Over-the-counter cough medicine can have negative outcomes if misused. Securely store and monitor cough medicine in the home to prevent misuse.
All kids get an occasional headache or stomach ache — think not enough sleep or too much Halloween candy. But when children get them often, they may be signs of anxiety.
Stomach aches in the morning before school. Headaches when there’s a math test on the schedule. Butterflies before a birthday party. Throwing up before a soccer game. These physical symptoms may be the first evidence a parent has that a child is anxious. In fact, the child may not even know she is anxious.
“Especially with kids who may not be able to verbalize what they’re feeling anxious about, the way their anxiety manifests can be through physical symptoms,” explains Amanda Greenspan, LCSW, a clinical social worker at the Child Mind Institute.
In fact anxiety is associated with a host of physical symptoms, including headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, along with a racing heart, shakiness or sweating — symptoms older people experience when they’re having a panic attack.
All these physical symptoms are related to the fight-or-flight response triggered when the brain detects danger. All of them have a purpose, notes Janine Domingues, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. When she talks to kids about anxious headaches or stomach aches, she explains the role of each.
For instance, she says, “your stomach hurts because your digestive system is shutting down to send blood to other areas of your body. You don’t want to be digesting food at that moment because you’re trying to either flee danger or fight danger.”
Dr. Domingues assures children that these symptoms are not harmful — they’re just their emergency system responding to a false alarm. But it’s important to understand that kids aren’t necessarily inventing their symptoms, and the danger may feel very real to them. Don’t assume a child who spends a lot of time in the nurse’s office at school is doing it intentionally to get out of class. Her acute anxiety may be causing her pain.
“Headaches and stomach aches related to anxiety are still real feelings, and we want to take them seriously,” says Ms. Greenspan.
When a child develops a pattern of physical symptoms before school, or other potentially stressful moments, experts recommend that you visit your doctor to rule out medical concerns. But if the child gets a clean bill of health, the next step is to help the child make the connection between their worries and their physical symptoms.
Parents can start by validating their child’s experience and reframing it in a more helpful way. Instead of telling kids there’s nothing wrong with them, the goal is to tell them that what they’re feeling is worry.
“We give it a name,” adds Dr. Domingues. “We help them connect it to an emotion and label it.”
And after some practice kids are able to identify it, she adds. ” ‘Yes, my stomach hurts and, oh yeah, I remember that’s because I’m feeling worried.’ And after learning some skills to help them calm down, I think they feel a sense of control. And that helps.”
The first thing our experts suggest is something parents should not do, or at least try not to do: Let kids avoid things they are afraid of. It can be very tempting when children are complaining of a headache or stomach ache to let them stay home from school, or skip the party or the game they’re worried about. But avoidance actually reinforces the anxiety.
“If we’re allowing them to avoid it,” says Ms. Greenspan, “then they’re not able to learn that they can tolerate it.” The message needs to be:
Another things parents should not do is ask children leading questions like “Are you worried about the math test?” Questions should be open ended, to avoid suggesting that you expect them to be anxious: “How are you feeling about the math test?”
If the problems your child is having are disrupting his ability to go to school consistently — or concentrate at school, participate in activities, socialize with peers — he might have developed an anxiety disorder that should be treated by a mental health professional. The treatment favored by most clinicians for anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps kids — as young as 5 years old — identify their anxiety and learn skills to reduce it.
The techniques clinicians teach children to calm down body and mind can also be deployed by parents, for children with less impairing symptoms.
Here are some of the techniques clinicians teach anxious children, adapted from CBT and mindfulness training:
It’s only natural that parents don’t want to see their kids in distress or make them go to school when they’re worried that they’ll throw up. That puts parents in a difficult spot. “What we hear from parents is, ‘We just let him stay home one day — and one day led to three months,’ ” says Dr. Domingues. It’s a slippery slope — the child may ask to stay home more and more.
“So we work with parents a lot around how to find that balance between enabling anxiety and meeting a child where they are,” she adds. “And we also give them statements that they can use to be empathic and encouraging at the same time. For instance: ‘I know that this is really hard and you feel like you’re sick. But we also know that this is anxiety, and you can get through it.’ ”
Parents also face the challenge of tolerating their own anxiety about pushing a child who says she is ill or worried about vomiting. “If your kid is in distress and talking about not wanting to go to school or feeling sick or thinking they might throw up,” says Dr. Domingues, “then you’re, as a parent, also anxious that that might happen.”
Information provided by https://childmind.org/article/anxious-stomach-aches-and-headaches/
As schools close and workplaces go remote to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, parents everywhere are struggling to keep children healthy and occupied.
If you’re anxious about how to protect and nurture kids through this crisis — often juggling work obligations at the same time — you’re in good (virtual) company.
Information provided by https://childmind.org/article/supporting-kids-during-the-covid-19-crisis/
Most people who get sick with COVID-19 will have only mild illness and should recover at home. Care at home can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect people who are at risk for getting seriously ill from COVID-19.
Older adults and people of any age with certain serious underlying medical conditions like lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes are AT HIGHER RISK for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness and should seek care as soon as symptoms start.
COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Information provided by CDC here https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
Information provided by https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html
As public conversations around coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) increase, children may worry about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill with COVID-19. Parents, family members, school staff, and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear.
CDC has created guidance to help adults have conversations with children about COVID-19 and ways they can avoid getting and spreading the disease.
Remain calm and reassuring.
Make yourself available to listen and to talk.
Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.
Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.
Provide information that is honest and accurate.
Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.
Try to keep information simple and remind them that health and school officials are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy.
What is COVID-19?
What can I do so that I don’t get COVID-19?
What happens if you get sick with COVID-19?
Information provided by https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html
Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medicine Safety, Engaging Youth About Responsible Medicine Use
Through an information session we learned of an over-the-counter medication safety curriculum sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and Scholastic. The information shared here is essential when we work with community leaders, parents and guardians, in regards to the storage and securing of OTC in the home.
This curriculum can be delivered in small groups in as little as 45 minutes but can be expanded to include more information for a three hour session. There are promotional items, literature and engaging small group sessions designed to inform and educate about issues related to unsecured OTC.
Over-The-Counter (OTC) medicines, when taken as directed are generally safe, but when taken incorrectly can cause significant harm. Research suggests that children begin to self-administer medication at age 11. Over 20,000 kids per year need medical attention due to medicine misuse.