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Help with tantrums, big emotions

Early childhood mental health services improve communication for the whole family

“It was easy to choose Rainbows for childcare since we were familiar with the organization,” said Shannon Pope, mother of two preschoolers. Shannon herself had volunteered at Rainbows, her aunt has worked in the office for many years plus her kids get to see their cousins who also attend every day. “We wanted them to grow up with children who have special needs so they would be familiar with disabilities as they get older.”

Choosing to enroll her child in mental health services was not as easy. “You never think your child is going to need services, but there were signs that our son was more emotional than most and we needed new ways to help him,” said Shannon. Their son Hudson was having frequent meltdowns, throwing monster tantrums, and often inconsolable. After talking with his teacher and meeting Mental Health Specialist Alice Boutz, Shannon and her husband Mike agreed to enroll their son in mental health services offered at no cost to families during the child care day at Kids’ Point.

“Children learn self-regulation, just like they learn academic skills, through caregivers that model these skills and help guide them through learning about emotions and regulation,” said Alice. As we provide mental health services to young children, through our early childhood programs, we lay the foundation for healthy kids that can safely express their emotions and we are able to set these kids up for success through building resiliency.

Hudson began working with Miss Alice when he was three years old. She comes into his classroom at Kids’ Point, observes his behaviors and helps him navigate his big emotions and communicate his feelings. They talk about how he is feeling and what he can do to express those emotions in a healthy way. His teachers reinforce those same strategies during the day. “Now he is able to communicate his emotions better and calm himself down,” said Shannon. “Our home is more peaceful, and the experience has made us better parents.” Not only did Alice help Hudson, but she provided Shannon and Mike with tips and strategies to use at home. Modeling good communication at home is something the family learned makes a difference for everyone.

Their two-year-old daughter Kinsley is receiving services with Alice as well. “Now Kinsley is telling me, ‘Mommy I sad’,” said Shannon. She credits dedicated teachers and supportive administrators for helping her seek and accept assistance. “We are grateful for the opportunity to have our children spend their early days learning and growing physically and emotionally in a safe, welcoming environment,” said Shannon.

“As children learn to identify and have safe responses to their feelings, caregivers see fewer challenging behaviors,” said Alice. “This family is a great example of how it is important to not just want to “change” children’s behaviors, but how we, as adults, also have to change our behavior to help our children.”

Rainbows offers early childhood mental health services in Sedgwick, Butler and Sumner Counties.