Fredericksburg Parent

May 2018

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www.FredParent.NET 29 AVOID SUGAR AND CAFFEINE. Avoid sodas and candy. Consider eliminating all foods with high fructose corn syrup from your family's diet. If your child has food sensitivities or allergies, take steps to address them so foods don't become an anxiety trigger. If sugar and caffeine are often con- sumed, let them follow meals so they don't trigger a blood sugar roller coaster. ACCEPT PERSONALITY QUIRKS. Never assume your child can handle something simply because you would have been able to handle it, or because your child's siblings or friends can. Part of letting your child be an indi- vidual is not comparing her to others. After a challenging experience, ask her how she feels, rather than assuming how she should feel. Be interested in the ways your child experiences life differently from you and from others and sup- port her individuality by validating the positivity in being unique. CHEER THEM ON. We have so many jobs as parents, but one of the most important jobs is the cheerleader role. Don't take yourself so seriously as a grown-up that you can't come down to your child's level and say, "You can do it!" Your child needs you next to her, encouraging her, not scowling down from on high, fretting about outcomes. If you want your kids to be brave, don't pressure them - cheer them on instead. WEATHER DISAPPOINTMENTS. As a parent, you must be able to see your child cry without over-reacting. Teaching a child to avoid crying at all costs is like saying that experiencing disappointment or sadness makes them weak. When we teach kids to embrace challenging emotions, to dig deep and be honest so they can express feelings no matter how challenging in the moment, they become more resilient, empathetic citizens in the long run. REWARD BRAVERY. We live in a fairly unpredictable world, so it's a great idea to teach kids how to take healthy risks. Kids who learn to push themselves to achieve goals, like taking a more challenging class or trying out for a competitive sport, will have less energy to channel into risky or adrenaline- fueled behavior. A great end-of-the-week dinner topic for families is: who gets to wear an invisible crown of bravery? Reward the daring, rather than the results, and then kids will learn that courage is its own reward. WHEN TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP No doubt you have gleaned from recent media reports that anxiety is on the rise among teens in our society. Some data suggests that ten percent of teens suffer from an anxiety disorder. Other data sug- gests the number is higher. Kids can experience anxiety for so many reasons. Most of us have experienced some degree of anxiousness in our lives, but for many parents, the crippling sense of distress and unease some teens feel is unfamiliar. Anxiety manifests at a range of intensity levels depending on the child and the circumstances, and just because a child experiences some anxiousness does not mean he has a disorder. However, stay on the safe side. If your child consistently displays the following symptoms, please consult a mental health professional. Anxiousness to the point of headaches, stomachaches and tiredness with no other known physical cause. Chronic sleeping problems including going to sleep, waking up or staying asleep. Low self-esteem characterized by being excessively hard on the self for no logical reason. Consistent excessive worry about everyday things like school, friends, grades, teachers, etc. Avoiding school, withdrawing from friends, irritability with authority figures, successive high-highs and low-lows, use of substances, eating disorders or other self-destructive behaviors. 1 2 3 4 5 Talk to your child about facing, showing up for, and walking through life's challenges and how all of this makes us stronger and more confident.

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