...do you feel troubled and perhaps a bit funny, like butterflies are fluttering around in your tummy? Is your heart beating fast like it's in a big hurry? If your answer is yes, you might have a worry. If you are feeling worried or anxious, this story can help you understand your feelings AND show you ways to feel better! Author Leah Bowen reads A Feel Better Book for Little Worriers and provides tips for creating a "Feel Better Box."Read More
Talking with your teen or pre-teen about dating and relationships is best done as an ongoing conversation, not a once-and-done chat. These ongoing conversations can cover a range of topics including how the media portrays dating, expectations about dating, healthy relationships, defining terms, and even how to ask someone out or decline an invitation. Dr. Andrew Smiler, author of Magination Press book, Dating and Sex: A Guide for the 21st Century Teen Boy, offers the following tips for talking with your child about dating. Teen Dating Experiences Most children start becoming aware of the worlds of dating and sex during early adolescence. This awareness is driven by puberty (which starts as early as age 10) and the start of some “boyfriend-girlfriend” activity in schools (although this rarely involves kissing or holding hands). Tween and teen-oriented television programs often include this content in ways that are mostly absent from programming for younger children. Approximately 80% of adolescents tell researchers that they started “dating” at age 14 (or younger), although it’s not always clear what that means. For 13- and 14-year olds, dating is often centered on group activities, and may – or may not – include activities such as kissing and holding hands. At age 16, dating includes time for the couple alone (outside of school) and also with groups of friends. Kissing and holding hands are expected, and many teens engage in more intimate activities. According to one long-running federal research project, approximately 20% of 9th graders report that they’ve had sex, and the number climbs to almost 60% of 12th graders. The topics and questions below are designed to help you start discussing this part of life with your child. The conversation may be uncomfortable, for you or your child, so you may need to minimize eye contact, allow long pauses, or talk while completing another activity that provides some momentary distractions. Until you’re sure of your child’s gender and sexual preferences, phrase your questions in a more open fashion (e.g., “who” instead of “which boy/girl”). I recommend starting to discuss the media content at age 10 (the first bullet point) and other topics at age 12 or 13. Suggestions for Discussing Dating and Sex with Your Pre-Teen or Teen Use TV shows and movies that you’re both familiar with as the basis for some discussion, especially first conversations. If you’re both fans of Friends, Black-ish, or some other show, ask which character they’d like to date, and why that character but not another character? Also ask how respectful, honest, trusting, caring, etc., the on-screen relationships are and if they’d want to be in that kind of relationship. These conversations can start at age 10. Teach your child how to ask someone out, including how to handle the disappointment of hearing “no.” Also, teach your child how to respond if they get asked out, including ways to stall (because they weren’t expecting the question) and ways to politely say no. In an era of gender equality, all childrenRead More
Expert Guidance for You and Your Anxious Child
Learning the difference between a psychologist, psychiatrist, and social worker or understanding clinical terms such as cognitive–behavioral therapy can be overwhelming. Finding the right resources is critical to addressing a child’s mental health needs and moving forward toward effective care.
In How to Find Mental Health Care for Your Child, seasoned child psychologist and author Ellen B. Braaten offers clear and expert guidance to help anxious parents navigate the complexities of mental health care.
How are you reading this article right now? On your phone? Tablet? Likely because you came across this article on one of your social media feeds. As your life right now likely illustrates, access to screens and, subsequently, to social media has increased tremendously in recent years and is now nearly ubiquitous. Accordingly, children are growing up immersed in a culture in which social connection, information and entertainment are available at one’s fingertips. There are many positive aspects to the level of connection and access technology and social media afford children, including opportunities to easily connect with friends and learn and expand their awareness and horizons beyond their local environment. But like with any activity, there can be negative components of children’s access to social media and screens–particularly when they are overused. What We Know (Or Rather What We Don’t!) While it is understandable that many parents are worried about the impact of social media on their children, it is also important to be a cautious and critical consumer of dramatic headlines about the impacts of social media. At present, there is still fairly limited research on the impact of social media usage on children. Additionally, many of the studies that have been conducted are “correlational” in nature, meaning while the study tells us that two things (such as social media use and anxiety) appear to be related, it cannot tell us the “direction” of that relationship, or which one causes the other. For example, a number of studies have found that high Facebook use is correlated with symptoms of depression; therefore, while using Facebook could lead someone to feel more sad, it could also be that individuals who are already somewhat depressed spend more time isolated and using social media, rather than going out and engaging with others. One increasingly studied area is the potential relationship between heavy social media use and anxiety. Though there is still no conclusive evidence, researchers and clinicians have proposed that anxiety and heavy social media use may have a reciprocal relationship. Specifically, children and teens more prone to social anxiety may use social media in part to avoid the potentially challenging or awkward moments that can come up in face to face interactions with peers. In the short run, this is an effective way to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions, however, in the long run, these children and teens are deprived of the opportunity to learn to navigate challenging social situations. They also do not get the chance to learn how to cope with the uncomfortable emotions that may result from challenging interactions such as anxiety or shame. Over time, this lack of practice may lead to deficits both in social skills and emotion regulation abilities, which could, in turn, cause the child to further avoid real life social interactions. Healthy Social Media Use Monitoring a child’s social media usage is a new parenting challenge. Luckily, the principles behind teaching your child how to responsibly use and engage withRead More