Posts

Children’s Mental Health & Learning During COVID: A Series

By Zach Clay, Licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy

During this unprecedented and often challenging time in the world, we need to consider the impact everything has on children. The COVID-19 pandemic can be particularly tough for children’s mental health and their ability to learn. NOAH’s Behavioral Health team shares expert insight, best practices, and resources in this series of posts to help children maintain mental health in the era of COVID-19, social distancing, and distance learning.  

Identifying Depression & Developing Coping Skills for Children

Children experience the world around them – the good, the bad, the stressful, the happy, the uncertain – and sometimes need support to navigate everything. In many ways, children are similar to adults with mental health; identifying what is happening, talking about what is happening, and developing healthy coping skills. Here, we highlight ways to identify depression in young children and coping skills that are easy for children to do and remember.

Signs of depression in children

Children who are experiencing depression may show it in a variety of ways. They may express feeling hopeless, helpless, and discouraged and as caregivers, we should listen and help them explain what they are thinking and how they’re feeling. But we must listen without judgement, or without trying to “fix” things. Parents and other caregivers don’t need to agree with what they are saying but do need to let them know that they are heard and supported. For example, “I hear you. That sounds really hard and I’m sorry you are feeling sad. I love you.”

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Changes to sleep patterns
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Sadness or irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities they usually enjoy
  • Unusual sadness or irritability, even when circumstances change
  • Reduced feelings of anticipation or excitement
  • Sluggish or lazy
  • Overly critical of themselves, like “I’m ugly.” “I’m no good.” “I’ll never make friends.”
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness
  • Thoughts of or attempts at suicide

It’s important to understand that this is more than a bad day or two, or occasional behavior changes that go away. If you see one or more of these symptoms for two weeks, they can suggest depression and you should make an appointment to get them professional help and support.

Developing coping skills

An important part of managing anxiety and fear is with healthy coping skills. These skills help you deal with stressful situations in a healthy and productive way. Mindfulness techniques are beneficial for all ages and are especially helpful for children. Mindfulness means taking time to focus on the present, be thoughtful about your feelings, focus your thoughts, and be in the moment.

These exercises take a little effort, but the investment is worth it especially now when there is such uncertainty about the future and what our world will be post-pandemic. These activities can make mindfulness work for both parents and children.

  • Squeeze Muscles: Starting at your toes, pick one muscle and squeeze it tight. Count to five. Release, and notice how your body changes. Repeat exercise moving up your body.
  • Belly Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out (deflate).
  • Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position. Pick something to focus on, like your breath. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath. Do this for just a few minutes.
  • Blowing Bubbles: Notice and talk about their shapes, textures, and colors.
  • Coloring: Color something. Focus on the colors and designs.
  • Listening to Music: Focus on a whole song or listen to a specific voice or an instrument.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a big deal or extra work. Take a few minutes in the morning, after school, before bed, or a time that works for your child and family to practice mindfulness.

NOAH’s comprehensive team of behavioral health experts  can work with you, your child and your entire family to address stresses, depression, coping skills, and more.

Children’s Mental Health & Learning During COVID: A Series

By Zach Clay, Licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy

During this unprecedented and often challenging time, we should consider the impact it has on children. The COVID-19 pandemic can be particularly tough for children’s mental health and their ability to learn. NOAH’s Behavioral Health team shares expert insight, best practices, and resources in this series of posts to help children maintain mental health in the era of COVID-19, social distancing, and distance learning.  

Help children understand COVID

It is approximately 11 months after the COVID-19 pandemic began. In many ways, we are still adjusting to different phases of routines and “normal” life activities, and that includes children. Parents and caregivers should be able to talk about the impacts of the virus to help children understand without causing them to feel overly worried or anxious. NOAH experts support the following recommendations from the Child Mind Institute to help guide parents and other caregivers in these conversations with children.

  • Welcome their questions. Kids have questions! Any parent, teacher, grandparent, neighbor, babysitter, and friend knows that children have many questions. It’s a good thing because curiosity is an important quality in kids. Questions can range from serious, like “Will Grandma be okay?” to the much less serious, like “Will my favorite videogame store still be there?”. Encourage their questions and take their concerns seriously. Your goal is to help your children be heard and to answer their questions with fact-based information.
  • Don’t avoid questions you can’t answer. Telling a child “I don’t know.” is an acceptable answer when it is the truth. There is a lot of uncertainty right now, and things change frequently. While we want to tell our children that everything will be “back to normal soon,” we may not know. Helping your child learn how to accept uncertainty is key to reducing anxiety and helping them build resilience.
  • Be developmentally appropriate. Being honest is important, but that doesn’t mean giving too much information which can be overwhelming or confusing for children. Answer their questions honestly and clearly, and if they have follow-up questions they will ask because you have shown them you will answer their questions.
  • Deal with your own anxiety. We are living through a global pandemic and economic crisis. This isn’t an easy or normal situation for anyone of any age. It’s okay, and expected, for parents or caregivers to have sadness, stress, or anxiety about everything happening. But don’t try to talk to your children about their questions or stresses if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Take some time before having a conversation or answering your child’s questions because it will be hard to help them if you are struggling. If you are experiencing stress and anxiety about COVID-19 or anything else, NOAH’s counseling team is available.
  • Be reassuring. Children may be worried that they will catch the virus or become afraid other people they care about will become sick. Reassure them that children don’t usually get very sick, and that as a family you are doing everything you can to keep them – and other people – safe and healthy by wearing masks, socially distancing, and following other recommendations.
  • Focus on what you’re doing to stay safe. Children will feel safe by having parents and other caregivers emphasize the safety measures that you, and others around you (like teachers, coaches, etc.) are taking. Remind kids that washing their hands is helping everyone by stopping the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

Keep talking to your kids. When they know you will answer their questions, help find answers together, tell them the truth, and help them feel calm and safe, they will likely keep talking. Many children (and adults) are visual learners and might enjoy learning about the virus with a comic book created by NPR. More on this series for Children’s Mental Health & Learning During COVID to come!

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month – Tips to Stay Healthy

By Dr. Mason Wedel, MD PGY1

September is National Childhood Obesity Month, a time to raise awareness of this growing concern for children. Obesity is a major public health problem for children everywhere, putting them at higher risk for other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and asthma. Having obesity as a child also makes children more likely to become obese adults.

“About 1 in 5 (19%) of children are obese today.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Here are some tips to prevent or combat childhood obesity:

  • Eat More Fruits and Vegetables – serve more fruits and vegetables at meals and as snacks. Decrease the amount of high fat and sugary foods.
  • Stay Active – children are recommended to get 60 minutes or more physical activity DAILY. Include running, jumping, walking, bike riding as well as muscle strengthening exercises such as push ups.
  • Drink More Water – always encourage more water and make it available at all times instead of high sugar drinks such as soda. Limit juice intake.
  • Ensure Adequate Sleep – follow a sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Remove electronics from bedroom and make sure the bedroom is quiet and dark.

These tips will help your child have more energy, control their weight, strengthen their bones, increase their self-esteem and live an overall healthier life. Be sure to have a medical home for your entire family and talk with your child’s doctor about any concerns like childhood obesity. Follow these tips daily and help stop the rising number of children with obesity.

Tips to Treat Nosebleeds in Children by Dr. Debbie Bauer, Pediatrician

“Nosebleeds are very common in children, especially during these winter months,” says Debbie Bauer, Pediatrician. The dry air from outside combined with the dry air from heaters inside can make the skin inside the nose more fragile and sensitive. This is one of the most common reasons children get nosebleeds. Some children also get nosebleeds from picking their nose, from sniffling too much from allergies/colds, or of course from being hit in the nose.

Learn what to do if your child has a nosebleed and when to get help from a doctor below. Also, check out our tips on how to prevent nosebleeds from coming back!

What should you do if your child has a nosebleed?

– First, don’t panic! Nosebleeds are rarely serious. Your child will have an easier time following your instructions if you remain calm.

– Have your child sit down and put their head slightly forward, NEVER have them tilt their head backwards.

– Put firm pressure on either side of their nose with your fingers and hold it there for 10 minutes.

– After 10 minutes, check to see if the bleeding stopped. If it hasn’t, hold firm pressure again for 10 more minutes.

– When bleeding has stopped, gently clean blood off their face with water but do not put anything in their nose or have them forcefully blow their nose.

When should you get help from a doctor?

– If your child has a nosebleed for more than 20 minutes without stopping.

– If your child looks very pale, weak or sweaty.

– If you see blood in your child’s urine or stool.

– If your child has strange, unexplained bruises.

– If frequent nosebleeds are concerning you.

How can you prevent nosebleeds?

– You can use a saline nasal spray to keep their nose from getting dry.

– You can use a humidifier in their room.

– You can apply a small amount of Vaseline inside their nose carefully with a Q-tip.

– If your child picks their nose, keep their fingernails trimmed short.

At NOAH, we’re here for you. If you have any questions for your child’s pediatrician, give us a call at 480-882-4545. You can also send a message to your pediatrician via your child’s MyChart account.

2018 City of Scottsdale Back-to-School Event at Scottsdale Stadium

This week NOAH participated in a Back-to-School Event held @ScottsdaleStadium. Were we provided 583 dental screenings and shared information about our programs and services to over 900 families in partnership with the @cityofscottsdale.gov, @SUSD, and @Vista del Camino. Does your child need to get caught up on immunizations or need a sports physical for school? Go to kids.noahhelps.org and sign up for one of our upcoming events. Our Care Team at NOAH are here to help you create and manage your healthy lifestyle habits. Call 480-882-4545 today! #NHCW18 #CHCSuperPower

2018 Back-to-School Dental Screenings at Scottsdale Stadium.

NOAH Receives $30,000 to Provide Oral Health Services to Underserved Children

Delta Dental of Arizona partners with NOAH to reach low income communities

Statistics show tooth decay in children and adolescents is twice as high for underserved families than those from higher incomes due to lack of education about the importance of oral hygiene. Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) received a $30,000 grant from Delta Dental of Arizona to deliver oral health education and screening to uninsured and under-insured children at back-to-school events, community health fairs, and other school activities in low income areas. Read more