Your older sister just slammed the door and said that she is leaving to spend the weekend with her boyfriend. Your parents blame each other for your sister’s problems. They also argue about money. When they yell, you want to cover your ears and disappear into the floor. You worry about your parents and sister all day at school and it is beginning to affect your grades.
Oddly enough, YOU are the one who gets noticed. Your teacher sees your falling grades. She is concerned that you look worried and you sleep during class. The teacher and guidance counselor call in your parents and recommend that you see a therapist. Wait a minute!
Your parents tell you to “open up” to this lady you never met before. The therapist talks to you, and then the whole story spills out. It’s a relief to tell someone all the things you kept inside. She asks your permission to discuss your worries with your parents. You are afraid that your parents and sister will be mad because you spilled the beans about private family matters. The therapist reminds you that your parents gave you permission to talk to her about anything at all. So it’s O.K.
She meets with your parents. They talk about their arguments with each other and with your sister. The next week, the therapist sits down with you and your parents. Your sister is refusing to come. The therapist helps you tell your parents how the yelling frightens you. You all talk about how your family can make you feel safer. In the second part of the session, the therapist asks you to sit in the waiting room while she talks to your parents. She tells you that your parents will deal with some husband and wife issues privately. That’s a relief.
After a while, your sister starts coming to sessions with the rest of the family. Sometimes, she yells and curses in the sessions. Now that you know that the family is working on the problems, it is easier to listen to her anger. One week, you stay home while your sister brings her boyfriend in to talk with your parents.
Your grades improve and you don’t worry about your family all day. Things aren’t perfect—your parents still have disagreements, and your sister hasn’t broken up with her boyfriend. Now nobody yells. You can sit down together at home and talk out the problems.
Sometimes kids and teenagers get depressed, or anxious, but sometimes parents do too. It is confusing when your mother or father starts acting differently. They still love you, but how should you act? Can you help? Here are some books that may help.
1. Please Don't Cry, Mom by Den Boer (1994)-This is an illustrated book, written for elementary school children. However, its description of recurrent major depression is so good that the book would be valuable for adolescents and some adults. It describes a boy’s feelings about his mother’s depression and her resistance to treatment. After her husband sets limits, she accepts treatment and begins to improve. The book describes the importance of family participation in treatment and the importance of taking one’s medication regularly. Ultimately, the boy gains knowledge and a sense of mastery.
2. Tell Me a Story, Paint Me the Sun by Chaplan (1991) This is an illustrated book, appropriate for elementary school children and younger adolescents. It describes a girl whose father loses his job and becomes depressed (or starts drinking). Although he does not seek treatment or improve, she is able to talk to other adults and learn that she is worthwhile. This book is useful for the child who must learn to cope with ongoing parental denial of a mental illness or drug problem.
3. Daddy Doesn't Have to be a Giant Anymore by J R Thomas (1996) Clarion Books ?This illustrated book is told from the elementary school aged daughter's point of view. It describes her reactions to her alcoholic father's mood swings and erratic behavior. She is present when family and friends arrange a supportive confrontation to break down the father's denial and get him into residential treatment. When he returns from the treatment, he is on the road to sobriety and is able to talk to his daughter about his past behavior.
4. Sad Days, Glad Days by DeWitt Hamilton (1995) Albert Whitman and Co. This story tells about the feelings of Amanda, an elementary school-aged girl as she experiences her mother's unpredictable episodes of recurrent depression. The mother also clearly experiences anguish when she sometimes cannot respond to her child's needs. Her mother and father both help Amanda understand that her mother loves her and that the mother's depressive episodes are not Amanda's fault. Amanda conceptualizes her mother's moods as colors. The illustrations sensitively follow this metaphor to catch the moods and experiences of the mother and the household. Amanda and her mother learn that despite recurrent depression, the mother can still find ways to give of herself to Amanda.
A Kid In My Class Has ADHD
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a fairly common thing. About one in fifteen kids have it, so there may be someone in your class with ADHD. Sometimes you will never know. A lot of people get much better with treatment. Then you can't tell them from anyone else. However, some kids still have difficulty sitting still and paying attention.
What is ADHD?
Some kids with ADHD are easy to spot. These are the ones that show everything on this list. They move around a lot. A few may have a hot-temper and get into fights easily. Other kids are just inattentive. They only have the first three things in the list. They just seem to daydream a lot. Their notebooks may be less organized and they may need reminders to get their projects finished.
Kids with ADHD might take medication, see a tutor, have extra classroom help, or see a therapist. What can you do to help?
If they want to tell you about their medications or other treatments, listen. Otherwise, don’t bring it up unless you are a close friend.
ADHD is not all bad. If it were, the trait would have died out centuries ago. People with ADHD have a lot of energy and creativity. A kid with ADHD may be the tireless soccer player or the one with the weird but creative ideas. This sort of kid may grow up to be a professional ball player or a famous inventor. Be nice to him. One day, you may be proud to say that you knew the guy when he was a kid.
(Source: Carol E. Watkins, MD)
Why Do We Get Nervous?
Why do we get nervous? I certainly don’t like it when it happens to me, and I don’t think that other people enjoy it much either.
Humans developed this panic reaction for a good reason. It kept them alive.
Let’s say you lived a thousand years ago. While hunting with your family, you saw members of an enemy tribe heading your way. Your body would release panic hormones. Your heart would pound faster, you would breathe harder. Your muscles would get extra blood flow. That would make it easier for you to run away fast. The exercise of running would help keep you from staying upset and anxious once you had reached the safety of your village.
In modern America, we are less likely to be in that type of danger.
In our modern world, when you get that type of panic reaction, you usually can’t just get up and run. The panic feeling may stick around longer. In most people, that is all that happens. However, some people get regular panic attacks or fears. (phobias)
Phobias are fears of specific things such as spiders. (Arachnophobia) or of a situation such as being in high places (acrophobia) Sometimes a person might have a bad experience with a dog and go on to develop a fear of all dogs. Sometimes phobias gradually get better. Otherwise, a few sessions with a psychiatrist or psychologist may teach you how to get rid of the phobia.
If you are spending a lot of your time worrying or if you are having panic attacks, let someone know.
Even today, anxiety is not all bad. Small amounts of anxiety can motivate us to get things done, like studying for tests, or winning a soccer game.
(Source: Carol E. Watkins, MD)
Do You Know Your Phobias?
1. Fear of Spiders; 2. Fear of Cats; 3. Fear of Fire; 4. Fear of Computers; 5. Fear of Insects;
6. Fear of work; 7. Fear of animals; 8. Fear of darkness; 9. Fear of hospitals; 10. Fear of needles or pointed objects;
11. Fear of having dental work; 12. Fear of reptiles such as snakes; 13. Fear of birds; 14. Fear of bald people;
15. Fear of frogs; 16. Fear of burglars; 17. Fear of injections; 18. Fear of bees.
Feelings Coloring Book