Parenting Skills That Contribute To Children’s Mental Health Development

Parents are the first individuals that children need once they are born. The character and personality that kids will have when they grow up are pretty much built on the foundation made by their parents. They are the most important source of care, love, and guidance. They are the ones that help shape children to whatever they become later in life. But parenting is not an easy task. It is an entirely complicated endeavor that comes with a huge responsibility. It does not represent parents’ success or failure but rather defines their overall emotional and mental development. Of course, no parents carry perfect responsibility, and they all strive to handle parenting efficiently. With that, it is vital that parents understand the need to do things differently. Let’s check out what some of these things are.

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Parents Get Along With Each Other – One of the best parenting assets is when both mother and father work together to provide their kids with care, love, attention, and consideration. They both must get along because the way they interact with each other can make a huge difference. It contributes to the kids’ developmental growth as they become well-adjusted to a happy and compromising environment. That is regardless if the parents are together or separated. When there is less parental conflict, it allows the children to develop a sense of emotional and mental stability. Good parents know that whatever happens between them, their children should never have to deal with the consequences of their actions. Thus, they need to figure out a way to treat each other nicely.

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Parents Spend Quality Time With Kids – It is no brainer that parents should spend quality time with their kids to improve their overall wellness. But they should also note that kids have different qualities and their needs vary. Some may need less quality time, but it does not mean the kids will not benefit from it. The truth is, whether parents play with the kids, cook with them, watch a movie together, or do household chores, it all contributes to the kids’ physical, emotional, and mental development. It will still become a better way to show kids that parents care and love them despite the random changes in daily responsibilities. As long as parents find a way to interact with their kids even for a couple of hours, it will all be worth it.

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Parents Show Physical Affection – One of the misconceptions of parenting is that most parents believe that physical affection is too much. That explains why some do not entirely consider getting affectionate with children as they thought it would cause them to become dependent. However, countless studies show that for children to develop a great sense of self-worth, they need warmth and affection from their parents. Children feel safe when their parents constantly touch or hug them as it represents care and love. Aside from that, with parents constantly show affection, children become less aggressive and anti-social. It helps them regulate behavioral problems too.

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Parents Listen And Try To Understand – It is not always that parents understand their kids’ every behavior. Mostly, they spend a lot of time talking, scolding, and preaching without understanding the children’s response. That is why parents must listen to their kids. They should try and understand their every action to determine what makes them sad, anxious, stressed, and lonely. Parents should use the opportunity to connect with the children whenever they feel hurt and unmotivated. That way, they can walk the kids through the process of emotional and mental recovery. Regardless of how old their kids are, parents should ensure to take time to listen to their children to understand their fears, thoughts, and life concerns.

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Parents Guide And Support – It is entirely understandable the parents desire success for their children. It somehow validates their pushy, demanding, and bribing attitude towards their kids. However, the method of convincing children to excel at academics, practice sports, learn new instruments, and so on, should never have to be an exhausting process. Parents must understand that guidance and support mean a lot rather than the achievement itself. Parents must realize that a gentle approach is always a better way to encourage children to do their best. And even if the kids fail, parents must ensure that things are still okay and that the kids still have the option to try again.

Parents will always find it hard to become the best. One way or another, their words of encouragement, honest responses, and reminders will not be enough to sustain their children’s emotional and mental development. But as long as they commit to their roles and responsibilities, they can ensure the kids’ overall wellbeing. As long as they understand the need for emotional and mental stability, imperfect parenting can still go a long way.

Family Matters: Helping Children Cope With Life Changes

There are so many transitions in children’s life. Those changes often give them a hard time. But most parents assume that the kids will just go with the flow and automatically become used to the changes. But that is farther from the truth. It is not as natural as parents think.  Kids often find it challenging to deal with any transition. Yes, new things can be exciting for them. But it can also become potentially terrifying at some level. Thus, parents need to teach and help children cope with the changes in their lives. But how can they do that? What are the necessary skills they need to learn to allow smoother transitions?

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What Does Change Signify To Children?

There are tons of situations where kids experience change. These situations are processed differently depending on the emotional, physical, and mental ability of the kids. The children know that sooner or later, they will have to deal with it no matter what. However, the majority of kids are scared of things they do not know. Yes, they understand what change can do to them and how it can affect their lives. But not all children are strong enough to handle it. Thus, change for them is something they want and don’t want at the same time.

How To Introduce Kids To The Idea Of Change

Honestly, parents are not that aware of how much they force their children into dealing with change. Parents often have this ideology and scheme in their minds that convince them that things are okay once they create a plan. Parents assume that when they envision a way to persuade kids to change, it all sets there. However, that particular mentality complicates everything in the process. When parents do not inform the kids about what they want and immediately go ahead and enforce it, it results in overwhelming feelings. The children begin to build a barrier because they feel afraid to lose predictability.

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What Is The Children’s Basic Struggle When It Comes To Change?

The one problem with “change” is that there are no operating rules for children to follow yet. So part of that difficulty is when children think about the possibility of failure. Kids often feel scared of trying and revealing adequacies. Thus, the children become less confident and competent because they somehow knew things would not go the way they like. Kids don’t like change because they cannot control it regardless of how small and big it may be. Children live in the moment, so when parents try and yank them out of a particular routine, it becomes hard for them.

What Determines How Well Children Can Cope With Change?

It all depends on the situation. But mostly, when kids are stressed and anxious to a large degree, it is not entirely easy for them to understand the needs of life transitions. Kids have the ability to over-focus on things they like. So it becomes hard for them to let go of something because they are already used to it. It is normal for them to get stuck. Fortunately, parents can know if children are capable of handling unexpected situations. Usually, it will start with a lot of confusion. Kids will begin to ask questions, and soon they will try and internalize the situation. From that moment on, they will start to adapt slowly and eagerly.

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What Makes Change Complicated For Children?

Naturally, children can deal with a change like every adult does, provided that they are well-informed of the consequences of their actions. Sometimes, they do not need their parents’ guidance for that. But in some unfortunate situations, the children struggle a lot when their parents are the ones who can’t deal with the transitions. It becomes much challenging for the kids to deal with life when they see their parents struggling and getting stuck on theirs.

How Children And Parents Struggle In Transition

Everything about the children’s life transition has something to do with parenting. Transitioning is not just the children’s responsibility, but the parents battle as well. It requires emotional, physical, and mental strength. Parents need to get into the kids’ world and understand what makes them do what they do. Parents need to avoid forcing their children into things they are not aware of because it only increases their anxiety.

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Children are looking for a solution to a problem. They know they cannot control everything and that they need to rely on their parents’ assistance to get through their life transitions. Thus, it is essential that parents prepare their kids for the many challenging things they will inevitably have to face. They need to start by understanding their kids’ capability, slowly introducing them to different things, and be with them all the way through the process.

 

 

How To Manage Your Child’s COVID-19 Fear And Anxiety

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives. One of these changes includes the indefinite suspension of classes until the pandemic is over. Children also experience fear as their daily routines change.  

According to Roshini Kumar, LPC, a clinical therapist at Children’s Health, “Children of any age can experience anxiety.” She adds, “Right now, it’s difficult to anticipate the future, and kids have been pulled from their normal routines. Any time a child faces significant change, it can cause fear and anxiety.”

If your kids are experiencing fear and anxiety, here are some ways how you can help manage them:

Manage Your Own Anxiety First

Kids pick up what their parents are feeling. If their parents are happy, the kids also feel the same. But if their parents are scared or anxious, the kids will also be worried and apprehensive. While it is essential to be up to date with current events, it’s also important to set boundaries for news exposure. All of us need to be updated and prepared, but we should not even panic.

If you want to be updated, you can check reliable sources such as the World Health Organization.

Ask And Listen To Your Child

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You can start the conversation by asking the child what they know about COVID-19 and what they’re worried about. This way, you will have an idea of where to begin and how to address misconceptions. If your child is active on social media, ask them what they saw and where they got such information.

Asking what your child is worrying about can also help relieve their anxiety. You may even realize that they’re not worried about the COVID-19 but other things. Listening and validating a child’s feelings are needed to support them during these difficult times. You can do so by sharing with your child your ways of coping up with anxiety. 

Explain The Facts In A Calm Manner 

Before jumping into the discussion about COVID-19 to your child, be sure that you gather reliable information but stick to only one to two sources, so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Share this information with your child calmly and straightforwardly and explain these in terms your child will understand.

For instance, you can say that the COVID-19 is a virus that spreads to people by sneezing or coughing and how does it affect kids.

You also have to tell the truth when explaining to your child. At the same time, reassure them that you, as parents, are doing everything that you can to protect and keep them safe from the virus.

Create A Routine

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Now that we are currently undergoing in the “new normal,” establishing a daily routine will help the child adjust and cope with the changes. Setting up a new daily routine will be beneficial for the child because they will maintain their regular sleep schedule, healthy eating habits, and other physical activities.

Here are some activities you can incorporate to your new daily routine with your child:

  • Tutor and help the child work on their school assignments at an area of your home with fewer distractions.
  • ​Try to follow your child’s school schedule when they were still going to schools, such as having 10-15 minute breaks or 30-40 minute lunch breaks. If so, take breaks and eat lunch together with your child.
  • Set a time for doing fun physical activities with your child to help them become physically active and fit while at home.

Teach Your Child Self-Care

During these times, we all have to take care of ourselves more than ever. In the same way, your child has to learn self-care methods to lessen their anxiety. Some techniques are taking deep breaths, media breaks, reducing device usage, encouraging healthy sleep habits, and being consistent with your daily routine. 

Children Can Help, Too

Always remind your child that there are things they cannot control. But they can contribute to preventing the spread of COVID-19 at home, like washing their hands thoroughly and more often, not touching their eyes and mouth, coughing or sneezing into their elbow, practicing social distancing and many more.

While they may not fully grasp the pandemic situation, but doing these ways will help them cope with the worries brought by the pandemic. For both parents and children, it is necessary to intentionally reduce media usage to lessen the anxiety and fear of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Best Nutrition Apps For Kids

The 2019 Child Health Event is an advocate for improving child health in every part of the world. With this, they emphasized the importance of parents in promoting proper nutrition. One of the best ways to do so is to take advantage of the digital world, mainly through apps. With this in mind, here are the top nutrition apps that you can use to promote a more nutritious lifestyle.

Healthy Heroes: Nutrition For Kids

The storyline of Healthy Heroes revolved around saving Yogopolis city from the invasion of Hungry Monsters. To fend off these monsters, the citizens must eat fruits and vegetables to keep themselves healthy. This fun game does not only guide kids into recognizing healthy food, but it also promotes healthy eating habits.

Smash Your Food

What better way to engage and let your child participate than tapping to their basic instinct of smashing? Aside from this, what’s unique about this app is that it teaches children how to read nutrition labels. It encourages them to make informed decisions through this knowledge and eliminate all of these unhealthy items by smashing it.

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Lastly, it also emphasizes the adverse effects of excessive oils, salts, and sugars. Therefore, they should destroy this, as well.

Eat and Move-O-Matic

Eat and Move-O-Matic introduces the concept of calories. It compares the number of calories that an individual eats and the activities required to consume that energy. This app also suggests health alternatives to replace the high-calorie meals and snacks that children love.

Nicholas’ Garden

Nicholas’ Garden is probably one of the most interactive apps out there. Aside from teaching children regarding essential nutrition, it also gives them an idea of how to cook, process, and shop for food. The creators of the app believe that healthy choices do not only happen in front of the table. Instead, they should also make informed decisions outside the four corners of their houses.

FitnessKids

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Nutrition always correlates with food. However, another factor that you should also tap as a parent is exercise and physical activity. FitnessKids animates more than 20 various workouts – from wheelbarrow challenges to sports day classes. What’s also excellent about this is that you have the option to pay solo or in “joust” mode with siblings and friends.

Keeping Your Kids Safe From COVID-19

As COVID-19 spreads worldwide and wreaks havoc, everyone must play their part in preventing transmission. Even children need to do their part, given that they may unknowingly spread the novel coronavirus to other people. However, families also need to pay attention to the children’s needs as authorities impose lockdowns and social distancing measures. The overall wellbeing of children is at stake here. However, following these guidelines should help children cope and adjust in these trying times.

Learn How COVID-19 Manifests In Children

Unlike many other diseases, COVID-19 seems to affect children less. Young people who catch the infection usually only have mild symptoms. Cold-like symptoms, such as coughing and fever, typically appear. However, some children can have the virus in their body but display no signs.

Research is still ongoing as to how COVID-19 impacts children. However, everyone is vulnerable to the severe complications of COVID-19, such as pneumonia. Hence, all people should find ways to reduce their risk of contracting this disease.

Since children may display weak, non-specific symptoms, they may easily carry the infection to others. Hence, you should prioritize exposing children to other people who might be infected. It would be best to keep everyone indoors to avoid unnecessary contact. Children should also minimize contact with vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and the immunocompromised.

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Address Any Anxieties

Aside from physical wellbeing, mental health also becomes an issue during pandemics and other crises. The overall pessimism and uncertainty can stress many people, adding to the fear of eventually catching the disease. Children are also prone to mental stress, especially if they don’t have adequate knowledge about the current situation.

In this situation, knowledge is the solution. Find the time to address any concerns that your children may hold. Make sure that they know the basics of the situation, such as what COVID-19 is and why people need to stop its spread.

When answering their questions, make sure to explain your answers in terms that they can understand. However, avoid sugar coating or misleading them about the gravity of the situation. Always emphasize that you will always be there to protect and support them to the best of your ability.

Empower Your Children

Regular hand washing and cleaning of items are effective ways to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Note that the virus can live for hours outside the body, so disinfecting procedures are essential.

Aside from directly reducing the risk of disease transmission, hygiene habits have another effect on mental health. It gives children actionable steps that they can take to help in the fight against COVID-19. Through simple actions such as handwashing, kids can actively participate. Jill Cioffi, MD, FAAP, from Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, suggests having more family time. She says, “It’ll make them less anxious. It’ll help direct their time. It’ll strengthen their relationship with their parents. I think there’s a whole vast amount of knowledge that individual parents have that they could share with their kids because this would be the perfect opportunity to do that.” These steps empower them and help them realize that they can leave an impact through their contributions. In turn, empowerment lifts their mood and keeps them hopeful for the future.

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Keep Active

Exercise is a potent activity that can improve both physical and mental wellbeing. Cardiovascular exercises, such as jogging, strengthens the body overall and helps boost the immune system.

Any sustained activity that can raise your heart rate can count as exercise. There are many apps, videos, and programs that tailor specifically to indoor exercising, so take advantage of them. Make exercise sessions bonding time for you and your children through fun activities such as doing dance covers.

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Maintain Social Connections

As social beings, people naturally crave a certain amount of interaction with others. Children are no exception, especially since they tend to meet friends as they play with others. Children who have to stay home might start to miss their friends, which can bring in a sense of sadness and dread.

While digital communication can never match real-life interaction, you should still use appropriate technologies to help you and your kids stay in touch with friends. Consider teleconferencing software so that your children can speak and see their friends. Other communication methods, such as text messaging, may work. Choose tools that you and your children prefer, and never force interactions; let them proceed as they please.

The social distancing measures are tough for everyone, especially for children. You can help them cope by paying attention to their physical and mental wellbeing. With these tips, you’ll keep them happy and safe.

Parenting Hacks For Sleep-Deprived Parents

The 2017 Child Health-Related Conference answered one of the top questions that most first-time parents ask: “How do we survive sleep deprivation?” If that’s something that you want to know the answer to, read on. We listed some parenting hacks that you can use on your next night-shift. 

Hack # 1: Shift Sleeping

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Parenting is just like your day job – you’re always on call when your boss (in this case, your baby) needs you. But always remember that you have workmates that can lighten up your load, and in this scenario, it’s your partner. Draft a schedule where you’ll indicate the time slots that you are in charge of the baby. This way, you’ll still get to plan your day – especially your sleep. 

Hack # 2: Undergo Naps

If you don’t undergo naps, especially if you’re sleep-deprived, then you should be. Take note that a nap as little as five minutes is still a big help. Believe it or not, the amount of brain boost that you get from a rest outweighs the effects of caffeine from your daily coffee.

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Just a reminder, however, that science reveals that there is an optimal length for a nap. If you do a 25 minute or less one, you’ll most likely gain a boost in focus and energy. But if you nap between 25 minutes to 80 minutes, there is a big possibility that you’ll wake up tired. If this is the case, then it’s better to go for a full sleep cycle of 90 minutes. 

Hack # 3: Establish A Bedtime Routine

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Applying a consistent bedtime routine will relax your body more before going to sleep. Here are some tips that you can include here: 

  • Put your smartphone away hours before closing your eyes. It also includes computers, laptops, tablets, and even televisions. The blue light you receive from these devices only confuses your body by interpreting it as sunshine, therefore, instructing your body to wake up. 
  • You may also change the temperature in your room between 68 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. According to studies, sweating and feeling warm at night will only disrupt your sleep. 
  • Do not drink coffee, wine, or any alcohol at least two hours before bedtime. These kinds of drinks will only hinder you from attaining that deep restorative sleep. 

Silent Anxiety: Red Flags That Warrant Pediatric Counseling

 

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Childhood anxiety is a serious but often undiagnosed condition. Separation anxiety, social phobia and generalized anxiety are among the most common mental health issues affecting children and adolescents. — James Pendleton Ph.D.

When it comes to verbal cues, children aren’t really good at them. For this reason, it’s quite a predicament for parents to coax their children into opening up about their fears and worries. Thankfully, there are ways to determine if your child is becoming anxious and if there is a need to seek pediatric counseling.

 

Red Flag #1: Difficulty Falling Asleep

 

Having difficulty falling asleep, waking up often in the middle of the night, or unexpectedly asking to spend the night in your bed are typical signs of pediatric anxiety. Sudden and significant changes in children’s nighttime routine are coping mechanisms used to deal with anxiety. To ease the feeling of children, it is crucial to follow night habits that usually involve children and parents listening to soothing music, helping kids with their shower, and reading books right before bedtime.

 

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Red Flag #2: Constant Irritability

Noticing sudden, extreme behavior and mood swings in a child is another warning sign that he or she has anxiety issues. If an easy-going, cheerful, amiable child becomes obsessed with being a perfectionist and becomes aggressive or irritable, he or she may be displaying her fears and worries. Once these behaviors surface, it is best to have frequent communication with your children and ask questions aimed explicitly at knowing how your child feels and what made them feel that way.

 

The goal is to dig deep and know the root of all his or her behaviors. Make your children aware that you are fully invested in knowing what’s happening in their lives and you are determined in helping them figure out a way to resolve the issue. Often, all children need is a reassuring, concerned adult to make them feel secure and loved.

Knowing the factors that contribute to anxiety will lead you to the best solutions. It’s sort of like having a car that’s making a funny sound. You need to find out what’s making the sound before going in and changing parts. — Christopher Lynch Ph.D.

Red Flag #3: Attachment To Devices

Kids are prone to engaging themselves in video or computer games; however, those who are dealing with anxiety may continuously immerse themselves in these addictive devices. Excessive usage of activities that involve gadgets is usually a red flag for anxiety. Modern-day technologies are often used to escape momentarily from reality and stressors of life. However, if you notice that your children are creating a stronger relationship with their computer games instead of their real-life friends, this is most likely a case of anxiety.

 

To deal with this predicament, you first have to talk to your children about the negative impact of constant exposure to screen-based novelties. Then, while your children are using their devices, interact with them by asking questions about what they’re playing or watching and what they liked about it. You will be amazed by the extent of information you can conjure while they are busy with their digital activities. Don’t miss out on the opportunity of asking how your child feels whenever they play the game they love.

 

Red Flag #4: Becoming Extra Clingy

During a child’s first few years, they are expected to be dependent on their parents. As they grow old, it’s a natural occurrence for them to separate themselves from adults to find their own identities and mingle with other people. If children who were once independent suddenly became more emotionally attached to their parents, that is a subtle red flag for developing anxiety.

 

Children who crave for attention and alone time or become increasingly jealous of their siblings may be crossing from a secured attachment phase to an anxiety-directed attachment phase. Don’t miss out on subtleties like this; children’s behaviors change for numerous reasons. Reflection by parents on their kid’s actions is essential.

 

Red Flag #5: Achieving Perfectionist Status

Dedication to school, specifically academics, sports, and other extracurricular activities is excellent for the growth and development of kids. But when their commitment has shifted to becoming a perfectionist, a parent must be prompted that their kids are experiencing anxiety that is most likely related to school. Fixation on getting everything right or not wanting to commit mistakes may significantly affect your children’s enjoyment in joining activities.

 

There is nothing crooked about achieving goals and dreams. However, there is a thin line that separates healthy from unhealthy thinking. If this is the condition, you have to communicate with your children regarding their views on not achieving their set goals and help them see that committing mistakes or not making it the first time is part of life’s ups and downs.

It was reported that one in every 5 young adults, ages 18 to 28, experienced an anxiety episode during the last 12-month period, preventing them from adapting to the challenges of adulthood. — William L. Mace Ph.D.

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Anxiety in children is a considerable circumstance that needs to be attended to immediately. If the solutions mentioned were not effective in relieving your children from their anxiety, seeking help from pediatric counselors can be taken into significant consideration.