Tag Archives: Children

Think of the Kids: Four Questions with Two Child Psychology Authors

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By Jim Sliwa (Director, APA Public Affairs)

To mark Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (May 4), we posed a series of questions to the authors of two titles from APA’s Magination Press, which publishes innovative books that help children deal with the many challenges and problems they face as they grow up.

 

jon-lasser-200x300Jon Lasser, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, school psychologist, professor and program director of the School Psychology program at Texas State University. He is the co-author (along with his daughter Sage Foster-Lasser) of “Grow Happy,” which teaches children how they can play a pivotal role in creating their own happiness.

Grow-Happy Cover

 

DrSileoHeadshotFrank J. Sileo, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and the founder and executive director of the Center for Psychological Enhancement in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He is the author of “A World of Pausabilities: An Exercise in Mindfulness,” which uses rhyming verse and illustrations to introduce children to mindfulness and how to apply it to simple, everyday moments.

Pausabilities Cover

 

Why, in your professional opinion, is children’s mental health so important for success later in life?

Lasser: We have different ways of thinking about success that encompass successful careers, relationships and social status. Investing in children’s mental health helps kids achieve positive outcomes in all that they do. Consider the importance of emotional regulation at work, at home and in communities. Children’s capacity to take the perspectives of others, think before acting and self-regulate serve as the foundation for effective learning and collaborating. By promoting the social and emotional health of children, we cultivate internal resources that will serve them throughout their lives.

 

Sileo: Early on, it is important for parents and caregivers to build healthy and strong mental health for children. Parents tend to focus exclusively on building and maintaining physical health. In order for children to reach their potential, attention must be paid to a child’s mental health. The relationship a child has with parents and the variety of caregivers can help shape the developing brain. When there is instability in brain development, it can greatly impair learning and the development of healthy and appropriate relationships with others. For a child’s developing brain, we want to nurture the growth of learning, social skills and overall physical health. When children are provided with a strong foundation early on in life regarding their social-emotional needs, we lay the groundwork for potential success later in life.

 

How does child mental health differ from mental health in adults, if at all?

Lasser: Children and adults have much in common. We share a need to communicate and a desire to be connected with others. Our basic psychological needs for relationships cut across the lifespan. That being said, there are significant developmental differences. For example, depression in children may be more likely expressed as irritability. Some mental health concerns for children can be best understood in the context of family or school systems. Helping children with mental health needs often requires the collaborative efforts of parents, teachers and other influential adults. We can help children by ensuring that their developmental needs are being met and that environmental demands (such as teacher and parent expectations) are appropriate.

 

Sileo: Children can show signs of mental health issues similar to adults. Children can receive diagnoses like adults (e.g., anxiety disorders, depression). It can be difficult for mental health providers to identify mental health issues in children. Mental health professionals have to differentiate diagnosing a mental health issue from normal child development. Children differ from adults because they undergo various physical, mental and emotional changes as they go through typical growth and development. Children have not yet learned how to cope with others and the environment around them. Moreover, children respond to and process emotional experiences differently due to lack of maturity, inexperience and brain development.

 

Your book is geared toward children age 4 to 8. While it’s most likely that these children will be reading the book alongside their parents who can help them make sense of the concepts, how did you go about creating and structuring content that would be accessible and useful to young minds?

Lasser: Writing a children’s book requires careful thinking about the children to whom the book will be read. For Grow Happy to work, my co-author, Sage Foster-Lasser, and I thought carefully about writing the book in such a way that young children would be able to understand. We piloted early drafts with children in the target age range and revised as needed. We also worked hard to keep sentences short and to limit the vocabulary to very short words. Chris Lyles’ beautiful illustrations are also attractive to young children and bring the story to life. Children identify with Kiko, the main character, who is a child. They also fall in love with Chico, her dog.

 

Sileo: I have been working with children for over 21 years. In my practice, I do play therapy and read a lot of children’s books to children and on my own. I also keep a pulse on the youth culture by periodically watching the shows that are of importance to children. When I write my books, I often read them to family and friends who have young children to make sure the words and concepts are kid-friendly and understandable. I also read my books to my patients before I send them for possible publication. In my practice, I treat children of various ages, diagnoses and learning/reading levels. This affords me a good barometer [of] whether young people can understand the book’s content and message. Kids can be brutally honest. If they don’t like or understand something, they will tell you. The feedback is always helpful to me. Kids know what they like and what they don’t.

 

What are some simple things that you would recommend parents of young children can do to help support healthy emotional and psychological development?

Lasser: Children thrive when they have a deeply rooted understanding that they are loved and valued, and parents who express this unconditional positive regard to their children daily are meeting a basic psychological need. That alone can go very far in promoting mentally healthy children. When parents play with their children, particularly imaginative play (pretending to be animals or royalty or robots), it encourages the development of so many social and emotional skills, such as perspective taking, communication, and planning skills. Parents can also help by allowing children to express their feelings freely and listening to those feelings without criticizing or judging. In other words, parents build their children’s mental health by being present and engaged.

 

Sileo: It really depends on the age of your child but here are some general guidelines:  Remember that you are their role models for behavior, identifying emotions and how to express them appropriately. Be a good listener. Communication is a two-way street—talking and listening.  Build your child’s self-esteem and confidence. When children have self-esteem, they are happier, have a sense of security and are better adjusted. When they have good self-confidence, they can learn to work hard despite challenges, learn to ask for help, and do better in school. We can show children that we respect individuality. Children have their own interests, strengths and talents. Do not compare your child to others. Play and make time for your children. Make memories, catch them being good, read with them, limit electronics and provide structure and regular schedules around bedtimes. Set limits and boundaries to make them feel safe in the world. Be consistent in what you say and do.  Lack of consistency can cause kids to feel anxious. Simple things you say and do can go a long way.

Jim Sliwa is director of public affairs for the American Psychological Association.

 

Image source: Shutterstock

 

 

 


Filed under: Children and Youth, Stress and Health Tagged: Children, children's mental health, children's mental health awareness day, emotional development, healthy development, Magination Press, mindfulness

7 Essential Tips to Help You Master Disciplining Your Kids

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This is the fifth in a series of weekly blog posts addressing discipline and parenting practices. In this series, we will explore reasons that parents choose among discipline approaches, the science behind those techniques, and alternative approaches to discipline.

 

By Joan Grusec, PhD (Professor Emerita of Psychology, University of Toronto)

 

Discipline has a significant role to play in what is arguably the world’s most important job—raising children to be moral and responsible members of society. And, not surprisingly, there’s no shortage of advice about how to do it. Type “disciplining children” into a search engine and you’ll get hundreds of thousands of results. If you want a book about parenting and discipline there are thousands to choose from.

Unfortunately, there is also a lot of contradictory advice to choose from—

  • be strict but not too strict,
  • comply with your child’s wishes but don’t give in to them too much.
  • Be a tiger mom, a dolphin mom, a jellyfish mom….

So, what does a substantial body of psychological research, spanning more than 70 years, tell us about the best way to teach moral values to children?

 

Children learn values, both good and bad, from observing other people including their parents, siblings, friends, teachers, and television characters. They learn values, both good and bad, from talking about those values with parents, siblings, friends, and teachers. When children fail to behave well, however, parents have to turn to discipline.

 

Check out the seven tips below:

For discipline to work, children have to be clear about what the rules for good behavior are and they have to be willing to go along with or accept those rules.

 

How should parents make rules clear?

  1. Be consistent—it’s confusing when what was OK yesterday isn’t OK today.
  2. Provide reasons for good behavior that make sense and that the child can understand. Most 4-year-olds won’t comprehend discussions of property rights but they do understand that it feels bad to have your possessions taken without your permission.
  3. Have your child’s full attention. Too much anger and upset (on the part of both parent and child) is not conducive to calm discussion. Wait until tempers have cooled before talking about rules and the reasons for them.
  4. Make sure you don’t end up implicitly condoning unacceptable behavior. For example, in addition to its direct effect on children’s learning of values, discipline provides a model of how to resolve conflict. When your discipline involves calm discussion, exchange of points of view, and explanation, as well as negotiation and compromise if appropriate, you provide a good model for conflict resolution. Discipline that involves yelling, hitting, insulting, or unreasonable requests sends the message that verbal and physical aggression, along with an unwillingness to take into account the other person’s perspective, are acceptable ways to behave.

 

How should you get your children to accept the rules?               

  1. Let them experience appropriate negative consequences but don’t threaten their feelings of autonomy — no one likes to be forced into behaving in a particular way. Autonomy is supported when you:
    • allow choice where reasonable (for example, “you have to eat vegetables but would you prefer spinach or green beans”),
    • provide good reasons for required behavior,
    • try to understand your child’s perspective, and
    • don’t apply more negative consequences than are necessary to promote good behavior.
  2. Be accepting and caring so that your child wants to please you.
  3. Encourage your child to feel empathy by talking about the effects of their actions on others.

 

Biography:

Joan Grusec, PhD, is a Professor Emerita at the University of Toronto. Her research interests throughout her career have focused on discipline and the development of children’s prosocial behavior. She is the author or editor of several books related to the socialization of children, as well as more than 100 book chapters and research publications.

 

Image source: Flickr user Bethany Petrik via Creative Commons


Filed under: Children and Youth Tagged: child behavior, Children, children's mental health, discipline, parenting, parenting skills, parenting tips, positive parenting

How to Talk to Our Kids about the Tragic Shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas

Diverse kids holding hands

By Robin Gurwitch, PhD

Families around the country are coming together to talk about the officer-involved shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and the ambush of police officers in Dallas, Texas. These events come shortly after the violence in Orlando. In fact, it seems that acts of violence are in the news on a regular basis.

As a nation, we are trying to wrap our minds around what is taking place all around us. Protests related to police injustice, protests about gun violence, protests about tolerance, vigils for those killed in all of these events are happening in many communities across America.

In the aftermath of these events, we are also witnessing many acts of kindness. These have included hugs between protesters and police officers, hand-holding among all genders, races, and ages. Offering lemonade to those standing in the heat.

How do we begin to explain all of this to our children when we, as adults, are having our own difficulties with what is occurring?

First, we need to ask: What do children understand or believe about what they are seeing and hearing from the media, social media, and family?

It is important to include our children in these important conversations. Check in to see children what they are thinking or feeling. This will shape the talks. Feelings may include worries and anxieties to fears about safety and security. There are similarities and there are differences in the talks across families. Families of color are having to talk to their children about how to act should they be stopped by police officers. Is it fair that these discussions must still happen in 2016? Absolutely not.  The fact that this is still necessary is an example of the injustices many face daily.

All families should talk about diversity, the reality of racism and discrimination, and the importance of respect, tolerance, unity and justice.

These events, as horrific as they are, are opportunities for families to come together to discuss how to treat others. It is time for a frank discussion about realities in our society and equitable treatment of all who live in our country. This is a time to share values and beliefs, a time to share our wishes for the future. Research shows us that hate and prejudice are not ingrained—they are taught, they are learned. This is a time to turn the tide and teach our children about the kind of society we want for their future.

While events before and since Ferguson have spotlighted systemic injustices, it is important to also recognize the good done by the majority of police officers on a daily basis in communities around the country. It is important to note for children that as shots rang out in Dallas, police protected protesters and ran toward the sound in hopes of keeping people safe. Police and other first responders can be a resource of help. Families’ experiences may vary widely, so discussions will also vary. While not shying away from the realities of current events, be mindful of the age of children as you talk with them. We are at a long-overdue “tipping point” for improving relationships and trust in our communities. We can and should all be a part of this change.

The protests about police injustice and the attacks on officers are not an “either-or” issue, but are two important, interrelated conversations.

Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, residents championed the importance of acts of kindness. We should discuss this with our children, too.

As children may be worried about safety and security issues, it is important to share with our children what communities are doing to keep everyone safe. It is also important to help children consider how they would like to show an act of kindness. This may be participating in a community event/vigil for healing. It may be writing a letter or creating a drawing for community first responders or other positive figures in the community; it may be helping a neighbor or a friend in some small way. Rather than tell our children how to act with kindness, let’s be role models by our own actions and words. Let’s include them in the conversation. Oftentimes the ideas of children, even the very young, and teens surprise and impress us! We all have heard the quote, “children are our future,” perhaps now, more than ever, we need to decide what kind of future this will be.

For more information and tips, check out the resources and articles below.

Related Resources:

 

Recent News Articles:

Biography:

Dr. Robin Gurwitch has been involved in understanding the impact of terrorism and disasters on children since the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, providing direct service, training, and conducting research. She is a member of the APA Disaster Resource Network, American Red Cross, and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Dr. Gurwitch was recently appointed to the HHS National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters.

 

 

 


Filed under: Children and Youth, Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Human Rights and Social Justice, Violence Tagged: Children, children's mental health, Dallas, difficult dialogues, excessive force, Louisiana, mass shootings, Minnesota, police brutality, police shootings, policing, race relations, racial bias, racial discrimination, racial profiling, racism, social justice, trauma, violence

How to Talk to Our Kids about the Tragic Shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas

Diverse kids holding hands

By Robin Gurwitch, PhD

Families around the country are coming together to talk about the officer-involved shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and the ambush of police officers in Dallas, Texas. These events come shortly after the violence in Orlando. In fact, it seems that acts of violence are in the news on a regular basis.

As a nation, we are trying to wrap our minds around what is taking place all around us. Protests related to police injustice, protests about gun violence, protests about tolerance, vigils for those killed in all of these events are happening in many communities across America.

In the aftermath of these events, we are also witnessing many acts of kindness. These have included hugs between protesters and police officers, hand-holding among all genders, races, and ages. Offering lemonade to those standing in the heat.

How do we begin to explain all of this to our children when we, as adults, are having our own difficulties with what is occurring?

First, we need to ask: What do children understand or believe about what they are seeing and hearing from the media, social media, and family?

It is important to include our children in these important conversations. Check in to see children what they are thinking or feeling. This will shape the talks. Feelings may include worries and anxieties to fears about safety and security. There are similarities and there are differences in the talks across families. Families of color are having to talk to their children about how to act should they be stopped by police officers. Is it fair that these discussions must still happen in 2016? Absolutely not.  The fact that this is still necessary is an example of the injustices many face daily.

All families should talk about diversity, the reality of racism and discrimination, and the importance of respect, tolerance, unity and justice.

These events, as horrific as they are, are opportunities for families to come together to discuss how to treat others. It is time for a frank discussion about realities in our society and equitable treatment of all who live in our country. This is a time to share values and beliefs, a time to share our wishes for the future. Research shows us that hate and prejudice are not ingrained—they are taught, they are learned. This is a time to turn the tide and teach our children about the kind of society we want for their future.

While events before and since Ferguson have spotlighted systemic injustices, it is important to also recognize the good done by the majority of police officers on a daily basis in communities around the country. It is important to note for children that as shots rang out in Dallas, police protected protesters and ran toward the sound in hopes of keeping people safe. Police and other first responders can be a resource of help. Families’ experiences may vary widely, so discussions will also vary. While not shying away from the realities of current events, be mindful of the age of children as you talk with them. We are at a long-overdue “tipping point” for improving relationships and trust in our communities. We can and should all be a part of this change.

The protests about police injustice and the attacks on officers are not an “either-or” issue, but are two important, interrelated conversations.

Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, residents championed the importance of acts of kindness. We should discuss this with our children, too.

As children may be worried about safety and security issues, it is important to share with our children what communities are doing to keep everyone safe. It is also important to help children consider how they would like to show an act of kindness. This may be participating in a community event/vigil for healing. It may be writing a letter or creating a drawing for community first responders or other positive figures in the community; it may be helping a neighbor or a friend in some small way. Rather than tell our children how to act with kindness, let’s be role models by our own actions and words. Let’s include them in the conversation. Oftentimes the ideas of children, even the very young, and teens surprise and impress us! We all have heard the quote, “children are our future,” perhaps now, more than ever, we need to decide what kind of future this will be.

For more information and tips, check out the resources and articles below.

Related Resources:

 

Recent News Articles:

Biography:

Dr. Robin Gurwitch has been involved in understanding the impact of terrorism and disasters on children since the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, providing direct service, training, and conducting research. She is a member of the APA Disaster Resource Network, American Red Cross, and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Dr. Gurwitch was recently appointed to the HHS National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters.

 

 

 


Filed under: Children and Youth, Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Human Rights and Social Justice, Violence Tagged: Children, children's mental health, Dallas, difficult dialogues, excessive force, Louisiana, mass shootings, Minnesota, police brutality, police shootings, policing, race relations, racial bias, racial discrimination, racial profiling, racism, social justice, trauma, violence

7 Ways to Talk to Children and Youth about the Shootings in Orlando

orlando

By Robin Gurwitch, PhD

Once again our nation is coping with a violent tragedy.  In the aftermath of the Orlando terrorist attack, we find ourselves distressed, grief-stricken, and even angry that such a horrible thing could happen.  Children and teens may find the event even more challenging.  Here are some suggestions on talking with your children about what happened.

  1. Engage in age-appropriate honest discussions

Children and teens may have watched news coverage of the event and its aftermath and/or heard adults around them talking about the shooting. To best help youth, let them know that talking about it is a good thing. You can help by starting the conversation with your children. It may start with, “As you know, there was a terrible shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, FL. Many people were killed or injured. I want to talk to you about this and answer any questions or worries you may have.” Be honest in your discussion, but the gruesome details are unnecessary to share.

Keep the conversation at a level that the child or teen can understand. In other words, what you may say to an 8 year old may be very different than the language you may use with a 16 year old. Remember, your frank discussion, while difficult, will help separate fact from fiction and clear up any misinformation or misunderstanding. Children will “fill in the gaps” with ideas that may be far more frightening than the reality. Because of this, try to be mindful of your adult conversations about the attack as, again, children may not fully understand what they hear.

  1. Monitor social media and television exposure

Young children should not watch this at all. Older children and teens may have some exposure, but it is important that we discuss what they are seeing or hearing with them. With teens, we can often ask, “what have your friends been posting or saying about the attack in Orlando?” This may open the door for further conversation. Remember, as adults, we also need to take a break from coverage. We are also vulnerable to stress reactions, including worries and anxieties.

  1. Promote human values  

Because this attack happened at a gay nightclub, there may be questions about the attack’s location. It is important to let children and teens know that no one deserves any act of violence for their sexual orientation, gender identity or, for that matter, race, religion, culture, or other beliefs.  We live in a time when fear-mongering and hate speech directed at anyone who is different are heightened in our country. It is important to share with children and teens the values and beliefs we want them to develop as we help to shape their world view. For parents and other important adults in the lives of LGBTQ youth, it is essential that we provide extra support and understanding as this tragedy unfolds. Unfortunately, hate speech may occur and we need to remind our children and teens in the LGBTQ community that they are not alone.

General resources for LGBT youth and their parents include resources from the Family Acceptance Project, which works to prevent health and mental health risks for LGBT children and youth, and “What Does Gay Mean?” – a brochure to improve understanding and respect for LGBT youth, available from Mental Health America for a minimal cost.  The Public Interest blog will explore needs of LGBTQ youth in a future post. We also must not overlook the fact that Muslim youth may be the targets of Islamophobic attacks in the aftermath of this terrorist attack. They will also need compassion and support in the days and weeks ahead. Encourage children in both of these groups to seek out a trusted adult to share their questions, concerns, and worries as they may experience the event in a more personal way than others.

  1. Recognize safety and security

Concerns related to safety and security are often paramount after tragedies. Talk to children and teens about the heroic response from law enforcement and ongoing steps being taken. Share with youth that communities across the U.S. have plans to help keep residents as safe as possible before, during, and after any disaster or terrorist attack. This is an opportunity to discuss family plans for safety. For all children and youth, providing an extra dose of patience, attention, and love will help everyone during this time.

  1. Anticipate possible stress reactions

In the aftermath of tragic events, particularly terrorist events, you may see reactions to stress and trauma in your children. These may include difficulty sleeping and changes in appetite. Encouraging proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep is helpful. There may also be problems with attention and concentration. For many children and especially teens, there may be an increase in irritability and mood swings (above what we would expect). Children and youth may think about this event, even when they don’t want to. Keep the lines of communication open and check back in with them often in the days and weeks ahead.

  1. Accept possible reminders of suffering or loss

Traumas such as this recent shooting may bring up personal suffering or losses, whether or not the loss was the result of violence. Help children and teens remember how they have successfully coped with past hardships and encourage them to use similar strategies now. Grief and loss are unique for each of us and children and teens are no different. These emotions follow no timetable. Building and maintaining a strong social support system is paramount to the healing process. Besides family and friends, support systems may also include faith and culture-based organizations.

  1. Foster hope

The aftermath of the Orlando terrorist attack also reminds us of the goodness in people. As we watched thousands respond to the call for blood donations, we witnessed the desire to help, the wish to say, “we stand together; we are united; we will persevere.” Children and teens may wish to find a way to help. Consider making a donation to the American Red Cross or similar organizations from monies they have earned.  A handwritten note to responders in Orlando, as well as in your own community for the work they do every day, can be another positive contribution.

Consider age-appropriate ways for your children to volunteer in your community, your neighborhood, and in your cultural or faith-based organizations to help others. These and myriad other acts of kindness remind us that while these acts of terrorism seek to threaten and cower us, the effect may be the opposite. These acts bring out our strengths and assure us that we will support each other today and into the future.

Distressing reactions to this tragedy will likely lessen over time. If they persist or interfere with day-to-day functioning, a psychologist can help you develop a strategy to move forward.  Go to APA’s Psychologist Locator or reach out to your state psychological association for resources in your area.

For further tips on talking to your kids during tragedy, check out these resources:

And for your own self-care in these difficult times, check out:

 

Biography:

Dr. Robin Gurwitch has been involved in understanding the impact of terrorism and disasters on children since the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, providing direct service, training, and conducting research. She is a member of the APA Disaster Resource Network, American Red Cross, and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Dr. Gurwitch was recently appointed to the HHS National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters.


Filed under: Children and Youth, Violence Tagged: Children, children's mental health, gun violence, hate crime, homophobia, islamophobia, LGBT, LGBT Pride Month, LGBT youth, Muslim youth, Orlando shootings, parenting, stress, teenagers, teens, terrorism, trauma

Got a Question About Your Kid? Get an Answer Based on Good Science

blog-infoaboutkids

By Efua Andoh (APA Public Interest Communications Staff)

What keeps you up at night? For many parents or caregivers, 9 times out of 10 it’s something to do with your kids. Have you ever found yourself surfing the web at an ungodly hour searching for answers to questions about your child’s health and wellbeing?

  • How can you get them to sleep better?
  • How can you help them deal with stress?
  • What do they need to adjust to a new school?

The Internet is teeming with websites offering solutions, but are they backed by evidence? Well, here’s something that might help you sleep better at night.

InfoAboutKids.org is a new web-based clearinghouse created to disseminate the latest research and evidence-based guidance on raising a family and helping children. The site is designed for three major audiences (parents, educators and health professionals) and was funded by a grant from the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Division/APA Relations.

Put together by seven APA divisions, the website boasts information on children’s healthy development in four broad, overlapping areas: body, mind, emotions, and relationships.

  • Body looks at health in general, typical physical development milestones, and common health conditions.
  • Mind focuses on the development of thinking, language, and problem solving, learning problems and school-related topics.
  • Emotions tackles how children and adolescents develop emotional well-being, some of the challenges they face in doing so and common mental health issues.
  • Relationships refers to how family and peer relationships develop at home, in schools, and in the community.

InfoAboutKids.org has got you covered – from common parenting concerns such as addressing sleep difficulties, preventing drug and alcohol use, and dealing with puberty to more fine-grained issues like disaster-related stress or managing screen time.

“With so much information on the Internet, it’s really difficult to know whether what you’re reading is legitimate, effective, or backed by good science or best practices,” says University of Tennessee psychology professor Kristina Coop Gordon, PhD, of APA’s Division 43 (Society for Couple and Family Psychology). “We wanted to offer one-stop shopping and direct people to information that has already been vetted by the experts.”

The creators of the website, the Consortium for Science-Based Information on Children, Youth and Families, vet their content rigorously to ensure it’s based on quality research and free of bias. The website is also translatable into other languages for non-English speakers and complies with ADA accessibility guidelines for those with disabilities.

They also understand that information on kids’ health is a two-way street. That’s why they encourage users to submit feedback, recommend websites to be included in the clearinghouse, and suggest blog topics. Your input is important.

So next time, you’re up Googling frantically for info on your kid, do yourself a favor. Check out InfoAboutKids.org first.

Image source: Flickr user Swaminathan via Creative Commons


Filed under: Children and Youth, Health and Wellness Tagged: brain development, child development, Children, children's health, children's mental health, development, emotional health, evidence-based, InfoAboutKids.org, parenting, physical health, relationships

How to Get Your Children to Eat Better, Brain’s Signaling Systems Might Determine PTSD Severity, How Terrorism Affects Voter Psychology and more- In Case You Missed It– December 14th, 2015

roundup imageWelcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address how to get your children to eat better, how the brain’s signaling systems might determine PTSD severity, how terrorism affects voter psychology, and more. 

How to Get Your Children to Eat Better – The Wall Street Journal

18% of American children from 6 to 11 years of age are obese, and pediatricians are seeing rising numbers of children who eat no vegetables at all. So why is this happening?  A contributing factor may be that we treat meals as occasions for getting a child quickly fed, rather than opportunities for learning how to eat in a healthy way. But forcing our children to eat healthy food doesn’t work—so how do we encourage children to enjoy healthy foods? Rather than pushing for a clean plate, help children learn to stop eating when they are full – that is, teach children hunger management. Parents have great power in teaching this crucial eating skill and others, like appreciating a wide range of foods. Our eating habits are a consequence of familiarity, not biology. The trick to getting your children to eat better is make trying new foods feel like a game, not a punishment. For more information, check out Public Interest’s ABCDE brochure.

Brain’s Signaling Systems Might Determine PTSD Severity– U.S. News & World Report

A new study published recently in the journal Molecular Psychiatry suggests people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may have an imbalance between two of the brain’s signaling systems. Previous research has shown that people with PTSD have changes in brain anatomy and function, and this also involves a shift in the balance between brain signaling systems. But this recent study may be the first to actually show that shift, and this could lead to improvement in the understanding of PTSD and to better treatments for the condition.

How Terrorism Affects Voter Psychology – New York Magazine

With the shocking rise of ISIS and the recent terror attacks that have killed civilians abroad and at home, terrorism has become a major issue in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Stanford sociologist Dr. Robb Willer notes that in past research “probably the most reliable finding from research on the political impact of terrorism is that the threat of terrorism increases support for standing leaders.” Incumbents often benefit because of the “rally around the flag” effect, and people seem to gather behind their leaders when faced with terror attacks. But this election cycle is uncharted territory from a political-psychology-of-terrorism standpoint.

How Your Job Can Make You Smarter The Wall Street Journal

New studies by neuroscientists show your job could also be making you smarter. On the job skills may help sharpen your cognitive abilities. Training in certain mental skills can build the brain’s capacity to process information and solve problems.  Jobs that are hard enough that we make mistakes, that are continually challenging, and that we can’t quite master can improve our cognitive abilities.  Dr. Merzenich, co-founder of Posit Science in San Francisco, notes that to build brainpower, workers must remain “engaged in the world in all its details.” Cynthia Green, a speaker and president of Total Brain Health, also notes that working in a stimulating environment with other people also “gives people an opportunity to work out” cognitive skills.

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Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association


Filed under: Children and Youth, Culture, Health and Wellness, Work, Work, Stress and Health Tagged: Children, children and media, parenting, psychology workforce, PTSD, terrorism, work

The time is now for mental health reform, Every Day, In All-Gender Restrooms: the Signs Reflect the Times and more- In Case You Missed It– November 9th, 2015

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Welcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address the time is now for mental health reform, in all-gender restrooms: the signs reflect the times and more.

The time is now for mental health reform- The Washington Times

More than 13 million Americans have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression, and the majority of them are going without treatment. A patchwork of programs and policies spanning numerous federal and state agencies makes the task of managing mental illness challenging for physicians, providers, patients and their families. This is complicated by fragmented delivery and reimbursement systems that disregard parity laws, regulatory barriers, workforce shortages and the enduring stigma surrounding mental health. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee is scheduled to markup the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. This legislation would comprehensively address the issues faced by people with serious mental illness, as well as the 60 million Americans who live with another form of mental health or substance use disorder. Mental health reform would be a great accomplishment for Congress and the American public.

Every Student, Every Day – U.S. Department of Education

In response to the President’s call to action to improve the lives of all young people through the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative (MBK), the Obama Administration is launched on October 7, 2015, Every Student, Every Day: A National Initiative to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism. Every Student, Every Day is focused on the estimated 5 to 7.5 million students who are chronically absent each year. Chronic absenteeism puts students at heightened risk of falling behind and dropping out of school. Despite record high school graduation rates, too many of our nation’s young people—particularly students who are low-income, of color, homeless, highly mobile, with disabilities, and/or juvenile justice-involved—still do not graduate from high school or are off-track toward that important goal. This initiative will empower educators and communities to close the opportunity gap facing our most vulnerable children and ensure there’s a student at every school desk, every day,” said U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro.

In All-Gender Restrooms, the Signs Reflect the Times – The New York Times

The Whitney Museum of American Art moved to its new location in Lower Manhattan, which provides restrooms for everyone on the gender spectrum. The Whitney is not alone in being challenged to rethink one of the most basic uses of public space. With the issues of serving openly in the military and same-sex marriage now largely resolved, the fight for all-gender restrooms has emerged as the latest civil rights issue in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (L.G.B.T.) community. Ever since their introduction, restrooms have been a curious ground zero for civil rights, whether for African-Americans or people with disabilities. Schools and universities (including Johns Hopkins and Michigan State), museums (like the American Folk Art Museum in New York City and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City), restaurants both trendy and modest (such as the Pass & Provisions in Houston and the Midtown Cafe in Santa Cruz, Calif.) and even the White House (in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building) are recasting the traditional men’s/women’s room, resulting in a dizzying range of (often creative) signage and vocabulary.

APA Exclusive– All-gender restrooms were made available during the 2014 and 2015 APA Conventions and will continue to be provided at future APA Conventions. They will also be provided at the spring and fall consolidated meetings of APA Boards and Committees.

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

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 Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association


Filed under: In Case You Missed It Tagged: advocacy, Children, children's mental health, culture, discrimination

Weight and exercise may affect children’s thinking skills, Alzheimer’s link leads to more financial planning, Migrant children: arriving alone and frightened and more- In Case You Missed It– November 2, 2015

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Welcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address the impact of weight and exercise on children’s thinking skills, Alzheimer’s link leads to more financial planning, migrant children: arriving alone and frightened and more. 

Weight, Exercise May Affect Children’s Thinking Skills-U.S. News & World Report

Children’s weight and physical activity levels may affect their thinking and learning skills, according to a study just out in Pediatric Exercise Science. Researchers studied 45 normal-weight children, aged 7 to 11; 24 of them were active and the rest were not. Researchers found that normal-weight active children did better on tests of mental skills — such as planning and paying attention — than their inactive counterparts. This association between physical activity and mental skills in children is not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship. As Catherine Davis, a clinical health psychologist, commented, the good news is that children — with the help of families and schools – may be able to improve thinking skills by boosting their physical activity levels.

Alzheimer’s Link Leads to More Financial Planning -The Wall Street Journal

A forthcoming study from professors at the University of Utah says people whose families have a history of Alzheimer’s disease are much more likely to seek expert financial advice and are more likely to delay retirement, compared with people for whom Alzheimer’s isn’t an issue. Cost concerns arising from Alzheimer’s disease, which can require years of institutionalized care, are pushing individuals to plan more. The study, which has been submitted to American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias, notes that care for Alzheimer’s patients is costing the patients or their families’ on average $56,290 a year, based on data from 2010. The number of Alzheimer’s patients, meanwhile, is expected to triple to 13.8 million by 2050.  Cathleen Zick, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah and one of three authors of the study, says everyone needs a realistic estimate of what they will need for retirement and a plan to help them meet those needs—especially people with potentially serious health concerns.

Migrant Children, Arriving Alone and Frightened– The New York times

Last year, more than 23,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in the 28 member countries of the European Union, according to the United Nations. That was before the number of refugees surged this year. By now, 30,000 are estimated to live in Germany alone. Two dozen psychological profiles of recent arrivals provide indications that many of Europe’s new mystery children are boys ages 14 to 17, sent by families too poor to pay smugglers for more than a single journey. Some lost their parents to war or murder at home. A few were escaping recruitment as child soldiers or suicide bombers. Only about 2 percent of the teenagers who arrive alone are girls, but they often have the most harrowing tales of abuse. In a separate headquarters, with a 2-million-euro budget and a staff of 25, workers who used to protect neglected and abused children from drug-addicted parents and domestic violence now spend their days finding foster families, homes, psychological support, legal guardians and schools for the young Syrian, Afghan and Somali arrivals. The numbers are now so large that everything is scarce.

The Hidden Stigma In The Talk Therapy And Schizophrenia Study– Forbes

The good news is:  A just published study found that talk therapy benefits patients experiencing their first episode of psychosis. Thirty-four clinics in 21 states treated patients suffering from a first-episode psychosis with a “comprehensive” program rather than usual community care. But even in this study, stigma may be evident. The clinicians doing the work, according to a 2014 presentation by Dr. John M. Kane, the lead researcher on the study, “have at least Bachelor’s level education and prior clinical experience,” compared with master’s or doctoral level clinicians in other settings.  The impact of level of training and expertise on outcomes is a question we should look at.

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

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In the Public Interest – the Public Interest Directorate’s monthly newsletter.

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association


Filed under: In Case You Missed It Tagged: aging, bullying, Children, children's mental health

When Girls Compulsively Text,Their Grades Suffer, Children Treated for Mental Health by Pediatricians, Kroger Tips Scales on Trans Health Care and more- In Case You Missed It– October 19, 2015

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Welcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address the impact of when girls compulsively text, children treated for mental health by pediatricians, Kroger tipping scales on trans health care and more. 

APA Exclusive – When Girls Compulsively Text, Their Grades Suffer -Time

A new study by The Pew Research Center study published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychology of Popular Media Journal found when girls compulsively text, their grades suffer. They studied found that with 63% of teens reporting they send and receive an average of 167 texts per day while only 35% report socializing face-to-face outside of school. The findings highlight a gender disparity: while boys and girls both text at about the same rates, girls compulsively text about 20% more than boys. There also seems to be a connection between poor grades and compulsive texting that affects girls more strongly than boys. Kelly Lister-Landman, an assistant professor of psychology at Delaware County Community College notes that the study does not mean that all texting is bad. “texting can be a wonderful tool of communication.”.

One-third of children treated for mental health by pediatrician -United Press International

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as of  2011 about 6.4 million U.S. children ages 4 to 17 had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. A new study shows that than one-third of mental health care provided to children with ADHD or nay disorder comes from primary care physicians, rather than child psychiatrists. Dr. Jeanne Van Cleave, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, notes that “There just aren’t enough child psychiatrists in the United States to treat every child with a mental health condition,” These findings highlight as Van Cleave notes the need for collaboration and communication between primary care physicians and child psychiatrists to the deal with the sizable number of children needing mental health treatment.

Kroger Tips Scales on Trans Health Care -The Daily Beast

The Kroger Company, one of the largest private employers in the United States, will offer transgender health benefits starting January 2016 to employees. Several major American health care associations including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association have issued statements supporting transgender health care coverage.The Kroger Company’s insurance plan will provide coverage up to a $100,000 lifetime maximum for eligible employees and dependents. This will offer transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage and becoming a tipping point, for trans-inclusive health insurance, which is still out of reach for many of the estimated 700,000 transgender adults in the U.S. 

Pediatricians Rethink Screen Time Policy for Children -The Wall Street Journal

After more than 15 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics is starting the process of revising its ironclad guidelines for children and screens. Academy of Pediatrics had advised parents to avoid screen time completely for children under the age of 2, and to limit screen time to no more than two hours a day for children older than 2. Ari Brown, chair of the AAP committee that’s been investigating children’s media use, noted, “Technology moves faster than science can study it, so we are perpetually behind in our advice and our recommendations.”. A 2013 survey by Common Sense Media, in San Francisco, found that 38% of children under the age of 2 had used a mobile device. Dr. Brown noted that “The more screen media mimics live interactions, the more educationally valuable it may be.”

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

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For more In Case, You Missed It,  go to our homepage and subscribe to our blog via RSS or email.

 

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Filed under: In Case You Missed It Tagged: advocacy, Children, children's mental health, culture