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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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January 17th, 2013

Is Your Child Too Afraid of Getting the Flu?

It’s hard to avoid hearing about the dangers of the flu these days. Internet, TV, radio, everyone is talking about how many people have the flu, how little flu vaccine is left, how sick people can get from the flu, etc. This rolling wave of information has hit the younger generation as well and many children are experiencing anxiety about whether they or their family members will be stuck down by influenza.

It’s natural for children to worry, especially about things they know that grownups are worried about too. A little bit of fear is OK. It can help your child remember to wash hands before eating and keep hands away from eyes, ears and mouth. It can help them be more agreeable to getting a flu shot, eating right and getting plenty of rest. These are safety measures that can be controlled. There is no guarantee that these precautions will prevent them from getting the flu, but they can greatly reduce the likelihood of getting sick.

Worry problems arise when kids worry a lot about things they can’t control such as:
• What if I get the flu even though I had a flu shot?
• What if I get the flu? Would I have to go to the hospital? Could I die?
• What if Mom or Dad gets very sick?

The best way to handle flu worries is to discuss them directly in a calm tone. Even if you are not feeling calm, it’s good to pretend that you are. It will help your child feel more secure. Explain to your child that it is not impossible that they could get the flu and reassure that the vast majority of people who get the flu do recover and go completely back to normal. Afterwards, try and engage your child in a pleasant distraction, like a meal or a game to help him or her get unstuck on flu fears. Soon spring will be here again flu fears should subside.

Other articles of related interest are:
Blood Test and Shots Scare Some Kids
Sick and Scared: Coping Strategies to Help Kids
Afraid of the Hospital: Kids can Outsmart Worry

January 15th, 2013

To The Siblings of the Newtown Sandy Hook Tragedy

Many of the twenty 6 and 7 year olds who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary had siblings. The siblings of the Newtown tragedy are not alone. A whole country mourns with them.

Can surviving siblings recover from such a difficult loss? In the aftermath of a loss, kids who have lost siblings might have all kinds of thoughts and feelings:

Can my brother ever come back?
I miss playing house with my sister.
My parents are crying all the time. What should I do?
It feels like a bad dream.
Why did this happen to me?
How come I survived?

Intense grief can include a mixture of great sadness, guilt, anger and fear. It takes a long time to make sense of something that seems senseless. In time, with the help of families, friends and those dedicated to helping children, surviving siblings can learn to integrate their loss in a meaningful way. As children face their profound loss, they need to find ways to keep their own identity intact and minimize frightening dreams and images. It is hoped that over time these youngsters will develop a longer term perspective about their future and retain a sense of hopefulness. This is called resilience, and it is possible.

Here are articles that can help children and teens learn about resilience in the face of significant tragedy:
Help Your Child Deal With the Death of Another Child
Helping Bereaved Children During the Holiday Season
When A Sibling Dies

January 9th, 2013

Kids Who Need to Lose Weight Need Confidence Too

Children and Teens who are overweight sometimes have low self-esteem. Heavy kids can be teased or embarrassed by other kids, even adults sometimes.

If your child is overweight there are smart initial steps you can take as a parent:
Say Yes to Real Food instead of snacks with empty calories
Say Yes to Tasty Fruits and Inventive Vegetables
Say Yes to Finding Fun Way for Kids to Move Their Bodies
Say Yes to Cooking Together and Making Healthy Food Fun

If you or your child needs extra help, consult with your pediatrician or nutritionist. This is also true if your child goes overboard and diets or exercises excessively. In addition to learning to eat smart and be active, overweight kids need to keep their confidence up. An overweight child can be sensitive to ridicule, rude comments and jokes. An overweight youngster can feel embarrassed and ashamed. These youngsters need strong strategies to deal with criticism from others as well as their own self-criticism.

Here are some confidence skills children can learn to stay on the healthy eating track:
Say Yes to Tracking Small, Positive Steps
Say Yes to Learning to Fend Off Criticism
Say Yes to Handling Embarrassment
Say Yes To Recognizing Their Unique Strengths
Say Yes to Valuing Their Own Beliefs and Opinions

You can read more about confidence skills helping overweight youngsters:
Child Confidence and the Initiative Against Child Obesity
I Hate How I Look
I Can’t Do That! Confidence Skills Help Children and Teens