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The Family Center: enrichment programs for families and professionals

How to Help Children when Parents Divorce

Ask the Experts by Mary Anne Lushe, LMSW, LMFT

Q. My husband and I are divorcing after 16 years of marriage. We have three children ages 4, 11 and 14. What can we do to help our children through this difficult transition?

A. A couple in any phase of divorce, generally have powerful and pretty raw emotions which make it more difficult to provide the security, consistency and parenting that children require. It is a time of self-focus that asks parents to contain their anger, pain and conflict. It is also a time when parents can position themselves and their children for a healthy, resilient future. 

Divorce isn't a single event but a series of changes that take place over months and years. Children need two parents who will not speak against each other, who will not use any of the children as mediators or go betweens rather than directly working issues through together. It asks of parents a sensitivity to the changing needs of their children even when your own needs may be overwhelming at times.

Read more: How to Help Children when Parents Divorce

 

Celebrating Differences! How to Support Your Different Learner

Ask the Experts by Geralyn DeBoard, DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan Autism Center

Q. How might I know if my child is a different learner?

A. Parents may recognize differences in their child once he or she enters school and begins participating in school activities. Parents may also receive reports or seek information from their child's teacher regarding strengths and weaknesses noted in school performance.

It may be a good idea for parents to observe their child in school and in social settings to be able to recognize differences. If a parent has concerns prior to the start of pre-school or other formal school placement, he or she can seek help from the local public school office or Early On. The parent should also seek help from the primary care physician.

Read more: Celebrating Differences! How to Support Your Different Learner

 

Early treatment is key to correcting concerns about your child's development

Ask the Experts by Amy McKenzie, MD

Q. It seems like my child isn't developing like the other children. My pediatrician says there's nothing to worry about. What should I do?

A. Listen to your instinct!

Early warning signs include:

  • Sensory issues (when a child strongly dislikes (or craves) touch, sound, sight, and/or smell)
  • Delayed milestones
  • Limited eye contact or engagement with family members and other children
  • Lack of pointing
  • Lack of waving bye-bye
  • Lack of speech to develop, or regression of speech

Read more: Early treatment is key to correcting concerns about your child's development

   

Ways Older Adults Misuse Medications

Ask the Experts by Jeff and Debra Jay

Q. I am the primary adult caregiver in our family for my parents. How do I help my aging parents manage all of their prescriptions and over-the-counter medications?

A. When drugs come from a doctor's prescription pad, misuse is harder to identify. We assume pharmaceutical drugs are only used for medical conditions, but many older adults take medications for nonmedical reasons.

Abusing or misusing mood-altering prescription drugs can affect older adults lives in three ways: cognitive decline, deterioration of physical health, and an inability to live independently. Adult children will find themselves in a caregiver role years, even decades, before they expected to face these problems.

Read more: Ways Older Adults Misuse Medications

 

How to Have Stress Work for You, Not Against You

Ask the Experts by Nancy Piatek

People are always talking about how stressed they are in life. However, without stress, your life would be unexciting and boring. There is good stress and bad stress. Let's learn how to handle stress and have it work for you instead of against you.

Q. What is stress?

A. The definition of stress is a physical, chemical or emotional, factor to which an individual fails to make a satisfactory adaptation and which causes physiological tensions that may be the contributory cause of disease; the state or condition of strain.

Q. How can I make my life less stressful?

A. It is important for you to recognize the demands of stress on your body and deal with it before it becomes a harmful stress or "bad stress -"distress." Learning how to relax is the best strategy.

Read more: How to Have Stress Work for You, Not Against You

   

The Middle Years - Empowering Your Child

Ask the Experts by Michael Dib, EdD

Q: How do I empower my child to deal with disappointments that relate to test and report card grades?

A: Many parents feel the need to protect their children from getting their feelings' hurt when it relates to test and report card grades.

If your child expresses concern to you about a low test score or report card grade, the first step is to encourage your child to speak directly to the teacher before or after school. If that is not possible, have your child e-mail the teacher and ask for a convenient time to meet and discuss academic progress.

A student who proactively seeks out a teacher to ask for clarification, has more validity with the teacher than a parent who contacts the teacher before her/his child has spoken to the teacher. If your child needs further clarification and is still frustrated after speaking with the teacher, make an appointment to meet with the teacher and make sure to involve your child in the conference with the teacher.

Read more: The Middle Years - Empowering Your Child

 

Kindergarten Essentials READY, SET, GO! Helping Your Child Get Ready for Kindergarten

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

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! Helping Your Child Get Ready for Kindergarten

   

Lunchtime Nutrition Tips

Ask the Experts by Dan Kellogg

Q:  Should I continue to follow the food pyramid nutritional guidelines when packing my daughter's lunch for school?

A: No. MyPlate, published by the  United States Department of Agriculture, has replaced the pyramid. Look for the MyPlate graphic of a fork, plate and glass divided into five food groups

MyPlate is displayed on food packaging and used for nutrition education. MyPlate is divided into four sections of grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein. A "glass" represents dairy, the fifth food group.

MyPlate recommends a half-plate serving of fruits and vegetables and a half-plate serving of whole grains and protein.

Read more: Lunchtime Nutrition Tips

 

Help for Victims of Bullying

Ask the Experts by Marlene Seltzer, M.D.

Q. Last fall, my 8-year-old daughter started at a new school. Everything was fine for the first few months, but lately she seems depressed and often complains of headaches. I've taken her to our doctor, but he can't find anything wrong. I'm afraid she may be being bullied by classmates. How can I speak to her to get her to open up about it?

A. You are smart in recognizing she may be the subject of bullies. Some parents shrug it off as their child "going through a phase."

Have a frank conversation with your daughter that if she is being bullied it is not her fault.  Bullying is an unacceptable aggressive behavior that makes the bully feel more powerful or stronger than their victim.

Read more: Help for Victims of Bullying

   

Skills for Strong Confident Women

Ask the Experts by Jennifer Mcmann-Buszka, MSNQ

I have two sons and a daughter. My daughter is older and the boys are only two and three years younger. I have witnessed the boys affectionately teasing her, but I can almost see her wither like a beautiful flower on a scorching day. How can I teach her to be strong and confident?

A. From a very early age, women are portrayed on television and in magazines as beautiful with blemish free skin, flawless sparkling white teeth, and of course, a perfectly shaped body. As girls mature and experience acne, braces and awkward bodies due to growth spurts, the contrast to television and magazines is glaring as they look in the mirror.

It's important to reassure your daughter that she not believe the women on television and in magazines always look like that. They have a full crew of people to help them look like that - just before they step in front of the cameras.

Read more: Skills for Strong Confident Women

 

Personal Safety and Self-Defense

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: Personal Safety and Self-Defense

   

Flu Shots in Kids

Ask the Experts by Prashant V. Mahajan, MD, MPH, MBA

Why is it important for children to be protected against the flu?

It is estimated that each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of flu complications. Severe complications are more common in children younger than two years of age.

Children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are also at high risk of developing serious flu complications. Parents should check with their pediatrician so the vaccine or nasal-spray is given when it is available.

Read more: Flu Shots in Kids

 

Kindergarten Readiness - Social and Emotional Development

Ask the Experts by Lori Warner, PhD

Q: I'm worried that my child won't be ready for kindergarten; she has hardly been away from me in her whole life! What can I do to help her get ready?

A: Discuss her upcoming school with excitement and enthusiasm, but be honest that sometimes it can be challenging to start new adventures, and it's okay if she is a little nervous. 

Make sure she has a visit to the new school and learns about the routines she'll follow.  You can also do some "trial runs" of separating - get her used to spending time with a sitter or family member while you run a short errand.

Read more: Kindergarten Readiness - Social and Emotional Development

   

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