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 JenniferPowers.me

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 JenniferPowers.me

Involving Kids In The Kitchen

Children are always curious and ready to learn new skills, making them want to get involved in the things their parents do.

One of the main area’s children can learn from is in the kitchen, but parents need to understand how to involve their children best to learn new skills and remain safe. Depending on the age of the child, there are various activities parents can let them handle.

Cooking Activities For Preschoolers

Children at this age get bored fast. Therefore, parents need to give them activities that suit their skill level and activities that they will enjoy. Some of those activities include:

• Tearing lettuce and other vegetables for a salad

• Stirring pancake batter

• Adding ingredients into a recipe

• Helping you read or turn pages on your cookbook

• Assembling a pizza

Activities For Elementary Students

Children at this age are better at finishing tasks and don’t get bored as fast as preschoolers. Some of the activities best suited for them include:

• Rolling and kneading dough

• Mashing bananas or potatoes

• Stirring or sifting ingredients

• Peeling fruits using a safe peeler

• Spreading toppings

• Spooning batter into miffing tins or pans

• Using cookie cutters

Activities For Older Children

Older children usually are more ready for challenges and are capable of taking on bigger tasks from beginning to end. Parents have to be ready to be the assistant and only help them when they need to use new kitchen equipment or ingredients.

Parents can let older children choose and prepare a whole meal or even write grocery lists for them. However, the parents should take on any activities that require them to use knives, stoves, or the oven.

They should also complement their children in every step of their meal preparation and after trying their final meal.

Skills And Habits Children Learn In The Kitchen

• Expands their palate- If a child is picky about their food, helping their parents cook will open them to new flavors and foods. That mainly happens when they try new recipes and cuisines from different cultures and countries.

• Explore their senses- Children learn to use all their senses when making meals or in different activities parents give them.

• Responsibility- When a child learns how to follow a recipe or observe safety measures when using kitchen equipment, they learn how to be responsible.

• Healthy eating- When parents explain the nutrition benefits of every ingredient to their children, it helps them make more healthy choices in the future.

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

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 JenniferPowers.me

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.

Lunchbox

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.

Introducing Your Kids to Sports

Sports can play a huge role in the development of your child. They give them an excuse to be physically active on a regular basis. Sports are also a great way to meet close friends. This is why it is important to expose your kids to sports at an early age. Let them decide if it is something they will become passionate about. These are the four best ways to introduce your kids to sports.

Watch Sports on Television

It is hard for kids to get excited about sports if they do not know anything about them. An easy way to introduce them to sports is by watching television. Seeing the greatest athletes perform at a high level is a great way to hook any child. Expose them to as many sports as possible to help them find their favorites. You may not like hockey, but that may turn out to be your kid’s passion in life.

Play Sports Together

Once you have found a few sports that interest your kid, it is time to start playing. Start out by learning the basics together. Your kid is guaranteed to have a good time if they are playing sports with their parent. Keep things as fun as possible in the early going. You do not want to put too much pressure on them. Once they have shown a sustained interest in the sport, you can start teaching them the proper techniques.

Always Stay Positive

Every sport has a high learning curve. They may be fairly easy to pick up, but they are difficult to master. Your kid is bound to struggle at some point early in their sports life. It is up to you to stay upbeat and encouraging throughout the entire process. This will help keep them engaged. The last thing you want to do is show disappointment in their skills.

Never Force Anything

Sports need to be treated as a fun hobby for kids. You should never force them to play or practice. This will only cause them to hate the sport and resent you in the long run. If their confidence and interest are fading, then you can always try out a different sport. Just make sure your kid is making the final decision the entire way.

Online Therapy Resources for Kids in Need

The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health, including our children. The social isolation brought on by social distancing, as well as the loss of activities kids looked forward to, such as sports seasons, the school play, or prom, has led to a negative impact on our kid’s health. In many places, mental health treatment is backlogged or it is too expensive for many families. That’s why we have compiled a list of some of the best resources that your child can use to get the mental health help and support that they need right now.

TeenCounseling: TeenCounseling is run by mental health professionals and it helps teach teens coping skills and strategies to help them deal with everyday challenges such as relationship drama or school. The site also has private “therapy rooms” where teens can talk to a trained counselor via messaging, live chats, video calls, or phone calls.

Synergy eTherapy: This company will match your child with a trained therapist in your state where they can talk about any problems they are facing, as well as get support for mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Synergy eTherapy also gives your child a free consultation and you can buy one session at a time with no commitment required.

Talkspace: Talkspace is one of the most well-known online therapy sites and children as young as 13 can talk to one of the sites 3,000+ licensed therapists. This site can pair your child with an expert in a specific area, such as depression or trauma, and they also offer a plan where your child can message their therapist on a secure connection at any time of the day or night.

Doctor On Demand: Doctor On Demand has both psychologists and psychiatrists on board that can help you and your child during this time. They also have doctors trained to help children with conditions such as anxiety, depression, and addiction, as well as trauma, loss, and stress. This company also offers an easy and free assessment.

Amwell: Amwell is great if you have younger children because while most online therapy sites only see children aged 13 and older, children as young as 10 can receive help from Amwell’s live video chats. In some locations, Amwell also offers family therapy, which may be beneficial if your family is going through an issue such as divorce or loss.

MDLIVE: This site will allow your child to talk to a certified counselor or psychiatrist on a live video appointment. You will also be able to see the biographies and pictures of potential therapists so that you are able to choose a therapist that you think will be the best fit for your child. Psychiatrists on this site can also write prescriptions if they feel your child needs one.

7 Cups: 7 Cups has a free teen support room where teens can chat with other teens who are going through similar issues. They also have “trained listeners,” where your child can talk about whatever is on their mind and they will get an emotionally supportive response. Note- This site does not have mental health professionals, so it should not be used in replacement for a kid with a mental illness- instead it should be used for a child who just needs someone to talk to.