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Giving Up Helicopter Parenting Can Prevent Kids’ Future Mental Health Issues

Over-parenting doesn’t make for more successful kids, it leads to children who grow up unable to function at their best.

We’re in the middle of a youth mental-health crisis that’s going to have implications for everyone, in the near and distant future. These young people are the future workers and leaders of our society, and if they’re struggling, and not functioning optimally, it bodes ill for the rest of us.

According to an article by Kristin Rushowy in the Toronto Star, a new report released in Ontario shows that the mental health of our college and university students is at an all-time low.

Linda Franklin, president of Colleges Ontario, warns in the Star story that “we are seeing the acceleration of these challenges beyond what we might have expected to see.” This means that the size of this problem is worse than what we might expect under ordinary circumstances.

CBC recently reported on the dire situation in East Coast universities in Canada, where young people are committing suicide at an alarming rate.

The article quotes Elizabeth Cawley, the regional mental health coordinator with the Association of Atlantic Universities, who states that it’s “absolutely urgent that we begin tackling student mental health.”

In both of the above stories, a variety of possible solutions to the problem is discussed, but there’s no mention in either article of the possible causes. I suggest that helicopter parenting, which has become more and more common these days, could be in part what’s at fault.

We’re living in extremely challenging times due to a variety of political, social and economic reasons. Because of this, it’s essential that our youth are raised to be independent thinkers, good problem-solvers, self-sufficient and resilient in dealing with the ups and downs of young adulthood.

Helicopter parents, while having the best of intentions, inadvertently cripple their children by doing too much for them. Their hovering and smothering leaves their kids unable to cope with the typical challenges they might face when they arrive at college or university.

The more parents bubble-wrap their children, the less confident, independent and self-sufficient these kids will be. The more the parents solve their kids’ problems, the less these young people are equipped to deal with their own difficulties, if and when they should arise.

Helicopter parenting is, to some extent, a backlash against the previous, harsher and more negligent parenting styles, as well as an over-reaction to perceived (but non-existent) threats, such as “stranger-danger.”

Many parents these days are overly-invested in the progress of their children, doing everything they can, including their kids’ homework, to ensure that their children are accepted into the best schools and receive the best grades.

Unfortunately, over-parenting doesn’t make for more successful kids, it leads to children who grow up unable to function at their best. I believe that this is one reason why we’re seeing a disproportionately large number of young people suffering from anxiety disorders today.

The more parents bubble-wrap their children, the less confident, independent and self-sufficient these kids will be.

We can throw more money into treatment, but this will only be a drop in an ever-expanding bucket. I think that it will be a lot more cost-effective and more importantly, beneficial to our young people, to address the root cause of the problem.

That’s why I believe that it’s time we start teaching parents that helicoptering is the worst thing they can do for their kids. We have to show parents that hovering over their kids, over-protecting them, fighting all their battles and doing too much for them is setting these kids up for mental health problems in the future.

When parents learn to back off from their hovering and instead, raise their children to stand on their own two feet and solve their own problems, we’re going to see more young people with good coping strategies, confidence and resilience.

When parents begin to instill qualities like autonomy and self-sufficiency into their children, I’m convinced that we’ll start to see a significant decrease in mental health problems in our college-aged youth.

 
10/30/2017     Marcia Sirota   Author, speaker, coach and MD
 
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 A Healthier Halloween For Kids, Without Cutting Out Candy? Yes, Really.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. As a child, I looked forward all year to dressing up and going trick-or-treating. I still love putting on costumes and carving pumpkins.

But as much as I love the holiday, it also has its share of detractors. There is plenty of debate about whether parents should limit their kids’ access to Halloween activities and candy, in the name of fending off a lifetime of sugar cravings, or let them eat their fill. With childhood obesity on the rise and many parents eager to limit added sugars in their children’s diet, which approach is best for helping kids learn healthy eating habits?

Parenting approaches to candy management
I spoke to dozens of parents about how they handle Halloween candy, many of them fellow dietitians. At one end of the spectrum of control are parents who avoid taking their kids trick-or-treating and take them swimming or bowling instead. They say their kids haven’t complained about missing out on the festivities. And there are the parents who subscribe to the “switch witch” or “candy fairy” approach. They take their kids trick-or-treating and may let them have a couple of pieces of candy that evening. But once the kids are in bed, the parents switch out the candy stash for a toy. Blaming the candy’s disappearance on a witch or fairy helps displace any anger the kids might feel toward their parents.

Penn State research shows, however, that girls who have treats on a regular basis eat less of these foods when they are offered them and tend to be slimmer. Another study from the Netherlands compared the eating behaviors of children who were told they couldn’t have sweets, couldn’t have fruit or were permitted to eat what they wanted. The restricted groups wanted more of the foods they weren’t allowed to have and ate more overall. This suggests that a deprivation mentality backfires when it comes to teaching self-regulation and weight management.

At the other extreme are parents who let their kids eat as much candy as they want. The theory behind this is that kids might overdo it the first couple of days but then tire of the treats and eventually forget about them. Some parents say this approach helps kids learn to self-regulate.

According to research, though, letting kids indulge in as many treats as they want is linked to their being less in tune with the signals their body sends them when they are full. Kids of ­parents with an indulgent ­feeding style also have more trouble ­regulating themselves around food and tend to weigh more than other children. So it seems that allowing kids to eat all the candy they want teaches them to ignore their satiety cues, setting them up to be overweight adults.

As a dietitian, I tell parents to approach Halloween as a learning opportunity. Sweets and other treats are part of life, and sheltering kids from less healthy foods doesn’t teach them how to manage them and regulate their eating as adults. Here are my suggestions on how to let your children enjoy the treats of Halloween without going overboard.

Have candy after meals and with snacks
According to dietitian and family therapist Ellyn Satter, author of “Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense,” it’s fine to let kids have a few pieces of candy a day, either as dessert after a meal or as a sit-down snack. You can include a piece of candy in their lunch if they want.

This encourages mindful eating rather than distracted eating in front of the TV or on the run. Eating small amounts of treats should help kids learn to savor them and enjoy them more so they’re satisfied. Having these treats after a meal or snack means there will be less room for candy, and the protein and fat will help slow down the sugar rush. If they are asking for snacks at bedtime, offer a healthy option that they can follow with a small piece of candy (though if sugar makes them hyper, bedtime might not be the best time for treats).

Let your kids know that if they’re able to stick to these rules, they can have control over their candy stash. If they can’t, the parent should take charge. Make sure you communicate the plan before trick-or-treating so everyone knows what to expect.

Keep candy in a tall kitchen cupboard
Out of sight, out of mind. This holds true for kids and adults when it comes to food. Don’t let kids keep candy or other food in their rooms. Food stays in the kitchen, and the less healthy options should be hidden in a cupboard, not out on the counter for all to see (and grab mindlessly).
Let them pick their favorites and ‘make it worth it’
Have your kids pick out the candy they love and give away the rest. Learning to choose treats you really enjoy is an important part of healthy eating. You want your kids to savor and enjoy the treats they love rather than go for volume and not really take pleasure in what they’re eating.

Focus on healthy living, not weight
When you talk about food with your kids, focus on making healthy choices rather than controlling weight. Research suggests that commenting on children’s weight can increase the likelihood of unhealthy dieting as well as binge eating and other eating disorders.

Use Halloween as a growth opportunity for the family
Think about how you want your family to approach food and treats, and consider the example you’re setting with your eating habits. Do your kids see you making your way to the candy bowl every night? Practice the same balanced food habits you want your kids to have as adults. I’m willing to bet you’ll all be healthier and happier as a result.

By Christy Brissette October 24
Christy Brissette is a dietitian, foodie and president of 80TwentyNutrition.com
 


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10 Simple Things All Healthy Kids Have in Common

Changing a handful of little habits can help ensure you have super healthy kids. These are the pediatrician-approved qualities of the most robust kids around.

They get plenty of sleep

Many kids—especially as they hit their teen years—don’t get the recommended amount of sleep. “Prioritize sleep,” says Natasha Burgert, MD, a pediatrician in Kansas City, Missouri. “Sleep is required for healthy growth, body functions, and mental health. Plus, sleep protects against obesity and its associated risks.” For toddlers, expect 11 to 14 hours of sleep, while teens should get between 8 and 10 hours per night. Need help getting shut-eye? Try these 10 tips for a better night’s sleep.

They wash their hands before eating

A 2012 study showed that something as simple as teaching your kids to wash their hands regularly can drastically lower the rate of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness. Here are other key ways to avoid getting sick.

They don’t eat only mac n’ cheese

“Parents can teach their kids to eat foods that are all colors of the rainbow,” says Jean Moorjani, MD, a pediatrician at Orlando Health’s Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. “The variety will ensure that kids are getting the appropriate vitamins and nutrients they need to grow and be healthy.” These are the after-school snacks nutritionists give their own kids.

They stay up to date on vaccinations

Vaccines are key to preventing illness—and to healthy kids. “Parents can make sure they give vaccines on the CDC recommended schedule,” Dr. Moorjani says. “This includes a flu vaccine every year.”

They get out and play

Active kids are healthy kids. And beyond the physical benefits such as decreased risk of obesity and weight-related disease, regular exercise can help reduce stress and boost mood too. “Healthy kids do something fun every day, screens not included,” Dr. Burgert says. “Promoting mental health is important.”

They have parents who prioritize their own health

“When parents get busy, we have a tendency to prioritize the health and wellness of our kids over our own,” says Dr. Burgert. “Moms and dads need to prioritize their own health to set an example. This includes eight hours of sleep, limiting media use, eating at home with their kids, drinking lots of water, getting a flu shot, washing hands, getting regular exercise, and taking time out for ourselves.” By having healthy habits of your own, you’ll be modeling a healthy lifestyle for your kids. Here’s how to carve out more “me time.”

They use car seats and seat belts

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of death in kids under 12, and 35 percent of those killed were not properly restrained in car seats. Follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, and have kids rear facing until they turn 2, in a five-point harness until they outgrow their forward-facing seat, and then a belt-positioning booster until they reach 4 feet 9 inches. Learn how to use a car seat safely.

They wear helmets when they ride bikes

Only about half of children wear helmets when they ride their bikes, even though nearly 26,000 kids each year end up with bike-related head injuries, according to the CDC. And though they aren’t perfect, a study in the American College of Surgery shows that people who wore helmets reduced their risk of traumatic brain injury by 53 percent. These are the signs you need to go to the ER after a head injury.

They limit their screen time

A recent survey by Common Sense Media finds that kids are glued to their screens for an average of 2 hours and 20 minutes every day. But super healthy kids step away from technology. “Kids who spend too much time in front of a screen—computer, video games, tablets, smartphones—have higher risks of developing obesity, depression, sleep problems, lower academic performance, and increased risky behavior,” says Dr. Moorjani.

They see their doctor annually

Regular doctor’s visits can help ensure that everything’s ship shape—and make sure that you catch any underlying medical issues sooner. “Parents can contact their trusted pediatrician for guidance in helping their kids grow up as healthy as they can be,” says Dr. Moorjani. “As healthcare providers, we want what you want, and that is for every child to grow up healthy.” Here’s how to find a pediatrician you can trust.

BY LISA MILBRAND
source: www.rd.com


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How Parents Needlessly Lower Their Children’s IQ

The parental behaviour that lowers children’s IQ.

Children who were spanked in childhood have lower IQs, a study finds.

The more children were spanked, the lower their IQ, the research also found.

The probable reason is that spanking is highly stressful for children.

It can leave them with post-traumatic stress disorder.

An ongoing fear of terrible things happening — being easily startled — is linked to a lower IQ.

Parents who continue to use corporal punishment into the teenage years may hamper their children’s brain development even more.

Professor Murray Straus, the study’s first author, said:

“All parents want smart children.
This research shows that avoiding spanking and correcting misbehavior in other ways can help that happen.
The results of this research have major implications for the well being of children across the globe.
It is time for psychologists to recognize the need to help parents end the use of corporal punishment and incorporate that objective into their teaching and clinical practice.
It also is time for the United States to begin making the advantages of not spanking a public health and child welfare focus, and eventually enact federal no-spanking legislation.”

The results come from research that followed 704 children from the ages of 2 – 4 until they were 5 – 9 years-old.

The IQ of children who were not spanked between 2 and 4-years-old was 5 points higher when tested four years later than those who were spanked.

Professor Straus said:

“How often parents spanked made a difference.
The more spanking the, the slower the development of the child’s mental ability.
But even small amounts of spanking made a difference.”

The psychologists also found that countries in which spanking children was more common saw stronger links between corporal punishment and IQ.

Professor Straus said:

“The worldwide trend away from corporal punishment is most clearly reflected in the 24 nations that legally banned corporal punishment by 2009.
Both the European Union and the United Nations have called on all member nations to prohibit corporal punishment by parents.
Some of the 24 nations that prohibit corporal punishment by parents have made vigorous efforts to inform the public and assist parents in managing their children. In others little has been done to implement the prohibition.”

The study was published in the Journal of Aggression Maltreatment & Trauma (Straus & Paschall, 2009).

OCTOBER 3, 2017
source: PsyBlog


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What Is Attachment Theory?

Introduction to attachment theory in developmental psychology, including Bowlby and Ainsworth’s contributions, evaluation and criticisms of attachment theory.

Attachment theory is a concept in developmental psychology that concerns the importance of “attachment” in regards to personal development. Specifically, it makes the claim that the ability for an individual to form an emotional and physical “attachment” to another person gives a sense of stability and security necessary to take risks, branch out, and grow and develop as a personality. Naturally, attachment theory is a broad idea with many expressions, and the best understanding of it can be had by looking at several of those expressions in turn.

John Bowlby

Psychologist John Bowlby was the first to coin the term. His work in the late 60s established the precedent that childhood development depended heavily upon a child’s ability to form a strong relationship with “at least one primary caregiver”. Generally speaking, this is one of the parents.

Bowlby’s studies in childhood development and “temperament” led him to the conclusion that a strong attachment to a caregiver provides a necessary sense of security and foundation. Without such a relationship in place, Bowlby found that a great deal of developmental energy is expended in the search for stability and security. In general, those without such attachments are fearful and are less willing to seek out and learn from new experiences. By contrast, a child with a strong attachment to a parent knows that they have “back-up” so to speak, and thusly tend to be more adventurous and eager to have new experiences (which are of course vital to learning and development).

There is some basis in observational psychology here. The baby who is attached strongly to a caregiver has several of his or her most immediate needs met and accounted for. Consequently, they are able to spend a great deal more time observing and interacting with their environments. Thusly, their development is facilitated.

For Bowlby, the role of the parent as caregiver grows over time to meet the particular needs of the attached child. Early on, that role is to be attached to and provide constant support and security during the formative years. Later, that role is to be available as the child needs periodic help during their excursions into the outside world. 1

Mary Ainsworth

Mary Ainsworth would develop many of the ideas set forth by Bowlby in her studies. In particular, she identified the existence of what she calls “attachment behavior”, examples of behavior that are demonstrated by insecure children in hopes of establishing or re-establishing an attachment to a presently absent caregiver. Since this behavior occurs uniformly in children, it is a compelling argument for the existence of “innate” or instinctual behavior in the human animal.

The study worked by looking at a broad cross-section of children with varying degrees of attachment to their parents or caregivers from strong and healthy attachments to weak and tenuous bonds. The children were then separated from their caregivers and their responses were observed. The children with strong attachments were relatively calm, seeming to be secure in the belief that their caregivers would return shortly, whereas the children with weak attachments would cry and demonstrate great distress under they were restored to their parents.

Later in the same study, children were exposed to intentionally stressful situations, during which nearly all of them began to exhibit particular behaviors that were effective in attracting the attention of their caregivers – a keen example of attachment behavior. 2

mother-child
J. A. Hampton  Topical Press Agency   Getty Images


Hazan and Shaver

Early on, one of the primary limitations of attachment theory was that it had only really been studied in the context of young children. While studies of children are often instrumental in the field of developmental psychology, that field is ideally supposed to address the development of the entire human organism, including the stage of adulthood. In the 1980s, Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver were able to garner a lot of attention, then, when they turned attachment theory on adult relationships. 3 

In their studies, they looked at a number of couples, examining the nature of the attachments between them, and then observed how those couples reacted to various stressors and stimuli. In the case of adults, it would seem that a strong attachment is still quite important. For example, in cases where the adults had a weak attachment, there were feelings of inadequacy and a lack of intimacy on the part of both parties. When attachments were too strong, there were issues with co-dependency. The relationships functioned best when both parties managed to balance intimacy with independence. Much as is the case with developing children, the ideal situation seemed to be an attachment that functioned as a secure base from which to reach out and gain experience in the world.

Criticisms of Attachment Theory

One of the most common criticisms of attachment theory is that non-Western societies tend to offer up compelling counter-examples. For instance, in Papua New Guinea or Uganda, the idea of a child being intimately attached to a caregiver is somewhat alien, and child-rearing duties are more evenly distributed among a broader group of people. Still, “well-adjusted” members of society are produced, indicating that, at least in these societies, some other mechanism is acting in the place of the attachments that are so necessary for Western children.

Evaluation

Attachment theory states that a strong emotional and physical attachment to at least one primary caregiver is critical to personal development.

John Bowlby first coined the term as a result of his studies involving the developmental psychology of children from various backgrounds.

Mary Ainsworth conducted this research, discovering the existence of “attachment behavior” – behavior manifested for the purpose of creating attachment during times when a child feels confused or stressed.

Hazan and Shaver (1987) used the “Love Quiz” to demonstrate the applicability of attachment theory to adult romantic relationships.

Attachment theory has had a profound influence upon child care policies, as well as principles of basic clinical practice for children.

Critics of attachment theory point out the lack of parental attachment in many non-Western societies.

References
1 Bowlby, John. Attachment and Loss. 1969.
2 Ainsworth, M. “Infancy in Uganda: Infant Care and the Growth of Love.” Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1967.
3 Hazan, C. & Shaver, P. “Attachment as an organizational framework for research on close relationship.” Psychological Inquiry. 5 1-22, 1994.


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Kids are becoming candyholics, and adults are to blame

Adults need to stop enabling kids’ candy addiction

By Mark Schatzker, CBC News       Jan 14, 2014

Recently, my seven-year-old daughter uttered the unlikeliest sentence I ever expected to issue from her mouth: ‘Mummy, I think we need to take a break from candy.’

The date was December 29th, and my daughter – wise beyond her years – was reflecting on the three-week candy and calorie fest that is the holiday season. And she was, at that moment, doing the very thing she proposed to stop: eating candy.

Children eat a lot of candy these days. I know because I used to eat a lot of candy. Or at least I thought I did, until my kids came along.

My candy eating, I came to realize, was like one of those old black-and-white hockey games you sometimes see on TV: slow, crude and painfully old fashioned.

I went entire days without eating candy. Not my kids. Candy is everywhere. Their friends have it. Their grandparents have it. They get candy when we go to the hardware store. They get candy from doctors and nurses. They get candy in loot bags. They even get candy from their teachers.

Don’t get me wrong, my kids are not the worst offenders. I went on a kindergarten field trip not long ago and discovered that some parents pack candy in their kids lunches – or pop, which, when you think about it, is just liquid candy.

Eventually, I was struck with the question: Is my childrens’ candy use actually a form of abuse? Are my kids candyholics?

I filled out one of those online addiction quizzes.

Do my children eat candy to have fun?
    Yes

Do they eat candy alone?
    Yes

Do they sneak candy when no one is looking?
    Yes

Do they eat candy to have a good time?
    Yes

Do they get upset if they don’t get candy?
    Yes

Has a family member expressed concern about their candy eating?
Can they handle more candy now than when they first started eating candy?
Do they lie about the amount of candy they eat?
    Yes, yes, and yes.

The lying about candy started a few days after my daughter’s proposed candy cleanse. We decided to do it as a family. No candy for the month of January.

And not long after that, candy revisionism set in. After dinner one night, my son, pouting and clearly feeling sorry for himself, announced that in fact he had only had one piece of candy – a solitary marshmallow – over the entire holidays. “It’s not fair,” he said.

kidcandy
‘We are more aware than ever of the dangers of empty foods
and all the terrible problems they lead to
– obesity and diabetes to name just two.
And yet, instead of giving kids less candy,
we give them more.
What’s going on here? (shutterstock)

If he can learn to lie that convincingly as an adult, I thought to myself, he has a glorious future in politics.

His twin sister did him one better. She said she didn’t have any candy over the holidays, her lower lip quivering. My wife gently asked, “but what about the jelly beans?” My daughter cast her eyes towards the floor.

We’re now approaching the mid-way point of no-candy month, and it’s actually not going too badly – although there has been a measurable uptick in requests for Nutella and hot chocolate.

But the bigger question I have is why do kids eat so much candy?

There’s only one place they get it from: adults. So the real question is why do adults give kids so much candy?

We are more aware than ever of the dangers of empty foods and all the terrible problems they lead to – obesity and diabetes to name just two. And yet, instead of giving kids less candy, we give them more. What’s going on here?

There are, no doubt, many answers to this question, but here’s one of the big ones. It’s fun to give treats to adorable creatures. We give liver-and-bacon flavoured treats to dogs and sardines to cats. The behaviour seems almost instinctive. See cute face, give cute face calories.

So now that we know what the real problem is – adults – maybe adults should try and fix it. Because if we can’t control our urges, we surely can’t expect kids to.

source: CBC


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Learning music early builds up brain’s reserves

Elderly who knew music were protected from normal decay in discriminating sounds

CBC News       Jan 09, 201

Childhood music lessons could pay off in protecting the brain against dementia decades later, even in those who don’t continue to play, researchers are learning. 

In one study, children who played instruments performed better on memory tests even decades later.  

Music training benefits the brain’s cognitive function. Neuroscientists in Illinois tested for delays in how the brain responds to fast-changing elements of speech.

In November, they published their findings that four to 14 years of music training early in life was associated with faster processing, 40 years after the music training stopped. None of the subjects reported practising an instrument, performing or instruction after age 25.

Dr. Luis Fornazzari of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, has also studied musicians’ memory in relation to dementia.

“The elderly who knew music or they were a musician at one point in their life, they were protected from this normal decay in the discrimination of the sounds,” Fornazzari said.

music

Learning to play an instrument early in life
can help the brain decades later,
even if the instrument isn’t played during adulthood.


“The brain becomes absolutely trained in the discrimination of the sounds, the human voice and the different instruments, the different notes and that lasts.” 

The advantage of learning to read music is it activates many areas of the brain, scientists say.

It’s thought that learning music or a second language builds up reserve capacity in the brain to help hold dementia at bay.  

“If the disease occurs and you have good brain reserve capacity, you can tolerate the effect of the disease for longer so not showing the symptoms until later,” Fornazzari said.

The findings are music to the ears of Renita Greener of Toronto.

“I had one of those teachers who was very sort of old school and it was all about doing, doing, doing.  There wasn’t a lot of fun so I sort of dropped it,”  Greener recalled.  

With files from CBC’s Kim Brunhuber and Melanie Glanz

Source: CBC