Why It Is Important To Set Limits For Children

Parents often avoid setting limits for their kids because they think doing so will upset the child. Not setting boundaries, however, can lead to an unhappy child who doesn’t know how cope with difficult feelings, which is an essential life skill.

By setting limits on what they can and cannot do, you are giving your child a chance to practice managing their emotions. When they are sad or feel overwhelmed, allowing them to figure out how to handle the situation on their own (with limited parental intervention) helps them grow into strong people who can face the challenges of adulthood.

Why Rules Are Important For A Child

Discipline is the process of shaping a child’s behavior in order to raise emotionally mature adults. It teaches self-control, core family values, and consideration for others’ needs. It also instills assertiveness without being aggressive or hostile. Learning what is expected of them in terms of behavior gives a child an understanding that their actions have an effect on those around them. Through discipline, children become emotionally mature, considerate people who can tolerate discomfort when necessary.

Contrary to the negative connotations of discipline, such as “punishment” or “controlling” the child, boundaries and limits actually help children feel more secure. Adherence to rules, expectations, and routines make things predictable. They reduce confusion and uncertainty, which in turn decreases anxiety. If a child is able to get the parent to change their mind or relax the rules on a regular basis, it threatens their security because they learn they have more power than the adult.

How To Set Limits With Your Child

Through the years, there has been much controversy about appropriate ways to discipline children. Oftentimes, parents want to set boundaries but they have no idea how to go about it. How to do they balance the freedom to be a child with restrictions so their kids learn self-discipline?

The first step is that you, the adult, need to know what behaviors you personally value and what you believe in. Is it important to you to be respected? To be loyal? To be honest? If, for example, you value honesty and you don’t discipline your child for lying to you, then you’ve taught them it is okay to lie to get what they want.

Next, you need to decide what values you want to uphold as a family. Is it important to eat dinner together as a family? To get homework done before watching television or playing games on the computer? To have a scheduled quiet time to wind down in the evening? These values may change as your children grow and mature, but setting down family values will help your child function respectfully within the family unit.

Along the way you have to also do the things you are asking your child to do. Children learn from example and if you ask them to do one thing, but you do another, it’s confusing to them. In addition, both parents should agree as much as possible on the limits and boundaries they are setting for their children. Without this agreement, kids will quickly learn to play one parent against the other to get what they want.

Consistency is the key to discipline. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to be consistent and keep to those limits, though. This is especially true when you are worn out from work, not feeling well, or are under pressure. If you occasionally let your child off the hook, don’t be too hard on yourself. The trick is to keep it from becoming a habit.

Setting Age Appropriate Limits For Your Child

Obviously, your child’s limits and boundaries will change as they age, but the following are our age appropriate recommendations:

  • Infants (birth to 12 months) – Limits for this age basically revolve around setting schedules. This includes setting a nap or bedtime schedule, a feeding schedule, and a playtime schedule.
  • Early toddlers (one year to two years) – Children need to explore at this age, so you need to be somewhat tolerant. Limits include keeping the child safe, limiting aggression (hitting, biting, etc), and keeping possessions safe from toddler destruction. During this age, toddlers do not understand verbal explanations, so simply say, “no” and remove or redirect the child away from what they are doing and towards a more suitable activity.
  • Late toddlers (two years to three years)This is the time for temper tantrums as the child leans there are limits to what they can do or play with. Kids this age don’t understand how to change their behavior based on your directions or anger, so it is better to remove or redirect them. If the child throws a tantrum, remove them from the activity until they calm down.
  • School-age (eight to eleven years) – Children at this age rely on rules and order to make sense out of their environment. They think in absolutes and enjoy predictability, which means security to them. Despite what they will tell you, they want rules and need structure in their lives. Without guidance, there is uncertainty, which is very scary to children in this age group.
  • Adolescents (13 years to 18 years) – Adolescents are typically caught between the demands of their peers and parents. They may abandon family and parental values as they become more involved with friends. They may challenge limits without apology. They may also distance themselves from family members. As tough as it can be sometimes, the best thing a parent can do is to avoid lecturing or belittling an adolescent. Stay available to talk when the child needs to and continue to require them to adhere to the rules you’ve set down. Making a “contract” for behavior between you and your teen can be helpful, as well.

When you know where to draw the line, it will be easier to maintain a healthy relationship with your child. By defining what they can and cannot do, parents are able keep from disciplining emotionally, which allows their child to develop the skills they will need to be self-aware, independent and happy as they mature.

We Can Help

If you are concerned about setting and enforcing limits for your children, we can help. For more information, contact The Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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Handling Anxiety About Going Back To School During The Pandemic – 2021

School is starting up for the 2021 – 2022 education year and most districts are returning to in-person learning. While some kids and parents deal with anxieties during any given school year, COVID-19 and the Delta variant are still very much in the news, which has added more uncertainty for everyone.

Virtual learning took place this past school year and many kids may now find it difficult to adjust to being away from the safety of their homes. Those children who already suffered with pre-existing depression or anxiety might have an even more difficult time adjusting than normal. Even well-adjusted children may experience undue stress.

What Signs Of Stress Can Be Observed In Children During The COVID-19 Pandemic?

Generally speaking, kids are resilient. Most children will manage this transition just fine with help and support from their parents. Those who already struggled with anxiety or emotional problems before the pandemic might need additional assistance though; it’s important that you keep a watchful eye on them because they could be at risk for increased depression or anxiety.

Signs of stress to watch for include (by age group):

Preschool age – Children in this age group may be more whiny or clingy than usual. They may have problems sleeping, have nightmares, or become afraid of the dark when they weren’t before. You may also find that they withdraw or their behavior may regress. They may lose their appetite or become picky eaters.

Ages 5 – 9 – Children who are in elementary school also may be clingier. They may be angrier or more irritable and cry or otherwise resist to going to school. They might have nightmares and sleep problems, along with poor concentration. In addition, your child may stop showing interest in friends or activities they used to enjoy.

Ages 10 – 19 – Adolescent children may show everything from sleeping and eating disturbances to agitation or arguments with others. They may have physical complaints such as headaches or stomach aches. They may also exhibit poor concentration or engage in some type of delinquent behavior.

Back To School Anxiety For Parents During The Pandemic

The pandemic has made in-person schooling nerve-wracking for some parents. They are apprehensive about their child’s health and well being, but they also have to try to reassure their child that school will be safe for them. It can feel like a balancing act between supporting your kid while also telling him/her to be sure to wear their mask or stay socially distant from others. It’s all very stressful!

Dealing with stress and fear is a learned skill. Children need to learn how to react when faced with difficult situations. They benefit from having someone show them how to deal with worrisome situations without panicking and who can find positive ways of handling their fears.

To keep them safe in school, ensure your child knows how to wear a mask correctly (it should cover their nose and mouth). Teach them to carry and use hand sanitizer and how to wash their hands (wash for the time it takes to sing the birthday song). Make sure they understand how social distancing helps to reduce the spread of the virus. Teach them to cough into their elbow or a tissue and to throw a used Kleenex away immediately.

Lastly, protect your child’s health by encouraging them to eat well, get plenty of sleep and exercise daily. This will help build their immunity so they can fight off illness in the future.

Supporting Students Return To School During Covid

Going back to a physical classroom is a transition and, as with any big change, it will take time for your child to settle into a new routine. Expect there to be times of distress and upset for the first couple of weeks. This is particularly true during the pandemic when kids are having to adjust to so many new things.

Your child may be overly tired during the first few weeks of school. They might act out more often or be more emotional than usual. If there are major shifts from their normal behavior, however, such as refusing to take part in things they usually enjoy or withdrawing from friends, this could signal problems. You should consider seeking help if this behavior doesn’t go away after a couple of weeks.

Also, make the time to sit down and talk to your kids during the first few weeks of school. Encourage them to tell you what’s bothering them; acknowledge their concerns even if you don’t agree with them. When you know what is concerning your child, work with them to come up with a plan for addressing it. What can you, as the parent, do to help? Is there something the child can do? Does the school need to get involved?

Self care is vital for maintaining your own physical, emotional and mental well being. One way to do this is by engaging in calming activities such as yoga or crafting. What were some ways that made you feel better before the pandemic? Use what worked for you during previous times of stress, be it reading, exercising, listening to music, etc. Even just taking a small break can help you mentally regroup and make you feel less overwhelmed. Take a short walk around the block or indulge in some deep breathing exercises. You don’t have to take a long break – even just taking 15 minutes here and there will help.

We Are Here For You

If you are concerned that your child is struggling with anxiety or depression when they go back to school, contact The Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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How Will The Delta Variant Affect Going Back To School?

The coronavirus pandemic has affected our world in so many ways and we aren’t in the clear yet, despite vaccine availability. The virus continues to evolve, which is especially concerning if you’ll have children attending in-person classes this fall; as children head back to school, they do so under the specter of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

The pandemic response is deeply impacting our children. Virtual learning has become common, so kids who will be attending traditional classrooms this year may not have done so during the last school year. As a result, they may need to cope with new rules and regulations designed specifically for the safety of all students. In addition, extra-curricular programs like sports or clubs may be closed due to fears of exposure. It is also likely our children will have less of a chance to gather with friends at school as teachers and administrators attempt to maintain social distancing.

What Is The New Delta Variant Of Covid

The Delta variant, originating in India and first making news around the middle of June, has caused concern among health experts as cases become more prevalent.

The new strain is spreading more rapidly than COVID-19 strains before it. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the Delta variant is now responsible for more than 80% of new cases in the country.

Delta is different from prior variants because it is not only much more contagious, it also grows more rapidly in the respiratory tract and is making people sicker faster.

Are Children At Lower Risk Of COVID-19 Than Adults?

Originally, Covid-19 was affecting mostly older adults. Children were less vulnerable to the virus. That is no longer the case. Because the Delta variant is so transmissible and vaccines aren’t yet available for children younger than 12, kids are now at a higher risk of contracting Covid than they have been in the past.

Research, however, has proven that vaccination is an effective way to protect against COVID-19. For this reason, it’s safest for all children 12 years of age and older to be vaccinated from the disease. However, unvaccinated children are also safe in the classroom as long as they take precautions such like masking and limiting social contact during their time at school.

Delta Variant Symptoms In Children

The symptoms of the Delta variant are basically the same as those we all know by heart now: fever, coughing, shortness of breath, headache, and the possible loss of taste and / or smell. The problem with the Delta variant is the fact that it has a greater chance of becoming serious – especially among the unvaccinated.

Delta Variant Back To School Safety Tips

After vaccination (which may be available to kids younger than 12 by the end of 2021), wearing a mask is the most important thing your children can do in the classroom. This goes for school staff and teachers, as well – regardless of vaccine status.

Although schools will try to keep kids socially distant, this can be a challenge when they are indoors. It may be hard for them to physically distance themselves from friends after possibly spending the last year separated from them through virtual learning. In addition, the fact that they have to stay socially distant can create anxiety for some kids who may fear that others will get sick and pass the virus on to them.

We know that children naturally crowd together during more social times, such as at lunchtime. While recent studies have shown that we only need to be three feet apart (instead of six), you will still want to teach your child the importance of wearing their masks at all times, except when actively eating or drinking. Also, remind your kids to wash their hands often during the school day and teach them to cover their sneezes and coughs with their elbow.

At the same time, try to avoid making your children feel overly cautious to the point that they are afraid to do anything. While it’s good to make them aware of their part in helping to stop the virus’ spread, it can be upsetting and frustrating for them to be constantly on guard and worrying about everything little thing they do.

Lastly, it’s important to make sure your child’s school has good policies in place to limit infection. Since masking provides extra protection against the virus, there should be a universal masking requirement in the school. In addition, the school should take steps to immediately quarantine students or staff who show signs of being symptomatic.

To support your child’s mental health during this school year, remember to keep to a routine. Doing so gives kids a sense that things are under control. Also be sure to foster an environment in which your children know that you are willing to discuss any worries or fears they might be facing.

We Are Here For You

If you are concerned that your child is struggling emotionally or showing signs of pandemic anxiety or depression, contact The Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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What We Have Learned From 2021

No one can deny that 2021 has been a momentous year. It has had a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly for sure. It has at times been frightening, confusing, comforting and educational. We have witnessed a very unusual presidential election, a subsequent denial by some of the validity of the election and an unheard of polarization of our peers and lawmakers. Most critically, we have endured a gift that keeps on giving; the novel coronavirus that has killed countless people world-wide and more fellow Americans than we would have ever anticipated. We have had to learn the meaning of the word epidemiology as it relates to health and wellness. Unfortunately, we now know explicitly what a spike protein is and looks like. More than ever before we have been influenced (for good and bad) by the internet and social media. Although we have been witness to conspiracy theories in the past, but this year has certainly been a boon time for them.

So it is important for us to sit back and take stock of the emotional and psychological impact of these events.   A major fallout has been the confusion over what is fact and what is fiction. We have seen the major news networks disagreeing on many important issues. Who to believe? Proponents of networks that broadcast their unique take on the news may be diametrically opposite of the proponents of the “other” networks. To avoid getting into trouble I will leave the network names blank, but I am sure you know what I am talking about. There was a time in the 1950s and 1960s when veteran newscasters like Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, Douglas Edwards educated us nightly on national and world events. Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” conveyed the power and influence of the media. Somewhere during the subsequent decades all this has changed. It became apparent to television and radio that communicating news is basically a form of entertainment. Like most popular entertainment venues it becomes essential to be able to sell the programs to the masses. Media outlets have always been for profit businesses (exceptions being Public Radio and Public Television) but it seems that profitability became linked to the entertainment value of their shows. Newscasters and news commentators became the entertainers that we see today. Walter Cronkite would not succeed as a newscaster in 2021.

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Screen Time Dangers And Your Kids – How To Set Limits

As pandemic restrictions begin to ease, parents are finding out just how reliant their kids have become on their screen time. For many families, shut downs forced us to turn to virtual entertainment. Schools went totally online. We dramatically increased our online communications with the loved ones we couldn’t see in person. The result is that now, more than ever, we’ve embraced the virtual world  – and many children are finding it hard to break their screen time “addiction.” How dangerous is screen time for our kids and how can parents restrict their online time?

What Do Kids Say About The Time They Spend On Their Devices?

Back in 2018, the Pew Research Center set up a study to see how much screen time use there was among children. At the time, 54 percent of the teens aged 13 – 17 were voicing concerns about the amount of time they were spending on their phones and online.

The study researchers reported that, “Some 52% of U.S. teens report taking steps to cut back on their mobile phone use, and similar shares have tried to limit their use of social media (57%) or video games (58%).”

But then Covid-19 came into our lives and our device use skyrocketed. We’re now worrying if screen time can cause any mental or physical harm to our children (or ourselves).

How Does Screen Time Change A Child’s Brain?

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Our Search for Meaningfulness

The human brain is a curious organ. It is programmed from birth to actively search the world around us. As we get older and mature this search gets fine tuned and focused. We pursue education, friendships, hobbies, sports. Our quest for life experience allows us to learn about the world around us and just as importantly develop a better sense of our own identity. We progress from a period of knowledge acquisition (“knowing”) that can last decades into a prolonged journey that requires that we utilize what we have learned and productively participate in life. This “doing” often includes pursuing gainful employment and careers, raising a family, involvement in spiritual endeavors, development of hobbies, political involvement and altruistic pursuits.

Is there a common thread throughout the stage of knowing and the stage of doing? Both stages involve the presence of meaningfulness. Knowledge, employment, raising a family, friendships all invest humans with a sense of value and worthiness. Curiosity without meaningfulness leads to emptiness. Curiosity requires the attainment of goals and real-time accomplishments. Otherwise curiosity ceases and is replaced with apathy and malaise.

All of us need day-to-day meaningfulness to replenish and sustain our souls. A healthy sense of self thrives on it. The covid 19 virus has created an overwhelming challenge to life’s meaningfulness. Our pandemic world has led to anxiety, an overarching sense of helplessness, and problematic hypervigilance as we worry about getting infected. Covid 19 imposed social isolation has led to depression, hopelessness, helplessness and family stress.

How to cope with a world that none of us have control over?

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What Makes A College A Great Fit For You During The Pandemic?

This is the time of year when college acceptances start coming in. Right now, both teens and parents are feeling incredibly overwhelmed in the decision making process, due to the pandemic. When looking at acceptance letters, what is the best way to determine what makes a college a good fit for them? Is staying close to home now the top priority?

Choosing A College During Covid

Often, high school seniors have a favorite college or university in mind, which they hope to attend because they think is best for them. While this may not always be an objective measure of a good fit, it is important that your child gets to include this college in their process of narrowing down the top college choices.

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In The Classroom: Supporting Your Child At School During Covid

Vaccines are beginning to be dispensed, so hope for an end to the pandemic is on the horizon. Life, however, is still far from normal. Education has been deeply impacted by the virus response. Virtual learning is now widespread, while kids in traditional classes are having to cope with untraditional rules and regulations aimed at keeping us all safe.

If your children are attending in-person classes, there is still a different aspect to their normal day-to-day learning. Many extra-curricular programs have been closed or are operating in a limited way. Staying socially distant means kids don’t interact the way they used to. Even classroom participation may have been reduced in an effort to keep kids and teachers safe.

Back To School Tips For Parents During Covid

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Helping Students with Anxiety Succeed in School (Regardless of the Format)

Join our panel of five experts from around the US for a roundtable discussion on best practices for helping students with anxiety learn to meet their demands at school, gain confidence, and thrive. Top clinicians and innovative educators will share trends, insights, tips, and resources for professionals who work with students and their families. Bring your questions to this lively conversation that will help you better support students with anxiety.

Join Us:
Thursday, January 28
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EST

REGISTER NOW

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What About Kid’s Mental Health During Covid?

2020 has changed our world dramatically. We know that adults are struggling with the challenges brought on by shut downs and worries about protecting themselves and their families from the virus. But what about kid’s mental health during covid?

Our children have had to deal with their own upheavals. They’ve gone from familiar school routines and activities to shortened sports schedules, reduced or eliminated school programs and navigating through virtual learning while being isolated from friends. All of this disruption has raised their own stress levels.

Signs Of Pandemic Stress In Kids

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