Discipline is topic that I have discussed extensively on my blog. Therefore, I'm not going to comment very much here. But this is a great, short article that you can also listen to that has some wonderful and very specific suggestions about effective discipline for children. What I especially like is that the article begins with a discussion of a link between discipline and aggression-an important topic that many parents, teachers, and caregivers struggle with. Read or listen to the article and leave comments here, tweet me @fpschDrSweeney, or contact me directly. Enjoy!
Sleep is something that I've talked about several times on my blog. It is incredibly important-more so than people often realize. And very few people are getting enough. I have found in my work that this is especially true of teenagers. In my former life when I worked in public high schools, I would often meet with students who were struggling emotionally, behaviorally, and/or academically. When I would ask them how many hours of sleep that they were getting, a common response was '5 hours'. Five hours!?!?!?!?! Adolescents need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep. Five hours isn't even close to the recommended amount. Even though this response was troubling, what bothered me more was the twinge of pride that I detected in these responses. As if getting little sleep was an accomplishment. Now I am not saying that the sole cause of these children's (yes children-teenagers' brains are still developing rapidly-up until about age 26) troubles was lack of sleep, but it certainly wasn't helping anything.
Now a solution has been suggested and is highly supported by pediatricians: Move the school start time back for teenagers. I know that this suggestion is not perfect, but it could be extremely helpful for the students. I am really surprised by the amount of pushback it has gotten from numerous groups. Now I acknowledge that it's easy for me to be supportive of this measure. When I worked in high schools, getting in at 7am was rough, but the ability to leave by 3:30 and beat rush hour traffic was phenomenal. I would not have been happy if my schedule was uprooted and my commute increased. But I do think the students will benefit. I've seen many students do quite well academically, but can't seem to raise their grade in their first period class. I've seen students who ALWAYS got in trouble at a certain point in the day because they just couldn't hold themselves together emotionally on so little sleep. A later start time better matches up with a teenagers natural circadian rhythms and would benefit them immensely. Conversely, a younger child's circadian rhythm better matches up with an earlier start time (anyone who has children older than 3 can attest to this).
Check out the following article and then decide which side you stand on. Leave a comment here, tweet me @fpschDrSweeney, or contact me directly. I'd love to hear people's thoughts!
'Don't sweat the small stuff.' It is a phrase that we've all heard before. But it turns out that this advice is worth paying attention to. When you worry about every little thing in your life, your stress levels spike enormously. It turns out that it doesn't matter what you are stressing about: being 5 minutes late to a meeting or anticipating major surgery. Your body doesn't know the difference. It responds to any type of stress in the same way: raised cortisol levels. If your cortisol levels are constantly high then your body reacts in the same way as if you were in a war zone. So learn mechanisms for keeping your stress levels at bay. Meditate, practice yoga, drink a warm mug of hot chocolate-whatever you need to do to keep your cortisol levels down. If you are having trouble managing your level of stress on your own, please contact a psychologist or other therapist. They can help you develop and maintain strategies for reducing your stress.
Enjoy the following article for more information about stress: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/09/22/349875448/best-to-not-sweat-the-small-stuff-because-it-could-kill-you
The title of this post and this very short article really speak for themselves. If you have been contemplating going to a therapist-do it! If you find a good fit (which is incredibly important), you likely will not regret it. And even if you think you can't afford it, contact your health insurance provider and find out your options. It may be more affordable than you think. Check out the following article and then do a quick search for a mental health professional in your area. Even if you are not ready to take the plunge right now, knowing who is available can be comforting. Enjoy!
We live in a culture where it is assumed that more equals better. However, this interview suggests otherwise. According to the research that Dr. Luthar describes, the children of affluent families may far worse than their lower-income counterparts. It appears that these children have higher levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher levels of substance use/abuse. The reasons for this seem to be unclear, but Dr. Luthar hypothesizes that there are a number of reasons. The children may feel pressure from parents and peers, but having worked with affluent teens before, I have seen that much of this pressure becomes internalized. Often, by the time the children become teenagers, they have very high expectations of themselves. Sometimes this is irrespective of their parents' and teachers' expectations.
It seems that this is all bad news, but Dr. Luthar outlines some concrete steps that families can take to support their children. Thankfully none of those suggestions include making less money! It is important for parents to help their children manage their expectations. Every child does not have to keep up with the Joneses and parents should be careful not to put this pressure on their children. In addition to talking to children about this, parents need to lead by example. It also needs to be pointed out that depression and anxiety and very treatable. If you are worried that your children are showing signs of depression or anxiety talk to your child's pediatrician or a mental health professional right away. It is best to address this issue sooner rather than later.
So check out the interview and comment below, tweet me @fpschDrSweeney, or contact me directly. Enjoy!
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) sometimes appears to be everywhere. Many people have a picture in their mind of what a child with ADHD "looks like". Often that child is rambunctious, talkative, disruptive. Often the child that is pictured is a boy. However, many girls also have ADHD and while they can certainly have the hyperactive subtype described above, many girls have the inattentive subtype or their hyperactivity manifests differently than it does for a boy.
The following article describes one mother's journey with coming to terms with her girls' disorder and why it took her so long to come to terms with it (at least for her oldest child). I applaud this mother for her willingness to share her story, because it can certainly help many other parents who are experiencing something similar. If you have concerns about a child's behavior it is always good to speak with someone about it. As this mother stated, she mentioned this to her child's teacher. This is not a bad place to start, but whatever your teacher's opinion-get a second one. Your child's teacher can give you a lot of information about your child's behavior in another context, but teachers are not trained to diagnose a child with a disorder such as ADHD. Approaching her daughter's pediatrician was smart and contacting a psychologist or psychiatrist would be good additional options.
Whatever the outcome, keep in mind that a diagnosis is not a death sentence. In fact, it fosters understanding and the development of compensatory behaviors. If your child is diagnosed, share this information with him/her. It is important to do so in a developmentally appropriate way, but keeping the information from your child would not be helpful to him/her. If you are having trouble determining how to speak to your child about ADHD, ask your pediatrician, a psychologist, or psychiatrist.
Enjoy the article and, as always, comment here, tweet me @fpschDrSweeney, or contact me directly.