Q&A: Refusing Food / Tech Addiction / Fear of Flying

Q&A: Refusing Food / Tech Addiction / Fear of Flying
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My 2-year-old is refusing foods that she used to love, and now I am scrambling to get her to eat anything. What can I do?

 Provided there are no underlying issues, this is the age when little people discover and experience a sense of autonomy and independence. Refusing food may become a powerful tool for toddlers and this can become a constant source of stress in the family. Food can be used as a way to assert independence, therefore patience and consideration of your child’s developmental stage will diminish the conflict around food.

As you continue to introduce a range of foods from baby to toddlerhood, at this newly found independent stage, children often crave routine and structure. During this period it is normal for the child to insist on having the same food as part of that routine and frees up the child to explore the unknown around them whilst still feeling secure. In reality this means serving the same meals around the same time for several days. Then introduce one new item at each meal for the next few days whilst monitoring improvement.

Parents should also plan on how to react and control their own emotions when the child refuses food. Creating boundaries and agreements with your child about behaviour, eating dinner with your child and getting your daughter involved in the food shopping and preparation are just a few suggestions that may help at mealtimes.


My son is playing for hours on his computer. How do I know if my teen is addicted to screen time?

If the answer is YES to any of the following questions, then there is a high likelihood that your teen’s relationship with technology needs to be evaluated.

  • Preoccupied with the Internet
  • Stays online much longer than originally intended
  • Shows aggression when online time interrupted
  • Increasingly gives up time with “real life” friends
  • Unable to sleep
  • Irritable, moody or lethargic more than usual
  • Grades are dropping
  • Avoids other normal social and physical activities

If any of these points resonate at home, begin by openly communicating your thoughts and fears with your teen without judgment. It may help your daughter open up so you can explore the real cause and what has changed in her life so you can provide the right kind of help and support. It may also be worth contacting the school to see if her teachers have noticed any difference in her behaviour, friendships and class work. Most often, a teenager uses computer time to escape reality.

To prevent technology overuse, put computers, mobile phones, tablets and television in an open room. Have clear time limits on usage and do not allow devices and laptops in the bedroom. Many parents have a technology use contract that allows for self control if normal school work, chores, activities, exercise and creative time are finished. If your daughter still retaliates, then seek professional help.


The week leading up to a flight I feel anxious, stressed and unable to sleep with thoughts of something going wrong on the plane. Once I am on the plane I feel okay. It’s the week leading up to the flight where I need help.

You are not alone, as some form of the fear of flying is found in about 20% of the population. The good news is that your fear and anxiety of anticipated flying does not prevent you from going on holidays and business trips. 
Try some of the following tips to help yourself.

  • Exercise regularly, especially a couple of weeks before the trip. Yoga, running, walking, tennis…any kind of sport will help reduce general stress levels.
  • Practice deep breathing every day, 3 times/day. Take 10 deep breaths each time (take a breath in for 4 counts and exhale through your mouth for 6 counts). This is a signal for the mind and body it is not in danger anymore. Deep breathing helps rebalance and normalise hormonal imbalances caused by the fight and flight response.
  • Incorporate progressive muscle relaxation into your daily bedtime routine. This technique is scientifically proven to be effective in anxiety and stress reduction by teaching the individual muscles to relax before sleeping and improves overall sleep. I recommend Dartmouth University’s free downloads.
  • Finally it will help for you to explore when and how this form of thinking came about in a therapeutic setting. You will gain a better understanding of what purpose the fear serves. A therapist can also teach you visualization techniques.

Dr. Quratulain Zaidi (BSc. Hons, MSc, MSc, PhD) is a British registered Clinical Psychologist with a private practice in Central, and she also works as mental health consultant for a number of international schools in Hong Kong. She is an expert in educational assessments and ADHD,ASD,LD, specializing in individuals families, couples and teen issues including cybersafety, teen parenting, bullying, eating challenges, and self-harm. 

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