5 Strategies to Taming the Toddler Temper Tantrum

A toddler temper tantrum can be downright frustrating, and all you want is the kicking-and-screaming to stop. Toddler temper tantrums are a regular part of child development. They usually happen between the ages of 1 to 3 as a way of expressing they are frustrated or upset because their language skills are still being developed. Toddler temper tantrums are a way of learning independence, what is appropriate behavior, and learning they are not going to get everything they want. As parents, this can be tough to handle in our busy lives. At North Shore Family Services our therapists can work assisting parents with these issues. For immediate help, here are five strategies to start taming the a toddler temper tantrum and getting some peace in your home.

Keep Your Cool

Your actions are the best teacher to your toddler about behavior. Responding in a calm and stern matter will help. When you react out of anger or frustration could complicate the tantrum and redirecting the behavior. Your job is to teach your kid how to calm down and have some self-control An excellent way to help them is in creating a calm down box which can help them practice calming down in moments of frustration while you can receive some quiet time.

Give Positive Attention

Try paying less attention to the misbehaviors (sometimes it is okay to ignore the misbehavior or tantrum) and pay attention to the positive behavior. Praising and emphasizing positive behaviors may reduce a toddler temper tantrum or misbehavior. Praise can come in several forms such as a high-five, thank-you, telling your child and others you are proud of your child, smiles, and hugs. There may be some behaviors which are harder for your kid to learn with praise alone. Rewards or incentives for the harder behaviors also help give positive attention. Make sure the rewards and incentives fit the behavior. For example, let’s say there is a special small treat given after school or daycare. Now they only receive it after hanging up their coat or taking off their shoes once getting home. Other examples of rewards can be a sticker, extra TV time, play a game, an additional book at bedtime, special time with a parent or a trip to the park or for a special treat.

Give Choices

Giving a child some control over little things in their day can help reduce temper tantrums. Offer minor choices such as “Do you want orange juice or apple juice?”. “Do you want to brush your teeth before or after taking a bath?”. This way you are setting up them to have some control. Offering choices also teaches them it is not okay to say “no” when choices are given. Choices is also a great way to divert your child’s attention during a temper tantrum and on to something more productive.

Know Your Kid’s Limits

Even as adults, we have our limits, especially when we are tired and hungry. The same goes for your child. If you know they did not eat lunch, then do not tell them they cannot have a snack before they do something you are asking them to do. Another example, if you know your child is tired do not run one more errand before heading home. A child being hungry or tired increases the chance of a temper tantrum when asked to do other things before these basic needs are met.

Be Specific and Consistent

A toddler temper tantrum may come from a multitude of reasons which are making your child upset. Which sometimes means one way of handling it may be different than the last one. Try your best to remember your child has a short attention span and cannot be rationalized with. Stay calm, stern, and consistent with how you handle the misbehavior. Give them brief yet direct instructions such as “wait your turn” or “once you are done screaming I will talk to you.” Once you have set the stage for what is expected, do not give in to your child. If you give in it may lead to continued behavior as they get older.

 

If safety is ever a concern where a kid may become a danger of hurting themselves or others during the tantrum they should be taken to a safe place where they can calm down. This may be a specific space designated for time-outs or hold the child firmly for several minutes while they calm down. This also applies when the tantrum is in public. Never give in or be lenient when safety is a concern. Safety is when consistency is vital. Otherwise, kids will learn the negative behavior is okay and can be used to get what they want.

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Video Game Addiction

Video games are commonly used as entertainment throughout the world.  When played properly, with moderation, there is little chance that video game use will turn into video game addiction or cause adverse health effects.  That said, it is noteworthy that the prevalence of video games and extreme usage can lead to negative consequences.

This notion has led to considerable research into the topic on whether video game usage should be considered a disorder, like gambling disorder, or an addiction consistent with alcoholism or drug overuse.  Whereas the definition of excessive use has not yet been established, it is important to recognize that excessive video game usage can have just as many negative effects as drug or alcohol addiction  if left unregulated, and in some cases, untreated.

Some Background

Video game addiction is uncommon. Studies show that among users of video games, addiction ranges from a low of 0.6% to a high of 6.0%.  Stated in another way, anywhere from 94 to 99 percent of video game users do not become addicted or develop severe side effects. The message here is that there can be an addiction to gaming, however, it is not common and should not be over-diagnosed.  The studies make it clear that simply spending lots of time playing video games is not evidence of addiction.

Is it a Video Game Addiction?

So, how can video game addiction be determined? The American Psychological Association (APA) is proposing that a person receive the diagnosis of Internet Gaming Disorder, if at least five of the following nine characteristics apply to that person:

  1. Preoccupation: Spends lots of time thinking about games, even when not playing them.
  2. Withdrawal: Feels restless when unable to play games.
  3. Tolerance:  Needs to play more, or play more powerful games, to get the same excitement as before.
  4. Reduce:  Feels he or she should play less but is unable to do so.
  5. Give up other activities:  Reduces participation in other recreational activities.
  6. A person has had continued overuse of Internet games even with the knowledge of how much they impact a person’s life.
  7. The person lied to others about his or her Internet game usage.
  8. The person uses Internet games to relieve anxiety or guilt–it’s a way to escape.
  9. The person has lost or put at risk and opportunity or relationship because of Internet games.

It is important to restate that Internet Gaming Disorder is not an “official” disorder.  With the ubiquity and high use of video games, the APA is encouraging further research on the topic.

Impact of Video Game Addiction

Just like other activities that are overused, video games can have harmful effects, including:

  1. Increased risk of ADHD due to the highly interactive nature of video games.
  2. Learning disabilities that result from slowed responses versus the intensity of video games.
  3. Increased risk of light-induced seizures from video games.
  4. Musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities from sitting for prolonged periods of time or from only using the upper body (extremity muscles).
  5. Increased weight gain as a result of not exercising.
  6. Lowered metabolism.
  7. Aggressive thoughts and behaviors especially present in children who excessively play video games when they are under 10 years old.
  8. Spending reduced time with family, peers, etc., resulting in poor social interaction skills.

Not all researchers agree that video gaming is a harmful or addictive activity. Many believe that video games expand the imagination, give children the opportunity to work collaboratively, and sharpen cognitive skills. If a person spends most of their time playing video games at the expense of schoolwork, physical exercise, family events, or social activities, the benefits of gaming seem less certain.

What Can You Do?

What should a person do if they feel that they are overusing video games? Since video gaming overuse is a recently recognized problem clinicians are developing best practices for treating it. The good news is that going cold turkey on video games is much gentler on your body than trying to drop drugs or alcohol without a doctor’s help. You may be irritable, and you’ll certainly have trouble avoiding your game of choice, but you’re not going to spend days feeling physically ill. Seeking out a healthier source of activity—like exercise—can help the individual to get through the toughest period.

 

If you have questions or concerns about video game usage, please view our articles or contact our staff at North Shore Family Services via phone: 847-668-4295, x700, or email: info@northshorefamilyservices.com.

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The Custody Agreement: 4 Tips to Make Co-Parenting Easier

Where am I sleeping tonight? Whose picking me up from practice? You’re ruining my life! Do these sound familiar to you? If you are a parent in the middle of a custody agreement or divorce, chances are you have heard these statements before. As a therapist, I have guided parents through this difficult time and made it a priority to focus on the kids’ needs first.

 

Kids Needs

Although it may be a very emotional and stressful time for a parent, children have described feeling scared, confused, sad, angry, and guilty when their parents tell them that they are getting a divorce. Developmentally, kids are not able to process the information the same as adults. At the beginning, it is important to remember to eliminate any negative feelings towards the other parent when talking to your children. Children are a product of both parents and have described feeling personally attacked when parents talk bad about one another. The goal during this time is to make the difficult transition as smooth as possible and cause the least amount of harm to your child. Below are 4 tips to make co-parenting easier during both custody agreements and the divorce.

 

Open and Honest Communication

When you tell your children that you are getting a divorce, it is important to have open and honest communication with them. Questions about why it is happening and statements about trying again are common phrases that are used. As parents, sit down prior to talking with your children and discuss a plan about how you will answer the “why” question and what the conversation will look like. You want to present a united front and show support of one another (even if feelings are not mutual). Again this time is about putting your child first. It is important not to lie and rather phrase the truth in a kid friendly way. For example, if you are getting a divorce based on years of arguing, you may find yourself telling the children that “Mom and Dad struggled with communication.”

 

Validate Emotions

Although your first instinct might be to tell your children “I know how hard this is for you,” this phrase can often make children more upset. In the moment, you can’t understand how your child is exactly feeling in that specific situation. In order to validate their emotions and promote more open communication of emotion, parents can use a different phrase when discussing the divorce. Instead of saying “I know,” you can say, “I can’t imagine how you are feeling” or “Can you tell me the emotions you are feeling?” Children will feel more validated, supported, and connected to their parents when these phrases are used.

 

Educate

Children don’t always understand all the “adult words” when it comes to a custody agreement or divorce. There are several questions about where they are sleeping or how many days they will be with their parents. Remember to educate them on terms that you use rather than assuming they know. As parents, you have the opportunity to define custody agreement or divorce agreement for them rather than them assuming or hearing from their peers or TV shows. Be specific and provide details so they can concretely think about what is to come. If children are younger (2-6 yrs old), use stuffed animals or toys to describe what is happening).

 

Calendars and Visuals

Reducing any anxiety is key to ensure that your child’s needs come first. There is a lot of “unknown” when children are going through a custody agreement or a divorce. They communicate their fears and worries, but don’t know how to get rid of them. Calendars and visuals are a great way to reduce stress and anxiety about the confusion and provide them with more control. I have recommended having a family app for both the parents and children to see. Our Family Wizard is one that I have recommended in the past and have seen successfully used. Google calendars or phone calendars can work as well. If children are younger (2-6 yrs old), use a visual calendar in their room and have a symbol for Mom or Dad. These will not only be successful tools for co-parenting, but also provide your child with peace.

 

Now, you can move forward and have a confident approach to answering and responding to these questions. Remember the kids do come first and their needs are the most important to address. If you need more guidance, our team of therapists are all trained to be a support during this process.

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Taste of Chicago for Teens – How to Have Fun and Be Safe

With summer in full swing, Chicagoans have emerged from a long winter of hibernation to kickoff off the start of festival season. It’s time again for the Taste of Chicago and Lollapalooza. With the end of the school year, you are likely seeing more of your teen, which can be a transition for everybody at home. Some teens need a little help in planning their fun. Others race out the door before you know it. Either way, it’s important for parents to talk with their teens about keeping things safe and fun at this summer.

Having fun is healthy

Summertime serves as the perfect venue for teens to spend time socializing with friends. There are several mental health benefits to having an active social life. Research states that interacting with others boosts feelings of well-being and decreases feelings of depression. One sure way of improving a person’s mood is to work on building social connections. Summer excursions can facilitate such efforts. For additional screen-free summer activities and suggestions, take a look at this blog post that my colleagues wrote.

Offer to drive

Parents can support their teen’s attempts to be social through extending transportation support. Volunteering your time in this way offers an added bonus as well. Assisting with transportation extends you the opportunity to work on your relationship with your teen this summer. Consider matching their excitement and actively listening as they share anecdotes from their day’s adventures. Furthermore, you to get know their friends better and encourages safe transportation. Implementing both of these suggestions into your summer routine can foster trust in the parent-teen relationship.

Keeping things safe and sound

Allowing your teen to venture into the city during the summer months does require some level of trust from Mom and Dad. Setting a few guidelines can make the experience far easier to navigate for both parent and teen. Before your son or daughter heads out, be clear on your expectations for their curfew. If they need it, assist your teen with navigating public-transit. Next, ask your son or daughter to share their friend’s contact information with you in case of emergency. Encourage them to use the buddy system in light of the expected crowds. Additionally, ask your teen to check-in via text or with a phone call throughout the event and suggest their friend group come up with a predetermined meeting point should they get separated from one another. Lastly, talk about how to handle drinking/smoking encounters. Let your teen know that they can reach out to you should they need an excuse to get out of a situation that makes them uncomfortable.

 

Living close to the city offers a litany of possibilities for summertime entertainment. By prepping your teen to have fun and keep things safe at Lollapalooza and The Taste of Chicago this summer, you’re setting them up for positive experiences. Being social and exploring different events this summer can build up your teen’s sense of self, boost self-confidence, improve their mood, and has the potential to build trust within your relationship with them.

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The Calm Down Box: Helping Kids Self-Regulate and Capture the Quiet Moments

Our child only wants to play on my phone. My daughter can’t play by herself. Our kids say they are bored. My son can’t entertain himself. I want my child to go play outside but he only wants the iPad. Do these sound familiar to you? As a therapist my inbox and voicemail are flooded with them daily. Recently I’ve been introducing The Calm Down Box to families and it has been very successful.

The Calm Down Box

So, what can be done you ask? Plenty! A few years back I was introduced to The Calm Down Box. In its original form, The Calm Down Box was created to help children with sensory needs learn to self-regulate. Over time, The Calm Down Box has taken on many creative names and identities such as The Quiet Time Box, Quiet Corner Kit, Solo Activities Box, Road Trip Kit, Time Out Box, etc. So, what’s the point of this magical box? Self-regulation, quiet play, independent play, sensory break and non-screen activities.

What to Put in a Calm Down Box

Here are some of my favorite items to put into a Calm Down Box. Remember, all boxes can be modified for specific needs:

–Coloring pages and crayons- quiet and soothing activity

–Fidget cubes/stress balls/playdough/ kinetic sand- keeps hands busy

–Favorite book- quiet activity

–Race cars and other small toys – independent play

–Crunchy snacks- great for sensory needs and blood sugar regulation

–Legos- great for sensory and creative play

–Bubbles- calming activity

–Puff balls and pipe cleaners- great for creative play and sensory breaks

–Small stuffed animals/squishies- soothing and comforting

–Feeling chart- self-regulation tool

 

Below are additional resources, and tips for creating your own kit:

6 ways to make a calm down jar

–What to put in a calm down kit for kids

–Sensory cheat sheets

How to Implement The Calm Down Box

Again, Calm Down Kits can be used for a variety of needs, however the main idea is to gather several calming/soothing items into one place and prompt your child to use the kit in order to learn self-regulation, engage in independent play and non-screen time activities.

Pro tip: Encourage children to use their box for 10-30 minutes each day; make it a family event by declaring quiet play and setting a timer. The more they use the box when calm, the more they will gravitate towards it in moments of dysregulation.

Creating Your Own Calm Down Box

Here is what you need:

–Box- think old shoebox, treasure chest, etc.

–Markers, colored paper, stickers, etc. for decorating

–A list of items to include

Pro tip: Allow your child to decorate the box, this will encourage ownership and pride. In addition, engage your child in finding items from around the house that they would like to include. The more the child is involved, the more likely they will be to utilize the box.

Once you have all your items, it’s time to get busy! Decorate your box, fill it with items, and practice family quiet time! Remember, it’s never too late to teach your child self-regulation, independent play, or the importance of down time, and now you have your box full of tools to do just that!

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When Your Child Can’t Be With Dad on Father’s Day

For many families, Father’s Day is a day to look forward to: a day when kids can celebrate Dad through gifts, fun activities and lots of hugs. However, for kids who don’t have a dad at home on this day, whether due to Dad traveling for work, parental separation, or not having a father at all, Father’s Day can be a difficult time, bringing up unwanted feelings of sadness and loneliness. Here are some tips for helping your child to navigate this tough time, and celebrate the day in way that highlights the uniqueness of your family situation.

When Dad Can’t be There for Father’s Day

There are a myriad of reasons why Dad may not be present for Father’s Day.  Some live in another state, some travel for work, some are away serving the country. Unfortunately, it’s just not always possible for parents to be with their children for every holiday. If this is the case with your family, try to create an alternate way to celebrate Father’s Day.

Make a ‘Virtual’ Gift

Encourage your child to create a poem, song, or a drawing for Dad. Help them to prepare the gift ahead of time, using fun art supplies and a sense of humor. Then plan a time for FaceTime with Dad on the big day. Keep the gift a surprise from Dad until the big moment. For dads who are out of the country, the cell phone app ‘Whatsapp’ allows your family to connect for free (just be mindful of the time change).

Celebrate Another Day

If Dad is out of town just for the day, plan to celebrate a few days before or after Father’s Day. Take advantage of the shorter lines at brunch or dinner spots.  It can be easy to overlook holidays like Father’s Day, especially when Dad isn’t around, but it’s an important day for kids and dads to connect and celebrate their relationship.

When Dad Is Not in the Picture

Father’s Day is especially difficult for children with an absent father, whether due to a father’s death, or not having a father figure in their life. To help children deal with these emotions on Father’s Day, try to create a positive alternative celebration:

Memorial for Dad

For children whose father has passed away, a memorial can be a good way to celebrate their memory. Many families will visit the place of burial on Father’s Day. Another idea is to help your child create a special memorial or celebration at home. Some ideas: encourage your child to write a ‘note to Dad.’ Once complete, roll the note up and put into a small receptacle (biodegradable is great, if possible!). If you live near water, you can throw the ‘bottle’ into the lake or sea. Other fun ideas: creating a photo collage which can be framed or hung on the wall, using a phone app to design a ‘wallpaper’ background for their phone or iPad which commemorates Dad, making Dad’s favorite meal for breakfast or dinner, and sharing stories and memories over the meal.

Alternate ‘Parent Day’

Some families do not have a father figure. If this is the case, use this day to celebrate another figure that plays a similar role. Child of a single mom, or two moms? Have a grandfather or uncle that plays a ‘father-like’ role? Use this day to celebrate that special person. Have fun with it. Make up a fun name, like “Grandpa Jake Day” and make him a cake. Or call it “Mother’s Day 2” and celebrate that mom who has dual duty with a fun brunch.

For children without a father, this day may bring up feelings of sadness. Help your child to cope by encouraging open dialogue and affirming their emotions. Remind your child that they are loved and special, and let them know that it is okay to feel sad, lonely, and even angry sometimes. Find more tips on encouraging a supportive dialogue here.

Whatever your family’s situation on Father’s Day, there are ways to make it a fun and meaningful event. Help your child to develop positive associations with this day now, and you are helping them to enjoy a lifetime of Father’s Days, and teaching them to be creative and resilient in the face of difficult situations.

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Keep Calm During Finals

The summer is approaching, school is almost out, but first there are EXAMS! For many teens, this creates a lot of stress! Teens struggle with the amount of pressure they have in school, and parents struggle watching them! What can you do to help your teen through this stressful time and keep calm during finals?

Stress is a real or perceived threat that causes us to be in a state of mental tension and worry. Feeling stress is a fact of life, but there are ways to manage stress so it doesn’t interfere with our life. We may not be able to take the exams for our kids or shelter them from all of life’s stress, but we can support them and help them manage stress.  On a regular basis, teens may stress about school, relationships, family, friends, work, college applications, money, not having transportation to places, etc. When exams are added on to this stress, it makes it difficult to cope with and they may need extra support.

 Stress symptoms:what to look for

  1. Feelings: anxiety, irritability, fear, moodiness, and embarrassment.
  2. Behaviors: Crying, acting impulsively, nervous laughter, snapping at friends, teeth grinding, increased smoking, alcohol use, drug use, or vaping, increase or decrease in appetite.
  3. Thoughts: self-criticism, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, forgetfulness or mental disorganization, preoccupation with the future, fear of failure
  4. Physical: Tight muscles, cold or sweaty hands, back or neck problems, stomachaches, sleep disturbances, more colds or infections, rapid breathing or pounding heart, and fatigue.

If you notice your teen having any of these stress symptoms, bring it to their attention and have a conversation with them on ways to help reduce their stress.

Strategies to cope with stress

Help your teen identify the stress. Maybe there is more going on with them than just the exams. Help them manage their time, so they don’t feel so overwhelmed. It is difficult for some teens to execute effective time management skills, especially when they are highly stressed. Validate their feelings and offer support.

Encourage them to implement a self-care routine. Encourage them to reach out to friends, exercise, or work on a hobby.  Activities like this will allow their brain and body a break from the stress, even if it is only for a little while. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood and make you feel good. It also allows for a distraction. Instead of focusing on your worries, focus on how your body feels while moving. Take breaks from studying and have some fun. Deep breathing is another way to help put the brakes on stress and bring the mind and body back to center.

Help your teen utilize the 4 A’s

  1. Avoid unnecessary stress. Help your teen build boundaries with people; help them say no. Give them permission to stay away from people that are negative and cause them a great deal of stress. Help them take control over their environment. Having a sense of control can help decrease stress.
  2. Alter the situation. Encourage them to talk about their feelings rather than hold them in. Help them be more assertive, while willing to compromise in some areas with them.
  3. Adapt to the stressor. Exams are not going to go away. Exams can feel like the most important things they have done all year; help them re-frame that feeling so it is less threatening. Help them look at the big picture. Negative thoughts will often lead to negative feelings and behaviors.
  4. Accept things you can’t change. Even though teens cannot change the fact that exams are coming, help them focus on what they can change. Work with them to practice gratitude and look for the upside.

Remember the basics

When we are stressed, we tend to forget about our basic needs, such as sleep and food. Make sure your teen is prioritizing sleep and eating. A healthy diet will help combat stress and help the brain function better. Reducing caffeine and sugar will help to feel more relaxed and sleep better. The National Sleep Foundation recommends teens get 8-10 hours of sleep, but they are getting on an average of 7 hours of sleep a night. During exam week, they get even less sleep. This may impact their test taking abilities.  Help your teen keep calm during finals by encouraging sleeping, healthy eating, and staying away from drugs and alcohol.

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Video Game Obsession – 3 Quick Ways to Set Healthy Limits

Remember the days when video games were a privilege and something that wasn’t as mainstreamed as a social outing? As kids, we would play outside, ride our bikes, and go to the park with friends. It seems that in today’s society, video game obsession is taking over and causing frustration for both parents and children. Children are constantly asking to play Fortnite or Call of Duty online with friends and spending money buying gear for their characters. Parents are asking their children to go play outside or do something more active. If this sounds like something you have experienced, you may struggle on knowing the appropriate ways to balance and set limits on your child’s video games.

I have often heard the frustration from parents that their children are spending too much time on video games and not enough time helping out around the house. Understanding how to balance fun and recreation with being responsible in the home is an important part of independent growth. Today, I want to provide you with 3 tips to set healthy limits that can help you manage video game obsession.

Time Limit and Routine

It’s important to sit down with your children and come up with a video game time limit. For example, during the school week (Monday-Thursday) they are allowed to play for 30 minutes after school from 3:30pm-4:00pm.  During the weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), they can play for 1-2 hours (depending on their age) in the morning, afternoon, or before dinner. These rules need to be specific and clear. Remember to tell your children about the rules when there are no distractions happening and they are fully listening. Let’s say you want to have extra video game time as a reward. That’s okay to do, but establish this with the video game rules. For example, if they get this reward it’s an extra 30 minutes. Children may ask for extended time in their games or try to guilt you into playing more times a day than you have established. Remember to hold your boundary and to not give into this request.

Size of the Problem

When children have strong reactions to turning off the video games and transitioning to the next event, remind them the size of the problem. Some children tend to have huge reactions towards this moment and as parents it can be difficult to reason with them. We want to help our children self-regulate independently. Challenging their thinking by asking if this is a small, medium, or huge problem can be effective. This can always put things in a better perspective for them in order to realize that their reaction is not matching the size of the problem. If your child struggles significantly with transitions, transition objects can be a positive replacement to use in these moments.

 Social Understanding

Video games have universally become a way for people to socialize with their friends when they are not with them. This can establish healthy social communication patterns between friends and assist with building rapport with peers. It is important to monitor who your children are playing with and making

sure their online friends are children you know. Safety first! Also, it is important to be mindful that your children may be playing online with their friends. Provide your children with the line, “Let your friends know this is the last game.” This will reduce strong reactions and maintain frustration tolerance as well as not damaging their “social” interactions. Remember what we discussed in the first tip! Talk with your children and establish these rules before using them to help you manage their video game obsession.

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How to Keep Prom Events Safe, Simple, and Fun

The flowers are in bloom, we are enjoying more sunshine, and most kids have started their countdown to summer vacation. This can only mean one thing; spring is here! For high school students, this means Prom weekend is approaching.  Parents know that this is an exciting and memorable time for their high school students; however, with the dress shopping and tux rentals come the inevitable stressors. I am sharing a few “prom hacks” concerning how to have fun at prom while keeping events simple and safe.

Safety first

As parents you play a multi-faceted role in your child’s prom experience. In addition to hearing about the creative way that son or daughter asked (or was asked!) part of your role is also to set a few guidelines to ensure their safety.

Start by planning ahead. Once the prom group is formed you can ask your teen to share their date’s and their parent’s contact information. Forming an email chain with the other parents can be a helpful way to discuss pre-and-post prom events, note start and end times, and confirm safe transportation options. Once plans are in place you can make your expectations for the weekend’s events explicit.

Remind your son or daughter that their safety is your first priority.  Discuss prom night rules with your teen; this can include setting a curfew for the evening and asking them to check-in via text or calling once they have arrived to the events safely. Be sure to remind your teen about the dangers of drinking and driving. Consider offering to help them setup a driving service to promote ease and safety. If your teen needs help because of a driver who has been drinking encourage them to call you – no questions asked. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Less stress is best

Think strength in numbers. Once you have your parental email chain in place offer to co-host pre-or-post prom events with the other Moms and Dads. No need to take on full responsibility alone. There are bound to be a few sets of involved parents who are available and willing to help out with weekend events, even in small ways. Divide and conquer the “to-do” list so no single person feels the whole burden. Having extra sets of eyes around is a great way to ensure adequate supervision. If you teen is not keen on the idea of your presence at their party, simply inform them that you are there to help out the hosts. Assure them you want them to have a fun at prom!

Have some fun at prom!

It is prom weekend after all! Coordinating a prom group is no task for the faint of heart. If your teen is stressing about complicated group dynamics, encourage them to put together their own (perhaps smaller) group. This can be a great way to sidestep some of the stress while still making sure they have fun at prom and get to enjoy the company of their good friends all evening long. That is what matters most anyway! Some teens feel overwhelmed by all of the prom-related hype. Remind your teen that the outcome of their evening is all about their perspective. Invite them to notice the small meaningful moments of the night, instead of focusing solely on the things that did not go “as planned.” Take a peek at this this article for suggestions on how to help your teen cope with pre-prom anxiety. Before they head out, let them know that you would love to hear all about their evening and see their pictures once the weekend has ended. Letting your teen know that you care about the things that matter to them builds trust and respect in the parent-child relationship.

 

Prom holds a lot of expectation, which can add pressure to your teen’s experience of the weekend’s events.  By weaving some of these “prom hacks” into the mix, both you and your teen are likely to sidestep some of the unneeded stress so everyone can focus on what matters most; having a fun, memorable, and safe weekend!

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Ready to Learn: Getting My Child Ready for Kindergarten

The end of the school year is around the corner, and for many kids the promise of summer is all they can think about. For teachers and parents however, there is much to be done before the end of the school year. If your child is enrolling in kindergarten this fall, here are some tips to prepare them for their new role as full-time student.

Enrollment: Checklists for Mom and Dad

Let’s start simple; although some children enroll on the younger side, and others enroll on the mature end of the spectrum, here are a few things that need to be completed prior to enrollment:

  1. My child is 5 years old, as of September 1
  2. My child is up to date on vaccinations
  3. My child has completed any required medical screenings (eyes, hearing and speech)

My Child is Going to Kindergarten: Now What?

Change can be hard for many kids (and for parents!). Here are a few ways to instill excitement in your child and help with the transition.

  1. Visit the school prior to the first day. Many schools provide a meet and greet for students, families and teachers.
  2. Talk about it. Anxiety is born when children don’t know what to expect. Talk to your child about all the fun they will have in school. New friends, fun teachers, circle time and library hour are all enjoyable parts of school your child gets to look forward to!
  3. Take your child school supply shopping. There is nothing like a new princess backpack or Superman lunchbox to get your child excited for school! Let your child pick out a few personalized items to aid in building up the excitement and help them feel confidant.

Kindergarten Readiness

What is kindergarten readiness? Kindergarten readiness is the what pre-school teachers, guardians and parents evaluate prior to sending their child to kindergarten. The main areas teachers and educators evaluate are independence skills, social skills, executive functioning and recognition of colors, numbers and letters.

If you don’t feel like your child has mastered these skills, don’t fret! Children learn quickly! Spend your summer investing in your child; set aside 30 min per day reviewing their ABCs, numbers, colors and shapes. If your child lacks social skills- get them involved in play groups, summer camps etc. Summer is a great time to socialize and learn!

Fun and Simple Ways to Promote Kindergarten Readiness at Home

Give your child a leg up by working on the following this summer:

  1. Counting 1-10- use visuals to aid in number recognition
  2. Writing their name- start with their first name
  3. Recite the ABCs- sing the song, and point to the letters to aid in recognition
  4. Have play dates! Take time to invest in your child’s social skills. Focus on sharing, nice hands, nice words, waiting their turn.
  5. I can do it!- If not already doing so, have your child practice dressing themselves, focus on outdoor clothing (shoes, hat, gloves, jacket).

If you are worried your child has deficits or is not quite ready, seek out an educator, other parents or your pediatrician. These people are here to help you and are a great resource to give you the reassurance you need.  Remember, kindergarten is a place to learn! No one expects your child to be perfect or have mastered all skills prior to beginning school. Now- enjoy your summer!

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