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Anxiety and Children

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This article is sponsored by CHOC Children’s Hospital

As a person who has struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, mental health is an important topic to me. Mental health needs to be talked about. Today’s article is focused on anxiety and children. Do you have an anxious child? I do. Which is why this post today on anxiety and children is particularly important to me. I had the opportunity to engage in a conversation with Dr. Christopher Min a licensed pediatric psychologist at CHOC Children’s about anxiety and children and he was so insightful.

Anxiety and Children

You know the phrase the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? Well, my oldest daughter, is my anxious apple. It is astonishing to watch her anxious behaviors and hear her thoughts sometimes, because I GET it. I wish she didn’t have this, but it is part of who she is just like it is a part of me. What I do want is  to give her the tools to help her manage it at a young age, because it took me until age 35 to seek ongoing help.

Anxiety and Children

Here are the questions I asked Dr. Christopher Min about anxiety and children.

How do you know the difference between normal worry and anxiety in children?

He started by explaining that worry is a natural and normal physiological response built into us as human beings to help us to survive. Way back when anxiety was necessary to keep humans from getting eaten by tigers and the ‘fight or flight’ response kept us alive. Worrying is very much part of being a human. However, for children with brains more sensitive to these triggers, anxiety might be hard to control. If the anxiety is prevalent, constant and persistent, some kids might need help to re-wire or re-train their brains to diminish the response and help calm their bodies.

Anxiety Symptoms in Children

There are different ways anxiety can manifest in children. When talking about the type of anxiety that is characterized by excessive and persistent over a number of different things, it is called generalized anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in children include:

– Worry which is hard to control and becomes constant and consuming
– Irritability
– Sleep onset problems
– Fidgety
– Inability to relax
– Hyper vigilant / hyper aware of surroundings
– Fatigue
– Physical symptoms like persistent stomachaches or headaches, etc. in response to worry or anxiety
– For a full list of symptoms click here

Other Anxiety Disorders in Children

Anxiety can cause other different types of anxiety disorders in children as well, issues such as:

Panic disorder: Unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress
Social anxiety disorder (common in teenagers): persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and feeling embarrassed or humiliated by their actions
Phobias: persistent fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation
Adjustment disorder: trouble adjusting as a result of a stressful event
Selective mutism: when children do not speak in certain settings

When do you know it’s time to seek help for your anxious child?

When anxiety interferes with everyday life and functioning it might be time to seek professional help from a licensed therapist. Problems with school refusal, difficulty sleeping, test anxiety, constant meltdowns, eating issues, etc. are not things to be ignored and anxiety can be treated under the care of a professional. Dr. Min stressed that a parent truly knows their child best, so if you feel in your gut that something is going on with your child, trust your instincts.

If you have concerns, schedule an appointment with a licensed professional trained with children and adolescents, preferably one that has experience with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioral therapy addresses the cognitive distortions or unhealthy anxious thoughts in combination with tools to help stop the dysfunctional behavior that go along with it. Cognitive therapy is an attempt to change or re-wire the anxious thoughts into more realistic and helpful ones. Behavioral therapy such as relaxation, positive reinforcement and exposure therapy work to diminish the fight or flight response. In combination, this therapy can be very effective in treating anxiety.

Anxiety and Sleep Problems in Children

I asked Dr. Min if I could ask him about something my daughter is  currently struggling with – problems going to sleep – and I am so glad I did because he had a lot of good advice.

He expressed sleep problems in children are a giant issue. Giant. In fact, CHOC Children’s even has a dedicated Pediatric Sleep Center where he is a psychologist on staff. The Sleep Disorder Center helps treat children that have problems falling asleep, staying asleep or fears of going to sleep.

Sleep Advice for Anxious Kids

  • Keep a Bedtime Journal.

Thoughts that run through the child’s mind are one of the major issues with having problems falling a sleep. If a child is able to put pen to paper before bed and get all of their worries and thoughts out before, it can help. Bringing the journal to a therapist can then help with addressing the worries.

  • Stop All Devices (Blue Light) One Hour Before Bed.

The major source of blue light is the sun and when we see the sun, are brains are cued to be awake. Electronics such as TV, tablets and phones also emit a high amount of blue light so that when looking at them, our brains are cued to think “it’s daytime” and the natural sleep hormones that kick in when it is time to sleep are halted. Removing devices one hour before sleep helps your body naturally do what it supposed to do at night – sleep!

  • Behavioral Recommendations To Help with Sleep.

– Regular bedtime and wake time each day
– No naps for older children
– Use the bed only for sleep
– Keep room on the cooler side as being too hot can inhibit sleep
– Keep a regular bedtime routine they do every night

Positive Reinforcement System for Sleep Problems in Kids

The most common (and to me, personally frustrating) behaviors that go along with sleep problems in kids have to do with seeking out interactions with parents.  You know, one more glass of water, one more kiss, one more snuggle, etc. As a parent, we want our children to be independent and able to go to sleep, or put themselves back to sleep, without needing our help.

He said what children are looking for with these behaviors is control, so he suggested a system where kids are given a certain amount of “tokens”, say 2 – 3, at the beginning of a week that they can turn in for “one more” something.  Basically, it’s a pass to get out of bed or ask for something.

If at the end of the week, if a token was not used, it can be put towards a prize or reward that is really motivating for the child.

We might be giving this a try. I will let you know how it goes.

Thank you Dr. Christopher Min for the incredible advice and for taking the time to talk to me about this important topic!

For more information on the CHOC Children’s Mental Health Initiative and programs, click here. Together, let’s talk about it.

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Romance at The Ranch

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Disclosure: Complimentary media stay provided to facilitate this review. 

Every year my husband and I make it a goal to get away in November to celebrate our anniversary. The time together alone, no kids, is magical. It’s one of the highlights of my entire year. To have extended, uninterrupted hours to talk, relax and reconnect is like fuel for the marriage tank.

In the years when we have only one or two nights for a getaway, staying close to home is best for maximum relaxation time and living in Orange County, we are pretty darn lucky to have a large number of phenomenal destinations to chose from.

Back in August we were lucky enough to able to stay at The Ranch at Laguna Beach as a family of four and enjoyed all the amazing family-friendly activities available for guests.

Click here to read my post about staying at The Ranch at Laguna Beach as a family.

When we were deciding where we wanted to go for our 15 year anniversary, I thought The Ranch would be the perfect spot.  We got married in Laguna Beach, so the town holds special memories for us, and I couldn’t wait to experience The Ranch as a romantic Laguna Beach hotel.  If you are looking for a staycation spot to celebrate Valentine’s Day or a special event with your sweetie, here’s a little taste of what could be in store for you…

romanceattheranch

We dropped the girls off at school and headed down on a beautiful Friday morning. I was giddy with excitement. Swim suit. Check. Dress for dinner. Check. New book to dive into. Check.

R & R was all that was on the agenda and I couldn’t wait.

We requested early check in and as luck would have it, our room was ready so we could get settled into our cozy king Cabin Room where a bottle of bubbly was there to greet us. Time to uncork the champs!

Total travel time to champagne? About 45 minutes total. That’s the best thing about a staycation close to home!

theranchcabinroom

The Ranch, which just celebrated its grand opening end of last year, exudes classic, Laguna Beach elegance. From decor to amenities, the resort spared no detail when it comes to guests’ comfort.

– Keurig coffee makers

– Microwave

– Fridge

– Comfortable robes

– Daily paper delivery of paper of choice

– Complimentary Wi-fi

– USB ports bedside

– Complimentary parking and valet

– And my personal favorite, NO ADDITIONAL RESORT FEE. Yes!

theranchpool

We were lucky to get some warmer than usual November temperatures in Laguna so we spent the rest of the afternoon lazing around the charming pool, The Pond, where cushioned lounge chairs and signature cocktails await.

sycamorespa

Adjacent to The Pond is the Sycamore Spa, which was in the final phase of completion when we stayed so we were unable to take advantage of a treatment. I am happy to report, it is open now and in February, locals can visit the Sycamore Spa and receive 15% off a 60-minute Couples’ Massage and also receive a takeaway spa amenity!

Super sweet Valentine’s Day gift.

sycamorespa1 photo credit: The Ranch

After a few hours at the the pool we decided to try our skills at the bocce ball court. Hubby kicked my booty. That game is harder than it looks!

I love the comfortable feel of The Ranch. Zero pretension. The property makes you feel right at home.

bocceball
The evening was so beautiful we decided to walk across the street hand-in-hand to catch the sunset.  It’s an easy 5 – 7 minute walk to the beach, but the resort does have golf carts available you can call for rides.

Nothing more romantic than sunset at the beach, and how often do you have the chance to watch a sunset with your love?

alisocreeksunset

That evening we were ecstatic to dine at the just-opened Harvest restaurant, which is one of the most stunningly beautiful dining spots in OC.  The decor is grand, but comfortable at the same time with a modern clubhouse type of feel…the type of place where you can sit by the fire, belly up to the bar or nestle into a dining table and stay awhile.

harvest

Harvest restaurant and bar celebrates California cuisine with farm-to-table dishes that change with the seasons. The chef integrates fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables, many of which are grown on property in the half-acre Harvest Garden.

Click here for a sample menu and if you go for dinner, order the crispy Brussel Sprouts with sweet chili sauce, pecans, green apple and radicchio. Best we have ever had!

Harvest is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. If you are local, make your reservations now. You will fall in love.

harvestrestaurantinterior

photo credit: The Ranch

Our dinner service was impeccable, and we giggled over another class of champagne as we toasted our 15 years.

harvestcollage

We were back the next morning for a glorious breakfast al fresco where we watched a family of deer grazing on the greens as we dined.

Can you spot them? You have to look close….

deer-family

One of the best things about The Ranch is its location. You are so close to all the hustle and bustle of PCH, Main Beach, and its restaurants and shops, yet when you pull down the drive to go back ‘home’ to The Ranch you enter a completely different world.

On Saturday night we decided to Uber into town and dine at The Deck, which is now a restaurant, but 15 years ago the property was a private wedding venue where we said our vows.

So many memories came rushing back when we got seated at our table, essentially in the exact same spot we got married!

thedeckcollage

After dinner, we found ourselves at a local dive bar dancing to an 80’s cover band like we were kids in our 20’s again. SO. MUCH. FUN.

After a deliriously good night’s sleep in our comfortable bed, we headed up to Ben’s Pantry at The Ranch for breakfast, which is their grab-and-go cuisine for seat yourself patio dining.

Latte. Breakfast burritos. Morning paper. This view.

Perfection.

benspantry

After breakfast we took a walk over to the beach and walked for a long stretch up to Treasure Island.

I forget just how gorgeous these beaches are but was reminded when I noticed the large number of tourists walking the path. People that likely traveled long distances to visit Laguna Beach. And, here we are, able to come and take a staycation in one of the most beautiful locations in California.

alisobeach

It was an AMAZING weekend and The Ranch was the perfect spot to recharge and reminisce, the quintessential romantic Laguna Beach hotel.  If you are looking for a local spot to share a special time with your significant other, make your reservations now.

Month of February Romance Specials at The Ranch:

Book your romantic getaway in the month of February 2017 and resort credit applies towards resort activities:

Make a one-night reservation and receive a $50 resort credit

Stay 2 or more nights and receive $100 resort credit

 Based on availability. Visit website for restrictions. Click here to reserve.

February 2017 Specials for Locals:

Sycamore Spa:  

1 – 60 minute Couples massage at 15% Receive takeaway spa amenity

Golf: 

Couples Golf Tourney

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Tee times available 10-11:30am

Price $150/couple to ride $120 to walk. Includes greens fee, electric cart, $50 F&B credit, 2 sleeves of Vivid balls and prize eligibility. Participants also get 20% off merchandise that day.

 Prizes offered:

·         a “One-night romance package for two, 2nd place:  60 minute Couples Spa treatment

·         Closest to the Pin winners – 2 free rounds of golf

·         Highest Score – free one hour couples lesson

February Golf Specials

·        Couples Golf Lessons – 20% off couples introductory golf lessons

           ·         $128 for 1 hour couples lesson (takes place at the range and putting green)

           ·         $224 for 5 hole playing lesson, 30-min intro at the range and play holes 6-9 on your own

For more information:

www.theranchlb.com

Follow The Ranch for specials and news:
facebook.com/TheRanchLagunaBeach
twitter.com/TheRanchLB
instagram.com/TheRanchLB
pinterest.com/theranchlb

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Marriage Advice Better Than “Don’t Go To Bed Mad”

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My husband and I celebrate 15 years of marriage today, and while that makes me feel giddy and proud, there is also something about the fact we have been marriage for that long, that is making me feel really…old. Like, really? Has it really be 15 years? Wow.

We have been through a lot in those 15 years.

The first 14 pretty much fell in the “for better” category.  When life is sailing along crisis-free, it’s easy to take life for granted. This year, with the tragic loss of my mom, we have been undoubtedly been through “for worse”. Yet, he has stood by my side every step. God bless him.

For all the awful things I am going through grieving the loss of my mom, I think how awful it must be for him, to always being the strong one while watching your wife grieve. But we made it through, and we are still making it through. Witnessing his commitment to us has strengthened us. It might be one of the silver linings, we are stronger as a result of this “for worse” year. Nothing tests a relationship like crisis.

Marriage Advice

Photo cred: Melissa Wilson

 

My mom and I had the time of our life planning our wedding back in 2001. We were two peas-in-a-pod with our love for parties, celebrations and “cute details”.  The wedding was the party to end all parties for both of us and we had SO much fun together.

After the wedding, she gave me as a gift, a secret journal she kept starting with the day we got engaged. In it, she documented all the details of the engagement, planning and wedding and all the things we did together.

At the end of the journal, my parents both shared their tips and advice on marriage. My parents were married 46 years and were one of those couples that had something special. They were genuinely, truly happy together.

Here they are on August 16th, 1969…

parents collage

I pulled out the Journal today to read her words again.

Here are some my mom said…

“The promise and commitment of marriage is the most incredible gift.”

Treat your husband as your best friend every day of your life.”

“There will be ups & downs, highs & lows, but always be there for each other.”

Listen to each other and compromise if needed.”

“….and kiss him every night when you or he walks in!”

“Always” and “nevers” advice from my dad…

“Always listen to your partner twice as much as you talk. After all, God gave us two ears and one mouth.”

Never use sarcasm with each other, it’s often times an insult in disguise.”

“Always remember what is easy or difficult for you might not be easy or difficult for your partner. Embrace your differences, for they are what makes your marriage unique.”

“Always make your partner look good in front of others.

Never keep secrets from one another. Share feelings and try not to keep things inside and you’ll both grow.”

Never make major decisions when you are acutely emotional. Wait a day, take 100 deep breaths.  Most of the stupid decisions I have made in my life have been during times of high emotion.”

“Always treat your partner even better than you would your best friend.

“Never set your partner up to fail, rather set your partner up to succeed.

And then my moms ends with…

“And now you can even better understand why I love your father so much! He is an incredible person, I am so lucky to have him as my partner in life!”

Someone hand me the tissues.

This past weekend we celebrated our anniversary in Laguna Beach and had dinner at The Deck, which used to be a wedding venue called Pacific Edge, where we got married.

When we walked in I felt immediately nostalgic, thinking of that day, my mom and how special that place was to her as well. At that exact moment,  a guy walks right towards me with this amazing monarch butterfly on his finger and I tell him I believe it is for me. He hands it to me. I just know it was a sign from her, letting me know she is still right here with us.  Hug your loved ones today friends. Give your husband or wife an extra kiss. Appreciate each other.  Life is fleeting.

thebutterfly

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Must-Read Information on Bullying

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This article sponsored by CHOC Children’s Hospital

In light of October as National Bullying Prevention Month, I had the opportunity to engage in an extremely eye-opening conversation with Dr. Christopher Min, PhD, a licensed pediatric psychologist at CHOC Children’s  about bullying and the mental health effects on children. This is a must-read for all parents! He shares bullying warning signs to watch for, how to talk to your children about bullying, and how seeking professional help can also be life-changing for the entire family.

bullying1

Bullying Warning Signs

The number one warning signs Dr. Min said to look for are “avoidance behaviors” or when a child expresses not wanting to go to school, activities or other situations they haven’t had a problem with in the past.

The child may start having more stomach-aches or headaches, or you might be alerted to frequent trips to the nurse, often at times like recess or lunch when bullying may be happening.

How to Talk to Your Children About Bullying

I asked Dr. Min for tips on how to talk to your children about bullying and find out what is going on and this was a huge “aha moment” for me.

First, let’s talk about what NOT to do!

The topic of bullying can make parents emotional, and their reactions emotional, driving them to jump immediate “protective, problem-solving mode.” But Dr. Min said reacting in this way is not the best way to get the information and get your child to share more about what is happening.

The #1 important thing parents can do is LISTEN.

Listen, listen, listen and be calm, supportive and thoughtful while gathering information. It is also important to communicate it is not their fault and careful not to place blame or tell them, “You need to stick up for yourself!”

Really listening is the best way to get kids to share more and feel safe sharing with you, especially if they feel they will not be criticized for what they did or didn’t do.

Parents cannot control what the bully does at school or outside the home, but they CAN control a supportive, healing atmosphere at home.

What to Do If Your Child is Being Bullied

Depending on the severity of the situation, and especially if physical bullying is going on, the school should be notified immediately. If the bullying is lesser in severity, like teasing, parents can work with their children to come up with a practical plan on how to deal with the bully.

Dr. Min shared bullies tend to pick on children when they are alone. Making a plan to have your child avoid being alone or seek out a peer group (or position themselves near a teacher or adult) when the bully is present will make it harder for the bully to act out their behaviors.

The more situations or chances the bully gets to exhibit the behaviors, the more they are reinforced and likely to continue.

Having your child remove themselves as much from those situations as possible can help.

When to Seek Professional Help for Bullying

If the bullying persists, and the plan is not working, wonderful therapists are available to help children and families struggling with bullying.

Professional help is recommended if you notice the following in your child:

– Persistent irritable mood
– Anxiety and worry about school
– Trouble concentrating on school work
– Interference with daily functioning, school and/or activities

How a Child Therapist Can Help

A licensed therapist can be a tremendous help for children and families. Today’s mental health treatments for bullying are solution-focused and help give the child tools, skills and coaching on how to deal with the bully.  In addition, a therapist can provide additional support and stress management tools to help with the strong emotional ramifications that come with being bullied.

Mental Health Ramifications from Bullying

If left untreated, children that are persistently bullied can struggle with depression or anxiety, act out in unfavorable ways, and in severe cases, bullying can lead to suicide attempts. Bullying is not something that should be ignored or assumed will go away on its own.

A Word About Girls and Bullying

Many people think bullying only happens with boys, but for parents of girls, I was alerted to an eye-opening fact. Dr. Min shared girls at times can be even more aggressive than boys with bullying.

Using exclusion tactics and social humiliation to bully, the emotional abuse can be just as hurtful as physical abuse, especially now days with social media (which is another conversation in itself).

Let’s Talk About Pediatric Mental Health

lets-talk This generation of parents has a unique opportunity to start the conversation about mental health with our children. No sweeping issues under the rug, or pretending they don’t exist.

Mental health and happiness is just as important as physical health.

As human beings, no one is immune to struggling with mental health issues at times. But when the issues persist and quality of life is affected, there is no reason for a child, or anyone for that matter, to suffer.

Help is available to us  to navigate mental health issues with children – the most vulnerable population.

Let’s teach our kids, it’s OKAY to get help. In fact, it is often the right thing to do. I believe in turn we will be raising a happier, healthier future generation.

Click here to learn more about CHOC Children’s mental health programs and services.

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Rising Strong Questions are UP!

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Hello to all my lovely ladies joining me in my first Tiny Oranges Book Club discussion on Brené Brown’s Rising Strong!

Originally I said we would cover Chapters One – Four this week but when coming up with Rising Strong questions for the four chapters I realized there is just SO MUCH to discuss that it was wayyyyyyyy too overwhelming to cover four chapters at once.

I asked my cousin Kristin what she thought we should do, and she thought one chapter at a time, and I totally agree. So, let’s dive into chapter one and discuss.

How to join the Tiny Oranges Book Club! 

1. Join the ——–>>>>>> Tiny Oranges Book Club on Good Reads

2. Look on home page under “Discussions”and click on “Chapter One Questions”

3. I posted questions of mine that came to mind when reading it.  Feel free to respond to all or one or however many spoke to you.

4. Please also post your own questions/topics or things you might want to discuss as a result of things that came up for you in Chapter One.

LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME!!!!!!

Now let’s start chatting about RISING STRONG!

xoxoxo

Jen

 

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