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3 Ways To Help Your Child With Anxiety & Stress

Posted on Nov 14, 2017 3:30:00 PM by Laurel Robinson

According the the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million adults in America suffer with a form of anxiety. Children are not immune to anxiety, although they may have a hard time labeling what they are feeling.  

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Is your child stressed out or anxious? Do they dread going to certain places? Do they procrastinate, or have nervous habits, or get stomachaches?  Do they resist activities by acting up? Do they focus only on the negative and what might go wrong? These are all signs of anxiety.

How can we as parents help our children through this?

First, be compassionate. If you have ever felt nervous about something you can identify with what your child is feeling.  Even though our kids’ anxiety sometimes comes up in the most inconvenient ways (nausea, avoidance behavior, last minute crises), we need to take a step back and remember that parents are the protectors of children. We also, in a sense, represent the Lord to our kids.  We are their first mentors and disciplers. So, even if we are worried about getting to work late, having a mess on our hands, or embarrassment, we also need to consider the experience that our child is having in this moment. We must pray for wisdom: does this child need “tough love” right now to push through -- or a timeout and a listening ear?  Most likely they need our reassurance, but we should not dismiss their fears.  It can be a tricky balance.

Second, empower the child.  Anxiety is not alway as simple as “mind over matter,” but sometimes mental tools and strategies can be helpful. Encourage your child to do their best and focus on the positives.  Remind them that you will be here for them no matter what. If they are worried about their performance, walk them through what “doing your best” will look like.  For example, there is only one winner in a race, but the rest of the runners are still successful and accomplished if they have trained, practice, and persevered. They have overcome their own obstacles and perhaps beaten their own records. This is worth celebrating!  While you are giving your child this pep talk, check your own motives. Have you been pressuring your child to perform, compete, dominate?  If so, pray and surrender your child’s future to the Lord once again.

If you have techniques that help you when you are anxious, share them with your child.  Simple things like taking a deep breath, repeating a calming phrase or verse, or distracting yourself from obsessive thoughts can be helpful.  They may sound simple, but they are not necessarily things that a child would come up with on their own.  Practice them together until they can do them independently.

Third, talk to their teachers. Explain the strategies you are using, so that your teacher can reinforce them and possibly report back to you any progress or problems. This can create a positive cycle of improvement, or at least provide you with more information that you can use as you go to the next step.

If these changes in approach do not seem to bring any results, you might consider therapy. Child therapists, using play therapy or therapy animals, can get your child to reveal the troubling thoughts they haven’t mentioned to you.  Sometimes it is surprising, such as a bad dream they didn’t even want to revisit, or an experience that they didn’t want to relive. Once they speak about it, the therapist and parents can address the issue.  

Therapists can also help you identify when your child may need some further help such as medicine.  Some forms of anxiety are more deep-seated and beyond the realm of behavioral therapy.  Naturopaths might help you consider helpful modifications to your child’s diet, or ways your child get better sleep.

When you see signs of stress and anxiety in your child, do not ignore it, hoping it will go away.  Talk to other adults in their life to see what may be causing it, and be your child’s closest advocate. Having the support of family goes a long way toward healing.

 

For more helpful information see:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/renee-jain/9-things-every-parent-with-an-anxious-child-should-try_b_5651006.html

https://adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress

Moderating Screen Time

Posted on Feb 7, 2017 5:00:00 PM by Laurel Robinson

Should I moderate my child’s screen time?  If so, how can I place limits on my child’s screen time?  These are the questions that linger in every parent’s mind as we go through our hectic days.  We see our kids looking at screens, and we may not always have time to look over their shoulders. But we also have the unique role of seeing their hearts and the fruit of what’s going on in their hearts.Screentime 1.png


Why moderate screen time?

 In kids and adults, online activities can affect the way a person’s brain works. If we are constantly getting pop-up notifications, for example, our brains adapt to this norm and it becomes difficult for us to focus on a singular task for very long even when we want to.  We find ourselves interrupting our tasks with unnecessary distractions because that is how we are accustomed to operating. With this in mind, it would be wise for the entire family to set some boundaries on how electronics, email, social media, and games are used--for emotional and spiritual health.  You can even hold one another accountable to the guidelines you set together.

A recent study shows that a reasonable amount of screen time can actually be healthy for teens.  Researchers in the UK analyzed data that measured the screen time and well-being of just over 120,000 15-year-olds. They found that there was no direct link between screen time and well-being, but that those who used electronics more than a certain amount did experience decreased well-being. To be specific, on average, the teens' well-being peaked at “about 1 hours and 40 minutes of video-game play, about 1 hour 57 minutes of smartphone use, about 3 hours and 41 minutes of watching videos, and about 4 hours and 17 minutes of using computers.”  Any more than that, and the numbers trended toward unhappiness.

There are no magic (or even scientific) formulas to use, for your child is unique and wonderfully made by God. Beyond statistics, the bottom line is that as parents, you know your child’s heart and habits. You are in a position to observe whether screen time is making your child happy or sad, fulfilled or frustrated. There are so many factors to consider and ultimately, you want to encourage activities that enrich their life,and steer them away from those things that spawn dissatisfaction.


Avoiding negative screen time

If you identify a form of “screen time” that seems to be detrimental for your child (e.g., social media that leads to feeling left out, or a video game causing frustration), talk to them about it; help your child form their own conclusions about how to avoid it. Try to frame it in a positive, self-care context. This will be good for them now and in the future. If your child doesn’t choose to avoid it, you have the authority to place limits on their interaction with it. Or you can offer substitute forms of social interaction,entertainment, or whatever they are getting out of it.


Moderating positive screen time.

For any form of “screen time” that seems to make your child happy (e.g., chatting with good friends or building in Minecraft), it is still wise to encourage a time limit. Some clear-cut ways to set limits on screen time include the following:

  • Allow “unlimited” screen time, but only after homework and chores are done.
  • Allow screen time only on weekends.
  • Allow only 30 minutes of screen time after school, as a little break before homework.
  • Allow screen time only when you are present to supervise or be involved.
  • Allow as much screen time as your child “earns” by doing specific chores with specific values set for each chore.

During any allotted screen time, you will still want to be sure that your child spends it on something that is edifying for them!


Limiting Websites.

If your child has access to the internet, consider using an app that can help you supervise what your child is doing online. Covenant Eyes and Disney Circle are two examples of products that you can use to filter and/or review what your child sees online. One mother told me recently that her daughter comes to her with questions instead of Googling things because she knows her Mom sees every site she visits. This has led to good conversations and more engagement that they may not have had. Now that’s a win-win!

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3 Ways to Refocus Commercial Christmas Traditions on Christ

Posted on Dec 22, 2016 11:43:34 AM by Nikki Roberti Miller

In this age of commercialism, it’s getting harder and harder to keep the focus of Christ in

Christmas for our children. From all the presents to Santa Claus on every corner, it can send a

confusing message. Here are three ways to refocus common commercialized traditions back onto the real reason

for the season.

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Makeover #1: Commercial Advent Calendars



Counting down to Christmas is fun, especially if you get a chocolate each day like many favorite

Santa-themed advent calendars. But why not take it a step further? Make or purchase a reusable

advent calendar with slots that will fit a piece of paper. Each day, your child can read a verse

about the Christmas story leading up to Jesus’ birth on Dec. 25th. It’ll be a favorite tradition for

years to come. Here’s a list of verses to get you started.



Makeover #2: Elf on the Shelf



It seems like everyone has these “toys” nowadays, and for younger children, it’s hard not to feel

left out when everyone else has a “Mr. Jingles” who moves every night before they wake. But it

doesn’t have to be a “Santa spy” tradition like many make it out to be. Why not turn the old-

school elf into a “kindness elf” that leaves messages to your child about how to bless others as

God has blessed us this Christmas season? Or, look into the Christian version of Elf on the Shelf,

“The Christmas Angel” which leaves a message for your child each day on how to show love to

others.



Makeover #3: Santa Claus 

 

Whether Santa Claus is a tradition your family loves or something you all choose to stay away

from, there’s no denying it can be a sticky situation for all involved. On one hand, you want to

instill truth into your child and teach them how to have unwavering faith in real things like our

Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On the other hand, you may not want them to ruin Santa Claus for

other children who believe or even deprive your children of a tradition you loved as a child.

One way to eliminate the drama is to tell the historical story of the real Saint Nicholas, a

Christian who believed in giving to those in need, just as Jesus taught us. Explain that the

tradition of Santa Claus originated from his kindness and then read passages in the Bible together

about how we are to take care of others in need as well (for example: Proverbs 19:17, Hebrews

13:16, Acts 20:35). Together you can get excited about “being” a Santa Claus this Christmas

season.

Have your child pick someone they know that needs something and then help them

deliver it anonymously. They’ll get a firsthand experience of how it’s “better to give than to

receive” while also making the Christmas season more special than ever before.

Christian Parenting Tips: Fostering an Everyday Faith in Your Child

Posted on Jan 12, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

everyday faith

Being a Christian is much more than an external label, it is a way of life that begins with an everyday faith.  What is everyday faith?  It is a faith that is woven into the fabric of our lives, not just a coat we put on one day a week.  Here are some tips for fostering an everyday faith in your child:

Make Every Day the Lord’s Day

An everyday faith is more than just attending worship on Sundays.  It involves continuing the praise and worship each and every day of the week.  One way to do this is to engage in faith conversations with your child throughout the week to reinforce what was taught and discussed at church.

Keep God Front and Center

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Deuteronomy 6: 6-7 (NIV)

God is with us each and every moment of each and every day.  Keep Him front and center by acknowledging His involvement in your life.  For example, voice your thanks for a need He met, such as appreciation for the extra few dollars found hidden in your coat pocket when you thought you were short on cash.  Express your gratitude for the budding flowers in the spring or the colorful foliage in the fall.  When an ambulance passes by, pray for the emergency workers and for those who are in need of their care.

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Live Out Your Faith

Be a role model to your child.  Let him or her see you reading your bible or helping a neighbor.  Participate together in service activities, such as visiting a nursing home or collecting canned goods for those in need.

Everyday faith is about recognizing and living in the way in which God intends us to live.  When you help to foster an everyday faith in your child, you are helping him or her build a strong spiritual foundation.

“Train a child up in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)

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