How to Handle Cyberbullying

With all the various forms of social media and online communication that children have access to, how does a parent serve as a gatekeeper to keep them away from cyberbullying and ensure positive peer interactions? Just like the conversations that occur about pro-social, appropriate behaviors that occur in real-time, proactive boundaries about expected behaviors should set with the initiation of online privileges.

Tips on How to Handle Cyberbullying

cyberbullying

Cyberbullying

Let your child know that periodic checks of their account will be monitored to ensure compliance. Outline for your child what can be viewed as expected behaviors (positive/supportive commentary, asking questions about homework, making plans, etc.). It is equally imperative that you also describe to your child the behaviors that are not tolerated as acceptable, such as bullying. Bullying online might look very different than bullying in real-life since there may not be any physical threat of harm. Therefore, re-define with your child what bullying means. Bullying can mean using verbal threats to compromise the harm and safety of others, using negative commentary to make fun of another, and any behaviors that can have a negative effect on a peer’s self-esteem or feelings.

Once you have set up the parameters for expected online communication, also provide your child with the potential consequences of non-compliance such as lose of online privileges, reduced interactions with other negative peers, apology procedures for engaging in bullying behaviors (call victim and/or victim’s parents to apologize), etc.

Set your child up for success by arming them with appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and what they can face if they don’t follow family-defined protocol.

a beginners guide to babysitting

A Beginning Babysitter’s Guide-Getting Started

I remember the first time I decided to start babysitting. I guess I was luckier than most, because I grew up assisting in a daycare, as well as watching my younger sisters and cousins. You would think I wouldn’t be nervous at all. Wrong! I was so nervous I had butterflies. It is perfectly normal to be a bit nervous your first time. Babysitting is exciting and lots of fun, but it can also seem a bit scary if you’re not prepared. Have no fear! I’m here to help! Here is a beginners guide to babysitting to help you get started.

Don’t worry. Babysitting is actually quite easy if you prepare yourself a bit first. In this blog series I will be going over some tips on how to do just that. If you follow my handy tips you will be well on your way to a rewarding and exciting job as a babysitter!

Steps to Begin Babysitting:

Step 1: Start building your skills by learning from others.

  • Talk to some friends or family members about their experiences babysitting.  They may have lots of a beginners guide to babysittinggreat advice, and even some funny stories to share. Maybe they’ve made some mistakes, but that’s okay.  You can learn from those mistakes too.
  • Take a babysitting class. Your local library, YMCA, or Red Cross may have free or inexpensive classes available.
  • Take a CPR class! I emphasize this one because it is crucial. Hopefully you will never have to use CPR, but it is better to be prepared. It will also give you a greater feeling of confidence and help you get jobs – it helps parents choose you as their babysitter and gives them more confidence in you.
  • Take a food safety class. If you’ve never really cooked before this may be a necessary class for you. Many high schools teach food safety as part of home economics, or you can also find class info at your local library or community college.

Step 2: Find a job

  • Start out by watching a family member or close friend’s children.  If you’re especially nervous you can even start out by helping out with them while their mom is still home. This gives you lots of great experience, and gives their mom a chance to get some housework done.
  • Spread the word.  Your mom, friends, friend’s parents, or teacher may be able to give you a good lead of someone who needs a sitter, and the word of mouth will help as a reference to get you the job.
  • Look for listings online – but be careful! There are lots of listings for great jobs online, but as with any online ad, you need to be careful. If you find a good listing, ask the parents if you can meet in advance on neutral ground. Also make sure a parent is waiting in the parking lot or around the corner. Most parents won’t mind (Hey, they’re parents too! They get it!), and may even see this as a good sign. Parents are looking for someone that values safety and thinks ahead.

Step 3: Ask good questions & prepare a binder or notebook

  • Ask the parents some good questions and write in or type out their answers. Here are some good examples:
    • Parent Names
    • Children Names, Ages, Birth dates
    • Address (In case you need to call emergency services for any reason)
    • Phone Numbers
    • Emergency Contacts (grandparents, neighbors, etc)
    • Allergies/Dietary Restrictions
    • Medications
    • Pets and pet care
    • Any other instructions (bed times, house rules, etc.)
  • Print out some emergency numbers just in case.
    • Poison control number
    • Police non-emergency number
    • Fire Department non-emergency number
  • If you have a car – print out directions to the hospital or emergency center that is closest to their home (just in case).
  • Keep a backup list of emergency contacts in your smart phone, but don’t rely solely on that in case your battery dies or you can’t get reception in an emergency.

Step 4: Bring the fun!

  • Look up some great ideas for activities and games to play with the kids and keep them busy.
  • Bring some puzzles, coloring books, etc. to keep little hands busy and mess free.

 

There you have it! I hope these tips will help get you started. Good luck! Click here for part 2 of this series: A Beginning Babysitter’s Guide-Discipline Basics.

As the snow begins to fall, impress your babysitting clients with this snowman building activity that also builds speech and language skills!

Cyber Bully

Teenage Sexting: How does a parent handle?

How does a parent handle teenage sexting and appropriate content online? It is clear when your child doesn’t clean his room or complete homework on a nightly basis and therefore, the communication and discipline that ensues is obvious and direct. How does a parent know what their child’s behavior looks like on the internet when there is no way to observe or screen the content that transpires? Of course there are technologically savvy ways to block certain websites and scroll through previous online history, but how do you prevent him from engaging in damaging activity?

It may be awkward to have open and candid conversations with your child about their online affairs, but it is necessary to teach effective boundaries regarding what is and is not appropriate. You may assume that your child could never be capable of sexting or disseminating graphic information, but calling attention to these issues is paramount for prevention.

3 tips on how to approach your child on teenage
sexting and appropriate content online:Cyber Bully

  1. If he has a social media account, be his “friend.” This way, you can keep tabs on any online activity that gets posted and he might think twice about posting incriminating dialogue or images. If he does not accept your “friendship” request the login information to their account to casually peruse the content of their online engagements. This privilege should not be abused but rather as a tool to get a feel for what goes on behind the scenes. If he refuses, explain to him the value of this function and that this does not compromise trust but is an opportunity to maintain consistency with parental expectations and child actions. To have online accounts is a privilege and if open communication and awareness cannot be agreed upon, deactivating these accounts can be an option to ensure adequate guidelines are followed.
  2. Communicate the do’s and don’ts of online media engagement including what is allowed to be posted, what is not allowed, and why. Let him know the boundaries up front so that he has a clear idea of what will be tolerated behavior. Convey to him that he can reach out to you if he ever feels uncomfortable by kids sharing graphic content and that this sharing of information is not punishable but rather is effective in problem-solving real life scenarios as they arise.
  3. To prevent, handle, and manage “sexting,” a calm, inviting atmosphere needs to exist. You can set this boundary upon your child first getting a phone or instant messenger that there needs to be a level of open communication for children to share situations of peer pressure and demonstrate responsibility. Having a phone or internet privileges, like any other skill, requires education and practical experiences. Without the opportunity to dialogue about what is going well and not so well, the child cannot cultivate the independent skills to navigate challenging situations effectively.

 

Click here to learn more about cyber bullying and how to make sure it doesn’t happen to your child.








social IQ

Tips to Raise Your Child’s Social IQ

 

 

Social IQ is a concept developed around the idea of social skills and how well-developed they are in social settings. So much awareness is involved in developing social skills: Tone of voice, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, and personal space (just to name a few). It is amazing we learn most of them through observation alone! Where is the class that teaches us how to share, compliment, join a group, manage conflict, and express and understand feelings!?
For some kids, social skills develop naturally and without much emphasis, but for others, these can be daunting skills to tackle. With the new school year upon us, the classroom is a breeding ground for social mishaps and social victories.

If you notice your child struggles in social situations, here are some things you can do to help raise his Social IQ:

  • Get to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses: Is he flexible with his friends or does he tend to be a bit bossy?
  • Discuss with them the importance of friendships and what he thinks it means to be a ‘good friend’.
  • Set realistic social goals with your child (i.e. Lilly will congratulate two classmates if they win in a game or Johnny will introduce himself to a new classmate and ask to join in on an activity at recess.).
  • Involve teachers and counselors to help reinforce and observe goals.
  • Help your child talk about and identify feelings, facial expressions, and gestures.
  • Practice conflict management: develop a plan that’s easy to remember in ‘heated’ moments.
  • Take a deep breath, count to 3, and use “ I feel ______ when _________”.
  • Practice skills at home (i.e. sharing, complimenting, asking questions, waiting her turn to talk) and be a good role model!
  • Join a social skills group.
  • Social skills go far beyond the examples mentioned here, so this can be a great opportunity to not only learn new skills, but practice them with their peers in a structured setting.

Click here for a list of apps to help teach social skills.

books

Books by the Ages: Reading Fun for All!

 

 

 

Whether reading to a child, having a child help turn the pages of a book, or a having a child read aloud, books are a great resource for learning, fun, and special moments!

For example, I recently heard my favorite book from childhood, Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, is being made into a movie. I was so excited that I put it in my calendar! The fact that I read this over 30 years ago and still feel this excitement shows the impact books can have on a child at any age.

Below are some of my favorite books broken down by ages. Can’t afford to buy them all?…take your child to the local library and have them get their own library card.  Most are free if you a resident where the library is located!

Books for Children Birth to 3:

  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Brown
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
  • Counting Kisses: A Kiss & Read Book by Karen Katz
  • Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth and Laura Huliska-Beith
  • Board books by Caroline Jayne Church
  • Board books by Leslie Patricelli
  • Honk, Honk! Baa, Baa! by Petr Horacek

Tip-choose books with the following qualities:

  1. Books where you can use different expressions as you read
  2. Books where you can incorporate tactile experiences (let the infant touch and chew)
  3. Books where you can allow the child to use cognitive skills–bright colors, shapes, photos.

Books for Toddlers:

  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (also under school age)
  • Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
  • Pete the Cat books
  • The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  • Curious George books
  • Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

 Tip-choose books with the following qualities:

  1. Books that reinforce concepts such as letters, numbers, colors, etc
  2. Books that are interactive where you can ask questions, have child help turn pages, or rhyme words

Books for School-Age Children:

  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  • A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
  • Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  • Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague
  • The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • Stuart Little by E. B. White
  • Books by Judy Blume
  • My Weird School series by Dan Gutman

Tip-choose books with the following qualities:

  1. Books that have clear text that is easy to understand
  2. Books that have colorful illustrations that help with words or phrases that may be unfamiliar
  3. Books that encourage discussion
  4. Chapter books

Books for Teens:

  • Harry Potter series
  • The Outsiders by SE Hinton
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  • Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
  • Books by John Green (The Fault in our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Tip-choose books with the following qualities:

  1. Books that spark an interest based on hobbies or type of literature (fiction, biography, sci-fi, etc)
  2. Books that introduce a new experience
  3. Books that are part of a series

Read here for more on books that promote language in babies and toddlers!





 

the benefits of a visual schedule

The Benefits of a Visual Schedule for Home and School Success

Do you feel like a broken record when you ask your child to complete a simple task or standard routine? Whether you’re asking your child to fulfill her typical morning routine or planning ahead for the upcoming weekend, try using a visual schedule to outline your expectations.

The benefits of a visual schedule include the following:

Visual schedules make chores or tasks objective instead of subjective. When there is a neutral source promoting expectations for the child, it fosters enhanced independence in the child as well as takes the emotionality out of having to remind, repeat, and get frustrated with the child’s progress. Even though it would seem like second nature to complete standard morning time practices, the visual schedule outlines for the child what comes first, second, last, etc. and provides a checklist to move through. Some parents take pictures of their child completing these tasks (i.e. making their bed, brushing their teeth, packing their bag, eating breakfast) to make this a visually pleasing tool and increase child investment in the process.

Visual schedules make transitions easier. For younger children who thrive with structure and benefit from knowing what is on the agenda for the day, a simple visual schedule can aid in transitions and reduce anxiety about upcoming events. These schedules can be less formal and just require a simple sketch of what is to come. During lazy days or even days with little going on, visual schedules can help to structure unstructured time and provide a variety of outlets in a time-sensitive fashion. For example, on a relaxing Saturday create a schedule with your child that incorporates meal times and provides options for morning “art time” and afternoon “outdoors time”. These schedules create structure with pictures. Instead of writing out art time, draw with crayons, paints, or chalk. Meal time would be indicated with a picture of a sandwich and plate. Drawing these expectations out can facilitate independence for even young kids to stick to the routine and understand the structure through the use of symbols.

These visual schedule help bring structure and independence to all home and school routines.

For more help this school year, watch this Pediatric TV Episode on how to set up a homework station at home.







FitnessGram

What is the FitnessGram and Why Are These Standards Used in Schools?

 

 

 

For more than 30 years, children from 5 to 18 years old have been tested using the FitnessGram Healthy Fitness Zone standards. Parents often wonder: What are these standards and how do the calculations reflect children’s health and fitness?

The most I remember from taking part in the FitnessGram back in the day was trying to reach for my toes and then getting pinched in the back of my arm. But the FitnessGram is more than just a measure of body fat and flexibility. The test items are used to determine body composition and aerobic capacity in children. They present a multi-dimensional view of children’s health. The test items reinforce health-related fitness research. The results serve to teach students and parents that just modest amounts of physical activity can improve their performance. The program helps children and parents better understand and appreciate a physically active lifestyle. The assessment does not compare one child to another and it tests fitness, not skill.

So what are the test items in the FitnessGram and what area of fitness do they measure?

To measure Aerobic Capacity (The ability to perform big muscle group high intensity exercises for a long period of time, such as running, jumping, and walking):

  • PACER test, Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run, is a multi-stage endurance test, with twenty-one levels that increase in difficulty as children run 20 meter laps that gets faster and faster with each lap.
  • 1-Mile Run tests a child’s endurance and is a great indicator of fitness
  • Walk-test also helps to measure aerobic capacity, or the body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently.

To measure Muscle Strength (the ability of muscles to exert an external force) and Muscle Endurance (muscles’ ability to repeatedly exert an external force without fatigue):

  • Pull-ups are a measure of upper body strength and endurance
  • Push-ups are a measure of upper body and trunk strength and endurance
  • Curl-ups are a measure of abdominal strength and endurance
  • Trunk lift is a measure of back muscle strength and endurance

To measure Flexibility (the range of motion across a joint and the ability for muscles to stretch):

  • Sit and reach tests for flexibility of the trunk.
  • Shoulder stretch tests for the flexibility of one the shoulder, which is one of the most flexible joints in the body.

To measure for Body Composition (the makeup of the body and the ratio of fat tissue to non-fat tissue such as muscle and bone):

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Skinfold Measurement
  • Bioelectric Impedance Analyzers

The results of the test classify children’s performance as Healthy Fitness Zone (HFZ) or Needs Improvement (NI) zone. Children who score in the Needs Improvement zone receive reports that let them and their parents know that their currently at risk for future health problems. Some children may even score in the Health Risk category of the Needs Improvement zone. If they continue to live a sedentary lifestyle, there will be clear and potential health problems. Overall, The FitnessGram has been widely accepted in schools as a great educational tool for parents, teachers, and coaches. It builds a strong healthy foundation in children as young as elementary school. The program teaches them, through a hands-on approach, that being physical active in childhood pays off later on in life.

Click here for more great fitness related posts!

References:
Plowman, S.A. Muscular Strength, Endurance, and Flexibility Assessments. In S. A. Plowman & M.D. Meredith (Eds.), Fitnessgram/Activitygram Reference Guide (pp. Internet Resource). (2014) Dallas, TX: The Cooper Institute.
Plowman, S.A. & Meredith, M.D. (Eds.). Fitnessgram/Activitygram Reference Guide. (2014) Dallas, TX: The Cooper Institute.

prep your child's teacher to help your child with ADHD

How to Prep Your Child’s Teacher to Work with an ADHD Diagnosis

To start the school year out right for your child with and ADHD (or other) diagnosis, it is important to establish a close collaboration between you, your child’s teacher, any professionals of the treatment team, and your child!  Here is how you can prepare your child’s teacher to best understand your child’s needs to get off to a great start this academic year.

10 tips to prepare your child’s teacher to best help your child with an ADHD diagnosis:

1. Request to set up a meeting at the start of school year.

2. Get an idea of what your child’s teacher knows about ADHD and his general attitude towards ADHD. Some teachers may be more or less informed about ADHD, as research and diagnostic criteria has changed quite a bit over the years.
3. Inform the teacher of your child’s ADHD diagnosis (or other diagnosis), if he is on any medication or if you chose an alternative treatment method.

4. Find out what the culture of the classroom is like:

  • Structure: Is the daily schedule posted?  Does the teacher request frequent “brain breaks” during the day?
  • How does she describe her teaching style?
  • Rules & Expectations: Are there visual reminders posted around the room? What is the reward system? Incentives? Token System?  Nature of the homework assignments? Seating arrangements?
  • Can your child sit facing the front and close to the teacher?

5. Discuss the best way to contact one another (i.e. via phone or email).
6. Discuss if any notes home or behavioral report cards are necessary or how often?
7. Pass along any recommendations to your child’s teacher that she can implement that you have found helpful  for your child.

Examples:

  • “Jake does well when given one command at a time versus following multiple steps at once.”
  • “At home, we have found that having Jessica repeat back directions or rules, helps her to be more accountable.”
  •  “We use the token system at home and Sam seems to do well with it when we are consistent.”

8. Be supportive and open.

  • Assist the teacher in any way by being supportive and open to suggestions he or she may have.
  • Let the teacher know you want to work as team to make it a successful year for everyone.

9. Offer Praise and appreciation: A positive attitude with your child’s teacher creates a stronger relationship with all involved!

10. Request to set up a follow-up meeting to check-in : This could be half-way through the school year or sooner depending on the needs of your child.

Click here to read about self-regulating strategies to help children with ADHD.

Strategies and Resources for Your Child’s Writing Disorder

Writing disorders can make every day school tasks like taking notes, writing assignments into a planner, and completing written work very challenging for students.  Nonetheless, this does not mean that it should hold a child back from learning to be a great writer.  There are many resources available to help assist students become proficient writers and the following is a list that children and adolescents in our clinic have found helpful:

  • Assistive Technology Devices that may be available in your child’s school:

    • Word Processor
    • Dictation (e.g., Dragon Naturally Speaking programs)
    • Co-Writer Word Prediction Software
    • Inspiration Software http://www.inspiration.com/
  • Classroom-based accommodations:

    • Reduce overall written work load
    • Copy of teacher notes and outlines
    • Focus on one writing skill at a time until the child masters it
  • At home:

    • Encourage free writing about your child’s favorite topic
    • Help them talk out key points to cover and reinforce the organization format taught in school
  • If legibility of writing is a concern, a trial of Occupational Therapy can help with fine motor control and coordination.

Writing is a vital skill that should never be out of reach for any child.  For additional strategies, please visit: http://www.ldonline.org.  For information about your child’s rights and standards in public education, please visit: Idea.ed.gov.



Framing Questions and Commands So Your Child Will Listen

The way in which a directive is presented can elicit a variety of responses. Prior to communicating with your child, set your expectation.

Is your goal to remove choice to ensure a task is completed or is your goal to offer choice to empower the child? These tips from our Pediatric Social Worker will explain when to “tell” your child to do something or when to “ask.”

When to “tell” your child what to do:

If there is a time-sensitive task that must be completed, posing a question might not be in your best interest. Asking your child to do something may imply a choice. Saying, “Johnny, can you take out the trash?’ can open pandora’s box for reactions and can, in fact, allow Johnny the option to say “no.” Telling Johnny to take out the trash doesn’t give any alternative option and the direction is cut and dry.

If you would like to provide choices when telling, you can say, “Johnny, please take out the trash and then you can resume watching TV.”

When to “ask” your child to do something:

Asking your child to do something can allow the child to feel more empowered in regards to making their own choices. You can structure these choices so that any response that you receive is okay. For example, asking your child, “Do you want macaroni and cheese or chicken parm for dinner?” offers options that you are ok with (you were planning to make one or the other so their input isn’t going to greatly alter your plans).

Tips while “telling” or “asking”:

Regardless if you are telling or asking, make sure that you stay calm and that your non-verbal and verbal cues are non-threatening (threatening cues may foster increased child resistance). If you are telling your child to do something, stay firm but recognize the tone of your voice and attitude. If you are raising your voice and showing signs of being mad, this may put the child on the defense. Staying firm but continuing to use a calm voice and body will maintain your message, show that you will ignore negative behavior, and aid in child investment quicker.

Click here to read more about handling stubborn behavior.