The Gospel Of Less Anxious Parenting – Imagine for a moment that the future will be even more stressful than the present. Maybe we don’t have to imagine. You probably believe it. According to a Pew Research Center poll last year, 60 percent of American adults think that three decades from now, America will be less powerful than it is today. Almost two-thirds say it will become more politically divided. 59 percent think the environment will deteriorate. Almost three-quarters say the gap between the haves and the have-nots will widen. Most expect the standard of living of the average family to decline. Many of us have probably only recently become very aware of the threat of the global plague.
Also suppose you are brave or crazy to bring a child into this world, or rather this mess. If ever there was a moment to strengthen the psyche and gird the spirit, surely this is it. But how to prepare a child for life in an uncertain time – a much more psychologically taxing world than the one born at the turn of the 20th century?
The Gospel Of Less Anxious Parenting
To protect children from physical harm, we buy car seats, we test children, we teach them to swim, we go. But how do you inoculate a child against future suffering? Therefore, what do you do if your child is affected by life here and now?
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You probably already know that an increasing number of our children are not doing well. But to recap: after being more or less flat in the 1970s and 80s, teenage depression rates declined slightly in the early to mid-90s. they stop Numerous studies, based on multiple data sources, confirm this; One of the most recent analyses, conducted by Pew, shows that from 2007 to 2017, the percentage of 12- to 17-year-olds who experienced a major depressive episode in the past year increased from 8 percent to 13 percent . that, in the course of a decade, the number of severely depressed teenagers has gone from 2 million to 3.2 million. The rate was even higher among girls; In 2017, one in five reported having major depression.
An even more alarming manifestation of this trend can be seen in the suicide statistics. From 2007 to 2017, suicide among 10 to 24-year-olds increased by 56 percent, making it the second leading cause of death in this age group (after accidents). The increase among teenagers and young adults is particularly striking. The suicides of children from 5 to 11 years have almost doubled in recent years. Pediatric emergency room visits for suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts increased from 580,000 in 2007 to 1.1 million in 2015; 43 percent of these visits were made by children under 11 years old. Trying to understand why the emotional distress that once started in adolescence now seems to be in younger age groups, I called Laura Prager, a child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and asked on co-suicide from a security blanket. stories from the Child Psychiatry Emergency Service. Can you explain what was going on? “There are many theories, but I don’t quite understand,” he replied. “I don’t know if anyone is there.”
A possible contributing factor is that, in 2004, the FDA issued a warning about antidepressants, noting a possible link between the use of antidepressants and suicidal ideation in some young people. Prescriptions of antidepressants to children are quickly stopped – leading experts to discuss whether the warning has resulted in more deaths than prevented. The opioid epidemic also seems to play a role: a study suggests that a sixth of the increase in suicides among young people can be linked to the addiction of opioid relatives. Some experts have suggested that the increase in stress among teenagers and young adults may be related to the fact that girls have had their periods more and more (a trend that itself is related to a variety of factors , including obesity and chemical exposure). various factors).
Even taken together, however, these explanations do not fully account for what is happening. Nor can they account for the vulnerability that seems to accompany so many children now out of adolescence and into their young adult years. The closest thing to a unified theory of this matter – a psychologist Jean M. As proposed by Twenge three years ago in the Atlantic and by many others elsewhere – is that smartphones and social media are to blame. But this cannot explain the concern we see with very young children holding phones. And the more the relationship between phones and mental health is studied, the less simple it seems. For one thing, children around the world have smartphones, but most other countries have not experienced a similar increase in suicides. For another, meta-analysis of recent research has found that the general relationship between screen time and adolescent well-being is relatively small to non-existent. (Some studies have also found positive effects: When teenagers read more in a given day, for example, they feel less depressed and anxious, perhaps because they feel more socially connected and supported).
Helping Our Kids Grow And Keep A Positive Mindset
A strong case can be made that social media is potentially dangerous for people who are already at risk for anxiety and depression. “What we’re seeing now,” writes Candice Odgers, a professor at UC Irvine who reviewed the literature, “may be the emergence of a new kind of digital divide, in which differences in online experiences [have] they increase the risk between. already vulnerable.” For example, children who are anxious are more likely to be bullied than other children – and children who are cyberbullied are more likely to have suicidal thoughts. And for young people who are already in trouble, online distractions can make withdrawal from offline life too tempting, deepening loneliness and depression.
This more or less brings us back to where we started: Some kids aren’t doing well, and some aspects of contemporary American life are making them okay, earlier and younger. But none of these suggest much in the way of solutions. Taking calls from distressed children may seem like a bad idea; While teenagers have a lot of social life, it just isolates them. Are we running a campaign to get rid of children’s happy phones too? Are you waging war on early puberty? which one
I’ve been thinking a lot about these questions lately, for journalistic reasons as well as personal ones. I am the mother of two children, 6 and 10, whose pedigree includes more than its share of mental illness. Having lost one family member to suicide and another devastated by addiction and psychological disability, I have no deeper desire for my children to not suffer like this. However, given the apparent direction of our country and our world, not to mention the test that is late-stage competence, I do not feel optimistic about the conditions for future moderation – theirs, the mine or anyone else’s.
To my surprise, as I began to interview experts in the mental health of children – clinicians, neuroscientists who do cutting-edge research, parents who had these unofficial statuses because of the difficulties of their children. For all the mysteries of the brain, for all that we do not know about genetics and epigenetics, the people I spoke to emphasized what we know when emotional disorders begin and How can we eliminate more of them? When: Infancy – most often early childhood. How: Treating anxiety, which has been repeatedly described as a gateway to other mental disorders, or, in one mother’s vivid phrase, “the road to hell.”
The Gospel Of Wellness
Actually, the focus on anxiety was not that surprising. Anxiety of course. Anxiety, in 2020, is a ubiquitous, unavoidable environmental condition. Over the course of this century, the percentage of outpatient doctor visits in the United States that include a prescription for an anti-anxiety drug such as Xanax or Valium has doubled.* For children: A study published in 2018, all An effort A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in just five years, there was a 17 percent increase in anxiety disorder diagnoses among young people. Anxiety is the subject of pop music (Ariana Grande’s “Breathin’,” Julia Michaels and Selena Gomez’s “Worry”), the country’s best-selling graphic novel (Raina Telgemeier’s Guts), and a sense of humor. of a whole group (see Generation Z apparently). bottomless appetite for anxiety memes). The New York Times also published a roundup of anxiety-themed books for children. “Anxiety is on the rise in all age groups,” he explained, “and children are not immune.”
How do you inoculate a child against future problems? What do you do if your child seems already immersed in the here and now?
The good news is that new forms of treatment are emerging for childhood anxiety disorders, and, as we see, this treatment can prevent many problems later. However, there is a problem with many concerns about child anxiety, and this brings us closer to the heart of the matter. Anxiety disorders are preventable, but anxiety itself is not something to avoid. This is a
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