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How to Build a Positive Relationship with your Child’s Teacher | Tips from Moms and Teachers

As a mother of 3 children, and having been a teacher myself for many years before having my own kids, I find it interesting to be on “the other end” ofthe parent/teacher relationship. So how does a parent build that positive relationship with teachers? Here are a few tips that I picked up along the way as both a parent and a teacher.

How to Build a Positive Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher:

  • Start out right. Send an email a week or two into the school year outlining the positives you have seen from your child. Simply write something along the lines of, “I am really impressed with how Jacob came home yesterday knowing all of the planets!”. This simple stmom and teacher with boyep will open up lines of communication with the teacher early on, while at the same time showing the teacher that you are paying attention to what is going on at school and that you care.
  • Ask the teacher what you can do to help! Is there something you can volunteer for in the classroom? Are there activities you can help organize? Are there donations you can make to optimize the room? How can you make life easier for the teacher? By offering your services and time, you are showing the teacher that you truly care about helping her have an easier year.
  • Do not overwhelm the teacher! It is good to make sure your child’s teacher is well versed in everything they NEED to know about your child. But you must also give them space. It can become hard for a teacher to prepare, learn and teach your child if you are contacting them every day telling them what to do or not do. You may even be surprised when they are able to help your child in innovative ways that you never thought were possible before!
  • Show appreciation. Everybody likes to know they are appreciated, and teachers are no exception. You don’t have to break the bank buying them tons of gifts. However, teachers do not get paid as much as they should, and they do not just work on your child’s education only during school hours. Most work at nights and on weekends in order to complete everything they need! So yes, it is nice to get them a little something during the holiday break and at the end of the year. It is even nicer if you have your child draw them a picture or write them a letter to show appreciation. This, of course, can be done throughout the year!
  • Be prepared in case something goes wrong. In most cases, there will be something that you are unhappy with at school. You must speak up right away. Do not wait to say something, or just hope that the problem will go away on its own. Explain to the teacher that you would like to problem solve with her/him and your child all together. This way you aren’t putting all the pressure on just the teacher. If you child has certain special needs or has his/her own education plan, read this blog on how to further help: https://nspt4kids.com/therapy/start-the-school-year-out-right/ .

Tips from Teachers on How to Make The Year Successful For Your Child:

Preschool Tips | By: Mrs. Alexandra Feiger, 2-3yr old Preschool Teacher at the Jewish Community Center of Chicago

  • Communication is key when sending your child to preschool. If there is something that you feel is important for us to know about your child, let us know right away. Talking with your child’s teacher about your child’s needs will help the teacher have a better understanding of who your child is and how to make sure the environment is set up in a way that will allow your child learn and feel comfortable.
  • When both parents are working, it is common for babysitters to drop off or pick up the child from school. This means that you finding out how and what your child did in school that day is based on what you hear from your 2 year old or the babysitter. If you are concerned that you are not getting enough information, or you would just like to hear from the teacher yourself how your child’s day went, the best thing to do is call or email the teacher. It is never a bother for us; in fact, we encourage parents to stay updated with what their child is learning and doing in school so they can talk about it at home and participate in the child’s learning.

Elementary School Tips | By: Mrs. Jennifer Cohn, 3rd Grade Teacher at Woodland Elementary East in Gales Lake

  • Teach kids to be responsible for their own actions and hold them accountable. So many parents continue to do things for their kids instead of teaching them to be in charge of themselves. I ask parents to check homework, but also to have their child do it him/herself and pack his/her backpack him/herself.
  • Parents should support their kids, yet let them learn how to be a successful student on their own. They will benefit in the long run and be proud of themselves when they have accomplished their goals on their own.

Middle School Tips | By: Mrs. Suzanne Mishkin, 7th Grade Special Education Teacher at McCracken Middle School in Skokie

  • Find out who your child’s advisor is before school begins. This is most often the point person for questions that are not related to a specific class, and knowing who it is will help both you and your child stay afloat of information for the whole year.
  • Parents should find out how teachers post assignments and where they can see their child’s grades. This information should be given out at Back-to-School Night. If it wasn’t, just ask!
  • Ask to see your child’s assignment book. Most teachers take care to have the students write assignments down in their assignment book each day, so you can learn a lot by looking.
  • Let the school know immediately about any changes that could affect the child, such as changes in medication levels. It is not uncommon for children in this age group to change medication or medication dosages from time to time due to hormone changes, and any information you can give the schools would be helpful.

Finally, remember that a teacher’s success is based on your child’s success. The teacher wants the best for your child, and as long as you and the teacher are working towards the same goals and have a positive relationship, you are both bound to provide your child with a great year!

Catch Your Child Being Good

In today’s world many parents are so quick to notice the annoying or bad habits that children do. We are fast to say things like, “Stop that!” or “Don’t do that!”. Sure, that will get the child to stop what they are doing for a moment or two, but in the long run that will not prohibit them from doing the same thing in the future. Rather than catching your child doing something wrong, try to catch your child mom high fiving sonbehaving appropriately. By providing positive reinforcement you will be more likely to have your child repeat these desired behaviors more consistently. Below are four tips on how to catch your child being good.

4 Tips On How To Show Your Child Positive Reinforcement:

  1. Catch Them In The Act. The quicker you catch the child in the act the better. Try to make sure that you provide praise as soon as the behavior occurs and try not to prolong or delay the reinforcement.
  2. Be Specific. When your child is doing something appropriately be sure to draw attention to him or her by letting them know that you are proud of them, and more specifically, exactly why you are proud. Do not use generic praise (i.e., “Nice job!” or “You are the best!”) but make sure you specifically say what your child did well, see examples below
    1. Johnny, nice job sharing the Legos with your brother!
    2. Sarah, I love how you are using an inside voice while your sister is taking a nap!
    3. George, thank you for picking up your toys without me asking!
  3. Don’t Just Use Words. In addition, to providing specific examples/situations in which you are proud of your child also add in physical and tangible forms of praise and excitement.  Pair your words with a:
    1. smile
    2. high five or fist pound
    3. hug
    4. pat on the back
    5. stamps and stickers
  4. Have Them Earn Rewards. Your child can also earn little tickets or coupons when you catch them doing a desired behavior (i.e., behaving appropriately, doing chores without being asked, helping a younger sibling, sharing, etc.). Once they get a certain amount of tickets or coupons they can choose a special reward (i.e., picking out an extra story at bedtime, having a few extra minutes to play the Wii, getting a special snack like an ice cream cone, selecting the afternoon activity, etc.).

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iPhone and iPad apps to Promote Reading and Language Development

The number of iPhone and iPad apps related to speech and language continues to grow every day! This can be both exciting and overwhelming, however. That’s where I come in. I’ve downloaded a bunch of different apps, and I’m here to let you know which ones are definitely worth looking into and why. I have also provided ways in which you can use the apps to target different skills.Child with iPad

Based on my experience, children are inherently motivated by devices like the iPad. While I absolutely love using my iPad, I always make sure that when I do use it in a session that I also include traditional therapy activities too. Below you will find apps that target reading readiness and literacy skills and language skills. I have used all of these in a number of my sessions and I think they would make a great addition to your iPad. I’ve included the prices as well; however, these are subject to change (every now and then there are some great sales).

Apps for Promoting Reading Readiness and Literacy Skills:

  1. The Monster at the end of This Book and Another Monster at the end of This Book: $3.99 This super fun and interactive book helps with spatial development and encourages good listening skills. The reader/listener has complete control over the book and thus enables him/her to make the appropriate decision of when to go on to the next page. The words are highlighted as they are read out loud which helps beginner readers learn that there is an association between letters and spoken words. It’s also great for working on different emotions!
  2. Dr. Seuss Books: $2.99 Works on rhyming skills.
  3. ABC Phonics Rhyming Bee: $2.99 Appropriate for preschoolers and kindergarteners. This app is great for children who are learning to recognize rhyming words and how to sort words by sound. You can pick from a number of different sounds (i.e. –ad, -ag, -ed, -ob).
  4. ABC Phonics Butterfly Long Vowels: $2.99 Appropriate for 1st and 2nd graders. Start off by choosing two long vowel sounds. Words are presented orthographically and auditorily. The child then learns the words by hearing the sound of the word. Then they match the word to the right vowel group. You can also hide the word.
  5. Dora hops into phonics: $3.99 This app facilitates learning to recognize that letters can be organized in a specific sequence to represent words. In the first level, children are asked to identify the picture that matches the given word. If the child can’t read the word, they can tap the letter to sound it out! Depending on the level he/she is in, they are asked to change the beginning, final or middle letters of the words to turn it into another word. Mini games are embedded within which provides great reinforcement! Manipulating sounds is an important skill to becoming a proficient reader.
  6. Dora’s rhyming word adventure: $3.99 In this app, Dora and Boots want to go over the Troll Bridge, but the Grumpy Old Troll challenges them. There are 4 different levels: rhymes, first sounds, last sounds and inside sounds and you can select a different level at any time. This app helps preschoolers to learn rhyming and letter sounds, which is important pre-reading skills.
  7. Rock ‘n Learn Phonics Easy Reader 1 Practice: $1.99 using the following phonics material: short vowel sounds, consonant-vowel-consonant combinations, words ending with ll, ss, ff, s, and plural s. 3 stories included.
  8. Step by story: 2.99 each 500 creative story combinations – children are able to build their own stories.
  9. Booksy:  Learn to read platform K-2; Free app (comes with 2 books) additional books are $0.99 eachLearn to Read Platform K-2 AWESOME APP! Designed for children between pre-kindergarten and second grade. The platform has a number of different features. You can choose to have the book read out loud or you can touch individual words. Your child can even record himself/herself! At the end of each book, there is a comprehension quiz. Another unique feature is called “Parental Dashboard.” This allows parents, or SLPs to see statistics related to the child’s progress. Stats include reading speed, quiz scores, words that are tapped and dates. There are also 3 different awards that can be given. If you want to buy additional books, you can do so within the app and you can preview every book there is!
  10. TJ’s Picture Dictionary: $0.99 A very easy to use picture dictionary. Using this dictionary can help build a child’s vocabulary and knowledge. The definitions are straightforward and the pictures are bright and colorful. Pictures enlarge when you click on them, as well as appropriate sound effects.
  11. Funny alphabet: $0.99 Helps with preschoolers’ ABCs! There’s a voiceover for every object on the page and some are even animated. When you touch the letter it says its name, not the sound. Includes a page of all of the letters and by clicking on a letter, it jumps to that page. Otherwise, it’s like a flipbook. This app is great for little ones who are learning to talk – use it to label early objects. For older kids, you can even use it took work on describing and other vocabulary skills!

Apps for Promoting Language Skills:

  1. More Fun with Directions: $9.99 This app focuses on 12 different concepts which include: up, down, in front, behind, put in, take out, above, below, turn on, turn off, on, under. You can select from 3 different levels (easy, intermediate and advanced) and you can choose whether or not to have direction written out for the child.  Features that I particularly like: option to “hear again,” change the concept when you want to, and turn the voice command on/off.
  2. House of Learning: $6.99 There are a variety of skills you can work on using this one app. You can use it to help children understand prepositions (i.e. in, on, over, under, next to, etc).” It is great for targeting 1, 2 or 3 step directions. I’ve found it particularly useful for kiddos who need to work on formulating stories as well answering wh- questions. This is definitely an app you can get creative with!
  3. Speech with Milo – Sequencing: $2.99 There are over 30 3-step picture sequences in this app! The pictures are presented in a random order and the child has to drag the picture to spot 1, 2 or 3. You can choose to have the text show (which I prefer to leave off). When the child has put the cards in the correct order, you can click “play” to watch an animated clip of the story. Use this app to work on sequencing, temporal concepts (first, second, last), sentence formulation, syntax and answering/asking wh- questions.
  4. Speech with Milo – Interactive story book:  $1.99 A very cute interactive story! Use it to target wh- questions, vocabulary skills, animal sounds, formulating sentences and grammar. You can record what the child says and play it back to them right then and there! If you prefer to have them listen to the story, there is both text and audio. The animations are great and very reinforcing.
  5. Splingo: $2.99 There are 4 different levels in this app.
    Level 1 – instructions contain 1 main word Examples include: 
    Which apple is dry?
    Put the spider next to the house
    Which tiger is running?
    Level 2 – instructions have 2 main words 
    Put the clock in the box
    Bring the clean tractor to the sheep
    Level 3 – 3 main words 
    Put the plate in front of the big castle
    Level 4 – 4 main words
    Put the girl’s little dustbin behind the school
    After completing a few directions, there’s a mini reinforcing game.
  6. Sentence builder: $5.99 Designed to help children learn how to build grammatically correct sentences. The child is asked to make a sentence about the picture. The child has to choose each part of the sentence from a few choices (i.e. subject, helping verb, verb, object). You can choose to have answer reinforcement and answer animations. In addition, there are 3 levels to choose from (i.e. 1, 2 and 3).

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Daddy’s Home!!! How To Keep A Positive Attitude After A long Day At Work

(This article is meant for fathers-but of course Moms, you can read too)

Like most of you dads out there, I work very hard each day. I rarely take a lunch break, and don’t take a lot of days off. That’s just how I am wired. I father home from workam confident that many of you fathers out there are the same way. It’s in our blood, it’s how we were raised, and we’re proud of our work ethic.

I am first and foremost, the proud, doting father to a 5 year old girl and a 2 year old boy. I would do anything for them at any time, just like you would do anything for your child at any time. Our young children don’t know why we work and come home tired. We do it for them, but they won’t understand it until they have kids someday.

There have been times when I’ve come home from a hard day, and not been “there” for my kids. I was tired or stressed or just not in a good mood. That’s normal, but how we react to feeling like that is critical. When I think about those times, I cringe. My kids are waiting for me. Should it be their problem that I had a busy day? I promised myself, not so long ago, that I would try my hardest to walk in the door each night with an over exaggerated, flamboyant, happy entrance that would help to ensure my kids never lose the “Daddy’s Home!!!” excitement.

5 Tips To Relieve A Bad Mood Before Coming Home To Your Kids:

  • On the drive home, turn the radio up loud, roll down the windows and sing a long.
  • Eat something ( I go with candy, but I don’t condone candy eating).
  • Do not answer the cell phone.
  • If driving helps, do what Supertramp says and “Take the Long Way Home”.
  • Think about your kids, and how fun it is to play with them when you get home and of course how great it feels to see their happy faces at your arrival.

Following these tips will not only ensure a stronger, healthier relationship with your children, but it will also help you feel better about yourself and your day!

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Handling Aggression In Toddlers

Kevin cries hysterically, meanwhile Tommy holds a red fire truck above his head. Nobody saw what happened, but there are clear bite marks on Kevin’s right arm. If this scene has ever unfolded in your living room, you’re not alone. Parents often express worry about their toddler’s use of aggression when interacting with peers. It can feel extremely concerning to receive news that your toddler hit or bit another child at today’s play date. Biting, kicking, pushing, and hitting are common issues in developing toddlers. Here are a few strategies to consider when navigating aggression in toddlers.

What can parents do?

The first step is figuring out why your child is demonstrating aggression. Keep a log of occurrences, and gather information:

1. Who does your child show aggression towards? Is it primarily younger children? A particular peer? Adults? The babysitter?

2. Where does aggression occur most frequently? Look for a toddler with boxing glovescommon environment (e.g. at preschool, at the park, in the playroom, etc.).

3. What triggers lead to aggression? Is it when you’ve told them “no”? Or when your child can’t verbally communicate their thoughts? During transitions during the day?

4. What is your child’s emotional state during aggressive moments? Do they seem tired? Frustrated? Sad?

Understanding why your child demonstrates aggression will help determine your course of action. For example, kids with delayed speech and language may use aggression to compensate for difficulty with verbal communication. It’s much easier to grab the truck than to say “I want the truck”. Similarly, children who have difficulty processing sensory information might feel more overwhelmed in over-stimulating environments, which may result in aggressive behaviors or poor impulse control. By keeping a log of occurrences, you can uncover patterns that may explain why your child is acting out.

Strategies to help your toddler during aggression:

The next step is to set clear guidelines, and give your child alternative ways to respond. Here are 7 strategies to consider when your child displays aggression.

1. Set clear boundaries ahead of time. Talk to your child about unacceptable behaviors in advance. Use clear and simple language (e.g. “It’s not okay to bite. Biting hurts people.”). You might even introduce these concepts through an engaging activity, such as a children’s story book (e.g. “Hands Are Not For Hitting” or “Feet Are Not For Kicking” by Elizabeth Verdick).

2. During moments of aggression, let your child know their behavior was not okay. Use a firm voice, and be specific (e.g. “No. We do not hit.”). Avoid yelling or using aggression yourself, as that might send a mixed message to your child.

3. If needed, take a time-out. If you notice your child is escalating or is having a difficult time regrouping, then provide a time-out to reorganize. Implement calming strategies, such as a calm voice or quiet space. When your child is ready, reintroduce them into the situation while guiding them through it.

4. Offer constructive ways to express emotions. If we simply tell our child not to hit, then we are not helping them solve the problem at hand. Chances are, your child was trying to send a clear message when they hit their friend (e.g. maybe they wanted a toy, or maybe they were frustrated). So instead of simply telling them what not to do, also offer them some better ideas. For example, you might model an appropriate phrase for your child to use “I want the car please.”

5. Give your child language to use. Especially if your child has speech and language difficulties, they may need help in knowing what to say or how to say it. Model simple, age-appropriate phrases to use in the moment (e.g. “stop that please” or “I want a turn”).

6. Provide safe opportunities to practice. For example, if your child frequently uses aggression with peers, then practice peer-interactions in a structure one-on-one setting with a parent present to guide and facilitate. If your child begins to display aggression, then intervene and model an appropriate way to handle the situation.

7. Praise positive behaviors. Let your child know what is going well. Give them positive praise with specific examples (e.g. “Wow, I like the way used your words! You said ‘my turn’. Good job using your words.”)

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What To Do (and Not To Do) When Your Children are Negatively Influenced by Friends

“But Johnny says swear words, so why can’t I?!”

“But Emily gets to stay up until 10:00!”

“But Mike talks back to his parents, and he doesn’t get in trouble!”

Do these comparisons sound familiar?

Friends can heavily influence your children’s behaviors and beliefs. As children begin to spend more time at school and extracurricular activities with friends, the more they begin to learn what is accepted and rejected by their peer group. boy pretending to shoot gunAlthough you may assert specific guidelines and values in your family, your children are likely to experience varying guidelines and values in their friends’ families. These differences can feel confusing for children as they begin to realize that not every family is the same. They may also feel frustrated when they think that they have more rules and fewer privileges than their friends do. Helping your children make choices that reflect your family’s guidelines and values can be challenging for parents.

Maintaining a balance of empathy and understanding with assertiveness and firmness is key in helping your children navigate their decision-making processes. Here are some Dos and Don’ts.

DON’T:

  • Make judgments about your children’s friends and their parents. Making statements, such as, “Emily’s parents shouldn’t be letting her stay up so late!” or “Mike is being a bad boy by talking back to his parents!” is not productive for your children because they do not give your children alternative, positive choices to make. Instead of talking about other families, take the opportunity to discuss your own family’s guidelines and values.
  • Dismiss your children’s arguments. It may feel tempting to say, “These are the rules in our family, and that is that!” but taking the time to explain to your children why you have certain rules can help them feel more confident about the rules they follow, which can improve compliance.
  • Justify your rules with long explanations. Children may get lost in long explanations. To keep your children engaged, it is better to give simple, concrete explanations with room for questions. (Ex. “In our family, the rule is that when you have a problem, you use a nice, calm voice. This is because we show respect and love to each other. What questions do you have?”)

DO:

  • Reach out to parents of your children’s friends if necessary. Some behaviors can be destructive (i.e. friends who are hitting, using inappropriate language, bullying, etc.). Contacting parents to discuss your concerns may be an important step in decreasing negative influences for your children. There may also be instances in which you need to set boundaries between your children and certain peers. If this is a step you decide to take, explain to your children in a gentle and firm way without placing blame or judgments on other families. (Ex. Instead of “You can’t play with Emily anymore. She’s a mean girl,” try “When we are around friends who hit and use swear words, we are not safe. Who are some friends that use nice words that you can play with? Who are some friends that use mean words and hit? I want you to play with friends who use nice words and a safe body.”)
  • Take the opportunity to talk about your family guidelines and values in a gentle and firm way. Instead of saying what not to do (Ex. “We don’t talk back.), talk clearly about what to do (Ex. “In our family, we use nice words and a calm voice when we have a problem”) and why (Ex. “This is because we show each other respect and love.”). You can help your children explore and understand what your values are by asking open-ended questions (Ex. “What does respect mean?”) and problem solving (Ex. “How can you show respect when mommy says something you don’t like?”). Express understanding and gentleness by encouraging your children to ask questions if needed. At the same time, maintain firmness and confidence that your family’s guidelines and values are important and constant.
  • Practice making positive choices with your children. Role playing is a fun way to help your children practice what to say and do when they encounter specific instances at school, on the playground, or on play dates. (Ex. “What can you do if your friend says something mean to you?”)
  • Praise your children when they make positive choices. Be specific with your praise. Instead of “You are such a good boy,” try “I love that you used your nice words with your brother. You are doing a great job showing respect.” Using specific examples of your children’s behaviors that reflect important family values can help your children understand and feel confident about their family’s guidelines.

What have you tried to help your children who are negatively influenced by peers? What has worked best for your family? Please share with us!

 

Getting Children To Sit Quietly | Pediatric Therapy Tv

Pediatric Occupational Therapist gives our viewers the top 3 tips to help get children and students to sit quietly in class, circle time or even on the road!

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • What to do before your child sits down
  • Where to sit each child
  • How to keep your child still

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I am your host, Robyn Ackerman. Today I’m standing with pediatric occupational therapist Deborah Michael. Deborah, can you give us the three top tips to getting a child to sit quietly?

Deborah: Absolutely. First of all, you need your child regulated before they sit down. They need to be ready to sit down. If they just came in from recess or from playing outside, they may need to take a few deep breaths to calm themselves down before they sit down.

Secondly, you want to space the kids out correctly. When you’re sitting in circle time, you want to put Sarah in front and little Peter to the side and left so he doesn’t put his hands in her hair. If you are in a car, you don’t want to put the two siblings that fight the most right next to each other.

And third of all, provide fidgets and movement for children that need it. Maybe they can be squishing a ball or rocking in a rocking chair rather than sitting still and having the heebie-jeebies.

Robyn: Thank you very much, Deborah. Those are great tips. And thank you, also, to our viewers. And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

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Tantrum Tips

Board Certified Behavior Analyst gives our viewers a better understanding of childhood tantrums and how to deal with them!

“I Don’t Know How She Does It!”: How Do We Balance Our Careers With Our Family Life?

High-powered finance executive by day, devoted wife and mother of two by night. “I don’t know how she does it!” How does she balance her career path with her family life? The movie “I don’t know how she does it,” starring Sarah Jessica Parker, sets out to explore this age-old question. So how do you do it? How do you successfully balance your professional and balancing work and familypersonal life? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers, nor is there one answer that works for everyone.

Explore these questions to decide what fits for you and your life:

1. What are my priorities at this point in my life?

  •  Priorities change over time. Your priorities may change based on your age, the age of your children, where you are in your career, and your relationships with partners, friends, relatives, and co-workers.
  • Exploring with yourself what your current priorities are can help you formulate a plan. If your priority is time spent with your children, for example, what will that look like when you have a deadline to meet? If your priority is advancement in your career, what will that look like when your family decides to go on vacation? Exploring these difficult questions beforehand can help you brainstorm possible ways to act based on your priorities.
  • Periodically asking yourself about your priorities is a helpful way to remind yourself that it is normal and okay for priorities to shift and for your answers to career/family balance questions to also change.

2. What are my boundaries?

  • Many parents discuss the importance of boundaries when it comes to their professional and personal lives. Setting boundaries is one way to maintain guidelines.
  • Questions of career/family balance occur often. Your boss asks you to stay late, but your child has a math test the next day. Your children want to spend time with you, but you have a presentation to work on. Having pre-set boundaries can give you something to fall back on.
  • Asserting and communicating your boundaries to your workplace and family is important so that everyone is informed and on the same page about the way you want to balance your professional and personal life.

3. How can I cope when things do not go the way I had planned or hoped?

  • Exploring your priorities and setting boundaries will not set answers in stone for you. Sometimes you make difficult choices in a way that you had not planned. Sometimes you cannot keep your boundaries. This is normal and okay—juggling a career with a family is extremely complicated and challenging, and no one does exactly what they planned or hoped to do every time.
  • Accept yourself as a human being that may have to make choices that you did not anticipate. Explore with yourself what can help you cope when this time comes. Do you write in a journal? Talk to a friend or spouse? Exercise? Take some alone time? What is it that works for you to feel hopeful, at peace, and confident in yourself as an employee and parent? How can you let go of possible guilty, sad, anxious, or hopeless feelings?

4. How can I gain support?

  • Balancing your career and family life is a constant process and journey, and as employees and parents, reaching out for help and support is vital for your well-being.
  • When do you need support? Recognizing when you need help is important so that you receive the support you deserve. What helps you feel supported? Take some time to think about what makes you feel refreshed, energized, calm, and happy. With busy schedules of maintaining the career/family balance, some parents may say they do not have time to engage in self-care activities. Taking time (even if it is just 5 minutes) to feel supported, however, can help you feel more energized throughout the day.

Exploring these questions about career/family life balance can help you to begin thinking about how YOU would answer the question of “How do you do it?” No two parents are exactly alike, and answering this challenging question in a way that fits with your unique beliefs, background, needs, wants, family, and career is important, rather than finding the “right” answer.

So, parents: How do you do it? Sharing your stories with each other can create connection, spark new ideas to try, and help you to see that every person balances their careers and family life differently.

Here is a list of how some of our very own North Shore Pediatric Therapy staff maintain the career/family balance:

CEO, Married, Father of 5:

“First, you can bring your kids to work once in awhile and let them experience your work world. You can also talk about issues that are age-appropriate with your children so they learn what you do and what you deal with so they become interested, learn, and grow from your work experience. This can also help them to work harder at school with their peers. Another suggestion is to ask your children if they feel they have enough time with you, and if not, ask them how would they like things to change for the better. Scheduling in one-on-one time with your children is a good way to help them feel important. Be interested in their work and what they do in school. It is important that you’re not just talking about your work but letting them know their work is also important—acknowledge their stresses and responsibilities.”

President/Founder, Married, Mother of 5:

“First, don’t forget your children at school! Oh boy, I have five and a few times when I was treating kids at NSPT late I got calls to work from the kids ‘Hi mom, I’m in the office, you forgot to pick me up!’ The best thing is that the kids knew I was working hard and loved it and they knew when I wasn’t working I was 100% all for them. Turn off all screens and concentrate on them when you are “off” and they will always be “on” for you! Second, kids actually don’t want SO MUCH attention from you. So, when they come home from wherever they are, just turn 100% attention to them. Tell them they have 20 minutes of YOU YOU YOU. You will see that after about 3-5 minutes of talking to you or hugging or whatever they need, they have other business to tend to like playing, eating, talking on the phone, homework, friends, pets, and will continue on their merry way! Third, work somewhere where you are happy. Happy mom equals happy family!”

Family-Child Advocate, Married, Mother of 3:

“We just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on the 11th and have 3 children. Our oldest son Bill just graduated from medical school in June, our daughter Caitlin was married in May and our youngest Matthew has moved back to complete college at UIC for pre-med. All three have had learning differences so in addition to always working full time we had to factor in therapy and tutoring etc. We found that good communication and ORGANIZATION were the keys to getting it all done. In our case it was not “I don’t know how she does it”, it was always “This is mandatory for success” so it took priority and a schedule. We have a large centralized calendar and we had family meetings once a month to go over the schedule and we gave responsibility to the kids when they were old enough! Another thing that is key to getting it all accomplished is a sense of humor! Things happen and the wheels fall off of the best laid plans, but it helps to laugh!”

Clinical Consultant, Married, Mother of 2:

Make sure you leave work at work. When you come home and see your children for the first time, pay attention to them. Assign a time every night to hear about their day, talk about what they did and just spend valuable time with them. Save your work stories for your spouse after the kids go to bed. If you work from home it is especially important that your children know how long you will be on the computer for or on a conference call for. You can say to them “Mommy will be doing work for 45 minutes, but after I am done you get to choose an activity for us to do together”. You can even set a timer so they have a visual of when you will be able to bring your attention back to them. Leave weekends to family time. We call every Sunday “Sunday Funday Family Day” in our house. The children know that on that day they have our undivided attention!”

Neuropsychologist, Married, Father of 2:

“When I get home, my wife and I focus on our kids…getting them fed, going through routines, preparing for school the next day, spending time together…until they go to bed. Then, my wife and I have time together, where we process our days. Any work that I have to do, I do when everyone is asleep. So my time is spent first on my kids, then my wife, and then me.”

Occupational Therapist, Married, Mother of 2 toddlers:

“First, I love my career and my family. That helps everything. Second, I decided that the concept of balance, as it relates to career and family life, is unrealistic for me. So I have gone with the concept of seasons or synergy instead. Some weeks I’m going to come in to work early, stay late, and work on the weekends, some weeks the opposite will be true. If I expect that of my career and communicate that ahead of time to my family I don’t feel I’m disappointing them or myself during he hard weeks. Finally, I really value and prioritize my relationship with my husband – we are the ones running our crazy show together, so we need to be happy together for the most part.”

Speech Language Pathologist/Branch Director, Married, Mother of 1:

“As a mom of a 12 month old boy, I think the balance is all about finding a schedule and sticking to it. If you know what works, make sure to keep a routine that is predictable for you and your child. However, you also need to be flexible and able to change, so your schedule shouldn’t be too rigid. Most importantly, laugh! Keep a good sense of humor and go with the flow, even if things don’t turn out as planned. So what if the dishes aren’t washed and the laundry isn’t folded. At least my son went to bed happy and I have some quiet time to catch up with my husband and work!”

We would love to hear what you do, post a comment and tell us how you manage to balance work and family!

Teaching Your Child To Care

Teaching your child to care for others is an important role that each and every parentgirl caring for friend carries.

Often, people assume that compassion is a born instinct, but it can also be taught. Yes, all people are born with some level of a “caring gene”, just as Babe Ruth was born with a talent to play baseball. However, if Babe Ruth was never introduced to baseball, never taught the rules of the game, never tried to play, then what good would his natural talent have been? Everybody can be taught to feel for others; you just have to start teaching them while they are young and continue teaching them by example!

Here Are Some Tips to Help Your Child Learn To Be More Compassionate:

Start Young

  • Start teaching your child to care for others as soon as they are able to communicate.During play-time, role-play with your baby on dolls. Show them how to hold, hug and care for the doll. Even pretend the doll got hurt and show your baby how to comfort the doll. Playing with your child and a doctor’s kit is another great way to show your child to care for others and how one person makes another feel better.
  • It’s also important to teach your child in the moment. When at the playground or on a play-date and your toddler’s friend falls down or gets hurt, bring it to your toddler’s attention. You can say to your toddler: “Oh no, Joey got hurt, and is very sad. I think it would make him feel better if you gave him a hug”. This will ensure that when your child is in preschool, he or she will more likely be the kid who helps his or her friends instead of running past them when they get hurt.
  • Just as teaching your children to care for those who are hurt physically, it’s equally important to teach your child to be aware of those who get hurt emotionally. Let your child know that it is not okay to hurt other’s feelings. This will prove to be vital when your child is in grade school and Bullying begins.

Lead by Example

  • Parents are the first teacher a child ever has. Everything a parent does, their child is watching, taking notes and learning from. Show your child how to be compassionate. When you see a homeless person on the street, stop and give him/her some spare change. Afterward, explain to your child why you helped that person. How there are people out there less fortunate. Let your child know that there are children who may not have as many toys as your child. Ask your child how it would make them feel to not have all the things he/she has.
  • Often, people get frustrated when they have to pull over to let an ambulance or fire-truck pass by because it delays them to their destination. Instead of getting irritated, say out loud how you hope the ambulance or firemen get there in time to help those in trouble.

Find Local Places to Visit

  • Along with leading by example, you can help your child become caring and compassionate by actually working with those in need. Many nursing homes have programs where you can bring children to come and talk to residents.
  • You can also take your child to a soup kitchen to help serve people in need. Let your child feel good about helping others!
  • Have your child bring a bag of toys to a children’s home to give to less fortunate children. There are plenty of websites that offer information on places and ways you and your child can help. Below are a couple of examples:

 http://www.redcross.org/volunteertime/ and http://www.volunteermatch.org/

So go ahead, turn off your T.V. and video games and go out with your child into the world to make a difference!

I welcome any comments on more opportunities for children to “care”!