Bullying can take many different forms but is defined as the aggressive behavior of one or more people against another for any number of reasons. It results from a real or imagined power differential. Sometimes it is an older kid picking on a younger child or a popular set of teens bullying the outcast.

Regardless of how it happens or to whom, both the person being bullied and the bully may suffer from permanent and serious damage. Bullying is an offense that is often repeated frequently over time.

Types of Bullying

There are some common ways a person can be bullied. Bullying can include threats, physical attacks, spreading of rumors or excluding and making fun of a particular person.

-Verbal Bullying

Verbal abuse as a bullying tactic can include teasing, taunting, name-calling, threats and even unwanted sexual comments.

-Social Bullying

Also called relationship bullying, this type is designed to destroy a person’s reputation or relationships. It can be as simple as excluding someone from a social event, influencing others to avoid someone, spreading rumors about that person or embarrassing them in front of others.

-Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying takes place online and consists of threatening or mean emails, text messages or posts on social media. Cyberbullying is very common in our modern society.

-Physical Bullying

Possibly the most damaging type of bullying is physical bullying which may include hitting, kicking, punching, tripping, pushing, spitting, or taking and breaking other people’s belongings.

How Do I know if My Child is Being Bullied?

As a parent or adult in charge of children, the first thing to be aware of are the warning signs of bullying. Below are some things to look for in your children and if you notice any of these signs, take swift action to correct the problem.

  • Showing signs of feeling helpless or lack of self-esteem.
  • Unexplained injuries.
  • Lost or destroyed property and belongings.
  • Faking illness or frequent stomach or headaches.
  • Changes in eating habits, skipping meals or extra meals when their lunch money or lunch is stolen.
  • Nightmares or difficulty sleeping.
  • Self-destructive behavior; suicide thoughts or comments, running away from home or other harmful activities.
  • Avoidance of social situations or loss of friends.
  • Drop in grade scores or reluctance to attend school.

Bullying is a serious issue with severe consequences especially for the person who is bullied. If you think your child is the victim of bullying do not wait, take action to stop it immediately.

Steps Parents Can Take to Prevent Bullying

The first and probably most effective way to prevent bullying is to teach your children how to handle bullying if it happens to them. You may even want to practice at home different scenarios to help them become confident in their abilities to handle the situation. By empowering your kids, you give them a voice they may otherwise not use after the fact.

Another critical factor is setting technology boundaries. Talk to your kids about cyberbullying, what it is and how not to respond and how to disconnect with those “friends” who are being aggressive and mean. Make it a practice to share Facebook or social channel accounts so that you can see who your child is connected to and the type of content they are experiencing.

Monitor text messages on your kid’s phones and keep computers in a family room.

Be sure you or your partner does not use bullying behavior at home. Children learn what they see and hear. Be sure to educate your children on the legal ramifications of bullying and the serious damage it can cause. This alone may help to prevent your kids becoming a bully.

Steps to Take if Your Child Has Been Bullied

Most bullying takes place in school or on school property, so the first thing to do is report it to the school administration. You will want to meet in person with your child’s teacher, the principal or superintendent as well. Make notes of the specifics of the incidents. If the abuse is severe and taking the steps above does not resolve it, you will want to contact the U.S. Department of Education for assistance.

Talk with your child about the situation and assure them it is not their fault. Tell them they were right to come to you and report it. Be sure to glean all the specific details about who is doing the bullying, what type of bullying is going on, when and how.

What Rights do Children Have in the U.S. Against Bullying?

The laws specific to bullying are set at the town and state level. There is no federal law regarding bullying, but the U.S. Department of Education addresses bullying issues and can help resolve them or intervene in particularly serious cases.

Parents will do just about anything to ensure the health of their children, whether that means taking them to the doctor, fighting with or bribing them to take their medicine or even donating an organ in extreme cases.

In spite of all the blood, sweat and tears that parents put into raising their children, there’s one variable that they can’t control that might be putting their child’s health at risk — climate change. How is climate change affecting the health of our children?

Increased Vulnerability

Children are more susceptible to the effects of climate change because of their age and small size. When you compare children to adults, a child will breathe more air and drink more water based on size than an adult will, which puts them at higher risk for the damage that can be caused by water and air pollutants.

Their young age and physical immaturity also put them at risk for permanent damage caused by exposure to toxins or other materials in their environment. The dramatic changes in the climate are also making these risks even more dangerous for children around the globe.

Related story: Enviromedics: How Climate Change is Killing Us Now

Risks Related to Climate Change

What are the primary health risks related to climate change?

  • Extreme weather: The changing climate is causing already-dangerous weather systems to become even more deadly — the storms of the 2017 Hurricane Season (Harvey, Irma, Maria) are a testament to this problem.
  • Extreme heat: It’s harder for children to regulate body temperature than it is for adults. A heat wave in India in 2015 killed 2,300 people, and temperatures are continuing to climb every year.
  • Vector-borne diseases: As temperatures climb, pests like rats and mosquitoes thrive and are able to spread disease. Climbing temperatures also mean that previously extinct strains of viruses and bacteria are reemerging as permafrost melts, as recently happened in Siberia with a 75-year-old strain of Anthrax.
  • Poor air and water quality: Children are more susceptible to environmental contaminants than adults are. Poor air and water quality caused by climate change will have a more dramatic impact on child health than on adult health.
  • Food insecurity: Climate change doesn’t just directly impact health — it can have other, more indirect effects as well. It makes it harder to grow food or raise livestock, which can contribute to food insecurity. The changing climate might also reduce the nutrients in the food that you’re eating, which can jeopardize child health.

This list offers just a very broad explanation of the different risks that climate change can cause. Each of these can be broken down further into more specific risks — many of which might only apply to certain regions.

What Can We Do?

What can we do, as parents and as adults, to help reduce the impact that climate change is having on children’s health? We can take a few steps:

  • Educate: The current presidential administration doesn’t even want to admit that climate change exists, let alone that it’s jeopardizing our children’s health. As an individual, learn as much as you can about this risk and educate your family, friends and community.
  • Reduce the carbon footprint: Make small changes in your own life to reduce your carbon footprint. One person driving an electric car, composting or recycling might not seem like much, but if one person becomes two and two become 10, the change can reach a lot further than you might think. One study has shown that climate change can be directly responsible for everything from sunburn and skin cancer to heat stroke, gastrointestinal diseases and drowning.
  • Become an advocate: Federal scientists are being discouraged from using the words climate change , so it’s up to us to become advocates for environmental health and sustainability in our own communities, cities, and states. It’s also up to us to understand that children are at higher risk than adults when it comes to climate change-related health problems.
  • Be aware of changes in your local environment: Sunny days might seem like a great time to get out and play, but high temperatures can also put both children and adults at risk. Take plenty of steps to ensure that you and your children stay hydrated and cool off frequently. Higher temperatures also mean more people will be spending time at the pool or beach. Take the time to teach your kids about water safety to ensure they can enjoy their water sports safely.
  • Pay attention to air quality in your area: Airnow.gov, run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a great resource — you can simply put in your zip code, and it will tell you the current air quality in your area. Avoid outdoor activities, especially those with children involved, on days with poor air quality.
  • Avoid pests: For concerns about vector-borne diseases, it’s important to utilize bug spray to keep mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects off of your children while you’re outdoors. Mosquitoes can be kept to a minimum if you make sure that you don’t leave any standing water in your yard. If you use water decoratively, such as a birdbath or fountain, either make sure the water is constantly flowing or change it out regularly to prevent mosquito eggs from hatching.

Climate change is here

Climate change is here, and it’s not going away anytime soon. These environmental changes can negatively impact our children’s health, so it’s important that we start making some changes to reduce our impact on the environment and help slow climate change.

Related story: Climate Change and Human Health – It’s a Killer                        

The first thing you need to do is to be aware of the risks. From there, you can decide how best to act based on that information. One thing is clear though—our children need our protection, and it’s up to us to do the best we can by them and to create for them a world that’s worth saving. All children deserve a healthy environment to grow up in, and we can give them that by working together.

Few things can be as complicated as caring for your mom or dad through their golden years. Managing your parent’s healthcare, finances and safety can bring on a flux of emotions in both of you. You may feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and ambivalent in your new role, while your parent may feel scared, vulnerable, and confused.

One common challenge adult children face when caregiving is their parent’s refusal to accept help. This can lead to a lot of stress on both sides.

If you’re dealing with an aging parent who is resistant, take heart in knowing that you’re not alone. In a 2015 study of 189 aging parent and adult child pairs, three out of every four of the adult children described their senior parent as “stubborn”. Understanding why seniors may reject offers for assistance and approaching your parent with care can help you have a more productive conversation.

 

Reasons for resistance

Aging parents may turn down help for a number of reasons. Your mom may see accepting aid as a sign of weakness and may say no to your offers because she’s always taken pride in being the family caregiver. Or she may feel embarrassed and not want to give up her privacy. Your dad may be in denial or angry about his declining health and believe he’s still fully capable of caring for himself.

Seniors may not know how to cope with the loss of their mobility or independence, so they may try to keep up old routines for as long as possible. Many parents simply don’t want to be a burden to their children, which causes them to refuse assistance even when they know they need it.

 

Tips for a successful conversation

If you want to help your parents, the first thing you need to figure out is if they truly need your support. Even though your parents may be slowing down with age, remember that they still have the right to be in charge of their own lives. You should only consider intervening when their health, safety or finances are at risk.

Here’s how to start the conversation with your aging parent about getting help:

  • Be compassionate. Tell your parents why you’re concerned in a loving way, sharing specific examples of when you were worried about them. Be careful not to make accusations or make them feel like they’re being attacked. Rather than saying “I can’t believe you keep forgetting to take your medications,” say “I’m worried that your blood sugar won’t be controlled if you accidentally miss medicine doses. I can buy you a pill organizer and set reminders so you stay on top of your medications.
  • Give specific suggestions. Instead of just asking to help, be specific in how you can assist your parents. Suggest practical ways to make their daily activities easier. For instance, recommend a grocery delivery service, offer to schedule doctor’s appointments or hire a home cleaning company.
  • Time it right. Try to talk to your parents when you’re both in good moods, and the atmosphere is relaxed. If your parents just received difficult news from the doctor, now may not be the ideal time to talk about changing their living situation, for example. Give them some space, and talk to them when the mood is lighter.
  • Tweak your approach. If your mom sees a home health aide as an invasion of privacy, remind her that this person can also be a companion. If your dad is hesitant to try an adult daycare facility, tell him that it’s a deserved luxury and describe the amenities to him. Frame accepting help in a positive way that will seem appealing to your parent.
  • Ask about their preferences. You may think you know what’s best for your mom or dad, but be willing to hear them out, too. For instance, if they’ve lived in their home for several decades, making the jump to an assisted living facility may be too big of a change for them no matter how practical it may seem. Instead, think about how you can compromise. Maybe you can make physical changes to their home that would allow them to age in place. Or perhaps you can hire a personal care aide to come to their house. Your parents may be less reluctant to accept help if you listen to their wishes and meet them halfway.
  • Talk about finances. Seniors can be resistant to seeking professional assistance because they’re worried about how much it will cost. If your parent has Medicaid, Medicare or another health plan, find out what services are covered and share that information with them. Your mom or dad may also be eligible for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, like home health aides, adult day cares, or hospice services. Knowing that care is covered or discounted may ease some of your parent’s fears.
  • Call for back up. If your parent is having trouble hearing you out, ask family members and close friends to help you talk to them. Maybe your mom trusts her best friend’s advice or your dad always takes your brother’s opinion to heart. Or perhaps your parent would be more willing to listen to a clergy member or neighbor.
  • Try, try again. If your parents decline your support, don’t despair. Just because they turned down your offer today doesn’t mean they will feel the same way tomorrow. You may just need to give them time to cool off and think about your proposition. You may have to approach them in a different way, or it may be better for someone else to talk to them. If, at first, you don’t succeed, keep trying.

Speaking with your parent in a loving, non-confrontational manner, being willing to listen and explaining the importance of support can be the ticket to getting your aging parent to understand where you’re coming from. However, even if you’ve handled the conversation with compassion, some parents may still be resistant. In this case, it may be time to seek professional help. Asking a healthcare provider or lawyer to step in may help your parent understand the gravity of the situation. Note that seniors who are dealing with memory loss and dementia may not be able to comprehend why they need aid, so it may be best to enlist professional help from the start.


Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes for loss or damage due to reliance on this material. Walgreens does not recommend or endorse any products, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned in the article. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk.

 

According to a recent report by NBC News, America’s youngest generation is facing a serious mental health crisis, including anger, depression, and anxiety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 5 American children ages 3 through 17, about 15 million, have a diagnosable mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder in a given year. Only 20 percent of these children are ever diagnosed and receive treatment; 80 percent, about 12 million, are not receiving treatment. Recent research indicates that serious depression is worsening in teens, which can lead to anger management problems, violence, and suicide.

As a teenager, who hopes to grow up and have kids of my own one day, these statistics frighten me. I am concerned for the kids that will grow up in this country now and in the future. Almost every day we turn on the news and hear another story of violence and mass murder. We need to help change the direction this planet of ours is headed in before it is too late. As Gandhi said,

“If you want to effectuate peace, then start by educating the children.”

 

Youth suicide and depression

According to the Merrian-Webster dictionary, depression is marked the following:

  • Sadness
  • Difficulty thinking or focusing
  • An increase or decrease in sleeping and eating
  • Feelings of being alone
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of energy, and
  • Sometimes suicidal or homicidal tendencies.

There are many types of medications, therapies, and techniques to manage depression. But these superficial solutions do not help erase the cause, especially in this day and age, because depression, anxiety, and anger are such huge problems with youngsters.

Suicide is a real threat to kids as early as middle school. That’s not okay. Something must be done to help our youth.

 

Teaching yogic principles

We can help kids learn to deal with their emotions, to feel better about themselves and to feel love and inner-peace. We must reach them when they are young and teach them the “off the mat” yogic principles of giving gratitude and thinking well so that it becomes an automatic response to stress.

“You cannot always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.”–Wayne Dyer

If we can infuse these kids with yogic-tools that become second nature to them, then hopefully they will handle whatever life throws their way without solving the issue by shooting up movie theaters, concerts, or schools, hurting others, or hurting themselves. I know this is not the only answer, but it is a part of the answer, and I do not ever want what happened in Parkland to ever happen again.

Kids should not be afraid to go to school, and parents should not be afraid to send their kids to school.

It is more important than ever to teach kids the skills they need to cope with emotions in a better way so they can stop the negative loop in their head and begin focusing on the positive. The effects of living a healthy lifestyle in mind, body, and spirit, including Yoga, meditation, nutrition, positive thinking, and the ability to manage emotions, has been studied by doctors and scientists. Their conclusion is that there is a mind-body connection, and our thoughts have the ability to make us well or make us unwell. Science has shown that Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can assist in the healing process and that our minds can control our bodies. [See references and links below] 

In order to help children grow up healthy and happy, we must reach them when they are young and teach them how to live a mindful life, how to better control their thoughts, and how to live in light.

 

Wuf Shanti

I created Wuf Shanti, Yoga Dog for Kids to help young people learn how to live a yogic lifestyle. Wuf Shafti videos can be found on local PBS stations, on the Children’s TV Network in children’s hospitals across the country, and on the Wuf Shanti YouTube Channel. There is also a Yoga Fun Machine mindful mobile app. All of these tools help kids learn to practice Yoga, positive thinking, and meditation so that those tools become an automatic response to stress as they grow-up.

Learning to deal with life’s issues in a more productive way will hopefully help kids to be less depressed and anxious teens and happier peace-loving adults. Our curriculum includes a focus on healing, communication, diversity, kindness, gratitude, inclusion, and positive thinking.

By teaching kids to make a Yoga practice a part of their daily routine, even if it is just for 5-10 minutes each day, they will lead a much healthier lifestyle, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Positive effects of a balanced yogic-lifestyle include decreases in depression and anxiety, increased focus, learning, and creativity, reduction of illness, and increased feelings of compassion and empathy.

With all of these proven benefits, why isn’t everyone teaching their kids to meditate, do Yoga, and eat, sleep, and think well


 

References:

Mace, C. (2008). Mindfulness and mental health: Therapy, theory, and science. New York: Routledge.

Schreiner, I., Malcolm, J.P. (2008). The benefits of mindfulness meditation: Changes in emotional states of depression, anxiety, and stress. Behaviour Change, 25(3), 156-168.

Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Adkins, A. D., Wahler, R. G., Sabaawi, M., et al. (2007). Individuals with mental illness can control their aggressive behavior through mindfulness training. Behavior modification, 31(3), 313-328.

Bortz, J. J., Summers, J. D., Pipe, T. B. (2007). Mindfulness meditation: evidence of decreased rumination as a mechanism of symptom reduction.Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 19(2), 217-218.

Links:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm

httpss://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140207-yoga-cancer-inflammation-stress/

httpss://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/11/20/science-is-showing-how-our-mind-plays-a-critical-role-in-healing-our-body/

Millennials were born during a period of rapid technological transformation. Most millennials have never known life without a cellular telephone or without having access to the internet. Articles abound about millennials in all fields of our society, and it’s not surprising when you consider the influence that millennials have based on their numbers:

  • The term “millennial” generally refers to those individuals who were born between 1982 and 2000 or who are currently in between the ages of 18 and 36.
  • According to the United States Census Bureau, there are now 83.1 million millennials in the United States representing one-fourth of the population
  • Millennials now outnumber the baby boomer generation (83.1 versus 75.4 million)
  • Millennials are also the most diverse group in our history with 44% of those of this generation identifying themselves as a person of color1

Some researchers and writers have identified Millennials as the first “always connected” generation. Our culture has adapted and changed due to these technological advances. One evidence of this adaptation is millennials always having access to information, an external brain, the internet. In addition, individuals of this generation also utilize text messages, instant message, and a variety of social media sites to not only stay connected to technology but also to each other.2

The mental health effects of being “always connected” have only recently started to be considered. Progress, in most any form, has long been a tried and true positive principle and concept in America. However, in the face of new evidence, we are seeing that allowing some types of progress to grow unabated can have unintended negative consequences for the generations that live through it.

 

Is “always connected” positive or negative?

Being “always connected” to technology, such as mobile telephones, social media, and more information on the internet than anyone could consume in a lifetime, can have both positives and negative implications for millennials. Findings from a survey conducted by Anderson and Rainie (Pew Research, 2012) highlight the opinions of stakeholders and critics in the technology field. These stakeholders were asked if they believed being “always connected” would be a positive or negative for millennials looking forward to the year 2020. The findings from the survey are compelling. Fifty-five percent of field experts surveyed believed, by the year 2020, that millennials being “hyperconnected” would yield positive results and agreed with the following statement:

In 2020, the brains of multitasking teens and young adults are “wired” differently from those over age 35, and, overall, it yields helpful results. They do not suffer notable cognitive shortcomings as they multitask and cycle quickly through personal- and work-related tasks. Rather, they are learning more, and they are more adept at finding answers to deep questions, in part because they can search effectively and access collective intelligence via the internet. In sum, the changes in learning behavior and cognition among the young generally produce positive outcomes.3

Thus, potential positive benefits include the ability to multitask and increased productivity. Also, because of being super connected the stakeholders believe millennials will be able to find the answers to “deep” questions. Thus, changes in their cognition due to being connected to technology are perceived to be positive in nature.

In contrast, 42% of stakeholders within the field surveyed believed the opposite of the above. Namely, that millennial’s brains would experience changes in their cognition that were negative in nature. This negative impact will result in millennials having cognitive shortcomings, struggle to retain information, and will spend most of their energy sending texts and using social media instead of being productive. Lacking needed social skills, they will shy away from important personal in-person interactions.3

 

Evidence of concern

I absolutely agree with the 42% of the experts who see the negative impact of technology on millennials due to their overuse and hyper-connectivity to the Internet including social media.

Evidence highlighting the negative impact of technology is seen in the inability of millennials to deal effectively with the stressors of life. A study conducted by Bland, Melton, Welle, and Bigham (2012) examined the lifestyle and coping skills of millennial college-aged students. College transition, as well as college life, is a good time to measure how people both experience stress and how they cope with that stress. This unique time in life can be particularly stressful due to the developmental transition from high school to college. The transition, itself, can be stressful, but this stress is often exacerbated by other stressors associated with college, such as academic pressures and social-life factors. In their survey of 246 college students, Bland, et. al. found that coping skills utilized by millennial college-aged students were ineffective in alleviating the stress they faced.4

If millennial college students cannot cope effectively with their stress, what do they do?

The difficulty millennial college students face in managing and coping with stress in productive ways often leads them to engage in unhealthy coping skills, including:

  • alcohol/drug use/abuse
  • other compulsive behaviors (e.g., gaming, self-harm, eating disorders, gambling, internet addiction, etc.)
  • the manifestation of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Related Content: Millennial Moms: Social Media Compulsion and ‘Oversharenting’

Millennials and mental health disorders

Dr. Glen Geyer and colleague (July 2017) recently reported on a study he conducted on millennial college-aged students who moved away from home and transitioned into college life. They were struck by the high prevalence rates of mental health diagnoses these students reported as part of the study. He wrote:

“In our sample of over 200 college students, 59% reported having been diagnosed at some point with some psychological disorder. Note: This is not 59% reported that they sometimes feel anxious or depressed. This question very explicitly asked if they had been diagnosed with a disorder.”5

Dr. Geyer makes the point that the prevalence of diagnosed mental health disorders may be high, but the trend is clear that more millennials are suffering from mental health disorders than ever before.

 

True connection vs. Pseudo-connection

From the very beginning of our lives, being connected socially is one of our primary survival needs. Without being connected with those around us, we fail to thrive and move forward to reach important developmental markers. Our brains crave safe and ongoing connection with others. We need connection for our wellbeing and mental health.

This need for connection may explain why the progression of technology has also included the advancement of more diverse ways to connect to one another through social media. It is estimated that there are over 1 billion users of social media worldwide.6

Social media creates a pseudo-connection—it is an imitation of the personal intimacy and face-to-face interaction we crave. It feels similar to the real thing, but it is not. There is something powerful about being vulnerable with someone in a safe relationship and being within physical proximity of that person. Although this intimacy and social connection may be enhanced through some technology (via telephone and web-based video conferencing), unfortunately, most social media mechanisms do not have the power to fully recreate this kind of intimacy.

The problem, as I see it, is that trying to improve and create that type of connection through social media, technological innovation, and the Internet will still fall short of providing the kind of true connection we crave and need. Moreover, increased technological connectivity and interaction may cause a plethora of other mental health and anatomical issues. As articulated in the research cited above, millennials, who are hyperconnected to technology, the internet, and social media apps, may be particularly vulnerable to dealing with stress in unhealthy ways and at risk to manifest with mental health disorders.

Individuals, families, and communities need to be aware that as amazing as technology can be, it may also be an important factor in creating a mental health crisis among millennials.


References
1. United States Census Bureau (2015). https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-113.html
2. Bull, G. (2010). The Always Connected Generation. Learning & Leading with Technology, v38 n3 p28-29. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ903513
3. Anderson, J.Q., Rainie, L. (2012). Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives. Pew Research Center. httpss://www.pewinternet.org/files/old-media/Files/Reports/2012/PIP_Future_of_Internet_2012_Young_brains_PDF.pdf
4. Bland, H.W., Melton, B.F., Welle, P, & Bigham, L. (2012).  Stress tolerance: New challenges for millennials college students. College Student Journal. https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/commhealth-facpubs/32/
5. Geher, G. (July, 2017). The mental health crisis is on the internet generation. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201707/the-mental-health-crisis-is-upon-the-internet-generation
6. Tech Crunch. https://techcrunch.com/2012/05/14/itu-there-are-now-over-1-billion-users-of-social-media-worldwide-most-on-mobile/

In today’s digital world, we almost can’t help being in front of a screen at all times. Think about how much you rely on your smartphone to complete everyday tasks. From setting an alarm to scheduling an appointment on your calendar to navigating to your next destination, there are many practical reasons to use your phone. Not to mention email, social media, music, and games. We can easily stay plugged-in for most of the day with smartphones, tablets, and laptops facilitating the majority of our information consumption.

Most of us can acknowledge that screen addiction is unhealthy, but we don’t often think about what it’s actually doing to our brains. So, how does being constantly plugged-in affect our mental health?

 

The iGeneration

Teenagers today, or anyone born between 1995 and 2005, have never known life without smartphones. According to Lakeside Behavioral Health System, this “iGeneration” has been informed and shaped by the introduction of digital technology and social media. They are always connected and depend on screen time for daily activity. In fact, a 2015 Pew Research report found that 73% of teens ages 13-17 have a smartphone or access to one. Not only do the majority of teenagers have a smartphone, but more than 50% say they are addicted to their phones and can’t function without them.

Due to this addiction, teenagers are now interacting via faceless communication, where they’d prefer to text or send messages on social media rather than talk to someone in person. This deindividuated approach allows for greater anonymity and isolation and takes away opportunities to practice social skills. The anonymity involved spurs online bullying, as teenagers are less inhibited to say hurtful things to each other when they’re behind their phones.

Sleep deprivation is another side effect of screen addiction among teenagers. Between 2012 and 2015, 22% of teenagers did not get seven hours of sleep per night, primarily due to stimulation from their phone screen lights. That glowing light suppresses melatonin, a hormone that supports sleep. Scrolling through a phone before bed can make it harder to fall asleep, and this lack of sleep can lead to trouble in school, slower reaction times when driving, and mood swings.

Related Content:  Is Technology Good or Bad for Mental Health?

Depression as a side effect

All of these byproducts of screen addiction can contribute to depression among those who are addicted. Cyberbullying negatively impacts individuals’ self-esteem and self-worth, and lack of face-to-face relationships can lead to loneliness. Additionally, sleep deprivation can ultimately be a cause of depression and feelings of lifelessness.

A Monitoring the Futures survey found that teens who spend more time than average on non-screen activities tend to be happier than those who don’t. Stepping away from the screen can be a true lifestyle change with long-term mental benefits.

 

Preventing screen addiction

So, how can you prevent yourself or your children from becoming addicted to your screens? It starts by setting some ground rules for phone use and sticking to them.

Some rules include:

  • Designate specific times for your children to go outside. Set a reminder on your phone if you have to, and when it goes off, put the phone down and send the kids outside. Better yet, set an example by going outside with them.
  • Identify phone-free zones in your house. The kitchen is a good place to start. If your family wants to eat, they need to put their phones down and take time to enjoy meals.
  • Set electronic curfews. This means when the clock strikes nine (or eight or ten), phones are collected and put away for the night. Instead of scrolling through Instagram before bed, encourage your kids to read a book, write in a journal, or draw.

In addition to setting screen rules, it’s important to talk with your children about healthy phone use. This is a way to learn more about their phone interactions and ensure they understand the dangers of cyberbullying and communication with strangers. Establish regular check-ins with your kids to maintain an ongoing conversation about their phone safety.

Ultimately, preventing screen addiction starts with you. Your kids see how often you’re connected to your phone, so be sure to set the right example for them. If you need to, set daily or weekly goals for reducing your own screen time and keep track of your progress in this area. Also, consider deleting any apps that are taking up too much of your time. It may be tough at first, but, in time, you’ll feel a sense of freedom from not always being plugged in.

 

Using caution

Constant online access does provide us many benefits, especially in terms of the speed at which we’re able to gather and distribute information. There’s no doubt that smartphones allow us to move more quickly and efficiently. But, there are many downsides to being plugged-in at all times. When you’re aware of these side effects, you can take the proper steps for you and your family to have a healthy relationship with technology.

It seems we are continually amazed at how much technology has evolved. There are smart cars, televisions, phones, thermostats, and even chalkboards. These devices are getting so smart they might take over our jobs and responsibilities one day. It’s mind-blowing to imagine where we might be five or 10 years from now.

Few advancements come without unanticipated consequences. A rise in technology has brought an assault on our privacy. It’s also way too easy to embarrass ourselves with one text, post, or tweet. It used to be you could say something stupid and your friends might pretend they forgot about it the next day. Now, it’s a permanent record.

These technology advances, although intrusive, can also bring us good and healthy things we never imagined. Our homes can be monitored and controlled via smartphone. We can monitor the whereabouts of our children over GPS—no more screaming for your child all over the neighborhood.

We can contact the police and fire department without needing a landline. Technology has brought advances in healthcare and the way we approach surgical intervention and treatment. It’s affected the way we do most everything.

Consider some of these apps as a way to help you keep your family safer and healthier.

1. Apple’s health app

Apple Health AppApple has given us an application on our iPhones that can help us achieve better health. You still have to do the work yourself, but Apple allows us to document all our health issues and have them available at a glance.

The app offers healthier lifestyle tips based on the information you provide. You can keep track of how many steps you have taken, or how long you have run or walked. You can create an emergency card and healthcare data that you can provide to your doctors, nutritionists or athletic trainers.

 

2. Estate Assist

Estate AssistYou can secure all your important personal and financial documents digitally on Estate Assist. You can easily access and update your information remotely, and you never have to worry about disasters, such as fires and floods, destroying your information. You can also store passwords, login credentials, and be confident they are safe with Estate Assist’s $1 million protection guarantee.

 

3. SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe devices

SimpliSafe is a wireless, online security system for your home that you can monitor and control from your smartphone or computer. See what’s going on at home from anywhere at any time. You can even add sensors to doors or cabinets, which will alert you if they have been opened. Catch your kid stealing cookies from the cookie jar when you are at work.

 

4. Cell Control

Cell ControlYou can tell your teenage driver not to text or use their phone while driving, but once they leave, there isn’t anything you can do about it. With Cell Control, you disable all or part of their smartphone so they don’t have the choice to text while driving, talk on the phone, or take and post selfies on social media while behind the wheel.

911 emergency calling is always active, and you can set it so your number or others you choose can reach your teenage driver. It’s an innovative way to steer clear of peer pressure or poor judgment while driving.

 

5. Medical Guardian

Medical GuardianMonitor your senior loved ones remotely with Medical Guardian and Family Guardian apps. Set up personalized options that best suit their needs, habits, and behaviors.

The Activity Sensors and Main Door Contact Sensor allow you real-time video monitoring from multiple mobile devices. This way, several family members can check up on their loved one. In-home sensors collect data that is sent to caregivers and family members and is summarized for easy analysis by healthcare professionals.

Visible and accessible help buttons allow the resident to contact specially trained agents who will put them in contact with their doctors or caregiver. In the event of a fall, sensors will alert 911.

 

6. Mobicip

MobicipThe internet is the Wild, Wild West. You can access pretty much any information, video, or picture you want to see. That means your kids can, too, and it’s frightening to imagine what they will view when you aren’t monitoring them. Curiosity is natural and understandable, but as parents, it is our duty to keep them out of trouble as much as we possibly can.

Mobicip allows us to monitor our children’s internet and app usage on any device we own. You can set up filters, website restrictions, and time limits. Your children’s browsing history is always available so you can make needed modifications to the settings and restrictions. They can enjoy the internet, and you can enjoy some peace of mind.

 

7. Nucleus

NucleusKeep your elderly loved one safer with Nucleus, an online home intercom system that allows them to communicate with you with a simple push of the button. The elderly aren’t usually as tech-savvy as our youth, so its simple operation will make them more likely to use it. Whether they are in their own home or at a care facility, they can communicate directly with you at any time.

 

8. Whistle

WhistleEven your pets can benefit from new technology. Whistle is a GPS tracking device for your pets. If your dog or cat runs off or somehow gets separated from you, all you have to do is log in, and you will locate your furry friend immediately. You still might need a treat to make them come to you.

Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives. While we might be annoyed with a bad photo of us being posted on Facebook without our permission or a text waking us up in the middle of the night, generally, we have benefited greatly from technological advances. Embrace technology and peruse the many apps that are designed to make us and our families happier and healthier.

In June 2017, a 4-year-old boy in Texas died under tragic and seemingly inexplicable circumstances. The boy, named Frankie Delgado, was playing in knee-deep water when a wave knocked him over, causing his head to dip below the water. Despite being monitored at the time, Delgado inhaled a small amount of water. After a brief coughing fit, he was able to calm down. The next night, he began to vomit and experience diarrhea. Later that week, he died suddenly. Because water was found in his lungs and around his heart, medical staff informed the parents that the boy died of “dry drowning”.

In 2017, news stories on cases of dry drowning spread across social media like wildfire, as did parenting blog articles providing some words of (sometimes ill-informed) wisdom in response to the hysteria. It has caused a phenomenon that some social commentators have dubbed parenting paranoia.

For any parent who read this story last year, the term “dry drowning” became ingrained in their mind. The idea that a child could inhale just a small amount of water during playtime and die days afterward is terrifying. The concept is so anxiety-inducing that it has caused some parents to live in fear, becoming the prototypical “helicopter parent”: closely monitoring their children, limiting what they can do, and reading misinformation about the phenomenon online.

Unfortunately, this unhealthy cycle of fear and overreaction is harmful to the parent-child relationship. According to Psychology Today, helicopter parenting can result in increased anxiety in children, and even stunt emotional and cognitive development. The resulting lack of self-efficacy can result in serious mental conditions such as depression. Kids raised in such conditions often grow up to be extremely dependent on others and may struggle to grow and learn.

What should you be aware of about dry drowning? How can you prevent it? Should you be terrified? Read on for more information on this issue:

 

What is dry drowning?

There is a good deal of confusion about what actually constitutes “dry drowning” or “secondary/delayed drowning”. However, there is a distinction between the two, and news stories often fail to differentiate.

  • Dry drowning: The above incident is not a true case of dry drowning. Dry drowning occurs when a person suffocates despite no water actually entering their lungs. This is an uncommon occurrence, and only a small percentage of all drowning fatalities can be classified as “dry drowning” accidents.

When a person suffers from dry drowning, water enters the mouth or nose and the person’s vocal cords spasm and close. The brain is essentially tricked into believing that it is in danger, and the resulting anxiety can result in a potentially fatal physiological response: It prevents breathing to such an extent that it can lead to suffocation. The lack of oxygen causes aerobic metabolism to stop, which can lead to cardiac arrest and a lack of blood circulation in the brain.

When a person is suffering from dry drowning, there are clear signs that something is amiss. While victims don’t typically thrash around or signal/call for help during a drowning, they will make a panicked effort to keep their head above the water, often rolling in the water. Lifeguards or parental guardians should be on the lookout for anyone who is swimming or bobbing in the water in an uncoordinated manner. This could be a sign that someone is in trouble.

  • Secondary/delayed drowning: Secondary drowning is also a rare occurrence. This occurs when an individual swallows water and gets it trapped in their lungs. While some symptoms (such as labored breathing) should be immediately apparent to the victim, the individual may go for hours or even days before the condition becomes debilitating or fatal.

Secondary drowning may cause inflammation and other severe complications. Pulmonary edema—a buildup of fluid in the lungs—can make it difficult to breathe. In a case of secondary drowning, this problem will worsen over time, typically becoming unbearable within 24 hours. Water in the lungs could also lead to potentially fatal infection.

A victim of this form of drowning may exhibit signs of difficulty breathing, begin vomiting, or experience coughing fits. Sufferers can also be mentally affected; they may experience extreme forgetfulness or sleepiness. A person who exhibits signs of secondary drowning should seek help immediately and be closely monitored. With quick medical intervention, the water can be safely removed from the lungs, and the victim can recover.

 

What should you do?

Practice swimming safety regularly and teach your children to follow these rules every time they enter the water. These rules include:

  • Only swim when a guardian or lifeguard is present
  • Swim with a buddy whenever possible
  • Avoid excessive horseplay; don’t get pressured into doing a stunt
  • Do not swim when you are sick or tired
  • Do not swim at night in areas without sufficient lighting
  • Do not eat or chew gum while swimming
  • Refrain from swimming during inclement weather
  • Obey all other posted swimming rules in the area

Parents and guardians should continue to monitor children during playtime—there is no reason to forsake trips to the pool or beach altogether. If a child shows signs of discomfort in the water, intervene; don’t assume that the lifeguard will be alert. The signs of drowning can be deceptive, and the instinctive drowning response can make it impossible for an individual to speak or signal for help.

If a child swallows any water, stay observant of their behavior over the course of the next few days. Secondary drowning complications escalate over time, with symptoms becoming apparent within a 24- to 48-hour timespan. Symptoms to be alert for include lethargy, labored breathing, vomiting, and incontinence. Some symptoms are commonly mistaken as symptoms of a cold or croup. Trust your gut—if something about your child’s demeanor seems “off”, consult a medical professional.

Don’t fall victim to the fear-inducing hype. While there are real risks to be aware of, being observant will eliminate nearly any risk. By following these best practices, parents can protect their children without imposing needless restrictions or limitations on their lives. Understand the risks of dry and secondary drowning, and act accordingly if you notice the symptoms.

Some may think the role of grandparents has diminished in this age where families live so far apart. Yes, we have Skype and Google Hangouts. One of my granddaughters even taught me how to Snapchat and faux sing with her on Music.ly. But, we are no longer in the neighborhood. We can’t see our grandchildren in person every day or even every week. We don’t go to all their soccer games, recitals, or school plays. And we don’t know their friends on a first name basis.

But, that doesn’t mean we can’t play a very special role in their lives—one that only a grandparent, who has lived a long life, full of so many different experiences, can share with someone just beginning their adventure. So, I was moved to tears when I found this letter my husband sent to his oldest granddaughter on the occasion of her starting 7th grade. I hope you will treasure it as much as I do.

******

My lovely granddaughter,

Today, you are embarking on a new stage in your life. I know, it doesn’t seem like a big deal for you now, but in a few years, when you look back, you will realize how important middle school and high school are. These are your formative years, the time your adult character is going to be formed. And this is why I thought it would be good if I could offer you some of my thoughts. These are not the Ten Commandments—just advice from a loving Saba.

Your age, pre-teens and teens, is especially susceptible to peer pressure. Being ‘cool’ looks very important. Conforming to the habits and opinions of your friends sometimes takes precedence over your own opinions and values. I am especially referring to the pressure to not look nerdy, to be one of the gang.

Don’t forget: You are a person in your own right, not part of a group. You always had intellectual curiosity about everything far more than I have seen in other kids your age. You asked so many probing questions, and loved to learn new things. You had an open mind about everything, willing to learn and experience new things. Don’t give it up for the sake of blending in. Your mind is outstanding, and it would be a terrible waste not to allow it to flower.

Teenage is hard. You are no longer a young girl, yet not a grownup woman. This in-between stage can be frustrating, not only to you but to the people who love you and raise you on a daily basis as well. This is what I meant when I said ‘don’t be a pain in the butt.’ You will sometimes feel that your parents don’t understand you, that you know better, that they may be stupid. Try to suppress these feelings. Remember, they are wiser not because they are simply ‘the adults,’ but because they went through all the stages in life that you haven’t experienced yet, and it gave them the wisdom to know what is good and what is not so good. Mama didn’t always do the right things when she grew up. Papa, I’m sure, wasn’t always 100% as well. But they learned from their mistakes and are trying to steer you from repeating the same mistakes.

You have a warm personality and a terrific mind, and if you just nourish it with curiosity, and knowledge, and love, you can change the world. The Jewish Talmud says, “He who saves one soul, it is as if he saved the whole world.” ‘Saving the world’ doesn’t have to be something heroic. You make the world better by healing the sick, by writing a story that will give pleasure to people, by defending the powerless against injustice, or by serving people who cannot fend for themselves. It will enrich your life and add some happiness to the world.

So, my lovely granddaughter, as you embark on this wonderful journey, I promise to be with you at every step, as long as I am around.

I love you very much.

Saba

P.S. Try to wean yourself from the phone. It consumes you and your mind at the expense of the real important things in life. Read more, play music, have real conversations with people, not just chats. It will make your life so much more rich and rewarding.


This was first posted Sept 19, 2016 and has been republished during this Holiday season to remind us of the power of family.

Can you treat ADHD without drugs? Is it possible? Is it useful and effective?

We spoke to a mother of an ADHD child. She described their horrifying life with ADHD issues as well as the side effects caused by ADHD drugs and she told us about a method that helped her son overcome ADHD, freeing him from ADHD pills.

“Walking on broken glass, fearing the next violent act wrecking our lovely home, not knowing when my son would burst again. It drove me to desperation…

Medication followed, to keep my son under control. But, apart from the angry episodes powered by intense frustration, my son was a happy boy with a bubbly personality. The medication worked, but it changed him. He confided in me one morning that because of the medication he no longer felt the same… ‘Mum I feel like I have lost the best bits of my personality.’ I’d studied psychology and deep down I knew he was right. My son had become a ghost of his former lively self…”

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a group of symptoms that includes the inability to pay sustained attention to tasks, impulsiveness, and disorganized work habits. Those diagnosed with ADHD are at greater risk of developing depression or anxiety, drug abuse, and behavioral problems.

Medications are the go-to method for the medical institution to treat ADHD and they are considered to be highly effective. These can help a lot, but they also come with the potential price of developing side effects including constipation, headaches, difficulty breathing or swallowing, dizziness, drowsiness, moodiness, fast or irregular heartbeat, fever, seizures, sleeping issues or weight gain. Some people feel fine with the medication, whilst others cannot cope or function on it.

In recent years, the number of children being treated with prescription medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has grown dramatically. This trend has led to concern among some doctors, parents and child advocates that many children are taking ADHD medication unnecessarily. Some of those who are taking medication for ADHD may do as well or better with alternative treatments, including dietary and behavioral therapies that have fewer or no side effects.

 

Brainwave changing music

Michele Blatchford specializes in hypnotherapy and teaches people how to move their energy blocks by meditation in order to calm the mind, balance the emotions, and bring their physical bodies into balance. She decided to move away from traditional medicine due to her personal experience with medications. She wanted to try a more alternative and holistic approach. It was also her mother, a cancer sufferer, who sparked her interest into researching natural methods to treat diseases.

Michele’s son, Devlin, was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 12. Before being diagnosed, the family suffered from his uncontrollable outbursts of violence and disruptive behavior day by day for at least four years. “We had problems controlling him,” said Michele. “He destroyed lots of things at home. It started from small issues and ended in smashing up things, breaking windows, kicking doors and worse. There was absolutely nothing we could do to bring him out once he got into that state. It was really awful for him too, as he didn’t have control over his own behavior and felt really bad after. When my son was out of control, to see him being like that and knowing there was nothing I could do made me feel terrible and [it was] scary.” Michelle was terrified and paralyzed with fear.

Doctors prescribed medications that were supposed to help with concentration, anxiety, and anger management. After four weeks of taking these pills, his behavior changed. Prescribed medications made him incredibly sleepy, causing side effects that both Michele and Devlin were hoping to avoid. From the moment he started taking the pills, he was constantly tired and didn’t have the energy he’d had before. He didn’t do well in school or at home, he couldn’t concentrate on tasks. Although his behavior was tempered by medications, the energetic 12-year-old boy changed into a sleepy and tired child. “We couldn’t recognize him anymore,” said Michele, “It wasn’t our happy, energetic Devlin anymore. It was a sad and extremely quiet child.”

Six months after he started taking ADHD medication, Devlin became a shadow of his former self.

One day he decided to stop taking these drugs. The side effects were too much for him and the effectiveness of the medications was far from his expectations. “I remember Devlin came to me one sunny afternoon when I was cooking the dinner,” said Michele. “He told me the words I would never forget; ‘Mom, these medications are taking away the bits of me I am most proud of. I don’t want my best bits to be taken away with medications.”

These heartbreaking words made me stop giving him these meditations instantly. I was shaken and scared. I held my son and said that we will not use them and I will do my best to find a better solution. Michele immediately looked for an alternative health therapy for her son because the moment he stopped taking the pills, the violent behavior and all the problems they’d had before returned. Family life was hell again.

Then, finally, “I was introduced to therapy music by chance,” said Michele. “It was a brainwave changing alpha therapy music that my friend gave me hoping it would help me during these emotional moments I was going through. It appeared this music changed our life completely. At first, I just wanted to try it and test this for few days. However, it ended up being with us for over ten years.

We had amazing results from playing this music. Devlin’s concentration improved drastically. He wasn’t able to sit still and concentrate in the past. He was always angry and frustrated. His anxiety level was very high. Once this brainwaves music has been played in the background during homework or exam revisions, he could concentrate on tasks, consume the knowledge and did pretty well in the classes. Brainwaves changing music played in the background allowed him to focus and improved his concentration, at first from 5 minutes to 20 minutes and then to an hour and more. The more we played it, the more he could concentrate. It transformed everything really. He calmed down and managed to control his anger. We succeeded in freeing him from medications that caused him bad moods and side effects. Devlin is now 23, has passed his exams with high grades and found a good job. He hasn’t got any concentration problems, anger problems and he has had no medications since. His energy that was taken away with the medications came back.

Once the alpha track was played in the background it also helped me as a mother. It was scary to see my son behaving so violently and smashing things. The music helped me with feeling powerless and it also calmed me down, so I didn’t take this so personally or fall into depression. I would really encourage parents to try natural methods first to help children dealing with hyperactivity or ADHD issues. Although medications can work short term, the sides effects they can cause to children may change their lives and have a negative impact on their future.”

Dr. Richard Gallagher, a clinical psychologist and Director of the Parenting Institute at the New York University (NYU) Child Study Center, encourages parents to try other methods while they look into the risks and benefits of medications.

You can learn more about the therapeutic use of brainwave entraining music here.

Other useful tips to deal with ADHD issues naturally

Diet

Although the relationship between specific elements of diet and ADHD behaviors still requires more research, a systematic review of the scientific literature found that elimination diets (eliminating one or more food types from the diet and looking for improvements in behavior) and fish oil supplementation seem to be the most promising dietary interventions for a reduction in ADHD symptoms in children. The Harvard Mental Health Letter also reviewed of the impact of diet on ADHD and noted that several studies “have renewed interest in whether certain foods and additives might affect particular symptoms in a subset of children with ADHD.” They concluded,

“A healthful diet may reduce symptoms of ADHD by reducing exposure to artificial colors and additives and improving intake of omega-3 fats and micronutrients. But it certainly will improve overall health and nutrition, and set the stage for a lifetime of good health.”

A healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, is well balanced with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, ample protein from non-red meat sources, particularly seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids and nuts, such as walnuts and almonds.

Behavioral therapy

Children with ADHD need structure, consistency, clear communication, and rewards. For example, create goals for your child and reward them if they manage to achieve them. Follow daily routines. Modify the routine from time to time. Try speaking with a professional therapist to get further advice on how to engage your child in behavioral treatment.

Proper sleep

Getting enough sleep is good for the brain and may help with ADHD symptoms.

Exercises

Encourage your child to exercise. There are lots of available exercises – football, tennis, karate, yoga, dance, fitness, and running, to list just a few. These activities will help them express their hidden energy and anger and stop them from getting bored.

Anger management techniques

Children get into trouble because they are unable to articulate their feelings or frustration. Learn and teach them how to put their feelings into words. Lower the amount of time children spend in front of a television and digital devices. Encourage them to socialize in the real world so they can learn how to easily speak with other people. Remember that you are the boss, so don’t let them overrule you.

Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is calming and may be helpful in reducing symptoms of ADHD. Although more research is needed, some studies have documented improvements in attention skills in adolescents, as well as adults with ADHD.

Self-care

And last but not least – take care of yourself so you have the power and energy to keep up with your child. Take a hot bath, relax, go to the gym or spa, cook delicious meals for your family, encourage your partner and child to engage in some of these activities with you.

My parents like to tell a story about the first time I raised a little hell. I was four years old, and we were at a hamburger stand near the beach in Santa Cruz that we went to often while visiting my grandparents. As we sat down, I insisted on my own order of French fries to go with my hamburger. My parents, as usual, got all four of my older siblings their own fries, but I was forced to share an order with my mother. When my father brought my tray to the table, I abruptly grabbed the container of French fries and threw them to the ground. My two older brothers and two older sisters looked on in amazement and then broke out in riotous laughter. I, however, immediately began to cry, having surprised even myself with my anger. I don’t know what I imagined might happen to me for my transgression, but I remember feeling pretty damned scared, which must have been what started me crying. My dad jokes that I was such a quiet kid that he hardly knew I was alive before that day. It took me four years, but tossing those fries was perhaps the first time that I asserted myself.

As the youngest of five kids, I sat on the sidelines for a while, watching and waiting. My siblings knew the ropes, and I admired them to no end. They did absolutely everything better than I could. They ran faster, threw balls more accurately, spoke more clearly, made their beds more neatly, beat me at every single game, and were much funnier than I was. I wanted only to be like them—smarter, stronger, and more powerful. The French fry incident was just the beginning.

 

Parents, don’t take it personally

As I aged into adolescence, I worked very hard to assert myself. I wanted to be in charge, a force to be reckoned with, and I wanted to impress my siblings and peers. Whether it was broken windows (there were a few) or broken arms (there were four), I ultimately took a fair number of risks. As a child & adolescent psychiatrist, I’ve watched hundreds of adolescent patients do the same, oftentimes far worse than I did, and I’ve now witnessed my own two adolescents take a few risks of their own. But no matter what our adolescents do, it’s important for us parents not to take it personally.

Our teens don’t take risks because they want to upset us, nor do they take risks because they think they’re invincible. Gobs of data now prove these assertions to be as wrong as wrong can be. Instead, our kids take risks because our species has been fine-tuned by evolution to do just that during adolescence in all of the following ways: First, Mother Nature has purposely put our brains out of balance between around 12 and 26-years-of-age, such that the emotional brain (or limbic system) has more room to roam and greater freedom to influence the decisions we make than it will have by the time we reach our late 20s. Second, dopamine, the neurochemical which promises us pleasure, floats around at higher levels in our brains during adolescence than at any other time of life. As a result, all sorts of potentially risky behaviors like driving fast and jumping from a bridge into the fast-moving river below are more pleasurable and exciting they ever have been or will be again.

Third, hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and oxytocin do more than cause our hair to grow in funny places, make girls menstruate, and help us feel bonded to one another. Equally important, these hormones clue us into the social zeitgeist, make us keenly aware of our peers, and cause adolescents to be consumed by their social status and who is “in” and who is “out” of their peer group. Again, this makes sense from an evolutionary perspective because life is a team sport, and once you’re sexually mature, nature demands that you find a mate and procreate to sustain yourself and your species. Only those kids who are focused on their social status will be successful in finding the most suitable mates. The problem, of course, is that as our kids work hard to impress their peers, they often find themselves taking risks.

And fourth, based upon novel brain research, we now know that the brain’s social attachment system has piggybacked onto the brain’s pain system. In other words, when kids feel excluded from a social event, they feel genuine pain; like when your teen isn’t invited to a party or tagged in a Facebook photo. This hurt is so real that Tylenol relieves the emotional distress that kids feel in these situations. There are, of course, other factors that contribute to adolescent risk-taking, like when they’re underslept and over-caffeinated, bathing in risk-promoting media, or drunk or high; but intentionally angering their parents or acting out of a belief in their so-called invincibility, by and large, explains bupkis about adolescents.

When our children are young, we need to manage their behavior. They need clear instructions on what to do and what not to do. After all, it’s the rare five-year-old who could survive on her own in the woods. As they age into adolescence, however, it’s essential that we help our children establish self-efficacy and the ability to manage and regulate their behavior and emotions, which means continuing to monitor while at the same time shepherding them to self-discovery by giving them some room to explore.

 

Psychology is a science of what goes wrong

Psychology is a science of what goes wrong—what’s bad, negative, or the matter with you.  There is a good reason for this—”what’s wrong” stands out and needs to be “fixed” in order to make things better for people. It’s how we are all taught, how doctors are taught, and how parents generally learn to parent—look for what is wrong, then set limits and punish when things go astray. This approach to parenting is consistent with the evolution of our species. We are primed for disaster. We are evolutionarily geared to look out for stress and to identify threats, not to look for positives. This makes sense evolutionarily. But it doesn’t make sense today.

Today, we know that long before our kids act out or engage in risk, we need to employ the tenets of behavioral conditioning. We must rely upon the five decades of indisputable data that supports the use of behavioral parent management techniques, and we must teach parents how to use positive reinforcement, effective commands, and selective ignoring. We must focus on these methods to shape our kids’ behavior and minimally employ limit setting, consequences, and punishments. Yes, these later approaches have a place in our parenting arsenal, but the balance should be far shifted toward the former, positive techniques. Positive parenting capitalizes upon the reasons our kids take risks in the first place. By rewarding our kids’ good behavior, for example, we tap into the vast amounts of dopamine running around their brains, which further encourages the good behavior we’re praising. By contrast, punishment only reinforces the brain pain our kids already feel. As attractive as punishment may seem to parents for all of our own evolutionary reasons, we will help our kids much more when we follow the science and understand what’s really going on in the noggins of our adolescents.

Balancing your home life with your career can be incredibly stressful. If this describes you, it’s important to take stock of the fact that you have the power to change things for the better. With the tips outlined below, you can address the factors that contribute to your stress head-on, and in the process, improve your outlook on life while eliminating challenges and hurdles one-by-one. Take charge and make the change today.

 

Eliminate clutter

Clutter can seem overwhelming and, at times, may feel like an insurmountable hurdle that’s preventing you from living the life that you want to live. Whether your desk at work is cluttered, making it difficult for you to focus on your daily tasks, or your home is, there are steps that you can take to declutter your environment. Doing so could have a positive impact on your stress levels and quality of life. Consider this a first step in reducing your stress—it’s easy to do and you’ll start reaping the benefits immediately.

 

 

Stay active

Staying fit and healthy can benefit body and mind. Exercising—or simply taking part in physical activities, like daily walks on your lunch break—can give you more energy, help take your mind off of stressful things, and allow you to maintain your stamina, so that you can make it through the work week. And of course, there are long-term health benefits, as regular physical activity can boost your cardiovascular health, mitigate your risk for certain diseases, and reduce body fat.

 

Think positive

Part of staying mentally strong is choosing to think positive. We’ve all been cut off on the freeway on our way to work. But do you let that person who cut you off affect the rest of your day or do you choose to ignore it? You do have a choice. Yes, it’s true that you don’t want to bottle up your negative feelings, but in many cases, how you react to a situation is entirely up to you. And the way you react can have a huge impact on your anxiety and stress levels. As the old saying goes, for some, the glass is half-full, while for others, it’s half-empty. Try to be a glass-is-half-full person. You may be surprised at the benefits.

 

Set priorities

Multitasking may be an unavoidable part of modern life, but simply by setting priorities and sticking to them, you can greatly reduce your stress—and likely get more done in the process. It’s inevitable that as a working mother, you will have many different things that demand your attention in any given day or week. Jot these things down and prioritize them. In this way, you know which ones to address immediately, and which tasks can be set on the back burner without too much at stake. Make this simple change, and you may be surprised at how quickly and easily things fall into place.

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Alleviate money concerns

For many, money is a primary source of stress and anxiety. Or more specifically, a lack of money is. And it’s easy to understand why. Everything costs money, and a dollar only goes so far. If you find that you are scraping by month-to-month as a working mother, consider trying to make some extra income. Easier said than done, right? Well, believe it or not, you may not even have to adjust your schedule. With businesses like Amway offering entrepreneurship opportunities and e-commerce platforms like Etsy allowing anyone to sell from home, you can make extra money on your own time, at your own pace. It’s understandable that you may not want to take on a second job due to the extra time away from home that it involves. But what if you could make extra money at home?

 

Enforce boundaries

Children who back talk, fail to do their chores, ignore their homework, or are generally uncooperative can make your life incredibly difficult. As the mother and authority figure in the household, set firm boundaries and rules and ensure that these boundaries are followed. If your son or daughter should step out of line, punish them accordingly and hold them responsible for their actions. Once your children understand that there will be repercussions for misbehavior, they will begin to treat you with the respect that you deserve as a parent—and your life will become a whole lot easier in the process.

 

Eat healthy

Just as it’s important to stay physically active, it’s equally important—if not more so—to eat a healthy diet. One that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat foods. And try and avoid binging on sugars and carbohydrates if you can. A healthy diet will allow you to avoid putting on the pounds while also improving your energy and stamina. And as with exercise, there are long-term health benefits, too; a healthy diet can greatly reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other ailments. So if you must make the daily trip to Starbucks, skip the Frappuccino and stick with a black tea or plain coffee instead.

 

Take time to relax

If you can, try and take some time to relax. Prepare yourself a bubble bath. Sit quietly and read for an hour or two. Treat yourself to a massage. Relaxation can have a profound effect on your mental state and is often a crucial component of reducing your stress and anxiety. Just as your body needs sleep, your mind needs to unplug every once in a while, particularly with the stimulus that you deal with on a daily basis. It simply isn’t tenable to always be “on.” So remember, just because you’re a mom, that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a break, too. Don’t be afraid to set some time aside for yourself and don’t feel guilty for it either!

 

Working moms, give yourself a break

Being a working mother and being stress-free don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Carefully consider the tips outlined above, and put them into practice if they feel right for you. At a minimum, you will likely find that there are practical benefits to be had, from a cleaner, more organized home, to better health. But you may also find that taken in total, these steps can have a profound impact on your mental state as well. So wash away the stress and anxiety and start your new life today.