THE ANXIOUS / CLINGY CHILD AND SCHOOL
A few weeks ago, maybe even days ago, your young child was excited and ready for school. School supplies had been purchased, the teacher meet & greet had happened, and your child actually went to bed on time the night before the sacred first day of school. All was splendid on the western front until the time to leave appeared....along with A TOTAL MELTDOWN. Your formerly excited child now was a blubbering mess attached to your leg refusing to go to school.
IT’S HARD ON BOTH OF YOU
As a parent, seeing your child cry and plead for you not to leave her at that dreaded school or put her on that stinky bus can be heart-wrenching, but there are ways to make it better for both you and your child.
If you can find out what’s making your child anxious or afraid, speak to her about
that in a supportive and factual way. For example, a child might proclaim, “I don’t
remember how to get to my classroom and I’m going to get lost!” You calmly can walk
her back through the steps of getting to her classroom. If needed, draw a small map
or write directions if she can read. (My daughter’s classroom is at the 2nd clock in the
hallway, so we used this as her compass.)
Rinse and Repeat
Give yourselves some time to get used to the new routine while you continue to do the steps above. If your child continues to exhibit high anxiety after the first 4-6 weeks, consider additional support such as a meeting with the teacher, school counselor, or a private counselor.
If you are in the Cincinnati area and are looking for additional help for your child, check out Child Counseling Place.
- Erica L. Daniels, LPCC-S
Pediatric Mental Health Counselor
Child Counseling Place
What is the difference between ADHD and ADD?
Technically, ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, is not a clinical diagnosis. What most people refer to as ADD is a subset of ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V) is the clinical manual that lists every mental disorder as determined by the American Psychiatric Association. Almost all disorders are grouped into categories, and then further into subcategories. For example, Bipolar Disorder is grouped under the mood disorders category that contains several mood-related disorders. Further, Bipolar Disorder itself has separate categories, Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Those similar but separate disorders also can be broken down further to identify the severity and symptoms of the disorder (e.g., Bipolar I, severe, with psychotic features).
What people have known as ADD actually is a subset of ADHD called, “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, primarily inattentive presentation.” According the DSM V, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is:
A persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity or impulsivity that interferes with
functioning or development.
1. Inattention: Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16, or five or more for
adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6
months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:
1. Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at
work, or with other activities.
2. Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
4. Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or
duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
5. Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
6. Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period
of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
7. Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books,
tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
8. Is often easily distracted
9. Is often forgetful in daily activities.
2. Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for children
up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity
impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and
inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:
1. Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
2. Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
3. Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults
may be limited to feeling restless).
4. Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
5. Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
6. Often talks excessively.
7. Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
8. Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
9. Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)
In addition, the following conditions must be met:
Based on the types of symptoms, three presentations of ADHD can occur:
So, there’s the breakdown of ADHD. As with other mental health disorders, the rate of ADHD diagnoses continues to rise in both children and adults. Mental health counseling, medication, homeopathy, and self-regulation techniques are known to improve negative symptoms of ADHD.
If you think you or your child may have ADHD, consider speaking to a psychiatrist or mental health professional first. These people not only are trained to correctly identify ADHD in children, but also to utilize correct and evidenced-based treatments for ADHD.
Looking for a way to teach your children how to keep their hands to themselves? Or maybe you want to teach them safe body boundaries? Check out the video below! In 3 short minutes, you'll learn a very simple way to teach your kids those body boundaries while having fun doing it!
This is a depressed brain:
Image courtesy of Mayo Foundation. Image can be found online here.
This is an emotionally well brain:
Image courtesy of Mayo Foundation. Image can be found online here.
What does that mean?
Most simply, the front part of the brain (the top in the picture) is not functioning optimally. The front part of the brain helps with learning, judgment, reasoning, memory, abstract thinking, interests, motivation. and more.
A depressed brain literally is just that. Its function has been depressed, limited, shut down.
People who are depressed are limited or shut down. They no longer are interested in doing the things they usually do. They no longer find pleasure in doing the things they normally do. They have irrational thoughts about themselves, others, or situations. Their judgment becomes poor. They isolate themselves because of their irrational thinking and poor judgment. For some, getting out of bed may become incredibly difficult or even impossible, and choosing death over life not only seems like their best option for feeling better, but also their only option.
There’s a physiological reason for depression.
Emotionally well people, and even depressed people, sometimes have difficulty understanding depression. They might see a depressed person as lazy, selfish, or undisciplined. They might write off depressed moods in adolescents as "typical teenage behavior."
Everyone becomes emotionally unwell at times, just like everyone gets a cold at times. Sometimes colds are short-lived, and all we need is rest and fluids to feel better -- similar to some emotionally unwell times. Sometimes, though, a cold actually is more than a cold -- it's a sinus infection or strep or the flu -- and we need medical intervention to heal, similar to moderate to severe emotionally unwell times.
As you can see in the images above, the brain is not working properly. It's altered, it’s not well, and it needs therapy to get better.
Therapy? Like a shrink?
Therapy is defined as treatment for healing a medical or psychological condition. So, getting therapy for depression could mean seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, or mental health counselor or social worker (all of whom specialize in treating mental health conditions), or it could mean seeing your primary care provider (a physician or nurse practitioner), or it could mean receiving alternative treatments such as reiki, acupuncture, aromatherapy, yoga, or hypnosis.
Psychiatrists, physicians, and nurse practitioners can prescribe medication to help with symptoms of depression. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health counselors and social workers can provide non-medicinal psychotherapy to help with symptoms of depression.
Pills or People?
Medication can be very helpful for some people with depression, some saying it's life-changing for them. Psychotherapy and alternative therapies also can be very helpful for some people with depression. There's no one right answer; however, the thought that a "happy pill" is the cure-all for a mental health condition is misleading.
Clinical research for decades has shown a combination of both medication and psychotherapy has the best outcomes. Remember, a depressed brain is altered, and, oftentimes, needs more than medicine to make the changes needed to alleviate depression. While the chemicals added to the brain with an anti-depressant certainly can help to lift a person's spirits, they cannot help change habitual negative thinking tied with depression that usually only can be changed with the help of psychotherapy or disciplined self-guided treatments.
It Can Get Better, Really.
When you're waist-deep in depression, you feel absolutely stuck, and, frankly, you are. Your brain is being held hostage by the illness. Life seems bleak, blah, unbearable even. But, there was a time you didn't feel that way, and you can get there again. Reach out to a friend, family member, doctor, self-help site. If you're already down, the only place you can go is up.
Your 3-year-old takes off his shoes and puts them away when he walks into the house!? 🤯
Listen to this video to hear about the parenting technique that will make your life easier. 👊
The Greater Cincinnati area is supposed to turn into a wintry wonderland again this weekend, just ahead of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which means a 3-day, snowed-in weekend for most kids and their parents.
Snow days are the bane of some parents’ existence.
The thought of being stuck inside with kids for an unknown amount of time is exhausting.
There are things to do — work, cleaning, cooking, social media — that are ten times harder to do when kids are around. But, if you spend a little time on the front end with your kids, you’ll find your snow days will run more smoothly.
You don’t have to be a Pinterest parent to spend quality time with your kids. Simple things that don't require crafts of any kind are perfectly acceptable.
Here’s a list of 20 things to get you through your snowed-in weekend:
Commit to putting away your phones & tablets for at least 1 hour every day of your snow-filled weekend to enjoy family time. Have fun and be safe if you're driving around Cincinnati this weekend!
This video explains a VERY simple calming activity for all ages. Use it for anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, and everything in between!
And don't think you adults are too old for this! Anyone can participate. So, roll up your sleeves and dig in!
Maybe you know you're stressed or anxious and you're looking for ways to reduce your anxiety. Maybe you're not sure if you're anxious, but people around you have told you to "calm down" or "chill out" and you're looking for ways to do that.
Look no further.
This list, while likely nothing new to you, contains proven methods for calming the sympathetic nervous system (the part of your brain and body responsible for releasing stress chemicals) and getting you on your way to chill town.
Taking time to relieve stress might just add years to your life. And, even if you're not stressed, doing the things listed above can add to your overall wellness. Doesn't matter if you choose just one or decide to tackle the whole list, if you create a consistent routine -- preferably daily, but as many days as you can -- you'll be on your way to cool-as-a-cucumber status.
When an accident happens -- fall, bicycle or car crash, assault -- our bodies have natural physiological responses to those events. These responses help our brains and bodies release chemicals to help our bodies cope during and after the event.
In most accidents or assaults, we become immobilized in some way; we're physically unable to move, we have determined we shouldn't, or both. Immediately after an accident, our bodies might shake, tremble, cry, or breathe rapidly to release energy that was unable to be released during the event because of our immobilization. Allowing our bodies to engage in these physiological responses can be vital to the successful resolution of these events.
Oftentimes, though, we don't allow ourselves or others to have these natural responses. We're embarrassed to cry so we hold back our tears. We think it's inappropriate to scream so we muffle our voices. We're frightened of the sensation of our body's uncontrolled trembling so we try to remain still. By not allowing the release of pent-up, stressful energy, we walk around with unresolved stress reactions, which is unhealthy and problematic -- in both the short- and long-term.
You see, that energy remains until we burn it off, and intense or chronic stress is damaging to our bodies. The longer it takes for us to release that energy, the more likely we will have physical and/or emotional problems (heart disease, autoimmune disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression, emotional instability, behavioral outbursts).
So, the next time you or someone you're with experiences an accident or assault, allow your body to engage in the natural release of energy afterward. You even can help express that energy by purposefully engaging in movement activities such as gentle rocking or shaking, bouncing, walking, arm circles, or lunges.
If you experienced an accident or assault and still feel stuck in those experiences, consider working with someone who specializes in helping people work through those past negative events. EMDR, yoga, hypnosis, and other body-focused (somatosensory) treatments are known to decrease or completely eliminate negative symptoms that result from accidents or assaults. Just be sure the person you choose to work with has specific training in working with survivors of accidents or assaults.