Kids And Screen Time: What Does The Research Say?

By Juana Summers

Kids And Screen Time: What Does The Research Say?Kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens, and it may be inhibiting their ability to recognize emotions, according to new research out of the University of California, Los Angeles.

The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that sixth-graders who went five days without exposure to technology were significantly better at reading human emotions than kids who had regular access to phones, televisions and computers.

The UCLA researchers studied two groups of sixth-graders from a Southern California public school. One group was sent to the Pali Institute, an outdoor education camp in Running Springs, Calif., where the kids had no access to electronic devices. For the other group, it was life as usual.

At the beginning and end of the five-day study period, both groups of kids were shown images of nearly 50 faces and asked to identify the feelings being modeled. Researchers found that the students who went to camp scored significantly higher when it came to reading facial emotions or other nonverbal cues than the students who continued to have access to their media devices.

“We were pleased to get an effect after five days,” says Patricia Greenfield, a senior author of the study and a distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA. “We found that the kids who had been to camp without any screens but with lots of those opportunities and necessities for interacting with other people in person improved significantly more.”

If the study were to be expanded, Greenfield says, she’d like to test the students at camp a third time — when they’ve been back at home with smartphones and tablets in their hands for five days.

“It might mean they would lose those skills if they weren’t maintaining continual face-to-face interaction,” she says.

A Wake-Up Call For Educators

There’s a big takeaway for schools, Greenfield says.

“A lot of school systems are rushing to put iPads into the hands of students individually, and I don’t think they’ve thought about the [social] cost,” she explains. “This study should be, and we want it to be, a wake-up call to schools. They have to make sure their students are getting enough face-to-face social interaction. That might mean reducing screen time.”

The results of the UCLA study seem to line up with prior research, says Marjorie Hogan, a pediatrician at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

“Common sense tells me that if a child’s laying on his or her bed and texting friends instead of getting together and saying, ‘Hey, what’s up,’ that there’s a problem there,” she says. “I want people interacting … on a common-sense level, and an experiential level. It does concern [me].”

Hogan relates the UCLA study’s findings back to research on infants.

“When babies are babies, they’re learning about human interaction with face-to-face time and with speaking to parents and having things they say modeled back to them,” she says. “That need doesn’t go away.”

How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?

For decades the AAP has warned that children need to cut back on their screen time. The group’s latest prescription: Entertainment “screen time” should be limited to two hours a day for children ages 3-18. And, for 2-year-olds and younger, none at all.

The sixth-graders who made up the sample in the UCLA study self-reported that they spent an average of more than four hours on a typical school day texting, watching television and playing video games.

The San Francisco nonprofit Common Sense Media studies screen time from birth and, in 2013, found that children under 8 (a younger sample than the kids in the UCLA study) were spending roughly two hours a day in front of a screen.

“If used appropriately, it’s wonderful,” Hogan says of digital media. “We don’t want to demonize media, because it’s going to be a part of everybody’s lives increasingly, and we have to teach children how to make good choices around it, how to limit it and how to make sure it’s not going to take the place of all the other good stuff out there.”

Some research suggests that screen time can have lots of negative effects on kids, ranging from childhood obesity and irregular sleep patterns to social and/or behavioral issues.

“We really need to be sure that children, and probably older people, are getting enough face-to-face interaction to be competent social beings,” Greenfield says. “Our species evolved in an environment where there was only face-to face-interaction. Since we were adapted to that environment, it’s likely that our skills depend on that environment. If we reduce face-to-face interaction drastically, it’s not surprising that the social skills would also get reduced.”

What About ‘Educational Screen Time’?

Research out of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, a nonprofit research and production institute affiliated with the Sesame Workshop, suggests that less than half the time kids between the ages of 2 and 10 spend in front of screens is spent consuming “educational” material.

The center also looked at family income as a determining factor of screen time. Lower-income families reported that their children spent more time engaging with educational screen activities than higher-income families did. Fifty-seven percent of screen time for families earning less than $25,000 was education-focused, compared with 38 percent for families earning between $50,000 to $99,000.

How To Limit Kids’ Screen Time?

Of course, as media multiplies, it’s increasingly difficult to manage kids’ screen time. Where several decades ago, television was the only tech distraction, kids now have smartphones, tablets and laptops — not to mention electronic games.

“We need to make media a part of our lives, but in a planned, sensible way,” Hogan says.

Her suggestion: Families should encourage a “healthy media diet” for their children. Parents and kids should work together to decide how much time to spend with media every day, and to make sure good choices are being made about what media to take in.

Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/08/28/343735856/kids-and-screen-time-what-does-the-research-say

Building Resilience in your Young Client – New 3 Hour Online CE Course

By Adina Soclof, MS, CCC-SLP

Building Resilience in your Young ClientModern childhood is full of challenges. Health professionals are treating an increasing number of children who have difficulty coping with 21st century everyday life. Issues that are hard to deal with include excessive pressure in school to succeed, bullying, divorce, or even abuse at home. Children face additional stressors when adapting to new schools or classrooms, navigating sibling and peer relationships, and schoolwork. While many children thrive in the face of adversity and meet their challenges with resilience, others experience setbacks and disappointment when confronting difficulties.

Regarding the latter, it has long been observed that there are certain children who experience better outcomes than others who are subjected to similar adversities. A significant amount of literature has been devoted to the question of why this disparity exists. Guided by the research evidence concerning what constitutes resilience in children and which strategies have been demonstrated to build resilience, Building Resilience in your Young Client will set forth groups of behavioral interventions that can be taught by health professionals to parents and teachers who deal with at-risk children in homes and classrooms.

Building Resilience in your Young Client is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that offers a wide variety of resilience interventions that can be used in therapy, school, and home settings. This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. You can print the test (download test from My Courses tab of your account after purchasing) and mark your answers on while reading the course document. Then submit online when ready to receive credit.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

 

Music Therapy & Autism Spectrum Disorder

Early Childhood Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum DisordersEarly Childhood Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders is a new 6-hour book-based (test only) course that includes the work of many researchers and practitioners from music therapy and related disciplines brought together to provide a comprehensive overview of music therapy practice with young children who present with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The authors present a wealth of practical applications and strategies for implementation of music therapy within multi-disciplinary teams, school environments and in family-centered practice. Course #60-97 | 2012 | 304 pages | 42 posttest questions | Learn More

This test-only course provides instant access to the CE test that enables you to earn CE credit for reading a published course book (NOT included in your course enrollment) or share course books with colleagues. You get instant access to the CE test and a direct link to purchase the book from Amazon if you choose. In some cases you have a choice between a print book and an e-book.

Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. You can print the test (download test from My Courses tab of your account after purchasing) and mark your answers on while reading the course book. Then submit online when ready to receive credit.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Illinois DPR for Social Work (#159-00531); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

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Child’s Behavior Problems May Be Linked to Expecting Father’s Mental Health

A child’s behavior problems at the age of three may be tied to his or her father’s mental illness during the mother’s pregnancy, Medical Daily reported.

Many previous studies have shown an association between the mother’s mental health during pregnancy and her child’s health later in life; now new research from Norway showed that a father’s psychological state may have a significant impact on the child as well.

The study analyzed data from more than 31,000 children from Norway, along with information about their father’s mental health. At around 17 or 18 weeks of pregnancy, 3 percent of the children’s fathers reported mental health problems. The children whose fathers reported the most psychological distress were more likely to have behavioral and emotional problems as toddlers.

“For parents and physicians, the message should be clear. We need to be aware of depression (in) both parents from the time a pregnancy is realized. This study suggests that physicians should screen for depression early and often, and make the appropriate referral as soon as it’s detected,” James Paulson, an associated professor of psychology at Old Dominion University in Norfolk who wasn’t involved in the study, told USA Today.

Is Marijuana an Appropriate Treatment for ADD/ADHD?

Is Marijuana an Appropriate Treatment for ADD/ADHD?Recently, an article appeared in the New York Times reporting on the use of marijuana for treating children with ADD/ADHD. The Times article is just one of several that have been popping up since medical marijuana initiatives have been passed in a handful of states.

Initially, the use of marijuana to treat pain and suffering related to the side effects of chemotherapy and to increase appetite in HIV patients were used as the rationale for the medical marijuana initiatives. Now, however, a patient can get a prescription for almost any type of complaint. Anxiety, depression and other behavioral disorders are at the top of the complaint list, so it is not surprising that more disorders are being added to the list.

The Pharmacology of Marijuana

Briefly, marijuana is of the plant genus Cannabis. There are at least 66 active compounds found in marijuana but the most psychoactive compound is delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The human brain contains several groups of cannabinoid receptors where they are concentrated and distributed in different areas. These receptors are activated by the neurotransmitter anandamide, which THC mimics.

The main neuropsychological effects of THC and, perhaps the other 65 identified compounds, are on short-term memory, coordination, learning and problem solving. Physical endurance and performance functions also are affected by cannabinoids. THC is recognized as a very powerful psychoactive compound.

Drugs and Paradoxical Reaction

The foundational premise related to the medication treatment of attention deficit symptoms is rooted in the concept of paradoxical reaction. That is, these patients seem to react contrary to the mechanism of action for the class of drugs. Psychostimulants, for example, activate, produce heightened alertness, increased energy, appetite suppression and sometimes euphoria.

The main symptoms of ADD/ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Psychostimulants, as a class of drug, should enhance many of the negative behaviors that are seen in ADD/ADHD, but behaviorally they do not. This is an example of paradoxical reaction.

Marijuana, generally, decreases alertness, memory, hyperactivity and impulsivity. It increases appetite and is a euphoric. The paradoxical reactions to marijuana may include heightened awareness and performance, paranoia, depression, anxiety, increased activity and impulsivity. Advocates of marijuana, such as psychiatrist Dr. Leonard Grinspoon, say that they would have no hesitation in giving youngsters with ADHD a trial of oral marijuana.

Moreover, they assert, “for some kids, it appears to be more effective than traditional treatments.” They also contend that marijuana has fewer potential dangers and side effects than the psychostimulants.

However, if psychostimulants do hold an edge over marijuana, it is that these drugs are standardized as to their composition, potency, dose and experience? Presently, there is no standardized marijuana compound, unless one wants to include Marinol, a drug synthesized from cannabis which is not under consideration as a treatment option.

Potency of marijuana varies significantly from plant to plant, region of origin and potency, among other variables. Moreover, there is no real control over the concentration of the other compounds found in marijuana, which clearly affect the mechanism of action of THC. Lastly, there is no control over potential adulteration through additives.

A Paradoxical Reaction to a Paradoxical Reaction

Without trying to use a play on words, it is easy to see that whatever the drug of choice, paradoxical reaction brings into question the entire treatment of ADD/ADHD with all medications. Adding marijuana into the mix, in my opinion, is questionable, at best.

There may be many good medical uses for marijuana but we need solid research and data to find out what they might be to justify its use in children and adults. There is sufficient data that casts significant doubt on the diagnoses of ADD/ADHD. There is a significant body of data that supports behavioral interventions as a first line treatment of these symptoms.

The common psyhopharmacological treatment for attention deficit disorders is psychostimulants, but there is a growing body of data on the potential danger of psychostimulants. Ritalin, Concerta and Strattera typically are the drugs of choice prescribed by physicians and psychiatrists.

Adding marijuana to the current list of medication options is very premature. Before even considering marijuana, it seems to me that the current use of psychostimulants also should be scrutinized as a treatment option. Many of the patients that I have treated after being referred for ADD/ADHD had long standing but undiscovered sleep disorders. Not surprisingly, psychostimulants do produce gains in performance with these patients. For too long many have accepted that ADD/ADHD are established conditions that need medical as opposed to behavioral treatment.

To date, not a solitary cause has yet been identified for ADHD. ADHD will likely prove to be an umbrella term for a number of behavioral and/or neurologically based disorders.

Furthermore, there hasn’t been any identified cause specific to ADD leaving open the likelihood that ADD may be a catch-all condition. The National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that there is no known biological basis for ADHD.

The more we review the literature on hyperactivity or ADD, the less certain we are as to what it is or whether it really exists as a standalone disorder. So, at issue, is not only the question of marijuana as a potential treatment for attention deficit problems, but should the use of psychostimulants in children also be re-evaluated?

Given the myriad, unknown pharmacological variables involved in the mechanism of action of marijuana, I believe that marijuana, at this time, is not and should not be taken as a serious treatment option for attention deficit symptoms.

By John Caccavale, PhD, ABMP

TNP Jan/Feb 2010

Excerpt from Psychotherapy Practice Tips, Part 1

Related Online CEU Course:

Medical Marijuana is a 3-hour online CEU course that presents a summary of the current literature on the various medical, legal, educational, occupational, and ethical aspects of marijuana.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 

Big Jump in Vaccine Delays

By Linda Carroll

Big jump seen in Oregon parents delaying vaccinesAn increasing number of parents may be choosing to delay or limit certain vaccinations for their young children, a new study shows, even as cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, continue to rise nationwide, with recent outbreaks in California and Washington.

The study, which examined medical records for 97,711 Portland children, found an almost four-fold increase between 2006 and 2009 in the percentage of parents who delayed or skipped vaccinations, researchers reported in the journal Pediatrics. Experts say that by delaying certain vaccinations, parents may be putting their children — and those of others — at a far greater risk of contracting deadly diseases, such as pneumonia and pertussis.

The new study examined the vaccination histories of children born in the Portland area between 2003 and 2009. Between 2006 and 2009, the number of parents who rejected government recommendations and made up their own vaccine schedules rose from 2.5 percent to 9.5 percent.

While the researchers could not say how typical the Portland results are compared to other areas around the country — Portland schools reportedly have some of the highest vaccine exemption rates in the U.S. — a 2011 study published in Pediatrics found that 13 percent of parents nationwide were using alternative schedules. Another study published in Public Health Report in 2010 found that almost 22 percent of parents were deviating in some way from the CDC’s recommendations for infant vaccinations — either by delaying shots, leaving out certain vaccines, or skipping vaccinations altogether.

The vaccine delays may not completely explain recent whooping cough outbreaks in states such as California and Washington, but “they certainly don’t help,” said Dr. Jaime Deville, a UCLA professor of infectious diseases in the pediatrics department.

The main reason parents give for delaying shots is fear their children will be harmed by receiving multiple vaccines at the same time, according to the study’s lead author, Steve Robison, an epidemiologist at the Oregon Health Authority. The vaccines most likely to be delayed by 9 months were for hepatitis B and pneumococcal disease (pneumonia).

For example, at both the two- and six-month visits the CDC recommends kids get a total of six vaccines. Even with some of them combined that adds up to a lot of shots. By age 4, children receive up to 28 vaccinations, based on the CDC immunization schedule.

Some parents believe they’ll get the same benefit if they spread the vaccinations out over more doctors’ visits rather than getting them all at once.

“There are rumors out there that your body can’t handle that many vaccines, that your body won’t be able to respond appropriately if you get several all at one time,” Robison said.

Experts say vaccines pose no harm to babies; even though multiple shots can be painful for a few moments, they say the consequences of delaying vaccinations can be much worse.

There are reasons for concern over the delayed vaccines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 2,325 cases of pertussis in Washington state through June 9, 2012, compared to 171 during the same time period in 2011. A 2010 outbreak in California led to 9,143 cases — including 10 infant deaths — the most cases in that state since 1947.

“We’d like parents to know that the recommended number of doses of a vaccine is what is needed to build adequate protection levels both for their child and for the community,” Robison said. “One dose of a vaccine, such as for pertussis, doesn’t build enough protection.”

By 9 months, infants on an alternative vaccine schedule had fewer injections than those with parents following the government recommended schedule — an average of 6.4 versus 10.4 shots — and more doctors’ visits for vaccinations.

What’s more, few had caught up with the recommended number of vaccinations by the end of the study.

One big problem with the modified schedule is that parents are bringing children who haven’t been appropriately vaccinated into the doctor’s office more often — thus putting other kids at greater risk, said pediatrician Dr. Andrew Nowalk, an assistant professor at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Deville is especially concerned about parents who are choosing to delay the pneumococcal vaccine until age 2. Infants are most vulnerable to pneumonia during the first year of life. “Parents who delay the vaccine until age 2 are leaving their children vulnerable during the period where it occurs at its highest frequency,” Deville said.

An added advantage of the pneumococcal vaccine is that it lowers the amount of bacteria living in kids’ noses and throats, Nowalk said. “So the children who aren’t getting vaccinated are more likely to be carrying the bacteria without being infected and spreading it to others,” he added. “When you don’t vaccinate your child you’re not only putting your child at risk but also those of others.”

Further, Nowalk said, there are lots of kids out there with immune deficiencies — those with leukemia, or depressed immune systems because of organ transplants, for example — who can’t get vaccines. So they have to rely on everyone else getting vaccinated.

“When enough of the population is immunized, transmission is essentially stopped,” Deville explained. “The bottom line is that immunizations are extremely safe. They have the most value of any of our interventions when it comes to prolonging life and preventing diseases – not only for our own children but also for the community.”

Source: http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/18/12243047-big-jump-seen-in-oregon-parents-delaying-vaccines?lite

 

Embarrassing Punishments Hurt Kids

By Rachael Rettner

Embarrassing Punishments Hurt Kids, Experts SayParents and teachers who try to make their kids behave by subjecting them to humiliating punishments are taking the wrong approach to discipline, experts say.

Just this month, a Florida teacher was suspended for making tardy students wear a wide-brimmed dog collar dubbed the “cone of shame.” And parents in Minnesota who were disappointed with their daughter’s grades were arrested after they shaved the 12-year old girl’s head and forced her to wear a diaper and run around outside.

While these cases are certainly extreme, experts say that any punishment that shames or embarrasses a child is not an effective way to discipline youngsters, and may cause long-term psychological damage.

“The research is pretty clear that it’s never appropriate to shame a child, or to make a child feel degraded or diminished,” said Andy Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan. Such punishments can lead to “all kinds of problems in the future,” Grogan-Kaylor said, including increased anxiety, depression and aggression.

Malicious punishments can also damage a parent’s relationship with their child, and lead to a cycle of bad behavior, experts say.

Instead, parents should use other discipline strategies, such as setting clear rules for kids and taking away privileges. Overall, parents should aim to create a supporting environment for their child.

“Positive things have a much more powerful effect on shaping behavior than any punishment,” Grogan-Kaylor said.

Damaging punishments

Out-of-the norm punishments can have social repercussions for children, said Jennifer Lansford, a research professor at Duke Univesity’s Center for Child and Family Policy. An odd punishment can make a child stand out, and provoke bullying, Lansford said.

In addition, children evaluate their own experiences in the context of what they see their peers experiencing, Lansford said. If children are disciplined in ways that are not condoned by society, “it can lead children to perceive they are personally rejected by their parents,” Lansford said.

Humiliating punishments can also disconnect parents from their children, making kids less likely to want to behave and do what their parents say, said Katharine Kersey, a professor of early childhood education at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and author of the upcoming book “101 Principles for Positive Guidance with Young Children” (Allyn & Bacon, August 2012).

“Each time we [embarrass children with a punishment] we pay a price, and we drive them away from us, and we lose our ability to be a role model for them,” Kersey said.

“When you disconnect from a child, he no longer wants to please you, he no longer wants to be like you. You’ve lost your power of influence over him,” Kersey said.

Children who are punished in these ways usually still commit the behavior, but do it behind their parents’ backs, Kersey said.

Better ways to discipline

To properly discipline a child, experts recommend the following:

  • Focus on the positive — the behaviors you want to see more of — rather than the mistakes, Kersey said. “If a child is running, instead of saying stop running, you say use your walking feet,” Kersey said.
  • Be proactive: establish rules you want your kids to follow, and be reasonable in your expectations, Lansford said.
  • Listen to your kids: Often times, bad behavior is a mistake, Grogan-Kaylor said. Parents should listen to why their children did something, and explain why the behavior is inappropriate.
  • Timeouts are appropriate for younger kids. For older kids, taking away privileges such as watching TV may be effective, Lansford said. In a classroom setting, teachers may consider rewarding kids for good behavior, Lansford said.
  • Parent should model the responsible behaviors they want children to repeat, Kersey said.

Pass it on: Humiliating punishments don’t work to discipline children, and may have long-term consequences.

Source: http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/2584-embarrassing-punishments-children-discipline.html?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=MHND_05152012

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Preventing Eating Disorders

Moms Learning to Prevent Eating Disorders in our ChildrenA big job that parents have to deal with, learn about, and work to prevent is eating disorders. In the United States as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are affected with an eating disorder. About 40% of eating disorder sufferers are between the ages of fifteen to twenty-one years old. Every decade since 1930, there has been a rise in anorexia. From 1988 to 1993 bulimia has tripled in women ages ten to thirty-nine. The mortality rate among women, who suffer from anorexia nervosa between the ages of fifteen to twenty four, is twelve times higher than the death rate of any other cause.

These are some scary statistics and everyday they are affecting young women and men. This article is to help educate about what eating disorders are, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder, and most of all how prevent eating disorders. Children are very influential, they pick up on everything. They see and hear everything we do and say. Next time you are looking in the mirror saying “I’m so fat” remind yourself that those little eyes and ears are watching you and learning from you.

What is an eating disorder? According to the National Eating Disorder Association, “An eating disorder is a serious, but treatable illness with medical and psychiatric aspects. People with an eating disorder often become obsessed with food, body image, and weight. The disorders can become very serious, chronic, and sometimes even life threatening if not recognized and treated appropriately. Treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach with an experienced care team.”

Who is at risk for getting an eating disorder? In today’s society almost anyone is at risk now for developing an eating disorder. The previous stereotype that eating disorders only affect Caucasian, teenage girls who are perfectionist, people pleasers and from an upper class socioeconomic group, no longer holds true. Eating disorders are affecting children as young as 7 or 8 years old men and women well into their 30’s and 40’s. We are seeing a rise in eating disorders among men and young boys and eating disorders are affecting people in every socioeconomic and ethnic group.

What are the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder? Here are a few red flags that you child may be at risk for developing an eating disorder.

  • Is your child avoiding certain food groups because they are “fattening”? If your child suddenly proclaims he or she is now a vegetarian this could be a red flag for an eating disorder. For many eating disorder sufferers, especially young children and teenagers, proclaiming vegetarianism suddenly makes it okay and acceptable by family and peers to avoid whole food groups such as meat, eggs, fish, and dairy.
  • When in a social situation and around food does your child act differently? Either by shrinking away and refusing to eat anything or by losing sense of control and overeating?
  • Do you hear your young one constantly talking about weight loss, body size, and food? Always seeking reassurance from others about looks and referring to self as fat, gross, or ugly? Overestimating body size? Striving to create a “perfect” image? These are not healthy behaviors for anyone, especially young children and teens.
  • Have you seen a sudden change in weight? Either dramatic weight loss or big fluctuations in weight over a short period of time?

If you notice some of these signs and symptoms with a loved one, seek out support now. Getting the right help and support can prevent serious issues from developing later on.

Can I really work at preventing eating disorders? Yes. Listed below are a few tips of simple things that can help build the confidence of your child and prevent eating disorders.

  1. Change dinner table talk. For many young people, struggling with an eating disorders can stem from parents own obsession with dieting, weight loss, calorie control, exercise, and looks. Instead of talking about the latest diet or weight loss plan that you may be following, use your time together to discuss other topics. Ask your child questions about school and social events, take up a hobby together that does not focus on looks.
  2. Seek professional support. If your child wants to lose weight or adapt a specific lifestyle such as being a vegetarian make sure he or she is doing it for the right reasons. Schedule an appointment with a professional such as a registered dietitian who can help educate and ensure adequate nutrient intake.
  3. Avoid being the food police. If you know your child is trying to lose weight, avoid commenting on everything he or she puts on the plate or into their mouth. Constantly watching and monitoring food intake only sets the tone for resentment, overeating or under eating, shame, and guilt; all which can lead to a serious eating disorder.
  4. Encourage activities that promote a positive body image. Involve your child in activities that make him or her feel good. If your child is in an environment where he or she is constantly being ridiculed or made fun of by a coach or team mates, change the environment. Find positive outlets for your child to thrive in.
  5. Limit exposure to trendy TV shows and magazines. These media sources are constantly bombarding young minds with how they are supposed to look. Remind your child that these “famous” people have been airbrushed and touched up with every computer program available to give the “perfect” look.

Remember, from a very early age children pick up from what is going on with parents. If you are constantly on a diet, always talking about either your own body size or other people’s body size, your child is hearing you. The first step you can take in preventing an eating disorder is to treat yourself and others with love and respect and not always focus on the “image.” If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, seek out professional support. Using a multi-facet approach by working with a doctor, therapist and registered dietitian can help treat and overcome this scary disease.

Source: http://www.icontact-archive.com/bwCoPlskbQHQPQGrCc4zevml1k1C_k2G?w=2

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Kids Exposed to Bullying, Violence May Age Faster

By

The emotional and physical scars from being bullied or exposed to other types of violence as a child may go deeper than imagined.

New research shows that the genetic material, or DNA, of children who experienced violence shows the type of wear and tear that is normally associated with advancing age.

“Children who experience extreme violence at a young age have a biological age that is much older than other children,” says researcher Idan Shalev. He is a post-doctoral researcher in psychology and neuroscience at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy in Durham, N.C.

Youth violence is widespread in the U.S. today. The CDC states that it’s the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 24, and that nationwide, about 20% of students in grades 9-12 were bullied in 2009.

Bullied Kids Age Faster Than Others

To see whether youth violence affects vulnerability to aging, the study authors focused on telomeres, or tiny strips of genetic material that look like tails on the ends of our chromosomes; think of a cap on an end of a shoelace. Telomere shortening is an indicator of cell aging.

The researchers analyzed DNA samples from twins at ages 5 and 10 and compared telomere length to three kinds of violence: domestic violence between the mother and her partner, being bullied frequently, and physical maltreatment by an adult. Moms were also interviewed when kids were 5, 7, and 10 to create a cumulative record of exposure to violence.

Children who were exposed to cumulative violence showed accelerated telomere shortening from age 5 to age 10. What’s more, children who were exposed to multiple forms of violence had the fastest telomere shortening rate, the study shows.

“Children who experience violence appear to be aging at a faster rate,” Shalev says.

Whether or not these changes are reversible is not clear. Shalev and colleagues plan to study the children for longer periods of time to see what happens later on in life. Their findings appear in Molecular Psychiatry.

Bullying Scars Run Deep

Bullying and other violence experienced during childhood may cause a physical erosion of DNA, says Paul Thompson, PhD. He is a professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“We now have a physical record that violence during childhood could be damaging later in life,” he says. This is a “big surprise.”

Victor Fornari, MD, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., says the new findings make perfect sense. “This article really points to a potential biological [indicator] that helps explain some of the differences in the brains of children who have experienced significant trauma and stress,” he says.

Read more: http://children.webmd.com/news/20120423/kids-exposed-bullying-violence-may-age-faster

Helping Children Thrive with LD/ADHD

By Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD

Helping Children Thrive with LD/ADHDAccording to the U.S. Department of Education, almost 1 million children have some form of learning disability for which they receive special education. Parents report that over 5.4 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD, a figure that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims are continuing to increase annually. Millions more have varying diagnoses that affect learning and life success, including autism spectrum disorders.

For those of us who have parented children with learning disabilities, ADHD, and associated mental health issues, these figures not only represent challenges for our educational and health systems, they are deeply personal matters that affect the core of our families and our children’s happiness.

Beyond the logistics of educational assessments, tutoring, and daily homework challenges lies the responsibility of all adults—parents, teachers, and counselors—to foster a positive mindset that helps kids overcome the many obstacles they face.

Like millions of other students, my daughter’s story is unique. Among her many hurdles was learning to compensate for a reading speed in the lowest one percentile, a challenge that continues today as a 29-year-old.

But with acceptance and encouragement, children and young adults are surprisingly resilient and learn to embrace their differences. Recently, my daughter wrote about five ideas that fueled her success from middle school through law school as a student with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. She presented these ideas as part of an article, To Parents & Educators: From an Attorney with LD/ADHD and gave me permission to reprint them here.

Needless to say, I am very proud of how my daughter developed a path to accomplish goals she set for herself. But more importantly, what she outlines below as critical steps in her journey to understand and embrace her differences supports much of the research on positive youth development. All children must learn to overcome obstacles in order to believe in themselves!

In her own words, here are the five steps that were critical to my daughter’s success, ideas she now tries to instill in other young people.

Understand your Disabilities

Every student has strengths and weaknesses. But kids with diagnosed disabilities need to understand their academic and emotional assets and liabilities really well. By middle school, educational testing can help students look inside themselves and understand how their disabilities impact their studies and social lives. Knowing what they need from teachers, tutors, counselors, peers, and parents is a foundation for future growth.

Ask for Help

It’s okay to be different; embrace it. I can’t emphasize this enough. I have friends who were told to hide their disabilities from teachers. As a result, they felt unhappy and defeated. It wasn’t until they got tested, shared their disabilities, and requested accommodations that they were able to finally get into a college and get the degree they wanted. The earlier students learn to work with their disability and understand it as part of their identities the better. Embracing our disabilities give us the confidence to talk with teachers, administrators, and trusted friends about what we like, what we are good at, and what we need help with. We often can’t, and don’t have to do it alone.

Never Use your Disability as an Excuse

It can be easy to say to a teacher, “I need an extension on this paper because I am slow at writing.” While this may be okay early on in school, it doesn’t work in college or the real world. So why get used to it? Rather than using a disability as an excuse, students must find ways to compensate. Figure out how to work efficiently and effectively, rather than longer and harder. Most kids with learning disabilities need help developing efficient work habits. Ask for help!

Use Compensatory Strategies

Working longer hours is necessary at times. But it can also lead to burnout. There are lots of compensatory strategies for learning, and many books on the topic. You’ve likely heard of many, including, making lists, getting organized, using memory tricks, etc. The key is finding the strategies that work and altering others to make them your own.

For example, I’m a very slow reader and got frustrated when I couldn’t finish reading assignments. But I’m a good listener and I understand high-level concepts. My strategy was to listen in class, research the topic, and then boil down the minimum reading necessary. Finding strategies that worked for me helped me set limits on my school work, gave me time to socialize, and helped me have time for myself.

Taking time away from stressful school work is essential for students with learning disabilities and contributes to better mental health. It also allows students to focus on bigger dreams, careers that might take 4-8 years of secondary education!

Know you can Achieve your Goals

Setting goals is important for all of us. And most importantly, we have to develop the determination to achieve them! I encourage students with LD/ADHD to find adults who give them positive messages of encouragement, who listen to them when they express self-doubt. With the right support and strategies, we can do anything we set our minds to!

Having learning disabilities and/or ADHD is not easy. And it doesn’t end when we finish school. With every change, come new challenges and strategy adjustments. I always remember what the famous educator, Booker T. Washington said more than 100 years ago, “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles overcome while trying to succeed.” Challenges are what make life exciting—they are what define who we are and who we become. Embrace the challenges!

Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment-youth/201204/helping-children-thrive-ldadhd

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