Mindfulness Activities for Kids

Proponents say it is possible, albeit challenging, for kids to step away from screens and homework and take some time for mindfulness activities. By now, most of us have heard of “mindfulness,” the practice of focusing attention on the present moment without any judgment. Many adults practice it through meditation, yoga, walking or simply sitting still. But mindfulness is not just for adults. According to mental health experts, it can also be good for children. “Mindfulness helps kids cope with the daily stresses we all face,” says Michael Crowley, an associate professor at Yale Child Study Center and advisor for the Yale-Scholastic Collaborative for Child & Family Resilience. “Mindfulness skills offer a simple but profound way to be present, manage one’s thoughts and emotions, and get more out of life. These are healthy ways of thinking that are incredibly helpful in childhood and adulthood.” Experts say that mindfulness can help... Read more

How emotions affect your child’s education

How emotions affect your child’s education

Science is revealing how children's feelings help and harm learning. Here's how adults can support kids so they feel, and learn, better. “Honk,” says my 9th grade French teacher on the first day of school. “En français, your name is ‘Honk’.” “Excuse me,” I bleat in front of 35 classmates. “My name is Hank.” “Non, incorrect,” she replied. “En français, and in this class, your name se prononce ‘Honk’.” For two wretched years, I was called Honk by this cruel teacher and snickering students. Five times weekly, I entered the classroom twitching with fear, rage, and shame. The ordeal crippled my self-esteem and GPA. My grade lurked between C- and D because I refused to study for my persecutor. I hated the teacher (mutilating her face in my yearbook), and I subsequently hated the language. My negative emotions destroyed my learning ability. Research indicates my pitiful French performance was a... Read more

Adult ADHD: A 21st century epidemic?

Adult ADHD: A 21st century epidemic?

The United Kingdom is experiencing dramatic increases in requests for diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. But what is ADHD, and why is it suddenly becoming something the general public and medical professionals need to be aware of? In this feature, Dr. James Brown and Dr. Alex Conner provide some context. National Teaching Fellow Dr. Conner is a reader in biomedical science communication at the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, U.K. Dr. Brown is a reader in biomedical science at the College of Health and Life Sciences at Aston University, U.K. ADHD is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder in which the brain grows differently. This leads to deficient action from the chemicals involved in pleasure and reward. The name ADHD is a little unhelpful as those with the disorder do not have a deficit of attention, more a lack of ability to... Read more

Why manners matter: Top tips for raising kind kids

Why manners matter: Top tips for raising kind kids

The benefits of teaching kids to be considerate early on go well beyond good manners, with research suggesting that raising young children to be kind is crucial for their development. Having a child that knows when to say please and thank you is just one aspect of why parents should be raising kids to be considerate toward others from an early age. A study by academics in the psychology department at the Canadian University of British Columbia, published in 2012, examined the effect on toddlers when they demonstrated “prosocial” behavior, which refers to showing kindness and generosity toward others. It found that before the age of two, “toddlers exhibit greater happiness when giving treats to others than receiving treats themselves.” The study also showed that children were happier after engaging in “costly giving – forfeiting their own resources – than when giving the same treat at no cost.” Lara Aknin,... Read more

Study looks at influences on children's mental health

Study looks at influences on children’s mental health

Mental health varied fourfold across groups of children according to both the type and amount of relational health risks and social health risks they experienced. As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches the two-year mark, the mental health crisis induced by it continues to escalate. With 14% of U.S. youth and 19% of adults suffering from mental illness, understanding the factors that influence mental health is a crucial endeavor. These efforts are led in part by Christina Bethell, director of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative and professor of population, family and reproductive health at the School of Public Health. Over the past 25 years, Bethell has worked to tell the story of mental health in children at the national level, crafting research methods and determining which variables to study on the National Survey of Children’s Health. Her recent paper “Social and Relational Health Risks and Common Mental Health Problems Among... Read more

What can parents do about their ‘difficult’ adult children?

“You can’t go home again,” according to the old saying. Tell that to the adult children who are returning to live with their parents, or never leaving, in record numbers. For the first time in recent history, more young adults are living with their parents than cohabitating in romantic or married situations. No doubt about it: how we think about parenting and retirement have changed. While the economic downturn associated with COVID-19 explains some of the recent rise in adult children moving back home, this trend has been increasing since the 1960s. The employment market has changed drastically, for one thing. Gone are the factory jobs and other opportunities for people who have not graduated college. Delayed marriage and increasing divorce rates have also contributed to the rise in intergenerational households, as has the skyrocketing price of housing. There are, however, two different groups of adult children who return home... Read more

How Can Autism Affect Your Sleep?

If you or your child are autistic, you likely know that autism can affect sleep. Good sleep can be as elusive as it is essential, and countless people experience insomnia at some point in their lives. But for autistic people and their families, restorative sleep can seem a little farther out of reach. Considering its impact on critical areas such as emotional processing, learning abilities, and social interactions, improving sleep is a priority. This is true for everyone, but particularly for autistic people, whose strengths exist outside the social arena. Even though disrupted sleep is often part of autism, it’s possible to improve the situation and wake up well-rested. Sleep differences in autism present before 2 years of age and are one of the first indicators of this neurotype. By comparison, only about half of typically developing children and adolescents experience disrupted sleep. Genetic and neurological differences combined with environment... Read more

What Is Attachment Trauma?

Attachment trauma comes from a rupture in the bonding process between a child and their primary caregiver. Its effects can last well into adulthood. If you struggle with relationships, there’s a dominant cultural narrative that assumes there is something wrong with you. But science offers us a more expansive view: Our relationship challenges may be rooted in what’s known as attachment trauma. Attachment trauma is “a consistent disruption of physical and emotional safety in the family system. It is not what happens to you, but what happens inside you,” says Heather Monroe, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in Nashville, Tennessee, who specializes in treating relational trauma. A child’s early life experiences shape their adult life, and the relationship with their primary caregiver is among the most important for their development. If a child doesn’t have their early relational needs met, this can show up later in life in their... Read more

Managing High Sensitivity, Then and Now

There was no end to “cures” for hysteria in the nineteenth century. From leeches to rosewater to vaginal suppositories, the number and type of cures rival the myriad purported causes. But despite the doctor’s different recommendations in their treatments, one thing remains consistent: all emphasized curing hysteria, rather than just managing it. When it comes to treating today’s HSP, there are methods for coping with emotional regulation; however, the literature for the most part emphasizes the positives as well, suggesting that one would not want to eradicate but rather support one’s sensitivity for individual and social betterment. Seventy-one percent of the population claims to be either highly sensitive or moderately sensitive. [1] The shift away from cure for those on the high and medium scales of the HSP continuum signals a different regard for people’s everyday sensorial-emotional experiences. Treating Hysteria in Victorian Times Whereas some Victorian physicians sought to treat... Read more

Study reveals fourfold range in rates of mental health problems among US children based on relational and social risks

A large multi-year study based on 2016 - 2019 data found that children facing relational and social risks are more likely to have mental, emotional, or behavioral health problems, but the negative impact of these problems on child resilience, self-regulation and school engagement can be offset by protective factors such as strong caretaker-child connection and family resilience. The study, led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, also found that children who were facing relational risks only, such as substance abuse among family members, were more likely to have mental, emotional, or behavioral concerns than those who were only facing social risks, such as economic hardship. The findings are published as the U.S. and other countries face a crisis in children's mental health exacerbated by the pandemic. The study appears online in the January 2022 issue of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America . The... Read more

Let Perfect Go and Build a Relationship With Your Child

Over decades of working with hundreds of families, as well as reading the child development research and conducting some of my own, I discovered the rather surprising and very exciting fact that everything develops—intelligence, physical abilities, emotional strengths, and habits that lead to well-being. Somewhat contrary to widespread beliefs, I came to see that there are no skills or attributes that can’t be developed, as long as there’s a big enough investment of time, patience, motivation, social support, and learning opportunities. And that includes parenting skills: You can learn to be the best possible parent for your child. It’s All About Your Connection With Your Child The foundational skill of good parenting is building a strong relationship with your child. That isn’t always easy. Your child might be constantly in trouble because of their anger, impatience, aggression, impulsivity, laziness, or problems with schoolwork. You might be worried about their social... Read more

8 Mistakes Made By Couples With Childhood Emotional Neglect

When you grow up emotionally neglected, you miss the "emotion training course" that other kids naturally get from their families. Families that ignore or discourage the children's feelings may teach their children how to ignore their own feelings as adults. Spouses who lack the necessary emotional skills to argue effectively can tend to shut down, avoid, and misrepresent their own feelings. The biggest test of any relationship is not how compatible you are or how much you love each other. The true test is how you work out problems together. If you or your partner were raised with childhood emotional neglect, your ability to communicate as a couple about emotional things will be greatly undermined, especially in situations where there are negative emotions involved. Childhood Emotional Neglect Growing up in a family that under-discussed meaningful or emotional issues can have two effects that are bound to affect your marriage decades... Read more

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