Question: My kids are freaking out over stories they hear on the news, and even if we turn it off, they still seem to hear about stories that make them think horrible things are going to happen. How can I help them to understand that the tragedies they hear so much about are actually few and far between?
Answer: Anxiety issues vary in their intensity so it is important to assess how much anxiety your child is experiencing. If she is worried about something in particular and can easily be reassured, then anxiety is not cause for concern. But if your child is worrying and anxious about multiple issues and cannot be easily reassured, it is time to talk with your pediatrician. Generalized anxiety disorder can affect even young children so it is important to have your child evaluated if you are concerned. Some other steps you can take to deal with childhood anxiety are to:
- Limit exposure to news reports, especially reports of traumatic events and crimes.
- Reassure your child that you and other adults in her life will always help and protect her.
- Pay attention to what you say in front of your child because children will pick up on their parents’ worries and concerns.
- Finally, help her focus on positive things happening in her life. Make it a daily habit to share good things that have happened in your day and ask your child to share the same.
Tamara Walker, RN, is a talk show host and speaker in Edmond. www.momrn.com.
Other Experts Weigh In:
Devonne Carter: There are a lot of reasons children might feel anxious. Our world can be a scary place, especially when kids can see on TV that other children their age died, because of a shooter in their school. Anxiety may be caused by chemicals that are out of balance, as well as, influenced by a parents’ anxiety level. The first place to start to calm anxieties is to change a child’s diet to a healthy one that centers on fruit, veggies and meats, with as little sugar as possible. Children need to be exercising outside, daily if possible, and they need to be on a beneficial sleep pattern. When a child’s physical habits are healthy, I would encourage the parents to look at their own anxiety issues.
- Explain that when she worries about things that haven’t happened yet she is practicing for bad things. Practicing things increases our ability to do them well. She needs to learn that she is in control of what happens inside of her head.
- Try homeopathic medicine. Sometimes you need only one dose.
- Let your child know that you have fears as well. My daughter used to be anxiety-prone [but] giving her a healthy way to express her fears and choices, and a way to distract from the fear while still controlling something has been the key.
- Show her some healthy ways to deal with anxiety. Does she like the arts? Tap into her creative outlet to express herself.
Thanks to Mikel I., Ayesha K., Blair F. and Lara G. for your feedback.
Question: I’m at my wit’s end; at what age should I start worrying that my child is still wetting the bed?
Answer: Bedwetting is fairly common, especially for children under the age of 6. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to remain positive and supportive towards your child. This can be a very embarrassing and confusing time for them as well.
Try to limit liquids before bed, especially those with caffeine. Make sure your child goes to the bathroom before bed and if an accident does occur, remain calm and positive. Have the child help you change the sheets, but reassure them that this is not a punishment but just part of the process. Develop a reward system that will allow your child to feel good when success is made.
If your child is above the age of 7 or has not wet the bed for more than six months and then regresses, call a doctor for a more detailed assessment.
Donnie Van Curen, M. A., LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist with Counseling 1820, LLC. 405-823-4302, www.counseling1820.com.
Other Experts Weigh In:
Devonne Carter: There are many theories on bedwetting. My motto on bedwetting is, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Kids grow out of bedwetting in various stages. I wouldn’t worry about it until after puberty, if a child is still wetting the bed consistently every night, then talk to your doctor.
- Take her to be checked by her doctor. A friend of mine had a little girl that was still wetting the bed and the doctor found out that her bladder was too small.
- We found out that bed wetting is an indicator of sleep apnea (in my daughter’s case from swollen tonsils). She was a candidate for tonsillectomy because of other factors, but the bed wetting was a red flag that she wasn’t getting enough oxygen or good sleep. Once she had her tonsils out things were better with bed wetting, too.
- No worries! You can always have a doc check her anatomy, but usually kids just grow out of it and she’s probably just a deep sleeper.
- A pediatric psychologist can help you. Ask your PCP for a referral and they can evaluate your daughter to see if she needs a urine alarm.
Thanks to Robin S., Anna M., Leah M. and Sarah B. for your feedback.
Question: My son says he’s not being bullied, but he’s still showing the warning signs I’ve heard of, such as becoming socially withdrawn. How can I find out what’s really going on?
Answer: Withdrawal from others could be a sign of many issues, not necessarily bullying. When a parent sees a child withdraw, I would encourage the parent to be patient. Spend more time alone with your child, to reinforce the fact that you are there for him, to be his ally and to support him in all the ways he needs to be supported. Ask him questions and listen to his answers. Talk to his teachers to ask if they have seen any changes in your child’s behavior or emotions. Ask your child’s friends questions. The most important tools in your toolbox are your listening ear and time to be available to your child.
Devonne Carter, LCSW is a clinical social worker in private practice in Edmond. 405-326-3923, www.carterscounseling.com.
Other Experts Weigh In:
Tamara Walker: If you suspect your child is being bullied, ask him. Let him know you are there for him and want to help. If he denies he is being bullied, but you suspect otherwise and believe it is negatively affecting him, it may be time to ask his teacher and/or bus driver if they’ve seen any bullying involving your child. Encourage your child to come to you with his problems, whether he is being bullied or not, and keep the lines of communication open. Pay attention to any signs of withdrawal, acting out, aggressive behavior, anxiety, unwillingness to go to school, anxiety or depression. If your child exhibits these signs but still will not talk with you, talk with your child’s school counselor and pediatrician to help address the issue and give your child some resources to help him handle it.
- If he’s talked to you before, chances are he will again. Encourage, but don’t push. Remind him that you’re still there to listen.
- Call the grade-level school counselor and talk to them about what’s going on. See if they can help and follow up in a few days.
- When my parents couldn’t get me to open up to them, they would have a good family friend or other relative talk to me. I usually always opened up to the other person.
Thanks to Kristin K., Miranda S., Debra B. and Kristi R. for your feedback.