Fear of Robbers and Bad People

Children are afraid of all kinds of things. Many children are afraid of robbers or “bad people”. Your child may be worried about someone breaking into the house in the middle of the night. Or, maybe your child worries about walking to school by himself because he’s afraid of a “bad guy” getting him. These fears can impair not only your child’s life, but also your own as he seeks the safety and comfort of your presence.

If your child has a fear of robbers and “bad people”, consider the following tips:

Try Emotional Coaching
In emotional coaching, the parent names the feelings that his or her child might be experiencing. For example, a parent can say things like, “I know you’re worried about a robber breaking in.” or “I understand that you’re scared to walk to school by yourself because you’re afraid that a bad person might hurt you.” This simple acknowledgment of the child’s true feelings is the opposite of what most parents tend to do. The more common approach is called “discounting” – an attempt to reassure the child by minimizing the seriousness of his fear. For instance, a parent who is discounting might say something like, “Your imagination is too active; there is nothing to be afraid of.” Interestingly, discounting not only fails to reassure a child, but it actually increases fear over time. Most parents will notice that no matter how many times they tell the child NOT to worry, the child continues to worry. Emotional Coaching, on the other hand, has a greater chance of helping the child to release his upsetting emotions. Once the bad feeling is named by someone else, much of it melts away. Therefore, when the child hears the parent reflect back to him, “Yes, I understand that you are afraid,” the child becomes LESS afraid. The parent can then go on to explore what will make the child feel more comfortable. The conversation might sound like this, “I understand that you are afraid of robbers coming into your room. Since you still have to sleep in your room, tell us if there is anything that we can do to help you feel safer.”

Talk About Safety
It’s impossible to shield children from images and news of “bad guys.” Instead of throwing out the T.V., shutting down the computer, silencing the radio and hiding news publications, talk to your fearful child. Ask him to tell you what he is most afraid of (i.e. it might be a fear of being kidnapped or murdered, or being abandoned because a parent is kidnapped or murdered, or experiencing pain or some other fear completely). Use Emotional Coaching (naming his feelings) and Validating (acknowledging how the feelings makes sense). Then, give your child both information and anxiety reduction strategies (see below). Helpful information includes offering some sense of statistical probabilities of experiencing robbery or other crimes (which doesn’t cure fears, but can help reduce them). Other information you might share, depending on the age of your child, is how to dial 911 for emergency help, how to hide if necessary, how to reach a safe adult and even how to defend oneself. Rather than being frightening, this kind of information can help reduce feelings of helplessness and increase a sense of agency.

Use Bibliotherapy (read stories)
Ask your local librarian for suggestions for age-appropriate books and movies that highlight children’s abilities to courageously and creatively face challenges and solve problems. Reading about other children dealing with problems and facing challenges can help give your child self-confidence that he too will be able to deal with difficult circumstances. This is not to suggest that a child might be able to fend off a robber, but it can help your child to remember the safety steps you have taught him for emergency situations. Most importantly, it will help the child begin to develop a more POSITIVE imagination and a less vulnerable, helpless mindset. This can reduce the habit of conjuring up scary images of bad people and bad things happening. It can build a healthier feeling of being empowered and safe.

Be Careful Not to Reinforce Fears
Avoidance makes fears worse – don’t solve the problem by letting your child sleep in your room if he or she has already been sleeping in his or her own room. In addition, be careful not to show excessive interest in your child’s fears. Too much attention can accidentally reinforce the fear. The first time the child mentions the fear, give all the understanding and education that you can. After that, give mini-versions for review and, as time goes on, say less and less. After a while, you can say things like, “Remember what we talked about before. Good night. Have a good sleep.”

Teach Strategies to Cope with Fear
Show your child how to think positively. Teach him to imagine protectors, robber-stoppers, friendly lions, angels, and so forth. If you have taught him about God, then teach him to ask for protection and expect to receive it. Teach him or her to notice every day and night how he and everyone he cares for is still safe and alive. Let him realize that there is nothing to worry about.

Another helpful thing to do is to teach your child how to calm his or her nervous system with breathing techniques. This gives the child a way to soothe himself without needing you to be in the room. Used regularly, it can also prevent fearful thoughts from occurring in the first place. One good technique is to teach your child to pay attention to his or her breath, thinking the word “in” when breathing in and thinking the word “out” when breathing out. Help the child breathe this way with you for a few minutes and then instruct the child to continue to breathe like that on his or her own whenever the scary feeling arises. This method of breathing calms the nervous system and can even help the child to fall asleep. Another useful anxiety-taming strategy is EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique. This simple acupressure technique can make fears literally disappear. The internet is a rich resource for instruction on EFT and there are also many books available on the subject. Some therapists also use and teach EFT in their practices – you can search for one online. EFT takes only a few minutes to do and is so simple that a child can do it independently once instructed.

Experiment with Bach Flowers
Bach Flower Therapy is a harmless water-based naturopathic treatment that can ease emotional distress and even prevent it from occurring in the future. Bach Flower Remedies are excellent for the treatment of fears.  Of the 38 remedies in the system, there are many that deal directly with different types of fear. The flower remedy Mimulus can help cure phobias, while the flower remedy Rock Rose can prevent feelings of panic. Walnut is the flower for those strongly affected by seeing or hearing about bad people doing things (i.e in the news and media). Bach Flowers are sold in health food stores around the world. You can mix several together in one treatment bottle. Fill a one-ounce Bach Mixing Bottle (an empty bottle with a glass dropper, sold wherever Bach Remedies are sold) with water. Add two drops of each remedy. Add one teaspoon of brandy. The bottle is now ready to use: place 4 drops in any liquid (juice, water, milk, tea, soup, etc.) 4 times each day: morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening. Remedies can be taken with or without food. Continue until the fear has dissipated. Treat again if the fear returns. Continue in this way, treating the fear when it is present and stopping treatment when it is not present, until it is simply gone.

If Fear Persists and Interferes with Sleep, Seek Professional Help
If you find that your child is still intensely fearful of robbers and bad people even after you have provided support and education, do consider accessing professional help. A child-psychologist may be able to treat your child’s fears in a few brief sessions.

Children’s Fears

For many children, vague fears are a common occurrence. Worries and fears can include a fear of “monsters”, the dark, or simply “bad things happening.” Such worries can be intense and prevent a child from falling asleep peacefully at night. They can also hamper his independence (i.e. he may not want to sleep alone or walk places by himself). Worries like these are not only present at night, but can also manifest during the day, preventing concentration in class or enjoyment in play. Thoughts such as “What if something will go wrong?” or “What if I get hurt?” can often be present as a result of these unnamed fears. The child’s entire world can be a place where unknown danger lurks at every corner.

If your child is bothered by vague fears and worries, consider the following tips.

Use Emotional Coaching
Try not to discount the child’s worries or fears. Responses to his fear such as “there’s nothing to be afraid of,” or “there’s no such thing as monsters,” will not provide the help your child needs and may even increase his anxiety. Listen to him and show him that you care, and that you are taking him seriously. Use Emotional Coaching – the technique of naming the child’s feelings. For example, you might say, “I know that you are afraid of the dark. It’s hard for you to stay in your room alone.” After naming the child’s feelings, you may refer to the “facts” – i.e. “It’s important to go to sleep in your own bed. We can leave a night light on if that will make you feel more comfortable.”

Note that reacting intensely to your child’s fears (i.e. helping him to check every corner of the room for monsters) can also be detrimental to his condition, as you may be implying that his fears are rational (since to state that he is now safe implies that there was a indeed a possible threat!).

Reward Positive Behavior
Whenever your child faces his fear, provide positive attention. For instance, if your child goes to sleep even though he’s afraid of something, praise his bravery in the morning. Providing positive attention can help reinforce your child’s positive behavior.

Teach Relaxation Techniques
Breathing exercises and other relaxation strategies can help one counteract feelings of fear or panic. One such exercise that can prove very helpful in helping one relax is this simple mindfulness-based practice. Ask your child to lie down, close his eyes and notice his breathing by paying attention to the feeling of air going in and out of his nostrils or by noticing the rising and falling of his chest or tummy. When the child feels that the breath is going in, he should think the word “in” and when he notices that it is going out, he should think the word “out.” By concentrating on his breath this way, the child’s mind remains in a safe place, far away from imaginary catastrophes and dangers. Moreover, when focused on, the breath naturally slows down, calming both the body and mind.

Replace Bad Thoughts with Good Ones
Fear is a product of thought. One imagines something, whether it is monsters hiding under the bed or evil lurking in the dark, and his brain triggers a fear response. However, if those disturbing thoughts are replaced by positive ones, the the child can feel relaxed and safe instead. Reading your child a positive and happy story before he falls asleep can be one way of encouraging positive thoughts. Ask the child to concentrate on the details of the story as he or she falls asleep. Also, teach your child to think positive thoughts (such as remembering the fun parts of his day or thinking a phrase such as, “I’m safe in this house and protected by my parents (and/or God).” Putting attention on uplifting thoughts can be an effective tool in combating fear.

Read or Tell Stories about Brave Children
An effective fear-reducing technique is therapeutic story-telling. Tell your child a story about a little boy or girl (who happens to have the same name as your child) who encounters many challenges and overcomes them all. For instance, “There was a little boy named Michael-the-Brave. Michael-the-Brave went on a hike with his friends. Suddenly, they spotted a crocodile in the river! Michael-the-Brave pulled out a magic net from his backpack and threw it over the crocodile. The crocodile immediately became friendly and asked to the children if he could come along on their hike. Of course, they were happy to let him come.” Add all sorts of imaginary adventures, each one ending happily. This technique helps children develop a positive, confident imagination and helps them incorporate a self-image of bravery and strength.

Try Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower Remedies can help your child overcome fears. The remedy Aspen addresses vague fears (like those discussed in this article). Give your child 2 drops of Aspen in liquid 4 times a day until his fear has diminished. You can find more information on Bach Flower Remedies online and throughout this site.

Consult a Mental Health Professional
If you’ve tried all the tips in this article and your child is still experiencing fears and worries that are interfering with his day-to-day life, you may want to consider a consultation with a mental health professional.

Child Won’t Wear Glasses

Corrective eye wear – glasses or lenses – are often prescribed for children to help correct their vision problems. In some cases, a child needs eyeglasses because he or she is near-sighted; that is, the child has difficulty seeing objects that are far away. In other cases, the opposite is true. A child may be far-sighted (also called long-sighted); he or she has more difficulty clearly seeing objects that are close (like books). Nearsightedness is often accompanied by astigmatism, a condition that causes sometimes causes blurry vision, squinting and/or headaches.

If your child needs glasses but won’t wear them, what can you do about it? Consider the following tips:

Ask Them Why They Refuse to Wear Their Glasses
Different kids have different reasons for refusing to wear prescription eyeglasses, so don’t immediately assume defiance or misbehavior! Some kids just find it irritating to wear something on their face. Others think it makes them appear “nerdy” or “un-cool.” Some kids may be reacting to teasing by peers; being called “owl-face” or “four-eyes” can be very upsetting to sensitive souls. And some kids are experiencing physical side effects – they feel dizzy, suffer from headaches, or experience other symptoms. If you can surface your child’s specific concern regarding eyeglasses, you are in a better position to address the issue.

Check the Fit
If your child is physically uncomfortable with his or her glasses, consider a return trip to the optometrist for a re-fitting or even a return! Is your child’s pair too tight? Too heavy? Too loose? Are there any sharp or hard edges? Are the lens’ grades accurate? Well-fitting eyewear can be worn effortlessly, almost unnoticeably. 

Make it an Adventure
If your child is really young, consider making the wearing of eyeglasses exciting. Did you know that there are children’s story books specifically designed to help younger children adjust to having to wear eyeglasses? A quick search engine query will unearth some titles. You can also point out their favorite glasses-wearing TV and movie heroes (i.e. Harry Potter). And if you have a well-stocked family album (and a family history of wearing eyeglasses!), then identifying aunts, uncles and grandparents who wear a pair can be a fun exercise.

Educate Them About the Need to Wear Eyeglasses
If your child is old enough, arranging a friendly chat with their ophthalmologist or optometrist may be helpful. Knowing the actual health reason behind the prescriptive eyewear can make the wearing of them less of an imposition and more of a choice. The eye care professional may emphasize how common the need for eyeglasses is; it will make your child feel less alone. Identifying concrete benefits of an improved vision — no more waving to the wrong person across the playground, better grades, fewer headaches, more accurate dart games — can also help.

Consider Trendier Styles – even Contact Lenses
For older children (especially for teens and pre-teens), who are concerned mostly about what eyeglasses do to their appearance, try to let your child choose a more fashionable pair — or even contact lenses. As long as the eyeglasses are within your budget, and style doesn’t trump frame and lens quality, do encourage your child to express him or herself. Also keep in mind that even very young children like 5 or 6 year olds are quite self-conscious about their appearance. Make sure that your little child also really likes his or her glasses. Never decide for the youngster what glasses look good. As long as your child doesn’t pick something totally inappropriate or absolutely ugly or impractical, then let him or her have the choice. In other words, if your daughter wants pink frames on a normal looking pair of glasses, let her have them even though YOU think metal or clear frames will go with “everything.”

Make Eyeglasses a Normal and Expected Part of Life
Place your child’s eyeglass case alongside their school supplies and “expect” him or her to use them in a matter-of-fact way. “Please put your glasses when you’re doing your homework.” Don’t give up just because your child seems to be trying to avoid the issue. Persist, as if to say, “there’s no going back; you are wearing glasses now.” Of course, don’t use anger to get your point across. However, feel free to use positive reinforcement (“hey – you remembered to put your glasses on!”) or, if necessary, negative consequences (“if you don’t wear those glasses in school, I’m going to ask every teacher to place your seat in the front row so you can see the board.”)

When Mother Feels Guilty

We can start each day wanting to do better. In fact – lucky for us – we can start each minute that way! Did I just scream at you? Oops! Let me say that again more quietly. Did I just call you an unpleasant name? I’m so sorry! I’m going to take steps to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Whatever I did wrong (for the last twenty years), discount I can still set right. In fact, cialis that’s the purpose of my life – to continuously improve my ways.

Slow Progress
Good intentions, however, are not enough. They rarely lead to actual changes in our thoughts or actions. A parent can “wish” to be a better parent every day while making no real progress toward that goal. How many years can pass by while a parent “wishes” to remove anger from her parenting toolbox! Meanwhile, little psyches are developing, absorbing the parent of now, today’s level of competence. How long can they wait for us to become models worth emulating?

No Time for Guilt
Such thoughts might lead some mothers to fall into their favorite emotional dark hole: the endless pit of guilt. However, feeling guilty about our personal failings isn’t necessary or productive. Of course we have human faults and imperfections. That’s a given. Our children and spouses are no better. The task is not to become perfect but simply to move forward. We’re just supposed to be working on ourselves, inch by inch, day by day. So we can pick a small area in which we perceiving a lacking and construct a program of rehabilitation for that one quality or tendency.

For instance, perhaps a mother feels that she’s too critical with her kids. She knows she picked up the trait from her own mother and she doesn’t want to pass it on to her kids and through them, to her grandchildren! Her oldest is already seven, so time is of the essence. She wants to change this behavior NOW!

Clearly, feeling guilty will not help. In fact, after spurring one on momentarily, guilt can lead to discouragement, despair, hopelessness and resignation. It’s an emotion that is generated by one’s own critical inner parent as it voices disapproval: “You’re such an awful mother. Your kids are going to hate you like you hate your mother. You never learn from your mistakes….” After listening to such inner abuse, who wouldn’t feel guilty and doomed to failure? The trick in dealing with guilt is to send the inner critic on a little trip to outer space. Tell that voice that no abuse is allowed in your inner world, so it has to leave – and then picture it being tossed into a sound-proof, sealed box and thrust far, far out of your head. Then, replace it with a healthy, helpful inner parent – one that is remarkably like the parent you are hoping to become. This gentle voice offers encouragement and structure. “It’s a new moment in time – the perfect moment for change. Let’s start by drawing up a plan that will help you achieve your goal of becoming less critical” (more patient, more affectionate, less stressed, less reactive, more upbeat, less judgmental, better at saying “no,” better at setting boundaries, more flexible……or whatever particular trait you decide to tackle).

The Plan
Let your inner, compassionate parent help you create a structure for change. Together you can outline the strategy (read a book, take a class, seek counseling, set up a buddy system) and gently review progress on a daily basis. Purchase a little book to keep track of your target behavior – rate it each evening between 1 (needs a lot of improvement) and 10 (outstanding accomplishment) and make little helpful comments in the margin (“remember to eat 3 meals to maintain equilibrium,” “take a power nap before kids get home to help raise this score tomorrow,” “remember to purchase little treats to reinforce this high score,” “review chapter 3 in anger book,” and so on). Know for certain that you will achieve your goal if you track it this way and make the adjustments you need to make in order for you to be able to consistently meet your target behavior. When you’re consistently achieving your goal, then target a new aspect of personal development and start a new page in your book.

Hold onto your book and use it as proof that you can change. Use this evidence to encourage yourself for all the future programs of change that you undertake. Take advantage of the new moment, the new day and the new year – so many opportunities for beautiful new beginnings!

Teen Peer Pressure

As kids grow up and reach their teen years their peer relationships are one of the most important aspects of their lives. The social groups that teens attach themselves to are signals to other peers of who they are and what their values are. Others judge them based on their social group. Teens form their own little worlds – small groups of like-minded friends. They have a specific dialect, distinct way of dressing and do similar activities. They think that adults, particularly parents, don’t know what’s going on and “don’t get them.” There is a lot of pressure for teens to fit in and be cool. Many times teens will do something that they know is wrong just to appear cool and be accepted by others. Teens who have low self esteem or lack confidence and those who lack real friendships and are therefore lonely and depressed, are more likely to give into peer pressure.

Peer pressure can sometimes be good. For example, a friend might be able to convince another friend not to get into a car when the person has been drinking. However, negative peer pressure is very common amongst teens because of the need to be part of a group and also because of their natural curiosity to try out new things.

What’s Your Teen Being Pressured Into?
Peers can pressure each other into all sorts of dangerous, unhealthy, immoral and/or illegal activities. Here are some of the more common pressure points:

  • Smoking can be tried as early as 13 years old
  • Having too much alcohol
  • Trying drugs
  • Having sex before they are ready
  • Shoplifting
  • Pushing off school work to have fun or to party
  • Giving up extracurricular activities
  • Allowing friends to cheat off them
  • Bullying others

How Parents can Help

  • Talk to your teen. Tell them that you respect their friends and understand that they can make mistakes just like you do. If you identify problems with the friends, explain your concerns clearly.
  • Talk to other parents and exchange ideas and work together to help keep your teens safe
  • Help your teen come up with strategies on how to say no and fight peer pressure using techniques such as blaming it on parents, say no and leaving, suggesting other “cool” ideas and so on. Brainstorm with your teen. Ask them if they’ve seen other kids resisting social pressure. How did they do it?
  • Teach your teen to be accountable for what he did wrong. Even though friends can sometimes be wrong also your teen must know that he is always responsible for his actions
  • Invite your teen’s friends over and get to know them. Your teen might not admit it but he/she feels good when parents show that they approve of their friends and that they can relate to them

Keep Calm
It is normal for teens to feel like they are being judged so when you speak to them make sure your tone is non-threatening but rather understanding and calm. If they see you getting upset then they will also. Try to relate to them by telling them issues you faced as a teen. An open line of communication is one of the most valuable things you can offer your teen. Do not force them to talk but let them know that you are always there when they need you. As teens grow up and explore who they are, this time period will be a positive experience for them. Your teen will probably be involved in some form of negative peer pressure at some point but with the help of your expert parenting skills, they’ll be just fine!

Helping Teens Who Hurt Themselves

Self-injurious behavior is any action that is intended hurt one’s own body. Teens engage in all sorts of self-injurious behavior, vialis 40mg including cutting their body, vcialis 40mg hitting themselves, dosage burning themselves, pulling out their hair, picking at their skin, poking at themselves and so on.

Why Do Kids Do It?
A teenager may use self-injury after a devastating or stressful event. The young person doesn’t always know how to deal with deeply troubling feelings in a healthy way.  Physical injury acts as a visible representation of emotional (internal and invisible) pain. It can also show others, without the use of words, that nurturing and solace is needed. Unfortunately, the act of self injuring only provides temporary relief, and once the physical wound heals the emotional pain returns full force.

More Reasons for Self Injury
Self-injury is often used to end the painful sensation of emotional apathy or numbness. It “wakes” a person up and allows some sort of feelings to flow again. Emotional numbing is an automatic defense process that occurs to people who have been badly emotionally wounded. For instance, many victims of physical, sexual or emotional abuse experience periods of numbing (sometimes alternating with periods of emotional flooding).

Moreover, the guilt and confusion that can occur from childhood abuse is often overwhelming. Sometimes adolescents “punish” themselves for being “bad” assuming that they must have deserved the abusive treatment they received. Self injury is then a form of self-abuse that is consistent with the youngster’s self-concept.

In addition, causing oneself pain can be a way of “taking control” of one’s situation. Sometimes a teenager feels very out of control, either due to abuse or due to other stresses. By initiating a physical injury, he or she has stopped being a helpless victim of circumstances. Instead of waiting for lightning to strike and burn them, these children strike the match themselves. In a superstitious sort of way, they might also think that the injury can prevent something worse from happening in their lives.

Teens also quickly discover that their behavior can control those around them. People react. Parents may stand up and take notice, seek therapy, feel guily. Friends may give extra attention or they may back off. The teen creates a tumult. It is a minor victory over helplessness.

Who Hurts Themselves?
Today, many kids hurt themselves. It is a social phenomenon. Once a teenager discovers a friend who engages in self-injury, she is more likely to try this form of communication herself. The most likely candidates for self injury include those whose expression of emotion (particularly anger) was discouraged during childhood, those who have a limited social support system, and those who have other mental health diagnoses such as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), eating disorders, substance abuse and depression.

What are the Most Common Ways that Teens Hurt Themselves?

  • Cutting – When one makes cuts or scratches on their body with sharp objects such as knives, needles, razor blades or fingernails. The most frequent parts of the body that are harmed are the arms, legs, and the front of the torso because they are easy to reach and can be concealed under clothing.
  • Branding – When one burns themselves with a hot object or, Friction burn which is rubbing a pencil eraser on one’s skin.
  • Picking at skin or reopening wounds (Dermatillomania) – This is an impulse control disorder which is recognized by the constant impulse for one to pick at their own skin. It is usually done to the point that injury is caused which acts as a source of gratification or stress reliever.
  • Hair Pulling (trichotillomania) – An impulsive control disorder which appears to be a habit, addiction, or an obsessive compulsive disorder. It involves pulling hair out from any part of the body. When hair is pulled from the scalp the results are patchy bald spots on their head. Usually they wear hats or scarves to cover up their baldness. Irregular levels of serotonin or dopamine play a possible role in hair pulling.
  • Bone breaking, punching, or head banging – Usually seen with autism or severe mental retardation.
  • Numerous piercings or tattoos – Can be a self injurious activity if it involves pain and/or stress relief.

Is Self-Injury a Suicide Attempt?
When a person causes injury upon themselves it is usually done without suicidal intentions, yet there have been cases where accidental deaths have happened. When a person self injures they do it as a means to reduce stress. People who self injure themselves usually possess a faulty sense of self value and these harsh feelings can whirlwind into a suicidal attempt. Often the intentions of self harm can go too far and it is at that point where professional intervention is necessary.

How to Help a Self Injurer:

  • Understand that self injurious behavior is a need to have control over oneself and it is a self comforting act
  • Show the person that you care about them and that you want to listen to them
  • Encourage them to express their emotions, especially anger
  • Spend quality time doing activities that are pleasurable
  • Help them seek out a therapist or support group
  • Avoid judgmental remarks

How Can Teens Help Themselves?

  • Realize that it is a problem and that there are probably issues that are hurting on the inside that need professional guidance
  • Realize that self harm is not about being a bad person, rather understanding that this behavior which is seemingly helping is becoming a significant issue
  • Seek out a mentor that can help. This could be a friend, Rabbi, minister, counselor, or relative or any other person you feel comfortable talking to about this issue
  • Seek help to understand what triggers these behaviors
  • Understand that self inuring behaviors are a way to self calm and learn better ways to calm yourself

Treatments for Self Injury
Psychotherapy is recommended for kids who hurt themselves. Sometimes medication will also be helpful. A psychological assessment by a qualified mental health practitioner can determine the most appropriate course of action in each case. Here are some of the common treatments for teens who self injure:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy. This helps a person understand why they hurt themselves in healthier ways.
  • Therapies that deal with post traumatic stress disorder such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
  • Hypnosis or self-relaxation
  • Group therapy which helps minimize shame, and helps express emotion in a healthy way
  • Family therapy which can trace back to history of family stress and helps families deal with their family member who self injures in a non judgmental way. It also teaches them how to communicate more effectively with each other and reduces parent-child conflicts and relationship difficulties.
  • Antidepressants or anti anxiety medications to reduce the impulsivity of the of the action while the self injurer is going for therapy
  • In critical situations, a self injurer needs to be hospitalized with various approaches along with a team of professionals

Do Teens Recover From Self-Injury?
Yes! With proper treatment, the prognosis is excellent. Self-injury can be the crisis that brings a family to therapy. This is often a turning point in the family’s life, helping not only the self-injuring teen, but also other members of the family to reach higher levels of emotional well-being than ever before.

Child is Anxious

Childhood anxiety is very common. Small children – infants and toddlers – routinely show fear of strangers, new places and people, animals, loud noises, the dark and many other things. Most of these fears will melt away by the time a child is five or so. However, some children will continue to experience significant amounts of anxiety because they are “anxious by nature.” They have inherited “anxious genes.”

Fortunately, there are many new techniques available to help anxious kids (and adults!). We’ll look at one in this article – an  intervention called “WHEE” which stands for Wholistic Hybrid of EMDR and EFT. For those unfamiliar with these names of psychological treatments, WHEE can also stand for Wholistic Healing Easily and Effectively.

WHEE is a self-help technique. A parent can learn it and teach it to their child or they can take their child to a psychological practitioner who is familiar with it. Parents can learn all about WHEE at www.wholistichealingresearch.com where it is explained in depth by its developer, psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Benor.

WHEE Basics
Here is an introduction to the WHEE method. Try it on yourself first. Once you see how it can help calm and relax you, then teach it to your child.

  1. Think of something you are worried about. Rate how worried you are about the issue between 1 and 10, 10 being “extremely worried.”
  2. Fold your arms across your chest so that your right hand is resting on your left upper arm and your left hand is resting on your right upper arm. This is called the “Indian Chief” position, or the “Butterfly” position. You will be tapping alternately on your arms, left/right, left/right, left/right throughout the treatment (one tap on your left arm, followed by one tap on your right arm, repeating continuously for about 30 seconds).
  3. Close your eyes and start your alternate tapping. Say, “Even though I’m worried about (name your worry in as much detail as you possibly can), I know I am a good person (and God is with me and will help me). Include that last bracketed phrase if you believe it to be true. Continue tapping and worrying for about 30 seconds.
  4. Keeping eyes closed, put your hands on your lap and take a deep breath in and out. Let your energy settle. Notice what thoughts, feelings, sensations and images are coming into your awareness. If you have more worry than before, or there is a new disturbing thought, or you are less worried but still worried, start at step 1 and do all 4 steps again. If all the worry is gone, tap on your lap (left/right, left/right, etc.) SLOWLY, for only about 10 seconds, stating a positive thought as you are tapping (i.e. “I know it will be fine” or “God will help us through this” or “I feel calm and confident” or any other positive thought that now comes to your mind. Pause after 10 seconds of tapping and then repeat another 10 seconds with the positive thought. Finally, do one more round.

WHEE for Everything
A parent can help a child using WHEE for a phobia. For instance, suppose you are going to be visiting people who own a dog and your child is terrified of dogs. Before you go, you can ask the youngster to picture the dog and feel the fear. While he is feeling the fear, guide him through the WHEE steps, until he feels calm and confident.

A child may be anxious about an examination or test. WHEE can reduce the anxiety to zero. A child may be afraid to stay alone in his bedroom. WHEE can make the monsters disappear! WHEE can be used for any sort of distress such as sadness about a friend moving away, a pet dying or parents divorcing. WHEE can be used to help reduce anger, jealousy and overwhelm. It can eliminate all kinds of fears – such as the fear of public speaking, first time experiences, being away at camp and so on.

Once a child knows how to help himself with WHEE, his confidence will soar. He’ll have instant healing whenever he needs it – right at his fingertips!

When Your Child is Homesick

Home is where the heart is. When kids leave home – for a night, a weekend, a month, a school year, or for good – there are often mixed emotions. Excitement, fear and sadness are common feelings but may be confusing or even overwhelming for the youngster who is experiencing them. How can parents help their children negotiate departures most comfortably? How can they help them through the pain of homesickness when it occurs?

Homesick
The pain of leaving home has different sources for different children. Let’s look at three common origins of this type of sadness:

1. Leaving home for camp, school, vacation and travel means dealing with change. One is thrust out of one’s familiar, cozy, home environment and thrown into a new, different place. Kids who have trouble handling change will naturally have some level of difficulty in adjusting to living away from home because of that factor alone.

2. Leaving home also means leaving a place of security and familiarity. Children who tend to be fearful in general will often feel separation anxiety – the fear of being alone, separated from everything they know and love.

3. Leaving home for the first time is like any other “first time” experience; initially challenging and somewhat anxiety-provoking for almost everyone.

These three issues – difficulty handling change, general anxiety and the challenge of new experiences – require three different types of parental interventions.

Difficulty with Change
Some kids want to come home because they are having trouble being out of their familiar environment. If your child is like this, you can help prevent homesickness in the first place by helping your child become as familiar with the new environment as possible before he or she actually goes there. For instance, taking young children to see their new classroom before the first day of school helps the place to become somewhat familiar even though it is a new place. Taking children to see the hospital in preparation for a stay there is a similar concept. Sometimes, however, the child cannot go to the new location. In such a case, picture books or internet video clips might be employed to illustrate the general idea. There are, for instance, video clips of children preparing for surgery and recovery in a hospital – these clips show everything from the admitting desk to the surgical room and more.

Offering your child the Bach Flower Remedy Walnut can help foster an easier adjustment to change. Walnut is specifically indicated for those kids and teens who have a hard time with changing circumstances. Two drops in a little liquid, taken four times a day in the weeks before the change can help make the transition must easier and more comfortable. You can find more information on the Bach Flower Remedies online and throughout this site.

If you have not been able to prepare your youngster for leaving home, you can help him adjust to change by sending along some familiar items (i.e. a favorite pillow, some family photos and so on). Once in his new location, it may be helpful for the child to be able to communicate with you frequently at first, simply to help ease the transition. As the child becomes more comfortable in his or her new surroundings, less communication will be necessary.

Allow your child to express his or her unhappy feelings. “I don’t like it here,” “I don’t like the food here,” “I don’t know anyone here,” I want to come home,” are all legitimate feelings. Acknowledge and accept them. “I know Honey. Yes it’s hard. Yes, it’s different. I understand.” Refrain from telling the child that he will soon get used to everything. Let that happen by itself. Also refrain from rescuing the child by bringing him home. He needs to master the experience of change. “You’ll soon be home again,” is enough – respond calmly to the child’s anxious and stressed state. Don’t offer too much reassurance, but instead convey through your calm responses that you believe in the child’s ability to handle the difficult feelings. “I know it’s not easy.” Say it sympathetically and just leave it at that. If the child is quite young, try to arrange for extra adult support. “Aunty Sara will let you sleep in her room for the first few nights.” Little kids need more help in adjusting to new environments. When they are given that help, their adjustment tends to be smoother. This is also why some nursery school classes allow parents to stay with a child for the first few days – or even weeks – of school. Gradual transitions to separation are easier on small children than sudden separations. Similarly, younger children do better with shorter stays away from home. It’s normally very hard on a four year old to be away from parents for more than a couple of days. Eight year-olds may be fine with two weeks away at camp. Fourteen year-olds can usually handle two months away with no problem. However, don’t be surprised to find your eighteen or nineteen year old child experiencing homesickness in College or other places away from home. They, too, can be bothered by the change or the separation issues.

Difficulty Separating
Children with separation issues need to build up their ability to leave home. If possible, help them to make short excursions before more lengthy ones: arrange for them to sleep over ONE night at Grandma’s house. Staying with familiar people helps in the early stages. Build up to two nights away, a few days, a week or two and a month – try to do all this before sending this kind of youngster off to college in another city. If you haven’t done this or if it hasn’t helped, and your child is painfully homesick missing YOU and the family, then it’s fine to help the youngster by providing as much communication as possible until he gets used to being away. For instance, there is no reason to avoid daily telephone calls or frequent texting (unless the child is at a camp that forbids this). Eventually the child will settle into his new environment and not need or want that much contact from you. Use some of the comfort strategies suggested above for kids who find change difficult – bringing familiar things from home can help at least a little.

The Bach Flower Remedy Mimulus can help reduce the pain of being away from loved ones. Give as described above for Walnut.

Again, it is important to help your youngster succeed at staying away. Bringing him home early should be avoided unless the homesickness is so overwhelming that the child is not functioning well in his new environment. Even an older teenager can be brought home if homesickness is interfering with his functioning – sometimes, he just needs one more year or two at home. People do develop at different rates. During that time, it would be wise to arrange brief separations as described above, in order to help prepare the child for a lengthier separation in the near future. Keep in mind that one 13 year-old is ready to leave happily to a boarding school while another is beyond miserable at the thought of being away. Your child is an individual who needs individual attention – there is no one right way to respond to serious homesickness. Do what feels right for you and your child. However, if a child is young (under 9) and homesick, go ahead and bring him home if it is possible to do so – he’ll do better with separation when he’s older.

The Stress of First Time Experiences
In order to reduce feelings of homesickness that are occurring due to the fact that the experience of being away is new, help prepare the child for the experience as much as possible. Use the strategies suggested above for kids who have difficulty with change.

Sometimes there is no time to prepare a child. A youngster might suddenly require hospitalization, for instance or he may have to suddenly stay at a relative’s house due to a family emergency. Explain what is happening in as much detail as possible. “Mommy and Daddy have to fly to New York for Grandad’s funeral. You will be staying with the Gold’s until we get back. We’ll be gone for four days. We’ll call you every morning to say good morning and every night to say goodnight before you go to sleep. You will have breakfast, lunch and dinner with the Gold’s. You will also have a bath there one night. I am sending your clothes and your school books. You’ll go to school as usual and they will pick you up afterward…” Giving the child all of this information can help him cope with the novel situation with less stress.

However, the child may still miss his home and his parents. Again, allow him to be sad – his feelings of homesickness are perfectly normal. Let him know you understand. DON’T try to talk him out of his feelings – the fastest way for him to feel better is for him to be able to say what he feels. Young kids can be encouraged to draw pictures for their parents or pictures of their feelings. Sometimes art is a better medium for the expression of their feelings than words.

For children who are feeling homesick, the Bach Flower Remedy Honeysuckle might help. When there is nothing else that can be done, go ahead and offer two drops of Honeysuckle in liquid four times a day until the child is feeling better – or until he is returning home!

Can’t Decide

Not everyone finds it easy to make decisions. In fact, look some grownups suffer terribly over making a commitment to a purchase, price a person or an activity. “What if it’s the wrong choice?” “What if other people will laugh at me/think I’m dumb for making this choice?” “What if it turns out to be a very costly error?” These kinds of questions can paralyze decision makers. Exhausting second-guessing, ailment rumination and intensive research make decision-making unpleasant and anxiety provoking for this group.

For decision-challenged folks, the anguish can continue long after the commitment is made. “I shouldn’t have bought this one. The other one would have been better. Now I can’t take it back and it’ll be all wrong forever.” “Maybe I can take it back or back out of it and choose what I should have chosen before.” Self-recrimination and blame color the world of poor decision-makers. No one wants their child to suffer the life-long pain of struggling with decisions.

Helping Kids Decide
Parents can play a role in helping their kids make confident decisions or in fostering decision insecurity. Decision insecurity is fostered by offering frequent negative feedback to the child. “That sweater doesn’t go with that skirt.” “You should play with so & so more often.” “I don’t understand why you like that author.” The child begins to think “Maybe Mom is right; I don’t know how to dress/who to play with/what to read.” When an authority figure like a parent decides what is supposed to be appealing and what is not supposed to be appealing, a child can easily lose confidence in his or her ability to make that call. Parents should save criticism for when it really matters.

When it comes to matters of personal preference, individual taste should be encouraged rather than discouraged. Personal preference is personal; there is no right or wrong. One person may like a particular painting while another despises the same piece of art. One youngster may like ketchup on his peanut butter sandwich while another would gag at the thought. However, a parent who wants to help her child be confident enough to decide matters of personal preference by him or herself, will be careful to encourage that confidence. “Why, ketchup on peanut butter is quite original Zack! You will probably be a gourmet cook one day who invents all kinds of new delicacies!”

Decision Anxiety
Trouble making decisions can be aggravated by critical parents. However, like all forms of anxiety, genes play a role as well. Adults and children with serious difficulties in making decisions are likely to be people whose genetic make-up made them particularly vulnerable to critical parents.

Most families have either a set of depression type genes or a set of anxiety type genes or both, running through their family trees. Thus most individuals have a tendency to some degree of negativity or worry. This tendency is reinforced by parents who model negativity and worry by expressing these feelings out loud, including the expression of critical remarks. Parents can be critical because they are anxious. They are worried that their child’s perceived poor decision may have serious negative consequences. What will happen if the child goes out in public with the unmatched outfit? What will happen if he continues to put ketchup on peanut butter sandwiches? The parent, so eager to save her child pain, accidentally increases the child’s suffering by causing the child to become uncertain.

Sometimes a child’s poor choices do end up causing difficulty, embarrassment, financial loss or other trouble. However, this is true of some of the choices that anyone of any age will make. The error itself needs to be welcomed rather than reprimanded. “I told you that wasn’t a good idea!” is not a helpful remark to make to a youngster whose poor decision results in a loss of some kind. Rather parents can offer more supportive and less traumatic comments, “You made a choice and sometimes it works out the way you hope it will and sometimes it doesn’t – that’s just how it goes. It happens to your father and I all the time!” Welcoming errors as part of the decision-making process allows children to continue to take the risk of making a decision. They learn that it is not the end of the world if the decision turns out badly, whereas those children who are made to feel that poor decisions are disastrous may have a lot of angst about making decisions. Similarly, the courage to make a decision is more important than the decision itself. A child who picks out a color for her bedroom wall can be encouraged as an interior-decorator-in-the-making whether or not the parent likes the color in question.

Rewarding decision-making behavior can help kids become confident decision makers.

Boosting Your Baby’s Social Skills

Emotional intelligence – or E.Q. – is a measure of “people smarts.” It involves knowing one’s own feelings and accepting them AND understanding and accepting the feelings of others. People with high E.Q. have better social skills, treatment better emotional health, help better physical health and better functioning. Kids with high E.Q. have less behavioral problems and better academic performance. Adults with high E.Q. have more successful relationships and more success at work.

People are born with a certain amount of E.Q. – some kids seem to have a natural empathy for others while some kids are more tuned into their own world. However, stomach parents can help their kids raise their E.Q. no matter what the starting point.

How can Parents Help Their Child Develop E.Q.?
Although babies have a way of looking dumb (after all, they often lie around staring into space!), they are actually mean learning machines. Your emotional climate is immediately communicated to the baby through the tone of your voice, the quality of your touch and your facial expression. Your baby registers all this and studies you carefully. Are you tense or relaxed? Warm or distant? Focused or distracted? Your baby is not only watching you, but also mimicking you. You are teaching the baby how to emote.

Although the baby can’t understand individual words and sentences, she certainly understands your emotional tone. If you sound irritated, annoyed or furious, your baby knows you are upset and things are not O.K. If you sound calm and pleased, the baby knows that all is well. Similarly, when you talk to a newborn, she can get some meaning just from your communication style.

By tuning into your baby’s changing feelings, you can raise his E.Q. Let’s say that the baby is crying, clearing uncomfortable. You suspect it has to do with digestive problems. Some parents might pat the upset infant on the back, saying something like “there, there; you’ll feel better soon.” Suppose you had a horrible day at the office. You come home and tell your spouse about it. You’re spouse pats you on the back and says, “there, there; you’ll feel better soon.” How would you feel? Discounted probably. Unseen, unheard, unsupported – despite the fact that your partner is clearly trying to console you.

Name and Accept Feelings
Our natural approach to negative feelings is to try and talk others out of them. (See Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice for a full discussion of  techniques promoting emotional intelligence.) However, what is needed is an ability to WELCOME and ACCEPT negative feelings WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. The parent’s ability to consistently do this is what helps a child develop higher E.Q.

Therefore, a parent might say to a crying infant, “You’re not happy right now, are you? Maybe your tummy is hurting.” To a smiling baby, a parent can acknowledge, “My goodness, you look happy this morning!” To a fussy baby, the parent might comment, “Are you starting to feel grumpy now? Are you ready for your nap?” To an older baby who is trying to get into everything, “You are very curious! You really want to see what is in that garbage can!”

This step of just naming and accepting what the child is feeling right now should precede any other intervention. Then the parent can continue with “regular parenting.” For example, if a baby shakes his head “no” when a spoon full of food is being offered to him, the parent could say something like, “You don’t want your sweet potatoes?” and then follow up with “Please try just a little bite” or any other intervention the parent wants to use. The first sentence – the one that acknowledges what the baby is feeling right now, is the one that builds E.Q.

From Infancy to Adulthood
This basic strategy for increasing E.Q. can be used from the first days of a child’s life and should be used for the rest of his life. Acknowledging feelings not only builds E.Q., but it also creates powerful bonds between people. Want to have a great relationship with your kids? Name their feelings before you say anything else.