August 18, 2017
What can we do to help our stressed out kids?
Lately I have been seeing far too many children, even very young children, struggling with overwhelming stress and anxiety. Anxious kids are irritable, have trouble paying attention, excessive worries or fears, trouble sleeping, or other physical symptoms. There are probably a variety of reasons for increasing anxiety including our changing culture; the growing social demands on children, and even the big dreams we have for our kids. We want them to happy, healthy and successful, and of course it’s great to want these things for our kids but this can cause our kids to feel pressure and anxiety.
So what can we do to help our kids? First, we need to make sure we are taking time to really listen to our kids. This allows us to pick up on the signs that our kids are stressed and to identify the issues that are causing the problems. Once we know what is causing the anxiety, we can help kids deal with it in a healthy way.
We can model and teach our kids simple coping tools such as taking a few deep breaths or doing something to take our minds off our worry. Spending time outside/in nature and exercising are also very effective in relieving stress and anxiety.
We also need to be aware of how our kids are using the internet and limit screen time. This is a huge struggle today as kids love their devices. We want them to be able to keep up with technology but too much or the wrong kinds of usage can contribute to stress and anxiety.
I think one of the most important things we can do is to keep our family schedules from getting out of control. That’s hard but remember kids need family time and we all need rest. Make time to have dinner together at least once a week or have family game or movie night regularly.
If your kids have been showing signs of stress or anxiety and you’ve tried some of the ideas in this article but they are still struggling, you may need some outside help. Give me a call for a consultation and we can talk about the best way to help your child(ren) get back on track.
August 1, 2016
Who's Seen the Big Bad Wolf?
If you consider the Big Bad Wolf a bully, then we've all seen it. It seems we can't go a day without hearing about some kind of bullying, from extreme situations that lead to tragedy, to more minor, but still hurtful, incidents that happen right in front of us. As adults, we must educate ourselves on all aspects of this issue. We need to know the various types of bullying that our kids face, how to recognize bully behavior, and how to help both victims and bullies. And in today's world none of this is easy.
So here are a few helpful tips:
Spend time with your child. The more time we spend with our kids, the more likely they are to talk to us about their lives and the challenges they face. We know from research that kids who have a warm, supportive relationship with at least one adult are less likely to be victims of various types of abuse. Be that person for your child.
Don't ignore or minimize your child's feelings. Kids don't think adults understand them so try to listen and empathize without jumping in to rescue your child or fix things for them. This is a great opportunity to teach our kids helpful strategies for coping with difficult or negative feelings.
Don't feed into the drama. We want to take the situation seriously without adding to the hurt or embarrassment. Be on your child's side but try not to get overly emotional in front of him/her (there is time for you to deal with your own feelings later). Your child will take their cues from you. If you are confident that your child will get through this, they will feel more confident.
Try to help your child problem solve. Don't lecture because we know kids will tune out. Work with your child to see the situation from all sides and to come up with a helpful response. Our kids will encounter bullies and other difficult situations throughout their lives so they need us to help them learn to think through things and develop tools to handle life's ups ad downs.
Set limits on screen time and social media use. Kids need to be involved in face to face interaction and physical activities. Try to make sure your kids get up and out every day. Social media is a growing source of stress and trauma for tweens and teens so very carefully limit and monitor your kids use of all forms of social media. This takes work but it is crucial for our kids' wellbeing.
What else can you do? You can educate and equip yourself by attending Beyond Bullying, a half day conference for parents, educators and mental health professionals presented by I AM HERE Coalition for teen mental health. For more information visit iamherecoalition.org/beyondbullying.html
If your child has been the victim of bullying or has bullied others and you feel he/she needs more help than you can provide, call me for a consultation. I can provide you and your child the support and encouragement you need to overcome bullying related issues.