How to protect your student's mental, emotional health

How to protect your student’s mental, emotional health

Amid all of the back-to-school uncertainty, you can help your child stay calm ST. LOUIS — Even if things aren’t as “back to normal” as most people hoped it’d be by now, it’s time again for back to school, and a whole new list of stresses for children.

“Keeping an open dialogue with your child and asking them constantly how they’re feeling, addressing those concerns,” said Alexander Davis, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Provident Counseling.

He said it’s critical to ask your children open-ended questions about how they’re feeling about school and social situations but don’t put your own fears or frustrations onto them.

“The child will follow your lead,” he said.

Washington University psychologist Dr. Tim Bono emphasized the importance of modeling positive responses.

“Kids take their cues from us for how to respond/behave during times of ambiguity. Display optimism and a willingness to adopt the recommended changes, acknowledging that these are the steps that help us get to the other side of the pandemic more quickly,” he said in an email.

That doesn’t mean pretending everything is OK or even masking your own concerns. Validating and voicing shared worries helps underscore the positive response you’re modeling.

Especially for children who’ve spent most of the last two school years virtual, take them to ice-cream socials, open houses, and other small group events to reintroduce those all-important interactions, especially for younger kids. Davis suggested maybe walk around the school building again if it’s been a while, and have an open and honest plan about what will happen if that building closes again or they have to stay home.

“Really kind of explain that process or if we have a backup, or if we do have be in quarantine or do two weeks, this is going to be the plan, and then we’ll be right back in it, and kind of explain all that to the child kind of make them feel much more comfortable,” he said. “By addressing that right up front, the kid is thinking about it already there’s been chance so by kind of getting that out in the open, that child’s allowed to kind of talk about that in a safe environment.”

Davis also encouraged getting children back into healthy sleep schedules sooner than later to help them feel their most energetic selves once back in the classroom.

It’s also important to note, Bono said, that not everyone in the classroom has been following the same rules all summer.

“I think this is an opportunity to teach a child empathy and perspective-taking. Explain upfront that not everyone is going to be wearing a mask, and that everyone has different reasons for their decisions in that regard, and that it’s important to respect others’ decisions, even if we do not agree with them,” he said. “If someone asks the child about their decision, you might prepare them with a simple explanation as to why your family has made your decision, but to avoid a drawn-out or contentious exchange.

Why do we procrastinate, and how can we stop? Experts have answers.

If you’re reading this article instead of tackling one of the many projects you meant to do during the pandemic, or before starting the report due tomorrow at work, or as an alternative to changing your car’s year-old oil, feel no shame: This is a safe space, procrastinators, and you’re among friends.

Joseph Ferrari , a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago and author of “ Still Procrastinating?: The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done ,” has found that about 20 percent of adults are chronic procrastinators. “That’s higher than depression, higher than phobia, higher than panic attacks and alcoholism. And yet all of those are considered legitimate,” he said. “We try to trivialize this tendency, but it’s not a funny topic.”

Ferrari was speaking while on a road trip with his wife, who chimed in to say that she’s a procrastinator. Her tendencies helped spur her husband’s research interests. He doesn’t procrastinate — he has a 107-page résumé, he said, because he gets things done — but he’s built a career around understanding those who do.

Among his findings: Chronic procrastination doesn’t discriminate based on gender, race or age; we’re all susceptible. As he put it: “Everybody procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator.” And contrary to popular belief, procrastinating has little to do with laziness. It’s far more complicated, he said, than simply being a matter of time management.

To understand what causes procrastination (outside of conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, where executive functioning issues might interfere with task completion), it’s important to be clear about what it is — and isn’t. Procrastination is different from delaying a task because you need to talk to someone who isn’t available, or not getting around to reading a literary classic such as “Moby Dick.” Fuschia Sirois , a professor of psychology at the University of Sheffield in England, defines procrastination this way: “The voluntary, unnecessary delay of an important task, despite knowing you’ll be worse off for doing so.”

On its surface, procrastination is an irrational behavior, Sirois said: “Why would somebody put something off to the last minute, and then they’re stressed out of their mind, and they end up doing a poor job or less than optimal job on it? And then they feel bad about it afterward, and it may even have implications for other people.”

The reason, she said, has to do with emotional self-regulation — and, in particular, an inability to manage negative moods around a certain task. We usually don’t procrastinate on fun things, she said. We procrastinate on tasks we find “difficult, unpleasant, aversive or just plain boring or stressful.” If a task feels especially overwhelming or provokes significant anxiety, it’s often easiest to avoid it.

Another reason people procrastinate, Sirois said, is because of low self-esteem. One might think: “I’m never going to do this right,” or, “What will my boss think if I screw up?”

Write The Soundtrack of Your Life

When you’re sad, mad, frustrated…, it can be hard to tell what will make you feel better. Maybe you want someone who will just listen without being too nosy, or you might tell yourself distractions like ice cream or TV will soothe, but sometimes, what we really need is time alone to write. This article gives you some tips on how to use writing as a self-care tool.

Throughout my life, I have often used writing as a tool to work through difficulties, make better decisions, and express myself more fully and honestly than I could talking in person.

Shrek was right! People are like onions, covered under layers of expectations, fears, past traumas, pretenses… The act of writing thoughts down is beneficial for a few reasons beyond just getting our thoughts out. When we write our thoughts and feelings down on paper, it gives us a chance to pause and creates the necessary distance to uncover what we are actually feeling, making it easier to identify the root of issues. Logical fallacies and hurried conclusions reveal themselves as we put ink to them.

Many think of writing as a chore—something they struggle to do for school/work—but when you journal-write for yourself, it’s therapeutic, rewarding and insightful. Journaling is a way to get in touch with your thoughts, feelings, and struggles without the fear of judgement.

There is an old saying that says, “you cannot see the world for what it is, only for what you are.” It means that our actions are responses to how we perceive the world. The stories we tell ourselves every day have a huge impact on our lives. These internal dialogues are like what soundtracks are for movies. You might just overlook the soundtracks as unimportant background noises until you find that It’s hard to laugh in even the best comedies when you pair them with suspenseful horror movie soundtracks. When we write, we explore these stories, discover blindspots, and are given the opportunity to start re-writing past wrongs and planning for a different life outcome. What soundtrack does the movie of your life play?

It’s important to pay attention to what is happening in your life and not just keep it all in. Writing about what happened can help you process it better, which is why many psychologists have started recommending journaling as an effective stress relief technique for patients who don’t want to take medication or participate in talk therapy. Journaling demands that you think deeply about your life and experiences. For some, journaling is a way to talk about their anxiety or depression, while for others it is a way to process trauma or abuse they have had in their past. 

The psychological benefits of writing include self-exploration, emotional release, stress reduction, pain distraction, physical healing and much more.  A study was done at Stanford University on patients who were admitted into the hospital for cancer treatments. The studies found that those who wrote every day for two or more hours had better outcomes than those who did not write anything at all. Other research found that writing about traumatic events can lessen the intensity of negative thoughts and feelings about the event in the long term. 

Writing therapy is not only a great way to express your thoughts and feelings, it can also help pinpoint things that you need to work on. Sometimes it can be used as an emotional outlet for memories or feelings too difficult to talk about. People often feel safer when they write about their thoughts and feelings in private, which can make it easier for them to explore their deepest emotions without fear that someone will reject them or judge them negatively.

Journaling is a way to shape your life the way you want it. It gives you a chance to rewrite your life’s story and make it better.  It can help us express ourselves better, process what has happened in our lives more clearly, find inspiration for the future, or unburden ourselves from the things that weigh us down.Journaling is also an opportunity to shift perspective by stepping outside of ourselves. The guided journal prompts from curaFUN help you gain a broader perspective on things you have experienced and open up new ways of thinking about them. It can also help you identify patterns in your life which might not be readily apparent otherwise.

Writing therapy has been clinically proven to improve one’s mental wellbeing. curaFUN’s Quest Depot integrates guided journal, emotional awareness, goal setting, progress tracking and reward/motivation system all in one visual interface that leverages positive social influence, gamification and psychology.  In place of the daunting blank journal page, users selects their current mood emoji and then write or speak (speech to text) their responses to journal prompts.

If you want to start journaling on your own, below are some ideas to get you started.

 The WDEP model

A four-step process that can help you think about what you want to achieve, and how to go about it.

●  Wants. What do you want?

This might be something like “I’d like to start my own business” or “I need more time for myself”.

●  Doing. What are you doing to get what you want?

You can also make a list of things that might help you get closer to your goal. For example, these might include taking on extra work, finding a new job, or hiring an assistant.

●  Evaluate. Is what you are doing helping you get to what you want?

●  Plan. Can you make a more effective plan to get what you want?

Evaluate how successful you are after trying this method and plan accordingly for future obstacles.

ABC model

This is the basis of behavior therapy. It replicates the natural process of learning and understanding of human behavior, which starts with an event or antecedent that leads to a behavior or belief, which in turn leads to a consequence.A: Activating event or antecedent

B: Beliefs and thoughts about this event; what we tell ourselves about it

C: Emotions and subsequent actions that result from this belief system

Though the therapeutic benefits of writing are undeniable, it is important to note that it is not always a replacement for therapy. Journaling can, however, help us become more emotionally aware and process negative events which have happened in our lives. For many, it is a way to help them feel safe in this scary world. 

Writing is always free, private and available.  So start journaling to take care of yourself!

Get Happy: The Science Of Emotions And How To Harness Them For Happiness

Get Happy: The Science Of Emotions And How To Harness Them For Happiness

It’s been 16 months of turmoil and chances are you’ve had plenty of emotions roiling within. From frustration, grief or anxiety to relief, elation or anticipation, you’ve likely felt a range of sentiments throughout the pandemic—and this will continue.

But beyond just having all the feels, understanding, monitoring and managing your emotions contributes significantly to happiness and success in life . It’s more important than you might think, and there’s science to prove it.

Consider all the ways emotions matter and can help you move forward as you transition back to something closer to your pre-pandemic life and renew, refresh and (perhaps) reinvent your approaches. Don’t Judge

Our happiness can be negatively impacted if we judge our own emotions—whether they are “correct” or whether we should be feeling them. Sometimes we evaluate ourselves harshly: In a sad situation, we may believe we should be more wrecked, or in a joyous setting, we may believe we should be experiencing greater jubilation. Or we may think we’re more stressed than we should be. In fact research with 2,324 people across eight countries and published by the American Psychological Association found when we negatively evaluate our emotions, we are more likely to feel depressed or unhappy. Undergoing a range of emotions is natural and our experiences are unique. We can benefit by not being too hard on ourselves about certain ideals or how we think we “should” be feeling.

It’s also natural to believe we should be happy all the time and this too, is a myth. Additional research published by the American Psychological Association finds stress and anxiety aren’t always bad. Sometimes they alert us to danger or to something we need to change. Of course, if they become overwhelming or damaging, we should seek help. But it’s normal to feel ups and downs in life. When you worry about being worried or feel depressed about feeling depressed, it only exacerbates negative feelings. The concept of happiness inflation (or scientifically, “hedonistic adaptation”) describes the belief that our happiness should be constantly increasing, but this isn’t realistic. Life ebbs and flows as do our reactions to it. Accepting this natural course contributes toward overall happiness by removing the pressure to be always-positive or constantly-content. Be Authentic

The ability to be yourself and express yourself fully also is critical to happiness, and many believe the pandemic has shown a light on emotional health. As my colleague Marianne says, “Now, we’re allowed to start talking about how we feel.” In fact, a study at National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found children in families which were more expressive […]

Continue reading the rest at www.forbes.com

Prof Narayanan's Research Teaches AI To Find Anyone's Emotional State By Voice

Prof Narayanan’s Research Teaches AI To Find Anyone’s Emotional State By Voice

Human voice is a rich medium with which we not only communicate our wants and needs and intent but it’s also a very special way of expressing our emotions and identity in emerging times where AI is increasingly becoming part of our lives, people want to use that to interact with other digital systems not only for transactional purposes, such as asking about weather, but more so as a social companion for elderly Human speech is rather special as it carries information about our intent, emotions, identity and several other data, like our health state A true AI system, therefore, should not only recognise the intonational properties of human speech, the words we speak and the way we interact but also take into account the nonverbal cues It’s almost like a painting, where we mix different basic colours to create a landscape with different possibilities.

Shrikanth Narayanan is a Professor at the University of Southern California and an interdisciplinary engineer-scientist with a focus on human-centered signal processing and machine intelligence as well as informatics with speech and spoken language processing at its core.

A prolific award-winning researcher, educator and inventor, with hundreds of publications to his credit, his work translates to using speech and audio to identify mental health and wellness issues, analyzing the health and stress level of workers and developing AI tools for understanding how stories are told in film and TV from a social lens. Flickr So sit back, plug in your headphones, tune in to your favourite lo-fi channel and read on this interesting conversation that we had with Professor Narayanan.

What do we understand about voice as a medium of communication in the age of AI?

Human voice is a rich medium with which we not only communicate our wants and needs and intent but it’s also a very special way of expressing our emotions and identity. And spoken language in humans is particularly remarkable. It allows us to easily communicate all our thoughts, ideas and desires through voice; and in emerging times where AI is increasingly becoming part of our lives, people want to use that to interact with other digital systems not only for transactional purposes, such as asking about weather, but more so as a social companion for elderly and learning systems for children. Representative image While today’s AI like Echo, Siri and Google Assistant does an outstanding job of word recognition and analysis, its dependence on speech alone is an inherent limitation–it, kind of, seems mechanical. When can we have an AI system that is truly capable of sensing and reacting to a user’s emotions?

Human speech is rather special as it carries information about our intent, emotions, identity and several […]

Continue reading the rest at www.indiatimes.com

24 reasons children act out—and how to respond

24 reasons children act out—and how to respond

Here are some tips on how to better understand your child’s good behavior and less-than-great moments.

Whether they’ve drawn on the walls or spat in grandpa’s face, acting out is always a symptom among children—not the problem itself. “Acting out” literally comes from “acting out their feelings,” which means when children can’t express their needs and emotions in healthy ways, they will act them out through displeasing behavior. Here are some tips on how to better understand those feelings and get on track to good behavior.

The key to understanding “acting out” is to see it as a communication driven by an unmet need.

Just as a puppy doesn’t purposely provoke us by chewing up the couch, our children’s behaviors come as much more natural expressions of their internal states.

It’s so easy to jump to judgments like “he’s just pushing my buttons” or “she’s doing it on purpose.” But we’d be wise to remember that when children can cooperate, they generally prefer to. Here are some reasons that might really be at the root of the challenging behaviors—and some ideas of how to respond to them.
[…]

4. They’re worried about something

If your child is harboring a concern about an upcoming transition—such as moving houses, a new baby on the way, a new school, a new job, a new babysitter ora sick grandparent—they likely will not have the words to express that in a healthy way. Rather, they’ll begin to refuse the meals you prepare, to hurt other children or to breakdown in tantrums at Every. Little. Thing.

This is their way of trying to gain some control over their lives. When you have an inkling as to what the worry is, pick a calm and connected moment, such as bedtime or a long drive, and address it head on. Be sure to be honest, but also optimistic and empowering. Don’tt dismiss their worries, but help talk abouth what might happen and what they can do about it.

Teach your child to express their anger through words, songs, painting… We love to sing the mad song (below) and eventually break into giggles. The healing comes when the angry feelings are expressed and allowed by you—even if the behavior is not.

What to say: “Yikes. I know you know that cushions are not for drawing on. And I can see from your face how mad you are right now! Being mad is just fine, but ruining our furniture is not. Would you like to stamp your feet and sing a mad song? Let’s do it! Repeat after me! “I’m MAD MAD MAD! I want to be BAD BAD BAD! I feel so SAD SAD SAD! That makes me MAD MAD MAD!”

5. They’re afraid of something

Most children experience normal childhood fears such as fear of the dark, monsters or robbers. While they may be normal, they can also be deeply inhibiting and can set them on edge throughout the day. Rather than remaining calm and regulated, your child might act out with anger. Helping him find coping mechanisms to gradually face these fears is key in helping children overcome their fear and not be controlled by it.

Validate their fears but still hold the expectation for them to overcome them, with support.

What to say: “I do not like being yelled at. I can see you’re feeling pretty angry right now. Has this got something to do with the questions you were asking me about robbers before? I know there are none, and I want you to feel sure, too. Would you like for us to go through the house with a flashlight so you can feel satisfied there are no robbers here?”

6. They’ve been influenced by something

If children are watching violent TV shows or have neighbors, friends or cousins who are wild, destructive or disrespectful—they may well try on this behavior. We all unwittingly, imitate what we see around us. When I’ve watched too much Downton Abbey, for example, my accent skews far posher than usual. So if your neighbor has been reciting a foul-mouthed rap song to your daughter this morning in the yard, you can expect some of that to come through.

What to say: “Hmmm, using those words is not how we speak in our home. I know you might hear other people using that language but being respectful is very important to our family.”

7. They’re mirroring you

I know this one bites. But when we’ve been losing our cool, yelling, punishing, threatening, it’s safe to assume our children will mirror that behavior right back at us. So when my son says: “How dare you?” it’s nothing short of hypocritical of me to shoot him down with, “You will not speak to your mother that way,” because clearly, he got it from me.

What to say: “I know I’ve been yelling and raising my voice. I’m sorry. It’s important that we all speak kindly and gently to each other, including me. Can we start over?”

Continue reading the rest at www.mother.ly