Sunday, August 21, 2016

Parenting Children with ADHD


Parenting can be stressful at times for everyone. Parents of children with ADHD may experience greater stress because of the additional challenges they face. Children with ADHD are known to disregard parental requests, commands and rules. They fight with their siblings, disturb neighbors and have frequent negative encounters with school authority. These challenges can often make parents feel less competent. It can also increase marital discord. Research has indicated that parents of children with ADHD are almost twice as likely to divorce by the time their child is eight years old.

Parents of children with ADHD

Parents of children with ADHD face higher divorce rates, stress level and feel less competent as a parent. With state budget cuts that have decreased services for children needing additional school resources this has increased the stress levels for the child, parents and school staff. During the school year these stressors increase as parents are faced with the challenge of getting homework completed, turned in on time and maintaining their other responsibilities in the home on a daily basis.

A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology states parents of children with ADHD are especially sensitive to the behaviors of their child which takes a personal emotional toll on their own well-being. Candice Odgers a study researcher and psychologist at the University of California said, “If you think about what it’s like to parent a child with ADHD, it requires a constant vigilance, and a high level of energy. This is important because we know that stress and the burden of caregiving in general are associated with a whole host of problems, mental health and physical problems.”

Family environment

Up to 5% of children and adults in the United States have ADHD, a behavioral disorder marked by impulsiveness, hyperactivity and inattention. Children with untreated ADHD are a risk for injury, substance abuse, poor school performance and emotional or social problems. Parents that have to be in a hyper vigilant state to keep their children safe feel the stress affecting the family environment.

Our children need us. They depend on us to take care of them, teach them, support them and love them. No child with or without a diagnosis can succeed to their full potential if their parents are so drained they are unable to be there for them. By not taking care of yourself, your child could be at a higher risk for more problems. Create a lifestyle for yourself and your family that prioritizes self-care with exercise, appropriate nutrition, and 8 hours of sleep.  Always seek professional advice if your stress affects the quality of life you desire.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Kindergarten Readiness


The concept of kindergarten derived in the 1830’s from a German teacher who believed the children needed a way to transition from home into the school environment. Kindergarten was established as a way to interact and socialize. Children today are socialized at daycare or in pre-school so kindergarten has been restructured to meet the demands of academic readiness in the cognitive and social areas of development.

Readiness to learn

School readiness means that the child has the ability to learn and cope in the school environment without experiencing undue stress. Children should be able to separate from their family and trust the adults in the school environment. They need to understand the concept of sharing and how to take turns when playing with other children. Children should also display some level of social skills in how to resolve problems and work cooperatively with their peers. They must be able to adapt to the structure of the school day and follow the instructions from their teacher.

A real assessment of readiness isn’t based on the chronological age alone. Many schools will do an assessment several weeks before school begins that involve cognitive, linguistic, motor skills and social skills. Children that enter kindergarten with limited baseline skills of reading and math are unlikely to catch up with their peers. Many will need support services that require remedial learning with the help of an aide or tutor.  Children that don’t test well will have a re-evaluation three to six months later to assess if a developmental specialist or neurologist should be consulted.

Other considerations

There are many different academic settings to consider when choosing a school for your children. There are public, private, religion based, and Montessori schools. Other determining factors are class size, use of aides in the classroom, and if kindergarten is a full or half-day program. Structural considerations would be the locations of the bathroom, playground and lunchroom where interaction with older students should be limited.

There are many different developmental levels and skills found in the classroom. Teachers are working to meet the diversity, developmental needs and abilities of all children. Children learn best by doing. It allows them to learn through exploration and observation. It can also help them to follow their interests while building cognitive and creative talents. As you determine the kindergarten readiness for your children also seek an environment where they can be engaged and interested in learning for their optimal growth and development.



 

Monday, July 04, 2016

Technology in Relationships


Over the last five years technology has integrated itself as a vital tool in the workplace and at home. This has created difficult boundary issues for couples and families as individuals are constantly available for work concerns or contact from family and friends. It is important for couples to discuss what their viewpoint is on usage of their phones, tablets and computers when spending quality time together.

Establishing boundaries

Technology changes the boundaries of a couple’s life in a new way. Never before did a couple need to discuss what is appropriate to share on Facebook or what could be “tweeted” on other social media networks. Katherine Hertlein author of The Couple and Family Technology Framework states that couples aren’t usually aware of the transgression in the relationship until their partner starts spending too much time online with their old flame who reconnected through a social media resource.

Couples should have a discussion about how they want to manage the technology they have in their home. If there are children, how will their usage be monitored? This conversation can start arguments as every individual will have a different perception of the amount of
 time desired using their technology of choice.

Guidelines

You can start by discussing what each person expects when they are using their technology. For individuals in a relationship each person should share their contact list and allow all communication to be read. It is never appropriate to be anonymous on line or not allow your partner to know who you are talking with unless it is work oriented and confidential. That type of communication should be done in the office only if possible.

The family should establish a place in the home where the electronics are used which is accessible to everyone. This way parents are able to monitor their children’s programs and time limits that are established. Technology is also now a part of traveling in the car. Each family should establish the appropriate rules while driving so that their electronics are used responsibly and safely.

Technology has allowed us to communicate quickly throughout the day but it doesn’t allow the in depth conversations that people need to stay connected. When having an argument it is still best to set aside a time at the end of the day to discuss the concern in person. If that isn’t possible then email is best so that you can have the opportunity to explain the issue with as much detail as possible.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Plan a Summer of Discovery


School is out for the summer and parents are scrambling to determine what activities or camp will be appropriate for their children to attend. According to John Hopkins School of Education in Baltimore, Maryland summer learning loss effects both short-term and long-term memory. They also report that keeping a child’s brain active and learning over the summer can prevent that memory loss. Remaining academically active over the summer can also help to ease the anxiety children feel when they transition back to school in the fall.

Learning at home

Age appropriate activities can help aid your child’s growth and development over the summer months. There are several summer learning activities you can do at home that can prevent learning loss. Ask your teacher for a summer reading list or join the summer library reading program so your child can earn the free prize incentives. You can keep math skills sharp by practicing fractions in the kitchen when making their favorite recipes together. Children can also utilize map reading skills when taking road trips this summer and determine how many miles you will be traveling. There are also several educational websites that practice a multitude of academic skills online.

Summer is also the perfect time to learn more about the world around us. As a family determine how you could become more eco-friendly by recycling and make your home energy efficient. You could plant a vegetable or butterfly garden together. Build a bird feeder to attract insect eating birds into your yard. At night learn more about the constellations and the phases of the moon.  Learning about our world encourages environmental restoration for the next generations.

Summer programs

When choosing a summer program choose one that’s based on your child’s interests. Ask the program manager about the staff credentials and their teaching experience. Inquire about the health and safety record of the program while touring the facility. Review the daily schedule and determine if there is any flexibility about choosing activities for the day. Before deciding to commit to the program, ask the manager if references are available.

Summer is a wonderful break from the regular routine and allows children to explore the other opportunities that are available to them. It can create a whole new learning experience for your children and lasting memories of childhood experiences. Have a wonderful summer of discovery together!!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Understanding Mental Fatigue


The fast paced lifestyle of adults today is leaving many individuals feeling mentally exhausted. Mental fatigue is predominately found in careers that require a lot of cognitive stamina. It can be a result of working excessive hours, being constantly worried and under extreme duress. You may begin to notice that you have no motivation to complete daily tasks, have difficulty concentrating for any length of time or become concerned with your short-term memory. There could be an increase in making simple mistakes or an inability to finish tasks. Learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental fatigue can help you determine what steps you should take to repair your body.

Preventive Self-care

Every individual should take a close look at their daily lifestyle to determine what areas need improvement. Make an appointment with your physician for a physical to assess for possible iron deficiency, anemia, thyroid function or an infection that could be causing fatigue symptoms. Then decide if you are consuming the servings suggested from each food group for appropriate nutrition. Caffeine and sugar should be avoided while increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Medical experts suggest taking a multivitamin supplement and drinking at least 64 ounces of water to replenish your brain and body.

Sleep

Adults require seven to eight hours of sleep every night. If you are experiencing insomnia it can escalate the symptoms of mental fatigue. Create a routine each night that prepares you for bed. Turn off lights and any media that will keep your brain stimulated. Your brain will then release the melatonin that regulates the sleep and wake cycles.

Exercise

A study published in the March 2009 Journal of Applied Physiology reports, “Mental fatigue impairs physical performance in humans.” Physicians recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. Exercise will increase your stamina and the oxygen level in your bloodstream. The brain utilizes 30% of the oxygen in your body, so increasing oxygen in the body will improve cognition.

Taking the steps to maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit should be a part of your daily lifestyle. If you believe that you do not have the time to take care of yourself now, then you will need to make the time later if you become ill. Your best option is to start today and make the right choices for you.    

Monday, March 28, 2016

Life After Loss


The death of a loved one is life altering.  The transition from wife to widow, husband to widower can be a very difficult time. As in any loss, the death of a spouse brings feelings of depression, erratic moods, disrupted sleep and obsessive thoughts about the deceased.  This can be happening while being overwhelmed with questions and urgent decisions that need to be made.

Five stages of grief

Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1969) introduced the “Five Stages of Grief”. People can experience these stages during any major life change such as loss of job, health, relationship, pet or financial stability. The individual and family will progress through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance in their own way. There is no specific way to grieve. Each person will experience grief based on their religion, cultural, social and personal beliefs. Their personal relationship with the deceased person will also impact the bereavement.

The survivor must give themselves permission to grieve. Postponing your time to mourn will only delay and compound your grief reaction. Your reaction to the death from unexpected or anticipated circumstances can make you experience a wide range of emotions from shock, numbness, pain to anger. Grieving is full of ups and downs like a roller coaster. Special events like a wedding, birth, or holiday can trigger a strong emotional response, but difficult times will becomes less intense and shorter as time goes by.

Build a support system

It’s important not to grieve alone. Use the support of family and friends. Draw comfort from the faith you practice. Join a support group or speak with an experienced counselor.  Suppressing your grief can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other health concerns. Grief can affect your health so maintain your self-care with the appropriate rest, proper nutrition, regular exercise and physical check-up with your doctor.

You will have good and bad days with moments of joy or happiness. Life has a way of throwing moments our way that can wake us to the possibilities of a better tomorrow. If you need support during your time of bereavement contact a counselor, pastor or one of the supports listed for the help you may need.

Organizations for the bereaved:

Bereaved Parents of the USA

Compassionate Friends

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

The National Hospice Organization

The Widowed Persons Service


Sunday, March 06, 2016

Healthy Arguments


Whenever we hear of another relationship that breaks up we speculate on the reason why. Unfortunately there are many reasons that can contribute to the failure with infidelity, finances, midlife crisis or just growing apart from each other. There is no simple answer to this painful experience and everyone will have their own unique story to tell.

Warning signs

Couples can get stuck in abusive communication patterns that hurt and distance them from each other. Research shows that women will bring up issues of conflict 80% of the time that their partner will want to ignore. If it is important to one, it’s important to the marriage. Avoidance of the concern will only cause resentment and the pressure will build until the argument loses perspective or why it even began.

Psychologist John Gottman did a study with 1,000 couples and found that criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling was found in 94% of failed relationships. Most males would indentify this communication pattern as “nagging”. Everyone will use these defensive tools at sometime but repeated patterns will cause your partner to feel anger, fear, hurt, sadness and alienation.

Healthy argument

Discussing small differences is important to do before they become a major issue in the relationship. A recent survey found that 44% of married couples believe that arguing once a week help to keep communication open. William Dougherty a professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota states, “What the studies have shown is that it’s not so much whether couples get angry but how they handle it. There’s a difference between good fighting and bad fighting. Constructive conflict can put a spark in a relationship. Love needs a spark every now and then.”

Arguments can be an opportunity to discover what issues are important to the individual. It’s a way to reach the person and let them know you value them and want to be supportive. Healthy arguments can also be a way to model conflict resolution for your children. If you are yelling and cussing at each other you are displaying contempt and disrespect. Issues that are discussed and resolved appropriately can display how to compromise and move forward with the agreement.

Rebuild the Relationship

It is important when discussing different viewpoints to utilize “I statements”. This will keep you from engaging in blame when expressing your perspective. With every negative concern that is addressed make an effort to state five positive compliments about your relationship together. Then schedule your alone time together each week and give each other an intimate kiss and hug every day to remain emotionally connected. Finally separate the problem from the person. It’s the problem you’re upset about. If you feel stuck in a negative pattern seek counseling to learn health ways to communicate your concerns.