Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

ID-10067330“No, you can’t play with us! ”

When children are left out of activities with their peers, it is painful. No one likes to be the child that isn’t picked in P.E. or the one who didn’t get invited to a birthday party.

Researchers have looked at why some kids are rejected. Here are some of their findings related to boys:

About half of rejected boys tend to be aggressive, argumentative and disruptive. Others (up to 20%) are shy and withdrawn or socially awkward. Their immature, sometimes awkward behavior, can cause rejection, or rejection can bring out their immaturity.

Still others try to be funny but don’t understand the nuances of humor and can come off annoying.  Some kids don’t read the cues of others well enough to know when to stop talking or be less aggressive. Those kids need help recognizing “stop” signals, e.g., the person is looking or walking away.

Other kids are a poor sport, try too hard to impress others by bragging, or isolate too much.

So if your son is struggling with rejection, think about what may be driving the rejection in terms of his behavior. Also, you may want to ask his teacher since he/she observes his peer interactions and could provide feedback.

Once you have a handle on the cause, you can work on teaching more socially appropriate behavior, targeting specific areas. Finally, I have found that when a rejected child has one friend to call his own, it takes the sting out of needing acceptance from the group.

child runningA mom notices that her three-year-old son eats dirt, paper and sand. She wonders if this is normal and if he will eventually grow out of this behavior.  

A child who persistently eats nonnutritive substances like dirt, sand and paper for a period of over a month could be suffering from pica.

Pica is more common in children with autism and developmental delays, but affects other children as well. About 10% to 20% of children, ages one to six are affected by this disorder.

Pica is a type of eating disorder that needs to be evaluated by a medical doctor who can rule out anemia, intestinal blockage or possible toxins or bacteria ingested from the items consumed.

Pica can be triggered from a nutritional deficiency in which the child craves iron or zinc. So checking low iron, zinc and other nutritional deficiencies through a blood test is a first step. A physician will also look for health related problems that may arise from what is ingested.

A child therapist can then work with the child using behavioral strategies aimed at stopping the consumption of nonfood items.

Parents should monitor eating at home and put items commonly eaten out of sight. Play areas should be regularly cleaned and vacuumed often. It is also a good idea to provide activities that keep a child’s hands busy. Finally, reinforce eating appropriate items, talking about the differences of nonfood and food items.

Sometimes this problem lasts several months; others times, it can disappear on its own. However, in some cases, it can continue into the teen and adult years, but this is more common when pica is related to a developmental disorder.

marital separation2It’s tragic whenever a marriage comes to a point where two people are struggling to coexist. When a relationship becomes toxic, dangerous, emotionally exhausting or so contentious that two people can’t have a civil conversation, separation can function like a time-out. It gives a couple time to think, pray and sort out what needs to change for things to get better.

It can also be used to work on serious martial problems like addiction, abuse, and high conflict if a couple is committed to the process of doing what is necessary to correct problems. Other times it is used to begin the process of divorce.

Telling the children that you have decided to separate is never easy, but a few guidelines can help the process:

1) Timing is important. If you tell them too far out of the separation, they become anxious. Time to a very young child can seem like forever. If you wait until right before it happens, they won’t have enough time to adjust to all the changes and process what is happening. So think through the timing of the conversation–not too far out to make it feel like an eternity, but enough time to deal with the changes that will come.

2) Both spouses should tell the children together. It is important for your children to see that you will work together when it comes to them. Offer comfort and be unified in your approach and message. It helps to rehearse what you will say ahead of time.

3) Focus on telling the news and control the way you behave. This is not the time to re-engage in blame and upsetting behavior. Stay civil.

4) Don’t give too much detail. The younger, the less detail is needed. Older children will ask questions that you will need to answer, but answer with the fact that you have not been getting along and have tried to work things out, but more has to change. If you have been in high conflict, this will not surprise your children even though they will be upset.

5) Don’t lie but don’t throw each other under the bus. They don’t need to be involved in the sordid details of your problems. Again, avoid blame and intimate details of your problems.

6) Reassure them that you married for love and they were born in love. Add that you are sad about the break up because marriage is supposed to be a life commitment.

7) Reinforce as many times as possible that this is not their fault. Tell them the adults are having problems that the kids didn’t create or can fix. Even with assurance, children still feel they may be at fault so this will be a repeated message.

8) Let them know that loving children doesn’t stop or end. While adults may split up, parents and children love each other for life.

9) Give some details of immediate plans. Who is moving out? When they will see that person? What does this mean for the near future?

10) Be age-specific in your approach. Preschoolers need assurance of love, seeing both parents, and as much consistency as possible; School age children have better cognitive understanding  and may be more afraid of what happens when people don’t get along. You will see more emotion–sadness, anger, upset that needs lots of support and comfort; Teens will feel the unsettling of this and feel a lack of security during a changing time in their development; Older teens may have opinions and express their anger more directly and wonder how it will impact their lives with peers, money, etc. Let the child direct questions and answer honestly without disparaging the other, giving reassurance that you will try your best to work out issues that are troublesome to them. No matter your marital status, you will work hard at co-parenting.

soccerIt’s Spring soccer for the kids. We take the field, watch our kids run in a herd towards the goal and come back to the sideline for a short pep talk. Then, it is halftime. The mom in charge of snacks rolls her big cooler to the sideline and pulls out the energy drinks. I used to think, “Is this necessary? These kids have hardly exerted themselves. How about water bottles?”

Energy drinks are found everywhere someone is playing a sport. Our teens are consuming these drinks at the rate of 38%, and 15% say they have an energy drink at least one a week. From what I have seen, downing those drinks is not usually related to vigorous sports play.

So should our young kids and teens be consuming these drinks?  Are there side effects?

A  study from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and Duke University would probably support my cry for water bottles.  Here are the problems:

1) Energy drinks are high in sugar and other calories which makes them a factor in weight gain and tooth decay. We know what a problem childhood obesity is and most parents know the cost of dental care!

2) Boys who drink energy drinks at least weekly spend at least 4 more hours playing video games a week compared to those who drink less than one a week. The more drinks, the more energy to play games it appears. But again, we are seeing more sedentary behavior linked to childhood obesity.

3) Both boys and girls energy and sports drink consumption was related to smoking.

4) Sports drinks are recommended only for vigorous, prolonged activity. Consuming them as a snack puts a child at risk for overstimulation of the nervous system.

It takes a high level of play to warrant the need for energy drinks. So soccer, baseball, T-ball and other league moms, go for the cases of water, oranges and other fruit as snacks. The kids may not like to lose the energy drinks and candy bars, but sometimes you have to be the grown up!

 

Source: Nicole Larson, Jessica DeWolfe, Mary Story, and Diane Neumark-Sztainer, Adolescent Consumption of Sports and Energy Drinks: Linkage to Higher Physical Activity, Unhealthy Beverage Patterns, Cigarette Smoking, and Screen Media Use. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 46, May-JUne 2014, 181-187