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The Family Center: enrichment programs for families and professionals

Fostering Independence and Resilience in Children

Ask the Experts by Mary Beth Garvey

Q. My teenager is so easily discouraged by setbacks. How can I help him handle his frustration?

A. One of the most important traits that builds confidence and helps kids become more independent is resiliency, or the ability to take healthy risks and recover from disappointments. Resiliency is a skill that can be fostered when we treat kids in a way that demonstrates we believe they can handle disappointments and that mistakes are allowable, or even encouraged.

A significant threat to resilience is perfectionism. Many kids today are highly perfectionistic. Though it's often highly regarded in our culture because it's associated with high levels of achievement, perfectionism lends itself to a host of difficulties in teens: unrealistic performance expectations, a low tolerance for disappointment, a critical self assessment that leaves little room for mistakes, dependence on praise from others, and increased anxiety. Each of these factors undermines the foundation for resilience or the ability to maintain the persistence needed to master something independently.

Read more: Fostering Independence and Resilience in Children


Family-Friendly Economics - empowering children to make informed decisions

Ask the Experts by Michelle Balconi 

Q: Why should I talk to the children in my life about economics?

A: For most of us, "Econ" was a class we had to take and were happy to earn a "C," but that doesn't make the topic any less prevalent in our daily lives. Understand it or not, economics has a place in your life and that of your children.

It might help to think about economics less in terms of bowtie-wearing professors mapping the correlation between supply and demand, and more in terms of CHOICES. Children can use economic principles to decide what to have for lunch and even which college to attend.

Read more: Family-Friendly Economics - empowering children to make informed decisions


Finding Peace and Balance in a Stressful World

Ask the Experts by Gail Elliott Patricolo

Q. I work full time and try to take care of a busy family. My daughter has a full load at school and with sports. We both seem stressed out all the time and need some coping skills we can share with the rest of our family. The stress does not seem to go away and may even be hurting our health and relationships. Are there stress management skills I can learn? 

A. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s following an argument with your spouse or teenager, a looming deadline for homework or a big school project or wondering how you’re going to pay the bills next month, stress is, unfortunately, a part of life…for mothers and daughters.

“Stress can’t be avoided,” says Gail Elliott Patricolo, director of Integrative Medicine for Beaumont Health System. “What you need to focus on is how to deal with stress before it begins to affect your health in other ways.” And there are lots of stress reducing techniques.

Read more: Finding Peace and Balance in a Stressful World


Raising a Reader

Ask the Expert by Stephanie Cork, Education Specialist

Q: How can I foster a love of reading in my child?

A: One of the more difficult questions I am asked by parents of late elementary through high school children is how can they make their child enjoy reading. Like anything else, a child will not enjoy reading if it is difficult and does not yield any sort of intrinsic satisfaction, therefore, much of the answer lies in the importance of starting early in order to make the reading process easier and more meaningful.

Read to your child. Reading to your child at an early age is crucial to the development of phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness refers to the ability to focus on and manipulate phonemes (sounds) in spoken words, and is a precursor to learning how to read print.

Read more: Raising a Reader


Self-Defense for Mothers & Teen Daughters

Ask the Experts by Ian Kinder

Q. My daughter and I walk every night.  With the days getting shorter, we are walking at dusk, sometimes even later.  What can we do to stay safe?

A. Walk in well-lit, open areas that are well populated and active. Avoid dark areas that are confined and isolated. Carry charged cell phones and stay in areas where there is a good signal. 

It is always a good idea to be trained in self-defense and carry a personal protection device, such pepper spray or a TASER. Stabbing an attacker with a ballpoint pen can even at times be enough to distract the attacker and give you time to flee.

Don’t forget a women’s best friend -- dogs are great companions and wonderful protection. Walk defensively like you drive defensively -- not in fear, but aware and prepared. 

Read more: Self-Defense for Mothers & Teen Daughters



Ask the Experts by Angela Hill

Q. I would like to get my family more physically active. What are some of the benefits of yoga? Where can I find a class for my whole family?

A. Yoga brings harmony and balance to the circulatory, lymphatic, nervous, respiratory, muscular, spinal, endocrine, digestive and immune systems. This gives you the emotional and physical stability to respond to life’s challenges with courage and grace.  

It’s a fun way to increase self-esteem, self-control and self-confidence, as well as a great work out & time for family fun.

I have been practicing & teaching yoga for numerous years. The benefits of Yoga are creating fans everywhere. You can find classes in malls, parks and churches. There are many types of Yoga classes to choose from: hot yoga, meditation yoga, and even yoga in a chair.

Read more: FAMILYoga


Building Better Brains!

Ask the Experts by Laurie Wagner, Education Specialist

Q: Are children diagnosed with dyslexia destined to struggle with reading their entire lives?

A: Research confirms that effective reading instruction literally reorganizes the brains of struggling readers. Especially effective is the engagement of the visual, auditory, tactile (touch) and kinesthetic (muscle movement) learning pathways.

When struggling learners are taught to read using direct, explicit, systematic, multisensory phonics instruction, research using functional MRI (fMRI) brain imaging literally shows us that the impact on the brain is significant.

Read more: Building Better Brains!


Infant Massage: Learning the Language of Touch

Ask the Experts by Emily Robson, LLPC

Q. What is infant massage and what are the benefits?

A: Touch is the most powerful of all interactions between parent and child. It is a mirror of our inner feelings toward another person.

Babies can sense what their parent is feeling by the way they are touched. Everyone has a personal “touch” history, which consists of all the touch experiences that a person will have had during their lifetime. It doesn’t matter how old or young a person is, everyone has a touch history-including infants.

Parents are instrumental as providers of the main source of touch experience in their child’s touch history. When parents engage in regularly massaging their children, they are making a significant contribution to their child’s nurturing touch history.

Read more: Infant Massage: Learning the Language of Touch


The Heavy Heartedness of Grief

Ask the Experts by Marla Ruhana, LMSW

Q. There is immense sadness surrounding me now as my dearest friend has recently died. Is this sad feeling normal?

A. Grief has many different stages, sadness is one of them. I empathize with you in the midst of grief. There are several stages of grief, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote of the five stages of grief, the stages are denial, anger, depression bargaining, and acceptance. Shock is also part of grief as well as social isolation. Everyone experiences grief in their own way and for a variety of reasons. Your friend’s death might be triggering previous deaths you have experienced. Multiple life stressors you might be experiencing can also complicate grief. The bond you shared with the deceased, the current void you are experiencing can leave us with tremendous heart ache and pain.

Read more: The Heavy Heartedness of Grief


Coping with Loss During the Holidays

Ask the Experts by Rebecca L Palen, MPA, LMSW, OSW-C, GC-C

Q. I just lost my spouse to cancer this past summer. I am starting to feel even worse now that the holidays are approaching. Can I have some guidance of how to get through the next few weeks?

A. While there are other critical dates and times that affect grieving people, but for many the most difficult day for the bereaved is Christmas.

This particular holiday than any other means family is together, making the void of your loved one even more acutely aware. Listed below are some suggestions that others have found helpful in coping with the holiday season. Chose the ones that will help you:

Read more: Coping with Loss During the Holidays


Kindergarten Essentials READY, SET, GO!

Ask the Experts by Pam Cronovich, Christine Miller and Melissa Sharp

Helping Your Child Get Ready for Kindergarten GET READY

Q: Now that spring is almost here, what can parents do to help their child get ready for kindergarten?

A: Readiness for Kindergarten can be found in many forms. Early academic skills and concepts will give your child a strong base as he or she enters kindergarten. But there are equally important readiness skills that set the stage for your child’s learning.

Raising an eager learner is the goal, and it can be achieved through play and day-to- day activities.

Here are some readiness skills that kindergarten teachers look for:

Read more: Kindergarten Essentials READY, SET, GO!


Comfort Care: Understanding Palliative Care and Hospice Services

Ask the Experts by Kathleen Blazoff

My doctor recommended Palliative Care to my mother with Alzheimer’s dementia. What is Palliative Care?

Palliative Care or Palliative Medicine is specialized medical care for people with a chronic and /or serious illness. Palliative are focuses on providing patients with relief of symptoms, pain and stress of an illness with equal attention to emotional and spiritual well being.

Palliative care assists the patient and family in establishing goals of treatment and advance care planning. Palliative care can be consulted at any time during your mother’s illness.

Read more: Comfort Care: Understanding Palliative Care and Hospice Services


Tips for the Sandwich Generation

Ask the Experts by Sharon Maier and Heidi Uhlig

Q. My aging parents are in need of more help from me, plus I have two small children to take care of. I struggle to care for them both. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle caring for both my parents and my kids?

A. When caring for your aging parents, know that you are entering new territory and you will need new skills and knowledge to adapt. You can gain knowledge on resources through the web or through local organizations such as Services for Older Citizens. While everyone’s situation is different, experts can help you walk through the process. 

It is important to be willing to change how you do things and determine what is important. If you find that you are spending your valuable time shopping for two households, yours and your parents, consider taking advantage of local grocery store delivery for your parents, such as Door to Door Organics. A small thing like empowering your parents to get their groceries without your help increases their independence and will save you time. 

Read more: Tips for the Sandwich Generation


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