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By: Nataly Kogan

It feels great to receive a compliment.  Research shows getting a sincere compliment gives us the same positive boost as receiving cash. The health and happiness benefits of the compliment giver are also well-documented.  Compliments really are one of the easiest two-way streets available in terms of spreading happiness around you and increasing your own.  The more you compliment, the better you feel. Here are a hundred ready-made compliments to try out for yourself.

Complimenting Positivity 

These compliments focus on the joy, fun, and positive outlook the person brings.

  • Your smile is contagious.
  • I bet you make babies smile.
  • You have the best laugh.
  • You light up the room.
  • You have a great sense of humor.
  • If cartoon bluebirds were real, a couple of ’em would be sitting on your shoulders singing right now.
  • You’re like sunshine on a rainy day.
  • You bring out the best in other people.
  • I bet you sweat glitter.
  • Colors seem brighter when you’re around.
  • You’re more fun than a ball pit filled with candy.
  • Jokes are funnier when you tell them.
  • You always know how to find that silver lining.
  • You’re a candle in the darkness.
  • Being around you is like a happy little vacation.
  • You’re more fun than bubble wrap.
  • You’re like a breath of fresh air.
  • You’re someone’s reason to smile.
  • How do you keep being so funny and making everyone laugh?

Complimenting Personal Traits

These compliments acknowledge different qualities the person exhibits.

  • You have impeccable manners.
  • I like your style.
  • You’re strong.
  • Is that your picture next to “charming” in the dictionary?
  • Your kindness is a balm to all who encounter it.
  • You are brave.
  • Your insides are even more beautiful than your outside.
  • You have the courage of your convictions.
  • You’re a great listener.
  • You were cool way before hipsters were cool.
  • That thing you don’t like about yourself is what makes you really interesting.
  • You’re inspiring.
  • You’re so thoughtful.
  • When you make up your mind, nothing stands in your way.
  • You seem to really know who you are.

Complimenting Intelligence, Creativity, and Resourcefulness

These compliments show that you appreciate the person’s abilities.

  • You’re a smart cookie.
  • Your perspective is refreshing.
  • Your ability to recall random factoids at just the right times is impressive.
  • When you say, “I meant to do that,” I totally believe you.
  • You have the best ideas.
  • You’re always learning new things and trying to better yourself. That’s awesome.
  • If someone based an Internet meme on you, it would have impeccable grammar.
  • You could survive a zombie apocalypse.
  • When you make a mistake, you fix it.
  • You’re great at figuring stuff out.
  • Your creative potential seems limitless.
  • I bet you do crossword puzzles in ink.
  • You have a good head on your shoulders.
  • Everyone gets knocked down sometimes; only people like you get back up again and keep going.

Complimenting Accomplishments

It is often good to compliment a specific action or achievement.

  • You should be proud of yourself.
  • You are making a difference.
  • You deserve a hug right now.
  • You’re a great example to others.
  • Actions speak louder than words, and yours tell an incredible story.

Complimenting Personal Relationships

These compliments focus on how the person relates to others.

  • You’re an awesome friend.
  • You’re more helpful than you realize.
  • Hanging out with you is always fun.
  • That thing where you know when someone needs something? That’s amazing.
  • Being around you makes everything better.
  • You should be thanked more often. Thank you.
  • Our community is better because you’re in it.
  • Someone is getting through something hard right now because you’ve got their back. Nice work.
  • You always know just what to say.
  • The people you love are lucky to have you in their lives.
  • Any team would be lucky to have you on it.
  • Defenseless animals are drawn to you.
  • The way you treasure your loved ones is incredible.
  • You’re a gift to those around you.

Complimenting Appearance

These compliments can be problematic as complimenting appearance can come across as flirting, and so they should be avoided in many business and social contexts.

  • You’re gorgeous—and that’s the least interesting thing about you, too.
  • You look great today.
  • Your eyes are breathtaking.
  • How is it that you always look so great, even if you’re in ratty pajamas?
  • That color is perfect on you.
  • You smell really good.
  • You may dance like no one’s watching, but everyone’s watching because you’re mesmerizing.
  • You have cute elbows. For real.
  • Your bellybutton is kind of adorable.
  • Your hair looks stunning.
  • Your voice is magnificent.
  • Your name suits you to a T.
  • You’re irresistible when you blush.
  • Has anyone ever told you that you have great posture?

Complimenting the Whole Person

These compliments may be a little too general. As with complimenting appearance, consider whether they are appropriate or may be bordering on being flirtatious.

  • I appreciate you.
  • You are the most perfect you there is.
  • You are enough.
  • You’re all that and a super-size bag of chips.
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, you’re an 11.
  • You’ve got all the right moves.
  • Everything would be better if more people were like you.
  • When you’re not afraid to be yourself, that’s when you’re incredible.
  • You’re wonderful.
  • You’re better than a triple-scoop ice cream cone. With sprinkles.
  • You’re one of a kind.
  • If you were a box of crayons, you’d be the big industrial name-brand one with a built-in sharpener.
  • Who raised you? They deserve a medal for a job well done.
  • Somehow you make time stop and fly all at the same time.
  • In high school, I bet you were voted “most likely to continue being awesome.”
  • If you were a scented candle they’d have to call it Perfectly Imperfect (and it would smell like summer).
  • There’s ordinary, and then there’s you.
  • You’re even better than a unicorn because you’re real.
  • You’re really something special.

Start complimenting and find out for yourself how great it makes you feel. If you pick any of these, be sure to personalize it so it truly reflects what you appreciate about the person you are complimenting.

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By: Amy Morin

Sometimes, it’s hard to be happy when you think about what’s going on in the world. It’s harder still when the people around you constantly complain about all those things that are happening.

That doesn’t mean that you have to join ranks with the pessimists, though. In fact, it means it’s more important than ever to look on the bright side as much as possible.

Benefits of Being Optimistic

Choosing to be optimistic offers surprising benefits. A study from the University of Pittsburgh concluded that women who had an optimistic outlook had a 30 percent lower risk of heart disease.

A University of Michigan study linked optimism to a lower risk of stroke.  Additionally, research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that optimists are less likely to experience disabilities as they get older and end up living longer than pessimists.

Optimism Is a Choice

If you think you’re a natural-born pessimist and there’s no way you can turn your mindset around, think again—research published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry compared two groups of people to test their thinking patterns.

The first group completed a 5-minute exercise that involved thinking positive thoughts about their future, while the second group just went about their daily lives without making effort to think optimistically. The first group significantly increased their optimism over the two-week period, with many of them feeling more optimistic after just one day.

Decide to Be Optimistic

You have choices in your life.  You can spend the day cleaning or spend the day reading. You can go out to dinner or cook at home. You can have coffee with that long-lost friend or you can blow them off.

And, finally, you can decide to be positive or you can just go on living like you are.  Being an optimistic person in a negative world begins with the decision to be positive and choosing to live that life every single day.

Avoid Positive Energy 

You might refer to them as “whiners” or even “toxic,” but however you refer to them, pessimists suck the positive energy out of the room.  These people think the world revolves around them, and they often lack any sense of empathy for others.

It’s important to establish healthy boundaries with people who chronically choose to stay stuck in their own misery. That may mean having to say things to a friend like, “I notice every time I offer you an idea about how you could make your situation better, you insist nothing will work. I am not sure I’m able to help.”

It may also mean distancing yourself a bit from a relative who insists on sharing his latest predictions about the end of the world.

Limit your media intake as well. Watching too many tragic stories on the news or consuming too much political news on social media can decrease your ability to maintain a “glass half full” outlook.

Recognize Your Negative Thoughts

It’s OK to acknowledge that bad things might happen. After all, ignoring reality isn’t helpful.

In fact, being realistic could be the key to doing your best.  If you’re excessively positive about an upcoming interview, you might not spend any time preparing because you’re confident you’ll land the job.

If however, you have an exaggeratedly negative outlook, you might sabotage your chances of getting hired. Thinking, “No one will ever hire me,” will cause you to look and feel defeated when you walk into the interview room. Your lack of confidence may be the reason you don’t get hired.

A healthy outlook would be to remind yourself that all you can do is your best and you’ll be OK, regardless of the outcome. Being optimistic helps you believe that brighter opportunities are on the horizon and you’re able to put in the effort to earn those opportunities.

When you’re thinking negatively, take a moment to assess how realistic your thoughts truly are. Re-framing your exaggeratedly negative thoughts into more realistic statements can help you maintain a healthy dose of optimism.

Bestow Positivity on Others

While it’s not your job to make everyone happy, it doesn’t hurt to perk up someone’s day. Once a day, share positive feedback with someone.

At work, compliment someone about a good question raised in an email or salient points that they brought up in an important meeting.

At home, praise your child for how hard they worked on their math homework. Or, tell your partner how much you appreciate them.

Making other people feel positive has lasting effects on your own life.  With that, don’t forget to bestow positivity on yourself. Before bed, think about what you did during the day. Even if it was a generally lackluster day, there’s bound to be something you can praise yourself for, whether it was keeping your cool when a driver cuts you off or wrapping up a project that has really been a challenge for you.

Imagine a Positive Future

It sounds kitschy, but writing down your ideas of an optimistic future can truly make a difference when it comes to your overall outlook.

If you need a primer, here’s what to do: Spend 20 minutes on four consecutive days on writing down what you want to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year—feel free to dream big.

You can also consider a serious challenge you have in your life right now and think about possible positive outcomes.

Practice Gratitude

Thinking about all the things you have to be grateful for, from warm sunshine to clean water, can give you an instant boost of optimism. You might even decide to keep a gratitude journal, in which you write down everything that makes you crack a smile during the day.

If nothing else, take a moment to stop, smile and be grateful for the good things in your life. Savor the moments that make it possible for you to have a good life.

It’s hard to be optimistic without feeling gratitude toward those that helped you get to that happy place. While thinking about how grateful you are is helpful, sharing your gratitude with others provides added benefits. You’ll spread a bit of joy and cheer when you tell others how much you appreciate them.

Write a letter to someone who made a positive impact on your life, whether it’s a teacher, a former boss or even your mom. If possible, deliver that letter in person.

 

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Self-Care on a Budget

By: Emily Roberts

Self-care on a budget is possible. In fact, most acts of emotional self-care don’t cost a thing. Self-care is simply the practice of treating yourself with enough respect that you honor and fulfill your own needs as they arise. Self-care on a budget is entirely possible.

We often make excuses not to practice self-care because it’s too timely or expensive. We fall into the habit of putting others before ourselves and this weighs heavy on our self-esteem.

Self-care isn’t something that you can just put off until you have more time or money. Your brain, body, family and self-esteem suffer when you don’t take time to tune in to your needs. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. Self-care is a very active and powerful choice to engage in the activities that are required to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health. If that feels like it’s costly, remember it doesn’t have to be. You can engage in self-care on a budget.

It’s not always possible to get away for a vacation or spend the money on a day of relaxation, and you don’t need to. Self-care is a daily activity and you can incorporate it into your routine no matter how busy you are. Here are a few ideas that you can try for practicing self-care on a budget.

15 Ideas for Self-Care on a Budget

First ask yourself what are my needs? What would make you feel more positive right now? What is something that your brain and body need from you today? When you neglect these very basic and primal needs, due to money or guilt, you’re not serving others or yourself. A few minutes a day, just for you, can make a huge change in your well-being.

  • Make that doctors or dentist appointment you’ve been neglecting.
  • Go for a walk or enjoy your favorite workout if your body needs some movement. Any sort of exercise will release endorphins, your body will thank you and it clears your head which is very important for feeling relaxed and revitalized.
  • Connect with someone you care about. Call them, make plans with a friend or relative, or email someone you’ve wanted to reconnect with.
  • Do something today that will help you tomorrow. Pack your bag for work the night before, make your lunch, organize your planner. It may seem like work but it’s actually going to help you feel more at ease and relaxed the next day.
  • Find a scent you love. Aromatherapy can be under 10 dollars. Infuse your home or your car with a soothing scent that will improve your mood.
  • Buy your favorite food. Lots of parents fall prey to buying what their kids and families want to eat. But what about you? Do you want a particular cheese or fresh squeezed orange juice? Add it to the cart.
  • Read a book or article for pleasure.
  • Drink more water. Instead of beating yourself up for never drinking enough, remind yourself that water is something your body and brain love and need.
  • Block or hide people who bother you on social media. There is no shame in blocking people who hurt your feelings or who are filling your social media with annoying comments or pictures. You’ll feel better, and they don’t have to know (When To Get Rid of Social Media Relationships).
  • Give yourself a hug. Yes, this sounds silly, but sometimes the comfort of a three-second hug can help you appreciate yourself a little more.
  • Listen to an awesome song. Something that makes you want to smile, dance or helps you remember a positive time in your life.
  • Listen to a podcast. If the news on the radio or tunes in your car are boring you, don’t waste your time or mood on them. Find your favorite podcast to download, they are free.
  • Journal. It reconnects you with your goals and purpose.
  • Give yourself the gift of more time. Wake up a little earlier to meditate, breathe, read the paper, or do some yoga. If you plan ahead, it is always possible to find a way to give yourself some extra time. More time to sleep or a longer lunch hour.
  • Go to the park and look at the clouds. Meditate, practice mindfulness or just take a walk. Enjoy the luxury of being in nature.

You have to take time for yourself, it’s necessary for building self-esteem, feeling healthy and taking care of others.

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By: Raising Children Network

No matter how old your children are, your praise and encouragement will help them feel good about themselves. This boosts their self-esteem and confidence.  Sometimes rewards can be useful too, especially if you want to encourage good behavior.

Praise

How praise works
Praise is when you tell your child what you like about her or her behavior. Praise nurtures your child’s self-esteem, confidence and sense of self.

By using praise, you’re showing your child how to think and talk positively about himself. You’re helping your child learn how to recognize when he does well and to pat himself on the back.

What to use praise for
You can praise children of different ages for different things. You might praise a younger child for leaving the park when asked, or for trying to tie her own shoelaces. You can praise teenagers for coming home at an agreed time, or for starting homework without being reminded.

Descriptive praise
Descriptive praise is when you tell your child exactly what it is that you like. For example, “I like the way you’ve found a spot for everything in your room”.  This helps your child understand what you mean. It’s also more genuine than non-specific praise like “You’re a good boy”.

You can’t give too much praise. But praise can lose its impact if it isn’t specific or if you use it when your child hasn’t done anything. This might teach your child that she doesn’t have to do anything to be praised.

Using praise to change behavior
Children are more likely to repeat behavior that earns praise.  This means you can use praise to help change difficult behavior and replace it with desirable behavior.

The first step is to watch for times when your child behaves the way you want.  When you see this or another behavior you like, immediately get your child’s attention. Then tell your child exactly what you liked.

At first, you can praise every time you see the behavior.  When your child starts doing the behavior more often, you can praise it less.

If you’re using praise to change behavior, you can praise effort as well as achievement – for example, “It’s great how you used words to ask for that toy.” or “I like how you did your chores without being reminded.”

Using praise can seem like an effort, and some days it might be hard to find reasons to praise your child. But if you praise your child regularly, it’ll soon feel natural and normal.

Encouragement

Encouragement is praise for effort – for example, “You worked hard on that math homework.”

Praising effort can encourage your child to try hard in the future – it’s very motivating.  But you can also use encouragement before and during an activity to help your child do the activity or behavior.  For example, “Show me how well you can put your toys away.” or “I know you’re nervous about the test, but you’ve studied hard. No matter how it turns out, you’ve done your best.”

Some children, especially those who are less confident, need more encouragement than others.  When praise is encouraging and focused on effort, children are more likely to see trying hard as a good thing in itself.  They’re also more likely to keep trying and to be optimistic when they face challenges.

Rewards

A reward is a consequence of good behavior.  It’s a way of saying “well done” after your child has done something good or behaved well.  It could be a treat, a surprise or an extra privilege.  For example, as a reward for keeping his room clean, you might let your child choose what’s for dinner or have company over to play games.

Rewards can make your praise and encouragement work better.  Most behavior is influenced by the consequences that follow it, so when you praise your child’s behavior and then reward it, the behavior is more likely to happen again.

Rewards can work well at first, but it’s best not to overuse them.  If you need to use them a lot, it might help to rethink the situation – are there any other strategies that you could try to encourage the behavior you want? Or is the task or behavior too hard for your child right now?

Note that bribery and rewards aren’t the same.  A bribe is given before the behavior you want, and a reward is given after.  Rewards reinforce good behavior, but bribes don’t.

Sometimes it’s easier to criticize than it is to compliment.  Bad behavior is often more obvious than good behavior – for example, you’re more likely to notice when your child is yelling than you are to notice when your child is quietly reading a book.  Try to pay attention to the good behavior too!

Help build your child’s self-esteem and encourage good behavior with these tips:

  • When you feel good about your child, say so.  See if you can give your child some words of encouragement every day.  The small things you say can build up over time to have a big effect on your child.
  • Try to praise more than you criticize.  As a guide, try to praise your child six times for every one time you say something negative.
  • Look for little changes and successes.  Rather than waiting until your child has done something perfectly to give a compliment, try to praise any effort or improvement.
  • Accept that everyone’s different.  Praise your child for her unique strengths and encourage her to develop and feel excited about her particular interests.  This will help her develop a sense of pride and confidence.
  • Surprise your child with a reward for good behavior.  For example, “Thank you for picking up the toys, – let’s go to the park to celebrate.” or “Good job with getting a positive interim report from school.  Let’s go get pizza.”
  • Praise effort as well as achievement. Recognize and praise how hard your child is trying – for example, “You worked really hard on that essay.” or  “Thank you for remembering to hang your coat in the closet.”
  • Try to make your praise dependent on your child’s behavior, rather than your feelings. You might find that the more you look for good behavior to praise, the more positive you’ll feel (and the more good behavior you’ll see).
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By: KidsHealth

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is keeping parents and kids home — and away from others — to help stop the spread of the virus. Adjusting to a new routine is stressful for everyone, but especially for children with autism who have trouble with change.

Find ways to help your child understand what’s going on and what to expect from day-to-day. This will help your child adjust and even thrive during this time.

What Should I Tell My Child About Coronavirus?

Kids with autism may not know what is going on, or might not be able to express their fears and frustrations.

So it’s important to talk to your child about coronavirus in a way that’s simple to understand. Be clear, direct, and honest. For example, “Coronavirus is a germ. It can make people very sick. We have to stay away from others to stay healthy.”

Then, explain that children will stay home from school and do schoolwork at home, parents may work from home, and any activities or family trips will be put on hold.

Go over important rules, and help your child to:

  • Wash hands well and often (for at least 20 seconds).
  • Try not to touch their nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • Practice social distancing, keeping at least 6 feet away from other people.
  • Wear a cloth face covering or face mask in public places.

Give your child space and time for questions, but don’t offer more detail than your child asks for. For example, if your child asks about people who are sick, answer the question. But don’t bring up the topic if it doesn’t come up.

How Can I Help My Child Understand?

Kids with autism may need extra support to understand what’s going on around them, and what’s expected of them in some situations.

Social stories are stories that teach kids what happens in some situations, and explain what kids should do in those situations. Many social stories have pictures to go along with them. Use social stories, pictures, or other visuals to help your child know the steps for:

  • washing hands and other ways to stay healthy and safe
  • social distancing
  • distance learning
  • new routines at home

You know how your child learns best, so use learning methods that have worked in the past.

How Can I Help My Child Adjust?

Routines are comforting for kids with autism, so do your best to keep as many of them as you can. Stick to regular bed and wake-up times, meal and snack times, screen time, chores, and other household routines.  Build in new routines to include school work, breaks, and exercise.

When possible, help your child take control by giving a couple of choices. For example, you could let your child choose what to eat for lunch. When doing school work, you can ask what your child would like to do next.

Visual schedules and to-do lists can help kids know what to expect, while timers and 2-minute warnings can help with transitions.

Having a set routine and clear expectations will help lower the anxiety that can happen when things change.

How Can I Help My Child Stay Calm?

Kids with autism who feel frustrated, worried, or scared may have more repetitive behaviors (like hand flapping or rocking), tantrums, and other challenging behaviors.

Find ways for your child to express feelings. To help kids work through strong emotions, try:

  • talking together
  • doing crafts
  • writing
  • playing or acting out fears
  • for kids who are nonverbal, using augmented (or alternative) communication devices

Also try calming activities, such as deep breathing, music, or watching a favorite video throughout the day. Exercise also can help ease anxious feelings.

Limit the time kids spend on social media or watching scary or upsetting news reports. When kids do hear or read something upsetting, talk about it to help ease fears.

While caring for your child, be sure that you take breaks and recharge too.

What Else Should I Know?

Your child’s health care provider, teacher, or behavior or learning specialist can offer more tips to help your child during this time.

Talk to your provider if you notice changes in sleeping or eating habits, or if your child seems more worried or upset than usual. These may be signs of anxiety or depression.

For non-urgent health care or behavioral health visits, a provider might be able to see you through a telehealth visit so you won’t have to leave home.

For more on how to help your child, visit the Autism Speaks website and AFIRM’s COVID-19 online toolkit.

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Anxiety Disorders With Children

By: KidsHealth

What Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders cause extreme fear and worry, and changes in a child’s behavior, sleep, eating, or mood.

What Are the Kinds of Anxiety Disorders?

Different anxiety disorders can affect kids and teens. They include:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD causes kids to worry almost every day — and over lots of things. Kids with GAD worry over things that most kids worry about, like homework, tests, or making mistakes.

But with GAD, kids worry more, and more often, about these things. Kids with GAD also worry over things parents might not expect would cause worry. For example, they might worry about recess, lunchtime, birthday parties, playtime with friends, or riding the school bus. Kids with GAD may also worry about war, weather, or the future. Or about loved ones, safety, illness, or getting hurt.

Having GAD can make it hard for kids to focus in school. Because with GAD, there is almost always a worry on a kid’s mind. GAD makes it hard for kids to relax and have fun, eat well, or fall asleep at night. They may miss many days of school because worry makes them feel sick, afraid, or tired.

Some kids with GAD keep worries to themselves. Others talk about their worries with a parent or teacher. They might ask over and over whether something they worry about will happen. But it’s hard for them to feel OK, no matter what a parent says.

Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD). It’s normal for babies and very young kids to feel anxious the first times they are apart from their parent. But soon they get used to being with a grandparent, babysitter, or teacher and they start to feel at home at daycare or school.

But when kids don’t outgrow the fear of being apart from a parent, it’s called separation anxiety disorder. Even as they get older, kids with SAD feel very anxious about being away from their parent or away from home. They may miss many days of school. They may say they feel too sick or upset to go. They may cling to a parent, cry, or refuse to go to school, sleepovers, play dates, or other activities without their parent. At home, they may have trouble falling asleep or sleeping alone. They may avoid being in a room at home if their parent isn’t close by.

Social Phobia (social anxiety disorder). With social phobia, kids feel too afraid of what others will think or say. They are always afraid they might do or say something embarrassing. They worry they might sound or look weird. They don’t like to be the center of attention. They don’t want others to notice them, so they might avoid raising their hand in class. If they get called on in class, they may freeze or panic and can’t answer. With social phobia, a class presentation or a group activity with classmates can cause extreme fear.

Social phobia can cause kids and teens to avoid school or friends. They may feel sick or tired before or during school. They may complain of other body sensations that go with anxiety too. For example, they may feel their heart racing or feel short of breath. They may feel jumpy and feel they can’t sit still. They may feel their face get hot or blush. They may feel shaky or lightheaded.

Selective Mutism (SM). This extreme form of social phobia causes kids to be so afraid they don’t talk. Kids and teens with SM can talk.  They do talk at home or with their closest family and friends.  However, they will refuse to talk at all at school, with friends, or in other places where they have this fear.

Specific Phobia. It’s normal for young kids to feel scared of the dark, monsters, big animals, or loud noises like thunder or fireworks. Most of the time, when kids feel afraid, adults can help them feel safe and calm again. But a phobia is a more intense, more extreme, and longer lasting fear of a specific thing. With a phobia, a child dreads the thing they fear and tries to avoid it. If they are near what they fear, they feel terrified and are hard to comfort.

With a specific phobia, kids may have an extreme fear of things like animals, spiders, needles or shots, blood, throwing up, thunderstorms, people in costumes, or the dark. A phobia causes kids to avoid going places where they think they might see the thing they fear. For example, a kid with a phobia of dogs may not go to a friend’s house, to a park, or to a party because dogs might be there.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety?

A parent or teacher may see signs that a child or teen is anxious. For example, a kid might cling, miss school, or cry. They might act scared or upset, or refuse to talk or do things. Kids and teens with anxiety also feel symptoms that others can’t see. It can make them feel afraid, worried, or nervous.

It can affect their body too. They might feel shaky, jittery, or short of breath. They may feel “butterflies” in their stomach, a hot face, clammy hands, dry mouth, or a racing heart.

These symptoms of anxiety are the result of the “fight or flight” response. This is the body’s normal response to danger. It triggers the release of natural chemicals in the body. These chemicals prepare us to deal with a real danger. They affect heart rate, breathing, muscles, nerves, and digestion. This response is meant to protect us from danger. But with anxiety disorders, the “fight or flight” response is overactive. It happens even when there is no real danger.

What Causes Anxiety Disorders?

Several things play a role in causing the overactive “fight or flight” that happens with anxiety disorders. They include:

Genetics. A child who has a family member with an anxiety disorder is more likely to have one too. Kids may inherit genes that make them prone to anxiety.

Brain chemistry. Genes help direct the way brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) work. If specific brain chemicals are in short supply, or not working well, it can cause anxiety.

Life situations. Things that happen in a child’s life can be stressful and difficult to cope with. Loss, serious illness, death of a loved one, violence, or abuse can lead some kids to become anxious.

Learned behaviors. Growing up in a family where others are fearful or anxious also can “teach” a child to be afraid too.

How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed?

Anxiety disorders can be diagnosed by a trained therapist. They talk with you and your child, ask questions, and listen carefully. They’ll ask how and when the child’s anxiety and fears happen most. That helps them diagnose the specific anxiety disorder the child has.

A child or teen with symptoms of anxiety should also have a regular health checkup. This helps make sure no other health problem is causing the symptoms.

How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated?

Most often, anxiety disorders are treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is a type of talk therapy that helps families, kids, and teens learn to manage worry, fear, and anxiety.

CBT teaches kids that what they think and do affects how they feel. In CBT, kids learn that when they avoid what they fear, the fear stays strong. They learn that when they face a fear, the fear gets weak and goes away.

In CBT:

  • Parents learn how to best respond when a child is anxious. They learn how to help kids face fears.
  • Kids learn coping skills so they can face fear and worry less.

The therapist helps kids practice, and gives support and praise as they try. Over time, kids learn to face fears and feel better. They learn to get used to situations they’re afraid of. They feel proud of what they’ve learned. And without so many worries, they can focus on other things — like school, activities, and fun. Sometimes, medicines are also used to help treat anxiety.

How Can I Help My Child?

If your child has an anxiety disorder, here are some ways you can help:

  • Find a trained therapist and take your child to all the therapy appointments.
  • Talk often with the therapist, and ask how you can best help your child.
  • Help your child face fears. Ask the therapist how you can help your child practice at home. Praise your child for efforts to cope with fears and worry.
  • Help kids talk about feelings. Listen, and let them know you understand, love, and accept them. A caring relationship with you helps your child build inner strengths.
  • Encourage your child to take small steps forward. Don’t let your child give up or avoid what they’re afraid of. Help them take small positive steps forward.
  • Be patient. It takes a while for therapy to work and for kids to feel better.
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Top 10 Homework Tips

By: KidsHealth

Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.

Of course, helping with homework shouldn’t mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!

Here are some tips to guide the way:

  • Know the teachers — and what they’re looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child’s teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
  • Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
  • Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
  • Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there’s an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
  • Make sure kids do their own work. They won’t learn if they don’t think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it’s a kid’s job to do the learning.
  • Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
  • Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents’ examples than their advice.
  • Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
  • If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child’s teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.
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Why Eating Healthy Matters!

By: Michelle Kirby

You know that healthy habits, such as eating well, exercising, and avoiding harmful substances, make sense, but did you ever stop to think about why you practice them? A healthy habit is any behavior that benefits your physical, mental, and emotional health. These habits improve your overall well-being and make you feel good.  Healthy habits are hard to develop and often require changing your mindset. But if you’re willing to make sacrifices to better your health, the impact can be far-reaching, regardless of your age, sex, or physical ability.

Here are five benefits of a healthy lifestyle:

1. Controls weight

Eating right and exercising regularly can help you avoid excess weight gain and maintain a healthy weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, being physically active is essential to reaching your weight-loss goals. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health, boost your immune system, and increase your energy level.  Plan for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. If you can’t devote this amount of time to exercise, look for simple ways to increase activity throughout the day. For example, try walking instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or pace while you’re talking on the phone.  Eating a balanced, calorie-managed diet can also help control weight. When you start the day with a healthy breakfast, you avoid becoming overly hungry later, which could send you running to get fast food before lunch.  Additionally, skipping breakfast can raise your blood sugar, which increases fat storage. Incorporate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables into your diet per day. These foods, which are low in calories and high in nutrients, help with weight control. Limit consumption of sugary beverages, such as sodas and fruit juices, and choose lean meats like fish and turkey.

2. Improves mood
Doing right by your body pays off for your mind as well. The Mayo Clinic again notes that physical activity stimulates the production of endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Eating a healthy diet as well as exercising can lead to a better physique. You’ll feel better about your appearance, which can boost your confidence and self-esteem. Short-term benefits of exercise include decreased stress and improved cognitive function.  It’s not just diet and exercise that lead to improved mood. Another healthy habit that leads to better mental health is making social connections. Whether it’s volunteering, joining a club, or attending a movie, communal activities help improve mood and mental functioning by keeping the mind active and serotonin levels balanced. Don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with family or friends on a regular basis, if not every day. If there’s physical distance between you and loved ones, use technology to stay connected. Pick up the phone or start a video chat.

3. Combats diseases
Healthy habits help prevent certain health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. If you take care of yourself, you can keep your cholesterol and blood pressure within a safe range. This keeps your blood flowing smoothly, decreasing your risk of cardiovascular diseases.  Regular physical activity and proper diet can also prevent or help you manage a wide range of health problems, including:

  • metabolic syndrome
  • diabetes
  • depression
  • certain types of cancer
  • arthritis

Make sure you schedule a physical exam every year. Your doctor will check your weight, heartbeat, and blood pressure, as well as take a urine and blood sample. This appointment can reveal a lot about your health. It’s important to follow up with your doctor and listen to any recommendations to improve your health.

4. Boosts energy
We’ve all experienced a lethargic feeling after eating too much unhealthy food. When you eat a balanced diet your body receives the fuel it needs to manage your energy level. A healthy diet includes:

  • whole grains
  • lean meats
  • low-fat dairy products
  • fruit
  • vegetables

Regular physical exercise also improves muscle strength and boosts endurance, giving you more energy, says the Mayo Clinic. Exercise helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and gets your cardiovascular system working more efficiently so that you have more energy to go about your daily activities. It also helps boost energy by promoting better sleep. This helps you fall asleep faster and get deeper sleep.  Insufficient sleep can trigger a variety of problems. Aside from feeling tired and sluggish, you may also feel irritable and moody if you don’t get enough sleep. What’s more, poor sleep quality may be responsible for high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, and it can also lower your life expectancy. To improve sleep quality, stick to a schedule where you wake up and go to bed at the same time every night. Reduce your caffeine intake, limit napping, and create a comfortable sleep environment. Turn off lights and the television, and maintain a cool room temperature.

5. Improves longevity

When you practice healthy habits, you boost your chances of a longer life. The American Council on Exercise reported on an eight-year study of 13,000 people. The study showed that those who walked just 30 minutes each day significantly reduced their chances of dying prematurely, compared with those who exercised infrequently. Looking forward to more time with loved ones is reason enough to keep walking. Start with short five-minute walks and gradually increase the time until you’re up to 30 minutes.

The takeaway

Bad habits are hard to break, but once you adopt a healthier lifestyle, you won’t regret this decision. Healthy habits reduce the risk of certain diseases, improve your physical appearance and mental health, and give your energy level a much needed boost. You won’t change your mindset and behavior overnight, so be patient and take it one day at a time. And remember eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, get an accountability partner and share dishes. Some fitness clubs already have healthy pre-made meals. The decision starts in YOUR MIND!

Click link for 100 calorie snack ideas: http://greatist.com/health/100-calorie-snacks

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By: Charise Rohm Nulsen

As parents, we want to provide our children with the tools that they need to have a happy and healthy life. Parenting has changed since the time of our own childhoods, and we have access to more resources and information about parenting than our own parents ever did. One parenting philosophy and resource that is having a tremendously positive impact, both on children and the adults that support them, is called Conscious Discipline.

Conscious Discipline is an evidence-based, trauma-informed approach. It is recognized as one of the top social-emotional programs available to both schools and parents. As Heather Wallace, a coach and mentor for positive parenting approaches, explains: “Conscious Discipline is a social-emotional program that teaches children how to regulate and manage emotions in order to make safe and healthy choices. But the focus FIRST is on parents.” In other words, in order to best help our children with the conscious discipline approach, we need to do the work on ourselves and our own emotions first.

Conscious Discipline takes a very different approach to discipline from the way we might have experienced it in our own childhoods. Conscious Discipline is all about connection rather than punishment. When we think back to how parents have traditionally responded to big emotions felt and displayed by children, we may recall reactions that ranged from being dismissive to responding with anger to minimizing feelings and concerns.

Conscious Discipline teaches adults to control their own emotional responses to children so they can stay present at the moment, connect with the child, and then work through the feelings the child is having together.

Expert Heather Wallace further explains:

Dr. Becky Bailey, author, educator, and creator of Conscious Discipline, discusses how us parents need to rethink discipline and control ourselves first before dealing with our child’s behavior. It takes a shift in mindset from how we were raised to think about discipline as punishment, to thinking of discipline as an opportunity to teach missing skills. Parents use the tools to gain control of their emotions and upset, and in turn, download that calm to their child. The skills that Conscious Discipline teaches will ensure that the child stays connected to the parent as the parent teaches and guides the child.”

Based on research on both the human brain and child development, Conscious Discipline was designed to make changes in the lives of the supporting adult first. Therefore, this approach can be truly beneficial to the entire family.
The Conscious Discipline approach can be helpful in so many of the most frustrating experiences in parenting that often leave us feeling out of control or with a recurring thought that we are failing as parents. If you have experienced any of the following, Conscious Discipline can help:
  • Power struggles
  • Defiance
  • Verbal attacks
  • Bullying
  • Physical aggression
  • Difficulty keeping your child on task

Conscious Discipline can take the frustration and feelings of powerlessness out of these every day parenting moments and turn them into teachable moments instead.

According to the Conscious Discipline website, the Seven Skills of Discipline have evolved from the Seven Powers for Conscious Adults. The skills are:

  • Composure
  • Encouragement
  • Assertiveness
  • Choices
  • Empathy
  • Positive Intent
  • Consequences

Yes, there are consequences in the Conscious Discipline approach. Instead of jumping right to consequences as often happens with the traditional disciplinary approach, Conscious Discipline first provides the child with a sense of safety, compassion, and connection. When we as adults stay in control of our emotions and utilize these seven skills, we model the skills we hope to teach.

Not only can both adults and children feel better and learn from each other in these teachable moments, but we can also provide our children with a foundation to learn and grow as a person on a different level. As Expert, Heather Wallace states, “My opinion is that a child with social-emotional skills can learn anything! So using the Conscious Discipline tools will not only help your child gain emotional intelligence, but set them up for success in a school setting.”

Creating a Safe Place for your child is a key component of Conscious Discipline. A Safe Place is NOT a time-out. Instead, this is a designated space that you go to with your child to help them change their inner state from upset to composed. This space can be something like a cozy corner, a beanbag chair, or a soft mat. Here you encourage your child to breathe or use a calming tool. This is a place to practice getting outside of the big emotions, and it’s a space that you can encourage your child to visit when they feel sad, angry, or frustrated.

Some Conscious Discipline strategies that parents can try right away are:

  • Model the behavior you would like to see by displaying self-control during difficult moments and when you feel triggered by children’s behavior.
  • Take the time to understand the developmental stage that your child is in so you can consider how things feel from her perspective.
  • Tell children what they should do in a clear way rather than focusing on what they should not do. (For example, refrain from giving directions that start with Don’t, Stop, or No.)
  • When children are acting bossy or unkind to others, always give your attention to the victim first to empower them to learn how to deal with the situation. Then turn to the child who is acting unkindly and help her practice clear limits and how to communicate in a more helpful way.
  • When children appear to not be listening to you, instead of yelling at them to get their attention, go to them instead and make eye contact to form a connection.

By helping your child develop social-emotional skills, you are equipping them with tools that can help them thrive and learn. You are also bettering your personal social-emotional skills through the Conscious Discipline approach. As a whole, your family environment can feel stronger, calmer, and more connected by implementing Conscious Discipline in your home.

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