How to Spot Anxiety in Your Child

The Checklist

The following check list can help you observe your child or teen and recognize anxiety. If you recognize with certainty at least five of those traits, you need to help your child/teen:

  • Pessimism and negative thinking patterns such as imagining the worst
    (Someone is going to break in, no one likes me
  • Constant worry about things that might happen or have happened
  • Over-exaggerating the negatives
    (This ALWAYS happens to me)
  • Rigidity and inflexibility, self-criticism, guilty thoughts, etc.
    (I will never be able to learn that, I will never know how to…)
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Restlessness, irritability, tantrums
  • Opposition and defiance
  • Crying
  • Physical complaints such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Avoidance behaviors, such as avoiding things or places or refusing to do things or go places
  • Sleeping difficulties, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, nightmares, or night terror
  • Perfectionism
    (redoing this, feeling very rigid)
  • Excessive clinginess and separation anxiety(can show in acting out to force the parent to cancel an appointment to stay home)
  • Procrastination
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Withdrawal from activities and family interactions
  • Eating disturbances

Anxious children and teen can be very demanding and will often become emotional when things don’t go the way they want. Parents can find it difficult to be firm and know what the right limits are, this often leads to giving in to the demands. 

Setting Realistic Goals for 2018

The New Year brings plans for new resolutions and goals for the upcoming year, but its important to set attainable and realistic goals so that you feel a sense of success and accomplishment.  One of our biggest downfalls with resolutions and goal setting is we think too big which ends up leaving us discourage when we don't meet that goal. Here are some tips to help you and your family with creating goals for 2018.

1. Confront unrealistic goals. Sometimes we choose goals too big or out of reach and it is almost impossible to meet them.  Choose goals that are realistic and something they have created on their own.

2. Choose just-out-of-reach goals.  Choose goals that are attainable but also just out of reach. In doing so, you learn to push yourself to meet a new challenge versus staying in your comfort zone.

3. Set specific goals. A good goal is a specific goal.  Think of more specific goals that can actually be measured. 

4. Break it down.   Break their goals into smaller, manageable steps.

5. Set up checkpoints. It’s important to create checkpoint system. Checking in weekly vs. monthly.

6. Make it a family plan. When families make goal setting a family effort, so you learn to support each other. If you have a partner or a family, get them involved in creating goals for themselves. 

By Vanessa Isetta

With the increase in technology, how much is too much screen time?

The notion of screen time as a one-dimensional activity is changing. Computers, tablets, and smartphones are multipurpose devices that can be used for lots of purposes. Designating their use simply as "screen time" can miss some important variations. The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens identifies four main categories of screen time.

•       Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music

•       Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet

•       Communication: video-chatting and using social media

•       Content creation: using devices to make digital art or music

There really is no magic number on the amount of screen time.  What's more important is the quality of kids' media and how it fits into your family.  Instead focus on how your kids acts during and after watching TV, playing video games, or hanging out online. If they're using high-quality, age-appropriate media; their behavior is positive; and their screen-time activities are balanced with plenty of healthy screen-free ones, there's no need to worry.

If you're concerned about heavy media use, consider creating a schedule that works for your family. This can include weekly screen-time limits, limits on the kinds of screens kids can use, and guidelines on the types of activities they can do or programs they can watch. Make sure to get your kids' input so the plan teaches media literacy and self-regulation, and use this as an opportunity to discover what they like watching, introduce new shows and apps for them to try, or schedule movie night as a family.

How To Combat Homework Battles

How to Combat Homework Battles  

Homework time can be a stressful time for many families.  More often than not, battles over homework lead to vicious cycles of nagging by parents and avoidance or refusal by children, with no improvement in a child’s school performance — and certainly no progress toward what should be our ultimate goals helping children enjoy learning and develop age-appropriate discipline and independence with respect to their schoolwork.

Here are some strategies to help improve homework time.

1) Create a Homework Plan

2) Set aside a specified — and limited — time for homework.

3) During the homework hour, all electronics are turned off — for the entire family.

4) Work is done in a communal place, at the kitchen or dining room table. 

5) Parents are present and available.

6) Begin with a reasonable — a doable — amount of time set aside for homework. Find out how much homework time is appropriate for your grade level.

7) Be positive and give frequent encouragement. Make note of every improvement, not every mistake.

8) Be generous with your praise. Praise their effort, not their innate ability.

9) Anticipate setbacks. After a difficult day, help them reset for the following day.

10) Give them time. A child’s difficulty completing homework begins as a problem of frustration and discouragement, but it is then complicated by defiant attitudes and feelings of unfairness. A homework plan will begin to reduce these defiant attitudes, but this will not happen overnight.

11) Most families have found these suggestions helpful, especially for elementary school children. Establishing a homework hour allows parents to move away from a language of threats (“If you don’t ... you won’t be able to ...”) to a language of opportunities (“When” or “As soon as” you have finished ... we’ll have a chance to ...”).

12) Communicate with your child’s teacher early on about homework. They can give you resources to help.