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Never Too Early to Start: How to Teach Children About Consent

Abuse, domestic violence, and rape have been making rounds in media and the community, and a lot of parents are alarmed how the victim could have been their child.

Children, even at a young age, can learn about boundaries and consent. While a lot of parents worry that it may tarnish their children’s innocence, teaching them about consent does not have to be explicit and full of terms. They can package it in a way that is age-appropriate and understandable in the language their children speak. Here are examples parents can teach pre-school children about the importance of consent.

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Give them the freedom to express their opinion

A child learns best by example. Parents can teach consent and boundaries by giving their children the freedom to make their own choices and voice out their own opinion while being in the boundaries of what has to happen.

For example, parents can invite the child to sleep by asking them which pajama they want to use to bed. When preparing for breakfast, they can ask the child which cereal they want to start the day with.

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Teach them to ask for permission

Parents can start by teaching children to ask for permission when they want something. A simple “can I play with the robot today?” can teach children about good behavior. Beyond sharing what they already have, asking for permission goes a long way.

Let them know that “no” is a valid answer

Just because they asked for permission, it doesn’t mean that a “yes” can be automatically given. Teaching children that giving and receiving a “no” (but not the unnecessarily rude “no”) is okay and normal.

Dr. Jonathan Lauter is a child and adolescent psychiatrist based in New York. Read similar articles by visiting this blog.



First Heartbreak: Mental Techniques To Help Teens Move On From a Breakup

Most first love experiences happen during adolescence. The experience is truly life-changing; coupled with one’s own quest for individuality and identity, first loves often leave a remarkable impression on a teenager. Unfortunately, many first love experiences do not last long. Couples separate and the teenager is left feeling vulnerable. Several psychological techniques can be followed.

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Expression: Strong emotions need to be expressed in a healthy manner. Love is a powerful emotion. Medical studies have proven that there are physiological effects of love. This means, loving someone causes significant changes to one’s brain. For those experiencing love for the first time, “letting go” is difficult because physically speaking, one is changed. Many child and adolescent psychiatrists recommend reprogramming one’s brain and body by finding means of expression. This can be in the form of writing, speaking, painting, or any form of manner in which to express all the emotions being felt.

Practice gratitude: This is challenging at the beginning. Recent psychological studies suggest the use of positive affirmations as an effective means of moving on from a breakup. This includes continuously practicing gratitude and self-affirmations. It is easy for teenagers to feel a lack of self-worth after an intense love affair, so it is necessary for them to remind themselves of their good qualities. Doing so not only helps in changing one’s perception of the relationship but one’s self-image.

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Extreme cases of breakups can cause an adolescent to engage in risky behaviors or feel intense emotions. Parents who fear their child is not coping properly should immediately consult with their trusted child and adolescent psychiatrist.

Dr. Jonathan Lauter specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry. Subscribe to this blog for more articles on mental health.

New Study Shows Lack of Sleep Increases Depression and Anxiety Risk in Children

A new study indicates that children and adolescents who complain of inadequate sleep have a higher risk of developing anxiety or depression in their later years. The lack of sleep is already associated with other mental concerns such as poor concentration and irritability, but this is the first time that poor sleeping habits have been linked to depression risk. The authors of the study caution parents to monitor their child’s behavior carefully. It may be a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma. Poor sleep could influence psychological health, yet changes in sleeping behavior is also a symptom of depression and anxiety.

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The lack of sleep makes a child or adolescent unable to assess situations properly. The body needs to rest, and sleep gives the brain time to go through the day’s experiences and teach a child how to deal with them. Poor sleeping habits affect emotional health and may lead to the child thinking more negative thoughts. Studies show that children who report a lack of sleep have less positive emotions.

Those most at risk are children who have recently experienced a great emotional trauma. This can be the death of a loved one or even transferring schools. It is normal for children and adolescents to undergo a period of grief- in these moments, sleep can be affected. However, if dramatic changes are observed in sleep or eating habits after two continuous weeks, it is heavily advised for the child to see his or her local psychologist.

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Jonathan Lauter, M.D., is a certified child and adolescent psychologist whose areas of expertise include depression and anxiety from a neurological perspective. Learn more about Dr. Lauter’s practice here.

What People don’t see: The Struggles of Depression

Most people equate sadness with depression, but the latter is far beyond the former. Sadness is a normal human emotion; depression is a legitimate mental illness. This is just one of the many long-held stereotypes about depression. Many people fail to see that depression is more than just sadness and individuals who suffer from this mental illness face struggles in their daily lives:

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Insomnia and hypersomnia: These two are hallmark symptoms of clinical depression. People who are depressed have racing thoughts that keep them awake until sunrise. On the contrary, there are times that they sleep too much to escape those thoughts.

Suffering in silence: They will most likely hide their illness for fear that people will fail to understand their condition. The truth is, most people would say, “You don’t look depressed” upon knowing that their friend was diagnosed with depression. Depression is clearly more than just a facial expression. Smiling and acting bubbly in front of people do not mean that they are not battling with anxiety and feeling of inadequacy.

Physical health problems: They might experience significant weight loss or weight gain and unexplained headaches, muscle pain, and back pain from time to time.

Overworking and being unproductive: To escape from the feeling of worthlessness and anxiety, they tend to overwork. There will also be times that they will criticize themselves too much which can result in loss of energy and unproductiveness.

Constant thoughts of suicide: The feeling of being trapped in hopelessness makes them feel that committing suicide is a lot easier than dealing with their life problems.

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Although it might be difficult to empathize with people who suffer from depression, loved ones should be vigilant of the signs and symptoms and consistently provide support.

Jonathan B. Lauter, M.D., is an accomplished child and adolescent psychiatrist. For more helpful articles regarding neurobehavioral disorders, visit this blog.

Two Ways to Manage your Child’s Temper Tantrums

All children will have a temper tantrum episode several times in his or her life. The meltdown is very difficult on both the child and parents. It is essential that parents know how to respond to their child’s temper tantrum. Plus it serves two purposes. The first is that it diffuses the situation. Children should not be allowed to take control of the situation so parents must be very vigilant in their responses. Secondly, how the parents also react consciously and subconsciously affects the child. Children learn how to gauge their responses and use this development skill as adults. Child psychiatrists recommend two and simple ways to manage a child’s temper tantrum.

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Keep calm but firm: Parents have to stress their position in the child’s life. They should not react to a child’s anger with similar outrage. This merely creates an endless cycle of frustration and resolves in both parties just being angry and confused. Parents should not lose their temper and keep calm. They should also remember that while they are not responsible for the choices their children make, they are responsible for how they handle these choices. Parents should be firm in their decisions and not give in to the child’s request. Doing so actually encourages further tantrums because the child believes that this is the only way to get what he or she wants.

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Maintain empathy: Being firm does not mean being cruel or negligent. Parents may try talking to their children and saying something along the lines of “I know it’s frustrating not to get (so and so), but (include reasons for saying no).” It forces the child also to learn empathy and try seeing things from another person’s point of view.

Parents should remember that emotional manipulation works both ways. While children should not be granted requests just for a temper tantrum, parents should not emotionally use tantrums as a means to hurt the child.

Maintain a happy and healthy relationship with your child with the assistance of Dr. Jonathan Lauter, a leading child and adolescent psychiatrist. Like this Facebook page for more information.

Early Diagnosis: Symptoms of OCD in Children

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) – what is considered as the “Bible” of all psychiatric disorders – has changed the umbrella in which obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) fall under. The DSM now recognizes OCD to be a unique condition, entirely different from its previous categorization as an anxiety disorder. This mental illness is a highly debilitating disease. Individuals get trapped in endless cycles of repetitive thoughts and behaviors. This can cause feelings of intense anxiety leading to an urgent desire to perform certain rituals or routines to make the obsessive thoughts go away.


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The symptoms for both children and adults are similar, although parents must pay close attention to their children for signs as young ones are not capable of expressing themselves fully. Children may have a difficult time explaining a reason for their rituals and justify them with the reason of “just because.” Kids with OCD may complain about things not being “in order” or not being “right.” Children may become easily irritable because he or she feels compelled to stay awake or miss an activity to complete a compulsive ritual. They have difficulties concentrating.

Parents should watch out for these common compulsions of OCD: repetitive rituals such as excessive hand washing, showering, going in and out of doorways, rereading, rewriting, counting, hoarding, and ordering or arranging objects. If these symptoms continue for more than two weeks, parents are urged to visit a child psychiatrist for a proper diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan.


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Your child’s mental health is of the utmost importance to Jonathan B. Lauter, M.D., – a highly recognized child psychiatrist. Learn more about mental health by following this Twitter account.

Divorce and Children: Handling the Emotional Turmoil

Divorce is considered a highly traumatic event. The devastating effects extend beyond the adults involved but to their children as well. Unfortunately, there is no conclusive data on how each child reacts to divorce. Every child responds differently and can manifest various behaviors.

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There are, however, tendencies that separating parents should consider and look out for in their children. These, however, should not be taken as certainties.

Children, in particular, should be closely monitored during a marriage dissolution. In general, divorce tends to intensify a child’s dependence on a parent whereas adolescents tend to become more independent, bordering on extreme aloofness or sometimes aggression. Younger children show an increased risk of regression and can become more isolated or heavily reliant on parental care.

Most children will also develop anxious behavior with difficulties adjusting to a different, and now unpredictable, environment. It is recommended that parents convince their young children that while the marriage is over, care and support will not cease. Kids could also ask such questions as: “Who will take care of me?” or “Will I stop being loved?”

The adjustment period for each child varies, but this period can be shortened following a strong plan by both parents. Well-adjusted adults can put aside their differences for the sake of their child. It would also help if a trained child psychiatrist comes in with assistance during the period of divorce.

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Again, the behaviors of children in reaction to divorce could be taken as the usual manifestations, although they are by no means conclusive. A child can even exhibit completely different behavior. If a parent feels that their child is acting differently, then consultation with a child psychiatrist is in order.

Dr. Jonathan Lauter specializes in general child and adolescent psychiatry. His expertise covers a diverse range of topics, including divorce and its potential effects on the young. Learn more about child and adolescent psychiatry by liking this Facebook page.