Thursday, 3 August 2017

6 Steps to calm your anxious child TODAY

I sometimes receive emails from parents who have bought my book or who are part of a group who have recommended it. In reading it, they sometimes want more - more information, more suggestions, validation for their concerns, which are, believe it or not, apparently not legitimate according to some doctors and counsellors.

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As parents, you know when your child is on the edge of hysteria. You've seen the signs many times and may feel powerless to stop it progressing to that irrational point of no return.

But help is here! With my 6 easy steps to bringing down the anxiety, settling the nerves, achieving a level of peace. Today.

step one -
High levels of stress means your child's cortisol levels remain on high alert constantly and she may not know how to 'come down.' This may result in poor sleep, which in turn makes things worse. To reduce cortisol levels you need to introduce your child's body to the 'feel good' chemicals that are naturally produced in the human body when we exercise. Trampoline, bike riding, skipping with rope, jogging, playing a ball game, running races, climbing trees - anything that gets your child's heart rate up and makes them puff. This has the effect of releasing a lot of pent up anger and frustration, releases endorphins and allows for better sleep.

step two -
Eat fruit and nuts. And by that I don't' mean fruit juice, fruits smashed in a juicer, I mean fresh, lovely fruit that you have to chew! And a variety of raw nuts. (not coated in sugary stuff or salt). The act of the jaw chewing has been found to improve mood, reduce anxiety as well as improving digestion.

step three -
Get your GP to make a mental health care plan, if you are in Australia. It's covered by Medicare. This entitles you to free visits to counsellors or whatever health professionals you choose. Ask your GP which counsellors are recommended regularly by clients at their practice.

step four -
Remove all access to screens of any kind. By this I mean ipads, ipods, laptops, desktop computers, video games, movies etc. Instead, read aloud to each other, play board games, groom the cat/dog/guinea pig, go for walks. Research is showing that screen time and social media have harmful effects upon a child's growing brain and mental health. She doesn't need to be entertained by TV/DVD/video games. She has you. Personal interaction is far more soothing and meaningful.  Don't get caught in the trap of letting your child dictate the terms, saying watching a movie calms him/her. Your child does not need this kind of stimulation!
 
step five -
In a state of high anxiety your child needs low lighting. Darken the room, keep sounds to a minimum. Make sure 'quiet time' is built into every day. 

step six -
This is in the book too, visit your local health food store and let her select an essential oil she feels makes her calm. Add drops to her pillow and put in oil burners in the home. She can even put drops on a hanky and take to school. When she feels stressed, she can pull out the hanky and take deep, calming breaths.

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So there are my 6 steps to a calmer child today. Exercise, diet, a mental health care plan, no screens, less noise and light and essential oils. try it! And please let me know how you fare.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Understanding your anxious child - books that help!

I have an anxious child.
I was an anxious child.
And I have a huge library of books that have helped enormously, so I thought I would share a small selection of them with you.

1. is of course the book I wrote  12 Annoying Monsters - Self Talk for Kids with Anxiety.

This book teaches children what anxiety is, how it manifests in the body, how they can learn to ignore pesky, negative voices in their head that stress them out and not let anxiety stop them achieving their dreams and goals.

Here is some more info about the book, why I wrote it for my clients and where else to buy it. more info

 Note that some of these books are not directly about anxiety, but more about understanding the sort of person you are, your tendencies, quirks and ways of thinking. understanding that and how you think goes a log way to reducing stress, because we all see the world in our own unique way.

 2. Helping your anxious child by five PHDs and an MD.










3. The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen










4. The Birth Order Book (why you are the way you are) by Dr Kevin Leman
here is a PDF version









  5. What to do when you worry too much by Huebner and Matthews.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

ANXIOUS KIDS - Why does it happen? What can we do to help?


My background
So, I've worked with lots of different types of kids over 27 years as a high school teacher, Special Education Teacher, Childrens Counsellor and childrens author visiting  schools.

Types of kids
Some kids are obnoxious, but suffering with poor confidence underneath. Some are highly anxious and get into conflict with everyone. Some are hyperactive and no one knows who they truly are. Some struggle to make and keep friendships going and yet are sweet little people. Some walk around in a daze, oblivious to what is going on around them. Some function well and seem happy. Some seem happy but suffer crippling depression and stress that they are incredibly good at hiding from others, including their parents.

See the world through their eyes
For an anxious child the world can be a scary place where they feel ill equipped to deal with what happens. The main thing to remember with any child is that their experience is unique to them. They sometimes feel they are the only person in the world who feels this way and that no one else understands. Accept that this is how they feel, no matter what your thoughts on it. It's important that you say, "So, what you're saying is.... Hm. That sounds difficult." And build from there.

That's why it is so important to LISTEN, even if you don't understand or don't know what to do with the information they give you. To get a snapshot into their world you must first open your eyes. Stop telling yourself that its just normal kids stuff and will blow over, because for this child, it might not. Don't take the risk that it develops into something far more serious than bedwetting or tummy ache before school. Get to the bottom of the problem. It may just be how your child sees the world that is causing confusion and thus anxiety. Are they a bit quirky? Do they have very specific talents and a narrow range of interests? Is their learning style visual, auditory, kinesthetic or multimodal? (see more on that here: Learning styles)


Anxiety is not a cause
Don't look at anxiety as THE PROBLEM. 99% of the time it's something else and anxiety is A SYMPTOM. At the base of all anxiety are thoughts, often very intrusive thoughts that replay over and over and become almost like an unwanted mantra. If your child is naturally anxious, that is, they catastrophise over what might happen and feel sure it will, there are lots of ways you can help! It is not a life sentence to always be at the mercy of your fears or worries.

Books that help
In order to do this you may need help. Some excellent books I have come across are:
12 Annoying Monsters - Self Talk for Kids with Anxiety (yes, I wrote it, especially for these kids)
10 Things your student with Autism wishes you knew
The Whole Brain Child
What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What to Do Guides for Kids)
Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcome Your Child’s Fears, Worries, and Phobias
Anxiety-Free Kids: An Interactive Guide for Parents and Children

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Does your child suffer with anxiety or depression? Take this quick questionnaire


What is 'normal' anxiety for children?
Sometimes as parents we worry that our child is coming home with fears or anxieties which seem abnormal - worse than other kids or having greater impact upon our child than the normal cares and worries should. Bed wetting may follow, tummy ache, crying fits, screaming fits, refusal to go to school - what's normal and what isn't? Do we need to DO something?

A simple tool that may help
This little questionnaire is a terrific tool to get a snapshot of our child's state of mind (or even our own).

This link is connected to an Australian doctor, Dr David Richardson, who has spent his professional life exploring the reasons for mental and physical health that fall outside the usual avenues of diagnosis and treatment. He uses natural and traditional remedies, genetic testing and much more. His website shares the HADS - Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale which is used widely and available in the public domain.

complete quiz online
Anxiety and Depression Quiz 

 Below is a PDF version you can download and print.
http://www.scalesandmeasures.net/files/files/HADS.pdf

What's the next step?
Once you have completed this survey with your child (make sure they don't see the results or scale at the bottom of the page, That's adult business.) You can reach out to a health professional, look online for books that may assist you and websites that can direct you to further help. My book was written especially for kids, and is also for adults too, especially those who feel they may have passed on traits to their child.
Click here: 12 Annoying Monsters - Self Talk for Kids with Anxiety

Your parental instincts are usually right
Don't give up! If you really suspect your child is suffering, persist in looking for answers. Sometimes the right counsellor, someone kind who actually understands children and has experience working with them, can change your child's life around.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Anxious children become anxious adults - is anxiety beautiful?

I just saw an author talk about her new book claiming anxiety 'can be beautiful.' While I agree that anxiety has been diagnosed as a disorder, making it shameful in a way, it is simply a different way of thinking some of us have. Anxiety is a natural response to our environment, keeping us safe and observant. The problems arise when it becomes too persistent and disrupts our life with intrusive thoughts we struggle to control.

My book for kids is written with a slightly sneaky agenda - to help kids identify those particular intrusive thoughts and give strategies for dealing with them, taking back control! And its a sneaky agenda because the book is designed to get mums and dads reading it too. So much of what we are we have inherited from our family.

So take a look at this little gem. I wrote it from experience, my own and hundreds of kids I have worked with over 27 years. Click here: 12 Annoying Monsters

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Anxious children feel better with DIRT!

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Yep, you read that right.
Studies in the UK and USA have shown that children and indeed adults too who garden or play in the soil experience positive mood changes. They become calmer! Certain microbes in soil, Microbacterium Vaccae,  actually stimulate the brain's production of Serotonin, the body's calming hormone.
Read more at Gardening Know How: Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/antidepressant-microbes-soil.htm,
You can read more here, on the Australian Science website - soil and depression
No wonder I can't wait to get out into my garden some days!

For anxious kids, this can be a fabulous way to effect change, especially if they are prone to depression.

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So, what do you do if you live in the city?
  1. Buy a big pot for your balcony and fill it with soil, not potting mix, from the local nursery/hardware store. 
  2. Plant something edible, like lettuce, bok choy, spring onion, or herbs such as rosemary, chives, dill, coriander and thyme.
  3. Plant something colourful - this lifts the mood to.
  4. Tend your mini-garden daily. read up on what sort of ph the plants like, watering and plant food, pruning etc.
  5. Don't use gloves! But wash your hands when you're finished of course.
  6.  If you don't have a balcony, a spot near the window will do.
  7. Pull out the weeds! Again, don't use gloves. Get right in there and get dirty.
  8. Instead of a sandpit, build a small soil play area and add some utensils such as bucket, spade, old plastic pots etc. The 'clam shell' shallow outdoor pool/sandpit would be perfect.
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TRUMP HATERS CAUSING ANXIETY FOR SCHOOL KIDS

Kids are suffering 
I am deadly serious. And very angry.
People are causing children extreme distress by ranting about Donald Trump and 'predicting' the end of the end of the world.

At my daughter's school the principal had to make special announcements to each class about the US election of Donald Trump. Why? Because stupid, insensitive people, including parents and teachers, had voiced their private views about Trump in such a way that children were beginning to fear for their future. The same thing happened at cub scouts this week. A little girl, aged ten, was depressed and upset, because 'that evil man is president and he's going to blow up the world.' In the city another principal had to make announcements to quell the hysteria raging in her school.

Keep personal political views out of the classroom!
What are people thinking?
Kids today already have enough pressures. Through social media their innocence is being taken from them at an earlier age. They struggle with interpersonal skills because they spend too much time online. Anxiety as a syndrome is skyrocketing. And irresponsible people are making it worse.

Children do not need the pressure these intolerant idiots are causing by spreading their hatred. I offer no comment on the man. I don't even live in the USA. But I do know that he was elected democratically and that's what the majority of the people wanted. How things proceed from here we shall have to wait and see.

Teachers DO NOT have the right to push their own political agenda in their classroom. This is WRONG. I have been teaching for 27 years, so I know what I'm talking about.

Our job is teaching our children to understand the democratic process instead of undermining the very thing it strives to achieve - freedom of speech and the right to vote.