Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

What to Say When There Are No Words

What to say when you have no words: How to talk to your children about difficult topics

As many of us are reflecting on the tragedy that occurred in our city yesterday, please do not neglect the importance of talking to your kids about what happened.

Children are innately receptive to the well being of their caregivers and can pick up on the grief and nervous energy that will be among us as they return to school.

Give your child age appropriate, factual information so that if they overhear their peers or teachers discussing this tragedy they will feel informed. Remind them of the safety plans that are in place at their school and reassure them that they know the drill.

It brings tears to my eyes to even fathom that we now have active shooter drills in schools. So remember, it is ok to tell your child, “It makes me feel sad to talk about shootings, but I am really glad that we can talk about topics that upset us.”

If your child has questions that you are not quite sure how to answer or that you don’t have an answer for reflect what your child is feeling. For example, your child may ask, “mommy, why would somebody want to shoot other people?” you could say something like, “It is really hard to understand why someone would hurt others.”

Do what you need to in order to get yourself into a calm, controlled state and then initiate this conversation with your child. Stay brief, stay factual, and follow your child’s lead. If you don’t know how to answer your child’s questions you can always say, “I do not have an answer for that, what do you think the answer is?” or “tell me more about what you’re thinking.” Many times children already have the answers to their own questions and it is more important that you are listening as they process the answer than it is to give them your answer.

Some children ask many questions and other children say, “ok” and return to their play. Regardless, what is important is that you’re teaching your child that you are willing to talk about difficult topics. Nothing is more reassuring to a child than knowing their caregivers can handle their thoughts and feelings. 

For more information on this or how to talk with your kids about other difficult topics please reach out to us at LKN Counselors! 

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

The Lost Art of Losing

For Carolina fans, you’ll remember the New Orleans Saints beating your beloved Panthers to advance on to play Minnesota in the playoffs this year. It was a great game – I was even there!

It was a fabulous time at home in the Dome!

And then New Orleans flew to Minnesota, and our hopes for a Black & Gold Super Bowl vanished…

It was a loss – a crushing (some might even say unfair since the refs were a little biased…. 🙄) and devastating playoff loss… but you might be surprised by immediate response.

These were two of my favorites:


This first, immediate response is from former Saints player and daily inspiration – the one & only, Steve Gleason. If you don’t know about Gleason, Team Gleason, or understand why this joke is absolutely hysterical, you’re missing out on a true treasure! Look him up! Gleason has been a beacon of hope -and now humor- for the city of New Orleans for over a decade.

My second favorite response was pulled from Nola.com the next morning…


It’s a new day… dust yourself off… prepare for the world’s biggest party (it’s Mardi Gras season). 💜💚💛

And to the young player who missed the tackle?

It’s okay!

Less than 24 hours and the city has a billboard up telling Marcus Williams we love him! We lost the game in the last ten seconds but do we hold grudges?! No!! Ain’t nobody got time for that. There’s a parade this afternoon!

It may sound silly, but one lesson I learned in New Orleans was to celebrate loss. I mean, we celebrate everything else… so why not? Our funerals are celebrations. (Probably the epitome of celebrating loss.) We celebrate when our team wins. And yes, we celebrate when we lose. Because what’s the alternative? Just going home? Sulking all night?

We can’t change the outcome, but we can celebrate the experience! I had my friends over for the MN game. I made delicious apps. We had an adorable puppy to play with and entertain us during commercial breaks. It was a great game! I had a fabulous night with great people & great food watching a great game. What is there to mourn?

Now, I get that it’s easy to minimize the outcome of a football game (although two weeks shy of the Super Bowl – I wouldn’t say that to any Eagles fans!). But what if your loss is more substantial?

This is when we go back to that key word experience. You played the game so to speak. There is value in that alone. Maybe you didn’t come out on top, but you now have more information than you did before about what you can do to be better, stronger, wiser, or more tactful in the future. That’s not really a loss… it might not be a win either, but at least you’re gaining valuable insight you wouldn’t have otherwise.

You might not be able to change your situation or an outcome, but you can always change your perception. Again, Steve Gleason is a great role model… refer to joke above.

In the end, the difference between a winner and a loser isn’t what is on the scoreboard. It’s about attitude and perception. If you can learn to celebrate when you win and lose – you never really lose…

WHO DAT. ⚜️

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

Thanks-dreading?

There’s an empty seat at the table this year. You can’t make it back home. Your parents are divorcing after decades of marriage. The tension from the 2016 election still lingers.

Happy Thanksgiving?

If you are experiencing apprehension, sadness, resentment, stress, or anger this holiday season, you’re not alone. I know, I know! It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” and a time to “count our blessings” and “be grateful.” If you want to punch the next person who tells you that in the face, I promise you aren’t crazy or alone. Although, you should probably book a session & talk to a professional counselor about that because violence is only going to make an already shitty situation worse…

Despite the media’s best intentions to skip Thanksgiving altogether (pretty sure it’s been Christmas since October?), we’re days away the Big Parade & it’s coming whether we’re ready or not.

So what can you do to make it through this Thanksgiving without posting bail?

1. Be intentional in creating/finding times in the day that you’re actually looking forward to – it could be your morning run to Starbucks (most Starbucks are open on Thanksgiving! Trust me, I know these things), spending time talking with a friend, a moment alone listening to your favorite song, a hot bath, or cuddling with your pets at the end of the day. Be intentional in creating a time (or times) during the day doing something that will bring you joy or contentment.

2. Have an escape plan. Setting boundaries with family directly and calling it quits when you’ve reached your limits is always best for your mental & emotional health. But if you aren’t a fan of confrontation, it’s okay! I have great news for y’all – it’s 2017! For better or for worse, technology has advanced to a point where you have endless options to escape from a conversation or situation causing distress. The best route is to go in with a plan: distract that annoying relative with pictures so they stop asking inappropriate questions, have a code word to text your siblings when you get cornered, make plans for dessert with friends so you need to leave at a set time. Simple arrangements made ahead of time go a long way in making your day go smoothly!

3. Utilize healthy coping skills. At Thanksgiving especially, it’s easy to eat and drink our pain or discomfort away. While that might work in the moment, it’s not effective coping long term. So again, intention is key! What are the healthy coping skills you generally utilize when you’re upset, overwhelmed, or stressed? Make sure you’re intentional in how you cope, so it doesn’t lead to more feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment.

Remember, it’s only one day.

The commercials with the happy, TV families can be really invalidating when you’re in pain. The holiday season can be a very isolating time for that very reason. So please reach out to someone! A counselor, a friend, a coworker, a neighbor, a family member you trust. I promise you’re not alone!