How To Keep Your Toddler Well Behaved At A Family Function

Family FunctionAren’t toddlers so fun and adorable? You’re probably saying to yourself, “Well, most of the time!”

Keeping your toddler well-behaved at a family function can be extremely difficult, especially because you don’t want to unleash the “monster parent” in front of other family members.

Keep cool! Remember that your toddler is doing the best he or she can with the limited skills they’ve got. Tantrums, throwing items, hitting and talking back are all “normal” – these behaviors show that your child is curious and “independent (or at least that is what you tell your family).

This is true to an extent. Toddlers are at an extremely curious age. They always want to know how things work and will often try things out that aren’t exactly ok (e.g. seeing if their sister’s new fish can swim in the toilet).  It’s important to remember that communication at this age is tough. In the mind of a toddler, it’s much easier to throw their plate rather than try to say, “Mommy, I am done with my food.” It’s just not going to happen!  And finally, remember that they all want to be independent at this age. They are seeing what they can do by themselves, which often leads to frustration, anger and then the dreaded tantrum. Read more

Talking to Your Teen About Peer Pressure

If you’ve recently noticed your teen changing his or her behavior, language or dress to match up with their friends, you’re not alone. Few parents are excited by the teen years’ ability to undermine the importance of family and skyrocket the value of friendships. Both are impacted by the psychological urge as well as peer pressure teens get to separate from their family and discover their own identity.Peer Pressure Blog

It is normal for your teen’s friends to become intensely influential during this time. One way of relieving this stress for you is to remember that this is a typical developmental stage (with the key word being stage). Another way is to focus your attention on making the most of the time you do spend with them. Make sure it is both educational and meaningful, with open lines of communication. They will be seeking more independence than usual, so long lectures about what to do or say will be resisted and likely just generate a lot of frustration on your end.

Before your teen dives head first into the world of peer pressure, how can you send them out with the right social equipment?

Consider these tips before talking to your teen about peer pressure:

• What are my family’s values? They won’t forget the values you teach them, even if they don’t adhere to them all of the time or as much as you’d like them to.

• What lessons have I taught them that will support good decision-making?

• What top five personal qualities do I want them to have as an adult? Parent with the end in mind.

• Talk in detail about the true dangers of smoking, drinking and drugs. State more facts than opinions. Ask for their personal definitions, and you will find out what they are learning amongst their peers.

• Be empathetic about their desire to fit in with their friends. Reinforce the positive qualities that make someone a good friend.

• Teach assertiveness skills proactively. Ask them if they are comfortable saying “no,” and if not, practice different ways to do this. Don’t forget about the impact of confident body language!

• Talk to them about their world and how they see it. More importantly, listen.

• Is there a visible pattern of disrespect between your teen and their friends? What kinds of interaction are you able to observe, and what does it tell you?

• Watch movies or TV episodes that suggest constructive ways to handle peer pressure and manage the conflict that may follow.

• Be consistent with your expectations, rules and limits. Teens will be less likely to engage in risky behaviors when they are intolerable to you.

Be there for your teen when they need you, and you will remain the biggest influence in their life.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

Social Work

Talking Back to Your Tween, Who Talks Back to You | A Mother and Educator’s Perspective

talknig to a teenWhat is really happening when a preadolescent, or “tween”, talks back to you? What is the big picture, and how can you approach the situation in an optimal way for yourself and for your child, and for your relationship?

When “tweens” talk back, or overreact and act out in general, they are reflecting the strong desire to separate from you, exert control, express their selves and grow up. In other words, something natural and appropriate is occurring- now, we just need to use the situation as a starting point to guide the child in the right direction. A social worker at North Shore Pediatric Therapy explains, “As children go through developmental stages, they strive for increased competence, mastery of skills, and independence. It is a natural part of growing up to question authority.” So…how can such situations lead our children to increased development rather than increasing frustration and family tension? Read more

School Conferences: 3 Topics That Must Be Discussed

Parent teacher ConferenceParent and teacher conferences are soon approaching.  This is an exciting time for parents, as it serves as the first means of identifying how their children have been progressing thus far in the school year.  However, too many times parents leave the conferences with more questions than answers.  This is a hectic time; teachers are extremely busy, as they have twenty some conferences to prepare for themselves, and parents are often in a rush and feel unprepared.  Here are several ideas and guidelines for making the most out of a conference.

It is important for parents to make the most of the fifteen or so minutes that are planned for the conference.  Teachers usually have an idea of what they want to discuss during the meeting, and more often than not, the focus is on the child’s academic work and behavior within the classroom.  Parents, please develop and write down an outline of what you want to discuss during the meeting.  Like any structured meeting, the agenda must be decided by both parties.  It is important to identify what the current concerns are, as well as what your (as parents) ideal outcome is from having the meeting with the teacher.  Read more

Coping With Teen Parties and Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Myths About Your Teen And Parties:Beer at Teen Party

• My child is a scholar and student athlete: he or she does not have a risk of experimenting with drugs or alcohol.

• I would know if my child is under the influence.

• My child went through a drug prevention program at school and received a certificate, so I don’t have to worry.

• My child is too young to have a drug or alcohol problem.

• Letting my child and his or her friends drink at my house is safer than letting them experiment elsewhere. At least I can monitor things.

• My child went through high school without having a drug or alcohol problem, so college will be fine.

Facts About Drugs, Alcohol and Teens:

Research tells us that:

• All kinds of students can experiment with drugs or alcohol. Good grades and involvement with sports or other activities can reduce risk, but does not eliminate it.

• Our children can fool us. We can miss the signs of experimentation.

• Drug and alcohol prevention programs don’t always work. Kids can know the facts and risks of substance abuse but experiment anyway.

• Alcoholics and addicts often report that they began experimenting in middle school or even earlier.

• Drinking while underage is always against the law, and serving underage kids is against the law and creates liability for parents. Letting them drink at home is a dangerous practice.

• College presents a new set of challenges including more independence, initiation into fraternities and sororities, the presence of older students who are over twenty- one, and binge drinking.

This is all frightening! What can we as parents do to help protect our tweens and teens from drug and alcohol abuse?

What to Do For Your Teen?

• First of all, accept that any child and any family can be confronted with this problem. Educate yourself about the risks and research.

• Communicate, communicate, communicate. Start talking early to your children about the dangers of smoking, drugs and alcohol use. Have regular discussions of any topic to create a climate where your children are not afraid to bring up issues.

• Set rules and guidelines that meet your family’s needs and values, including curfews. Your child will always be ready with examples of other people’s rules, but that is irrelevant. Your family has its own rules.

• Know your child’s friends and the friends’ parents. Set up a communication network with other parents. Let them know that you want to be informed about problems. Parents that are picking up or dropping off at parties /events should be alert to problematic behaviors.

• Talk to other parents about plans, and make sure that there will be adult supervision at parties and overnights.

• Get to know your child’s teachers, guidance counselors and coaches. Familiarize yourself with the school and team rules and policies governing drug and alcohol use. Most school and sports teams have zero tolerance policies.

• Have a zero tolerance rule at home for teen alcohol use.

• While privacy is important, let your child know that his orher room is not off limits to you.

Finally:

• Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior. Unusual difficulty getting up in the morning, falling asleep in class, slipping grades, a change in peer group, loss of interest in usual activities or hobbies, or physical and emotional changes may all indicate a drug or alcohol problem.

• Remind your child over and over again that it is never OK to drive under the influence or get in the car with a driver who is under the influence.

• Have a “no questions asked” policy. If your child is at an event or party and does not feel safe, he or she can call you for a ride home at any time, no questions, asked.

• If your child is in college, make sure that he or she signs a release form so that college officials can contact you if problems arise.

• If you suspect a problem, talk to your child. Trust your judgment. Consult with your pediatrician who can do urine and blood checks. Seek out professional help if needed.

At all stages of your child’s development, educate, communicate and be proactive. Be an ongoing problem solver and source of support for your child.

Note: Jan Keller Schultz is the mother of three grown children who have made it safely into their twenties!

Cliques in Middle School: Dangerous or Healthy?

Even though it feels dangerous to have your middle schooler committed to the rules of a clique, it is an important part of their development of a sense of belonging. If you’re starting to get worried, you might want to get more information before you take action. Do you communicate well with your child? It will be very important to empathize with your child’s desire to fit in with a group as this is a very normal part of their development. Cliques In Middle School

Cliques tend to have strict rules about how to act, who to socialize with, and even what to wear. This can be fun and lead to strong connections with their peers. If you find yourself wondering if it’s gone too far or if you should intervene, first consider your child’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors as you determine what kind of impact their friendships are having on their daily life (inside and outside of school). Read more

Zero Tolerance: Should 7 Year Old Boy Be Expelled From School For Bringing A Toy Gun?

A 7 year old boy in Florida last November was expelled from school for having a toy gun in his backpack.  A year later he is still expelled and everyone from the news to parent organizations are torn as to whether the Zero Tolerance Rule has gone too far or if it is appropriate.

Zero Tolerance Sign

Children naturally love to show and tell.  They find anything they can and “hide” it in their backpack.  Sometimes they take it out, sometimes they forget it, and sometimes they just decide to leave it there and play with it when they get home.  There are so many children with toy guns, and rarely do they just use their fingers to “shoot” during their imaginative games.  With nerf guns, dollar store plastic guns, water guns, chocolate guns, candy guns, and countless other varieties, where do we draw the line?  

If this is a family with a history of bad behavior and gun usage, then there may be some more power to the story. If this is a child with many psychological problems including behavioral and aggression, then we would have to discuss more. However, simply bringing a plastic toy gun to school and being expelled from school at the age of seven is a tough one.  Would it make more sense to give the parents the consequence for even buying it for him?  For not checking his backpack?  For negligence?  At least the kid would still be in school.     

What if he was ten and had that plastic gun?  I would ask the same questions.  If he is a kind and sweet seven-year-old or ten-year-old from a good family, would having a toy gun be so bad?  Many times adults take things out on the children instead of the parents.  Many times the adults are quick to punish without really trying to understand the underlying reasons behind a child’s actions.  

If a student brings a toy gun to school, should the parents be held accountable or not?

Should he still be expelled?

Share  your opinions in the comments on this story below:

Symptoms and Treatment of Childhood Depression

We all know when an adult is sad and depressed – they cry easily, prefer to be alone, and can verbally express their feelings. It is often hard, however, to identify depression in young children because it often mimics other disorders and concerns, including inattention, impulsively, aggression and learning problems. Some warning signs that parents and teachers should look out for include:

Symptoms of Childhood Depression:Depressed Boy

  • Easily comes to tears, feeling sad
  • Feeling worthless
  • Not interested in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Irritable and often in a bad mood
  • Increase in aggressive and externalizing behaviors
  • Changes in sleep behavior (either sleeping more or less than normal)
  • Changes in eating behavior (either dramatic increase or decrease)
  • Decrease in energy and easily fatigued
  • Frequently turned away and neglected by peers
  • Decrease with academic performance
  • Difficulty staying still

As you can see, there are a plethora of symptoms of depression and every child who is depressed will express a variety of the above symptoms. If you notice changes with your child’s behavior and the onset of any of the above symptoms, the first thing that you should do is contact your child’s pediatrician. It is always important to identify whether or not there are medical concerns at the root of the symptoms. Read more