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Our creative team is always developing and discovering new tools and activities for children and teens to master the everyday emotional challenges of their lives. Check back often to see what's new and how you can help your child.

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May 31st, 2011

Bullying: Confidence Helps Kids

Are kids meaner than ever? Bullying, rudeness and nastiness among children and teens is one of today’s hottest topics. The truth is every kid is affected by bullying. Here are the facts: Generally 10-15% of all school-aged children are the targets of chronic bullying. Roughly 10-15% of all kids do the bullying. Another 70% of all young people are theobservers of teasing and bullying and are often called bystanders.

Kids have not suddenly become meaner. But there is a change that makes bullying and teasing spread like wildfire. Clearly the internet, texting, and other forms of electronic media has made a nasty barb into a billboard ad for the
whole world to see. This can be devastating to the child who is targeted. It can erode a child’s self-esteem, lead to school-refusal, depression, anxiety, and in rare cases – even suicide.

Many parents and schools have been paying closer attention to the effects of bullying on young minds. Many schools have anti-bullying measures now in place and offer programs that value respect for differences and kindness. This is
clearly a step in the right direction.

Many adults wonder what else they can do to prevent their child from the isolation and fear associated with being a target of meanness. There is an additional set of skills that can help kids stay steady and strong – Confidence skills. Confidence help kids in a variety of ways. Confident kids pay attention to their own unique strengths, learn to value their own opinions and resist peer pressure, know how to deal with criticism, mistakes, embarrassment and imperfection – all crucial skills needed to stay strong in the face of rudeness and nastiness.

Confidence skills reduce the likelihood of becoming a target and helps kids recover if they are teased. Here are two other articles on confidence which may be of interest: Rumors: Building Confidence Helps Kids Handle Them and I Wish I Were Popular.

May 13th, 2011

Panic in Children and Teens

If you’ve witnessed a child’s panic attack, you have seen firsthand just how terrifying it can be. The child may have trouble breathing, may feel faint, have a pounding heart, or a sense of impending doom. The feeling is so intense that the child often becomes frightened that the anxiety will re-occur. A vicious cycle of panic is born.

There are many different reasons that panic can develop. Sometimes a child is afraid of school, social embarrassment, disappointing others, or that something bad could happen to a family member. A child may be worried about failure or have trouble separating from parents. When the panic is full-blown it is extremely difficult to problem-solve with the youngster. Don’t try just yet.

It’s helpful to stay with the child who is in the throes of a panic reaction. Quiet reassurance and a reminder that the feeling will subside in time is always a good idea. When the child is calmer, you can begin to piece together the problem. Some kids who experience panic find help in psychotherapy. Other children with repeated panic attacks receive medication.

All children and teens who panic need powerful tools to counteract the intense feelings, which can range from raw fear to rage and sadness. It’s best to practice these strategies when the child is relatively calm. For example, very anxious children and adolescents can benefit from breathing tools, relaxation strategies, and visualization techniques. And that’s just for starters. Other CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) tools, which teach accurate thinking along with encouraging, realistic power thoughts have repeatedly been found to be very effective in minimizing panic.
It takes practice, but strengthening the mind and body is precisely what’s needed. For a more detailed description of tools that fight anxious thoughts, see the Outsmart Your Worry Tool Kit for Kids. Other related articles about panic that may also be of interest are: Do You Have a Child Who Worries About Death ; Air Travel Can Be Scary.

May 5th, 2011

Good vs Evil: Kids React to the Death of Osama Bin Laden

Children have been reared on the good vs. evil myth, with the good guy eventually winning. Many fairy tales, superhero stories, and even modern fairly tales like Harry Potter, profile the hero righting wrongs and defeating the villain. This compelling story line is used time after time and makes sense to many kids.

The recent killing of Osama bin Laden is a true to life example of good
triumphing over evil. Generations of kids know the refrain from the Wizard of
Oz, Ding Dong the Witch is dead. They know that sometimes the boogeyman has to be eliminated.

Some children will express concern about the recent events of May 1, 2011. They may wonder about the events of September 11, picking up bits and pieces of what happened nearly a decade ago. They may worry about terrorism and what will happen in the future.

Your answer to their questions depends upon the age of the child. Certainly middle and high school teens may benefit from an accurate discussion of
history. Younger children may need reassurance that sometimes the right course
of action is for the good guy to defeat the bad guy. They’ve heard this story before. But this time, it’s for real.

Other related articles about children’s concerns about terrorism are:
Times Square Car Bomb Threat Can Scare Children and
Kids React to Terror Threats in the Air.