Let Mother Nature Sooth the Spirit

There is a rather new term coined to describe kids’ behaviors gone awry due to lack of exposure to the outdoors, Nature-Deficit Disorder. The gist of the phenomenon is that “the child in nature is an edangered species, and the health of children and the health of the Earth are inseperable.” (Richard Louv) Last Child in the Woods is a life altering book written by Louv and exploring the increase of anxiety and ill behaviors in kids today. He points to the obvious benefits of being exposed to nature and the real link between higher rational thinking, a peaceful spirit and the opportunity to play in the woods. I would recommend this book to all educators and parents.

I have always known I need more quiet time than most people – I have always been fortunate to live within minutes of the woods and mountains, so I have tried to rejuvenate as much as possible. This book tells us it is imperative that our children have those opportunities. In much the same way as art and music have been proven to sooth the beast and extend the feelers in our underused brains, Louv presents the argument that the outdoors has the same therapaeutic potential.

Go hug a tree!


Take a Deep Breath

the last word from the BH&G magazine article I’ve been sharing for the past week.

Stress ends hormone hurtling through your child’s body. The basic meditative act of deep breathing can send the all-clear signal, tricking the nervous system into lowering the heart rate and shutting off production of adrenaling and the stress hormone cortisol. Children can learn deep breathing in a heartbeat. It’s this simple:

Inhale slowly through the nose. Hold the breath for a moment, then exhale slowly through the mouth. Have kids focus only on the sound of their breath, only on the simple in and out of it. Have them do this for a few minutes a day – first thing in the morning, after school but before starting homework, and once in the evening before bed. Young  kids can learn this too: Tell them to imagine they’re slowly blowing bubbles as they breathe.

on a personal note:

You may remember that I am homeschooling an 8th grade son who has Tourette Syndrome. Although he is bright, he could not perform in school last year because of his extreme anxiety due to the teasing of fellow classmates (he has tics which only get worse in stressful situations). He does attend public school every day this year simply to participate in the band and another elective, and I find that he is way more interactive with his fellow students, even calling them on the phone and planning sleepovers. Lifting that burden of the academics off his shoulders allows him to socialize during that brief period while he is at school. Trying to keep up with the academics while controling the tics and staving off the teasing was just more than one child could manage. Parents, come to the aid of your special needs children.


Top 10

Last week I shared nine strategies to de-stress your kids. Today I close it up with number 10. I’ve decided to continue the talk on anxiety and stress this week. Here’s #10:

Devise a less stressful school schedule (I know, hard for us to hear):

Despite the pressure to go all at his competitive Palo Alto, California, high school, Zev Karlin-Neumann, 18, opted for only one Advance Placement class his junior year. He quickly dropped another class as a senior when he  realized it added too much work to an already heavy load. parents are crucial in reviewing a child’s workkload, and teaming up with a school counselor can help create a schedule that won’t overwork a student yet keep him on track for college – a strategy that worked for Zev, now a freshman at Stanford. “I know what my limits were,” he said. In the end, that may be the greatest stress-buster of all.

The above information was taken directly from Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Feb. 2008 issue, written by Melody Warnick.

Although most of us, parents of special needs children, will not be able to identify with the example in today’s blog of the neurotypical senior, the last line said it all to me. KNOW WHAT YOUR CHILD’S LIMITS ARE. And learn to listen to them or read their signs of overstimulation and frustration. If you are struggling with toddlers and preschoolers, trust me, it does get easier. You do get into a rhythm. You will learn their language and they yours.

Personally, I have found that my special needs kids need more time to unwind than their friends. Even on weekends, we plan our activities carefully. I have to watch the time they invest in their computers and electronic games. While I believe it’s great to develop skills among their peers, that can zap their energies as well and not provide the stimulation and nutrients the outdoors offers (more on that in the next blog).

God bless,

jeannie


3 Additional Ways to De-Stress Kids

#7 Protect Sleep

Experts recommend nine hours of sleep a night for teens, but high school seniors average under seven. Work with your child to limit late-night studying, try to enforce an earlier bedtime, and sneak in some restorative daytime sleep.

#8 Take the bite out of tests

Teach teens some instant calm-downs to use before tests, like those used by Susa Kaiser Greenland, director of InnerKids Foundation, a California nonprofit that teaches mindfulness to schoolchildren. For instance, have kidss imagine that they’re enclosing themselves in an invisible bubble, where classmates can’t bother them. If something does distract them, tell them to pretend they’re putting the stray though into a balloon and watching it blow away.

#9 Shift Priorities

Naturally you’re thrilled when your child brings home a stellar grade on a book report. But instead of focusing on th outcome, focus on the effort by praising hard worl. The, follow up by asking such questions as, “What’s the most interesting thing you learned in class this week?” or “What do you like about the novel you’re reading now?” By making children proud of their own accomplishments and turning their attention to the joys of learning, you’ll nurture their natural desire to excel.

The above information was taken from Better Homes & Garden magazine, Feb. 2008 issue, “Less-Stressed Kids” by Melody Warnick


3 More Ways to De-Stress Kids

#4 Brainstorm mini vacations

Ask your child, “If you had just 10 spare minutes of a day, what would you do to really relax?” Post a list of ideas such as petting the dog, e-mailing a friend, or rereading Harry Potter. When sh’e had a high-stress day at school, encourage her to take a 10-minute vacation before she does anything else.

#5 Play Games

Arinoldo, a child pssychologist and author of Essentials of Smart Parenting: Learning the Fine Art of Managing Your Children, says some video and computer games in moderation can actually help reduce stress. Word or puzzle games that require intense concentration, such as Tetris, Bookworm, Bejewled, Chuzzle, and Peggle, will engross your teen enough to put other pressures mementarily aside.

#6 Do guided imagery together

At Mini Yogis, a Los Angeles yoga studio for kids, owner Shana Meyerson leads children through an imagined sensory experience. “I say, ‘We’re walking through the park. What does the grass feel like on your feet? Can you fell the sunshine and the breeze? We’re eating ice cream now. What does it taste like?” Have your child picture someplace in nature that he loves – the beach, the mountains, a garden. Focusing on the soothing mental image will help him relax.

Everything above was taken directly from Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Feb. 2008 issue. author: Melody Warnick.


3 Ways to De-stress Kids

1. Allow Downtime

As much as it may pain you to see your child lying on her bed like a slug, let her – time to unwind after school protcts mental health. “For teenagers, downtime is productive because they’re thinking about their day, figuring things out,” says Roni Cohen Sandler, Ph.D., author of Stressed-Out Girls: Helping Them Thrive in the Age of Pressure.” They have to go through that to recharge.” Discuss their after-school schedule preferences to allow empty time and be sure to schedule at least a couple of days a week with nothing after school.

2. Break Problems Into Pieces

An over-whelming to-do list can paralyze your kid. Help turn the mountain into a series of molehills. With younger children that can mean dividing a spelling list into five words to memorize each night. Older teens might need help organizing tasks for a major research paper, wo work together to set priorities.

3. Pencil in family dinners

Studies show that spending even 20 minutes sharing a meal as a family threee or four nights a week keeps kids and parents connected and communicative, which in turn makes children more resilient to the negative effects of stress. If dinner is usually a no-go at your house, breakfast, lunch, or weekly family movie night also fits the bill.

the above information came directly from Better Homes and Gardens, Feb. 2008 issue “Less-Stressed Kids by Melody Warnick.


Time Out for Everybody

This week I want to take a break from the normal routine (by the way, I’m still accepting suggestions if you know someone with a diagnosis who would enjoy a feature segment) by talking about stress.

Next week I want to present Anxiety Disorder, but stress affects us all, and as parents we know how stressful life is with a special needs child.  It is hard to escape the fact that our children are under constant strain as well.

With school in full swing now, it is high time for stress and anxiety. Better Homes and Gardens magazine published a great article in Feb. 08 “Less-Stressed Kids”. I will be sharing 10 ways to help your child (and yourself) chill out from that article starting tomorrow.

Consider this though. When my 16 year old was in 3rd grade, we found ourselves in a different school district, different state for a year. You’ll remember he has Asperger’s which, for he and his father, are marked by anxiety issues. The school he attended introduced him to a “quiet spot” on his first day of school. The “quiet spot” was located in a corner of the resource room and was sectioned off by bookshelves and had a big, comfy bean bag in the middle of the space with quiet toys and night shades (dark sunglasses) in case he needed a dark place. He was told he could go there anytime.  You know, he never used that “quiet spot” during that school year, but he would periodically check on it to make sure it was there.


Share More

There are a lot of really great web sites by and for bipolar sufferers:

these sites are written by adult sufferers:
www.manicmoments.blogpsot.com

www.heronlake.blogspot.com

www.tidalmoods.blogspot.com

www.crackedpots.blogspot.com

a great overall site for information:

www.thebipolarblog.com

a great site for child and adolescent bipolar:

www.bpkids.org

a great site for significant others of bipolar sufferers:

www.bpso.org

a great book (I’m reading it right now):

The Bipolar Child by Demitri Papolos, M.D., and Janice Papolos

 Have a blessed weekend! – jeannie



Ways and Means

Types of Bipolar Medications

The 3 most important types of medication used to control the symptoms of bipolar disorder are mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. Your doctor may also prescribe other medications to help with insomnia, anxiety, or restlessness. While we do not understand how some of these medications work, we do know that all of them affect chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, which are involved in the functioning of nerve cells.

For more information log onto: www.healthyplace.com/communities/bipolar/treatment/medications.asp

For information about other therapies: www.healthcentral.com/bipolar/therapy-153181-49.html