37 minutes | Jul 30, 2018

Episode 074: Strong-Willed Kids and Addiction Part 2

Listen here or READ the post below. Last week we learned that strong-willed kids are more likely to struggle with addiction than other children. This is a HUGE concern to many parents. If it's a concern to you, then you don't want to miss today's interview with Mike Fitch, CMHC. We talk about ways you can help prevent addictions, warning signs of addiction, and some things you can do as a parent if you think your child is struggling with an addiction. Mike Fitch, CMHC Here's a quick recap from last week: Strong-willed children are more likely to struggle with addictions than other children. The three most common addictions for kids are: Electronics Pornography Junk food Kids get addicted to these things easily because they release "feel good" hormones in the brain Now let's talk about prevention, warning signs, and early intervention for each of the three most common addictions. Unhealthy Food Prevention: First, limit the amount of unhealthy foods you keep in the home.  I don't think that you need to get rid of ALL the unhealthy foods that you have.  In fact, I see that kids who grow up in homes where they're allowed to have treats, go crazy and eat lots of junk when their parents aren't around.  Kids tend to do better if they have junk food occasionally with their families. Second, meet with your family to create healthy boundaries around food together.  Let them know what you learned from last week, why we turn to unhealthy foods and how addictive they can be.  Also review what a balanced diet looks like, then ask them to help  create your family's rules around food.  Doing this as a family will help your kids be more committed to the plan. After you have set the limits, be consistent in enforcing those limits.  Of course there will be special occasions where you will need to flexible about the rules, but on regular days, enforce the boundaries.  This is easier to do if you don't have much junk food available at your home. Third, make sure your kids get ENOUGH food.  Kids will be less likely to eat junk food if they are full of healthy food. When they are hungry their blood sugar drops and they want something to raise their sugar fast.  If you're feeling like you child won't eat any healthy food, go here to learn what tips our therapists have for getting picky eaters to eat healthy foods. Here's a couple of quick bonus ideas: Get individually packaged junk food.  It costs a little more, but it limits how much you child can eat.  A small bag of cookies that's gone when it's gone is easier to manage than a huge box of cookies. Consider doing online shopping for food, then pick up at the store.  Marketers know how to get you to buy junk food.  The less time you spend in the grocery store, the less likely you are to buy the junk. Electronics According to Common Sense Media, 59 percent of parents say their kids are “addicted” to their screens, while 66 percent say their kids spend too much time on screens. https://www.nbcnews.com/video/study-no-more-than-an-hour-a-day-of-screen-time-for-children-under-five-791230531903 Prevention: Set boundaries around the amount of screen time kids are allowed to have each day.  Remember that screen time releases the hormone, dopamine, in unnaturally high amounts.  Dopamine release from TV and video games is extremely addictive.  If you limit the amount of screen time, you limit the amount of dopamine exposure. Here are the most up-to-date recommendations for amounts of time: Under age eighteen months-no screens unless "face-timing" with someone Toddler through Tween-One hour daily Teen-Two hours daily These recommended times include ANY screens.  If your child is doing any TV or gaming on any device, that counts as screen time. Now, I know there are times that you need to give your kids a little extra screen time.  If you're sick, your child is sick, or your on a long road trip,
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