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Intentional Links: The Anxious Child

the anxious child

An increasing number of children and teens are being diagnosed with anxiety issues. What is the reason for this trend and what can do we do to protect our kids from it?

How Big a Problem Is Anxiety by Robert Leahy over at Psychology Today.  “The average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s. We are getting more anxious every decade.” Note the possible reasons he offers for this increase in anxiety: a decrease in “social connectedness — we tend to move more, change jobs, participate less in civic organizations, and we are less likely to participate in religious communities. People are far less likely to get married, more likely to delay getting married, and more likely to live alone. All of these factors can contribute to worry, uncertainty, anxiety and depression.”

Normal Anxiety on WorryWiseKids.org.  This website is a great source of information and tips. This article link explains clearly what normal anxiety looks like at each developmental stage of childhood. It points out that anxiety is actually a necessary part of growing up. Kids just need our support in confronting the source of the anxiety and learning to make sense of it. The article then distinguishes symptoms of problem anxiety: if your child is constantly “keyed up,” experiences physical suffering because of her anxiety (headaches, upset stomach, insomnia), or avoids stressful situations, then she may be experiencing a toxic level of anxiety.

Are We Modeling Anxiety?  “Children learn how to act and react significantly based on the “models” in their world (parents, teachers, peers, siblings, etc). Research has shown that some parents of anxious children, especially if they are anxious themselves, have an anxious interpretation of the world, or view it as frightening. When parents hold this view of the world as threatening, they likely will suggest that their children avoid situations rather than approach them. . . Many parents want to protect their child from anxiety, but then kids don’t have opportunities to learn new skills or practice them.”

Understanding Anxious AttachmentOne of the greatest sources of protection against chronic anxiety that we can give to our child is a secure attachment to us. The scientific literature shows a clear correlation between a weak parent-child attachment and increased anxiety. In particular, children who develop an anxious attachment style to their primary caregiver will tend to experience heightened social anxiety (fear of negative evaluation,  people pleasing, distress in new social situations). 

Tips for Parenting with Unconditional Love (Intentional Links)

toddler

Loving our children unconditionally is a lot easier when our day is going smoothly, our child is happy, and our head is set firmly on our shoulders. But what about bad days? How do we love our child unconditionally then?

5 Secrets to Love Your Child Unconditionally from Dr. Laura Markham. “Unconditional love isn’t just what we feel. It’s what the object of our love feels: love without strings attached. That means our child doesn’t have to be, or do, anything in particular to earn our love. We love her exactly as she is. A tall order, since most of us have a little list of things we want ‘fixed’ in our child.” She makes several great points, including: 1) often our child’s weaknesses are just the underside of his strengths, 2) a child’s misbehavior is an SOS; we are more likely to feel compassion for her when we try to see things from her perspective, and 3) you can accept a child’s anger without endorsing the way he handles his anger.

Unconditional Love Is a Muscle from Aha Parenting. 6 practical tips for treating others with compassion even when it’s very hard, including putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. I would prayer as the 7th and most important tip!

Unconditional Parental Love from The Catholic Spirit. This article is concerned about the problem of parents rejecting imperfect children by aborting them, but the points he makes are very powerful and relevant for every parent. Because every child is imperfect, and those imperfections force us to confront our own assumptions about what we “deserve”. “For many [parents], it has become merely quaint to think of each child as a unique gift of God; children are more like planned acquisitions in our culture, acquisitions which should fit into our expectations about how our lives should go, about the ease and enjoyments that should characterize our lifestyle.”

Candlemas 101 (Intentional Links)

Decorated candles made by Kim's children for Candlemas 2015

Decorated candles made by Kim’s children for Candlemas 2015

On February 2, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (or the Feast of the Purification of Mary or, popularly, Candlemas because this is the day Catholics traditionally had their candles blessed). If you don’t know much about this feast day and you’re looking for practical ways to observe it in your home,  here are some links to get you started:

Basic Background

No (or Little) Fuss Candlemas Ideas by me over on my little family blog, First Heralds. A basic explanation of the feast day with some simple ideas I use in my own home on Candlemas.

Three Things to Remember about Candlemas by Marge Fenelon. Theological insights about Candlemas.

The Churching of Women. Well this is fascinating. Did you know there is a Church tradition, inspired by Mary’s purification, of allowing women to remain home with their infants for 40 days after birth? When you return to Mass, you are making a pilgrimage of thanksgiving for a healthy baby and then you receive a blessing. (This is done for health reasons and not because women are considered impure by the Church.)

Celebration Ideas

Prayers for Candlemas. Use at the dinner table, at bedtime, beside the fireplace, or before a special Candlemas tea party?

Easy Candles: If I could pick three symbols of Candlemas, they would be the dove (for the doves Mary and Joseph would have brought to the Temple), water (purification), and candles (as Jesus entered the temple, Simeon identified him as the Light to the Gentiles).  In addition to the candle making ideas I present in my blog post linked above, I like this simple votive candle holder. The  holder is baby food jar covered with tissue paper. The linked post is for a 4th of July theme, but use any colored tissue paper. Use Modge Podge to add a little cross or image of Mary and you have a Candlemas craft. Even the smallest hands can manage to make something special.

Marcia’s candle: Marcia Mattern (one of our staff writers at Catholic Attachment Parenting Corner) created a special Candlemas candle by handwriting a portion of Simeon’s announcement (“A light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to your people Israel”) onto a band of paper, decorating it, then wrapping the band around a pillar candle.

Free Printable Paper Puppets. So cute! Let your kids act out the Presentation as you are reading Luke 2:22-38 to them.

Amazing tea party ideas by Jessica over at Shower of Roses.  How does she think of this stuff?  Her food is very symbolic of the Feast and beautifully presented. I think I might try her edible candles this year! Using even one or two ideas for your table would be special.

Intentional Links: How Do Kids Develop Self-Esteem?

self-esteem

What is self-esteem?  This article is a good introduction to the concept of self-esteem. Self-esteem is “a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value.” I like the definition in this article for high self-esteem: It’s a positive but realistic view of the self. Ideally when our child reaches adulthood, he will be aware of his limitations but also feel good about himself.

Too much self-esteem . . . ? Narcissism is real psychological disorder. I love how Dr. Laura Markham explains it clearly here, but cautions parents against an adolescent diagnosis of true narcissism. Basically all teens are a little narcissistic!

What contributes to low self-esteem: A good overview of common contribution factors to low self-esteem. In a nutshell: overly critical caregivers, uninvolved/preoccupied caregivers, parents fighting, bullying when parents aren’t helpful, parents not helping with academic challenges, when parents don’t help, belief systems that make you feel guilty or like you’re sinning all the time, unrealistic images in the media.

12 Ways to Raise a Confident Child by Dr. Sears. A GREAT list of reminders! I also love Dr. Sears’ book The Successful Child.  The book redefines success.

Image credit: tcj2020 (freedigitalphotos.com)

Intentional Links: 12 Days of Christmas for Your Family!

raphael mary and jospehDid you know Christmas doesn’t end on December 25? We’re just getting started! For Catholics, the Christmas Season lasts for 40 whole days until Candlemas on February 2!  Before then, we have The Solemnity of Mary on January 1st (the Octave – 8th day- of Christmas) and the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6 (exactly 12 days after Christmas, though in many countries the celebration is moved to the nearest Sunday – this year this would be January 3).

Here are some links to keep your family in the Christmas spirit for the 12 Days of Christmas!

Solemnity of Mary

An explanation of the solemnity from EWTN.

Prayers for the Solemnity of Mary  from Churchyear.net. Use to enrich your family prayer time.

Fleur-de-Lis Brownies from Catholic Cuisine. Easy and lovely way to make your Solemnity special!

Free solemnity coloring page from Faith-Filled Freebies

Feast of the Epiphany

Living Epiphany.  I wrote this article a few years ago, sharing how we observe Epiphany in our home. Basic explanation with story and tea party ideas.

Paper Bag Crown from artbarblog. This could be a super easy Epiphany crown – you probably have everything on hand already!

Star sun catcher to remind us of the journey of the Magi.

Altar display: I love the way this mom arranged her table with the spices and flowering bulb. This would be a great addition to the family altar.

Intentional Links: I Remember When . . . Sharing Your Family History with Your Kids

fireplaceDo your kids love to hear you talk about your childhood? Do they ask you to repeat the tale of the moment you met your spouse? Here are a few links that explain why!

What Kids Learn from Family Stories:  Great points about why kids benefit from well-told detailed family stories: children actually learn to tell their own story, they understand other people’s thoughts and emotions better, and teenagers who know a lot about their family history have a “more robust identity.” Links to research.

What Kids Should Know about Their Family History: Consider this list of things every kid should know about their family history. Do your kids know where you and your spouse met? Where you were married? Any illnesses or injuries when you were little?

Moms and Personal Story Telling:  Compared to dad, this study finds that mom tells better, more emotional stories about her life and this helps kids develop their own emotional skills.

Traditions: A Pleasant Tie that Binds: This is an essay over on CAPC written by a mom who is very serious about recording family history for future generations. She focuses here on explaining to kids why we have the traditions we have in our families! With Thanksgiving next week, this might be a great time to share with your children where some family recipes came from or why we do certain things every year.

Intentional Links: infant crying and fussing: what parents need to know

crying babyI’m renaming my recurring links posts “intentional links” rather than “Wednesday links” so I can bless you with great links on any ol’ day. 🙂

In this edition: infant crying and fussing. Here I’m selecting links that help us understand unexplained crying (rather than cry-it-out sleep methods).

The Frenzied Cry: How to Calm Your Baby. A couple of interesting suggestions for reducing colicky crying when the usual stuff doesn’t work: eliminating foremilk in breastfeeding and adding pro-biotics to baby’s diet even when breastfed.

Infant Crying, Fussing, and Colic: A Thinking Parents Guide from Gwen Dewar has a great deal of insight about why babies cry and what you can do to calm them. She says babies are soothed by feeding (Shaw et al 2007), skin-to-skin contact (Gray et al 2000), and gentle touches that are combined with other forms of communication, like talk or eye contact (White-Traut et al 2009). Fascinating: in a study of 3 groups that included London parents, Copenhagen parents, and a group that practiced “proximal care” — holding baby 80 percent of the time, responding quickly to baby’s cries, and feeding frequently, “the London parents had the least amount of physical contact with their babies—50% less compared with the parents practicing proximal care. These parents also had the babies who cried the most.”

Simple Ways to Calm a Crying Baby by Darcia Narvaez.  This piece focuses on babies who fuss and cry a lot at night. Dr. Narvaez’s key points: 1) A parent’s presence helps to calm babies who awaken in an upset state, 2)  Calming infants helps infants learn to calm themselves.  She offers a list of methods for calming baby back to sleep including recreating the womb, relying on familiar sounds, and skin-to-skin contact.

Why Infant Carrying Soothes a Baby When Nothing Else Will from Dr. Greg.  Do you have a baby who fusses unless you are carrying him?  “It turns out that carrying an infant triggers a three-way mechanism in the brain that suppresses involuntary muscle movements & struggling while also dramatically reducing the infant’s heart rate.  These changes happen almost immediately.  In fact, this process is such an automatic response to being carried that it could almost be considered a previously undiscovered reflex.”

Image credit: Phaen Din (freedigitalphotos.com)

Wednesday Links: Bullying (What Every Parent Should Know)

bullying

Bullying 101

What is bullying? Here stopbullying.gov defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.” This page also explains different types of bullying.

How to Bully-Proof Your Child. Why are some kids bullied while others aren’t?  In this article, I offer 3 tips for bully-proofing your child.

Is It Bullying or Ordinary Meanness? by Eileen Kennedy-Moore over at Psychology Today. What counts and doesn’t count as bullying and why it matters.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying basics. Ah, yes, there’s a whole new mean in town. Cyberbullying “includes mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.” Cyberbullying is becoming a huge problem especially among teenagers. This page gives parents basic information about how and why it happens and what they can do about it.

CDC “electronic aggression” tipsheet. A helpful pdf from the CDC explaining types of electronic aggression and what parents can do to prevent it or deal with it.

Sibling Bullying

5 Signs of Sibling Bullying.  Most siblings squabble, but generally this is pretty harmless when their is a tone of warmth in the relationship after these squabbles. Some behavior, though, rises to bullying and can lead to serious emotional harm to the weaker sibling. Here are 5 signs that sibling fighting might really be a bullying problem and 5 tips for addressing it.

Sibling Bullying Linked to Later Depression.  We don’t want to admit that one of our children might be bullying another, but it happens. In this study published by Pediatrics, children who were bullied by a sibling were far more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression in adulthood.  “Social learning and how to behave with peers starts at home, and when siblings are bullied it can have serious long-term consequences as we found in our study. It is important that parents set clear rules about what is allowed in conflicts and they should intervene consistently when their children maltreat each other repeatedly.”

Wednesday Links: Girls and Body Image

Today I have some great links for your about girls and the development of poor body image.

Tips to Encourage a Positive Body Image in Girls.  Body image shifts dramatically in early elementary school.  The author suggests that what moms say about their own bodies influences their daughters’ attitudes.

The Media and Body Image from WebMD. We all know the media perpetuates the “thin is beautiful” message. This article says we don’t have ban media, but suggests practical ways we can help our daughters look critically at media messages. The article, like the previous one, points out the impact on a daughter of her mother’s attitude toward her own body. This article also warns fathers about how they talk about women in front of girls.

Improving Your Body Image Through Catholic Teaching by Dr. John Acquiva.  A theology of the body approach to improving our perception of our bodies. This book might give parents some tools for talking to a daughter about poor body image.

Exercise Improves Body Image for Fit and Unfit Alike.  Research suggesting that regular exercise, and not the actual level of fitness, improves body image. This article is focused on adults, but it gives us yet another reason to put together a family-centered fitness routine.  AHA! That’s the topic of the Fall 2015 issue of Tender Tidings!

Image Credit: Eugene Seergev (dreamstime.com)

Tender Tidings Fall 2015 NOW AVAILABLE!

Free parenting magazine for gentle, intentional, and attachment-minded parents.

 

In this issue:

  • Family-centered fitness: body and soul
  • Dr. Greg explains how to answer your kids’ questions about gay “marriage”
  • Benedictine wisdom for your family
  • healthy, homemade snacks for busy kids