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

7 ways to support and encourage emotional growth in children and teens

7 ways to support and encourage emotional growth in children and teens

With anxiety levels, low self-esteem and depression reaching an all-time high, how can we help foster more self-care, self-reflection, and growth in children and teens? Self-improvement and personal growth aren’t just areas reserved for adults looking to enrich their lives or enhance their career prospects. They’re important aspects of life that can help us to develop skills and better understand ourselves at any age. According to the latest figures released by Place2Be , 95% of staff at schools are seeing an increase in anxiety levels among students. 86% have noted an increase in low-self esteem, 76% in depression, and 68% in anger. For secondary school staff, 72% have noticed an increase in self-harm, 61% in suicidal thoughts, and 56% in eating difficulties. With less than a quarter (23%) feeling they could regularly access specialist support for students who need it, now more than ever we need to find ways to... 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

“How I Calm Down My ADHD Brain: 14 Quick De-Stressors”

“How I Calm Down My ADHD Brain: 14 Quick De-Stressors”

I use these stress-relieving strategies – from breathwork and EFT tapping to mindfulness exercises and laughter – to quickly reduce anxiety and improve my emotional regulation. ADHD emotions are not only unstable and mercurial; they overlap, butt heads, and fight for our attention. Those of us with ADHD can feel a dozen emotions in an afternoon. We can also feel immature, out of control, and ashamed at the same time. The fight to rein in our emotions is emotionally and physically exhausting; it also chips away at our self-worth and overall well-being. Over time, I have developed several tools to address this by reducing my restlessness, agitation, impatience, and explosive anger (to name a few emotional challenges). Along the way, my relationships, career, and friendships have benefited as well. The next time your blood boils or your tears flow, try one (or all) of the following micro-techniques – which take... 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

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

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

All About Trauma: What It Is, Short- and Long-Term Effects, How to Cope With It, and When to Get Help

Although she didn’t witness the event herself, Heidi Horsley, PsyD, found herself replaying the last moments of her brother’s life again and again in her mind. He died in a car accident after hydroplaning during a rainstorm. “That narrative kept going over and over, and I couldn’t get the loop out of my head,” she says. With each replay, she recalls, she ruminated on whether her brother suffered before his death — and she became increasingly worried someone else was going to die. “The safe predictable world you once knew is gone. When my brother died, I didn’t feel like my parents could protect us. I felt my brother died, so I could die.” Dr. Horsley’s younger brother died when she was 20 years old. Her experience as a young adult eventually prompted Horsley to become a therapist who specializes in grief and trauma. Now an adjunct professor at Columbia... Read more

Child Sleep Problems Affect Mothers and Fathers Differently

After the birth of children, fragmentation of parental night sleep and fatigue due to the nightly demands of the infant are common.1 Indeed, there is evidence that mothers’ and fathers’ fatigue increase immediately following the birth of their child.1,2 Resulting in insufficient, non-restful sleep, this poses a stress factor for parental health, daily well-being, and functioning.3 In contrast, good children’s sleep quality predicted good maternal sleep.4 Most often, this is a temporary problem and infants develop the competence to fall asleep independently in the evening and go back to sleep after night waking during the first year of life.5,6 However, about 20–30% of the infants and young children are affected by sleep problems during the entire first 3 years of childhood and need support by a caregiver to fall asleep.7–10 Consequently, many parents are concerned with difficulties pertaining to their own sleep as well as handling their children’s sleep problems.... 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

Gifted People Can Be Wounded Too

Most people would not think of being highly sensitive, empathic, intelligent, insightful, and inquisitive as a cause for childhood trauma. Apart from being the target of envy and being the unwelcomed truth-teller in any social group, the biggest potential source of trauma for emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually gifted people often comes from their families. Here are some of the less-known gifted trauma: 1. Subtle Rejection of the Gifted The first layer of wounds for gifted people comes from their parents’ implicit rejection of them. Your parents may feel intimidated by your penetrative insights. In one way or the other, they may have felt a sense that you can see through them—their vulnerabilities, hypocrisies, mistakes, and weaknesses—everything they would normally hide from their children. They might have felt threatened by your speed, insights, honesty, and intelligence. To protect themselves, they put a wall up and pulled back. For a child, however,... Read more

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