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We all experience anxiety sometimes, but when your child is the one who is stressed, it’s easy for parents to feel helpless. Here is some expert-approved advice on how to help your teen through anxious times.
Adolescents and anxiety. During the teenage years, the human brain undergoes a number of changes. Some experts feel that because of this period of growth, it’s especially important to establish good behavior patterns. You can set your child up for a successful adulthood by laying the groundwork now.
Coping skills. Parenting teens through anxiety is a challenge. According to Psychology Today, 10 to 20 percent of kids in school experience anxiety symptoms. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your child cope.
- Facing fears. Not dealing with whatever your child is afraid of extends the anxiety. Encourage your teen to face his or her concerns.
- Let go of perfection. Having goals and trying to achieve them is important, but your child needs to know that it’s okay to be imperfect.
- Stay positive. Your teen may be focusing on worries and negatives. Steer the perspective in a positive direction.
- Model appropriate behavior. Your child learns by watching you. If you avoid activities that make you anxious, your teen will as well. Similarly, be positive about your own experiences and model self-care.
- Plan relaxation. Even activities like clubs and sports can become goal-oriented. Ensure your child has downtime focused on fun.
- Problem solving. Help your child evaluate his or her worries and look for solutions. If your kid is unable to think of possible solutions, make suggestions and allow the child to select the one he or she feels is best.
- Remain calm. When something is upsetting to you, focus on good coping skills. Remain calm, take some deep breaths, and speak deliberately. Remember, your child is watching you and will model your behavior.
- Relax together. Teach your teen some basic relaxation exercises, and practice them together. Use techniques such as deep breathing and visualization.
- Model perseverance. Your teen may have routinely anxious times. Continue to reinforce appropriate behavior and exercises.
Be in the moment. Sometimes, your own emotions can tangle your responses and it can help to have a tool in your toolbox. Some professionals recommend using the word FEEL when you are helping your child through an anxious moment:
Freeze. Stop and take some deep breaths to settle nervousness.
Empathize. Make sure your teen knows you understand.
Evaluate. Find solutions.
Let go. Release your own guilt; you’re giving your teen great tools to manage anxiety.
Changes and moves. Moving and changing schools are some of the biggest stressors for kids. Your child may be experiencing substantial anxiety if your family is relocating or your child is entering a new school, but there are things you can do to ease the transition.
- Tell your child right away when you decide to move. Be positive, and address any concerns they have.
- Accept their emotions. Be understanding of all emotions your child is feeling, whether positive or negative.
- Let your child be involved on the day of the move. This will make them feel needed. It’s also important for them to see the house empty so they can get closure.
Warning signs. Watch for warning signs that your child is experiencing excessive anxiety, such as being continually stressed, nervous, or restless. Reach out to a professional if you think your teen’s anxiety is becoming unmanageable.
Set your teen up for success. Parenting your child through the adolescent years can be tough, especially when your teen experiences anxiety. However, you can help your child learn coping skills and be better prepared when troubles arise. By using the guidelines outlined here, you can assist your adolescent through anxiety.
Kids are notorious for being difficult eaters. With the bombardment of junk food and poor role models on TV, it’s no surprise that getting them to eat right can feel like an uphill battle. However, kids aren’t born bad eaters. These habits are learned, and setting an example and encouraging healthy eating from an early age can create a lifetime of good choices.
Healthy Eating, Healthy Kid
A balanced and nutritious diet is important to every child’s growth and development, regardless of age. Proper eating habits can help stabilize their energy, sharpen their minds, and regulate their moods. It will help them maintain a healthy weight and improve their mental health.
What your kids need varies as they grow. It is a good idea to talk to their pediatrician to find out exactly what vitamins and nutrients are necessary for them at their current age, but there are some basic rules that stay consistent as they grow. KidsHealth has a great diagram of how their plate should look at every meal; about half should be fruits and vegetables, a quarter of it grains, the last quarter protein, and it can be topped off with a small side of dairy. Also be sure to limit their added sugar as well as their saturated and trans fats consumption.
Be a Role Model
Children tend to mimic what they see, so it is up to you to set a good example with your own eating habits. Remember, actions speak louder than words. If you talk to them about the importance of eating right but then order a burger at the drive-through, it will undermine what you are trying to teach them. On the other hand, if they see you eating and enjoying a range of healthy foods, they will likely follow suit.
Prioritize Family Meals
Making mealtime about more than food by centering it around a joint family activity will create a positive image around healthy eating. Family meals have been proven to provide comfort. This also gives you a chance to catch up with your child’s daily life and establish a closer bond.
Do Not Restrict or Use a Reward System
As tempting as it might be to simply cut your child off from all junk food or tempt them with cake after they eat three more bites of their meal, resist the urge to do so. These sorts of approaches have a tendency to backfire and can lead to binge eating, according to Psychology Today. Alternatively, work with your kid’s personality to encourage better eating.
Keep Healthy Snacks Available
If you are concerned about your child eating certain foods, the easy solution is to simply just not keep them in your house. Instead, stock your home with healthy snack options. If that is what is available, that is what they will eat. This is especially important if they are old enough to get snacks without your help.
Make Them Your Sous Chef
Instead of preparing a separate meal for your child, which can encourage picky eating, encourage them to get involved in the meal planning. Letting your child help with planning meals, grocery shopping, and preparing the food will make them more invested and therefore more likely to eat it. Let them choose a recipe, then give them easy food-prep tasks, like cracking an egg or measuring ingredients. When it’s time to cook, consider using a toaster oven, which is a safer alternative to a standard oven.
Staying Healthy on a Budget
The easiest way to eat healthily and control your diet is by eating at home; this is often the cheapest way as well. Many thrifty shoppers plan their meals in advance based on what is on sale and what is in season. Once you have your grocery list, you need to stick to it. Grabbing things off the shelves as you shop is the easiest way to drive up that final cost.
Good Habits Start Young
Even for adults, healthy eating can be difficult. However, instead of thinking of it as a challenge, think of it as a new habit to build. This is especially important with children. As they continue to grow and develop, their needs will change, but instilling good habits from an early age can last a lifetime.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.
When you find yourself alone as a single father, there are many challenges you face– some of them universal to all single parents, and some that are unique to fathers in particular. When it comes to facing these hurdles, you need to be equipped with the right attitude and tools in order to master them. You won’t move through every obstacle at the same speed, and you may have some trip-ups along the way.
A Balancing Act
As a single parent, you have to take on all the roles: the good guy, the punisher, the homework-helper, the provider… there’s no end to the number of hats you have to wear. Balancing the workload is a universal problem for all single parents, but it can be particularly hard for a dad dealing with his career.
Since society still sees parenting as a “woman’s role,” there are flaws in many corporate systems. For instance, in 49 out of the 50 United States, employers do not have to provide paternity leave for new fathers after their child is born. The challenges continue as the child grows. A boss may expect a single father to be able to put in the same hours as another father living in a dual-parenting situation. However, as the sole parent in the household, staying at the office until 7 PM is simply not an option.
The Mom Club
As a single father, you may find yourself in a situation like a kid’s birthday party where you are the only male guardian in the group. You may find yourself standing off to the side while the moms socialize. It can be hard to break into these groups, but doing so can help build a powerful network of people in your neighborhood. Within that network, you can find help with babysitting or planning events– you know, that whole “it takes a village” thing.
A Burnout Situation
With all the stresses of being a single parent, it’s easy to start to feel burnout. Being a parent is exhausting emotionally, mentally, and physically. However you want to come back to it day after day at your best for the good of your children. To do that, you have to take care of yourself.
Of course, you probably don’t have the time or resources for a weekend getaway, but that’s okay. Doing little things every day, week, month, or just whenever you can will help center you and prevent burnout. Here are some ideas that can serve as a jumping-off point for your new self-care routine.
- Allow yourself a few minutes every day just for you, even if you only sit quietly by yourself with your eyes closed.
- Once a month or so, hire a babysitter and go to the movies or some other activity you love.
- Read for 10-15 minutes before bed every night to unwind.
- Wake up before the kids and get ready in a quiet house.
- Eat well– that means wholesome, nutritious foods. You can’t live off your kid’s leftover mac and cheese.
- Stay active, whether you exercise alone or take the kids for a family walk around the block after dinner.
As a single dad, you face unique challenges on top of the ones that come from being a sole provider. Expectations at the office are different for men, which makes it hard to balance work and home duties. Since mothers tend to organize their kids’ social lives, you have to learn to include yourself in these social groups to help build a community for your child. Finally, you may start to feel burnout from all the challenges. Take time to care for yourself by doing little things that help keep you centered and healthy.
Parenting is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. It’s also one of the most difficult challenges anyone can face. Without tending to your own needs first, it can be even more formidable. Incorporate these clever strategies into your lifestyle to ensure success for you and your infant.
The struggle is real. Parenting is challenging, stretching you in capacities you never dreamed of previously. One of the ways it stretches new parents is physically. Let’s face it: parenting is exhausting! According to Psychology Today, most parents are running on empty. The average mom is working a whopping 98 hours per week with only 17 minutes per day to herself. If this sounds all too familiar, it’s time to re-evaluate.
While you may believe that giving all you have is doing your best for your family, you would be better off spending more time on yourself. Being tired, unable to focus, low on energy, irritable and disengaged isn’t good for you, and it’s not good for those around you. By first tending to your own needs, you can then give more and give better to your loved ones.
Good self-care. Self-care isn’t expensive, it isn’t time-consuming, and it doesn’t require an abundance of freedom. Self-care involves actively pursuing a lifestyle that encourages your mental, physical, social and spiritual well-being for the long haul. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, practicing good hygiene, spending time with friends and family, and allowing yourself some recreation and downtime are all important aspects of self-care. If you’re struggling with how to manage that when you have a newborn baby, one idea is to commit to a single daily act of self-care that you hold as non-negotiable. Your adherence to one bit of “me time” will be off-limits to anyone infringing on it. It doesn’t need to be elaborate. Something as simple as going for a walk around your neighborhood contributes to your health and well-being and can be the cornerstone of your self-care plan.
Finding help. Newborn babies are time-consuming and require a great deal of focus and energy. It’s normal to struggle with finding time for yourself, and to an extent, you probably don’t want to. Time with your bundle of joy is precious, but it’s vital to engage in self-care. Reach out to a friend or family member to give you a break at least once each week, or seek a qualified babysitter. Schedule an outing with a close friend for lunch, or go on a date with your partner. Remember that filling your own cup first will allow you to offer more to your baby.
Story time. It’s important to read to your child, and some research reflects it’s never too early to start. Time spent reading to your little one is an opportunity for bonding, which meets a portion of your need for self-care. It also is soothing to your baby to listen to the sound of your voice and cultivates feelings of intimacy for you both.
Reading to your child lays a foundation for learning and academic growth as well. Children who are read to better understand voice inflection and tone, and they grasp more advanced mathematical skills than their cohorts when school age rolls around. They enjoy a broader vocabulary, are more adept linguistically, and score higher on standardized tests at the age of three.
While reading to your child, Raising Children recommends naming familiar things in the books to help your baby learn about sounds and words. Change the tone of your voice as you tell stories, linger after you read each page, and turn pages slowly. This allows your infant to absorb what you said and also demonstrates how books work.
Set for success. Participating in a self-care program is good for you and beneficial for your baby. Find ways to make time, and ensure you keep at least one self-care item non-negotiable. Spend time reading to your baby in order to bond and to lay a foundation for academic growth. With these strategies, you and your little one will be on a path to success.