Thursday, May 9th, 2013
It’s been said that “a mother is only as happy as her least happy child,” and it’s so true that children’s mental health affects the whole family. If your child suffers from anxiety or depression or ADHD, you want to get her the best treatment just like you would if she had diabetes or asthma or cancer. And yet, stigma still does exist, and can get in the way of addressing a child’s problem. In our recent survey of more than 1,600 parents conducted in partnership with the Child Mind Institute, 48% said they think parents are to blame for children who exhibit disruptive behavior.
In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, there has been a call for improved mental health care—and mental health advocates are seizing this opportunity to talk about the importance of effective diagnosis and treatment. Indeed, our survey found that 60% of parents are concerned that kids who have a mental illness like Asperger’s Syndrome or depression are more likely to hurt themselves or others, and 61% of parents said that parents of children with mental health problems should not be allowed to have a gun in their home. However, the truth is that most violent crimes are not actually committed by people who are mentally ill, and kids with mental health issues can grow up to lead happy, productive lives when they get proper care.
“The Newtown shooting has lead to a national conversation about mental health—not just to prevent potential violence, which is very rare, but to prevent suffering, which is very common and often very treatable,” says Parents advisor Harold Koplewicz, M.D., president of the Child Mind Institute. “What we hope will come from the tragedy is openness that starts in each family and community, when we acknowledge our worries about our own children, and help make other parents feel safe enough to speak up about their worries, too.”
One piece of good news from our survey: 66% of respondents do believe that parents are now more likely to seek help if their child’s behavior worries them. We’ve also been encouraged to learn that an increasing number of pediatricians now have mental-health professionals working right in their office. Not only does that make access to care easier, but it sends a message that mental heath is just as important as physical health.
You can participate in the Speak Up For Kids campaign and learn more from the online events being hosted by the Child Mind Institute in honor of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month.
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Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
We’re halfway through National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and we wanted to make sure you knew about an important event that’s happening: Friday at 12 p.m. EST, our friends at Child Mind Institute, as part of their Speak Up For Kids initiative, will present a live Facebook talk called “Managing Behavior: Strategies for Parents and Teachers.”
The presenter is Melanie Fernandez, Ph.D., ABPP, a clinical psychologist with expertise in treating kids’ behavioral problems. Dr. Fernandez is especially well-versed in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, and she’s the director of Child Mind Institute’s Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Program. PCIT is a fascinating technique where parents are coached (behind a one-way mirror and while wearing an earpiece) by experts as they’re playing with their child and given specific suggestions on how to monitor and reinforce their child’s positive behaviors, ignore mild negative ones, and give commands with calm, consistent follow-through.
To watch the hour-long presentation, go to CMI’s Facebook page at 12 p.m. on Friday, where you can post questions for Dr. Fernandez and chat with fellow attendees.
In the meantime, check out all of the events happening around the country through Saturday, May 12, as part of Speak Up For Kids. Mental health professionals in 48 states (and 14 countries!) are leading free talks on childhood mental health disorders and topics of concern to all parents including ADHD, anxiety, depression, behavioral challenges, bullying, trauma, and online safety. Check here for events near you. And for those of you in the New York City area, consider tomorrow’s talk at the 92nd Street Y: “Parenting 2.0: Raising Healthy Children in a Digital Age.” Steven Dickstein, M.D., pediatric psychopharmacologist at CMI, will discuss how much and what kind of exposure is appropriate for kids, and give parents pointers on how to manage children’s screen (and phone!) time, monitor social media participation, and protect them from cyberbullies. It’s free; RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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92nd Street Y, ADHD, Behavior, Child Mind Institute, cyberbullying, mental health, screen time, Speak Up For Kids | Categories:
Behavior, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, News, Your Child
Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
At Parents, an important part of our mission is “to harness the power of our readers to advocate continuously and tirelessly for children so that all kids can grow up in a healthy, safe, and loving environment.” That’s why we rely on your feedback.
We’ve teamed up with the Child Mind Institute to create a survey to learn about your attitudes about children’s behavior and mental health. Your responses to our short survey will be strictly confidential and help us create a better magazine for you.
And just in case you need another reason to help us out, you’ll also have the chance to win a $500 Bloomingdales.com gift card! That’s right, spend a few minutes answering our questions and you could make your holiday shopping much easier (or buy something very special for yourself). Goody luck!
Click here to take the survey and get more details about winning a $500 Bloomingdales gift card.
Sweepstakes closes at 11:59 p.m., E.T. on 12/5/11.
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Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
This post is by guest blogger Dr. Harold Koplewicz, President of the Child Mind Institute.
The anniversary of 9/11 is always a painful one and the 10th anniversary this year brings certain things more sharply into focus: We are reminded of that terrible day, of the thousands of lives lost, of how stunned and vulnerable we felt. There’s a desire to honor the dead, the families who bore the burden of the attack, and the things we stand for as a nation. We celebrate resilience and renewal even as we vow not to forget.
We’re aware of all the ways we’ve changed and moved on in a decade, and nothing reminds us more viscerally of how much time has passed than our children. We have our memories and our own relationship to the events of that day, ones our children may not share. Children who were infants and toddlers the day of the attacks are now in middle school. Those who were just old enough to understand what happened are in high school or heading off to college. For many younger children today, 9/11 isn’t something they lived through but a piece of history they learn about in school.
Parents still have an opportunity to consider what they want kids to know about the attack on our country and to talk to them in an age-appropriate way. Here are some guidelines for talking to kids about 9/11.
1. Be age appropriate. If a child is too young to remember 9/11, consider her age in deciding when it’s a good time for her to learn about it or learn more about it. Don’t force the issue. But if you see the time is right, you may want to use the event to invite questions, to take an inventory of what she knows and thinks she knows, and provide more details.
2. Take cues from your child—each individual child, if you have more than one. For those old enough to remember the events of 9/11, let them tell you what they remember, what the anniversary means to them, and how they feel about participating in any commemorations.
3. Don’t answer questions that aren’t asked. Children as young as first grade are learning about 9/11 in school as an important part of our history. There’s no reason to volunteer disturbing or frightening details unless a child has heard them and needs a reality check from you. If he does want to talk about things that are deeply upsetting, try to do so calmly without telegraphing your feelings.
4. Share but don’t impose your feelings. The events and the emotions of that day are still painful to many of us, but let kids know they don’t have to feel the same way. Ten years is a long time, especially in the life and mind of a child, and unless they lost people close to them in the attacks, the memories may not be potent. It’s helpful if they don’t feel you depend on them to perform in a prescribed way.
5. Help them feel safe. Kids want to know, “Are we safe today?” The answer is “Yes, we are.” As a result of 9/11, there is tighter security at the airports and in important buildings everywhere. We are also able to tell our children that the mastermind, Osama bin Laden, and many other leaders of Al Qaeda, the hate group that sponsored this attack, have died or been captured.
6. Focus on resilience. If you go to a memorial, talk to kids in advance about why you’re going. Focus on honoring those who died and celebrating the resilience of both the nation and the individual families that lost loved ones. We memorialize people out of respect, to demonstrate that we haven’t forgotten their sacrifice and to stand up for our values and beliefs. We honor those who lost their lives as the buildings fell. We honor the many, many people who helped with the search for survivors and the painstaking and painful job of removing the mountain of rubble left by the attacks. Don’t talk about the threat of terrorism or possibilities for the next terrorist attack.
7. Don’t focus on hatred. Teenagers have a lot of bravado. They tend to be dramatic and extreme, and some may respond to the renewed focus on 9/11 by wanting to lash out. As a parent, say, “I understand that you are angry, but 9/11 happened because of a select few people not an entire population.” Help your child do something positive and active instead. There are a number of great organizations that need support, including Tuesday’s Children, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the American Red Cross.
8. Avoid exposing children to repetitive TV news coverage. Media pictures of 9/11 can be shown weeks before and after the event. They can make children feel anxious and stimulate unwanted emotions, so limit what they see on TV.
9. Don’t feel you have only one chance to talk about this. As parents, you always get a “re-do” to talk about difficult things. It’s better to think of tough issues as an ongoing conversation that develops as kids grow and change. If you didn’t get it right the first time, give yourself a break and try again later.
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