Tag Archive for kids

How to Manage End of School Stress

school stress

This time of year brings school stress that can impact brain health and behaviors in children and teens alike. It’s not uncommon for them to experience anxiety or discomfort around the end of a school year as they anticipate a change from routine and feel the stress of making the grades.  The anticipatory anxiety around the transition to a new routine and the fear of failing makes the end of the school year a particularly difficult time for many students. » Read more..

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Brain Chemistry and Bad Behavior in Children

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By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

When children act out, misbehave, or engage in an activity that puts them in danger, parents often respond with an impulsive punishment.  They may yell, tell them to go to their room, or even spank their child in the hopes to get them to hear, and feel, that the actions that he or she did were “bad.”  Interestingly enough, most of these consequences don’t work, and the brain is partially to blame.

Recent research from Southern Methodist University discovered that spanking was far more common than parents admit, and that children who were hit, misbehaved within 10 minutes of being punished. Indicating that even with intense pain, their brains rewire back to impulsive decision making.

Why is it that kids misbehave so quickly afterwards? The spanking, the yelling, the removal of rewards and privileges, doesn’t encourage them to behave differently.   In fact, in many cases it scares them.  The brain goes into survival mode, triggering them to act aggressively or impulsively, because their neurological underpinnings are driving the behavior.  Ever heard your child say “I didn’t mean it, I don’t know why I did it.” Many times they are right.  The brain turned on before they even realized their bad action was occurring.

Parents and parenting are not to blame completely either, not at all. The problematic behaviors that get the child punished in the first place are due to their environment and their brain chemistry. Next time your child does something that you have told them 20 times to not do, before acting on impulse yourself, and raising your voice or threatening to take away X, Y, or Z, think about what else could be at play.  Certainly a new approach to communicating and also a look into their noggin.

3 Ways to Change Bad Behaviors in Your Child

brain chemistry1) Balance Brain Chemistry - In many cases where a youngster acts impulsively, lashes out, or doesn’t listen, it isn’t due to just anger or frustration, their brain chemistry is also to blame.  Extensive research and thousands of neurotransmitter tests have revealed, that frequently an imbalance in neurotransmitter levels (brain chemistry), is a key contributing factor to the child’s bad behavior. Often times their excitatory neurotransmitters are running the show, leading to them having difficulty controlling themselves.  Correcting brain chemistry can be a huge piece in healing the bad behavior puzzle. Neurotransmitter testing is easy, can be done in the comfort of your home, and provides an all natural solution to balancing brain chemistry.

brain chemistry2) Change Communication - You are the parent and role model, so get cracking on a more effective approach to communicating concerns and consequences to your child. In the bestselling book If I Have to Tell You One More Time…: The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids To Listen Without Nagging, Reminding, or Yelling parenting expert and Today Show contributor Amy McCready shows you how to. McCready is a “recovering yeller” and the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions. She is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Her Toolbox strategies have empowered tens of thousands of parents.

brain chemistry3) Gain and Teach Skills - It is important for parents to learn how to control their own emotions and be able to teach these skills and techniques to their children. Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Help Your Child Regulate Emotional Outbursts and Aggressive Behaviors by Pat Harvey, is a great book that can help with this. As a world renowned expert in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Harvey uses DBT Skills Training in working with parents whose children (of any age) have intense emotions/emotional dysregulation or mental illness. The nonjudgmental and accepting aspects of DBT have been well received by parents who are often blamed for the problems of their children. Feeling accepted enables parents and others to learn new, more effective skills.

Adjusting your child’s brain chemistry, and possibly your own, will be the glue that holds any parenting method together.  Skills and therapy can be effective, and with a brain that’s onboard with these new approaches, you have benefits that will last a lifetime.

 

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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant.  Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.

 

 

 

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5 Simple Tips for a Successful School Year

The beginning of the year is filled with excitement and the expectation that things will “be different” from the last. New notebooks, teachers, and schedules make the beginning of the year seem like a bright beginning, and it can be.  However, without reinforcement of new behaviors, schedules, and some simple suggestions, the backslide to old and often ineffective tendencies may creep up.  Help your kiddo keep his or her school goals a reality with these tips and resources for a successful school year.

1. Make Downtime a Priority

After a full day of school, kids’ brains need a break. They are overstimulated, constantly “on” and frequently distracted. Jumping into homework or a stimulating activity conditions their brain to stay wired. We need to build in time to help them transition and settle down. Many families use the time before bed to chill out, but often this can backfire.  If we leave too many emotions and feelings to the end of the day, it can be too much for many kids to handle, leading to worries and anxious thoughts.

Downtime implemented throughout the day can help increase communication and awareness of feelings. Asking questions as soon as they step off the bus or open the door often leads to frustration and aggression, children feel pressured and pretty frazzled. A rule of thumb is to let them have a snack, chill out and wait 20-30 minutes.

This is “re-set time” and can include:
• Drawing or art
• Reading a book of their choice
• Imaginary play
• Shower or bath
• A TV show or game that is not stimulating (avoid fast screen cuts or violence, consider something that is interactive)
• Create a calming caddy or tool kit for distress tolerance

2. Communicate Goals & Reinforce Positive Behaviors

Successful School Year: Behavior Sticker Chart

The way you talk about academic success and school year goals is more important than you think. Validation and child-friendly language can increase effectiveness and confidence in your student. Refer to this post to learn how to talk so that they will listen and participate in the conversation. Reinforce positive behaviors and focus on your child’s intention instead of the outcome.  If your kiddo tried clean up their room and got part of it completed, give them credit, and ask how you can help them problem solve to finish up. “What can I help you with?” instead of “You still have so much to do.”

 

3. Organize Effectively

Help your child prepare for tomorrow today, not tonight. Before dinner or between homework and hitting the sheets, go over their upcoming and weekly assignments, activities, and events. Having a visual cue for younger and older kids, such as a calender on the wall will help them to gain confidence on what is to come, as well as help to create organizational skills for life. Dr. Lynne Kenney, The Family Coach and one of our favorite parenting experts, has created  clear and creative free downloads to help you and your children with organization.

4. Snack Smart

Snacks can help to save your kids mood and attention span during the long days back in school. Having healthy snacks available is imperative for managing mood and improving focus. Include a protein, carbohydrate, and healthy fat into each bite. It’s much easier than the drive-through, and healthier too. Click here to read more about snacks that boost brain power.

5. Sleep Tight

For a seamless transition back to school students of all ages need a consistent sleep schedule (adults do too). Studies show that back to school success correlates with a proper sleep cycle. Enough sleep means higher test scores, better behavior and more focus. How do you get your little learner back to bright and early mornings? This Back-to-Bedtime Post has you covered.

We wish all of you the best back-to-school year yet!  Please share your tips and suggestions below.

 

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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant.  Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.

 

 

 

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Why Family Dinner Really Counts! By Dr. Lynne Kenney

Dr. Lynne Kenney shares with us why having dinner together as a family is so important, as well as some great tips and tools to make planning these meals much easier!

Here is her original post on her site.

Just back in the US today after 14 days abroad and first thing this am, I listened to a wonderful show on family dinner with Aviva Goldfarb and Chris Efessiou. Family dinner is a strong preventive factor for children and teens. Aviva asks us to take the Dinner Pledge and eat three family meals with your children each week. Aviva makes meal planning, shopping and eating as a family simple. Check out her site for easy meal planning. CLICK LINK TO LISTEN http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/71848/the-cure-for-childhood-obesity-is-sitting-in-your-kitchen

Aviva Goldfarb

We encourage your family to share in a similar meal, but if you have children with special dietary needs, here is a simple printable for helpful meal planning. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE AND PRINT.

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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant.  Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.

 

 

 

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Great Gluten Free Snacks: Kid and Adult Tested

Many of the children and adults we have worked with are on specific diet. Whether they are allergic to dairy or wheat, sugar free or casein free, we know tasty snacks are sometimes hard to come by.  We are seeing more kids on gluten free diets, and parents who have a difficult time finding convenient and tasty snacks for them. Here are some of our favorites that have been kid (and adult) taste tested with scores of “Yum” across the board.

 Nut Thins.  With seven different flavors there is one to please even the pickiest palate.  Add hummus, peanut butter, or cheese for a complete protein snack.  Or just eat them straight out of the box, with 3 grams of protein per serving.  My personal favorite is Country Ranch, but the kids go crazy for Cheddar Cheese.

bluedimond.com

 LesserEvil Krinkle Sticks. Many potato chip brands have seasonings that contain gluten (take a look at your ingredients). This brand is completely gluten free. This was the perfect alternative to a potato chip with only 2.5 grams of fat, no trans or saturated fat. They are available in four fantastic flavors: Classic Sea Salt, Sour Cream & Onion, Old School Bar-B-Que, and Cajun Kaboom!

lesserevil.com

 Amy’s Kitchen Frozen Meals. If you have ever looked for a healthy alternative to microwave meals then you have seen Amy’s amazing products in your grocers freezer.  They are kid and adult friendly with a variety of products.  Kids I’ve talked to love the gluten-free baked ziti. 

Amyskitchen.com

Envirokidz Organic Crispy Rice Bars.  These bars come in 5 delicious flavors.  My favorite is the lemur Peanut Choco Drizzle.  They also have a variety of other tasty cereals and snacks that are nut, dairy, and gluten free

Envirokidz.com

Lara Bars. Great on-the-go snack.  These bars are 100 percent gluten free and have over 20 flavors.  I love the Apple Pie, and kids go crazy for the Peanut Butter Cookie flavor.

 Larabars.com

Chex:  The classic cereal you grew up with has gone Gluten-free!  They have a wide variety of flavors and recipes on their site. 

Chex.com

Applegate Farms Natural Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets.  Most breading on chicken nuggets contains gluten, MSG, and other flavor additives.  Not Applegate’s, these are by far the best chicken nuggets I have ever tasted.  Kids (and adults) prefer these over McDonlads!  They are delicious and protein packed.

Applegatefarms.com

Cherrybrook Kitchen All Natural Cookies.  This brand is amazing! The cookies are peanut free, dairy free, nut free, egg free, and vegan; best of all they taste great.  They have baking mixes for any occasion along with frosting and breakfast mixes. 

CherrybrookKitchen.com

 

Ians French Bread Pizza. The gluten and casein free French bread pizza is “awesome” a very picky 11 year old told me.  Put them in the toaster oven for added crunch, and for you adults out there with gluten and dairy sensitivities, add some chili flakes, it’s a healthy alternative to your favorite slice of pizza.

Ians.com

Add your favorites below.  We look forward to hearing from you.

In Good Health,

Emily Roberts, MA, LPC

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From My Bookshelf

Sometimes we all need a little refresher when it comes to parenting.  It can be exhausting and exciting, but overall we forget much of the knowledge we have sought out, paid for, and educated ourselves on overtime.  Even after years of education, I still have to look back at old notes or books to recall some theories or techniques.  I wanted to share some of favorite parenting books, that never get old (in my point of view), and are always helpful to my clients.  Feel free to share your favorites too!

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, by John Gottman, Ph.D.  Gottman relates to parents, divulging some of his own mistakes and challenges.  This book is a guide to teach parents how to raise emotionally intelligent children, with a simple five step process.  It is a easy read, that provides strategies and techniques rather than explaining issues in-depth.  Good for parents with kids of any age.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & How to Listen so Kids Will Talk, by Adele Farber adn Elaine Mazlish.  Classic book on communicating with kids, it gives practical strategies and tips.  Their book for Teens is great as well.  I often go back and read chapters to remind myself (as a therapist) what NOT to say to kids, what gets them to close up, and what phrases work well to get them to open up.

Parenting from the Inside Out, by Daniel J Siegel, M.D., and Mary Hartzell, M. Ed.  The authors examine how our own childhoods shape the way that we parent, and how we can draw on this awareness to become better parents ourselves.  Attachment research and neurobiology are discussed along with strategies to become the parent you really want to be.

These are just a few of my go-to favorites on my bookshelf, I have more specific book recommendations based on symptoms and diagnosis, however there are TOO many for this post.  Please add your favorites and ones that you have found helpful to your family.

Warmly,

Emily Roberts, MA., LPC

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