Child Social and Emotional Development Issues - Post Your Question to Our Experts
Do you have a question or dilemma related to childhood challenges, character education or life skills? From communication, empathy, self awareness and responsibility to eating disorders, adapting to change, talking with parents, and strengthening the family, Psy.D. Steven E. Tobias and Dr. Sarah Itzhaki, are here to help.
This does indeed sound like a ‘‘swallowing phobia,‘‘ or irrational fear that something bad will happen if she eats. It is important that professional help is sought right away as, if left untreated, children sometimes restrict their diet more and more because the avoidance of eating relieves the anxiety. A cognitive-behavioral psychologist should be able to address and change this behavior.
Psychodrama – “instead of talking about, do…” cognitive learning about topics is an elementary and necessary stage in moving towards change. But it does not create change in itself and certainly is not enough in implementing a long lasting change. Implementing may only be achieved via emotions and feelings. This route between understand the need for change and implementing it is blocked many times. In order to overcome it we need to release our holdings, yet become aware at the same time, this can only be done by actions, experiencing. Think of changes you have gone through in life, when did they work? When did they fail? Why? Playing games helps us overcome the resistance to change. Games, toys, role playing, stories are safe places in which we can explore, try out, without the fear of failing, shame, or being judged, simply by having fun yet catching on to the lessons which are inherent in those games.
Thank you for your comment.
Shyness can be thought of as a lower degree of social anxiety. The line between ‘‘shyness‘‘ as a personality trait and ‘‘anxiety‘‘ as a disorder depends on the degree of impairment. If one goes to a party and tends to be quiet and initiates conversation only with familiar people, then they are ‘‘shy.‘‘ If they cannot go to the party but would like to, that is ‘‘anxiety‘‘ because it interferes with their functioning. Both ‘‘shyness‘‘ and ‘‘anxiety‘‘ respond well to practice. The more you put yourself out there, usually, the more comfortable you become. Some people are able to overcome their initial reaction on their own, and others will need therapeutic support to do this.
The experience of these combined entertainment media provides more complete growth for the child, because it activates both passive and active listening and engages more of his or her senses. A book with a toy enhances the joy of play, increases comprehension of the message and ignites the imagination.
1. Genetic factors – children who are born to a shy parent have a greater tendency to be shy themselves.
2. Environmental factors – Normal life challenges, such as a new day in pre-school, kindergarten or school, peer mockery, teasing or bullying can also induce shyness. From over-critical parents to a society which is achievement-oriented and does not accept imperfection or strangeness.
3. Modern age factors account for less unstructured play activities with peers:
a. Cultural changes within the United States include increased crime that forces children off the streets and smaller families resulting in fewer siblings and smaller peer groups.
b. Technology - increasing use of computers, video games and TV as a form of non-human means of fun and play.
By approaching us with your question you show a great deal of compassion for both your daughters and your father. We send you our thoughts in this challenging time of your life. While I can not recommend any book, below is a list of books I came across dealing with this important issue:
- “Singing with Momma Lou” by Elizabeth Kennedy
- “Always My Grandpa: A Story for Children About Alzheimer‘s Disease” by Linda Scacco
- “What‘s Happening to Grandpa?” by Maria Shriver. This book also provides important resources regarding the disease.
Additional information, listings and purchasing details are available on Amazon.
Wishing you and your loved ones love and health.
Your have a very important question, but we do need more details. If you will post your contact details, or email, on our website we will contact you directly and refer you to someone who can help you. Also try to answer these questions - What is her living situation? How often does she see her parents? Does she go to kindergarten? How does she manage with other children her age? And/or with with the teacher there? etc.
Play is the natural way for children to learn and, therefore, it is the content of their play that is important. Through play, they also learn to work through conflicts that prepare them for adulthood. Educational toys have a deliberate content that seeks to teach a particular subject, from math skills to positive social values. In addition, children learn best when their learning is facilitated by a caring adult. Educational toys that also involve adults in the play are most effective.
Great question! Let us start by describing a few studies:
BIOLOGICAL COMPONENTS OF SHYNESS:
Extremely shy children have higher than normal activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain that controls emotions and triggers reactions to anxiety. They respond more strongly to stress and are anxious in situations that non-shy peers find safe. Indeed, as much as 90% of an “extremely shy” group of preschool children also met the criteria for an existing anxiety disorder.
BIRTH WEIGHT AND SHYNESS:
Young adults who were born with an extremely low birth weight (ELBW: 500-1000 grams) but were otherwise healthy are shyer and less extroverted than their normal birth weight counterparts. This suggests that exposure to stress before, during or even shortly after birth can have a strong influence on social development.
At home, be empathetic and supportive. Do not push him to interact, as this will only make him cling to you more. Be patient with him. It will initially be necessary for you to stay with him when visitors are there. Your presence should help decrease his anxiety and make it easier for him to interact with others; he will interact when he is ready. Do not allow him to withdraw from the social situation, but stay with him when others are around to reassure him. Try to not be too much fun, however. You want to be a reassuring presence but boring so that it is more fun to interact with others. Also, keep working on the playdates and make sure you supervise them closely so that they are positive experiences for both children. Finally, ask his kindergarten teacher what’s going on. She may have some ideas for you as well. If this continues to be a problem or worsens, consult a mental health professional, especially if there are significant stresses within the family or a family history of anxiety disorders.
Dr. Steven Tobias
How long had this been going on? Has he been acting this way since always or is it a new aquired trait? If it’s a new behaviour you need to see if something has occurred in school that makes him avoid all social contact. Try asking him or his teachers how he’s getting along with other kids. Ask her to keep an eye for him. How is his academic level? Is he keeping up with class, or does he require assistance? How long has he been overweight? Did he gain much weight recently?
It is a well established that TV watching for more than 4 hours a day is associated with overweight in children. It sounds as though your son has entered a vicious cycle of passive activities, weight gain, low self esteem, leading to avoidance of any form of social activities, and so forthe. Try to find out what is the core of this behaviour as suggested about. You need to help him break the cycle slowly, gradually, without even letting on that he has a “problem”. Ecourage don’t reproach. Start by changing the nature of available snacks around the house, stating that the Family should aquire more healthy eating options. Which is a benefit for all anyway. Soft drinks should be replaced by low cal drinks or water, Make fruits and vegetables appealing and available. Encourage him to be more active by initiating familial sports activities - walks, biking, ball playing are just some suggestions you can all do together. It may be a good way to spend time together and talk. You can even enroll him to one-on-one physical activity classes of his choice (wall climbing, swimming are good options) or children’s gym, thus avoiding peer pressure in team sports until he gains confidence. Only then limit TV watching to less than 2 hours a day. You need to be consistent, supportive and positive. The rest will follow. For more detailed nutritional options, I suggest you contact a registered dietitian.
Dr. Sarah Itzhaki
The first thing to do is to ask the school for help in facilitating his social interaction. The teacher should pair him with another child for a task they need to do together and continue doing this until he is able to work with the other child. Also, if there is a school counselor, he should be part of a small social group that teaches children how to interact. It is also important that his teacher has a nurturing relationship with your child. At home, it would be helpful to invite classmates over so your child can become comfortable interacting with them; hopefully, this will translate to the school setting. However, as you can see, a child is sometimes comfortable with some people in some situations but this does not mean it will transfer to other people in other situations. Talk to your child about this situation in an empathic rather than critical manner. Making him feel badly about his behavior will only make him withdraw more. If the above suggestions do not help within a few weeks, a mental health counselor should be consulted. The longer this continues, the more difficult it will be for your child to interact with others in school.
Dr. Steven Tobias
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