6 Ways for Teachers and Staff to Manage Back-to-School Anxiety

To help students succeed academically and manage the stressors of life in the classroom, it has always been important for teachers and staff to effectively manage their own anxieties.

For some, the changes, uncertainty, and stress of 2020 and 2021 have resulted in a lingering sense of anxiety. Even more students are likely return to full-time in-person learning in the fall, which will place renewed demands on staff and teachers to help them transition.

Even if your school is virtual or hybrid, back-to-school anxiety can still happen leading up to any new school year. This might be a general sense of anxiety, or because of specific challenges related to setting up a remote classroom, work-life imbalance, difficult student behaviors, and many other factors.

Whatever is causing your stress, here are a few tips to help you head into the new school year as your best self mentally and emotionally.

How Teachers and Administrators Can Manage Anxiety

  1. Establish clear lines of communication. There is always a lot going on at the beginning of any school year, and peace of mind for students, parents, teachers, and staff alike starts with good communication. School administrators and teachers can make a difference by clearly communicating what to expect for the school year – including your recommendations for keeping children and teachers safe and healthy in the classroom.
  2. Reconnect with your colleagues – Your fellow staff members may be a great source of advice and empathy when it comes to easing your concerns about the new school year. Schedule time with your colleagues before school starts – either casual conversations over coffee, or formal meetings. This opportunity to discuss each other’s experiences may yield new techniques that alleviate your anxiety and will also help you build stronger professional ties with your colleagues.
  3. Understand your triggers. Understanding the source of your stress is essential to helping you address it. According to David Donnelly, a licensed behavioral analyst, we normally look to external triggers for the source of our stress, but we experience it internally. Understanding your underlying emotions will help manage your reaction. For example, many teachers are stressed because they care intensely about the success of their students. Make sure to acknowledge when caring is the source of your stress.
  4. Plan a routine that works for you. Just when you thought you had remote learning figured out, it is time to return to the routines of the classroom. A personal routine that addresses your daily needs – from exercise to food to grading — can make a big difference in your success. Think about your ideal daily schedule and energy levels. When are you at your most alert? When does your energy lag? Then match your most important daily habits to appropriate ties of day and do your best to stay consistent.
  5. Know your limits. Even more than other professions, teachers and school administrators bring their work home at night: grading assignments, planning upcoming classes, communicating with parents, and more. Despite the importance of these work activities, it is also vital to your mental health that you take time to “shut off.” If you are having trouble ending your workday, consider working only in designated areas and times. These predetermined boundaries will mentally help you shut off work when it is time to let your brain relax.
  6. Take time to relax. Educating children is an important, stressful job. Doing so much for others can distract you from self-care, so take time to sleep, exercise, maintain a healthy diet, and nurture hobbies and relationships with family or friends. And before the new school year begins, embrace the summer as a time to relax and enjoy yourself.

Transitioning to a new school year is never easy on teachers and staff – and the 2021-2022 academic year will be no exception. Working in education demands that teachers keep up with the ever-changing needs of students – including their emotional needs in a hyperconnected, smartphone-centered world. Teachers who can successfully manage their own anxieties are teachers who can be successful caregivers to the students and families they serve.

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Need more help?

Mental Health Awareness Month is coming to an end, but our mission to provide support for the mental and emotional wellness of children, youth, and young adults never stops. If you find yourself struggling with stress and anxiety. The Bougainvilla House, offers therapy sessions for students and adults who struggle with managing their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. If you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here. 

Coping with Transition Anxiety: From High School to College to “The Real World”

Congratulations! You’re graduating. 

…Or is it, “You’re graduating! Are you okay?” 

Television, movies and other media have been telling you for years about how exciting it will be to transition from high school to college, or from college to the “real world.” In reality, although some students might be excited to start a new chapter in their life, you’re all confronted with the same challenges.  

In college, you’ll need to make new friends, navigate a heavy workload, and take your first steps toward independence by living on your own or with roommates, instead of with your family. 

These challenges seem like a piece of cake when you face the “Real World” for the first time, whether that’s after high school or after college.  

With all of these transitions loomingit’s normal for high school and college students to experience higher levels of stress and anxiety in these years 

So how can you learn to manage these feelings?  

High School Transitioning to College   

As exciting as it is, the initial transition to college can bring a lot of anxiety to students 

A recent study showed that levels of anxiety, depression, and stress among college students increased steadily during the first semester of college and remained elevated throughout the second semester. This reflects what many students already know: that the first year of college is particularly anxious time 

 

Here is what we encourage for first-year students:   

  1. Anxious about making friends? Get involved! In college, you might feel like a small fish in a big pond, but there’s something for everyone! If you’re stressed about making friends, start by researching student organizations that you’re interested in. Colleges often have organizations for any interest: from arts groups to intramural sports to student government and more!  These groups and events are a great way for students to get involved and meet new people.   
  1. Struggling with changing routines? Treat your body right! For some students, it’s difficult to maintain healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and proper sleep on their own. It’s important to remember that all of these things are important to your body and your overall well-being. They are the most essential forms of self-care and building a daily routine around them eases the mind and releases stress. Being physically active also gives your brain something to focus on and can be a positive coping strategy for difficult times.   
  1. Having trouble managing your new workload? Stay organized! College comes with a lot of substantial assignments and multiple exams in a week is not unusual. When you’re not organized and ready for the workload, the stress becomes even greaterYour disorganization, unfinished projects, and piles of “to-dos” may be contributing to your stress and depression. To avoid this, try to stay consistent with a schedule and plan ahead. Find a system that works for you. If you like to have a physical reminder and enjoy crossing off tasks, a paper agenda might work for you. If you’re always on the go, an electronic planner on your phone or laptop that sends you notifications might be ideal for you. Schedule your exams, quizzesand projects as well as events, days off, and self-care. This way you’re prioritizing school and your well-being. 

Transitioning to the “Real World”  

Whether you’re anxious about moving across the county, going on job interviews, starting your first job, or making life-changing decisions about relationships, being nervous about the future is a normal reaction to uncertainty.  

Uncertainty is a major stressor, preventing us from planning the future. When the future is uncertain or we’re experiencing something new, we can’t rely on past experiences to make decisions. Without that tool, we become anxious about what the future might hold.  

 

How can you deal with the uncertainty?   

  1. Put things into perspective. What’s the most optimistic scenario that could happen? What is the worst-case scenario? And what is the most likely scenario? Ask yourself these questions, then ask yourself how you would be most likely to handle the situation. You may realize that even in the worst-case scenario, things will be okay.    
  1. Understand what creates meaning and purpose for you Take some time to consider what you most value in different areas of your life. Your purpose can be anything that makes you feel the most fulfilled. Some people find purpose by reading, practicing meditation, through religion, by healing others, or by spending time with loved ones. Finding your purpose and meaning can help you to remain motivated to take action and face uncertainty. 
  1. Accept what you can’t control. Wanting to know and control everything fuels uncertainty. Recognize that sometimes all you can control is your effort and your attitude.   

Find Resources:   

Whether you look for help at your college or from a mental health professional, it can be helpful to seek support when you are dealing with transition anxiety. 

Colleges offer resources to help students navigate the initial transition to campus, including academic advising, counseling, and student mental health.  

At The Bougainvilla House, we offer therapy sessions for teens and young adults who struggle with managing their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. If you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here.    

Declutter your room, declutter your mind: Inspiration and tips for a more organized space

teen organizing

At first, remote learning seemed like the dream scenario for students, but it turns out that more time at home eventually equals more mess.  

Your room, which may previously have just been used to chill and sleep, is now also your classroom and your library When this happens, the lines between relaxation and work can become blurred.  

What to do if you’re feeling overwhelmed by clutter 

Clutter accumulates in a sneaky way, often without your knowledge 

Just when you think your room is all right, clutter creeps in and piles up while you’re distracted. (You know that one chair in your room that holds all your clothes because you’re going to hang them “later”.)  

As we get comfortable at home, chores like cleaning your room can easily be procrastinated.  

Even though it may start out seeming like nothing, clutter can make it significantly more difficult to focus on tasks, especially if it overwhelms your visual space.  

Having a clean space can de-stress your mind and make you feel more productive. So, what can you do if you’re feeling overwhelmed by clutter?  

Get inspired!  shows to inspire cleaning

If you need a little extra motivation to start decluttering your space, here are 5 shows to help you feel inspired.   

  1.  Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (Netflix) – Expert Marie Kondo tries to help everyday people declutter their homes and their lives. Kondo assists her clients in clearing out the clutter and choosing joy in a series of inspiring home makeovers.  
  2.  The Minimalists: Less Is More (Netflix) – A documentary where less means more, rejecting the American ideal that things bring happiness.  
  3. Get Organized With The Home Edit (Netflix) – Expert home organizers Clea and Joanna help celebrities and everyday clients edit, categorize and contain their clutter to create stunning spaces. 
  4. Hoarders (Netflix) – Explores the world of extreme hoarding and provides an in-depth look at real-life stories of those directly affected by compulsive hoarding. A team of experts try to help clean out their massive hoards and set these individuals up for future success. 
  5. Bea Organized (Amazon Prime) – Beatrice Copeland helps people transform their spaces by changing the way they think about their stuff 

Benefits to cleaning up  

  1. More free time. The less cluttered your living space, the quicker it is to clean and easily find things. benefits to cleaning 
  2. More energy. When you’re not weighed down emotionally and physically by your stuff, you have extra energy to take new opportunities. 
  3. Easier to focus. When your space isn’t distracting you, it can be easier to focus on the task on hand — whether that’s schoolwork, homework, games, music practice, or whatever inspires you! 

Tips for refreshing and organizing your space

Organizing and cleaning up isn’t fun for a lot of people. It can seem like it will take forever to do. This doesn’t have to be true!  

Even if you only have a few minutes, you can help your space feel more organized and less stressful by following these simple tips:  

  1. If you have 10 minutes – Do a fast clean up. 
    A quick way to make your space feel better is to simply throw away trashput all your dirty laundry in a bin and clear off your desk. You’ll be surprised by how much it can make a difference in the amount of visual clutter.
     
  2. If you have one hour — Address one section. 
    Pick one area that overwhelms you and start decluttering. When you approach decluttering in sections, you view each area as a separate task. Consider choosing from your closet, drawers, bookshelf, desk, or nightstand. Understand that decluttering will temporarily create more of mess! Think about getting nice boxes/baskets to have a designated place for your items and keep clutter out of sight. Here are few options you can use in your space.
     
  3. If you have one day – Try the KonMari method. 
    If you have more time, try the KonMari method. Named after Marie Kondo, a tidying expert and author from Japan, the KonMari method is based on asking yourself a simple question: Does it bring you joy?  If it does, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you thank it (a show of gratitude) and put it in a donate pile or trash pile. 
     
  4. If you have two days – Make it a habit.
    Once you declutter, the harder part is to maintain it. If you do a little decluttering on a regular basis, you can save time and relieve the stress of doing it every 6 months or year.   

Don’t forget to donate

Giving your items to nonprofits and charities not only helps those in need, but it helps boost your physical and mental health. Giving activates the parts of the brain related to pleasure, trust, and relationships with other important feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. This rush is often referred to as the “helper’s high. 

Here’s an extra benefit to enhance your “helper’s high”  giving away items supports sustainability. When you donate your items like clothes, room decor, or games, you are giving them a second life instead of sending them to a landfill.  

Need more help?  

If you feel overwhelmed by clutter or other problems that are holding you back from being productive, The Bougainvilla House offers weekly webinars on topics like de-stressing, managing anxiety, and more. We also feature activities like yoga and Zumba, free of cost. Sign up for our next webinar here: https://thebougainvillahouse.com/event-gallery/webinars/    

How to Handle Career Anxiety

Career Anxiety Blog

When your friends post on social media about getting dream jobs, moving out of state, and starting new lives, it’s easy for doubts to creep in when you compare your situation to theirs. Even if you’re sure of your path and career, you may feel anxious when you look at their curated lives and wonder about your ability to measure up.

If moments like this cause you to struggle with anxiety, you’re not alone.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. and affect 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or about 18.1% of the population, every year. And millennials are 30% more likely than older generations to report that they experience anxiety.

Anxiety is a normal body response. It’s meant to protect us and warn us about danger. It keeps us on edge so we can be more alert. But when we experience prolonged anxiety, it becomes detrimental to your rest, your physical health, and your overall outlook on life.

What is Career Anxiety?

Career anxiety is a specific type of anxiety that can be experienced at any stage of your professional life — not just during a job search. Even the

career anxiety

most seasoned and qualified professionals struggle with career-related insecurity. Career anxiety can be triggered in many ways. If you find yourself questioning yourself or your abilities, worrying that you’re not making enough money, or stressing about your general career path, you could be suffering from career anxiety.

 

How to Cope with Career Anxiety

If you begin to feel career anxiety in your own life, here are some coping strategies to help you through it.

  1. Be aware – It’s easy to feed into the negative narrative of our lives, but it’s not beneficial to our mental health. Take some time to think about your journey and your accomplishments. List and affirm your personal and professional strengths. Know that you’re on your own path, and honor the progress you’ve made so far. When you are feeling overwhelmed, go to a quiet place, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths.
  2. Talk to a friend – Friendship can play a key role in helping someone live with or recover from a mental health problem, and overcome the isolation that often comes with it. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can help rebuild your confidence, break the cycle of repetitive negative thoughts, and give you a different perspective. Tell your friend how you’re feeling and how they can best support you. Ask them for practical advice, or tell them you need an empathetic ear. Friends and family are part of your support system and leaning on them can help you feel less stressed and anxious.
  3. Exercise – Regular exercise improves your self-esteem and relieves anxiety and depression. You don’t need to put yourself through rigorous activities to feel the benefits of exercise. Psychologists suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. If you begin to feel career anxiety sneaking up on you, take a break. Go for a walk, take your yoga mat outside, do some outdoor photography, or play with your pet. Read our blog for more on exercise ideas and how to stay active.
  4. Self-care – Take time out of your day for “me time”. If you’ve never really thought about intentional “me time,” it can be difficult to know where to start. At its core, it’s just a designated time for you to do whatever you want. It can be as simple as taking a bath, reading a book, exercising, listening to a great playlist, or cooking your favorite meal – anything that helps you relax and unwind. This is also a great time to learn a new hobby or practice – think of it as an investment in your future. There are no rules for how you spend your “me time.”
  5. Take a break from social media – So
    cial media brings us together, but consuming too much can contribute to your anxiety. It’s easy to compare our lives with those of the people we see on social media, and this can feed negative thoughts. While it’s great to be happy for and celebrate others’ accomplishments, we shouldn’t do so to our own detriment. If scrolling through your newsfeed is making you feel more depressed than happy, then it’s probably time to take a break. If you need help, there are various apps that can help you limit your time on social media.  

 

Career anxiety

These are a few techniques you can start to practice today. However, if your anxiety is affecting your life on or off the job, you might benefit from more support. The Bougainvilla House teaches essential coping methods to help children, teens, and young adults manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We offer a variety of programs that fit your needs, such as individual and group therapy sessions as well as intensive outpatient programs.

Treating your anxiety with a professional can reduce or eliminate symptoms over time, and many patients notice improvements after just a few sessions. It’s okay to admit you need help, and to reach out.  If you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here.  

Making and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

new year's resolutions

The New Year’s resolution: love it or hate it, it’s a time-honored way to start fresh with new goals for a new year. However, we all know how difficult it can be to stick to those resolutions by the time February rolls around. It is no easier for your child than it is for you.

Age-appropriate New Year’s Resolutions

Should your child set New Year’s resolutions?  Yes, but they need to be achievable and age-appropriate. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that preschoolers focus on specific ‘helping’ goals like picking up toys each day; ‘health’ goals like washing hands, or ‘social’ goals such as sharing toys with friends.

The AAP says children ages 5-12 can understand and tackle specific goals, from improving health and study habits, to speaking up if they see or experience bullying. Teens 13 and up can set goals that encourage them to take responsibility for their choices and actions, e.g. volunteering more, self-care, family responsibilities, academics, and use of leisure time.

Take Time To Reflect

Start by having a reflective, open discussion with your child about the previous year. What did they enjoy? What gave them a sense of accomplishment? What attitudes, actions or habits would they like to improve – or leave behind? Is there anything that they didn’t get the chance to explore? Talk about areas where you, as parent, feel some goal-setting would help, and encourage these to become your child’s goals as well as yours.

Listen and work with your child to choose just a few important resolutions.  Then give your child the best chance to succeed by framing SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, time-bound) goals. Make sure they understand what these goals will require of them, and that you’ll be there to encourage them every step of the way.

Which New Year’s Resolutions Are On Your Child’s List?

Resolutions are as unique as your child. He or she may want to focus on any of the following areas – or they may have completely different ideas about what matters!

Make Friends

If your child’s ultimate goal is to make friends, help them to set smaller goals such as ‘talking to two new people a month’ or ‘planning one Zoom hangout a month’.

Earn Better Grades

If your child has been struggling with schoolwork, help them set specific goals, such as earning one letter grade better on tests. From there, create a game plan, such as studying for an hour per day for a week leading up to each test. As well, your child’s teacher might have insights that will help your child succeed in his or her academic goals.

Eat Healthier

NYE Resolutions

Healthy eating goals are well worth pursuing, with benefits that include controlling weight, preventing disease, improving mood, and more. If your child wants to eat healthier, help them set SMART goals; e.g. eating one cup of vegetables three times a week for a month. This diet change helps your child shift toward healthier eating practices, but sets a time limit for trying it out. At the end of the month, evaluate this approach with your child, and decide how to continue. Bon appetit!

Read More

If you and your child set a goal to read more in the coming year, think about quantifying it (for example, ‘read 12 books in 2021’) and plan to make a monthly trip to the library or bookstore. Remember to consult your librarians or bookstore staff for enticing titles that appeal to your child’s reading preferences and level.

Save Money

If your child has a job or an allowance, it’s never too early to start teaching them the value of saving a little for the future. The general rule of thumb is to save 20% of a paycheck: this might be achievable for your child if they don’t need to help with other expenses. Another approach might involve saving a certain amount of money by year’s end. Those first big purchases like cell phones, cars and college aren’t far away, so teaching your child the patience to save now will pay off all their lives.

Tips for sticking to New Year’s Resolutions

Do it together (if possible). Consider making family resolutions. If your child’s goal is something that would benefit everyone, like exercising, reading more, or eating more healthy foods, make it a family goal. Not only is it a great bonding opportunity, you’re increasing your child’s chances of successstick to your NYE resolutions and doing something that’s good for all of you. Some families might enjoy setting up a competition, but keep it healthy and never force anyone to compete if they don’t enjoy it.

Be flexible. Even with specific milestones to achieve, life can get in the way. If your child doesn’t meet his or her monthly goal, don’t make an issue of it. Do encourage them to keep right on trying. If you’re too strict or show too much disappointment, your child may not want to continue, so keep it positive and focused on ‘next time’.

Don’t nag them. Of course you want your child to succeed and to know the satisfaction that comes from achieving their goals. However, putting the work in to meet that goal is ultimately up to your child. No amount of pestering will make them achieve it faster and in fact, too much pressure will make them resent the process.

Be ready to adapt. Be comforting, empathetic and supportive, both when they succeed and especially when they don’t. If your child is having trouble making progress, think about whether the goal should change. You’ll only know by checking in with your child. If motivation is the issue, think about little incentives that could encourage them: e.g. for each book read, they get to pick the dinner menu. Be creative and always communicate with your child.

If you and your child need a break, visit our Take a Break page or sign up for one of our fun and free Wellness Wednesday Webinars.  Good luck!

Why your child could be suffering holiday stress

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The holidays can be an especially anxious time for anyone. If you’re noticing more tension than usual, your child may be experiencing similar feelings. Your child might seem a bit withdrawn or irritable, may sleep more than usual, or is exhibiting other signs of stress. Some stress is okay, but when these feelings start to overwhelm your child, it’s time to intervene.

Reasons for holiday stress and anxiety

 

fewer daylight hours and changes in routine

The ‘holiday blues’ are real, and have many underlying causes:

  • Fewer daylight hours. The decreased number of daylight hours can have a significant effect on mental health, including your child’s. Even in the Sunshine State, many begin to feel the effects of seasonal depression during these shorter winter days.
  • Changes in routine. When your child is off from school for winter break, the whole routine changes. Even if they don’t recognize it, your child could be affected when the familiar daily structure of school, bedtime, and mealtimes becomes less rigid.

Tips to help your child with holiday-related stress and anxiety

 

Even if your child isn’t showing any particular signs of holiday stress, these tips are great for fostering a healthy and strong family connection.

  1. Take care of yourself. Kids are attentive, and they pick up on family ‘vibes’ more than you might think. If you are in a bad mood, it can affect their mood as well. When you are stressed and anxious, it can increase their levels of anxiety as well and make them more irritable. Although the holidays can be a busy time, make sure you set aside time to take care of yourself and unwind. Your body and mind will thank you for it and so will your children. You can start by exploring these ideas for taking a break.
  2. Stay active. Staying active as a family can be difficult, but keeping up with physical activities is crucial for a happy family and healthy children – and parents! If your child plays a sport, winter break might be their off season, but that doesn’t mean that all physical activity should stop. Physical activities aren’t just limited to sports, either. Here are some ways to help your child and your family stay active:
    1. Start a dance party in your living room with a fun dance cardio routine
    2. Start a small garden and celebrate that we can do that in Florida in December!
    3. Do some family-friendly yoga
    4. Create a scavenger hunt
    5. Here’s a list of even more fun activities 
  3. Eat well. Eating well is another crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle, but it can be difficult and sometimes inconvenient for busy families. It’s also difficult during the holiday season when many want to simply indulge. Along with their holiday treats, make sure your children are getting the proper nutrition they need daily. Involve your children in menu planning, shopping, and cooking!
  4. Meditate. Meditation can be intimidating at first, but can be extremely beneficial to anyone experiencing high levels of stress and take time to relaxanxiety. A guided body scan meditation can be a great introduction to meditating because the purpose is to check in with yourself and your feelings. Try this body scan meditation as a way to relax for yourself, or for your family to unwind together.
  5. Foster open communication. Talk to your children about your holiday traditions and be open to their answers. If they don’t like a certain tradition, talk about ways to change it and make it more special for your family. If family dynamics have changed (such as a divorce, new partner, or a death in the family), talk about that too. Let your child know that it’s okay (and encouraged!) for them to come to you and to be open with their feelings.
  6. Give your child control. During winter break and without a set routine, life can feel a bit unsettling. Talk to your child about what they want the winter break routine to look like. Having a discussion with them about their new schedule will give them a sense of autonomy and ownership over their own lives.
  7. Manage gift expectations. Gift-giving comes with its own stress, both for you and your child. If you know your child wants something out of your price range, be honest with them ahead of time. If your child believes the gift will come from Santa, be ready to deal with those expectations as well.
  8. Get crafty. Being creative is a lot of fun and a great family bonding activity. Have your kids choose and help with a new recipe, make some cookies that they can decorate, or create some fun holiday decorations and gifts. The possibilities are endless and anything that gets the creative juices flowing is a great stress reliever.
  9. Enjoy holiday stories, movies, and music. Even though some favorite community and school events have been canceled due to the pandemic, there are still many wonderful events happening online and through the creative programming of libraries and museums. Enjoy!

Don’t let the holidays get you and your family down.

If you need help talking to your child about changing family dynamics or just want to learn more about parenting, browse our parenting workshops or call us to schedule an appointment.

Coronavirus and Vaping – What Parents Need to Know

vaping

No one could have predicted the difficult times 2020 would bring. With the Coronavirus pandemic now in its third wave, people everywhere are taking extra precautions to keep themselves and their families safe.  

Experts believe that because the Coronavirus can cause respiratory infections, those who smoke or vape may be at a higher risk of complications if they contract the virus. If you haven’t already, now is the time to get informed about vaping, and be prepared to start a conversation about it with your family if the need arises. 

What is Vaping?  

Vaping is a type of e-cigarette. In a vape, a battery heats up a liquid that produces vapors, which can then be inhaled. Many of the tanks, which hold the liquid, contain nicotine. Vapes can also be used with marijuana, hash oil, or other potentially harmful substances. Although there are laws in place preventing the sale of e-cigarettes to adolescents, there has been an increase in the popularity of vaping among young people. About 37% of 12th graders reported vaping in 2018, compared with 28% in 2017. 

What are the dangers of vaping? 

While vaping isn’t new, there is still a lot that is unknown about the negative effects of vaping.  Some people tend to think that vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes, but with the liquid cartridges that contain nicotine, it can be just as unsafe.  

Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco and when inhaled or ingested, it can negatively affect the brain development of youth and adolescents. Cigarette use by teens has been trending down in recent years, but teens who vape are more likely to begin smoking cigarettes in the future.  

Studies also suggest that vaping can lead to respiratory or gastrointestinal issues and even some types of cancers. EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury) can also occur. Symptoms of EVALI can include cough, shortness of breath, and chest pains.

Vaping statistic

Dr. Brendon Stile is an associate attending cardiothoracic surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and an associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine. He speculates that because vaping can lead to inflammation, profound lung disease, and even a malfunction of the immune system in the lungs, those who vape may be more susceptible to pulmonary complications following a Coronavirus infection.

According to the FDA, youth and adolescents who vape are also at risk for seizures. This could be due to the list of toxic chemicals that are in many vape liquids. These chemicals can include: 

  • Nicotine  
  • Propylene glycol – commonly used in antifreeze, paint solvent, and in fog machines 
  • Acetaldehyde and formaldehyde – both are carcinogens, which are substances that are known to cause cancer 
  • Acrolein – a herbicide primarily used to kill weeds 
  • Diacetyl – a chemical linked to a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans aka “popcorn lung” 
  • Diethylene glycol – a toxic chemical used in antifreeze 
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, lead 
  • Cadmium – a toxic metal found in traditional cigarettes  
  • Benzene – a volatile organic compound (VOC) found in car exhaust 

What the CDC Recommends 

The CDC’s official recommendation is to avoid using vapes or other e-cigarette products 

The tanks used in vapes are not regulated by the FDA and therefore may contain harmful ingredients other than nicotine. 

How Teens Perceive Vaping 

Most teens believe that vaping is generally harmless. Some e-cigarette companies, such as JUUL, have been under fire for specifically targeting youth in their ads. Advertisements made multiple false claims that JUUL is safer than cigarettes and that the FDA would approve it soon. They also paid for advertising space on children’s networks, further pushing their message to adolescents. Vaping fact 

The product itself also plays into the appeal to youth. Vape pens look harmless and they’re cheap, which makes them less threatening to teens. The tanks of liquid also tend to come in a variety of sweet flavors that smell good, which attracts teens and adolescents. Currently, studies aren’t conclusive as to how vaping among the younger population connects to Coronavirus, but there has been an increase of younger patients who become very sick and require intubation and ventilation.

How to Prevent Your Child from Vaping 

The best way to prevent your child from vaping is to foster an environment of open communication with them. Let them know the dangers of vaping in a realistic and honest way that doesn’t rely on slippery slope logic or overt scare tactics.  

Be a support system for your child without judgment and they will feel more comfortable talking to you. If they tell you that someone in their class or group has started vaping, don’t freak out. Ask them how they feel about it and talk about the risks in a calm manner, if necessary.  

What to Do if Your Child is Vaping 

If you discover that your child is vaping, don’t overreact. The first instinct may be anger because you love your child and the anxiety of keeping them safe is stressful. It can also be incredibly frustrating if you have already talked to your child about the risks of vaping. However, your child will shut down if you start the conversation by yelling.  

Take a few breaths. When you’re in a calm place, ask your child about vaping. Give them room to talk without trying to fill in their silences. Let them know that they can be honest with you without fear of judgment. If they are honest, keep your promise and don’t judge or yell at them.  

Try to avoid lecturing them. Chances are they already know that you disapprove of their actions. Don’t let those feelings cloud your discussion with them.  

In your talk, try to determine if they are vaping because of a bigger issue.  Maybe they are stressed from schoolwork, their job or they have friends that pressured them. If this is the case, you can work with them to find a solution to their stress or help them gain the confidence to refuse peer pressure.  

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Teens and adolescents are facing more stress than ever and need our support. If you would like some help trying to navigate parenting in the 21st century, sign up for one of our upcoming Parenting Workshops.

If you need a fun break or some guidance on how to create a healthy lifestyle, sign up for our Wellness Wednesday Webinars 

 

You Need Exercise – and So Does Your Child

you need exercise

We know staying active is part of a healthy life. Regular activity can help you sleep better, maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress. So why is it so hard to build good exercise habits? 

The habit of staying active often starts in childhood. Without a strong foundation, it’s hard to prioritize an active lifestyle as an adult. If you help your child stay active regularly, it can help them build strong muscles and bones, stay mentally healthy, and decrease their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.  

Regular activity is also a great way to bond with your child through playful competition. 

Make Exercise Funencourage kids

You and your family can have fun and be active at the same time. Kicking a soccer ball or throwing a baseball aren’t the only ways to get movingListen to your child as they express their level of interest in different activities. If they’d rather do a “Ninja Warrior” style obstacle course than play a team sport, encourage them to pursue it. 

Even when they choose an activity they enjoy, don’t put too much pressure on them to excel and become a prodigy – let the focus be fun and exercise.  

Create an Exercise Plan 

Make a weekly exercise goal with your family. If this is the first time that you’re trying to be active, avoid setting unrealistic goals. This will deter you and your family and make it harder to stick to a plan. For example, consider starting with a family walk or easy bike ride instead of running. 

When you are exercising, listen to your child’s needs. Take a break if they need water, a rest or simply don’t want to play anymore. They’ll have more fun next time if you don’t push them past their limits this time.  

Be a Good Example of Healthy Lifestyles 

Parents are often a child’s first role models. If you want your child to live a healthier and more active life, it helps to be a good example. Approach your activity plan with a good attitude. Your child will feed off your energy. If you’re having fun, there’s a better chance that they will have fun too.  

Exercise as a Family 

Exercising as a family can help make staying active fun. If you or your partner are passionate about a sport, then that’s a great place to start. Grab the ball, bat, glove – whatever it is – and spend some time teaching your child the basics. They will learn a new skill and spend valuable bonding time with you.  

If you and your family aren’t sports fanatics, there are still plenty of ways to be active.  

Non-sports Exercises: 

  • Go for walks/walk the dog 
    • If you have a dog, then exercise should be easy. Take your children with you when you take the dog for daily walks. If you don’t have a dog, taking a family walk is still a great and easy way to exercise. Block off time in the day when everyone is free and take a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood. If 20 minutes is a lot, start off slow with a 10-minute walk. You can make it a family competition and try to add 5 minutes to that walk each week and see how far you can go as a family. 
  • Have a dance party 
    • Clear some floor space, get some fun lights or decorations, and have a dance party! Create a Spotify playlist of kid friendly songs to dance to or turn on the radio. Dancing is great cardio and a great way to relieve stress. If you want to follow along to some dance moves, there are great YouTube videos that feature family-friendly dance cardio workouts 
  • Garden 
    • If you have the space in your front or back yard, gardening can be a lot of fun. You may not even realize you’re getting a workout! Gardening is a great full-body exercise and with just 30 minutes of gardening you’ll workout your arms, legs and back. Go to the store with your kids and let them pick out a few flowers to plant. This will include them in the process and can get them excited to participate. 
  • Go to the park 
    • The park is full of endless possibilities. Play tag, hide-and-go-seek, or create a scavenger hunt. Make some sandwiches or snacks for break time and bring plenty of water.  

exercise with kids

Exercising doesn’t have to be tedious. Make a plan. Make it kid-friendly. Make it fun.

For an easy way to be active with your kids, sign up for our newsletter and view our Wellness Wednesday Webinars. We often have Zumba, Yoga, How to Grow Your Own Garden and more!  

Past Wellness Wednesday Webinars: 

Why Your Child Refuses to Do Homework (And How You Can Respond)

child-refuse-to-do-homework

Homework battles can turn into an exhausting nightly struggle that stresses both you and your child Addressing this family issue can be challenging, but good communication and early action can make a big impact.   

Get in the Right Mindsetparent stress

Before talking to your child about avoiding homework, take a step back. How are you feeling? Anxious? Angry? These emotions can affect how your child responds to you. Take a few deep breaths, stay calm and approach the topic with empathy.   

It’s important to be okay with your child failing a few assignments so they can learn that their choices have consequences. It shows them that failing is part of life, but it doesn’t make them a failure.   

Talk to Your Child 

You can make plenty of assumptions about why homework isn’t getting done, but your child is the only one who really knows the answer. Give them a chance to explain without the fear of your angry reaction or rapid judgment. Listen to their answer and work together to find a solution. Encourage your child to take ownership of their education.  

Why Your Child Could Be Avoiding Homework 

There are many reasons, major and minor, why a child might refuse to do schoolwork. Take the time to understand what could be affecting your child.  

  1. Academic Reasons

    Your child’s teacherare a valuable resource. Talk to them about how your child seems to be progressing with important concepts and skills. Work to understand details such as: 

    • Is your child struggling with a particular subjectunit, concept, or skill  
    • Is there an unreasonable homework load across all your child’s teachers? 
    • Is your child getting along with his or her classmates? 
    • How well is your child responding to his or her teachers? 
    • If your child struggles with a particular assignment format, would the teacher consider offering options for students to choose? (e.g. write a paragraph, draw a picturecreate a diorama)
  2. Behavioral Reasons

    Your child may be testing his or her limits. Make sure they understand what you expect as well as the consequences for not meeting those expectations. Be consistent with established boundaries and follow through with consequences. If they must complete homework before watching TV, stick to that. Your child needs a reliable, consistent structure surrounding homework routines.

  3. Family Pressures & Attitudes

    Look in the mirror. Think about how your attitudes might be influencing your child’s attitudes toward schoolwork. Are you contributing to the problem in any way? This might include nagging, hovering, or trying to do the work for the child rather than stepping back.  

  4. Health Reasons

    Your child could be struggling with health issues that make it harder to do homework. Sleep, physical activity, healthy eating, fresh air, and positive social relationships all influence success in school.  Issues with vision or hearing or physical issues such as wrist pain could deter your child from doing work, particularly if he or she is attending school onlineYou may also need to talk to your pediatrician about the possibility of a learning challenge such as dyslexia, processing deficits, or ADHD.  

How to Help Children Focus at Home create a routine

Some children don’t view home as a place to work, so the right routines and workspaces can help them settle and focusDon’t be discouraged if it takes a while for you and your child to find a structure that works. Ask for your child’s input and work together

Creating a new routine:
 

  1. Establish a schedule

    Plan an afterschool schedule with your child: for example, math homework 3 pm – 3:30 pm. English homework 3:30 – 3:45 pm, etc. Your child knows if he or she needs more time for one subject and less for another. Make sure your child understands which days the routine is in effect, especially as holidays come and go.

  2. Include breaks.

    Plan breaks in the schedule so your child can have a snack, play with a pet, or get some water. Ican be difficult to redirect attention away from devices, so avoid electronics such as TV, video games or phone time until homework is done for the day.

  3. Start homework together.

     Starting each homework assignment with your child can help them feel confident that they’re on the right track. If the homework topic is unfamiliar to youmake it a fun journey of figuring it out together. Even more empowering – get your child to teach you! 

  4. Change the homework location.

     Set up your child’s homework area in the kitchen, dining area or living room. You can keep an eye on their progress and be more available if help is needed. 

Encourage Your Child 

When you’ve found a routine that works for you and your childencourage your child with praise and occasional rewards 

Stickers aren’t just for little kids – tracking good habits can help to keep any child motivatedConsider offering rewards if your child collects a certain number of stickers. This could include a favorite meal or treat, picking the movie for family movie night, or hosting a sleepover with friends. 

Homework doesn’t need to be a daily battleground. Talk to your child. Listen with empathy. Create a plan and a new routine together. Once you find the system that works, your child and your family life will reap the rewards