires, values, etc. on the outlines, thus expressing how they felt about MSUD.

To illustrate the concept of esteem, they were to connect a price tag to the body outline and put in the amount they thought they were worth. First he explained to them that they were unique and one of a kind which is often valued as priceless. Some of the youth couldn't identify with that. Others thought they were worth "BIG BUCKS."

Practical Tips for Developing Your Child's Self-esteem:

  • Make one-minute connections with your child
  • Write love notes to your child
  • Be a model to children by taking an honest self-look
  • Refrain from the use of negative communications
  • Make a life celebrations book - each family member writing what they want to celebrate
  • Give your child a "gift" every night
  • Use the human touch - hugs, pat, reassurance
  • Mutually tell stories together with children
  • Share dreams you had and dreams for the future
  • The paying attention game - see details, smell the roses
  • Play music together - don't need to be talented
  • Together visually plan the next day

Know the top stressors in your child's life; teach them coping strategies:

  • Self-affirm, then affirm your child - don't play the blame or shame game.
  • Help them set SMART goals - Sensible, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, within a Time line.
  • Help them manage time.
  • Have them create a self-journal: use a special pen, use a theme.
  • Do art; read and listen to music together.
  • Instill positive memories; faithfully keep up photo albums.
  • Foster healthy play. Maybe do something fun with food to balance the seriousness of food in their lives.
  • Regularly interview each other. Keep learning about your children because they change.
  • Empower not overpower - prepare them for life.

Teach them conflict-resolution skills:

  • have a clear agenda
  • communicate a belief in resolution - can be resolved
  • one person talks at a time
  • have empathy for the other person
  • use "I" statements instead of "you" - sandwich statements (positive, negative, positive)

As parents, be REAL - model honesty, be willing to learn, be emotionally vulnerable, be willing to not know the answer, share your dreams and sorrows.

  • Share the "top 5 things I want and need" with family members.
  • Chronicle your child's life - keep things for them: scrapbooks, papers and drawings, note experiences and accomplishments.
  • Have "no reason at all" days. Do something fun without a reason.
  • Create your own holidays like "Son Day."
  • Celebrate a "You Day" - family honors one child all day.
  • Participate in family ministry and/or service.

Dr. Amigo answered questions from the parents. One question was: "What characteristics came out in your discussions with the children?" He answered by naming several: Some of the children viewed themselves as special because they have MSUD. In the workshop they worked hard, took it seriously, laughed a lot and helped each other. They were concerned about who would see the outlines. They seemed to be aware of the normal developmental stuff for their ages. They had a good moral consciousness. Most of them drew their parents as persons who meant the most to them.

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