Melatonin Overdoses In Kids Increase 530% Over Past Decade

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Over the past decade, the number of children overdosing on melatonin, a sleep aid, has increased by 530%, according to a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The largest increase, a 38% jump, came in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, which the study’s authors say was likely because more children were spending more time at home.In 2021 alone, more than 50,000 calls were placed to poison control centers in the United States about melatonin ingestion by kids, the study found.

“Most were unintentional exposure, meaning the parent did not give the child melatonin,” said ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, also a board-certified OBGYN. “So the implication is the child got into it themselves.” Here are four things for parents to know to help keep kids safe.

1. Melatonin is a widely-accessible supplement.

Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in sleep, according to the National Institutes of Health. In the U.S., melatonin supplements are considered dietary supplements, which means they are accessible to the public without the regulations of a prescription drug.

Melatonin supplements come in the form of tablets, capsules, liquid and even gummies, which may make them more attractive to kids. According to the study’s authors, “Increased sales, availability, and widespread use have likely resulted in increased access and exposure risk among children in the home.”

2. Melatonin has not been widely studied in kids.

There have not yet been enough studies on melatonin and kids to know the full impact of the supplement, according to the NIH. Even in adults, according to the NIH, the long-term impacts of melatonin are not well-known, even if the supplement does appear to be mostly safe with short-term use. With kids, because melatonin is a hormone, there is a possibility that taking it by supplement could impact hormonal development like puberty and menstruation, according to the NIH.

3. Melatonin ingestion by a child is a medical emergency

According to Ashton, when a child ingests melatonin without adult supervision, it is a medical emergency that requires immediate action. “You either want to bring them to an emergency room or contact a poison control center,” she said. Symptoms of melatonin ingestion in kids includes abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, excessive tiredness and labored breathing.

4. Parents should store melatonin out of kids’ reach.

Ashton said parents should keep all medications and supplements, including melatonin, out of the reach of kids, even young teenagers. Bottle tops should also be kept securely closed, according to Ashton, who encouraged parents to talk to their kids about medication safety.

“You always want to use any medication exposure as an opportunity to really teach that child about medication, that it should only be given by an adult, is not candy and can have consequences both good and bad,” she said. The CDC also has additional tips HERE for keeping medication safely away from kids.

By Katie Kindelan

Source: Melatonin overdoses in kids increase 530% over past decade: What parents need to know to keep kids safe

Critics by

It’s not easy to get good sleep, especially during a worrisome pandemic with no end in sight, so it’s not surprising that bottles of sleep-inducing melatonin pills have become bedside staples. But this increased availability of melatonin at home, particularly in easy-to-consume forms like gummies, has had serious, and in some cases deadly, consequences for the children who either accidentally get their hands on it or are given it by a caregiver.

A new study published by the CDC found that melatonin overdoses in children increased 530% from 2012 to 2021, with the largest spike — a 38% increase — occurring from 2019 to 2020, when the COVID pandemic started. The researchers looked at melatonin overdoses in children and teens. More than 260,000 cases were reported to US poison control centers over the last decade, including more than 4,000 hospitalizations and nearly 300 that resulted in intensive care.

Five children required mechanical ventilation and two children — a 3-month-old and a 1-year-old — died at home following melatonin poisoning. The researchers said child-resistant packaging for melatonin “should be considered” and that healthcare providers need to better warn parents about the supplement’s “potential toxic consequences.”

The study’s lead researcher Dr. Karima Lelak, who is a pediatric emergency medicine physician at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, said melatonin may not be as harmless as people make it out to be, and that safe storage is absolutely critical. “Parents should really see melatonin just as any other medication that has the potential to do harm to kids, and it can be even more dangerous because it can look like candy,” Lelak told BuzzFeed News. “If a parent takes their melatonin after reading this paper and puts it in their medicine cabinet, I am humbled because I think that’s really a big take-home point: safe storage.”

Melatonin supplements work by mimicking melatonin, a hormone naturally found in our bodies that is produced by the brain in response to darkness. Supplements are mostly used to treat sleep disorders, but they’re an accessible over-the-counter product anyone can buy and use to help improve sleep (and they’re often promoted to parents as a sleep aid for children). Melatonin is regulated by the FDA as a dietary supplement, requires no prescription to take, and is widely available in pill, liquid, and gummy form.

The majority of melatonin overdoses were accidental, occurred at home, and were treated in a setting outside of healthcare, the researchers found; most involved boys younger than 5. Melatonin consumption comprised about 5% of all childhood overdoses reported to poison control centers in 2021, compared with 0.6% in 2012, the study found. The supplement was the most frequently consumed substance among kids reported to poison control centers in 2020, likely because children were spending more time at home due to pandemic-related school closures and stay-at-home orders.

The 10-year study also showed that melatonin ingestions are leading to more serious outcomes over time. Whereas most hospitalized patients involved teenagers who may have intentionally taken too much of the hormone, the biggest jump in hospital admissions occurred among kids younger than 5 who accidentally overdosed on melatonin. It’s still unclear why the severity of melatonin ingestions among kids is getting worse, but the researchers speculate that quality control issues with the supplements themselves may play a role.

Melatonin sales in the US surged 150% between 2016 and 2020 in response to public demand. Studies conducted in Canada have shown that melatonin sold in stores often fails to match some of its label’s claims in terms of dosage, with the most variation found in the chewable products that kids are more likely to consume. This research has led to some important changes in Canada’s health policies involving melatonin, including the banning of certain over-the-counter products. However, such “drug quality studies and legislation initiatives in the United States are lacking,” the researchers wrote.

What’s more, these studies have found that some melatonin products are often contaminated with “potentially clinically significant” doses of serotonin, a byproduct of melatonin, that can lead to serotonin toxicity in kids, causing symptoms such as confusion, high blood pressure, overactive reflexes, and a rapid heartbeat. Most of the children included in the study who accidentally consumed too much melatonin didn’t have any symptoms, but those who did had gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, or central nervous system issues, including nausea, drowsiness, abdominal pain, and vomiting, Lelak said.

It’s difficult to know how much melatonin is too much because there isn’t an established dosage deemed safe for consumption, according to Lelak. It could be one pill or an entire bottle, but it will depend on how old someone is, the symptoms they’re showing after ingestion (if any), and their body size. About 15% to 25% of children and adolescents have trouble falling and staying asleep, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, the group warns, parents should speak with their pediatrician before giving their kids melatonin.

Dr. Shalini Paruthi, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, previously told BuzzFeed News that parents should wait until their kids are at least 3 years old before giving them melatonin because children younger than that have “unformed neurological and endocrine systems.” It’s also a good idea to first address poor sleep behaviors to ensure kids are getting quality sleep…

 

More contents:

How To Tell If You Have a Yeast Infection or UTI

Itching, burning or the constant urge to go — when it comes to problems down there, figuring out what’s wrong can be a tricky task. That’s because many issues that affect the vagina present with symptoms that may seem similar or even overlapping.

This is particularly true when it comes to urinary tract infections and yeast infections, two of the most common to afflict women — about 50% to 60% will experience a UTI at least once in her lifetime, and around 75% of women will experience a yeast infection at some point.

“These conditions can sometimes mirror one another because they both cause vaginal and bladder irritation,” says Jessica Shepherd, M.D., an ob-gyn, women’s health expert, and founder of Sanctum Wellness in Dallas, Texas.

lite9-4-1-1-1-1-3Here’s how to tell the difference between a UTI and a yeast infection so you can get the proper treatment.

Symptoms

UTI symptoms include:

  • A persistent urge to urinate, even if the bladder is empty and not much comes out
  • Incontinence
  • Burning, stinging or discomfort when urinating
  • Abdominal pain or cramping, especially when urinating
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain in the lower back or flank
  • Fever, chills, nausea

Yeast infection symptoms include:

  • Constant itching, burning, or pain when urinating
  • Abnormal discharge (white and cottage cheese-like)
  • Itching or irritation in the vaginal area
  • Vaginal pain or soreness

Causes

UTIs occur when bacteria gets into the vaginal area, giving it the opportunity to travel up to the urethra or bladder where it becomes a full-blown infection and triggers uncomfy symptoms, explains Dr. Shepherd. Women are more likely than men to get one (although men can have a UTI, too) because our urethras (the pathway to the bladder) are shorter, making the bacterial journey easier.

Yeast infections happen when there’s an overgrowth of yeast that disrupts the vagina’s delicate microbiome. “Yeast naturally grows in our vaginas, along with other ‘good’ bacteria, but sometimes these levels can become imbalanced, leading to an infection,” says Staci Tanouye, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN in Jacksonville, Florida and a Poise partner. “This can be caused by things like taking antibiotics, pregnancy, diabetes or a compromised immune system.”

Treatment

You need antibiotics to get rid of a UTI, so schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms. “If left untreated, a UTI could potentially spread to the kidneys, causing pain in the lower back or side, as well as fever, chills, or nausea,” Dr. Shepherd says.

Yeast infections can be treated with antifungal medications, but always talk to your doctor before trying any over-the-counter products, Dr. Tanouye says. Your doctor can help you determine which medication is right for you (there are oral options or suppositories that you insert into the vagina, as well as creams to help alleviate discomfort like itching).

Yeast infections require antifungal medications. These can be prescribed or purchased without a prescription and are available in a variety of treatments. You may take an oral medication, use a topical substance, or even insert a suppository. The duration of treatment varies and can range anywhere from one dose to multiple doses over a week’s time. Just like UTIs, you should take the yeast infection medication for the entire recommended duration to prevent the condition from coming back.

It’s possible that you have recurring UTIs and yeast infections that require a more aggressive treatment. Your doctor will outline these treatments if you experience multiple infections over a short course of time.

Preventing UTIs and yeast infections:

“Lifestyle factors can go a long way in helping you ward off UTIs and yeast infections,” says Dr. Shepherd. Here are some tactics to keep in mind:

  • Stay hydrated. “This can help prevent mild UTIs because fluids help flush bacteria from the urinary tract while decreasing inflammation,” Dr. Tanouye says.
  • Exercise. Being active supports a strong immune system, which is important for you to be able to fight off infections.
  • Ditch tight clothing. “Wear breathable clothing and keep skin dry,” Dr. Tanouye says, and try to change out of damp or sweaty clothing as soon as possible. Yeast thrives in warm, moist environments.
  • Avoid scented products. Feminine perfumes, deodorants, wipes or tampons that are scented may disrupt the makeup of vaginal bacteria, causing infection.
  • Wipe from front to back. This can help prevent you from spreading bacteria (which may cause a UTI) from the rectum to the vagina.
  • Don’t douche. This can disrupt your vagina’s natural bacterial makeup, which may lead to a yeast infection.

UTIs are common, with 10 in 25 women, and 3 in 25 men experiencing a UTI in their lifetime. Women experience UTIs more commonly than men because a woman’s urethra is shorter than a man’s, and closer to the vagina and anus, resulting in more exposure to bacteria.

You may also be more at risk for a UTI if you:

  • are sexually active
  • are pregnant
  • are currently using or have used antibiotics recently
  • are obese
  • have gone through menopause
  • have given birth to multiple children
  • have diabetes
  • have or have had a kidney stone or another blockage in your urinary tract
  • have a weakened immune system

Women experience yeast infections more frequently than men, and 75 percent of women will get a yeast infection in their lifetime. Yeast infections commonly occur in the vagina and vulva, but you can also get a yeast infection on your breast if you’re breast feeding and in other moist areas of the body, like the mouth. A vaginal yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted infection, but in rare occasions you can pass it to your partner during sex.

Your risk of contracting a vaginal yeast infection increases if:

  • you’re between puberty and menopause
  • you’re pregnant
  • you use hormonal birth control
  • you have diabetes and don’t manage high blood sugar effectively
  • you’re using or have recently used antibiotics or steroids
  • you use products in your vaginal area like douches
  • you have a compromised immune system

Source: How to tell if you have a yeast infection or UTI

More contents:

Vaginal yeast infections fact sheet”. womenshealth.gov. December 23, 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015.

Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2006″. MMWR Recomm Rep. 55 (RR-11): 1–94. PMID 16888612. Archived from the original on 2014-10-20.

Vaginal yeast infection”. MedlinePlus. National Institutes of Health. Archived from the original on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.

Diagnosis of vaginitis”. Am Fam Physician. 62 (5): 1095–104. PMID 10997533. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06.

Thrush in men and women”. nhs.uk. 2018-01-09. Retrieved 2021-01-16.

Yeast infection (vaginal)”. Mayo Clinic. Archived from the original on 16 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.

Vaginal Candidiasis | Fungal Diseases | CDC

Treatment of vaginal candidiasis for the prevention of preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis”.

“Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Candidiasis: 2016 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of Amerika

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How To Move With Migraines

Migraines are the most common form of headache that can cause severe throbbing pain – usually on one side of the head – and severely affect quality of life. A migraine attack can last hours or days and often comes with nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

According to a 2018 Deloitte Access Economics Report, almost 5 million people in Australia live with migraine, with 7.6% of them – around 400,000 people – experiencing chronic migraine, which means more than 15 migraine days per month.

Migraines are much more common in women than men and more prevalent in working-age people.

“During a flare, all people want to do is lie in a cold dark room and not do anything,” says Adnan Asger Ali, a physiotherapist and the deputy national chair at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia. But research shows regular exercise may have a preventive effect in reducing the number and intensity of migraines. One of the main reasons physical activity may help relieve migraines, says Ali, is that the body releases endorphins (natural painkillers) during exercise.

“Physical therapy can complement the pharmacological management of migraines,” he says. “It might mean that they take two Panadol instead of two codeine, and that’s still going to be a win because they’re not taking the hard stuff.”

A proper physical assessment is necessary to tailor a treatment plan to the individual, and individuals should consult with a health professional before embarking on a new exercise regime, but here are some suggestions on physical exercise that might help manage migraine.

The class: yoga and tai chi

Ali says slow movements, meditation and relaxation have significant beneficial effects on people who suffer from migraines. That includes activities such as yoga and tai chi.

In a recent randomized clinical trial that involved 114 patients aged 18 to 50 years with a diagnosis of episodic migraine, researchers found that people who practised yoga as an add-on therapy had less frequent and less intense migraines than those who received medical treatment alone.

Tai chi can also serve as a preventive measure for migraines. In a 2018 randomised controlled trial of 82 Chinese women with episodic migraines, researchers found that after 12 weeks of tai chi training, the women experienced significantly fewer migraine attacks.

The move: chin tuck

Neck stiffness and postural issues can be a driver for migraines, says Ali. He suggests the chin tuck, or cervical retraction, exercise to strengthen neck muscles and improve mobility.

The chin tuck exercise can be performed standing or sitting. Begin by sitting upright and looking straight ahead, keeping your neck and shoulders relaxed. Place a finger on your chin and gently glide your chin down – tuck your chin to your neck. Don’t hold your breath, move your head up or down or bend your neck forward.

You might feel a gentle pull at the base of the head and top of the neck. Hold the position for about five seconds and repeat the exercise 10 times – as long as it doesn’t cause any pain.

The activity: walking, jogging, running and cycling

Aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, running and cycling might help mitigate migraine.

A systematic review of studies on exercise and migraine published in The Journal of Headache and Pain in 2019 found that moderate-intensity exercise – physical activities that elevate your heart rate and cause you to breathe harder but still allow you to carry on a conversation – can decrease the number of migraine days.

“Any activity that people will do consistently and that they enjoy will be good for them,” says Ali.

The hard pass: high-intensity interval training

Ali warns against HIIT workouts, which alternate short bursts of intense cardio exercise with rest or lower-intensity exercise. “Very high-intensity exercise is discouraged if it triggers your migraine,” he says.

In some people, high-intensity exercise can trigger a migraine attack. But research has shown that regular HIIT workouts might be more beneficial than moderate exercise for others, highlighting the importance of a personalized exercise plan.

By: Manuela Callari

Source: How to move: with migraines | Life and style | The Guardian

.

Definition:

The main symptom of a migraine is usually an intense headache on 1 side of the head. The pain is usually a moderate or severe throbbing sensation that gets worse when you move and prevents you carrying out normal activities. In some cases, the pain can occur on both sides of your head and may affect your face or neck.

Additional symptoms

Other symptoms commonly associated with a migraine include:

  • feeling sick
  • being sick
  • increased sensitivity to light and sound, which is why many people with a migraine want to rest in a quiet, dark room

Some people also occasionally experience other symptoms, including:

Not everyone with a migraine experiences these additional symptoms and some people may experience them without having a headache. The symptoms of a migraine usually last between 4 hours and 3 days, although you may feel very tired for up to a week afterwards.

Symptoms of aura

About 1 in 3 people with migraines have temporary warning symptoms, known as aura, before a migraine.

These include:

  • visual problems – such as seeing flashing lights, zig-zag patterns or blind spots
  • numbness or a tingling sensation like pins and needles – which usually starts in 1 hand and moves up your arm before affecting your face, lips and tongue
  • feeling dizzy or off balance
  • difficulty speaking
  • loss of consciousness – although this is unusual

Aura symptoms typically develop over the course of about 5 minutes and last for up to an hour. Some people may experience aura followed by only a mild headache or no headache at all.

When to get medical advice

You should see a GP if you have frequent or severe migraine symptoms that cannot be managed with occasional use of over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol. Try not to use the maximum dosage of painkillers on a regular or frequent basis as this could make it harder to treat headaches over time.

You should also make an appointment to see a GP if you have frequent migraines (on more than 5 days a month), even if they can be controlled with medicine, as you may benefit from preventative treatment. You should call 999 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone you’re with experiences:

References:

  • Paralysis or weakness in 1 or both arms or 1 side of the face
  • stroke or meningitis, and should be assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.

 

What Causes Weird Phobias & What Can We Do About Them

I’m ashamed to say that when my husband told me he was terrified of cooked eggs, I mocked him and made jokes, from pretending that there was an egg in something he had just bitten into and waving my egg-based dishes under his nose.

I thought that his reactions of horror were a little exaggerated. There are plenty of foods I don’t like but I’m certainly not terrified at the thought of a kidney bean. It turns out that my reaction was wrong – and I still feel pangs of guilt for it. The fact is, my husband has a phobia. He doesn’t just hate eggs, they cause him trauma. He probably won’t read this as even the word egg is vile to him.

He won’t go to cafes due to the risk that a pan his breakfast has been cooked on had previously contained an egg. He has been physically sick at the smell of cooking eggs. If food he had ordered contained even a sliver of egg, he would not touch the entire dish, even parts that weren’t touching it.

Many people will be able to relate to his experience – or mine. It’s possible to have a phobia of anything, despite many believing only the obviously scary things – think spiders, flying, snakes – constitute a real, genuine fear. My sister has a fear of patterns; particularly dotted but any kind of repetitive pattern. Anything with hectic shapes, lines, dots or colours whether a piece of art, wallpaper or packaging terrifies her.

Other ‘weird’ phobias can include arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. Octophobia is the fear of the number eight and hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is, ironically, the fear of long words. Celebrity phobias include Billy Bob Thornton’s ‘crippling’ fear of antique furniture, Kylie Minogue’s phobia of clothes hangers, Matthew McConaughey’s fear of revolving doors, and Khloe Kardashian’s horror at belly buttons.

My husband was satisfied at the feeling of vindication when he found out the name of his own phobia, which is ovophobia. Where do these phobias originate? Are they just innate? Or are they linked to childhood experiences that may have been forgotten, but which triggered a connection to the item of fear?

When does a fear become a phobia?

Fear is a normal part of human life. But it becomes a phobia when this fear is overwhelming and debilitating. Someone with a phobia will have an extreme or unrealistic sense of danger about a particular situation, sensation, animal, or object. It might not make sense to other people, because the focus of the phobia isn’t obviously dangerous.

Phobias come under the umbrella of anxiety disorders, and can cause physical symptoms such as:

  • unsteadiness, dizziness and lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • increased heart rate or palpitations
  • shortness of breath
  • trembling or shaking
  • an upset stomach

My husband recently recalled, after years of trying to figure his egg fear out, that he was always terrified of visiting a relative’s house as a toddler. This relative had a booming voice, slammed his fist on the table without warning and threatened to lock him in the coal shed, as well as saying that there was a monster living inside the sink.

His mum recalls how she could feel both him and his brother physically sweating with fear while on her knee and the one consistent thing that was in that kitchen was fried eggs being cooked. It’s clear that he associates that smell of eggs and the sight of them with frightening times as a child. It makes perfect sense why that phobia has manifested itself into something like this.

According to Clinical Partners, who specialize in the treatment of phobias, around 5% of children and 16% of teenagers in the UK suffer from a phobia, with most phobias developing before the age of 10.

Children and teenagers with phobias often feel ashamed about their fears and keep them secret from their friends in case they are teased. This will be the same for adults in a workplace or social setting. I’m frightened of patterns, bananas, beards or the colour yellow is hardly a comfortable ice breaker.

And yet, working alongside a new colleague with a beard or all memos coming on yellow paper would be triggering for those suffering with said phobias; making for a very uncomfortable environment both for the sufferer and the colleagues who have no idea they’re causing alarm.

Clinical Partners explains: ‘Phobias arise for different reasons but a bad experience in early years can trigger a pattern of thoughts that result in a powerful fear of a situation – for instance if your child falls ill after having an injection, they may develop an ongoing fear to injections, which can get worse over time.

‘Children may also “learn” to have a phobia – for instance if a close family member is afraid of spiders and the child witnesses them screaming when they see one, they may also develop that fear.’ There are a lot of environmental factors at play here but for the less common phobias, we have to dig deeper to try and work out the source.

There is no guarantee that discovering that source will erase your phobia but if the phobia is seriously impacting your life to the point where you can’t work, go out, become ill and even fear dying, it’s a valid starting point to understand the root of it.

CBT and talking therapies are available for this. Start by talking to your GP; phobias are a recognized condition and for many, a gradual but very carefully carried out exposure to the item of fear by a professional can be an important first step.

For my husband, his knowledge of what caused his phobia is enough. He isn’t desperate to get over his fear of eggs and doesn’t want to spend weeks and months of treatment just to potentially be ok with an egg yolk dribbling onto his bacon.

But for others, treatment is vital in order to get to a place where the phobia is not ruling their life. What can the rest of us do? Showing compassion and understanding – and never poking fun – is key. It’s a hard and embarrassing thing to confess, so don’t break a person’s confidence by waving a peeled banana under the nose of someone who is scared of them.

At the same time, you don’t have to wrap a person with a phobia in cotton wool and treat them any differently; simply be conscious of their fear and check your own actions to ensure that you are not inadvertently causing them discomfort.

Phobias are very real and sometimes we don’t know where they originate from or why they affect us so much. It’s a condition we have been programmed to underestimate, but given the mental health impacts they can lead onto, we need to all be more accepting that people can be and are terrified of things we don’t understand.

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Source: What causes ‘weird phobias – and what can we do about them? | Metro News

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Teaching Your Kids How to Resolve Conflict Without Fighting

You know how we have epiphanies as we grow older? One of the most profound ones for me has been the realization that just because someone doesn’t agree with what you’re saying at the moment doesn’t mean that they don’t agree with you all the time or that they don’t like you anymore.

This simple realization has had a huge impact on my life.

Just recently, my parents and brother were in town for my daughter’s birthday. We were at dinner the night before her party, and my brother hadn’t put his phone down the entire half hour we’d been seated. I made a comment on this – that it’s not pleasant to share a meal with someone that can’t take their eyes away from their smart phones – and he stormed off, refusing to engage in any conversation.

This isn’t the first time he’s had a violent outburst of anger over a small conflict. As his family member, it upsets me that this happens so frequently.

While I tried to make amends over text message (the only way he was willing to communicate), I noticed something in what he was saying – he thought that any criticism of his actions was a criticism of him. He thought that if I respected him, then I would not say anything negative to him. And worst of all, he thought that disagreeing meant we couldn’t be friends.

I started to wonder why this might be. Did we not have good examples of conflict resolution growing up? Did we witness violent outbursts of anger? When I think back on it, I can’t remember my parents ever arguing. And while that may seem like a good thing, I think that may be where the problem lies.

In order to know how to handle conflict in a productive and healthy manner, we need models of healthy conflict resolution. While on one hand fighting and inflamed emotions only create pain, on the other, never seeing adults disagree means our children don’t know how to deal with conflicts at all.

Productive arguments and even conflict are good, and can bring us closer when handled well. Among the many things we teach our kids, how to resolve conflict without resorting to either drama or fighting, or just simply sweeping it under the rug to fester, is very important.

Here are some ways we can teach our kids to argue in a way that builds connections, instead of destroying them –

1. Teach that disagreement and conflict do not mean that the relationship is damaged or in jeopardy

Our children need to know they are loved unconditionally. This is true in our homes, in school, and on the playground. It is far too common for individuals to view a disagreement as the undoing of a relationship. It is entirely possible to have opposing views and to still get along.

When your child comes home after a disagreement with a friend, listen to the grievances, and remind your child that their relationship with their friend remains intact.

Saying “I see, you didn’t like it that Mila wouldn’t share the swing with you” places the burden on the action; saying “it sounds like Mila was being mean today” places the burden on Mila.

This important distinction does two things:

  1. it helps your child understand that it was the action, not the friend, which was truly upsetting and
  2. it promotes a growth mindset.

Your child will learn that Mila’s actions do not define her completely. If the negative feelings are linked directly to your child’s friend instead of the action, your child may incorporate that image of Mila as always being mean. By linking the feelings to the action, your child will be more likely to understand that having one disagreement does not mean that Mila will always be “mean”.

You can also teach your child this truth by affirming it whenever the two of you disagree. Be careful and intentional with the language you choose.

Instead of criticizing your child (“you’re being disruptive”), make it clear that it is the behavior that you are unapproving of (“the way you are banging your silverware on the table is disrupting our family dinner”).

This can help your child take an outside perspective of the behavior or disagreement. Instead of aligning him or herself with the behavior in opposition to you, he or she can align with you in opposition to the behavior. Which makes it easier to teach kids how to resolve conflict in a healthy manner and brings us to our next strategy…

2. Instill in your child a sense of family and friends as teammates

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re outside of a group. Being ostracized in time out or left out of a game of tag can be debilitating for a child. We want to belong. And one of the things that can make us feel like we don’t belong is having a fight.

I noticed this in my communication with my brother. He felt rejected because of our disagreement, when in reality I only meant to point out a behavior that was hindering our ability to connect. I should have been more careful to make it clear that it wasn’t him that I had a problem with, but was the behavior instead.

One way we can do this with our children and other adults is reminding ourselves and each other that we are on the same team. When your child is disrupting dinner time, saying something like “we all want to have a meal together and spend time with each other” reminds him or her that you have the same goal.

Back to our example of Mila not sharing her swing – this is a good time to explain that individuals often have different ideas of the same goal. In this example, our goal on the playground is to have fun and play together. Mila is expressing this goal by swinging. How else can we meet this goal together? How can we cooperate, rather than compete, to find different options for reaching the same goal? Can we take turns with one on the swing and the other pushing her 10 times and then switch places so both of us can have fun?

This is the sort of conversation that may be difficult to have with young children, but if we are able to open our children’s minds to seeing different ways to get the same thing accomplished, and ultimately look for a win-win solution, we have done them a great service for their lives to come.

3. Encourage your child to recognize the emotions that come to the surface during a conflict

When we don’t view each other as teammates, we may come to assume that the other person has bad intentions or is trying to hurt us. Where does this come from?

Most often, it is a defense against the pain and fear of being rejected. These emotions are quick to come to the surface in any conflict – our stomach gets tight, we sweat, our heart pounds. We are afraid of what the other person – our partner, a friend, a coworker – might say.

In order to protect ourselves against these scary feelings, we often fight back. We lash out instead of taking a moment to recognize our own vulnerability.

We can help our children recognize this cascade of thoughts and feelings by verbalizing it for them and asking them how they feel.

When you see anger rising in your child, place a hand on their shoulder and ask them what they’re feeling. The touch will help them feel safe and grounded, and the answer to your question may help them step out of their escalating anger and fear.

If they have trouble finding the words to describe their emotions, help them out. Say “it seems like you’re feeling angry/scared/frustrated”. Giving them a variety of words to express their emotions and helping them understand the more complicated ones will give them tools of emotional intelligence that they can use throughout their lives to build healthy relationships. This primer from The Natural Child Project has suggestions on how to observe and verbalize the emotions that arise from a difficult situation.

Once the emotions are identified, help them dig deeper to explore the causes of these emotions: “you felt frustrated when Mila wouldn’t share the swing with you”, or “did you feel scared that she may not be your friend if she didn’t share?”

By now, your child will probably start to be more calm and able to think through a healthy solution for how to resolve conflict. This is a good time to use our first two strategies: reminding your child that the disagreement does not mean that the friendship is over, and that there may be other ways to view the situation so that you can reach your shared goal together.

4. Model these strategies every chance you get

There is no greater teacher than the world around us, and our children are sponges, absorbing all of our actions and words as the blueprint for their lives.

A lot of pressure? Maybe.

But that’s one of the beauties of parenthood – it pushes us to be our best selves.

I mentioned above that my brother and I never saw our parents disagreeing. How were we meant to learn how to disagree if we never saw it happening? It seemed to us that disagreeing was something so bad that it had be hidden, if it happened at all. But disagreements happen, and there’s no way to avoid them. What we can avoid is an inability to deal with conflict in a healthy manner.

For example, having a disagreement with your spouse is not a time to run to another room and argue in hushed tones. Instead, use it as a teaching moment for your child and for yourself.

Saying “when you forget to go to the grocery store, I feel disrespected” gets to the heart of the issue much more than angrily shouting “you’re so forgetful!”

It also helps your spouse recognize the impact of their actions on you – it is highly unlikely that he or she neglected to go to the store out of any disrespect for you – and it helps you recognize that you may be experiencing emotions that are more about your own reaction than about the actions of your partner. According to nonviolent communication pioneer Marshall Rosenberg, “what others do may be a stimulus of our feelings, but not the cause”.

Modeling this behavior is hugely instructional for our children. They get to see us being vulnerable, and they start to see this honest discussion of emotions as a normal and healthy part of our interactions with each other.

The 2-Minute Action Plan for Fine Parents

At the heart of teaching healthy conflict-resolution skills is a deep understanding of our own reactions to conflict. Just as we discussed helping your child recognize his or her emotions, we need to practice this ourselves.

The next time you disagree with your child, your spouse, your coworker, or your friend, notice how your body feels. Our bodies can often teach us a lot about our emotions. Do you hunch over, taking a protective stance out of a feeling of fear? Do you immediately cross your arms, unwilling to move forward hand-in-hand with the other person?

Identifying the tension in your body is the first step to letting it go. See if you can relax into your own vulnerability. Remind yourself that this is not a fight-or-flight situation, but rather an opportunity to understand each other more deeply and to forge an even stronger relationship.

The Ongoing Action Plan for Fine Parents

If you are inclined to write, you can take the 2-minute action plan a step further. Keeping a daily stream-of-consciousness journal can be a wonderful tool for unraveling our thoughts, feelings, actions, and the connections among the three.

Julia Cameron pioneered this idea in The Artist’s Way, calling the ritual “Morning Pages”. While it was originally meant to clear the mind to make room for creativity, the Morning Pages practice can also be used to clear your mind of any clutter or complicated thoughts, to make room for full, authentic engagement with the world and your family.

When it comes to conflict, a writing practice can help you understand your own reactions to difficult situations. This in turn helps us connect with and better understand our children. This high level of empathy is crucial for helping our children learn to understand their emotions related to conflict and disagreement, and one of the best ways to cultivate empathy is by being vulnerable ourselves. From that place of kindness and empathy, we can teach our children to deal with these moments in a way that fosters continued harmonious relationship at home, at school, and for the rest of their lives.

By: 

Tiffany Frye is the co-founder of nido durham (www.nidodurham.com), a coworking space with childcare in Durham, NC. She supports and mentors parents who want to craft a career that fits around their lives and honors their parent-self as well as their professional-self. You can connect with Tiffany at tiffanymfrye.com or on Twitter @nidodurham.

Source: Teaching Your Kids How to Resolve Conflict Without Fighting – A Fine Parent

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