Kelfer & Associates, Inc.
Sheri Omens Kelfer, LCSW, BCD
(818) 970-4944
Psychotherapy    Consultation    Workshops
Children    Adolescents    Adults
Questions & Answers


 Q: Do reward charts work with young children and teenagers?

A: Yes. Behavior charts do work to increase or decrease positive or negative behaviors. When setting up behavior charts, it is crucial to remember to follow some of these guidelines:   
                                         Managing Children's Behaviors
                                             Designing Reward Charts

 Q: With so much talk about molestation and sexual abuse, how do I know if my child has been abused?

A: ASK HIM/HER.  Provide a warm, safe, secure, supportive environment for your child and ask him/her in terms that he/she can understand.  Make sure that you are prepared for your child's response.  If you suspect that your child has been molested, it is imperative that you let your child know that you will do everything possible to keep him/her safe even if he has been told not to tell. Signs to look for include:

1.  Any significant unexplained change in behavior (I.e. shy to very loud, or outgoing and social to withdrawn)
2.  Age inappropriate sexually precocious talk and /or play
3.  Pictures or play that have sexual themes
4.  Pictures or play that display powerlessness or excessive control and power
5.  Secretiveness
6.  Nightmares
7.  Mood changes in the presence of certain adults

Please note that these behaviors in and of themselves do out necessarily indicate sexual molestation.  If you suspect that your child has been molested, contact Sheri Omens Kelfer or a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in working with survivors of sexual abuse for an evaluation.

 Q: How do I know if my teen is using drugs or alcohol?

A: Some behaviors to be aware of are:

1.  Accident prone
2.  Excessive lateness or absences in school
3.  Frequent use of incense 
4.  Increased use of mints and/or mouth wash
5.  Odor of alcohol (breath or clothes)
6.  Blood shot eyes
7.  Frequent use of eye drops/wears dark glasses
8.  Frequent use of bathroom

Please note that these behaviors in and of themselves do out necessarily indicate drug or alcohol use. If you suspect that your child is using, contact Sheri Omens Kelfer or a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in working with substance issues for an evaluation.

 Q: Suicide and Depression - What do I look for?

A: Some indicators that your child/teen may be at risk for depression and/or suicide are:

1. Sadness for extended periods of time
2. Low self-esteem
3. Excessive crying
4. Loss of motivation and/or energy
5. Weight change
6. Change in eating habits (i.e. Over-eating or not eating)
7. Change in sleeping patterns (i.e. Sleeplessness or excessive need for sleep)
8. Preoccupation and/or stressed out
9. Often anxious or nervous
10. Social isolation and/or withdrawal
11. Lack of concentration
12. Feelings of worthlessness
13. Giving personal items away
14. Death of family member or friend

Please note that these behaviors in and of themselves do out necessarily indicate depression and/or suicide risk. If you suspect that your child is depressed, contact Sheri Omens Kelfer or a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in working with depression for an evaluation.

 Q: Is it okay to spank my child?

A: Many parents practice spanking as a "normal" part of parenting. Many religions and cultures pronounce its effectiveness and importance. Also, according to the Department of Children and Family Services (Los Angeles, California), it is not illegal to "spank" your child. However, the legal challenge lies in how one defines "spank." Please note that when a "spank" causes physical or emotional harm, it is not a "spank." Whether or not you believe that "spanking" is ok or not ok, legal or illegal, right or wrong, when caretakers "spank" they are at risk of the following:

1. Children may experience fear and trauma related to the "spank."
2. Children may learn that the way to deal with problems is to hit.
3. Children may learn that the way to get one's point across is to hit.
4. Children may confuse "love" with being hit.
5. Children may learn the "rules" due to fear rather than learning how to take responsiblity for their actions.
6. Professionals who work with children, by law, must report suspected child abuse. If a child-care professional believes that the "spank" is harmful to the child's emotional or physical well-being, he/she will need to involve DCFS. Thus, parents run the risk of having contact with child protective services and/or becoming involved in legal matters.

Ultimately, the question to be answered is whether or not the risks are worth it to you, your children, and your family. For other options and less risk discipline practices, see Managing Children's Behavior and Designing Reward Charts.

If you "spank," it is important to consult with Sheri Omens Kelfer or a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in working with children and adolescents, to determine whether or not your "spanking" is harmful emotionally and/or physically to your children.

 Q: How do I talk to parents when I am concerned about the children I work with?

A: Trust that parents know their children better than you do AND they do not always see the same behavior that you do.  Teachers are often concerned about offending parents, but it is important to share your behavioral observations out of concern for the child's social, emotional, and academic functioning and progress.  When you come from a perspective of concern for the child's well-being while respecting the family's "parenthood," caretakers are more likely to be receptive to your comments. 

As professionals and concerned adults, let caretakers know that it is ok for them to disagree with you. It is also important to let them know that you would be doing them a diservice if you did not share your observations with them.  Remember, it is much better to let caretakers know sooner than later.  As much as parents may not want to hear about challenges with their children, usually caretakers would rather know about issues before they are called in to deal with a full blown "discipline problem."

The information contained in this website is not intended as therapeutic advice. One should not act on information contained herein without seeking more specific consultation with Sheri Omens Kelfer, LCSW, BCD or a licensed psychotherapist.

I hope you find the information provided in this website helpful.  Please be aware that everyone's situation is different and that I have presented general ideas and guidelines.  I am happy to answer any brief questions that you may have about yourself, your children, and/or your family.  I can be reached at my California office at (818) 970-4944.
Sincerely, Sheri Omens Kelfer, LCSW, BCD
(Lic.#: LCS 15221)

If you are experiencing a life threatening emergency or thoughts of harming yourself and/or others, contact 911 immediately.

Images contained in this website, unless otherwise specified, are from the photography of Sheri Kelfer, Clip Art via Microsoft Office, and/or pictures publicly available on the web and do not represent any former or current patients.

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