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Promise Me This Will Never Happen: Why Parents Need to Talk About the Climate Crisis

Youth Climate StrikeToday, millions of young people across the globe are striking to raise awareness about the climate crisis. Some parents may be joining them, others may feel uncertain or overwhelmed about whether to discuss this with their children. Here are my thoughts about why we need to stand up for our kids' future and talk about the climate crisis in ways that do not increase fear, but rather make an impact and build our "eco-resilience" in other words, are constructive and add momentum to the currents of change.  This is a crisis we can do something about. Here's to working together for our children's future.

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Code Like a Girl: Learning to Code without Fear

Code Like a GirlWhen I was in college, back in the Stone Age, one day one of my professors marched us out of class and over to this mysterious building called the "Computing Center" and insisted we create an account and learn to use a computer. I, being me at the time, was afraid that one false key stroke and I would crash the whole system. Thank goodness that's ancient history, but tech anxiety is a real thing. Thanks to author of ThDaring Book for Girl, Miriam Peskowitz, and her wonderful new book, Code Like a Girl, tech anxiety could be a thing of the past. Code Like a Girl is a beautifully illustrated, super easy to follow fun adventure helping girls and anyone who is fearful to put their toes in the tech water see that while it may feel uncomfortable at first, it's really, really fun. Miriam is a super explainer/ inspirer/teacher/role model and I'm so lucky to say, my dear friend. So let's get the fear and anxiety out of tech for all of us: show them how it's done: Let's all code like a girl.

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How to Overcome Math Anxiety: Ten Strategies to Help Your Child Have a Math Mindset

Math Anxiety ©Andrea Obzerova

Math Anxiety-- is it a necessary evil? No, but I get it. When I was a little girl and my statistician educator dad would try to help me with math I would cry. So yes, I get it, but now as an anxiety therapist I know better that it isn't math (or the spider, or the ladder, or the dog) that's the problem it's what our intrusive anxious thoughts are telling us about that situation. And we don't have to listen! There are additional factors with math which "prime" there it is again us for developing anxiety about math: 1) Pressure about the importance of math and STEM in general; 2) Pressure from those dreaded timed tests. Researchers have found that timed testing is not necessary for learning and in fact interferes with performance because the high levels of stress trying to beat the clock block our access to working memory where our math knowledge is stored. So, I no longer cry about math, and I don't want anyone else to either. You can overcome math anxiety and here are lots of ideas to help.

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Transitions: How to Lean In and Adjust to Change

Transitions ©BrianAJacksonAs summer draws to a close we all get that feeling, maybe a sinking feeling—the end of something. It can hit hard even if next week will look pretty much the same as last week. This summer my husband and I are transitioning into empty-nesting as our younger daughter settles into college. It feels like transition with a capital “T.” But no matter the size or circumstance, it helps to remember and trust that we all adjust to change, it’s in our DNA. Let’s trust that we’ll adjust, together.

 

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Handling College Homesickness

Homesickness MilkosFor families with kids starting college this month, mixed in with the excitement, there is likely a healthy dose of anxiety and homesickness. Wait, homesickness is healthy? Yes, it's a normal process as kids transition from the nest they are leaving to the nest they are creating in their new life. Here are some ideas for helping your student and yourself through these next few weeks of the matched sets of happy texts and tough texts, excited phone calls and free flowing tears, until they have settled in and everyone exhales and marvels as this wondrous stage of life takes shape.

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Back to School Cheat Sheet for Anxious Kids

Back to School AnxietyThe other day I got an email from a dedicated school counselor asking for tips to share with parents about the back to school anxieties that are keeping everyone up at night. Every August we get that uneasy transition-y feeling-- even if it's been decades since we had to gather our school supplies and get on the bus! Though most kids navigate these transitions well and settle into routines within a couple weeks, that doesn't mean there aren't some back to school worries and fears. Here are some ideas for parents and school personnel to help kids manage those worries, put them in their place, and have a great start to the school year. Here's to less worry all around!

 

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How to Talk to Kids in the Wake of Tragedy

Tragedy

In the aftermath of tragedy it is hard for adults to cope and harder still to know what to say to kids to help them manage their emotions: fear, grief, and uncertainty. The Child Mind Institute has published an excellent guide for parents, medical professionals, mental health professionals, teachers, and clergy with printable pdf pages. Please share widely. Click here for more ideas. Thank you for your help in making the world a safer place for us all. 

 

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Countdown to College: How to Prepare Your Student (and Yourself) Emotionally and Practically

PreCollegeBingo

Do you have a student starting college in a few weeks? If you and your student are feeling anxious about this transition it's totally to be expected. How could it be otherwise? Our second child is leaving the nest and while I'm confident that she is ready, much to her chagrin-- I wrote this blogpost about continuing to hound, I mean teach about being responsible-- emotionally and practically. Because, let's face it, roommates and friends may not be charmed by things like: being late, not having your keys, leaving dirty dishes around, etc etc. At our house we even made a Bingo game for practicing new skills (because that's just the kind of people we are....). So, with our daughter's gracious permission, and it must be said, she is a wonderful human being...I'm sharing it here. In addition, here are lots of ideas for emotional and practical preparation for a great start to college. Maybe you'll make a bingo card too-- or at least talk about it. OK, yes, this might just cue the eye rolling, but parents-- we know what we're talking about even though our kids may never admit it. Right? Best wishes to all for a great start to college!

 

 

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Rethinking the Path to Empathy: When it's Hard to Connect, Step into Your Own Shoes First

EmpathyWhat is the path to empathy? We have all been urged (or at times, chided) to "step into someone else's shoes," But just as we might strain to comprehend the extent of the physical pain someone is experiencing when they look so normal, so like us on the outside, we can strain to fathom the extent of emotional distress others endure in the absence--to us-- of a good enough cause. In other words, try as we might, someone else's shoes just might not fit. That's OK. We don't have to understand what someone else is feeling, we just have to want to. Instead of doing the far stretch into someone else's shoes, as fellow human beings we all understand suffering-- whether from anxiety, or loss, or pain, so we can step into our own shoes, flip through our own feelings of vulnerability and find a "good enough" empathic match. Here are some ideas to run with (in your empathy shoes!). Here's to less worry and more empathy all around.

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Looking At Anxiety Through the Lens of "Little Panic"

Little Panic"Panic is hard to understand if you haven't experienced it," this is what a twelve year old girl recently told me through her tears, upset that her parents can't understand her and so can't help her feel better. Her parents  (and the millions of other parents of kids with anxiety) are upset because they want to empathize and help, but don't know how. How can parents get up to speed so that kids aren't feeling lost and alone with frightening symptoms and experiences that they themselves can't understand? A new memoir called Little Panic by writer and mental health advocate Amanda Stern gives us some powerful answers. Little Panic illuminates with poignancy, clarity and wit, Stern's experience of and ultimate triumph over growing up with an undiagnosed panic disorder. Stern's spot on descriptions of the struggles of anxious kids have become my go to for parents who want to understand what anxiety feels like to a child, but importantly, Stern's story and her life will inspire adults struggling with anxiety to see that with knowledge and persistence you really can free yourself from anxiety and live the life you want. Please check out Little Panic!

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How to Survive Summer with Bored Kids: Give Them Just Enough Structure

Bored KidsLast week I was on a work call with a parent whose pre-teen kept interrupting our conversation with the frustrating refrain, “I’m so bored. There’s nothing to do, what am I supposed to do?” Without a plan in place, screen time is the default much to our kids delight and our dismay. Fear not! Here are some easy ideas to create and sustain just the right amount of structure with your child to make it a great summer for all.

 

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Kids, Anxiety and Sports: How to Train Like a Pro

Resilient Young Athletes istock by permissionWelcome to Part Two in our series on Kids and Sports. In Part One, we looked at parenting ideas to support your young athlete. Here, we focus on what kids themselves can do. As much as your child's athletic success comes from building up their skills, working on their emotional management system--how to handle disappointment and keep their head in the game—will help them soar ever higher! Let’s make this season one where kids build up their resilience and flexibility along with their skills pitching, running, and sliding into home base. Here are some ideas to share with your kids, their coaches, and parents and teammates. Here's to a great season!

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How to Survive College Rejection

College Decisions istock by permissionWith college decisions rolling in this month, March madness isn’t just about basketball. I will refrain from getting up on my soapbox about the major shortcomings of our college admissions process, and the cost(!), and get right to the issue at hand: handling disappointment and doing damage control. Rejection is a sting, but it’s not the rejection itself that matters-- that is part of life-- but how your student interprets the meaning of that rejection which matters most. Bottom line: interpret small: this is about this college, now, not big: this is not about my whole life and self-worth, forever. Here are tips for parents and students to not get derailed by misinterpreting the meaning when a college says no.

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Kids and Sports: How to Parent Your Anxious, Perfectionistic Athlete

Disappointment ©Istock by permission LSOphotoSpring is nearly here and that means spring sports are underway! I am thrilled that my book, Freeing Your Child from Anxiety, just became a number one best-seller in Children’s Sports on Amazon. It makes me so happy to think about how parents and coaches are teaching kids to lower the stakes, not the standards so that their young athletes can free themselves from perfectionism and worry, and in so doing, grow and thrive. I love supporting kids' efforts in sports and have so many ideas to share, so I have two blogposts. In this first piece, I share ideas for parenting an anxious athlete, in part two you'll find ideas for what kids can do to free themselves from anxiety in sports. Here’s to a great season for all!

 

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Learning to Meet in the “Aha Middle” of Your Disagreements: A Valentine’s Day Aspiration

Moosehook © Phillip Stern 2019It's Valentine's Day and as much as I love flowers and candy (make that cupcakes, please) I also like writing about the wonders and challenges of love-- and that's what this post is all about. Written with my husband and book illustrator, Phillip Stern, we explore how poignant misunderstandings lead to greater connection. Do you know the feeling? Love is work and it is worth it! Happy Valentine's Day, all!

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Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking-- Second Edition Underway!

Freeing Your Child from Negative ThinkingIn 2008 I wrote Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking to give parents tools to help their kids learn how to outsmart the negative tricks the mind can play. Fast-forward 10 years and the number of children and teens struggling with negative-thought fueled depression and anxiety is multiplying at an alarming rate. Time for an update. I am embarking on a 2nd edition of Negative Thinking which will be released just in time for the new school year September, 2019. I'd love to hear your thoughts and requests for the Second Edition-- contact@tamarchansky.com, in the meantime, here's a synopsis of the steps and as always-- here's to less worry, and less negativity, all around!

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Anxiety Across the Lifespan on WHYY's "The Pulse"

Anxiety, iStock with Permission PeopleImagesI recently spoke about anxiety in children on a special program about anxiety across the lifespan on "The Pulse," a program on our NPR affiliate, WHYY, right here in Philadelphia. The program includes segments on children, adults, new moms and even senior citizens-- what anxiety feels like on the inside, and the very effective treatments available which can be life changing. I hope you’ll listen to the program and find comfort that you are not alone. Treatment is very effect; you can find a therapist at www.adaa.org. As always, here’s to less worry all around!

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Heading to College? It's OK to be Homesick

Homesick

Close to twenty million students will head off to college this year, about a quarter of those for the very first time. Along with their hopes, dreams, boxes of microwave popcorn, laptop and cozy comforter, they will bring along their fears, and that's normal. Homesickness isn't exactly about missing home, it's about missing what's familiar. Given a little bit of time, college will become familiar and will feel like home. Here are many ideas to help that transition along: first an article I wrote about strategies for managing homesickness, and then a few links on the subject. The bottom line with any transition: trust you'll adjust. You always do. Here's to a great school year for all!

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Ready, Set, College! How to Emotionally (and Practically) Prepare Your Teen

Teen College Readiness © istock djedzura by permissionIs your teen heading to college? If you're wondering whether to give them a free pass for the summer because of how hard they've worked to get to this point, yes congratulations are in order, but please think again! The resilience your student needs to thrive in the transition to college and beyond can best be learned at home, it's not too late. Here are some dos and dont's to guide you through a productive summer for all. While they may grumble through your lessons on laundry and budgeting and setting their own alarms, getting these skills well under way now will mean less stress later... and hey.... clean clothes! Happy summer, graduates!

 

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School's Out! Help for Panicked Parents and Bored Kids

Bored KidsHappy summer! How many parents are already having that "what's wrong with this picture?" feeling as they are juggling job, dishes, laundry, and the insistent "I"m hungry!" followed by "There's nothing good to eat!" proclamations, while their kids are mostly sleeping in, waking only to hunker down to Netflix, Minecraft, or similar. Lack of structure can be our downfall. What's the best order-to-chaos ratio so that summer still feels like fun? Check out these ideas. Your child may not thank you, but if you are a calmer parent this summer, that's a win for all. 

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How to Calm Your Pre-Wedding Jitters: Royal or Otherwise

Wedding JittersAre we excited about the royal wedding? How can we not be? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are easily a fairytale couple, but when you listen to their story you can’t help but be struck by the genuineness of their affection for each other. Remarkably, they didn't know anything about each other and had to get to know each other themselves—wow, kind of like the rest of us! How did Prince Harry propose? Not at the Eiffel tower, or on some exotic exclusive island—but grounded, at home, in the kitchen, while trying to roast a chicken. How lovely is that? They know they need to keep choosing to focus their energy on nurturing their relationship and that is how they, and all of us, make meant to be happen each day. If you are getting jitters anticipating your own wedding coming up—here is a blogpost to help calm your nerves and warm your cold feet. Best wishes to all the happy couples. Here's to love!

 

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Empathy 101: How to Listen Instead of Handing Out a To do List

Gratner/iStock by permissionDon't you love it when your kids teach you things that you thought you already knew... maybe even things that you thought you were already good at? I do actually really love when that happens (especially when I can blog about it!) and such was the case with an impromptu lesson for me, courtesy of my older daughter, on empathy. I hope her tagline: Empathy, period, resonates with you as much as it did with me. Here's to more empathy all around.

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Spring Cleaning Your Relationship: Making More Room for Love

Magnolia in Bloom/ ©2018 Mireilla Stern used with permissionHappy spring! While we are in the midst of cleaning up our closets, our cars, our desks (well, some of us anyway, but that's another story-- please see previous blogpost about who isn't doing that)-- let's not forget about the care and attention of our relationships with our significant others! Here are some ideas for sprucing up and clearing away the clutter with those most important people in our lives.

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Spring Cleaning Your Mind: Clearing Away the Clutter of Negative Thoughts

DaffodilsHello all, welcome to spring! In the time that I started and finished these next two blog posts-- the first about spring cleaning for your mind, the second about spring cleaning your relationship-- the weather went from snow, to the balmy 70's, and now back to pulling out the coats and hats. If nothing else, all of these changes are helping us work on our flexibility! And this is really what our well being within ourselves and in our relationships is all about. Happy spring cleaning!

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Yes, Your Teen is Going to College, But Are They Ready?

Acceptance

What a very exciting time for families of high school seniors. College decisions are being finalized and the future is looking bright. After the arduous journey of the last several years which has brought you to this moment, it is understandable that families will be breathing a deserved sigh of relief and ready to coast until August. My advice to parents? Coast not. Catch your breath, but then take this opportunity to help your student prepare emotionally for the transition. Hint: this may involve doing less laundry and dishes for them.... 

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