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The Signs of Mental Illness In Children That Every Parent Should Know

Child Mental Illness | Improve Your Child

As a parent, the last thing you want to think about is your child dealing with mental illness. Yet, children are just as vulnerable to mental problems, such as depression, as adults. Sadly, many parents overlook the earliest signs of mental illness due to a lack of awareness, and this delay in care can affect a child’s recovery. Although the signs of mental illness can vary according to a child’s age and maturity level, it is important to seek help from a professional if you notice any of these occurring on a regular basis.

Behavior Problems at School or Daycare
Children often act out their problems, which means parents frequently receive negative behavior reports from their child’s teachers when something is wrong. For some children, this could involve violent, angry outbursts, or you could receive feedback that your child is inattentive or refuses to cooperate. Either way, avoid assuming that negative behavior is just your child breaking the rules. It could be an underlying mental illness showing itself through their actions.

Persistent Nightmares
At night, repressed emotions often rise to the surface. The occasional nightmare is normal for children. However, frequent nightmares accompanied by screaming and night waking could signal that something more is happening. Nightmares are especially common among children that have experienced a severe trauma or who struggle with anxiety. Teenagers, however, may not talk about their nightmares. Instead, they may put off sleep for as long as possible or seem tired upon waking.

Excessive Fears
Many types of mental illness cause extreme anxiety that could be expressed by your child as fears. While it is normal for a child to have a mild fear of things such as thunder, you may need to worry if their fears cannot be calmed with reassuring words or a soothing touch. For example, a child who is terrified of speaking to others may be struggling with social anxiety.

Changes in Eating Habits
Sudden weight gain or loss is a common symptom of mental illness. Young children may suddenly become picky or slow eaters. Children of all ages may engage in frequent snacking or binge eating. Teenagers who have more control over their food may also hide their changing eating habits, yet you may see fluctuations in their weight. You may also notice symptoms of eating disorders in older kids such as hoarding food or purging after meals.

Loss of Interest in Favorite Activities
Children tend to go through different hobbies and friends as their personality develops. However, most children have at least one interest that they remain passionate about throughout their childhood. If your child suddenly stops playing their favorite sport or refuses to spend time with their friends, then they may be struggling mentally.

Disturbing Drawings or Writings
Children with mental illness are often creative, and they will use their preferred craft to express feelings that they may not be able to put into words. At the preschool level, this may involve heavy, angry scribbles using harsh colors. Older kids and teens may draw actual depictions of violent images, or they may write stories with upsetting plots. Talk to your children about the things they create, and ask open-ended questions to find out what is on their mind.

When a child has a mental illness, they rely upon their parents and other trusted adults to find out what is wrong. Although many of the signs are subtle, they do tend to get worse as time goes on. Fortunately, acting quickly at the first sign of mental illness is the best way to ensure your child gets the help they need to enjoy positive mental wellbeing.

 

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Kids and Technology: 5 Strategies for Managing Screen Time

Managing Screen Time | Improve Your Child

Introducing your kids to technology at an early age has many advantages since even elementary students use computers at school. However, too much screen time has been linked to lower academic scores and negative behavior in young children. While it may seem hard to strike the perfect balance, you can successfully manage your child’s screen time by using these five simple strategies.

Limit Access

It is impossible to know how much screen time your child is experiencing if you are not able to see them using their electronic devices. For this reason, your first step is to set up a docking station in a common area of your home such as the kitchen or living room. This way, you can quickly glance to see if your child is using their smartphone or computer. If you are worried that your child may still slip by and use their devices at night, keeping them in your bedroom can ensure they do not stay logged on after bedtime.

Establish Clear Limits

House rules are essential for making it clear when kids can and cannot access their devices. Spend a few minutes deciding upon how much screen time you think is appropriate. As you do so, consider rules such as turning off all devices during dinner or family nights. You may also limit the use of devices until after your kid has completed all of their homework. Once you have your rules established, put them in writing and give a copy to your kid to make sure everyone is on the same page.

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What are Social Skills and Why are Social Skills Important?

Social Skills | Improve Your Child

Improving your child’s social skills can boost their self-esteem and help them to feel as though they belong in a group. Some children are naturally gregarious and have no problems with socializing while other children may become too boisterous. If you are the parent of a child who is shy or withdrawn, then you may need to put them in situations that feel safe enough for socializing. Alternatively, children who have particular forms of autism may struggle with socializing appropriately without ostracizing their peers. Social skills include:

• Talking
• Facial expressions
• Hand gestures
• Listening
• Vocal range
• Eye contact or no eye contact
• Maintaining correct physical distance

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How to Select a Summer Camp for a Child

Summer Camp | Improve Your Child

In late spring, many parents begin to think about what their child can do during their summer vacation. Because most parents work, finding a safe place for a child throughout summer is imperative. For a lot of parents, a camp environment is a good option for a child who loves to learn and keep busy. Of course, you should discuss summer activities with a child rather than making the decision on your own to avoid having a child who feels emotional stress.

Two Basic Types of Summer Camps for Kids

There are two basic types of summer camp for children that include an overnight or day only environment. When a child has never been away from home overnight, a day only environment is a good choice to help with the transition to independence. However, children who do not feel anxious about being away from home for several weeks will enjoy a sleep-away camp.

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Three Reasons for Childhood Social Difficulties and How to Resolve the Issues

Childhood Social Difficulties | Improve Your Child

Having a social life is just as important for children as it is for adults, but some children have social difficulties. While parents and educators may understand how to resolve the physical or mental difficulties that children have, they may never have heard about the ways to improve socialization. A child can have one or more issues that affect socialization, and in many cases, it takes a team of experts to identify the different problems.

One: Having an Autism Spectrum Disorder

There are many types of autism spectrum disorders, including:

• Childhood disintegrative disorder
• Pervasive development disorder
• Rett syndrome
• Asperger’s syndrome

Children with autism display poor communication, leading to isolation from their peers. In addition, children with this disorder may repeat behaviors such as clapping their hands. Early diagnosis and remediation is vital to help the children with an autism spectrum disorder learn better ways to behave and communicate in classrooms and in social situations.

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How To Limit Your Child’s Screen Time

Limit Screen Time | Improve Your Child

Most children today are spending too much time in front of the screen. This can lead to many problems. Studies have shown that excessive screen time can increase the risk of sleeping problems, behavioral problems, obesity, and it can also impair performance in the classroom. Furthermore, children who watch a lot of television are often sedentary.

There are many things that parents can do in order to limit screen time. Below is a list of tips that will help:

No Television In The Bedroom

It is estimated that 70 percent of children who are between the ages of 8 and 18 have a television in their bedroom. It will be easier for you to limit the amount of time your children spend watching television if they do not have one in their room. Additionally children should not have a computer or tablet in their room.

Set A Good Example

Children naturally want to mimic the behaviors of their parents. That is why it is important to set a good example. If your children see you reading books and doing other activities instead of watching television, then they will want to do other things instead of watch television.

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The Best Children’s Books

Best Children's Books | Improve Your Child

The books a person reads as a child can have a huge influence and stay in their memory for years. Some of the best children’s books are timeless classics, while others are new favorites which are here to stay. Ranging from picture books to short chapter books, here are some of the best books in children’s literature:

  • Where the Sidewalk Ends — This collection of children’s poems is goofy and lighthearted, but it also addresses the serious events of growing up.
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon — The power of creativity is celebrated in this book about a little boy’s adventures
  • The Story of Ferdinand — This classic picture book features charming illustrations and tells the tale of a bull who dislikes fighting and would rather sit and smell the flowers.
  • Charlotte’s Web — This chapter book discusses serious topics, such as life, growing up, and making friends, while maintaining a sense of humor and fun
  • Where the Wild Things Are — Fanciful illustrations tell the tale of a little boy who lets his inner wildness have free reign.
  • Corduroy — This tale of a little bear searching for his missing button and someone to love him is truly heartwarming
  • Green Eggs and Ham — Simple vocabulary makes this Dr. Seuss favorite a great choice for beginning readers
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone— This book tells the tale of an orphan boy who goes to a magical school and discovers the importance of bravery and friendship.
  • The Wind in the Willows — This fun chapter book tells the story of four animal’s adventures in the English countryside.
  • The Giving Tree — Themes of friendship and generosity are discussed through the story of a boy’s friendship with a tree.
  • Matilda — This goofy novel describes the adventures of precocious and intelligent Matilda, a girl who loves to read.
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day — This picture book is a humorous look at what happens when one little boy has an unpleasant day.

 

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Eliminating a Child’s New School Fears

New School | Improve Your Child

Regardless of age, any child who is attending a new school for the first time is apprehensive. They not only do not know any of the other students, they do not know their teachers and do not have a clue regarding the school layout. A parent can do a number of things to help a young child adjust to the situation.

 Determine what kind of transportation is involved

1. If walking is involved, make the trip with your child so they become familiar with the surroundings.
2. Make sure the area is safe for a child to walk alone. If not, introduce him or her to someone you have contacted to accompany them.

Visit the school

1. When signing registration papers, be sure your child is introduced to the office personnel, including the principal.
2. Walk through the school and visit the classroom or classrooms they will be using.
3. Show them where the bathrooms and lunchroom is located so they can find them easily.

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How Teaching Manners to Children Can Improve Their Lives

Teaching Manners | Improve Your Child

As a parent, one of the most influential things you can instill in your child is a sense of manners. Doing so is a gift that can help him or her prepare for successful and meaningful interactions in the future. Teaching manners to your children is more important than ever, as media, television, and other factors seem to be an inescapable force and are not always promoting the best manners. Therefore, it is your responsibility as a parent to teach manners. There are some important things to keep in mind during the impressionable part of your child’s learning development.

Lead By Example

Your child may listen to what you have to say about manners, but the minute you go against what you say, your word will be rather meaningless. Especially while you are teaching them manners, be sure not to act hypocritically during times when you don’t think they are paying close attention. Say, for example, you are focusing on the importance of not interrupting another when he or she is speaking. At dinner, however, during a heated conversation with your husband you interrupt him in the middle of a sentence. Your child, whether he or she realizes it or not, is subsequently confused about why the rules don’t apply to everyone and in all situations. Continue reading

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3 Keys to Working With Children With Attachment Issues

Attachment Issues | Improve-Your-Child.com

Parenting a child with attachment issues is challenging because those struggles usually come with behavioral and emotional difficulties that can wear down even the most seasoned parents.They will test your patience, your endurance and your commitment. When working with children who struggle to attach, remember these key things as you strive to help them find security.

Keep Your Cool

The behaviors that accompany attachment disorders will try your patience. Screaming, hitting and name-calling are just a few of the trials you may face. It is easy to find yourself pulled down to your child’s level, allowing your frustrated emotions to dictate your responses. This exactly what your youngster wants you to do, but it is also one of the worst things you can do for him or her in that heated moment. Instead, your child needs calm, consistent responses born out of unconditional love. Keeping your cool will help keep them close, rather than pushing them even farther away. Continue reading