By: Kealia Reynolds
Mindfulness helps improve concentration, reduces ruminative thinking that contributes to high levels of stress, helps us understand our emotions in healthy ways, and even bolsters our immune systems. By creating a mindful space in the home, we can keep stress and anxiety levels down and live an overall healthier life. Here are eight tips to help you create a mindful space in the home.
1. Set an intention
Before creating a mindful space, one of the first things you should do is set an intention. If you make mindfulness a goal instead of an intention, you create a rift between what you’re experiencing in the current moment and what you would like to happen. With an intention, there’s no required result and no pressure to achieve a goal. Intending to practice awareness or focusing on your breathing are two intentions that you can set for yourself.
2. Go big (or small) with your space
You don’t need to dedicate an entire room to mindfulness—maybe you choose a sunny corner in your living room or a small table in your kitchen. “You could devote an entire room to meditation or just a corner of a room,” says Joy Rains, author of Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage Your Busy Mind. Rains offers the following examples as ways to achieve mindfulness in your existing space:
3. Declutter and organize
According to researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CLEF), cluttered environments are tied to higher levels of stress. Annie Draddy, co-founder of Henry & Higby, a professional organization company, has seen first-hand the positive impact that the process of decluttering and organizing spaces has had on her clients. “Finding ‘homes’ for things so that they are no longer cluttering up surfaces helps to create a clean and clear space which in turn makes the home more tranquil.”
Declutter your space by organizing your stuff into three piles: one for keeping, one for donating, and one for throwing away. Get rid of things you haven’t used in a year and store small items like notepads and pencils in bins or boxes to reduce the look of clutter.
4. Eliminate distractions
If you live in a noisy area, add a white noise machine to your space to block out unwanted sounds or consider soundproofing your apartment with a plush rug or draft blocker. “While we should all be able to meditate with ambient noise, for newbies, the less noise the better,” says Sage. Pare down on technology, especially items like laptops, tablets, and cell phones that can ruin energy flow and bring work and stress into your space. According to Kita Williams, CEO and lead designer at KMW Interiors, a California-based home staging and interior design company, TV should be limited to one place in the home, like the family or living room.
Image by: Autumn Studio
By: Dr. Liz Matheis
The beginning-of-the-school-year-honeymoon-period is now over, and your child is settling into the school year. Perhaps you’re noticing that your child is struggling with word problems, identifying letters, remembering the sounds letters make, or writing. Perhaps your child’s teacher is pointing out to you that he is struggling to sit in his seat, finish work in class, interact with his peers. So now what? What do you do with this information?
If you’re making these realizations now, you may want more information about your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and possibly gain a support plan in school. In essence, you may be ready to seek an evaluation. The next question is what kind? Who can provide an evaluation for my child? What information do I want to gain from this evaluation? So, where do you begin?
Seeking a Psychological Evaluation for Your Child:
Step One: Speak to your child’s teacher and gain feedback regarding your child’s performance academically, socially, emotionally and behaviorally? What are academic strengths and weaknesses?
Step Two: Decide if you would like for your school’s Child Study Team to perform the psychological evaluation vs. seeking an independent evaluation.
Before you make that decision, you need to answer the question: what’s the difference between the evaluation and report you would gain from your Child Study Team vs. one gained from an outside professional? Well, there are several and here is a summary to help you when you make this decision.
The Psychological Evaluation through your Child Study TeamThe Psychological evaluation completed by your school should consist of a standardized test, such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scales, an observation, and a student interview.
In the end, you will gain a report that provides an IQ of your child’s cognitive/intellectual performance, a summary of a classroom observation, and information about your child’s interests, preferences, and reported academic strengths and weaknesses. Please note that the School Psychologist is not permitted to provide any diagnoses, if relevant, within this report.
This information will be used to compare to the results of the Educational Evaluation that is completed by the Child Study Team Learning Specialist in order to determine if there is a learning disability that is negatively impacting your child’s ability to perform academically.
The School Based via the Private/Independent Psychological Evaluation:
If you are seeking an independent psychological evaluation, that means that you are working with a Clinical Psychologist, privately, to provide you with an evaluation and report. The Clinical Psychologist has the ability to administer additional tests in order to answer questions you may have as a parent, or to gain more specific information about your child’s intellectual and academic skills.
Being a School and Clinical Psychologist, when I perform a private psychological evaluation, I also administer an achievement test and executive functioning testing, as well as look at anxiety, attention, learning, and memory. All of this information creates a learning profile that indicates your child’s learning style, strengths and weaknesses.
This report is comprehensive and offers information about learning style that the School Psychologist’s report does not contain. That is, is your child a visual spatial learner; an auditory learner? A hands on learner? With this information in mind, the recommendations in the report can then be geared towards the best way to teach new information to the student that is in line with the way he naturally takes it in.
Pros & Cons
So, what are some of the major pros and cons of a Child Study Team (CST) generated psychological evaluation vs. a private/independent one?
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By: Eva Benoit
While society may emphasize the importance of socialization and being productive every minute of every day, these are actions that help extroverts thrive. Introverts, on the other hand, are easily depleted by social gatherings and working with others. If you’re an introvert and feel like you live in an extrovert’s world, don’t let that discourage you from practicing self-care on a regular basis. Here are some simple ideas for working self-care into your daily routine:
Schedule appointments with yourself.
Chances are you’re a busy person, and time to yourself isn’t going to just happen. That’s why you have to make time for yourself like you would any other important activity in your life.
With that in mind, The Cut suggests scheduling time to spend in solitude each day. Once in the morning and once at night is ideal, even if it’s just for 10 minutes at a crack. However, once a day is better than nothing. This time can be used for anything that helps you to de-stress and recharge, whether that’s journaling, meditating, reading, or anything else.
Regular physical activity is one of the most beneficial things anyone can do for their overall health and well-being. But if you prefer to exercise alone, it’s important to ensure that you are safe. If you are injured while running, cycling, swimming, or even brisk walking, it can help to have a smartwatch.
For instance, some models like the Apple Watch Series 4 come with features to help keep you safe, like emergency SOS and fall detection. These features can help you get in touch with someone in the event of an accident. Also, they can track your health and help you to accomplish your fitness goals. If you’re looking for a more affordable model, the Fitbit Charge 3 has heart monitoring, long battery life, and sleep tracking.
These days, we are subject to non-stop stimulation in everyday life, from loud public places to rush hour traffic to social media. Taking a break from all the stimulation can do wonders for your mind and soul. Obviously, you can’t avoid every source of stimulation, but Huffington Post suggests unplugging from social media, television, and other kinds of digital media for a few days every now and then.
Being among nature is one of the most calming things a person can do, not to mention all the health benefits that come with exposure to sunlight. And it doesn’t cost any money to spend time outside. Do something active (running, hiking, yoga, etc.), or simply relax by reading a book or lying on a blanket in the park. Don’t overthink it, just enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and greenery around you.
Learn to say no.
Finally, don’t feel bad about saying no to people. It may not be pleasant to disappoint someone, but overcommitting will only leave you stressed out and underperforming. For example, if you need to recharge, opt to stay in for the weekend instead of going out with friends or working overtime. Making fewer commitments in your everyday life will leave you with more time to rest and more energy to do the things you do well.
Self-care is paramount for living a healthy, happy life—especially if you’re an introvert. Remember to make time for yourself, and add exercise to your routine. Take a break from social media, TV, and other sources of stimulation. Lastly, spend some time outdoors, and learn how to say no without feeling guilty. You’ll be happier and healthier as a result.
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By: Andrew Wan
Study abroad programs have a lot to offer. You’ll have the opportunity to meet new friends, make new connections and broaden your horizons by immersing yourself in a completely different culture.
If you have a physical disability, you shouldn’t let that stand in the way of all the great things a study abroad program has to offer. With the right precautions and preparation, you’ll be able to make the most of your experience.
Here is our guide on how you can set yourself up for success if you have a physical disability and are considering a study abroad program:
Choose Your Destination Wisely
Different countries vary in the resources and accommodations available to those traveling with a disability. While the US has regulations like the Americans with Disabilities Act that require businesses to provide certain accommodations such as wheelchair ramps and elevators, other countries may not have as robust of a system in place.
To minimize the chances of complications, choose a study abroad program in a country that’s particularly known for accessibility, like these 9 very wheelchair accessible locations overseas:
You can also consult with your university’s study abroad program office to get an idea of how wheelchair-friendly a country will be. They can fill you in on what to expect and what you’ll need to keep in mind to be fully prepared.
A few additional considerations they may speak with you about:
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Blog provided by: The Recovery Village Palm Beach
Though addiction can occur at any age, many adults with a substance use disorder began using drugs or alcohol before the age of 18. Because substance use and experimentation are prevalent among American teens, it’s important to understand the risks of drugs and alcohol at an early age. Though the use of certain substances is decreasing, a 2018 survey of high school students shows that many still misuse drugs and alcohol. For example, 30.2% of 12th-graders reported using alcohol within the previous month, and 5.8% reported using marijuana daily.
Regardless of which substances teens use, it begs the question of why they seek drugs in the first place. In today’s world, the answer lies in a mixture of teenage brain behavior, genetics and external factors like peer pressure, social media and stress arising from current social and cultural events.
The Influence of the Teenage Brain
Perhaps the most significant factor in teen drug use is the teenager’s brain itself, which is still developing throughout adolescence. The prefrontal cortex, which controls decision-making, emotions and impulses, isn’t fully developed until a person reaches their mid-20s. However, the reward centers that can lead to drug addiction are among the first parts of the brain to complete development. When you take a brain that has inherently higher risk-taking behaviors and combine it with the pleasurable effects of substances, it can easily lead to drug misuse and addiction.
Other brain-related factors include a teen’s genetics and the presence of mental health issues. A parent can pass down traits such as risk-taking behaviors and poor impulse control to their child. Children can also inherit a parent’s mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression. Mental health disorders play a large role in addiction: In 2014, there were 20.2 million U.S. adults with a substance use disorder, and 7.9 million adults also had a co-occurring mental health disorder.
External Factors That Cause Teen Substance Use
In addition to these internal factors, external forces can make teens more likely to use drugs or alcohol. Teens can be influenced by what they see at home, such as a family member who uses substances. Peer pressure is prevalent in schools, and teens may feel obligated to experiment with substances in order to fit in with certain groups of peers. Teens are also discovering their own self-identity, and many struggle with low self-esteem. This is worsened by the prevalence of social media, which is linked to lower self-esteem and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
On top of the self-discovery aspect of a teen’s identity, many young people struggle to cope with recent and recurring events in American society. Teens and young adults between the ages of 15 and 21 are experiencing higher levels of stress. In fact, 91% have experienced negative physical or emotional symptoms due to stress, and 27% report having fair or poor mental health. Many respondents attributed these effects to the nation’s political climate and the constant barrage of news reports on mass shootings, immigrant deportation and sexual assaults.
How to Help
Teens today are dealing with a perfect storm of factors that predispose them to drug use and addiction. As mental health issues contribute greatly to the likelihood of substance use, it’s important that recovery and prevention programs address both substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders.
The Recovery Village approaches healing from addiction from all angles, helping clients find a lifelong path to sobriety as well as diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. If you or your teen is living with a substance use disorder or co-occurring problem, contact The Recovery Village to learn more about treatment programs that can help provide tools and resources for lasting recovery.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-
Based Guide.” January 2018. Accessed September 16, 2019.
Pantic, Igor. “Online Social Networking and Mental Health.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior
and Social Networking, October 1, 2014. Accessed September 16, 2019.
Bethune, Sophie. “Gen Z more likely to report mental health concerns.” American
Psychological Association, January 2019. Accessed September 16, 2019.
National Institute of Mental Health. “Substance Use and Mental Health.” May 2016.
Accessed September 16, 2019.
Get Smart About Drugs. “Risk Factors.” June 26, 2019. Accessed September 16, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth
Trends.” December 2018. Accessed September 16, 2019.
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By: Kyra Heenan
Social media plays a powerful role in creating a more globalized society. We have the ability to communicate with people on the opposite side of the globe, and we can connect with others in seconds. While maintaining friendships with people who don’t live in close proximity was a challenge before, it has become much easier to stay in each other’s lives thanks to Facebook, Instagram, and the likes.
With social media, the world seems smaller and more connected—but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t significant downsides to be noted. Social media does deserve a lot of praise, but—depending on how we engage with it—it also plays a huge role in elevating our stress levels.
The Addictive Potential of Social Media
With constant access to social media through smartphones and other portable devices, it is easy to become addicted to scrolling through social media.
In a review of 444 participants’ Facebook habits, researchers found that people had an increased likelihood to become addicted to technology.
Researchers found that participants would switch between different activities on the platform (such as scrolling through the news feed, posting updates, or chatting with friends) as each activity became stressful.
This habit could lead to technology addiction, as users would switch to different stress-inducing activities within the platform as a way to cope with stress—rather than log off and turn to something else. This means more time on the platforms that are causing stress in the first place.
The Comparison Effect
Since the emergence of social media, we have been hyper-connected to the people both physically near us and far away. We are constantly aware of the lives of others (or, at least, the curated lives they present), and are prone to entering a cycle of unfair comparisons and jealousy. This can lead to stress, particularly when we feel the social pressure to present a life online that is deemed as exciting or interesting as the lives of others on social media platforms.
A 2017 review found that passive use of social media can lead to this stress. When we mindlessly scroll through feeds, we can harbor feelings of jealousy and stress.
In these instances, we aren’t using social media as a tool to build connections. We are simply passively absorbing whatever shows up on our screen, isolating ourselves from others. On the other hand, when we actively use social media to engage with others, we can feel less lonely and more connected to others.
However, interestingly enough, researchers have argued that more time spent on social media engaging in these detrimental behaviors isn’t actually the major factor when it comes to social media and stress levels.
According to researchers at Pew Research Center, social media most dramatically affects stress when it comes to shared negative information.
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By: Michelle Krowiak, LCSW
I wanted to share two ways I promote being thankful as the focus of Thanksgiving!
In my family we have the thankful turkey which gets personalized messages from each family member. It serves as a great reminder and our family dinner centerpiece!
You can purchase at Bed, Bath and Beyond if you want to add to your family traditions.
We also start a month long tradition of writing a thankful message for each day of the month and put on our Give Thanks tree.
This is a great family activity that you can discuss on a daily basis and add to the tree. It also kicks off a feeling of gratitude before the chaos of December’s holidays!
Whatever tradition you do with your family, we hope you find those special moments to be thankful as we are. We at PEC are thankful for all of you and wish you Happy Thanksgiving!
By: Dr. Liz Matheis
In the mad morning rush before school, you’re applying Post-Its to his folders and lunchbox so he won’t forget to turn in those overdue library books or hand in his completed homework. At baseball practice, you’re dashing into the dugout with a forgotten glove or quick snack. During homework time, you’re the bad cop — fueling him with food, setting the timer, and keeping him on task when he’d rather be doing just about anything.
At the end of a typical day with your child, you feel overwhelmed and exhausted. And yet you still haven’t handled all of your to-do-list items for the rest of the family, your house, or your job. And you certainly haven’t taken even a moment to focus on yourself. That is not good.
If you are an adult with ADHD, you work hard to get through your day while being distracted by children, co-workers, your spouse, and your own thoughts. On top of trying to manage yourself, you are also trying to create a structured home environment to help your child function at his best. You understand better than most people what a day in your child’s world feels like, but you may be having a hard time getting through the same kinds of tasks and responsibilities yourself.
If you don’t have ADHD, your child’s world may feel foreign, frustrating, and constantly moving. You may be having a hard time understanding why your child cannot walk in a straight line, put on his shoes without picking up a random toy on the way, or brush his teeth without 12 reminders. His actions feel random, and they drain your time and energy.
Here are a few strategies to help you, as the parent of a child with ADHD, prevent burn out while caring for, coaching, and managing your child:
1. It’s okay to ask for help.
This help can be a hired tutor or nanny, a family member, or a switch off between parents. If you are going to hire someone to help you, make sure that person is older than your child, and train him or her. Provide clear-cut information about your expectations regarding activities and accomplishments – i.e., finish math homework, take a bike ride, give a bath. Share the strategies that you’ve found help your child to complete tasks (e.g., take a five-minute break after working on homework for 10 minutes, break down homework or tasks into individual steps, etc.).
If another family member is willing to help, offer similar training so that person is using the same terminology, following the same routine, follows whatever structure you have created. Continuity and consistency across caregivers is critical.
If you can, break up ‘shifts’ with your spouse. For example, you might take the morning routine if your husband takes the bedtime routine. This offers each of you a break during one of the high-stress times of the day. You may also want to rotate so there is no burnout within that shift.
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Hearts of Hope is an organization with a mission to provide service to those who experience trauma, and loss through healing art, education, and compassionate outreach.
With chapters and outreach across the United States, Hearts of Hope has created and given away more than 114,000 gifts of hope to people worldwide. They have been actively responding to community tragedy since 9/11. They have been involved in providing to support to communities effected by tragedy, including, but not limited to:
Hearts of Hope has a chapter located in Northern New Jersey. From earliest days, Hearts of Hope have been created by caring communities who prepare, package, ship and deliver Hearts of Hope to people in need everywhere. North Jersey "Paint with a Purpose" events are held in various locations throughout the year as "Pop-Ups" at schools, restaurants, community centers and houses of worship.
Watch for "Pop-Up" event announcements throughout the year on Facebook at @OurHeartsofHope or on Instagram @heartsofhope
Visit their website to learn how you can get involved with Hearts of Hope!
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Anxiety is a liar.. but you already knew that. It puts you down, scares you, and makes you question the very things that you know to be true. Anxiety also stalks you when you are feeling good about yourself and plants small seeds of worry that grow into the "what if's" that can be haunting.
Call anxiety out on its lies. Build up your cheerleader's voice and turn up the volume.
By: Dr. Liz Matheis
It’s not. It’s about you, the parent, and the ‘stuff’ that you carried into this gig. You and I both know that parenting did not come with a manual with a colorful cover, an appendix with chapters that range from infancy to adulthood, and we certainly didn’t have to take an exam or gain a license to become a parent. If you ask me, before we decide to start a family, we should be required to take a course and gain a certificate that says, “You’ve Been Warned. You’re about to get on the bumpiest roller coaster ride of your life. You will learn and teach, you will watch and be watched, you will guide and be guided.”
When I became a parent, I had a vision of who my child was going to be. I often was lost in my daydreams of a blue-eyed little boy who would eat, sleep and follow my every instruction, who was athletic, confident and social. Well, I did have a beautiful blue-eyed boy but the rest didn’t work out like just like that.
Part of becoming a parent means that we need to understand and recover from the parenthood that we received. It means that we need to understand and become aware of the messages that were given to us, the wounds we continue to carry, the messages we continue to give ourselves that started off as our parent’s judgments, criticisms, and conditions and then became our own words that we speak to ourselves, with or without awareness.
Our Children are Not Here to Satisfy our Needs
Our children are not our narcissistic extensions. They are not here to fit into our visions and expectations of who they will and should become. Our children are born with clean slates and they have the potential to do everything, anything. But it is through our criticisms, expectations and our conditional love that creates judgments and deflates motivation and potential. We have been given by our parents, and their parents and their parents, a checklist of who we “should” become as parents and who our children “should” become. But that checklist may not be in sync with who your child is, who they want to be, and therein lies the problem. Instead, we live a life where we are “should-ing” all over ourselves.
Do the Dance
When two people dance, one person moves forward and the other responds by stepping back; one moves to the side, and the other follows. The dancers listen to the body language, feel the direction in which the pair is being pulled. Dancing is an art because there are no clear-cut rules about the exact steps. Yes, we can take dance lessons and have an idea of the type of movement, the beat, the general idea.
Parenting is a dance. A dance with no instruction on how your child will respond, what to say, how often to say it. It requires timing and awareness of what is needed, how much and when to stop. When to say something and when not to; when to guide and when to step away; when to intervene and when to let your child work it out, or not.
I know, it’s exhausting, but being in tune with your child will make your parenting more productive in that you are moving in the same direction. When you move out of sync, you, the parent, and your child become frustrated and the interaction is no longer enjoyable.
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By: Dr. Liz Matheis
The Essentials of a Successful School Year for You and Your Child’s IEP
When a new school year begins, students are not the only ones with butterflies in their stomachs. Parents of students with special needs also worry about what a new year, a new teacher and a new classroom may bring. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), the legal document clearly delineates your child’s needs. Here are tips for creating a positive classroom experience and successful school year.
Schedule a parent-teacher-case manager meeting.
At the start of the school year, all of your child’s teachers provide written signatures that they have reviewed your child’s IEP. However, it is a brief overview and teachers are not yet familiar with your child’s program, modifications and accommodations.
After the first couple months of school, schedule a time to sit down with your child’s teachers and case manager to review academic supports and accommodations. In essence, you are setting aside this time to give teachers an overview of how your child is best able to take in information while reviewing accommodations, such as providing a word bank on a fill-in-the blank test or giving a lesson outline prior to the presentation of new material so that your child can follow the outline and add personal thoughts or notes. This is also a time for you to meet and make a connection with all of your child’s teachers, permitting them to know you by name and face.
For a Successful School Year: Put it in writing.
Once your child’s IEP meeting has been held, your child’s program goes into effect within 15 days of the IEP meeting date, with or without your signature. Sometimes, parents are misled to believe that if they do not sign the IEP, they are showing disagreement or require more time to review the document in detail. However, when you are in disagreement with an element of a behavior plan, related service or program within your child’s IEP, prepare a written letter to your child’s case manager indicating what specifically you are in disagreement about.
Integrate a sensory diet into your child’s day.
Create a personalized activity plan that can be integrated into your child’s daily schedule in order to satisfy the need for movement, deep pressure or heavy work. These types of activities satisfy proprioceptive, vestibular, auditory, visual and tactile needs for a child who may have a sensory processing disorder, difficulty sustaining attention, or is restless and fidgety.
For example, a child diagnosed with ADHD or Autism may not be able to maintain attention and focus to one task while sitting down at a desk for an entire class period. As a result, a sensory tool may include a move ‘n sit cushion, which is a seat cushion that is wedge shaped and filled with air. It is used to help fidgety or lethargic students maintain a level of alertness. A child who is restless may also need the opportunity for movement breaks within the school day. It might benefit a child like this to work at his or her desk for ten minutes and then take a five-minute break to go to the bathroom or water fountain, or to send a note to another classroom teacher or the main office.
For children who are hyperactive, a five-minute gym break for a quick run or game of basketball can be integrated into the child’s schedule to allow for a better ability to focus on class tasks.
Consult with the occupational therapist (OT) in your child’s school for additional ideas and how they can be integrated and implemented on daily basis. Overall, these strategies can help you and your child to transition into the new school year smoothly. While also giving you the chance to discuss your child’s academic program and develop a positive rapport with your child’s teachers.
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By: Dr. Liz Matheis
The new school year is well underway and I want to start and keep a positive space in my home after school. This is a big task, but I am ready to take it on.
At the end of my work day, I need time to decompress just as much as my kids need time to decompress from their school day. We are all happy that the day is over, but soon thereafter is when the grouchies kick in for everyone and it’s never pretty, especially in my house. And with everyone hustling to get homework started, finished, shift to activities, dinner, and bathing, it’s hard to keep a smile on your face and a positive tone in your voice.
I also know that my when I’m anxious, tired or overwhelmed, my children comply less with their routine and we all end up yelling or just feeling down right unhappy. Who wants that? With all the hustle that goes on each evening, how do you create a positive home environment that makes it so that everyone wants to come home? Well, here are a few ways to do this without needing to plan ahead…well, not too much!
Smile and Say Hello
I know it sounds silly, but once you are home, look your child in the eye, smile, and say hello. If you’re feeling really ambitious, give your child a big hug and kiss (as is age appropriate)! You’re reconnecting with your child after a long break from each other. By doing this, you are non-verbally saying, “You are important to me and I am happy to see you.” This satisfies your child’s need to be acknowledged by you each and every day.
Before bed, make sure you give your child your uninterrupted attention (that means no multi-tasking!) and say good night. Simple, do-able, and effective.
Discuss the High Points of Your Day
Dinner time discussion is a healthy and safe place to bond with your family members and talk about your day. Ask the question, “What was the best/favorite/highest point of your day today?” All family members are encouraged to answer that question. You can also ask the question, “What was your least favorite/worst/lowest point of your day today?” Once again, everyone gets the chance to answer. This will initiate asking questions and engaging each other about time spent apart. As a parent, this gives you an idea of your child’s strengths and struggles during the day. This will help you to ask more specific questions or gain information from your child’s teacher if you are hearing a consistent complaint about a relationship with another child or a class subject.
Please and Thank You
Manners, manners, who doesn’t love manners? We all insist that our children use their manners, but are we, as the adults, also using our manners? Our children learn to interact with each other, their friends, and with us by watching us. That means that when we are speaking with our children, instead of using a loud tone, use a quiet one, smile and keep it positive. Next time you speak with your spouse, remember to say ‘please,’ and ‘thank you’ for helping each other out and remember to use a pleasant tone. Our kids hear the tone and see our body language as well.
These are three small changes you can make to your daily routine to help make your home environment a positive one!
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By: Dr. Liz Matheis
Parenting is a dance. Each party involved brings their own energy—and between our energy and our child’s energy, there will be times when the energies will undoubtedly collide.
When you think about it, our children only live in our homes for a short period of time. Granted, the individual days may feel long, but the years are flying by. In most cases, we have our children for 18 short years; this is the most powerful time in their emotional development, and one that will shape the rest of their adult life.
When I first made that realization (while listening to one of Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s presentations), I panicked. In fact, I cried. This is the time when our children build their internal messages—when they build their sense of self as separate from us, as well as when they build their emotional and relationship foundations. This is when they develop their friendships and their sense of self-love. Our parental voice becomes internalized as their own. This voice will guide their decisions, relationships, friendships, and work habits for years to come. No pressure, right?
For me, the hardest part of parenting has been re-living and re-visiting my childhood “issues,” the ones I thought were behind me. I didn’t think “those” experiences had an effect on me any longer because I was “older” and done with them. Well, as it turns out, not so much.
You Will Be Triggered
Something your child says or does—or how they say it—will trigger you. And when you are triggered, your response will be intense, and likely scary to you and your child. In fact, your response will likely not be commensurate with your child’s actual behavior.
When I made this connection—with Dr. Shefali’s help—and discovered that I was parenting from my own childhood wounds, I was taken aback. But I also realized that many of the times when my children asked me why I became so loud or angry, it was because I was responding to a pretty benign situation with a strong sense of hurt and disappointed that had to do with my own unresolved childhood demons.
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By: Dr. Liz Matheis
As a parent of a child with special needs, you are on duty 24/7 with no sick or vacation days. Days become weeks and weeks become years and burn out becomes inevitable if you don’t take care of yourself.
I know what you’re thinking.
Easier said than done.
But preventing burn out while parenting a child with special needs is just as important as caring for your child. If you are sleep-deprived, fatigued, or feeling anxious or depressed, your ability to tend to your child is compromised. So, if you need momentum and motivation to come from your child, here it is!
Take care of yourself so you can take care of your child.
These 2 strategies can help.
#1: Ask For Help
If you have social or family support that is available to you, I encourage you to take advantage of it. If you have a friend or family member who is offering to help in the care of your child, take it. Set up a schedule where a family member cares for your child while you care for your other children. Or take time to run errands by yourself or read a book at your local coffee shop.
I’ve heard parents say, “I don’t like to ask for help. I think I can do it all by myself,” too often. You need to leave this mindset behind and ask for help. If you do not have help from a person who lives outside your home, set up a system with your partner. Tag team who is on duty and who needs to take a break for the sake of each other’s sanity! For example, divide a task that is labor intensive, like bed time, so you are rotating each night or every two nights.
#2: Take a Daily Break
Quiet time is important for you and for your family members because it gives the physical signal that the day is coming to an end, but it also gives you time to disconnect from the day and all of the stimulation that came with it. This may be your time to process the day so that you are not waking up in the middle of the night thinking of solutions or worrying about a situation or potential situation. To make quiet time happen, decide on a time to shut down the house and set aside time to decompress every evening.
You may choose to do this as a family or as the adult(s) in the house. For example, you may decide that by 7 in the evening, you will stop making lunches and washing dishes, dim the lights, and engage in an electronic-free activity.
Your self care is just as important as the care of your child. Preventing burn out while parenting a child with special needs requires investing in yourself as much as you invest in your child. Asking for help and taking a daily break are ways of making small investments that pay big dividends for you and your child.
Image provided by: DifferentDream.com
By: Sara Bailey
Sara Bailey hopes that by sharing her journey of grief she can provide insight and hope for others who experience loss. She created TheWidow.net as a way to share her unexpected journey of losing her husband and learning to be the best parent (and person) she can be while nurturing her grief.
If you want a simple way to ensure the safety, security, and happiness of your family, then consider putting together a sound financial plan. Financial planning now can provide stability through every stage of parenthood and give you some peace of mind. From preparing for the costs of childhood to making yourself comfortable during retirement, here are six steps to securing your family’s financial future.
Take Account of Your Finances
If you are interested in planning your finances, begin by assessing what you have. Your assets can be everything from bank accounts to real estate. Sit down and figure out exactly what assets you have and how much they are all worth. And consider the true cost of owning your home, including your mortgage, utility bills, and property taxes. Depending on your worth, the kind of assets you have, and your expenses, it may be helpful to seek out the advice of a financial expert. In fact, anyone can benefit from the advice of a financial expert when it comes to first-time financial planning.
Prepare for Your Family’s Future
As a parent, you are used to thinking about the future. You’re already taking measures to keep your family healthy and safe, so now is a good time to think about how your future will impact your finances. Savings should be a part of any family’s financial plan. New parents should think about saving for everyday costs and emergency needs for their family. Education costs begin as early as pre-school, so it is wise to be prepared. It’s also never too early to start thinking about college and retirement. One way to save on monthly costs is to reduce what you pay for auto insurance. If you live in a state with high insurance rates, you can lower these rates by bundling your insurance policy with another type of policy, such as home insurance. Other ways to lower costs include being a safe driver, maintaining a high credit score, and avoiding tickets.
Make Life Insurance a Priority
If you do not already have a life insurance policy, you should make getting one a top financial priority. Life insurance will help your family stay financially secure after you pass away. A term policy is ideal, because you’ll only be paying for it for a specific amount of time. This means you’ll need to choose the right length of term based on your age and budget. A 30-year term policy is a popular choice due to its length and affordability; you’ll be paying a set premium for the entire length of the policy, while giving your family and yourself financial peace of mind.
Plan for Healthcare Challenges
Parents typically invest in health insurance, but you may want to invest in more coverage for your family. If you are injured and unable to work for a long period of time, do you have short-term disability coverage? What about long-term care insurance? The costs of a serious injury or needing for long-term care can be staggering, but specialty insurance can help keep your family’s life on track if the unthinkable should happen.
Practice Family Philanthropy
Giving back is a wonderful way to bring your family together for a good cause. Set aside a portion of your income for charitable giving each year or set up monthly donations. Ask for input from your family to determine which causes you will support. You can even ensure your family’s future while giving back with gift options like charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts. Talk with an estate planner or financial advisor to determine what kind of philanthropy will be most beneficial to your family’s future.
Put Together a Will
Writing a will or estate plan can give you peace of mind and give your family financial stability in the future. Work with an estate planner or attorney to draft an estate plan that covers all aspects of your finances. If you have young children, be sure to appoint a guardian and set up some financial safety nets for them. Include any real estate in your will and think about including end-of-life wishes as well. It’s a tough conversation to have, but it’s one that can provide comfort to your family if ever needed.
As a parent, you do everything you can to keep your family safe, secure, and happy. So take the initiative to keep your family financially stable as well. Providing a secure financial future will ensure your children can thrive and grow into healthy, happy adults while allowing you to enjoy all of the years ahead of you.
Image by: Pexels
By: Dr. Liz Matheis, PhD
There is an abundance of information about ADHD available to us every day. Type in ADHD in children or adolescents to Google and the amount of information is overwhelming – where do I begin? With all of the information available to us, it is important for us to clarify some of the misinformation that is out there.
Let’s start with the basics and get to the heart of it:
With that said, there are some myths about what ADHD is, how it can be managed and how to teach our children the skills they need to channel their non-focused energy into specific targets.
Myth #1: ADHD is not real. It’s a disorder of the spoiled, non-disciplined child. Parents just need to be stricter and the hyperactivity and impulsivity will go away.
False, false, and false again. ADHD is a physiologically based disorder in which there are deficits of neurochemicals in the brain as well as under-developed areas of the frontal lobe, which is responsible for our executive functioning skills. What are those, you ask? They are the skills that we develop as we mature, such as time management, organization, inhibiting things we want to say, knowing how to read social situations and act accordingly.
It is not something ‘caused’ or ‘created’ by parents. It’s like saying to a diabetic that he should tell his pancreas to make more insulin and he will be fine. There is a true neurochemical imbalance.
Children with ADHD have amazing skills and capabilities. They are not necessarily functioning at a disadvantage because of their disability. Instead, they have a great ability to think abstractly, see the big picture, and have creative and imaginative ideas. They are great problem solvers and out-of-the-box thinkers.
I’ve heard teachers say that their school year was that much better because of the richness of ideas that were shared by a child with ADHD! That student was encouraged to express his ideas and thoughts that triggered more abstract ideas for others. What a way to recognize and encourage this learning style within the classroom!
Myth #2: All kids with ADHD are impulsive and hyperactive.
No, they are not. There is also the inattentive type as well as the combined, impulsive and hyperactive type. The inattentive child loses focus and can daydream often. This type of child may appear to have ‘lost’ information along the way, but is not distracting to others, fidgety or restless.
This type of ADHD can be easily missed because the ‘squeaky wheel’ tends to gets noticed, while the inattentive student may ‘fall between the cracks.’
You may wonder if your child will be able to succeed in this world and be able to get through college, maintain friendships, and hold onto a job. The answer is an absolute YES! Your child will find his areas of strength and find outlets for himself. So, she may not be a detail oriented person – she won’t choose a detail-oriented field. She may need an administrative assistant to help organize her schedule. Whichever your child’s strengths and weaknesses, he will find the field that will let him thrive and strive!
Just a little clarification on what ADHD is and what it isn’t. With the right supports at home, and accommodations at school, your child will be able to achieve great things!
Image by: Shield Healthcare
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles