When it comes to treating anxiety in children and teens, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are the bane of therapists’ work. “With (social media), it’s all about the self-image — who’s ‘liking’ them, who’s watching them, who clicked on their picture,” said Marco Grados, associate professor of psychiatry and clinical director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “Everything can turn into something negative … [K]ids are exposed to that day after day, and it’s not good for them.” Anxiety, not depression, is the leading mental health issue among American youths, and clinicians and research both suggest it is rising. READ MORE
A study in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology showed that children who played with trained dogs after undergoing a stressful task had greater gains in Positive Affect scale scores from baseline compared with those who received tactile stimulation and those in the sit and wait group. Researchers also found significantly lower State/Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children scores among those in the dog intervention group compared with those in the sit and wait group.
Recently, with funding support from the Foundation of Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) and Winter Park Health Foundation, the Nemours Florida Prevention Initiative (FPI) hosted 60 people for the first of many Nemours Family Nights events in the local community. The objective is to address mental health and behavior issues which many young people face today.
Parents from Brookshire Elementary had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Lisa Spector, Nemours Children’s Hospital’s chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, and learn about childhood anxiety, ADHD and other mental/behavioral disorders, in addition to learning about positive behavior management strategies.
During this first Nemours Family Night, students participated in FPI planned activities such as art therapy, guided imagery, music and movement, yoga, and a Nemours “5-2-1-Almost None” physical activity obstacle course. 521AN is Nemours’ way to promote a healthier lifestyle for children and families. It’s based on a daily formula to help parents and educators teach healthy habits to children. Students also had the chance to learn about healthy living messaging through GeoMotion music videos to promote 521AN and Sometimes/Anytime foods and activities.
The holidays are a fun and joyous time but also a very busy one, and holiday stress and anxiety in children can and does happen. Here’s how you can reduce stress and anxiety in your children during the holidays.
1. Set a calm example. The most important way parents can help ease anxiety in children during the holidays is by trying to keep things relaxed as much as possible. If you let holiday stress get to you, your kids will definitely pick up on it, and child anxiety is more likely to be a problem in your house.
2. Set up conditions for good behavior. Avoid taking your child to places such as the mall or holiday gatherings when he is hungry or tired.
3. Remember the importance of routines. To minimize holiday stress in your kids, try to get routines back on track once an event or party is over.
4. Watch what she’s eating. Try packing healthy snacks when you have to go shopping or run other holiday errands and try to minimize the amount of sweet treats at home.
5. Get your child moving. Fresh air and exercise are essential for boosting mood and re-setting the spirit, which can alleviate holiday stress and anxiety in children.
6. Avoid overscheduling. As tempting as it may be to accept every invitation from friends and family, try to limit your holiday parties and activities so that you and your child are not overwhelmed.
7. Have your grade-schooler help you. Giving your child a task will not only boost her self-esteem, it’ll distract her and help prevent any holiday stress and anxiety.
8. Schedule some quiet time. Find a quiet corner and read a book with your child or create holiday pictures for grandma and grandpa. Take a walk outside in nature, away from noise and crowds and obligations.
9. Remind your child—and yourself—what the holidays are really all about. A great antidote for holiday stress and the bloated commercialism of the season is helping others, whether it’s by shoveling an elderly neighbor’s sidewalk or by wrapping presents for needy kids at your local church.
Testing season is upon us, but have no fear! There are many activities and tips to help calm your child’s nerves so they’re ready to test their best!
From GoNoodle (free, but registration is required):
- Airtime: deep breathing disguised as fun!
- Super Scooper: a silly stretch led by Maximo the monkey
- Chillax: a slower-paced hit by Koo Koo Kanga Roo
- For more videos to help ease test anxiety, check out the calming category.
Video Tips from a CHILL counselor
Article: How to teach your child to calm themselves with their breath
Stress Free Kids suggests that positive self-talk is a powerful stress buster for test taking anxiety. Anxiety can be lowered and confidence boosted with this simple technique. The following statements can be used before and during tests.
- I am calm and focused
- I am relaxed and alert
- I calmly trust my knowledge
- I know the answer to this question and I will look at it again in a few minutes
- I remember to breathe deeply during my tests
- I have enough time
- I have studied and I am prepared
- Being calm helps me to remember more
Do you have tips of your own? Share them with us!
- Making sure your child brushes twice a day. Ensure that kids aged 6 and younger are supervised and have help brushing.
- Scheduling the appointment when your child isn’t likely to be tired. For younger kids, don’t schedule it during naptime. For older kids, don’t schedule the visit after a long school day.
- Allowing the older child — presumably the one with the most experience — to go first and serve as a role model for the others.
- Making sure your child has had a snack before the appointment to avoid irritability from hunger.
- Making sure you stay calm, even if your child acts nervous before the appointment.