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

5 Ways to Build Emotional Skills for Social Media

5 Ways to Build Emotional Skills for Social Media

No one can predict exactly what the digital world will look like in 10 years. There is legitimate concern that a profit-driven metaverse will further erode what young people need to thrive. Conversely, some of our best minds (including young people) are working hard to define what age-relevant, safe, and playful digital platforms free of commercial exploitation might look and feel like. Young people themselves are often at the leading edge of adopting and hacking tools for their purposes. The reality is probably an ongoing push and pull between commercial demands, adolescent needs, and our collective imagination of what is possible online. Media is social as soon as it involves interacting with others. No matter what the future of social media holds, it’s clear that we can do a lot to prepare kids to interact in healthy and meaningful ways online. It is tempting to push off these conversations until... 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

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

What Is Social-Emotional Learning And Why Is It Important

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is when children are taught how to process and manage their feelings. Social-emotional curriculums in schools have been making headlines lately because it's become very controversial. While some parents believe that social-emotional learning should only be taught at home, a lot of teachers and education are saying that simply isn't happening at home, so it should happen at school to the benefit of all. Our teachers and schools have our kids for seven or more hours a day. That's a really significant time and in this time our kids will feel a lot of emotions. Kids at school can get sad, scared, excited, etc. When kids have problems dealing with any emotion at school, it can become a distraction for them and other students. At school, kids even act out and get in fights with one another when they can't solve conflict properly. Then their teacher or... Read more

Kids’ Ability To Manage Emotion Is Linked to Their Parents

It is estimated that 7% of the child population suffers from developmental language disorder Promoting spaces to work on emotional development can facilitate children's expressiveness and empathyProblems when talking, communicating and expressing feelings are common among children and adolescents, in particular at an early age. These difficulties increase in the case of those diagnosed with developmental language disorder, which affects approximately 7% of the child population. A recent study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology, by researchers from the Cognition and Language Research Group (GRECIL), included in the eHealth Center at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the University of Barcelona (UB), has analysed the existence of differences in emotional regulation in children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with specific language impairment / developmental language disorder (SLI/DLD). "There are still few studies that assess the emotional and social dimension of the child and adolescent population with... Read more

Neuroscience of New Fatherhood: Empathy, Bonding, Childcare

A father's ability to empathize and mentalize during pregnancy correlates with later bonding and parenting during infancy. Specific brain areas in expectant fathers affect social information processing, self-awareness, emotion regulation, and cognitive control. While the role of mothers in child-rearing has historically drawn attention, more recently researchers are examining the impact of fathers on child development. Even before the baby is born, the idea of who they could be takes shape in the mind of expectant parents, to varying degrees shaping the ultimate attachment parents will have once the baby is born, for all parents. In this piece, we will look at recent research on how fathers' empathic attunement and associated brain connectivity during mid to late pregnancy with the first child correlates with bonding and parenting behavior at 6 months following birth. For instance, recent research has identified four key aspects of becoming a father (2021): the “trigger moment”... Read more

What Social-Emotional Development Looks Like

Many parents have heard the term “social-emotional development,” but what does it mean in the real world? Put simply, social-emotional development refers to children’s ability to “experience, manage and express” their feelings, build relationships and actively explore their environment, according to a 2005 report from the nonprofit Zero to Three. Managing one’s behavior, expressing emotions appropriately and developing empathy are all part of the journey. It’s “understanding how our bodies and minds feel and think in relationship to the world around us,” says Mary Hadley, a speech-language pathologist in Texas who has spent 15 years helping adults and children communicate. Children record many physical and mental milestones, especially in their first few years of life. Likewise, social-emotional skills grow throughout childhood and adolescence – also with milestones – and can be just as important. Dr. Toya Roberson-Moore, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, says that social-emotional development relates to brain health,... Read more

Seeking Therapy in the South Asian Community

Family members sometimes have trouble supporting or fully understanding how debilitating mental health challenges can be. In some South Asian communities, an individual's lack of motivation may be viewed as mere laziness, and sad feelings as self-indulgent. A common cultural factor is the high value placed on inner strength and forbearance in many South Asian cultures. In the South Asian community, "guilt culture" can help maintain a collectivist framework. These were the words one of my young clients, Simran (note: all names have been changed to protect individuals’ identities), heard from her family when she told them she was seeking therapy. Albeit with good intentions, South Asian families often view the decision to seek therapy as a reflection of their failure to address their loved one’s problems at home. “You are, Ma,” Simran responded, “but I've been feeling down and I need an outlet for my feelings.” Her mother’s reaction... Read more

How to Help Young Children Build Resilience

How to Help Young Children Build Resilience

Decades of research have documented serious consequences from chronic stress in childhood (McEwen, 2011). But psychologists have identified ways in which parents teach children how to cope with adversity—an idea commonly known as resilience. The Effects of Childhood Stress Children cannot be protected from everything. Parents get divorced. Children grow up in poverty. Friends or loved ones are injured, fall ill, or die. Kids can experience neglect, physical or emotional abuse, or bullying. Families immigrate, end up homeless or live through natural disasters. There can be long-term consequences (Masten et al., 1990). Hardship in childhood can physically alter the brain architecture of a developing child. It can impair cognitive and social-emotional development, impacting learning, memory, decision-making, and more. Some children develop emotional problems, act out with aggressive or disruptive behavior, form unhealthy relationships, or end up in trouble with the law. School performance often suffers, ultimately limiting job and income... Read more

What do you need to do to break the cycle of shame as a person with ADHD?

What do you need to do to break the cycle of shame as a person with ADHD?

If you're a person with ADHD, you might find yourself in a cycle of shame. Shame for things you may have said, for not "reading a room" the way a neurotypical person might, or shame simply from a childhood where people made you feel bad or less-than because of your differences. Now that you're an adult, how can you shift away from criticism and resentment and move towards forgiveness and letting go? If you're carrying guilt and shame about your attention, learning, and emotional challenges, being judged and unforgiven is especially difficult. You already struggle with maintaining a growth mindset and learning from your mistakes. But when you feel humiliated and resented, it’s even harder to accept your stumbles as a natural part of living. It can be hard to forgive yourself. Now that you recognize those feelings, you can aim your focus on practicing forgiveness with your neurodiverse family... Read more

When a parent has mental illness, how to support kids

When a parent has mental illness, how to support kids

Between the long hours, many responsibilities, and lack of control, few jobs in our society are as demanding as parenting. If a parent has a mental illness like depression or anxiety, raising kids becomes even more difficult. Many parents live in secrecy, believing that they are the only ones who struggle like they do. But parenting with mental illness is far more common than many people suspect. In a survey of U.S. parents, more than 18 percent reported having a mental illness in the past year. While a parent’s mental illness increases child’s risk for a future mental disorder, this is by no means the only possible outcome. “Having a parent with mental illness does not always lead to clinically significant distress in a child,” says Dr. Patricia Ibeziako, associate chief of clinical services in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services at Boston Children’s Hospital. “It depends on many... Read more

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