Tech Presents for Kids: Tips for Establishing Healthy Boundaries

Stephanie Burstein, MS, LMFT

The holidays are here and shopping has begun. At the top of everyone’s holiday wish list are electronics. Even our littlest loved ones are enamored with the latest and greatest gadgets. Who could blame them? Our world runs on technology and our kids are part of that world. Whether they are using electronics for school or entertainment, the demand exists. And as every parent knows, finding the right balance for electronics is tricky. How do you give the gift of technology to your child without them turning into zombies?

The most effective step to take when giving your child a phone, iPad or other gadget is to set limits immediately. Yes, that even means the first night they have their new toy!

Here are a few other guidelines to follow:

1. Set time limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one hour of screen time for children ages 2-5 years old. Consistent time limits should be in place for children over the age of 6. An example would be allowing kids access to their electronic device for 10-15 minutes immediately after school. You can then block out another 10-15 minutes after homework or other school activities are completed. As children grow older, their access to technology will vary based on appropriate behaviors and responsibility.

2. Specify charging areas. Have a designated charging station in your bedroom, not your kid’s bedroom. By limiting where electronics are charged, you will help establish boundaries and reinforce time limits.

3. Establish electronic free zones. Create electronic free times for everyone. Ideas include electronic free meal times, family movie nights, and family outings that are focused on relationship building.

4. Monitor online activity. Remember, it’s not just your child interacting with the Internet. The Internet is also interacting with your child. Keep track of passwords to all electronic devices, social media accounts, game apps, and other online activities. Start device checks when you kids are young. As your kids turn into teens, routine checks will be something that they are already used to. Check with your mobile provider for monitoring tools, or visit apple.com/families for helpful time management and monitoring suggestions.

5. Keep activity age appropriate. Be aware of the latest games, social media, and online trends. A quick Google search can give you insight about the apps your kids are using. It’s also helpful for parents to have their own accounts on popular sites (Instagram, Snapchat, etc), which will help you monitor and understand how the technology is used. Research which apps are appropriate for your child’s current age range.

6. Modeling is key! Children are watching your every move and learning from the example you provide. If you are constantly plugged in, your kids will believe that is the norm. Model moderation and keep the conversation open about technology.

 When it comes to gifting technology, keep Dr. Seuss’ the Grinch in mind:

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

The best gift you can give is your presence. Let us all remember to put down our electronics and spend time together with our families. Happy holidays!

Contributor: Stephanie Burstein, MS, LMFT, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

 

Coping After Parkland

Dr. Patty Shutt

Here we are again. Parents and their children are left struggling with difficult emotions and traumatic memories after the most recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Even if you weren’t directly impacted, you may find that emotions are running high within your household.   Anxiety, fear, sadness, uncertainty, and helplessness are all common reactions to a traumatic event. Children may have many questions about the recent tragedy – questions that can be uncomfortable and difficult for parents to answer. Moreover, children already predisposed to anxiety and depression are especially vulnerable. As a parent, here are some things you can do to help you child cope effectively:

  • Listen and allow your child to react in an authentic way. Be honest with your children and answer their questions with as much information as you are able to provide, using developmentally appropriate practices.
  • Take a news and social media break. Minimize and supervise your child’s access to media coverage. For younger children, this can be as simple as turning off the television. For adolescents, monitor their exposure and set limits on social media.
  • As much as possible, keep normal routines in place.
  • Participate in community events such as community vigils, fundraising efforts, social action projects, or faith-based activities.
  • Focus on the positive. Point out random acts of kindness and good deeds. Reminisce about a happy moment.
  • Pay attention to worsening anxiety or depression. If your child has trouble sleeping, eating, or concentrating, it may be time to reach out for professional help. Make an appointment with a therapist, or consult with your pediatrician regarding referrals to a professional. School counselors and religious leader also may be able to help.

It is especially important for parents and adults to deal with their own stress levels regarding the traumatic event. Take time to process the event appropriately and remember to model reassuring behavior for your children. Navigating tragedies effectively now will help build your child’s resiliency to future setbacks and tragedies.

If you need support or counseling during this difficult time, please reach out to Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches at 561-278-6033 or admin@delrayoasis.com.

Patricia Shutt, Psy.D., CEDS, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and a co-founder of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches in Delray Beach. In addition to private therapy, Dr. Shutt also facilitates group therapy, teaches meditation, facilitates an 8-week course on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and moderates specialized workshops and trainings.

Sources cited:
http://www.pbs.org/parents/talkingwithkids/news/help-kids-feel-safe.html
https://www.schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors/professional-development/learn-more/shooting-resources

Transgender and Eating Disorders

Transgender and Eating Disorders

Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD
Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

It has long been said that eating disorders don’t discriminate: we know they affect people of all ages, education levels, ethnic backgrounds, lifestyles and genders.  We’ve become clear that it affects middle-age women at an alarming rate, is on the rise in underdeveloped countries and impacts males as well as females. Yet little has been researched on the prevalence of eating disorders among the transgender community.  However, the research is slowly emerging, giving us some insight on the impact felt in this community.

One study of 289,024 college students found that transgender students, compared to cisgender students, are almost five times as likely to report an eating disorder and two times as likely to use unhealthy compensatory methods (e.g., vomiting) for weight control.*  Another study of almost 2,500 teenagers shows that transgender individuals are almost three times as likely to restrict their eating, almost nine times as likely to take diet pills, and seven times as likely to take laxatives.*

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Personal Perspective: I am NOT a Square!

Personal Perspective:
I am NOT a Square!

Elliot Reid

Do I have your attention yet? Not that attention is what I’m after, or perhaps it is.  Not in the typical sense.  Before this becomes too much of an incoherent babbling of utter nonsense, where I try to convince you why I’m not an attention seeking square, let me tell you what I mean.  When you think of the word “square” in relation to a person, what is the first thing you think of?  Is it the cult classic pop culture reference of an “L” “7” weenie from The Sandlot?  Is it the common depiction of one who is often considered nerdy or a geek? To ease your mind, it is none of the above.

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The Gender Identity Lexicon

The most recent issue of Oasis News shined the spotlight on gender identity and transgender awareness. Our therapists felt it was important to provide readers with useful knowledge, unique perspectives, and helpful resources on transgender and gender identity issues.  Whether a family member is transitioning, you have a friend who has gender identity issues, or you just want more information on the topic, we hope you find this information useful.  

The Gender Identity Lexicon
Nicole Friedman, Psy.D., CEDS

Language is a powerful tool that shapes our perceptions and significantly impacts the lens through which we interpret events in our world. Precise use of language, which is constantly changing, can demystify misperceptions about gender.  While this list is certainly not all inclusive, it begins to provide a basic understanding to facilitate more understanding and dialogue.

Agender: A newer term describing individuals who do not have a gender and/or have a gender that they describe as neutral.

Bigender: Refers to those individuals that identify as having two genders.

Cisgender: People whose sex assignment is congruent with their gender identity and expression.

Gender: Is a term wherein society deems someone as either male or female. Gender is socially constructed and not necessarily the same as one’s biological sex.

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Peaceful Eating: Creating Calm Throughout the Holidays

christie-caggiani2
Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

We have arrived at holiday season. Here we are.

Breathe.

This time of year is fraught with crazy busy schedules, high expectations, traditions, emotions, exhaustion….and food is often central to all of it. But does food need to add more confusion, or can it actually help us create some peace, balance and sanity during this festive time?

It is my belief and experience as a nutrition therapist that we often interact with and respond to food as a reflection of the way we “do life”. So if food is our Life on a Plate, then it’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed with food choices when we enter this intense, calendar-packed time of the year. Can we celebrate, be fulfilled and feel joy – both with food and our holiday experiences?

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Detachment in Love

“In true love, you attain freedom.  When you love, you bring freedom to the person you love.  If the opposite is true, it is not true love.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh, True Love

unnamedIt’s no secret that romantic relationships are complicated.  So many of us strive for perfect relationships based on unrealistic standards, or love out of familiar family patterns.  We may find ourselves feeling stuck in our relationships – mindlessly living day by day in unhappiness or feeling trapped by our partner’s expectations.  With so much relationship advice floating around, how do we find the right tools to cultivate true love in our own lives?

When clients seek me out for relationship guidance, I explain attachment versus detachment.  In unhealthy relationships, partners are attached to each other.  Partners may be unclear as to what keeps them connected, and might be fearful, jealous, or afraid of being alone.  Symptoms might include constant bickering, insecurity, or jealously.  Partners may attempt to regulate each other, or project issues onto their partner.  Codependency may be the foundation of the relationship.

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Living in Wise Mind: DBT Skills for Everyone

One of the tenets of DBT (Dialetical Behavior Therapy) is recognizing Wise Mind.  We all have moments in life where we are overly emotional, moody, or reactive.  In DBT, this is called Emotion Mind.  “When in emotion mind, you are ruled by your moods, feelings, and urges to do or say things.  Facts, reason, and logic are not important.” [1]

The opposite of Emotion Mind is Reasonable Mind, a state in which we operate “by facts, reason, logic, and pragmatics.  Values and feelings are not important.” [1]  In this state, we might approach people in the same way that we might handle an arithmetic problem – systematically. 

Wise Mind Chart

Both states of mind have useful attributes; however, when an individual spends too much time in either Emotion or Reasonable Mind, they are bound to experience frustrations in their interpersonal dealings and within themselves.

The overlap between Emotion and Reasonable Mind is called Wise Mind.  Wise Mind is the perfect balance between reason and emotion.  Individuals living in Wise Mind are able to utilize both reason and emotion, taking the middle path to cultivate emotional sensitivity and a calm, cool collectedness.   A Wise Mind lives intuitively, taking the time to observe and practice mindfulness.  Finding this balance is one of the primary goals of DBT practice.

[1] Quotes from DBT Skills Training, Marsha M. Linehan

Meditation on College Campuses

Asia Adams, Staff Writer

Take projects, presentations, term papers and exams, throw in a job, and then add family and social life to the equation, and you have a recipe for lots of stress. I know – I was there over a year and half ago! With an increasing number of demands on college students, it’s no wonder many of them are seeking ways to reduce the harmful effects of stress on both mind and body.

Putting aside a little bit of quiet time each week to recharge and focus on something other than schoolwork is important, and this is where meditation comes in. It’s free, can be done virtually anywhere, anytime, and is highly effective. What more could a college student want from a practice?

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