Report Indicates Pandemic Accelerated Youth Mental Health Decline Correlated with Smart Phone Use

New data from the Mental Health Million Project across 34 nations confirms that mental health struggles among younger generations not only persist, they have in many instances accelerated. Even with promising new data suggesting a “near normal” summer could be on the way following two years of COVID-related restrictions, other data reveals that nearly half of young adults experienced mental health symptoms during the pandemic’s second year. Sapien Labs’ new rapid report reveals that the pandemic-era decline has accelerated an existing global trend, and led to the widespread disintegration of “social self.”

Sapien Labs’s latest Rapid Report provides data that confirms the continued challenges young adults have faced with their mental wellbeing, which have worsened throughout the pandemic. The data highlights key findings related to global mental wellbeing with a focus on how social self factors into the current state of youth, including:

  • Mental decline in young adults was significantly correlated with the local stringency of lockdown measures associated with the pandemic.
  • Out of 47 elements captured, 16 aspects of mental wellbeing were rated as having a severely negative impact on the ability to function by half or more of those aged 18-24.
  • The constellation of symptoms now dominating the mental profile of young adults do not map to any single disorder as defined by the DSM.
  • The ability to relate to and interact with others (“social self”) has been seriously impaired in over half of young adults across the world.
  • Pandemic-era declines reflect an acceleration of a trend that began in 2010, prior to which younger generations had the best measurable psychological well-being. Prior to the pandemic, this trend was strongly correlated with the growth of smartphone usage.

Dr. Tara Thiagarajan, scientist and Sapien Labs Founder, has compiled information about what the new rapid report reveals about the accelerating global decline of mental well-being in younger generations.

The 3 Components of the Right Home Environment for Our Children

spending time with kids

Home is where the heart is, and it’s so vital for us to provide the right environment for our children. But as parents, we can find ourselves bound by financial constrictions, so if we want to give our children a home that supports them in the right ways we’ve got to think laterally. But it doesn’t have to be expensive- let’s show you some of the basics in how you can give your children the essentials in the right home environment. 

The Physical Space

Many people think that if they want to create a nurturing home for their children, they are better off saving up for a massive home or trying to build one. And you may have thought about the latter and asked yourself how long does it take to build a home, but you need to remember that the right physical environment is not necessarily one with lots of space. A nurturing physical environment is one where you are accessible to your children. It sounds simple, but if you have a home that is full of nooks and crannies where you can hide away, are your children going to feel that you are not there for them? At the same time, you need to give them their own territory so they can feel comfortable and learn resilience. 

The Right Mental Environment

The right home environment is about exposing them to things that they can question and challenge. It’s always important to remember that if you have a home environment that is centered around the television, you may want to give them strict limits on how much TV and screen time they have. Children can experience more nightmares if there’s a greater combination of light and sound, and this is why you may want to rethink excessive screen time. 

The Emotional Space

As far as mental development is concerned, if you can give them more opportunities to be stimulated through their emotional environment you can help them express themselves better. Allowing them freedom of expression in a constructive manner is essential. We can use the home environment as an incredibly supportive tool to help them express themselves. At home, we can give them the emotional nurturing they need by being respectful to them and teaching them that any form of physical or verbal abuse will not be tolerated. And we have to remember that when we teach our children the importance of this, we’ve got to make sure they can stand up for themselves as well. This means that we’ve got to get the balance right in creating a positive and safe environment that focuses on respect, strength, honor, and tolerance. 

All these things sound like a tumultuous task, but what you need to remember before you move to a new home with your children is if you are providing them with the fundamentals of respect and attention, they will feel supported. The right home environment for our children is not necessarily about the physical environment, but about making sure they feel they have our support.

How To Keep Your Kids Entertained This Winter Break

entertaining kids

When you have kids you sometimes feel as though you run out of fun ideas on things you can do collectively as a family. But fear not, if you are feeling a little uninspired, here are some great suggestions on what you can do to spend some much needed time with your kids when they have winter break this year.

Have Family Meal Time 

If you are not in the habit of having a sit down meal together for dinner then why not cook a lovely simple family favorite that everyone enjoys. This will get the family sitting down together at the dinner table which will enable you to have a good old chat as well as enjoy the food. Also when it’s not a school night you will be able to have more of a leisurely meal and not be preoccupied with getting them to stick to their evening schedule. 

Watch a Movie Together 

Everyone is bound to have a different taste regarding their favorite movie, but why not have a cozy night in with the kids and sit down with some popcorn, snacks and a film that you all agree on watching. It could either be a classic film that everyone loves or a new movie. With lots of streaming channels to choose from and also any dvds you may have, you shouldn’t be short of options. 

Play Board Games 

It’s fun to get together and play a board game and is a great way to encourage everyone to spend time together as a family. You could opt for games that use creativity, general knowledge, artistic skills or concentration. It’s also good for encouraging teamwork and communication skills, so it can also be a positive way for children to improve their everyday skills as well as spend time with you. 

Bake Some Goodies 

There is nothing more rewarding than making your own baked goods or treats. It is also slightly healthier for everyone as you will know exactly what ingredients will be going into the recipe. You could have a baking day with the kids and create lots of yummy recipes for everyone to enjoy. It’s also a fun way to spend time with your kids. 

Get Creative 

It’s good to encourage your kids to be creative, so from a young age you could do group activities such as painting, drawing and crafting. It will inspire your kids to be more creative and expand their skill sets. It will then be a nice tradition to be able to spend a few hours each week getting together and being creative. You could then make some nice wall art to hang in the home or create an ornament to put on display. The great thing is there is no age limit to being creative so it will work with both younger kids and older ones. 

Do Some DIY  

You might be wanting to get stuck into some DIY in the house and renovate one of your rooms. Get the kids involved as well as they may enjoy getting stuck in with painting and assembling furniture together. If they can have an opinion on the design and color of the room they may be more willing to get involved with helping. Also it is very useful to be able to learn how to do some DIY jobs at home so this will be beneficial to your kids as well as being enjoyable. 

Go Camping 

Spending a few days away from the hustle and bustle of city life can be quite refreshing. It allows your kids to be away from their cellphones for five minutes. You could go on a camping trip to a lovely scenic environment, and appreciate going back to basics with sleeping and eating arrangements. It will give your kids the opportunity to learn some useful skills on how to light a campfire and appreciate nature’s surroundings. 

Compete Against Each Other With Virtual Games 

There is a lot more variety now when it comes to drones, that you can even experience virtual reality games on them, such as with the DJI FPV model. You could compete against each other in a virtual race and see who comes out on top. It would be a fun way to spend time at home when perhaps the weather is not ideal to go outdoors and will certainly keep them occupied for a while. 

Create Your Own Book Club 

To encourage your kids to read from a young age and be inspired to pick up a book for pleasure, you could create your own book club at home. Each week you could sit down to discuss what you are reading and what you like the look of to read next. It will allow your kids to become interested in reading and help them to use their analytical skills as well. The more they see you read as an adult the more likely they are to become interested in reading which is a great skill to have. 

Dig Out The Old Family Photos 

A good bonding experience will be to get out the old family photos that are packed away in the attic and go through some family memories with your kids. They will get to learn about you when you were younger and also about any relatives that are no longer around. It will also be a novelty for them to see actual photos as they will be used to seeing images on a cellphone screen. You could then put together some photo albums with your kids which will be a nice activity to do together. 

Do a Road Trip 

 

You could get in your car or in a campervan and explore another area you haven’t been to for a few days. The adventure of the unknown can be quite exciting when you explore scenic places as it allows you to take your children to new places and keeps the journey more interesting when you don’t know exactly what will be next. 

Get Gardening 

If you have a garden you can spruce up the backyard by getting your kids involved. They could help you plant some nice new flowers and seasonal vegetables. Getting them to help you grow some veg could get them interested in gardening and being responsible for taking care of the plants. It will provide them with a sense of responsibility as well as keep them occupied for a bit maintaining the plants each day. 

Play a Sport Together 

If you want to encourage your kids to be more active and get outdoors then learning a new sport with them is a good way to achieve this. It will enable them to get outdoors and do some exercise which will certainly be beneficial to their health as well as learning a new sports skill. 

Overall you do not need to feel stressed if you are lacking ideas on what to do with your kids. Most of the time it is the simple ideas that will be the most effective and enjoyable. You don’t need to just focus on spending money on going on expensive vacations. The most important thing is that you are spending time with your children as you want to appreciate the time you have with them before they grow up and move out.

4 Tips For Choosing The Right Childcare Provider

Choosing the right childcare for your baby can be a tough decision; despite being regulated, childcare facilities will all perform differently and have different values they uphold. Of course, every parent wants what is best for their child, so making sure the provider of your choice is right for you and your circumstances is vital to ensure a happy, healthy environment.

finding childcare

What should you be looking for when choosing the right childcare provider?

What Provider You Need

Finding the right provider and style of childcare is of utmost importance. For some families, preschools can be the best type of childcare notion as they are similar to the school environment and enable your child to get used to the structure and routine of being in an education setting. However, a nanny is ideal for families who prefer their child at home and need the flexibility to cover unusual working hours or family dynamics. However, a childcare provider provides preschool levels of care in their home, meaning you get the best of both worlds.

Once you have decided what option is best for you, what do you need to look for in a childcare provider?

Staff and Child Interactions

Keep an eye out for how the staff interacts with the children when you’re touring potential locations. Ideally, a caregiver should be on the floor with the children, either playing with them or holding one of them in her lap. To survive during their early years, babies require tight, loving, interactive interactions with their caregivers. 

To ensure this, newborns’ first caregivers must be warm and responsive. Even in group care, infants and older babies receive a sufficient amount of individual attention. While local states choose staffing ratios for childcare facilities, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a ratio of one adult for every three newborns under the age of 12 months.

Check Their Policies

Investigate whether or not you and the caregivers have similar parenting philosophies on discipline, television; feeding; and sleeping, and so forth. Ask about the sick-child policy (what symptoms preclude a child from attending?) and the sick-child allowance. A backup plan should be in place if the family day-care provider or in-home caregiver becomes ill and cannot continue working. The more questions you ask early on, the less likely you will be disappointed later on.

You Can Communicate Easily

You will have to rely on what your baby’s caretaker tells you about your child’s day until they can communicate. When you drop off your child for the first time in the morning, you should tell the caregiver how your child slept the night before, whether they are teething, whether they ate breakfast, etc. At the end of the day, you’ll want to know the same things, such as how many diapers they went through, when they napped, etc. It is always advisable to communicate with the caregiver in person rather than over the phone. If that isn’t possible, inquire whether there is a convenient time to call, such as during nap time.

Dealing with Back-to-School Struggles Now – Pandemic Pandemonium

 

back to schoolWas your child having difficulty managing at home or distance learning? Is he or she worried about going back to school? I can tell you, my youngest is in a panic about going back, he’s very worried. While at home learning was necessary for both the safety of the children and the teachers and staff, it has definitely had it’s negative effects on quite a few of the kids. Socialization, a sense of normalcy, routine, etc. Being stuck at home was hard on everyone, and it seems that the kids took it extremely rough. If your child is returning to school this fall, check out these tips from Dr. Bregman, child psychiatrist, starting next sentence.

While the Covid-19 virus has been less of a medical concern for children than adults, statistics show that it is taking a major toll on their mental health. Children’s hospitals across the country are showing a significant surge in admissions for everything from generalized anxiety to suicide. 

Returning to school in August may be much more challenging than the typical “end-of-summer bummer.” Parents will be paramount in helping them through obstacles and the time to start is now.

Children who suffer from pre-existing mental health disorders like anxiety/OCD, PTSD, or depression are expected to have the hardest time when school resumes. But what about children who didn’t have mental health issues prior to the pandemic? 

In my private psychiatry practice, I am now seeing a children’s version of Cave Syndrome, a term I coined which describes people with a fear of leaving their house (or cave) due to stressors that developed or worsened during the pandemic. Unlike adults with Cave Syndrome who are fearful of leaving the house to go to work or run errands, kids with Cave Syndrome are worried about returning to school.

New Factors

Even children without a tendency towards anxiety have seen their routines get disrupted. Some

have seen their family suffer from Covid-19, lose their jobs, and experience financial difficulties. With more than 600,000 deaths nationally, there are few people who haven’t been impacted by loss.  

Everyone was talking about the “new normal” a few months ago. Well, there’s nothing normal about it. Now we’re seeing the consequences when treating young patients for anxiety and fear-based problems they may never have developed if not for the pandemic. In a way, it’s an arrested childhood development.

Recognize Your Child’s Concerns

You can spot difficulties by observing your child closely. Do they make excuses to stay at home? Do they talk frequently about not wanting to return to school? Are the choices they make based in fear and anxiety as opposed to rationality and necessity? If they seem like they would rather be grounded than return to school, they may need professional help.

Guidance to Move Your Child Forward

You know your child better than anyone else. The most important thing you can do immediately is to talk to him or her privately. Speak to them with honesty, love, and caring. Let them know that it’s ok to have these feelings and that you will be there to support them every step along the way. It’s also good for them to realize they are not alone in feeling anxious and fearful at this time.  

For younger children, talk to them about the first day of school with a sense of levity and good humor. Framing it in a positive light may work wonders. In addition, you can give him or her something from home, a memento, to hold onto as a comfort mechanism.

[Read more…]

24/7 Protection Against Harmful Blue Light with Viteyes Blue Light Defender Kids

Did you know that exposure to blue light before bedtime can disrupt sleep patterns as it affects when our bodies create melatonin? With screentime for kids having increased by 500% during the pandemic, an inside out approach with Viteyes® Blue Light Defender™Kids can be an effective method to help protect their eyes 24/7.

Viteyes® has created Blue Light Defender™ Kids, a nutritional supplement formulated with lutein and zeaxanthin, the only natural defense eyes have to protect the macula from the harmful effects of blue light that stem from digital screens such as smart phones, tablets, TVs, computers and even sunlight.

Also, because Blue Light Defender™ Kids is not only formulated with lutein and zeaxanthin but also Astaxanthin, it’s packed with antioxidants that kids may be lacking in their diets. And with its delicious chocolate berry soft chew kids won’t even realize that it’s filled with stuff that’s good for them.

My son (and honestly, my husband as well) both liked these. My husband said they tasted vaguely of chocolate- I didn’t get that, but hey. Neither of them ever complained about taking these chews, and both like to complain, LOL. Especially the husband-  my son makes considerably less fuss. It’s always the big ones, isn’t it? Does it work? I can’t tell you that. I have no idea, and there is no way I can tell personally. The science says it does, and I know that Blue Light is a big problem, so I’m hopeful- and I’m glad they both like the taste.

kids supplement

Only 1 in 11 American kids are getting the necessary amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin in their diet, which include food sources such as eggs, broccoli, and dark leafy greens, like kale and spinach. Both ingredients act as powerful antioxidants to filter out blue light and also play a crucial role in visual development in the retina of the eye. Lutein is also found in the brain, depositing in the areas known for visual processing, comprehension, learning and memory. Staring at digital screens can also overwork the eyes causing digital eye strain. Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant clinically proven to help eyes recover from eye strain and fatigue. It also helps keep eyes healthy by increasing blood flow to the eye. Astaxanthin is found in select seafood like shrimp and lobster, however the best source in food is salmon.

With Viteyes® Blue Light Defender™ Kids (ages 4+) as well as their existing Viteyes® Blue Light Defender gummies (ages 12- adult) and Viteyes® Blue Light Defender™ Plus capsules (ages 12 – adult), they’re able to offer a natural defense against harmful blue light for almost all ages.

Learn more at https://youtu.be/A0K1ZhMjo-I.

Baking with Baketivity – Fun For Kids

If you are like me, you love to bake. It is one of the things my youngest son and I do together often. He’s become quite the hand in the kitchen, although he’s still such a mess I’m always surprised. (When does that stop? Ever?)

We’ve recently tried out these fun kits from Baketivity. We did two at once, because sadly we were pretty sick when the “Back to School” one arrived (we had Covid, and I got very, very sick from it). No matter, it was fun doing them both together.

baking with kids

Each kit comes with everything you need, already measured out, labeled, and pre-packaged. It also comes with cute “kid sized” chef gear (hat and apron) as well as a cute little spatula- also kid-sized.  Apologies he’s not wearing them- they are a little too “kid sized” for him, LOL. This boy has been in men’s sizes for a few years now. What can I say- he’s just a giant.

baketivity

One kit was “back to school” themed, and was sugar cookies sliced into the shape of pencils, with colored sprinkles decorating them to look like them, as well. They were delicious, and disappeared immediately. Like, gone within a day.

fun kids activity

The second kit was cinnamon buns, and my son did these nearly entirely on his own, very limited help from me. He really enjoyed doing them. We make cinnamon buns all the time, but usually from either one of my books or from memory (my memory, so he needs me to tell him everything at this point). My books are obviously geared towards adults, so sometimes he gets confused on what to do next, or by a specific measurement. This kit really simplified things, and the directions are so easy for children to follow.

cinnamon bunds

If you have an aspiring baker, a kitchen helper, or you just want your child to be confidant and competent in the kitchen- I highly recommend getting a Baketivity kit. They are fun, easy to follow, and give kids the confidence to try bigger and more difficult things. And hey- don’t worry about the mess. That’s why we have mops and brooms and cleaning supplies, right? They can help us clean up, and it will be one more thing they get better at, right? There we go. Truly- really fun time. You will be so glad that you did.

Enjoy your day, and stay safe out there!

Sports Drinks For Kids/ Hydrate Without Chemicals

Looking for an alternative to Pedialyte that is more natural but has all the benefits? Look no further. Kinderlyte gives you multiple options for your child (and several flavors to choose from) that they will enjoy. No syrup-y aftertaste, these are flavors your kids will enjoy. There is also individual powder packs that make it easy to keep them on the go in case you need them.

After the founder made a 2am trip to the store for his sick daughter only to find that the Oral Electrolyte Solution he had purchased was full of artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors that are known to influence behavioral and health issues, he decided to create Kinderfarms. This is a company dedicated to values-driven alternatives that better serve the needs and values of today’s healthy families.

At Kinderfarms, it all starts on a farm, where healthy hydration begins with real, natural ingredients! Kinderlyte is the first 100% natural and Non-GMO oral electrolyte solution (OES). NO artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors or preservatives. Kinderlyte is Non-GMO Project Verified, Vegan, Gluten Free and Kosher. With Kinderlyte, you get more electrolytes with no artificial ingredients like Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Yellow 6, Blue 1 or Red 40.

 Kinderlyte is different. Doctors & Dieticians worked to formulate a true OES with more electrolytes, potassium & zinc than the leading brand. Unlike Sports drinks, OES’s use dextrose exclusively to carry electrolytes directly to the bloodstream for rapid absorption. Any product containing juice, coconut water or honey will be absorbed more slowly and is not a true OES. Kinderlyte hydration drinks work quickly when you or your loved ones need it most.

Kinderlyte is a 100% natural oral electrolyte solution. We use non-gmo dextrose instead of fructose so it’s delivered direct to the bloodstream for rapid hydration. This helps to rehydrate and replenish key nutrients due to dehydration resulting from illnesses and colds in both children and adults alike.

Kinderlyte can be used for rapid rehydration & rehydration therapy for people of any age! More than 90% of people are dehydrated, keep your eye out for symptoms of dehydration in adults, the elderly and kids. These include dry skin, dry mouth and muscle cramps. Kinderlyte’s direct rehydration to the bloodstream makes it effective, it works fast to address dehydration for any reason including sports, hangover, travel, stomach virus, infant diarrhea, toddler vomiting and more!

Liquid and powder electrolyte solutions  – Kinderlyte liquids and hydration powders offer natural and effective rehydration, without artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. We recommend keeping at least two bottles of electrolyte solution at home and two boxes of the electrolyte powder in your (or your kids’) favorite flavors on hand for instant hydration on the go.

Drinks and powders with high levels of electrolytes like Kinderlyte meet the World Health Organization’s requirements and can help relieve symptoms associated with virus-related mild to moderate dehydration in both adults and kids. Kinderlyte’s oral electrolyte solutions are designed specifically for rehydration with the optimal balance of glucose and electrolytes. Kinderlyte products are available at Target, Rite Aid, Walgreens and other retailers nationwide.