Do you need help starting a conversation about mental health? Try leading with these questions and make sure to actively listen to your friend or family member's response.
Similarly, feelings of sadness, anxiety, worry, irritability, or sleep problems are common for most people. However, when these feelings get very intense, last for a long period of time, and begin to interfere with school, work, and relationships, it may be a sign of a mental health problem. And just like people need to take medicine and get professional help for physical conditions, someone with a mental health problem may need to take medicine and/or participate in therapy in order to get better.
Source: US Department of Health and Human Services
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.... this is the first in a series of postings to educate and support families facing this important health issue.
You can help your friend or family member by recognizing the signs of mental health problems and connecting them to professional help.
Talking to friends and family about mental health problems can be an opportunity to provide information, support, and guidance. Learning about mental health issues can lead to:
if you have a pool at home, you may wonder what the right age is for your kids to start swimming lessons so they can enjoy the water and be safe. The answer depends on how old your kids are and what you mean by swimming lessons.
When to Start
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming lessons for all children age 4 or older. They used to recommend that you not begin formal swimming lessons until kids are at least 4 years old, the age that children are thought to be "developmentally ready" for swim lessons. However, they are no longer opposed to aquatic programs and swimming lessons for toddlers and preschoolers between the ages of 1 to 4 years old. Keep in the mind that the AAP is not going out of its way to say children under age 4 should have lessons, but it is okay if parents want to enroll their kids in these programs.
Benefits of Early Swim Lessons Iinfant and toddler aquatic programs are very popular for both parents and kids. They are a good way to teach your kids to enjoy being in the water and teach kids and parents about how to be safe around the water. However, these types of programs may not decrease your child's risk of drowning and are not a substitute for adult supervision and safety in the water, although some small studies have found that "some drowning prevention skills can be learned" by these younger children.
Will starting swim lessons early help your child learn to swim faster? Probably not. An older study on children's readiness for learning front crawl swimming showed that whether kids started lessons at 2, 3 or 4 years of age, they learned to swim well at approximately the same mean age of 5 1/2 years.
Importance of Learning to Swim
The AAP notes that drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury and death in the pediatric age group and that drowning rates are the highest among children ages 1 through 2 years. Whether you start at 2 or 4 or 6 years, your child should eventually learn to swim.
Safety in the Pool
Keep safety in mind at all times. Remember that swim lessons do not drown-proof younger kids and that they should always be supervised in the water, whether or not they know how to swim. Even with floaties or a life vest, you should learn to practice "touch supervision," which the AAP describes as a caregiver being within an arm's reach or able to touch the swimmer at all times.
You should also take other precautions, including instructing babysitters on pool hazards and showing them how to use protective devices. When you have a social gathering around the pool, have the adults take turns being the dedicated watcher so you ensure there are eyes on the kids at all times. Whenever a child is suddenly missing, check the pool first. Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and ensure all family members do as well. Don't let your pool attract children when it isn't in use and remove toys from around it. Ensure the gate or pool barrier is never propped open.
AUTHOR:By Vincent Iannelli, MD AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS
Answering these questions will help you determine when your child is ready for camp.
Courtesy: American Camp Association
In addition to your own New Year's resolutions, this year, how about helping your kids, even your preschoolers and younger school-age kids, come up with some New Year's Resolutions?
With the rise in childhood obesity, continued parental complaints about discipline and behavior problems, and continued teen problems, such as drug and alcohol use, some New Year's Resolutions to be healthy might be a good idea.
Each year, the American Academy of Pediatrics makes it easy by providing these 20 healthy New Year's resolutions for kids, which you might talk to your child about trying, depending on their age:
Resolutions for Preschoolers
Even preschoolers can get in the act of making New Year's resolutions, including:
School-age kids will likely have an easy time coming up with their own New Year's resolutions, such as:
They may think they are too cool, but teens can make some New Year's resolutions too:
Courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics: www.healthychildren.org
Twinkly lights, candles, holiday trees and plants, ornaments and other decorations are an important part of holiday celebrations. Besides being festive and fun, the decorations your family brings out every year can help children feel connected to family traditions. To help make sure your decorations are safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers some tips:
Tips for keeping kids happy and able to enjoy the fun
Article Courtesy of Child Mind Institute: Author: Rachel Ehmke
It’s easy for children to be smitten with the magic of the holiday
s. Fun presents. Extra sweets. A vacation from school—there’s a lot to like. But with the freedom and excess of the season, sometimes kids can get a little carried away. For most families, there will be a point when the kids get overtired and cranky, or greedy about presents, or would rather play a video game than talk to Grandma. Here are some tips to keep kids happy and ready to enjoy whatever the season brings.
1. Gifts, gifts, gifts: Getting presents is a high point of the holidays for any kid, but they shouldn’t be the only focus. As adults we know that giving presents can be just as rewarding as getting them, and we shouldn’t wait to teach that lesson to our children.
Even when kids are too young to buy a present, they can still make one, or help you pick out something. Some of my best holiday memories are of helping my father look for the perfect gift for Mom, or combing the mall to look for presents with my siblings as we got older. Volunteering, participating in a local toy drive, or giving each of your kids a little money to give to a charity of their choice are all great ideas for getting children in a more generous mood.
Also, remember that the best gifts that you give your children probably won’t be the material ones. Taking time for the whole family to get together to play a game, watch a movie, or decorate sugar cookies—these are the things that kids remember as they get older.
2. Let them help out: There’s a lot of extra work to do around the holidays — putting up decorations, cooking big dinners, throwing parties. The Martha Stewart in all of us can take over, but it’s important to take a step back and make sure our kids are included, too.
Children can help set the table, decorate the house, and wrap presents. If they’re too young to wrap, they can help by holding down the paper or getting the tape ready — there’s always something kids can do. And at holiday time, the preparations are often as fun and as meaningful as the end product. Plus, this way kids won’t feel left out — or be glued to the iPad for hours.
3. Keep routines: We love the holidays because they give us a break from the everyday, but that can also make them stressful, especially for kids who find routine comforting. Try to keep some things constant. Kids still need snack time, they still need special attention from you, and they still need a chance to unwind before bedtime.
At family gatherings when they notice the kids are “getting antsy,” psychologist Rachel Busman says she and her sister give them their baths, get them into pajamas, and turn on a movie. “We know when they need to wind down, and no one judges us for excusing ourselves from the table to do these things,” she says. “In fact, my sister and I enjoy some great conversations during this time.”
4. Remember they’re kids: Some holiday traditions depend on kids being on their best behavior: lengthy services, parties with lots of strangers, elaborate meals that may not appeal to picky eaters. Try to keep those to a minimum and customize festivities for your kids’ frustration level. Don’t schedule more than one demanding event in a day, and make sure to include physical activity and plenty of downtime. Your kids will be grateful — and so will you.
The experts have been polled and the results are in: a positive parent-teacher relationship contributes to your child’s school success.
“Easier said than done,” you may be thinking. After all, there are teachers your child will love and teachers your child may not. There are teachers you’ll like and dislike as well. There are teachers who may adore your child, and those who just don’t understand him. But whatever the case, your child’s teacher is the second most important person in your child’s life (after her parents, of course). And you can help make their relationship a strong and rewarding one.
“A positive parent-teacher relationship helps your child feel good about school and be successful in school,” advises Diane Levin, Ph.D., professor of education at Wheelock College. “It demonstrates to your child that he can trust his teacher, because you do. This positive relationship makes a child feel like the important people in his life are working together.”
Communicating well is a key factor for making this relationship work. “Communication on both sides is extremely important,” notes teacher Susan Becker, M. Ed. “The parents need information about what and how their child is learning, and the teacher needs important feedback from the parent about the child’s academic and social development.”
But communicating effectively with a busy teacher, who may have up to 30 kids in a class, can be challenging. When’s the right time to talk — and when isn’t? How can you get her attention? What should you bring up with her with and what should be left alone? How do you create a relationship with someone you may only see a few times a year? And how do you do this without coming across like an overanxious pain in the you-know-what?
Try these strategies to build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher.
Approach this relationship with respect. Treat the teacher-parent-child relationship the way you would any really important one in your life. Create a problem-solving partnership, instead of confronting a teacher immediately with what’s wrong. “Meet with a teacher to brainstorm and collaborate ways to help your child, instead of delivering a lecture,” recommends Susan Becker, M. Ed.
Let your child develop his own relationship with the teacher. “This is one of the first relationships with an adult your child may have outside the family unit. If you take a back seat and let the relationship develop without much interference, a special bond may develop,” advises guidance counselor Linda Lendman. “For young children, the teacher-child relationship is a love relationship,” adds Michael Thompson, Ph.D. “In fact, it may be their first love relationship after their parents and it can be pretty powerful and wonderful.”
Try not to brag. Of course you think your child is brilliant, but bragging over her many accomplishments may send a message to the teacher that you think he may not be good enough to teach your child. “You don’t need to sell your child to the teacher,” notes Michael Thompson Ph.D., “you have to trust that your teacher will come to know what’s important herself. Telling a teacher that your child loves to read will thrill the teacher. But challenging your teacher with statements like ‘Susie read 70 books over the summer’ or ‘Matthew is a whiz at math,’ may backfire.”
Remember how you liked (or disliked) your teachers. Your experience at school is likely to affect your attitude toward your child’s teacher. “It’s important to leave your own baggage at the door, so you can talk about your child with the teacher (and not about you!)” adds Michael Thompson, Ph.D.
The start of a new school year can be stressful for kids and their parents. Here are some great tips from anxietyabc.com for helping your child deal with back to school worries.
Look after the basics.
Nobody copes well when they are tired or hungry. Anxious children often forget to eat, don’t feel hungry, and don’t get enough sleep. Provide frequent and nutritious snacks for your child.During this time, you also need to build in regular routines, so that life is more predictable for your child. These routines can involve the morning and bedtime habits, as well as eating schedules.
Encourage your child to share his or her fears.
Ask your child what is making him or her worried. Tell your child that it is normal to have concerns. Before and during the first few weeks of school, set up a regular time and place to talk. Some children feel most comfortable in a private space with your undivided attention (such as right before bed, or during mealtime). Teens often welcome some sort of distraction to cut the intensity of their worries and feelings (such as driving in the car, or taking a walk).
Avoid giving reassurance...instead, problem-solve and plan! Children often seek reassurance that bad things won’t happen in order to reduce their worry. Do not assure them with “Don’t worry!” or “Everything will be fine!” Instead, encourage your child to think of ways to solve his or her problem. For example, “If (the worst) happens, what could you do?” or “Let’s think of some ways you could handle that situation.” This gives you the opportunity to coach your child on how to cope with (and interpret) both real and imagined scary situations. You will also be giving your child the tools he or she needs to cope with an unexpected situation that might arise. See How to Address Excessive Reassurance Seeking for more details.
Here’s a sample script for engaging your child in problem-solving and planning (instead of giving reassurance):
Role-play with your child. Sometimes role-playing a certain situation with your child can help him or her make a plan, and feel more confident that he or she will be able to handle the situation. For example, let your child play the part of the demanding teacher or bullying classmate. Then, model appropriate responses and coping techniques for your child, to help them calm down. For more information on role-playing, see Helping your Anxious Child Make Friends
Focus on the positive aspects! Encourage your child to re-direct attention away from the worries, and towards the positives. Ask your child, "What are three things that you are most excited about on your first day of school?" Most kids can think of something good, even if it's just eating a special snack or going home at the end of the day. Chances are that the fun aspects are simply getting overlooked by repetitive worries.
Pay attention to your own behavior. It can be anxiety-provoking for parents to hand over care and responsibility of their child to teachers. Children take cues from their parents, so the more confidence and comfort you can model, the more your child will understand there is no reason to be afraid. Be supportive yet firm. When saying goodbye in the morning, say it cheerfully – once! Ensure you don’t reward your child’s protests, crying, or tantrums by allow him or her to avoid going to school. Instead, in a calm tone, say: “I can see that going to school is making you scared, but you still have to go. Tell me what you are worried about, so we can talk about it.” Chances are, your child is anxious about something that requires a little problem-solving, role-playing, planning, and/or involvement from the teacher.
Without the daily structure of school, it’s common for kids to stay up later and not sleep long enough to make up for it.
After a while, the lack of sleep can begin to affect their mood, health and ability to learn. It may seem nice to allow your child to wake up later during the summer, but try to stick to the same bedtime routine they have throughout the rest of the year. This will cause their bodies to become accustomed to a sleep schedule. If they wake up later than normal a few times a week, they can become groggy and jet-lag like, making it hard for their bodies to feel tired at its normal bedtime.
Even though bedtimes tend to be later in the summer, as parents, try to still keep them as consistent as possible. For instance, if your child has an 8 p.m. bedtime during the school year, allow them to stay up until 9 p.m. during the summer. The consistence of timing is powerful because the internal clock works best under routine.
Studies have shown that elementary-aged children that have a regular bedtime performed better in math, spatial stills and reading. On the other hand, kids whose bedtimes were inconsistent, were more likely to have behavior and mood issues.
To help guide your child back to a regular sleep schedule at the beginning of the school year, it’s important to start changing sleep patterns at least 10-14 days before school. Start by incorporating the earlier bedtime slowly, by putting 15-20 minutes each night toward bedtime with a familiar routine. Additionally, keep regular bedtime and wake-up times on weekends. Without the proper amount of sleep, kids have difficulty focusing and more emotional sensitivity, which can lead to more problems down the road. Sleep guidelines recommend that preschool-age students get 10-13 hours of sleep each night, school age children 9-11 hours and adolescents 8-10 hours.
Follow these tips to help your child get the sleep their body needs. In return, you’ll sleep better, too!
Article originally written and published by: Mankato Clinic