Tag Archive for parenting tips

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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The Health Benefits of Reading to Children

Various studies have shown that reading books together develops a stronger bond between parents and their children. However, apart from strengthening your relationship with your child, reading has many advantages in helping to children develop, especially those who are in school. Whether you’re reading printed books or electronic ones, take note that the most important variable is the fact that they are learning along with you. This enhances attachment, bonding and brain development. In this post, we want to enlighten parents and guardians on the other health benefits of reading to and with children. » Read more..

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Lack of Sleep Leads to Depression in Teens

Many teenagers have irregular or disrupted sleep patterns. Their brains are growing fast and they need quality sleep to restore the body, consolidate memory, and allow further brain development. Not getting enough sleep is often brushed off as just “typical adolescent behavior” but research indicates that lack of sleep is related to depression. » 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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Parent to Prevent Eating Disorders

Parents are the most influential role models in a child’s life, they must be careful with their words and actions, especially around food and body image. This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, bringing awareness to the public about the over 24 million eating disorders in the US alone. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any identified mental illness, education is imperative. » Read more..

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Candy Coma: How to Avoid the Halloween Sugar Overload

halloween sugarHalloween night is here, are you prepared? Your child has had their costume since July, candy has been bought for the trick-or-treaters, and you have jack-o-lanterns on your doorstep, but are you ready for the havoc that often comes with the POUNDS of candy and excitement that your child brings home after trick or treating? Here are some helpful ideas to avoid meltdowns and insure a happy Halloween for you and your little pumpkin.

Candy Exchange

Dentists in our area advertise buying back Halloween candy from kids, what a great idea! They donate it to local shelters in exchange for buying your child’s candy by the pound. If no one in your area is doing this, you can buy it back from them, and have them earn money or turn it in for a prize.

Gluten Free and Healthy Candy

halloween sugarYes its true, there are sweet snacks that wont cause your child to feel like they have “ODed” on M&Ms. Allow them to trade in their gluten filled candy for gluten free. We love this great blog post to help you to have a “Gluten Free Halloween” and check out this list of Gluten Free Candies.

Trading Candy

If your child has an allergy or simply cannot handle sugar (most kids cannot), then trading their candy for a prize can be more exciting than eating mounds of Snickers. Try using a counting system- 50 pieces = movie night 100= new video game, get creative here and have your kids come up with rewards too. They will be more invested if they are part of the process. Another idea, trade it for healthier treats that they like: fruit leather, chips, or salty snacks.

Sort and Store it

halloween sugarOne of the most exciting times of the year for kids is coming home, emptying your Halloween pail and sorting through the goods. Allow your child to do this, parent supervision is often required to check for safety, then let them chose one treat a day, whether it’s with their after school snack or after dinner. If they can tolerate sugar, this is a great way to teach them healthy moderation. Store it somewhere out of eye sight and let them know its available only once a day.

Protein

Before heading out to trick or treat, or to that Halloween party filled with junk food, candied apples, and kids keyed up on a sugar high, consider giving your child a protein filled meal or snack. This will allow their brain to be less hyper-focused on candy, they will be less likely to have sugar cravings, and it keep their blood sugar from spiking. Get creative and make themed snacks, nachos with cheddar cheese and top with olives (hide beans under the chips for added protein), deviled eggs that look like eye balls, or hot dog mummies.

Don’t forget to send your kids out with supervision, a flash light, and a full tummy.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

 

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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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Backpack Snacks That Boost Brain Power

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By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Snacks can help to save your kids mood and attention span during the long days back in school. Having healthy snacks on hand that can enhance focus and prevent meltdowns is easier than you think. Making sure that the snack contains a protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat ratio is imperative for cognitive functioning and keeping moods stable. Many prepackaged and portable foods contain additives, dyes and more sugar than a can of soda. Try these for simple and effective alternatives for boosting brain power.

No Cold Pack Needed!

justins-natural-almond-butter-153218Rice Chips and Nut Butter. Gluten and dairy-free rice crackers, chips, or NutThins and a side of almond or sunflower butter keeps protein and fat contents proportional, while also adding some complex carbohydrates. Justin’s almond butter is a product that has individual packs, or you can simply separate the chips and the nut butter into different containers to keep the chips from getting soggy. Many schools are anti-peanuts these days, so alternative nutbutters are an added bonus.

Trail Mix. Make your own (link) by adding in nuts and cereals that your child likes, as well as some dried fruit or dye-free chocolate bites and you now have a portable healthy snack that is great for any time of the day. Have your kids make their own too, with this reindeer mix. My favorite gluten free and protein filled option; lentil chips, pistachios (without the shell), and dried cranberries (sugar-free). Good fats, protein, and complex carbs.

Edamame. This soy bean can be steamed and stored in any container, add some sea salt and it’s a protein powerhouse. There are roasted versions too, that are easy to snack on and nonperishable.

Jerky. Salmon jerky, soy jerky, and even turkey jerky can all be found with organic labels these days, and they are a great snack to tide hunger over in any kid. The protein content is high, and so is the sodium so watch out, but jerky has a great chewiness factor to keep kids occupied.

Keep it Cool

Cheese to-go. Babybel cheese and crackers or string cheese, grapes and corn chips or crackers.

Roll Ups.  Whole wheat or spelt tortillas (gluten free tortillas if needed), Swiss cheese, and turkey slices, and add some avocado if your kiddo is an adventurous eater or mustard. Vegetarian kiddo’s, can try hummus and extra vegetables.  Or the old-school PB&J can  be jazzed up with almond butter, banana, coconut flakes and honey in a tortilla. Cut into pinwheels and they become more fun to eat.bluediamond-nutthins

Dippers. Hummus and rice chips or baby carrots. You can actually freeze the hummus and 4 hours later its in its dipable form. Use it as an icepack and snack all at once.

Weelicous has amazing recipes for fruit and seedbars that you can make into gluten-free combos and creative fun snacks.

 

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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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What NOT to Say to Your Kids: Builiding Self-Esteem

We often make mistakes when talking to our kids, its only natural.  Even as a therapist I can say something with the intention of helping and it can be perceived as anything but! In working with kids and helping families for many years now, I have learned what to say and what NOT to say when trying to help build self-esteem and teach confidence.  My HealthyPlace.com vlog this week is on just that.  Learn what TO say and what to AVOID when talking to kids, consoling them, or helping them navigate life’s struggles.

 

Say it Right

For the original and more tips on building self-esteem click here to be directed to HealthyPlace.com

 

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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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