Prioritizing Child Psychology as Schools Reopen

Although doctors and nurses are warning the public of a new surge in COVID-19 cases spurred on by the delta variant, child psychologists are warning that the new school year will bring about a surge of kids facing mental health crises as well. In pre-pandemic years, the months of September and October were especially active for child mental health specialists. Dr. Richard Martini, a child psychiatrist at Salt Lake City’s Primary Children’s Hospital and the University of Utah, says that in typical years, the end of September and early October saw the biggest rise in kids visiting mental health professionals. Dr. Martini explains that by this time, teachers and school administrators developed enough of a rapport with their new students to know when something was wrong.

Despite this expected rise in kids seeking psychological counseling, experts warn that the pandemic has exacerbated an already critical situation. According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the months between March 2020 and May 2020 saw a 24 percent rise in kids ages 5 to 11 visiting hospitals due to a mental health emergency. The increase was even steeper for kids ages 12 to 17, who had a rise of 31 percent in the same months. The situation has yet to abate, as revealed in findings from the Children’s Hospital Association, which found a 15 percent rise from 2019 in children coming to hospitals for mental health problems.

According to Dr. Ujjwal Ramtekkar of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, most cases involving kids and mental health are rooted in anxiety. For younger kids, Dr. Ramtekkar explains that this type of anxiety concerns separation from their parents or fears that their parents might get sick with COVID-19. Meanwhile, Boston-based psychiatrist Dr. Nicole Christian-Brathwaite argues that anxiety in older kids is based more on social issues and academic performance. These kids might have further problems when it comes to transitioning back into in-person learning after more than a year of remote or hybrid schooling. Experts further say that kids with pre-existing mental health conditions are especially vulnerable to experiencing a mental health crisis as they return to school this year.

Despite all these challenges, Dr. Christian-Brathwaite says that schools are well-prepared to help kids who might be experiencing a mental health emergency. Many school administrators have reached out to mental health professionals to train teachers on how to spot and help children who are struggling with their psychological health. Hospitals are also preparing for an influx of kids with mental health concerns by recruiting more child psychologists and thereby expanding their services for new patients.

This article was originally published on

Fostering Independence: Back-to-School Tips for Parents and Kids

Getting the kids back to school is an annual tradition. Summer vacations are over, and kids are in classes all day long again. While many families love having the kids around so much during the summer, it can be a relief to parents to have kids back in school during the day. Having said that, it can also come at the expense of school buses clogging up the roads again.

The transition is a big seasonal change, however, and making it can be complicated. Fortunately, there are a number of back-to-school hacks your family can use.

For starters, consider using a visual chart. Kids do best when they have routine and structure. If they’re under the age of 6, then they’re primarily visual and concrete learners. A routine chart can help them get used to a routine and handle a few responsibilities on their own.

Secondly, your entryway needs to be convenient for everyone. That includes your kids. They need to know when and how to hang up jackets or coats or even put them on. They can learn how to dress and about managing layers based on weather.

Your back-to-school work needs to start with about a month left in the summer if possible. Have your kids start learning how to dress on their own. Have them practice putting on various pieces of school clothing so they build up muscle memory.

If you want your kids to eat their lunch while at school, or even dinner at home for that matter, then include them in the family food process whenever you can. Small tasks in meal preparation and taking them with you to the grocery store makes it more likely that they’ll eat the food you serve them.

Finally, develop a ‘happy goodbye’ routine. Whether you wind up dropping them off at school or put them on a bus, you have to let them go at some point. A goodbye that’s full of happiness helps relieve their anxiety about going to school for the day. You can encourage them to be brave enough to face the day and all that might come with it before you see them again in the afternoon or evening later on in the day.

This article was originally published on

The Value of Praise for Children

Raising children can be stressful. A lot of the time, they may do things that you don’t like, but that’s to be expected since they don’t know what they’re doing yet.

When they do behave the way you like, you need to praise your kids, because it’s actually quite a valuable parenting tactic.

Praise and encouragement for kids tells them that you like how they are behaving at the time. It works best if you describe the specific behaviors that you prefer. Encouragement is a form of praise because it might mean you’re letting your kids know you see them trying really hard. Encouragement and praise can work for kids of all ages. You can use rewards to reinforce desired behaviors, but don’t overdo it.

All you have to do is say things like:

  • Good job!
  • Nicely done!
  • That’s awesome!

It’s very useful to add their name to the end of whatever you say because they automatically know that you’re paying attention to them and the praise is specifically meant for them.

Using praise helps your child know how they can think positively about themselves, and talking positively comes from that. Your kids should know how to recognize the times they do things well so they can feel rightfully proud about it.

Kids of different ages can be praised for a variety of things. Younger kids might be praised for sharing something or just leaving a park at the time you ask. Teenagers might be praised for getting home on time or starting their homework without reminders.

To further reinforce things, your praise should be descriptive. Instead of saying your teenager is a ‘good daughter’, tell her you’re happy ‘she came home in time for dinner so we could all be together.

You can use praise and encouragement to support positive behaviors that you see, but you can also add in rewards that get them to change undesired behaviors you don’t want. All kids will have them at some point. It’s just a part of the process of learning and growing up. Treats, extra privileges, and even surprises might all work to your benefit when applied properly. Just remember they are a tool and not a form of love, so don’t go overboard and spoil them.

Top Parenting Podcasts

Whether it is a new parent or one in the process of raising teenagers, there are a few podcasts that offer helpful and relatable advice for all stages of parenthood. Here is a list of some highly rated podcasts for parents organized by age.

For parents to be, there are several podcasts that can help prepare moms and dads for this new stage in their life. Pregnancy Confidential offers answers to all pregnancy and motherhood questions, even those that are embarrassing to ask. This podcast gives an honest and witty perspective of a soon-to-be mother in the preparation of their child. Another podcast for a mom-to-be is FearFreeChildbirth. This podcast is intended to acknowledge the fear of childbirth and replace the mother’s concerns with the excitement of what is to come. Both of these are great options for mothers to be.

New mothers could use advice as well. The Boob Group is a podcast for all new moms and gives them all the necessary information for raising an infant. This podcast addresses everything from breastfeeding to latching and more. Newbies is another podcast that addresses the struggles of raising a newborn and the challenges many mothers face during their baby’s first year. Most importantly, this podcast also addresses the mother’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

Some podcasts for parents with kids under the age of six include Little Springs, Parenting Beyond Discipline, and Good Inside. All of these features common struggles of parenting young children and techniques to improve communication with young ones. The goal of these podcasts is to better the relationship between the child and parent as well as dealing with challenges.

Raising school-age children requires an entirely new style of parenting. Podcasts like The Mom Hour and Sunshine Parenting attempt to make this stage of parenting more clear. Both of these podcasts focus on encouragement and strategies for child development to raise well equipt adults.

Finally, when it comes to raising teens and young adults, there are a couple of podcasts that provide insight into emotional and social challenges that arise when parenting these age groups. Talking to Teens gives effective communication techniques between parent and teen that help tackle the struggles of dating, social media, and other challenging teenage activities.

This article was originally published on

Effectively Building Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Parents can build their children’s self-esteem using these three tips.

Let children choose

Children want to be independent. They want to freely express themselves. For example, they may want to decide what to wear in the morning. Parents can help by giving them a few weather-appropriate options. Children should not wear shorts in the winter. However, they can choose which coat to wear for the day. They can also accessorize their outfits using different colored scarves and gloves. Similarly, parents can let their children decide what to eat for lunch by giving them three healthy options at a time. For example, parents can let children eat pasta, chicken salad, or a turkey sandwich. Children will become more confident if they can make their own choices. They will feel as if they have some sort of control over their lives.

Let children help

Children want to help their parents around the house. It’s fun for them. They want to play a role in whatever activity their parents are doing. Therefore, parents should think of creative ways to get the children involved. Make sure every activity is safe and relatively easy. For example, parents can let the children carry grocery bags when coming back from the store. Let the kids carry one light weighted bag with a few simple items. Similarly, children can help their parents cook dinner. They can keep track of the timer. They can also clear the dining room table. Children smile with pride when they help their parents. They love participating and showing off their skills.

Do not yell

Children who grow up in abusive households develop all kinds of mental issues. They become shy and develop speech impediments. They may also be afraid to try new things. They do not want to make the mistakes that naturally come with being a beginner. Parents should not raise their voices when disciplining their children. Rather, they should engage in rational discussions. Parents should calmly explain to their children why something is wrong to do. Make sure the kids understand by asking how they would feel if someone did it to them. Rational discussions allow children to mature as people. Their self-esteem will remain intact.

This article was originally published

5 Basic Essentials for Kindergarten

Is your kid ready to start Kindergarten? This is an exciting time in his or her life and yours, even if it is all new and a little scary. This is the beginning of their educational journey which will give them the skills they need to make their way in the world and to help make it a better place.

As the opening of the school year approaches and summer is drawing to a close, school supplies often go on sale. Take advantage of those discounts with these 5 basic essentials that every kindergartener will need.

A Big Backpack

They are graduating to big kid backpack status in Kindergarten. They will need a tough backpack that can handle lots of rough unzipping and flopping around and that is big enough to fit their lunchbox and a folder or notebook.


There are many cute styles and themes for both backpacks and lunchboxes that your child will enjoy, but as a parent, you should be looking beyond the outside to efficiency. Buy a lunchbox that is easily cleaned, easy to open and close, and can hold an ice pack if it does not come with one. It is easy for lunchboxes to get lost in the muddle and go missing, so be sure to have a backup on hand as well.

Water bottle

Water fountains can collect germs quickly, so be sure your child has extra water on hand to stay hydrated throughout the day. A large no-leak water bottle with a name label so it can be returned if it is lost would help keep your kindergartener healthier in more ways than one.

Hand sanitizer

Keep the germs at bay by teaching your child to clean his or her hands during the day (especially before meals or after potty breaks and recess.) Equip them with their own hand sanitizer to help them remember and make staying clean more fun.

Change of clothes

Your little one is still little in many ways, and accidents can and will happen at some point. Make sure you pack a full change of clothes for them (all the way down to socks and underwear) to avoid any embarrassment. Keep the change of clothes stocked and seasonally appropriate.

Happy shopping!

This article was originally published on Jennifer Power’s Medium.

The Importance of Home Life for Teens

Colleagues from a new study that tracked adolescents into adulthood found teenagers who are more secure in their family relationships experience a better chance of developing empathy.

The journal Child Development published these findings on July 15. The findings suggest teens with a more supportive and secure family relationship environment offer more empathetic support to their friends. Empathy, which develops with time, has a great impact on a teen’s:

  • Friendships
  • Social interactions
  • Adult relationships

And, adolescence is a vital development stage for the growth of empathy, according to this research. Empathy provides the ability to stand in another person’s shoes, care about that person’s well-being and resonate with their emotions.

Teens who show more empathy show less prejudice, are less aggressive, and aren’t as likely to bully other people. Empathy begins with the feeling of being connected and safe. Parents can provide their teens with a firsthand experience of empathy by building a secure relationship that’s marked by emotional safety, trust, and responsiveness. This sets the foundation for them to begin sharing this empathy with other people.

The study showed teenagers at the age of 14 who felt more secure with their family relationships displayed more empathetic support in early adolescence to their friends. They also experienced a higher level of empathy over time. Those feeling less secure were less empathetic at first but improved by the time they were 18 years old. This suggests teenagers with a more secure home life gain empathetic skills faster but do eventually gain these skills as they become older.

Ways to Boost Teens’ Empathy, Happiness, and Well-Being

Parents can boost their teen’s happiness, well-being, and ability to show empathy by offering encouragement and praise, setting clear boundaries and rules, and providing a warm, healthy family relationship and home.

Some ways parents can do this are:

  • Providing their teens with praise when they behave in certain ways, such as doing chores, helping out around the house, or getting their homework done.
  • Providing their teens with positive attention, such as watching them play sports, giving them a hug or smile, or sending them a friendly text message.
  • Valuing their teens’ strengths and praising them for who they are. This helps their teens feel good about themselves.
  • Setting boundaries and rules to help their teens feel safe when various things are changing in their lives. Involving their teens in making the rules and negotiating rules with them can also show them respect for their growing maturity.

There is still a lot that’s unknown about teenagers’ empathy. Learning how to effectively nurture empathy in teenagers is important to build a more empathetic society.

The Best Family Glamping Spots Across the U.S.

The natural world is full of wonder, and camping is a great way to introduce your children to the Great Outdoors. Some families are happy roughing it, but many families aren’t ready to tackle such rugged conditions. For them, these top glamping sites from around the country combine outdoor escapism with all the amenities of home.

El Capitan Canyon

Located outside Santa Barbara, California, El Capitan Canyon is one of the West Coast’s premier glamping destinations. Whether it’s relaxing by El Capitan Beach or hiking their miles of trails, there’s no shortage of outdoor adventure to be had. The tiniest campers will even enjoy El Capitan Canyon’s pool and playground area.

Their lodging is also perfectly tailored to families. Cedar cabins, complete with bathrooms and kitchenettes, dot the landscape and are the perfect home-away-from-home. Their nearby market also features a full-service restaurant and a general store so you can stock up on supplies.

Under Canvas

With accommodations begging to be shared on social media, this high-end glamping spot in the Grand Canyon is perfect for millennials and their children. Bike or hike to the Grand Canyon’s breath-taking South Rim to take in one of the wonders of the natural world, then roast marshmallows under the stars before retiring to one of their immaculate tent suites decorated with West Elm Furniture.

The comforts of home are never far away, as Under Canvas features en-suite bathrooms, complimentary campground activities, and high-quality cuisine.

AutoCamp Cape Cod

Nothing says “East Coast summer” like a Cape Cod getaway, and this AutoCamp location features everything a family could ever need. Nestled on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, families have access to beaches, fishing expeditions, and the beautiful Shining Sea bike trail to explore along the coast. There’s also a ferry to historic Martha’s Vineyard.

Glampers have plenty of lodging options, too. Amenity-equipped tents and cabins are on offer, but AutoCamp’s calling card is their Airstream suites. Their suites feature modern decor and plenty of room for parents and children.

Escaping to nature doesn’t mean leaving comfort at home. These campgrounds all offer plush sleeping accommodations, bathrooms with running water, and plenty of activities that make glamping fun for the whole family.

Card Games You Can Teach Your Children

Card games can be a lot of fun to play with your children. There are several they will enjoy over and over once they learn them.

Go Fish is a popular game that very young children can play. They just need to be able to make matches with numbers. Each player either starts with five or seven cards, depending on the number of players. The first player will ask any of the others for all their 5’s or Queens, or any other rank they need to complete a match. If they have that rank, the player gives it to the first player who asked. If they do not have that rank in their hand, they will say “Go Fish,” and the first player will draw from the pile. If at any time a player gets a match of four numbers, they lay them down and go again. The game goes on until all the cards are gone from the discard pile. The person with the most matches wins!

Rummy is a great card game to play with children who can do simple addition. In this game, each player collects sets of cards, either of the same suit or consecutive “runs” of cards. Starting with 10 cards in their hand, each player picks up a card from either the draw or the discard pile each turn to look for matches, and then they must discard every turn. When a player has matched all or most of his cards, he lays them down in front of him. In the end, everyone adds up the score for any unmatched cards in their hand, and the person with the lowest hand scores the difference between their hand and that of the other hands. A player has “gin” if he has no unmatched cards.

Snap is another great game for even the little ones. All the cards in the deck are dealt out to the players face down in a pile in front of each player. Then each player turns their top card over, either one at a time or simultaneously, and the first player to notice a card that has a matching number says, “snap!” The player that says “snap” first gets all the cards from the other players’ discard piles added to his own. The end of the game comes when one person has collected all the cards.

Raising a Child to Care about Others

During the global pandemic, it has become obvious the struggles that people are facing and the need to help each other during these very difficult times. Now is the best time to help teach the younger generations the need for doing just that, and how they can best help their community. Here are a few ideas for parents on how to help nurture the charitable side of their children.

Show How Important It Is

One of the worst things a person can do is turn a blind eye to an issue that is important. They need to be aware that things are different for everyone they come across. Whether or not they can help at that moment is irrelevant if they can’t accept that there is an issue. By showing this to children, you also help them to better understand appreciating the many blessings they have in their life and how thankful they should truly be.

Make It a Routine

There is no time like the present to begin new traditions and one great way to do it is to create a routine for charitable work. Perhaps you make it a ritual to go through their clothes and taking items that no longer fit shelters for kids who may need a new pair of shoes to replace their old ones. Or perhaps you take the time after church to work at a soup kitchen. Whatever the activity, creating a routine to do can keep the momentum going into adulthood.

Engage Their Passions

Is there something that your child is truly passionate about? Do they have a special connection to a cause? Whatever the reason, try to make the good work you do coincide with the interest they have to keep them engaged. If they are doing something that they may not be particularly involved in, the charitable actions will feel more like a chore. Choosing something that will keep their interest can make the hours go by quickly and have them want to do it again and again.

For more information on the subject matter, check out this article.