All Posts in Category: Child Anxiety

Meet Dr. Andrew Rosen

Our very own Dr. Rosen was recently interviewed by VoyageMIA! See the full interview here.

Dr. Rosen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.

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How A Psychological Assessment Can Benefit Your Child

Children's Center Now OpenChildren are referred for a psychological assessment for many reasons. They may have attention or behavior problems at home or in school, be subjected to bullying, be depressed or anxious, or have a learning disorder. Often when kids are struggling in school or seem to be behind their peers developmentally, a counselor or teacher will suggest the child undergo a psychological assessment.

The findings from this type of evaluation will let us know where the child excels and which areas he or she might need to address (for example: an undiagnosed learning disability).  Dr. Ryan Seidman, the Clinical Director at our Children’s Center notes that, “Having your child evaluated can promote improvement in academic and emotional functioning.”

Who Performs a Psychological Assessment?

Psychological assessments are done by highly trained child psychologists who are specialists in their fields. These mental health professionals evaluate the child’s strengths and weaknesses, then work with parents and teachers to come up with an approach that will help the child progress.

How is a Child Psychology Test Done?

These assessments aren’t like “actual” tests can be and they aren’t something the child can study for. In fact, it is best if the child is relaxed during the evaluation, so the assessment isn’t a “pass or fail” test.

During a psychological assessment, the psychologist will:

  • Talk with the child (and later with their parents) to learn more about their behaviors and emotional skills. They will also look at the child’s neurological functioning in areas such as spatial processing. In some cases, they may also talk to the child’s teachers or others who know the child well.
  • Observe the child during the evaluation. Depending on the reason for the assessment, the child psychologist may also visit the child at home or at school to further gauge their interactions with others.
  • Have the child complete a standardized test. These tests have been taken by many different people and will allow the psychologist to compare your child’s results with those of others in order to evaluate a range of abilities. The psychologists want to know how the child functions in areas such as movement (dexterity) or behavior and in subjects like reading, writing and math.
  • May review school records, medical records, or test interview or the child’s parents or teachers in order to learn more about the child.

Psychological testing isn’t a quick assessment. The evaluation will likely takes several hours to complete and often involves more than one session to be certain the psychologist has all the details about a child. By putting this information together, the child psychologist comes to an understanding of where a child needs assistance and can develop strategies to help them reach their full potential.

The Results of a Psychological Assessment

When the testing is complete, the child psychologist will go over the results with the child’s parents. Keep in mind that the outcomes do not reveal everything about a child’s potential, abilities or skills. Rather, the evaluation is used as a way to learn about their “present functioning level” emotionally, in their school and home environments, how they learn, and their strengths and weaknesses.

The child psychologist will discuss areas in which the child does well and offer suggestions to help them improve in areas that need to be addressed. If the child is diagnosed with a learning disability, or a behavioral or emotional issue, recommendations will be made for ways to help the child manage that specific concern or problem.

By evaluating and understanding where the child has issues, child psychologists can provide positive coping strategies, reduce the child’s stress and enrich their competence and well being.

Learn More about Children’s Psychological Assessment

For more information about how our child psychologists can help your child with a psychological assessment, contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Help your Child Defend against School Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention month. Organizations and schools use this month to raise awareness of school bullying, while working to prevent its impact on children.

School bullying is defined as the use of power to control another person. Bullying always intends to harm the targeted child – usually psychologically, but sometimes physically, as well. Additionally, bullying is carried out by the same person or the same group of people who repeatedly go after the same child. A child who is being bullied might be either unable to fight back against attacks or might have a hard time defending themselves.

The kids most at risk of being bullied are those who:

  • Are less popular than others
  • Have few friends
  • Are depressed or anxious
  • Have low self-esteem

Bullies typically:

  • Like to dominate others
  • Have social power
  • Are aggressive and often act impulsively
  • Are concerned about their popularity
  • Often also have issues with low self-esteem
  • Are easily pressured by their peers

About 1 in 4 children report having been verbally or socially bullied at school and most bullying happens in middle school, although it can occur at any grade level.

Types of Bullying

While bullying can be verbal (teasing, name-calling, threatening someone) or physical (for example: hitting, fighting, or forcing a person to do something they don’t want to do), today’s children also face social bullying:

  • Cyber bullying – Kids practically live on social media, but this has created an environment in which the bully can be anonymous. Since they don’t have to face their target or witness the effects of their bullying, they have little empathy for the pain they cause. Texting and social media allows the bully free reign to post embarrassing pictures, make rude comments, or post humiliating videos almost instantly and without recourse.
  • Slut shaming – censuring a female’s character in sexual terms in order to embarrass, humiliate, or intimidate her for actions that are a normal part of female sexuality. For example: a male teen may be praised for his sexual experimentation, however a girl may be bullied and called a slut. This scenario has been explored in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why show (you can read our Children’s Center article about it here ). In the show, the girl who is slut-shamed ends up committing suicide.
  • Social Alienation – In social bullying, the idea is to damage someone’s reputation, get them excluded from social activities, and to get others to avoid them. This can often be accomplished by cyber bullying.

What are the Effects of School Bullying?

The symptoms of school bullying can be both physical and emotional. Your child may experience:

  • School refusal
  • Headaches, stomachaches or other aches or pains throughout their body
  • Weight loss
  • Nightmares and/or sleeplessness

A child who is bullied may avoid situations and interactions with others that could actually be positive for them. The effects of school bullying can create depression and anxiety disorders in the child who is being attacked. Often this depression and anxiety will stay with the youth and follow them into adulthood. In fact, someone who was bullied in school is more likely to be the target of workplace harassment as an adult.

Fight Back against Bullying

In all cases of school bullying, it’s important to seek help and report the incident as soon as possible. Ignoring the issue often makes it worse because the bully begins to think it is okay to continue hurting others. Additionally, the targeted child sometimes begins to believe what is being said about them.

StopBullying.gov offers the following suggestions to help stop school bullying. They say:

  • Look at the kid bullying you and tell him or her to stop in a calm, clear voice. You can also try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard.
  • If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, walk away and stay away. Don’t fight back. Find an adult to stop the bullying on the spot.

StopBullying.gov also lists things your child can do to stay safe in the future:

  • Talk to an adult you trust. Don’t keep your feelings inside. Telling someone can help you feel less alone. They can help you make a plan to stop the bullying.
  • Stay away from places where bullying happens.
  • Stay near adults and other kids. Most bullying happens when adults aren’t around.
  • Stand up for others When you see bullying, there are safe things you can do to make it stop.
  • Talk to a parent, teacher, or another adult you trust. Adults need to know when bad things happen so they can help.
  • Be kind to the kid being bullied. Show them that you care by trying to include them. Sit with them at lunch or on the bus, talk to them at school, or invite them to do something. Just hanging out with them will help them know they aren’t alone.

Additionally, child psychologists, such as the professionals here at The Anxiety Center, can work with your child to develop coping techniques that will teach them how to react in particular situations. Child psychologists can also help bullying victims rebuild their self-esteem and confidence so that future harassment can be avoided.

We Can Help

For more information about how we can help your child learn to defend against school bullying, contact the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Adelphi University’s Psychology Program Ranked #4 Worldwide

The Center for Treatment has team members from some of the top universities in not only the country, but the world! Dr. Andrew Rosen’s alma matter, Adelphi Universtiy’s Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies Studies has been ranked fourth worldwide among psychology and psychoanalysis schools by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR). Adelphi was ranked #4 worldwide with only the Columbia University, New York University and Harvard University departments of psychology ranking higher on the list. More than 26,000 degree-granting institutions were included in the annual ranking.

Find out more about Adelphi Universities achievement here.

Let Us Help

If you are looking for psychological or psychiatric treatment, The Center for Treatment has a highly skilled staff that is ready to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Maternity Leave – Going Back to Work after Baby

One of the hardest things for a new mother on maternity leave to do is go back to work after it ends. You carried your bundle of joy for nine months and have had time off from your job to bond with your child. After taking care of their every need, it can be difficult to turn them over to strangers at a day care center and be separated from your son or daughter for an eight-hour period or longer. And, even if you know the babysitter – maybe it’s your mother-in-law, a friend, or a trusted neighbor – new parents will still go through an adjustment period when maternity leave ends and mom return to their job.

The end of maternity leave means new routines and more work to do. Now you not only have to get yourself up and out to work, you need to get another person ready to go as well. There are clothes and toys, diapers, and possibly special foods or medicines to prepare and pack for the work day. The household chores still need to be done, not to mention tasks like grocery shopping, laundry, or trips to the pediatrician. Deciding which parent will take care of which tasks after the end of maternity leave can be a job all by itself.

Additionally, some new mothers go through postpartum depression. Returning to work can add to their symptoms of crying, mood swings, loss of appetite, the inability to bond with their baby, and the guilt that accompanies this type of depression. If your postpartum depression symptoms don’t lessen after two weeks or if they are getting worse, be sure to call your doctor. Postpartum depression can be successfully treated with psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of the two.

Working Moms – Easing Back into your Job After Maternity Leave

Some working moms experience feelings of guilt for leaving their child with someone else or feel inadequate for not being a “superwoman” capable of handling the stresses of a new baby, new routines, and a new “normal.”

For all the books you can find about expecting a baby or the period immediately following birth, there are few resources that address the emotions and anxiety that going back to work after maternity leave can bring up for a new parent. This period has been called the “fifth trimester,” a term trademarked by Lauren Smith Brody, a former Glamour magazine executive editor. She struggled with returning to work and ultimately wrote a book to help new parents manage their expectations. She describes the shift from maternity leave to working mom as “a monumental transition.”

One of the best ways to help ease this maternity leave transition is to set things in place before the baby comes.

  • Research and arrange for childcare. If you have a babysitter instead of a daycare center, also set up a back-up plan in case the babysitter is ever sick.
  • Establish and practice your morning routine a couple of times, at least a week or two before going back to work. Actually wake up at the time you’ll need to get up for work, then eat, dress, and get your baby ready to go. Build in some “glitch time” for occasions like when the baby spits up just as you’re ready to leave or for the day you can’t find your keys.
  • If you plan to breastfeed, talk to your boss to arrange a schedule and set aside a private area for pumping.
  • Decide on temporary compromises you can make when going back to work after baby. Maybe you can go to sleep earlier, eat prepared meals once or twice a week instead of cooking, or let that load of laundry go until the weekend when you’re more rested.
  • Ask for help. Working moms are essentially doing two jobs: their actual employment job and the work of being a mother. It is not a sign of weakness to ask your spouse, family, or friends for help while you go through this transition.
  • Be kind to yourself. Get in some exercise time to reduce stress (even a little goes a long way), get plenty of rest, and try to spend 15-30 minutes every couple of days just doing something for yourself.
  • Avoid venting at work about the stress you may be feeling at home. That way, your boss doesn’t get the idea that you can’t handle the pressure and start worrying that you’ll quit.

It can be challenging to be a new mother going back to work after baby. One of the things working moms must do is find the balance that allows them to hold a job and maintain their pre-baby life, while also preserving their sanity.

If you are finding this more difficult to do than you thought, remember that the transition after maternity leave takes time. Give yourself an adjustment period. After this interval passes, if you still can’t handle it, it might be time to try working with your boss to discuss other options (example: working from home a couple of days per week) that can allow you to have a realistic balance.

Let Us Help

If you have concerns about maternity leave and going back to work after baby or if you are suffering from the symptoms of postpartum depression, the therapists at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are there to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Is There a Connection Between Vaccines and Autism?

Is there a link between vaccines and autism? This question has been at the center of an ongoing debate ever since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began reporting that autism was on the rise in the United States and around the world.

Currently, about 1 child out of every 68 will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is classified as a developmental disability. Whenever there is an increase in a disorder or disability, people start looking for reasons for the change. Since ASD can be seen in a child as young as the age of two, research has focused on the factors early in life that might contribute to an autism diagnosis. From birth, children receive many immunizations, so fears have been raised of a possible connection between these vaccines and autism.

In particular, there have been concerns about the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that had been used in MMR and other inoculations. Since 2003, nine studies have been conducted into the relationship between thimerosal and ASD, however the Institute of Medicine has determined there is no link between the vaccine and the development of autism.

In reaction to concerns about whether thimerosal in vaccines and autism were related, the preservative was either removed from vaccines or reduced to negligible amounts between 1999 and 2001. Today, this preservative has been limited to use only in multi-dose vials found in some flu vaccines. If you are still worried, however, you can request your child receive a thimerosal-free vaccine.

Additionally, a 2013 study by the CDC determined there is no link between vaccines and autism. It looked at the number of antigens (they help the body’s immune system fight disease) and found no difference between children with ASD and children without the disorder.

What Causes Autism?

The CDC is currently conducting research to find out if autism has an environmental, biological, or genetic cause. There are many categories of disability along the autism spectrum and, at this time, specialists haven’t found any one specific reason for the development of the disorder.

We do know, however, that there are factors which can indicate a higher chance that a child will develop autism. These components are:

  • Children with autistic siblings are more likely to develop the disability.
  • Children born to older parents are more likely to be at risk.
  • It is thought that the critical developmental time for ASD is in utero, or in the period during or immediately after birth.
  • The prescription medicines valproic acid and thalidomide have been linked to a higher ASD risk in the infant, when these medications were taken during the pregnancy.
  • ASD occurs more often in people who have certain chromosomal or genetic conditions (for example: Fragile X Syndrome).

What are the Early Signs of Autism?

Although autism can affect either gender, the disorder occurs about 4.5 times more often in males than in females. It is found in every socioeconomic, racial, and cultural background, although it is more prevalent in white children than in African-American or Hispanic children.

People with ASD may have problems communicating or interacting with others, or may have difficulty focusing or learning. Additionally, early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder may include:

  • Lack of interest in objects or in relating to people
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Preferring to spend time by themselves
  • Becoming upset if routines change
  • Unusual reactions to stimuli, such as smells, tastes, textures, or sounds
  • Repeating words or phrases or repeating actions over and over

Diagnosis, Evaluation, and ASD Treatment

Although there is no cure for ASD, early intercession can reduce the severity of a child’s developmental delays and can teach them important skills. The earlier a child is diagnosed and begins treatment, the better their chances of reaching their full potential. ASD treatment and early intervention can begin as soon as 3 months of age.

If you are concerned about your child and the way they interact with you or others, the way they speak or act, or the way they learn, the first step is to call your child’s pediatrician and discuss your worries. Your child’s doctor can help answer your questions and, if alarmed, should refer you to specialists for further evaluation. Psychologists, psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians, and/or pediatric neurologists are specially trained to assess and diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Additionally, if you need a free assessment, you can contact your state’s early intervention programs. To find out more about your particular state’s Child Find evaluation, visit the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.

Our Children’s Center Can Help

If you have questions about the early signs of autism, treatment and intervention, or have other autism-related concerns, the professionals at our child-focused department, The Children’s Center, can help. For more information, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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Children's Center Now Open

Now Open: The Children’s Center for Psychiatry, Psychology and Related Services

We are pleased to announce the opening of our new Children’s Center for Psychiatry, Psychology, and Related Services. This full-service center offers a range of clinical, therapeutic, educational, and supportive services to children ages two through 22.

Families in the South Florida area now have access to a multi-disciplinary staff practicing in a single, convenient location. The center provides a warm, welcoming environment where families can receive supportive and educational programming.

The Children’s Center Services

These are just some of the services offered to children and their families at the new center:

  • Psychiatry — Psychiatric evaluation and psychopharmacology
  • Individual and Group Psychological services — Psychotherapy, play therapy and cognitive-behavior therapy
  • Psychological and Neuropsychological Screening and Assessment
  • Speech/Language Assessments and Therapy
  • Educational and Gifted Testing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Behavior Management
  • Parenting Support/Management
  • Transitional/Vocational Support
  • Sibling Support
  • Reading, Writing, Science, and History Tutoring
  • SAT/ACT Tutoring
  • Learning Disability Testing
  • Reading, Math, and Writing Testing
  • Psychological Testing

Diagnoses Treated

Our staff provides treatment for these diagnoses:

  • Anxiety and Related Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence
  • Mood Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence
  • Behavior Disorders
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Developmental Disorders
  • Learning Disorders
  • Communication Disorders

Learn More About The Children’s Center

The Children’s Center’s skilled and experienced staff includes a child and adolescent psychiatrist, clinical child psychologists, a school psychologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, nutritionist, behaviorist, and academic advisor.

To learn more about how the center’s services may help your child and family, please call us at (561) 496-1094 or complete our contact form.

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Children’s Mental Health – Psychiatric Help for Children

While we tend to think of childhood as a carefree time of life, the fact is that many children suffer from mental conditions and disorders, just the same as adults. Among other things, children’s mental health concerns can include emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders such as eating disorders, learning and developmental disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHA), and autism. And, similar to adults, children can be impacted by conditions like anxiety, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Additionally, as children grow and mature into young adults, they can develop other problems associated with adolescence, such as underage drinking and substance abuse.

Left untreated, any of these conditions or disorders can result in difficulties with making friends, and behavior issues in school and at home. What is most troubling, however, is that research has shown that a majority of adult mental disorders start early in life. This makes it critical that children’s mental health conditions be caught promptly and treated appropriately.

Symptoms of Child Psychological Disorders

Child psychological disorders and conditions can affect any ethnic group, and income level, and those living in any region of the country. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cites a study from a National Research Council and Institute for Medicine report that estimates about 1 in 5 children across the United States will experience a mental disorder in any given year.

Symptoms often change as a child grows and matures, so the signs of a problem may be difficult to spot in the early stages. Often, parents are the first to recognize that there is an issue with their children’s emotions or behavior, however problems may also be brought to your attention by your child’s educators or another adult who knows your child well. Some general signs to look for include:

  • Marked decline in school performance
  • Strong worries or anxiety that causes problems at home or at school
  • Random, frequent physical aches and pains, such as headaches or an upset stomach
  • Difficulty sleeping, nightmares
  • Marked changes in eating habits
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having low or no energy
  • Aggressive behavior, disobedience, and/or confrontations with or defiance of authority figures
  • Temper tantrums or outbursts of anger
  • Thoughts of suicide or thoughts of harming themselves or others

Psychiatric Help for Children

  • Please get immediate assistance if you think your child may be in danger of harming themselves or someone else.  Call a crisis line or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).

Getting psychiatric help for children, in the form of early diagnosis and receiving the correct treatment, is essential for your child’s well being, both now and throughout their life.

If your child’s problems persist across a variety of settings (for example: home, school, and with peers), some of the steps to get help include:

  • Talk to your child about how they are feeling. Find out if they would like to discuss a problem with you or another adult. Actively listen to their responses and concerns.
  • Talk to your child’s pediatrician, school counselor or school nurse, or a mental health professional if you see behaviors or problems in your child or teen that worry you.
  • Seek evaluation from a specialist who deals with children’s mental health concerns.
  • Ask the specialist if they have experience with treating the problem or behavior you see in your child.
  • Don’t delay in seeking help – early treatment generally gives better results.

Children can be treated in a variety of settings that range from one-on-one (or with a parent) sessions with a mental health professional to a group setting with a therapist and the child’s peers. Talk therapy can help change behaviors and may be used in combination with other treatments. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be very effective in helping children learn coping strategies so they can change unhealthy behavior patterns and distorted thinking. Additionally, medications may be recommended for disorders such as ADHD or may be given for other types of severe or difficult cases.

Need More Information on Children’s Mental Health?

If you have questions or need more information about psychiatric help for children, we can help. The professionals at our child-focused department, The Children’s Center, specialize in child psychiatry and psychology, and other services related to children’s mental health. For more information, contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Child Anxiety – Divorce Therapy for Children

Going through a divorce is stressful enough for the couple involved, but when children are added to the mix, it can bring a youngster’s fears to the forefront and trigger a cycle of child anxiety. The youth suddenly finds his or her world fracturing apart as the family divides into separate households. And, often the child has to adjust to living in a new home or going to a new school in addition to coping with their parent’s split.

Among other things, a divorce can increase a child’s aggression, bring up issues of separation anxiety, and negatively impact either (or both) the social and school performances of the youngster. It also increases the stress levels in children who already suffer from anxiety issues or mood disorders and can initiate anxiety-related concerns in children who do not normally have them.

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

When parents divorce, their children often react by showing:

  • Regressive behaviors (bedwetting, tantrums, thumb sucking, refusing to go to bed)
  • Rebellious behaviors (anger, disobedience, or (in an older child) disregard for the parents)
  • Increased episodes of crying or whining
  • Feel “sick” when they are healthy or becoming clingy
  • Separation anxiety
  • Blaming themselves for the divorce

The following are some ways that you, as a parent, can help diffuse some of the tension and child anxiety when going through a divorce:

  • Respect your child’s feelings and encourage them to talk to you about their fears. You may not have all the answers, but sometimes just listening and being supportive to your child can be enough.
  • Remember that your child has lost something, too. They have lost their time with one parent when they are with the other parent and, in many cases, have lost their familiar surroundings, peers, and maybe even a beloved pet or best friend.
  • Reassure your child that, no matter what, you love them now and will always love them. Be sure they understand that the divorce was not their fault and that there is nothing they could have done to prevent it.
  • Try to keep the same routines for bedtime, homework, play time, etc. New routines might need to be added (for example: going to the other parent’s house every Friday night), but keeping as close as possible to the same schedule helps children feel secure. It lets them know what to expect.
  • Rituals also create a sense of safety for your child. A family ritual such as “game night” creates an anchor for your child and gives them a sense of familiarity and a way to relate within their new world.

How Divorce Therapy for Children Can Help

Many times children will adjust to the breakup of a marriage after a “settling in” period, but in the case of youngsters who already have some anxiety, therapy might be the answer to helping children cope with divorce.

Divorce therapy for children is usually conducted through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of treatment is based on the theory that our thoughts cause our behavior and our resulting feelings – other people do not cause them. By understanding this and learning to modify our reactions, we can influence our emotions in a positive way so we can feel better about things we can not change. Becoming aware of inaccurate or negative thinking allows your child to change to a more positive way of thinking in order to decrease their anxiety.

Need More Information?

Is your child struggling with your divorce? We offer divorce therapy for children in a safe, supportive South Florida environment. For more information, contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Childhood Obesity: Weight Control and Your Child – Conceding the Battle to Win the War

In this day and age in which the media has exposed the epidemic of childhood obesity and associated diabetes, it is impossible for parents to not be more attuned to this issue with their children.  For better and worse, we have access to data, research and information like never before.  This is clearly the case in the area of food, nutrition and physiology.  No doubt, understanding the implications of how we feed our bodies and how we move our bodies is invaluable information.  What can often be a difficult task is translating this information into utilizable material that our children can understand.

As parents, we must be persistently aware of, not just the information we deliver, but HOW we deliver it.  Sometimes being accurate is not enough to help children benefit.  Sometimes accurate information can be useless, if not harmful, when delivered ineffectively.  In trying to educate children about food, weight, nutrition and healthy eating, we must be sensitive to the subtle nuances in our delivery.  We, as parents and caretakers, must be aware of how we deliver potentially embarrassing or shameful material to children.

Phillip says to his mother, “Amanda told me that I’m fat.  I want to lose some weight.  How much should I lose?”  “Well,” said her mom, “Dr. Speilman said on your last check up that you could stand to lose five pounds.  Why don’t we start there?”  Phillip agrees and quietly walks away.  Conversation over?  Hardly. For all practical purposes, Phillip’s mother likely feels like this was a good opportunity for her to address his pediatrician’s concern about his childhood obesity.  She probably feels relieved that someone else did her the service of alleviating her of hurting her son’s feelings.  What she failed to realize is that she delivered the confirming “blow” to Phillip’s self esteem.

In discussing matters of this nature, it is essential to realize the subtle impacts you may have.  It is more fruitful to address the biological and medical aspects of this discussion and to STEER CLEAR OF NUMBER OF POUNDS! For example, you might address blood elevations such as cholesterol or pulse as the impetus for change, or simply the concept of supporting the development of a healthy heart that will “take care of you,” or “keep your body strong for the rest of your life.”  By externalizing the issue of childhood obesity, you reduce the sensitive issue of self-esteem or physical acceptance.  Further, you engage your child in a process about which your child can be more curious and motivated.

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