Warrington, PA 215.491.1119

Tag Archives: child development

Savor the Summer and Survive the School Year

Not ready for the summer to be over? Wishing the first day of school would be delayed indefinitely? Here are some quick tips to help you transition back to school as painlessly as possible.

  1. Enjoy the rest of your summer. Instead of dreading the upcoming school year, spend your time at the beach or the pool, relaxing by yourself or with friends. Read a book, watch your favorite show, or become a tourist in your own town. Determine to make the most of what’s left of summer break.
  2. Carry your love of summer into the school year. Think about why you most enjoy the summer. Perhaps it’s a sport or an activity that you can continue in the fall. Or maybe it’s more of a carefree mindset which allows for new hobbies, and fun explorations. Whenever possible, plan time to continue pursuing your “summer loves” even as the seasons change.
  3. Determine to be different. Maybe the summer—or even last school year—weren’t what you hoped they’d be. What would you change? Perhaps you wished you had spent more time with your friends or tried something new this summer. Maybe last school year was a disaster and you’re hoping that new teachers, classes, and maybe some new friends will make a difference. Focus on what you can control, like your perspective, habits, friends, and activities.
  4. Take a deep breath and relax. You have a whole year to make friends, learn algebra, and decide whether or not you like your English teacher. Prior to the first day of school, all you need to know is what kind of person you’d like to be on the first day. A pencil and notebook may be helpful, too.

These three ideas should help you to embrace the school year, despite its routines and demands. If we can help you transition to the school year or deal with any other challenges you’re currently facing, please call us here at the Center at 215.491.1119. If you would rather email us, please click here.

 

-Dr. Lorna Jansen specializes in treating children, adolescents, and families. She helps clients manage stress, deal with relationship issues, and also offers academic coaching.

Parent Group Starting Soon

Questions most frequently raised by parents…
 
• How much responsibility should I expect from my child/young adult?
 
• What consequences are appropriate for his/her age?
 
• What rules should I set up and how should I enforce them?
 
• How do I encourage good sleep and homework habits?
 
• If my child/young adult has a special need, do I adjust my expectations and how do I explain this to my other children?
 
• “Hot Topics” – social media, drugs and alcohol, sexual behavior
 
If you are interested, sign up for a 6 week group of like-minded, concerned parents to address these issues. Hosted by Jean Ruttenberg, parenting and child specialist with expertise working with families and children with special needs.
 
For more information or to sign up, call our office at 215-491-1119

The Anxious Child – How To Identify And Help

The Anxious Child: How to Identify and Help
By Lorna Jansen, Psy.D

Anxiety is among the most prevalent mental health concerns for children. Between 15 and 20% of children and adolescents will meet criteria for anxiety disorders before the age of 18. Anxiety affects children in many ways, including:

  • Academically—when a child has anxiety about performance situations such as tests or public speaking, or about being separated from a caregiver, which can lead to school refusal.
  • Socially – when a child struggles to read aloud in the classroom, he may not be understood by fellow peers, or he may have trouble maintaining friendships if he is constantly absent from school.
  • Emotionally – often anxious children perceive ambiguous stimuli as threatening, and they have decreased sense of self-efficacy regarding feelings of anger, sadness, etc. They are more likely to self-blame, ruminate, and/or catastrophize.

Various anxiety disorders manifest differently in children. For example, a kid with separation anxiety disorder often looks sad, she may have difficulty concentrating and a variety of fears. This child may feel homesick, may exhibit school refusal behavior, and can become aggressive when forced to separate. A child with generalized anxiety disorder is usually concerned with academics, health problems, disasters, and harm to others. For those with social anxiety disorder, their top two fears are giving formal presentations and being in unstructured social situations (which could include talking to authority figures). These children also dislike: reading aloud, performing on a stage, athletic events, attending parties, talking with strangers, ordering food in a restaurant, and answering a question in class. Obsessive-compulsive disorder includes obsessions which are repeated and persistent thoughts that cause distress and/or compulsions, which are repetitive behaviors that the child feels he must perform. A child with specific phobia has a fear of a specific object or situation, which he may express by crying, tantrums, freezing or clinging. Kids with a panic disorder experience panic attacks and may describe feeling sick, but may not know how or why.

The following is a list of strategies for parents and teachers who are helping anxious children:

  • Recognize that anxiety is the most prevalent mental health concern for children and adolescents.
  • Ask yourself: What are you seeing in the child that seems different from what you observe in other children? Or, why does this child stand out to you?
    • Where are you seeing impairment?
    • Check with the family – any recent changes to the family structure? Divorce? New jobs for the parents? Recent move? Loss of a pet?
    • Consider using the nurse’s office – some children need to call home occasionally to make sure everything is ok.
  • Write directions on the board or another visible place.
  • Try to provide opportunities for the child to answer a question—either aloud or on the board—that he or she may know, as a way of building confidence.
  • Offer the opportunity for the child to do presentations in front of smaller groups (just teacher?).
  • Help connect child to other students in the class.
  • Offer other seating options during school assemblies.
  • Prepare for change – substitute teachers, field trips, fire drills, etc.
  • Limit amount of time spent on homework.

 

If you need additional help, please contact The Center for Neuropsychology and Counseling or another mental health professional for assistance from a child psychology expert. The Coping Cat is a program designed to help treat anxious children aged 7 to 13, and it can be implemented in schools or with a therapist. Worry Wise Kids is a helpful website for parents and teachers alike.

To work with one of our child psychology Bucks County professionals, please request an appointment.

Teenagers and Sleep

We can all agree that there are few things as satisfying as a good night of sleep. It is essential to our well-being. During sleep we heal, we learn and regain our energy. It helps us pay attention, think faster and it improves our mood. A lack of it and we become grumpy, fatigued and have difficulty concentrating. When you don’t get enough sleep, you are more likely to get injured, sick or have an accident. Drowsiness and falling asleep while driving accounts for more than 100,000 car crashes each year. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in such a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times.

Continue reading