Special Editorial: Meds, meds, meds…Do we really need them or is it all in our heads?

Okay, so the medication debate is not as black and white as the title may suggest. It sure is worth having, however, as an article that came out this June in APA’s Monitor on Psychology about the inappropriate prescribing of psychotropic medication spells out. Before I go any further, I am completely aware that medication can be a game-changer for some people, allowing them to function in ways that they simply could not before being prescribed an appropriate medication. For many others, more than we may guess, medication may not be as necessary or helpful as we are led to believe. And when it comes to medicating children, I vote for being even more careful with prescribing, especially in light of the fact that many medications have not been thoroughly researched for kids. So here’s the low down on the article: Many psychotropic medication prescriptions do not come from professionals that are well-versed in mental health issues (4 out of 5 come from non-psychiatrists). Primary care ..
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Moms, Kids & Anxiety

We know that maternal depression can have a profound impact on children. But what about maternal anxiety? A recent article in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology suggests that mom’s anxiety may tend to transfer to her young children. Before I start, however, let me be clear that this post is in no way intended to blame moms for their child’s anxiety. Rather, it is meant to provide information and ideas on this possible relationship. Pass and colleagues took a look at around 60 mothers in the UK who were diagnosed with anxiety disorders (specifically, social phobia with about half also having generalized anxiety disorder) and 60 mothers who weren’t. They compared information gathered on their children as they were getting ready to begin formal schooling (around 4 ½ years old). After the children completed the first term of school, the researchers gathered more information from mothers and also from teachers. At the first data gathering, the children were given a doll play activi..
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Moms, Kids Anxiety

By Anita M. Schimizzi, Ph.D. We know that maternal depression can have a profound impact on children. But what about maternal anxiety? A recent article in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology suggests that mom’s anxiety may tend to transfer to her young children. Before I start, however, let me be clear that this post is in no way intended to blame moms for their child’s anxiety. Rather, it is meant to provide information and ideas on this possible relationship. Pass and colleagues took a look at around 60 mothers in the UK who were diagnosed with anxiety disorders (specifically, social phobia with about half also having generalized anxiety disorder) and 60 mothers who weren’t. They compared information gathered on their children as they were getting ready to begin formal schooling (around 4 ½ years old). After the children completed the first term of school, the researchers gathered more information from mothers and also from teachers. At the first data gathering, the children ..
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Race and Spanking in the US: A Spank is a Spank is a Spank

Yes, it is no secret how we at child-psych.org feel about spanking. Nestor and I have both posted on it before. Still, there remain arguments that spanking is less detrimental for children when cultural context is taken into account. That is, if spanking is more acceptable and part of the norm within a certain cultural group, then the negative behavioral fallout from spanking is lessened. Gershoff and colleagues recently published a study in the journal Child Development and their findings suggest that this argument is bunk. The researchers used data from a nationally representative sample of over 11,000 children gathered in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study’s Kindergarten Cohort of 1998-1999. Children included in the study were from one of four racial groups: White/Non-Hispanic, Hispanic, Black/Non-Hispanic, and Asian. Using data from both kindergarten and third grade for the students, they collected information on spanking, child externalizing behaviors (e.g., arguing and fight..
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Special Editorial: Does your child need therapy? Thoughts on parental fears and why we need you involved

Historically, psychiatry has not been kind to mothers. Early (and mostly wrong) ideas about what ‘caused’ emotional/behavioral difficulties and psychiatric disorders made it easy for clinicians to blame parents for all childhood conditions. Autism is a classic example. In the 1940s Leo Kanner, one of the most influential child psychiatrists of the time, stated that children with autism were kept in “refrigerators that did not defrost.” By refrigerators, he was referring to mothers, who he believed were emotionally and interpersonally distant. As most of you likely know by now, Kanner was wrong. Since then, the attack on parents appears to be relentless. Our media outlets are filled with misinterpretations (and sometimes accurate interpretations) of research findings and statements by clinicians that directly or indirectly blame parental behaviors for their kids’ problems. You cuddle your kids too much You don’t love them enough You are too strict You are too permissive You are too em..
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I Need a Nap!

Have you had one of those days when there just wasn’t a good time to put your toddler down for the blessed afternoon nap? Did his behavior and emotions look any different than they do after having a nap? Take a moment to think about how you feel and react when you are sleep-deprived. It gets harder to think clearly and to be in a good mood. It’s pretty easy to feel irritable, though, right? It’s probably not a surprise to you that toddlers would have a similar response to not getting enough sleep. That’s exactly what the study below found, too. While sleep studies typically focus on adults, a study in the Journal of Sleep Research by Berger and colleagues looked at 30-36 month olds. They studied ten healthy children with no assessed sleep problems and looked at the impact of missing one nap. Parents kept a strict sleep schedule for the toddlers for five days, at the end of which they either allowed or did not allow the daily nap. They then repeated the same strict sleep schedule for f..
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It Wasn’t Me: How to Handle Your Child’s Dishonesty

Awhile back, I posted about some research done on lying in children. A very brief explanation of the study was that kids lied more often and more effectively when punishment was on the line. Because so many children go through a lying phase, or more than a phase, I am writing this post to talk about ways to consider and deal with dishonesty. Let’s first think about why lying gets under our skin so terribly. Well, as parents we know that honesty is critical to healthy relationships, to having integrity, and to resolving problems. Dishonesty can land you in a heap of interpersonal, academic, legal, and/or professional trouble both in the present and in the future and nobody wants that for their kids. Now let’s look at our goals in confronting our child’s dishonesty. First, we want to know the truth and we want for our kids to be able to readily share it. Second, we want for our children to be able to make amends when their behavior affects somebody else, not skirt around the truth and ..
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ADHD Outcomes: Being Rejected Can Have a Bigger Impact than Having Friends

As with any childhood disorder, we want to know what can protect the child from long-term negative outcomes. When it comes to ADHD, studies demonstrate all sorts of long-term problems that we would rather prevent, such as delinquency, depression, and anxiety. As I mentioned in a recent editorial, data from the Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD (MTA) revealed some surprising results about long-term outcomes for children with ADHD. Among the results include a finding that what we typically do to treat ADHD (medication and/or psychosocial treatment) does not significantly improve peer problems. And long-term peer difficulties can lead to a host of externalizing and internalizing problems that can last into the adult years. A recent study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology looked at two different areas of peer relationships in children with ADHD: peer rejection and friendship. The authors predicted that children with ADHD that were rejected by peers and did not have ..
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Special Editorial: Shooting Holes in the Argument for Ritalin

I became intrigued by an article that I read a few weeks ago in the NY Times and I keep finding myself coming back to it as I work with parents. The topic? Medication may not be as magical in treating ADHD as we had all hoped. Now before I go any further, let me make clear that I am not a medical doctor and I am in no way trying to urge parents to discontinue their child’s ADHD medication. I am, however, suggesting that parents continue to inform themselves of research findings in this area so they can discuss new information with their child’s treating physician and make informed choices as a result. Dr. Sroufe, the author of the article and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development, argues that the research world has a pattern of focusing on short-term effects of ADHD medication and fails to pay enough attention to long-term effects. It has been well-established that medications like Ritalin and Adderall can improve concentration and focus..
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My pediatrician wants my toddler to be in therapy!

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended a few years ago that all young children, including infants, be screened for possible delays in their social and emotional development. Traditionally pediatricians have been concerned primarily with the physical development of children. However, as we became more aware of the importance of kid’s social functioning for later development, pediatricians began to pay closer attention to children’s behaviors and emotional functioning. In fact, many pediatricians are now conducting screenings of all children to “flag” kids who appear to have behavior problems or have delays in their social or emotional functioning. When the evaluation suggests that a kid is “at-risk” due to the presence of some of these concerns, pediatricians usually recommend that the child receive intervention, such a seeing a child therapist who provides services for young children. In some cases the therapist works directly at the pediatrician’s office but in many cases the ..
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