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School & Academics

How to Help Your Child Athlete Through a Loss

By Adolescents/Teens, Children, School & Academics, Sports / Exercise No Comments

Kids love playing sports. And parents love that their kids can get all of that excess energy out while learning the benefits of hard work and comradery.

But with the thrill of competition comes the hard reality: that sometimes you lose. Some children are barely affected by a loss. They are truly happy just running around on the field or court with their friends. Other children, however, can be almost devastated by a loss.

There are a few things you can do if your child seems to struggle after losing a game:

Listen

Don’t assume you know exactly what is bothering your child. Before you provide any advice, listen to how and what they are feeling so you know how best to address the issue.

Ask Questions

Some kids, especially very young ones, may have a hard time processing their feelings. They know they feel bad, but they can’t express exactly what it is that is bothering them. Consider asking questions like:

• What part of the game was the most and least fun for you?
• Were you satisfied with your efforts?
• What did you think you did well, and what could you work on for the next game?
• What was something important you learned from today’s game?

Don’t Deny Reality

There is no point in telling your child that it doesn’t matter (when it does to them) or that they did great (if they didn’t). They know the truth and if you’re denying it, they’ll have a hard time believing anything you say in the future.

Instead of denying reality, be open with your child while gently guiding the conversation toward future strategies for positive outcomes.

Don’t Try to Protect Your Child

Many parents try to shield their child from feeling any negative emotions. While you may think you are protecting your child, the fact is, disappointment and loss is a part of life. Losing a game is actually a pretty good life lesson.

Disappointment and sadness feel bad, but you don’t want to teach your child to avoid bad feelings. These feelings play a key role in your child’s emotional, intellectual and social development. It is important for your child to learn to deal with setbacks now so they don’t derail them as adults.

Avoid your instinct to “protect” your child from disappoint. Instead, guide them through their emotions and help them learn to cope.

 

If your child has a particularly hard time dealing with loss and disappointment and you would like to have them talk to someone, please be in touch. I’d be happy to discuss treatment options.

How to Keep Your Child from Obsessing Over Academic Success

By School & Academics No Comments

Almost everybody in America knows what a GPA is. The Grade Point Average, a standard of measuring academic achievement in the United States, unfortunately tends to be seen as a definition of a student’s intelligence and potential. What is meant to measure achievement can be a destructive and discouraging system for many students. If your child is obsessed with getting good grades, this can be harmful to their creativity, their individuality, and their mental health.

Why Do Kids Get Obsessed with Getting Good Grades?

Many times, kids are obsessed with getting good grades to please their parents. You may have had a reward system for when your child got good grades – you may have celebrated their good grades or punished them for not meeting your expectations. Naturally, a child wants their parent’s love and approval.

If you can in good conscience say that your child’s obsession with getting good grades has nothing to do with your influence, there may be other factors at play. She may have unrealistic ideas about what is needed for her to pursue a specific career. There may be a culture of grade obsession in her classroom or at her school. Talk to your child to see if they can identify reasons why they’re striving for high grades.

How Can You Stop Your Child from Obsessing Over Good Grades?

Help your child refocus by emphasizing the development of a good work ethic and a positive attitude. Teach your child that hard work in the end is what counts; so that regardless of the grade they receive, they can never be disappointed knowing the effort they expended.

Of course it’s important to teach your child to work hard and always do their best. While grades are an important factor in their academic success, it doesn’t define them or their abilities. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as to think.”

 

Every person has their strengths and weaknesses, and tests and grades aren’t always the best measure of one’s knowledge or potential. Remind your child that it’s not about what they know, but who they are as a person that truly matters.

If you or your child need help making the best of their educational experience, a specially trained professional can help. Call my office today to schedule an appointment.

How Learning Disabilities Affect a Child’s Mental Health

By Adolescents/Teens, Children, School & Academics No Comments

For many children and teens, learning disabilities are a frustrating part of life. Learning disabilities not only bring a sense of shame and isolation, but they can also lead to mental health issues in some children.

What Are Learning Disabilities?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a learning disability is any disorder of the fundamental psychological processes involved in understanding or using language. These can ultimately result in difficulties thinking, listening, reading, writing, math, and spelling.

Learning disabilities are quite common among young children and teens. According to the NCES, of the 7 million students who receive special education services in the country’s public school system, 33% have at least one learning disability. Common learning disabilities children deal with are ADHD, dyscalculia (trouble with counting and numbers), dyslexia, and others.

Learning Disabilities and Mental Health Issues in Children and Teens

While a learning disability isn’t a mental health issue in and of itself, both are closely related. When children and teens have a delay in learning, they can feel as if their academic efforts aren’t paying off. They can feel like a failure and, if their classmates aren’t sensitive, they can also feel like the butt of many jokes. This puts children and teens with learning disabilities at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression.

It’s important that parents and teachers of students with learning disabilities look for any signs of anxiety or depression. These may include:

  • Sudden fear
  • Worrying
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Anger issues
  • Feelings of sadness and/or hopelessness
  • Changes in social behaviors (not spending time with friends)
  • Changes in appetite
  • Thoughts of harming themselves

Once any signs are noticed, parents should bring their child to a qualified mental health therapist. This professional will help the child manage their symptoms so they can better function at home and at school. Some sessions may include the parents while in other sessions, the therapist may want to work one-on-one with the child.

Many child psychologists use cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) to help children become aware of their own thoughts and feelings and then change their thoughts, emotions, and reactions to challenges at home and at school. CBT helps a child become independent and evaluate whether their thoughts and feelings or logical or distorted.

Does your child or teen have a learning disability? Do you believe this disability has caused them to develop depression or anxiety? If so, and you’d like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to speak with you to see if I might be able to help.

 

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