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Understanding and calming a hyperactive child

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By Denise Morganthall

Hyperactive children can wreak havoc on your nerves…however, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, dealing with a hyperactive child can be very challenging, but it can also be rewarding when you see the positive results from all your hard work, dedication and love given to the child.


Hyperactive children cannot sit for a long period of time. They are always on the go and often find themselves in trouble at school, home and with their friends. Some children are hyperactive by nature; others may be that way because of their environment. Many children who are hyperactive also exhibit signs of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and struggle with paying attention for long stretches of time. So how do we deal with these children? Here are some techniques to try:

  1. Set clear rules and consequences. Make sure he knows the expectations when you are going on a trip, whether to the park or the grocery store.
  2. Consistency and structure are critical to managing a hyperactive child. There should be a regular schedule with time for meals, naps and fun.
  3. Encourage exercise on a daily basis. Going for a walk with your child will benefit you as well.
  4. Create a place where your child can relax and enjoy quiet time, away from activity.
  5. Use positive reinforcement techniques. See the good rather than the negative. Positive praise goes a long way!
  6. Avoid over-stimulation. Don’t allow television before bedtime, as this can rev up your hyperactive child.
  7. Watch his diet, reducing the amount of sugar he consumes and avoiding caffeine.
  8. Ask neighbors and others to help watch for any problems the child may get into. Help them to understand that he is hyperactive, not bad.

If your child exhibits unmanageable hyperactivity, you should see a doctor and have the child undergo appropriate testing to make a proper diagnosis for his behavior. Some children are given medication to control their behaviors. There are many resources available to help you and the child. 

Teach your children about healthy relationships

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By Kristen Fritz


Your first love, your first kiss and your first relationship are all memorable things that you can look back and reminisce and giggle about with friends. But how easy is it to talk about with our children? Thanks to changes in technology and popular social media sites, dating today is a whole different ball game.


To make sure your children are following the right path and making good choices, sit down and talk with them and follow the tips below to ensure an easier conversation.


Take it seriously. 

“These are their first relationships, and so they fall hard,” said Rosalind Wiseman, an educator and author of Queen Bees and Wannabes. It’s important not to dismiss your child’s relationships just because he or she is a teenager. What your child learns now will set the stage for healthy relationships in the future.

Use the media.

Talking to your child about celebrity relationships like Rihanna and Chris Brown can be great teachable moments, according to Dr. Jeff Gardere, assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Manhattan and creator of the Healthy Divorce app. TV shows, movies and YouTube videos can all be used as a sounding board to talk about what healthy and unhealthy relationship look like – without it turning into another lecture.

Set the rules together.

Although you already know what the rules will be about dating, curfews, parties and driving, it’s important to negotiate them together. So if your teen wants a 10 p.m. curfew, start at 8:30 p.m. and slowly increase the time when your child proves he or she can take on more responsibility.

Teach appropriate social media behavior.

So how can you make sure your kid isn’t sexting his or her latest crush? You can’t, according to Wiseman. So aside from confiscating cell phones, talk with your kid about what your family’s values are when it comes to technology in the hopes that he or she will make the right decision.

Lead by example.

Experts agree that the way you and your spouse treat each other strongly influences your kid’s relationship choices and how they will treat significant others in the future.

Face the truth.

The biggest obstacle parents have when dealing with dating is admitting that their child could be in a messy situation—as a target, victim, bystander or perpetrator, Wiseman said. Acknowledging this reality will allow you to keep the lines of conversation open and prepare your kid to respect and be respected.


Earth Day is a time to remember our environmental impact

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earth-day-kidspeaceBy Denise Morganthall


Earth Day is a globally celebrated holiday that is intended to raise public awareness about a variety of environmental issues such as air and water pollution, climate change and habitat destruction. In the U.S. Earth Day has inspired the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Environmental Species Act and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


We need to commit to protect our environment so we can all have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and a neighborhood safe from toxins. By making small changes, such as using less water and electricity, cutting down on pollution from commuting, reusing and recycling and picking up trash, we can have a big impact on our environment and our lives.


What does Earth Day mean to you? For me, it means preserving the earth for the next generation. It is a time to plant trees, recycle and be green! Find ways that you can help keep the planet clean and help protect our environment. Happy Earth Day!

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

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girl-bear-child-abuse-kidspeaceBy Denise Morganthall


April is the time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect. Advocates throughout the U.S. work hard to promote awareness and are the lifelines for victims of abuse and unstable families.


Child abuse is the physical, sexual or emotional mistreatment or neglect of a child. This abuse may be committed by a parent, caretaker or anyone who is responsible for the child’s welfare. We as a community need to be aware of the signs of child abuse. If a child reports abuse to you, always take it seriously. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you need to report it to either the local child protective services or law enforcement.


Keeping our children safe is only something we can do together, with the help of friends, neighbors and the community. As President Obama said, “All of us bear a responsibility to look after them, whether by lifting children toward their full potential or lending a hand to a family in need.”


While April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, we need to protect our children year round. Our mission at KidsPeace is to give hope, help and healing to children, families and communities facing crisis. Our trauma-informed care is meant to bring out the best in children who have been through the worst. Protecting children and keeping them safe is our first priority. Make it yours! 

Does summer mean a decrease in mental health problems?

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sun-summer-mentalhealth-kidspeaceBy Kristen Fritz


Not only does winter bring snow and cold weather, but it also brings depression, mood swings and mental disorders. A new study was done that looked at and observed the search patterns of Google inquiries. Apparently, winter is a time where mental illnesses tend to increase. Who would have thought? We look forward to the summer not only for the sunshine, warmth, and the beach, but to bring positive thoughts and feelings.


The study appears in the May issue of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine. In both the United States and Australia, researchers found distinct seasonal patterns, high in winter and low in summer, in searches pertaining to anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, depression, suicide, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and schizophrenia.


Searches related to eating disorders varied the most — 37 percent higher in winter than summer in the United States and 42 percent higher in Australia. The smallest variations were in searches related to anxiety: 7 percent and 15 percent more common in winter than summer in the United States and Australia, respectively. The variations persisted after the researchers controlled for seasonal differences in Internet use, mentions of the diseases in news articles and other factors.


Such things as varying hours of daylight, variations in physical activity and seasonal changes in blood levels of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids are known to affect the mood of a person.


I think I can speak for everyone when I say, bring on the summer time!

Physical fitness can improve mental health too

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kidspeace-kids-exerciseBy Kristen Fritz


Spring has arrived: flowers are blooming, birds are chirping and warmer weather is on its way (or at least we hope so…). Now is the perfect time to become proactive and begin to think about your physical health and fitness. Not only is exercise good for the body, it’s also good for the mind. Participating in exercise can help reduce stress as well as improve overall mental health benefits. So what better way to start than by hitting the gym or pavement, getting some fresh air outdoors and being on your way to a better and healthier you?


The following can benefit mental health, relationships and lead to a healthier and happier life overall.


Reduce stress. Take a walk or head to the gym for a quick workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.

  • Boost happy chemicals. Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, doctors recommend that people suffering from depression or anxiety (or those who are just feeling blue) pencil in plenty of gym time.
  • Improve self-confidence. Hop on the treadmill to look (and more importantly, feel) like a million bucks. On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person's perception of his or her attractiveness, that is, self-worth.
  • Boost brainpower. Various studies on mice and men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells (aka neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance.
  • Help control addiction. The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure, and exercise can help in addiction recovery. Short exercise sessions can also effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts, making them de-prioritize cravings (at least in the short term). Working out when on the wagon has other benefits, too. Alcohol abuse disrupts many body processes, including circadian rhythms.

Children in crisis benefit from family support

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By Denise Morganthall


Mental, emotional and behavioral health is a critical component of a child’s well-being. Almost one in five young children have one or more mental health disorders, and one in 10 has mental health problems that are severe enough to impair functioning at home, school or in the community. The good news is that children with behavioral health conditions and trauma histories can and do recover. Success in helping to improve their health requires family involvement.


Family involvement is essential to accelerate recovery. We tend to manage stressors better when we are not alone. There is a wealth of data supporting the importance of human connections for healing and the recovery from trauma or any mental health condition. As a health care professional, I know there is a clear connection between mind and body. The family is the key to the child’s success.

But sometimes it can be difficult for parents to be a part of the child’s treatment when they in fact are dealing with mental health issues themselves. They struggle to manage their parenting roles.


Being supported by an agency or health care facility that takes a whole family approach to supporting the child, their parents and other family members is essential. At times the parents may need special help to deal with their child. The clinician/mental health professional will work with the parents and child to help everyone develop new skills, attitudes and ways of relating to each other. Parents can take part in parent skills training. This helps parents learn how to deal with difficult situations and behaviors. Support groups can also help family members connect with each other. They know they are not alone, which is important since parents need this support as much as the child.


KidsPeace supports family involvement as evidenced in our wide array of services, programs and testimonials. As a parent you will be involved in your child’s treatment from start to finish, through treatment team meetings, therapeutic home visits and family counseling to make sure you and your child are on the same page and ready to live in harmony after his/her return home.

Adults more likely to text and drive than teens, study shows

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By Kristen Fritz


stop textingWe've all seen the 'Stop Texting' magnets stuck to the back of vehicles, and it puts things into perspective when you look at the statistics. In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers; in 2010, it was 3,267, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).


It has become more common than ever to see drivers texting while driving. But it's no longer just teens; adults play a huge role as well. According to a new survey done by AT&T, 49 percent of adults surveyed said they text and drive even though 98 percent of adult drivers surveyd said they know that distracted driving isn't safe. But the popular trend is on the uprise as six out of 10 drivers said they never texted behind the wheel just three years ago, said AT&T.


While the survey showed adults were more likely to engage in the bad habit, 43 percent of teens also said they were sending messages while behind the wheel. One of the most common reasons why teens text and drive is rather simple: most text-message users, the survey said, expect a reply within five minutes or less.


AT&T found that not having a parental rule against texting and driving is among the greatest predictors that a teen will send messages while driving. Other factors included whether a teen had a full- or part-time job, owned a smartphone or usually sent more than 100 text messages per day.


Find more information on distracted drivers or request a "Stop Texting" magnet from Lehigh Valley Health Network.

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