Treating Anxiety in Children

What does the child who can’t say goodbye to a parent without breaking down have in common with the child who is cripplingly terrified of dogs and the one who gets a bad stomach ache reliably on Monday morning?

Anxieties and worries of all kinds are common in children, necessarily part of healthy development, but also, when they interfere with the child’s functioning, the most common pediatric mental health problems. From separation anxiety to social anxiety to school avoidance to phobias to generalized anxiety disorder, many children’s lives are at some point touched by anxiety that gets out of hand.

“I often tell parents, anxiety and fears are totally a normal and healthy part of growing up,” said Dr. Sabrina Fernandez, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, who has written about strategies for primary care doctors to use in dealing with anxiety disorders. “I worry that it’s becoming something more when it interferes with the child’s ability to do their two jobs: to learn in school and to make friends.”

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Chicago Protesters Call On Congress To Reauthorize Children's Health Insurance Program

About a hundred people gathered at Chicago’s federal plaza today to call on Congress to reauthorize a health coverage program for children. The Children’s Health Insurance Program — or CHIP — gives health insurance to eligible kids. But Congress hasn’t renewed the program. 

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The ‘Problem Child’ Is a Child, Not a Problem

Matt Hannon was in preschool when he started getting into trouble. Teachers quickly labeled his mischievous behavior — like cutting his hair under the table — problematic. His kindergarten teacher warned that if Matt didn’t stop using “potty words,” she would make him do his work in the bathroom. His first-grade teacher forced Matt to copy the phrase “I will not blurt out in circle” 100 times. Matt began to dread school and developed serious separation anxiety. His acting-out got worse.

“I would bring him into the school nurse in the morning, and she would restrain him so I could run out and get to work,” said his mother, Jessica, through tears. “I didn’t know any better.” (Names of children and parents in this article have been changed to protect privacy.) At age 8, he was expelled from an after-school program and, later, from school. Jessica reduced her work hours to deal with frequent calls from the school. When Matt had a psychiatric evaluation in fourth grade, a therapist said he presented like a child who had been traumatized. She believed it was because of how his behavior had been handled early on in school.

Early childhood education can be an invaluable opportunity for learning social and emotional skills. But when teachers repeatedly punish young children, their efforts can cause lifelong harm. Unfortunately, Matt’s story is not exceptional. Nearly 1 in 10 preschoolers is suspended or expelled for behavior problems. Their infractions — generally hitting, throwing things or swearing — need to be addressed, but educators are recognizing that removing 3- and 4-year-olds from classrooms is not the answer. It doesn’t teach children how to behave differently, and it often makes matters worse.

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These states are running out of CHIP funding

(CNN)Sixteen states will run out of federal funding for CHIP -- the Children's Health Insurance Program -- by the end of January, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Three-quarters of all states expect to exhaust funds by the end of March unless Congress can agree to fund it. (Scroll to the bottom for the full list.)

CHIP provides health insurance coverage for just shy of nine million children whose families have too much income to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford the cost of insurance. It is increasingly used by families whose employer-provided insurance is too expensive. CHIP is provided for free or the program's premiums are pegged to an amount based on a family's annual income.
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State prepares for children's health insurance funding to run out in January

Massachusetts officials are preparing for thousands of children in the state to lose health insurance even earlier than originally feared, with federal funding for the CHIP insurance program expected to run out in a month.

Approximately 160,000 children in Massachusetts currently receive health insurance through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, federal funding for which expired in September. The state is set to lose $295 million without federal support for the program.

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With Children's Health Insurance in Limbo, Bipartisan Group of Governors Urges Congress to Fund It

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper rallied a bipartisan band of governors again on Tuesday in a letter to Congress urging the renewal of a children's health insurance program for low-income families.

"We believe covering children and pregnant women without disruption is one thing we can all agree on," the governors wrote in the letter.

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With no deal on children's health plan, U.S. states scramble for Plan B

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For Nancy Minoui of Portland, Oregon, and Crystal Lett of Dublin, Ohio, Congress’ failure to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program is not some distant tale of political wrangling.

For Minoui, it’s about how to provide care for her daughter, Marion Burgess, born last Valentine’s Day with a hole in her heart. For Lett it’s about providing care for her 6-year-old son, Noble, who was born with a complex genetic disorder.

They are among thousands of parents across the country scrambling to look after low-income children whose medical care is funded by a traditionally bipartisan program, known as CHIP, that is now facing a shutdown after Congressional Republicans tied its fate to other legislative battles.

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Why Your Grumpy Teenager Doesn’t Want to Talk to You

Most parents have seen their teenager start the day in a reasonably good mood, but then return from school draped in gloom and chilly silence. As hard as it can be to support our children when they tell us what’s wrong, it’s that much harder to help the obviously upset adolescent who turns down a warm invitation to talk.

These interactions usually unfold in an awkward and predictable sequence. We earnestly ask, “Is everything O.K.?” and our teenager responds with a full stop “No,” an insincere “Yeah,” or freezes us out while fielding a flurry of texts. We then tend to nurse a sense of injury that our teenager has rebuffed our loving support.

But when adolescents hold their cards close to their chests, they often have a good reason. To better ease our own minds and be more useful to our teenagers we can consider some of the ordinary, if often overlooked, explanations for their reticence.

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If Jimmy Kimmel's made you cry, here’s what you need to do now

Jimmy Kimmel has taken several opportunities this year to cast aside humor and use his platform to discuss a serious issue close to his heart: healthcare.

On Monday night Kimmel carried a very special guest on stage — his seven-month-old son Billy, who had just undergone his second open heart surgery last week.

Kimmel had recently taken time off from hosting to stay with Billy while he recovered, leaving celebrities like Chris Pratt, Tracee Ellis Ross, Neil Patrick Harris, and Melissa McCarthy to host the show in his absence.

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Sandoval among 12 governors urging CHIP reauthorization

Nevada’s Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and 11 other governors from both parties signed a letter to congressional leaders Tuesday urging them to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Congress missed its Sept. 30 deadline to renew the program, which provides insurance to 9 million children nationwide and 27,500 in Nevada whose low-income families don’t qualify for Medicaid.

“As health insurance premiums climb to unsustainable rates, this program gives hard-working families access to otherwise unaffordable coverage,” the governors wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky., House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Without it, access to essential health services like well child exams, asthma medicine, and hospitalizations will be at risk.”

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