how tp prep your child for a new sibling

How to Prep Your Child for a New Sibling

Have a little one at home and another one on the way?  You might be thinking, “No problem, I’ve done this before!” However, this time may be a little different.  Through all of your doctor’s appointments, new room preparations, and pregnancy aches, you have a child who may be feeling any number of ways as she prepares for her new baby brother or sister.  If there’s already more than one little one at home, one might expect that reactions to the third or fourth child will be the same as when your second one came.  But beware…things change. Here is how to prep your child for a new sibling.

My primary piece of advice when preparing your child for a new sibling is to follow her lead.  Some kids might have lots of questions and show great interest in talking about the new baby.  Others might act as if you never even told them the news.  Don’t worry, kids react to these changes in all different ways.  Make yourself available to your son or daughter, while never forcing the topic.

With so much going on in your life right now, it can feel overwhelming to stay on top of all of this.

Below are some tips that parents have found helpful when preparing their child for a new sibling:

  1. Discuss changes that will occur when the newborn arrives, and start early! A newborn will bring how tp prep your child for a new siblingmany changes to the entire family, such as different responsibilities for all members of the household.  If your child will have to make significant changes such as moving his/her bedroom, try to make this change long before the newborn arrives.  This will help your little one not feel like they are being displaced by their new brother or sister.  While sharing is expected among siblings, let your son/daughter know about things that will remain theirs and stay constant.
  1. Read books about welcoming new brothers and sisters. Your local librarian is a great resource for age-appropriate books about the arrival of a newborn and books are a great way to learn about life transitions. While reading a book on the topic may spark rich discussion, it also may not.  Don’t be discouraged though; give your child time to let the changes sink in.
  1. Allow your son or daughter to be part of the planning and preparation for the newborn. Whether it’s setting up the baby’s room, looking at ultrasound pictures, or purchasing items for the nursery, having your son or daughter participate in the preparations, may help ease some of their anxiety.
  1. Expect some mixed feelings. Children’s emotions often seem all over the place. One minute they may be talking excitedly about their role as a big brother/sister and the next minute showing zero interest or even stating that they do not want to be an older sibling.  People’s emotions are often mixed about life transitions/changes, so remember to let your child know that it’s normal to have some mixed feelings about the new addition to the family.
  1. Lastly, be prepared to provide some extra support to your son or daughter, possibly more so than he or she typically requires. Of course this depends on each parents individual schedule and what time/life permits. However, spending lots of family time together and focusing on this special time you have together before the new addition arrives is important. If your child seems anxious about the arrival of the new sibling, reassuring him or her of their relationship with you will be helpful.  Maybe show them pictures from when they were a baby, so they see what it was like. While there may be lots of time and attention given to the newborn, let them know you’ll still be sure to make time for them.

Click here for 5 Roles to Assign a Sibling of a New Baby!

If you have concerns about how your child is adjusting to a new baby in the family, click here to meet with a social worker.

 

a beginning babysitters guide-discipline basics

A Beginning Babysitter’s Guide – Discipline Basics

Discipline. Uh oh! Not the D word! Discipline is one of my least favorite parts of babysitting. It is not pleasant for you or the kid, but sometimes it is necessary. Luckily I’ve found some great ways to handle discipline and even prevent the need for it in many cases.  Hopefully these discipline basics will help you out.

 Discipline Basics for Babysitters-Prevention:

  • Prevention is key as you may have noticed from my other blogs, I am all about being proactive anda beginning babysitters guide-discipline basics prepared. Many people don’t realize how much they can do to prevent bad behavior and the need for discipline. Surprisingly there is actually a LOT you can do to help.
  • Energy – It’s a fact of life. Little kids have lots of energy…. And they need to let that energy out. Sometimes lazy or tired people try to force these kids to sit still and watch TV or play by themselves, but the kid just can’t seem to do it. Then they get in trouble, throw a fit, and continue to act up for hours on end! This can all be prevented.

Look for things they already have around their house to play with and get energy out. Maybe you’ll even hit the jackpot like I have with the  3-year old I batmansit right now (he’s “too old” to babysit, and he calls himself batman all the time – so yes, I batmansit). His parents bought him his own mini bounce house and put it in his basement play room. I love that thing! He gets to bounce his little butt off and let all of his energy out. I told them it was a present for me just as much as him! Yes, the kids you sit for most likely will not have their own private jump-jump, but look around and get creative. Start a game of Simon Says or Monkey See Monkey Do or better yet take them outside and let them run!

  • Attention – Many times kids act up as a plea for attention. Sometimes it can be difficult when sitting for a baby with an older sibling. The baby requires lots of time and attention, but the older sibling kind of gets the shaft. Get the older sibling involved in something you’re doing with the baby, talk to and play games with him while you hold the baby, and focus 100% on them once the baby goes to sleep. Just that little bit of attention can prevent meltdowns later.
  • Communicate – A lot of problems can be prevented if you communicate in advance with the kid about what is going to happen. If you let them know “we’re going to go to bed in about an hour” etc… it helps ease them into it.

I have another great example with my little “batman”– usually at bedtime he asks about his parents, and I remind him that “Mommy and Daddy will be here when you wake up.” He knows that to be true, but still likes a little extra re-assurance. However, we are about to have a big change. This weekend I will be watching him two days in a row with an overnight stay. This is a big step for him, so I’ve been slowly working him up to it. We’ve talked about it for the past 3 or 4 weeks, so he knows what is coming and has now accepted it. He’s even excited now about our upcoming “pajama party.” This little bit of communication has probably saved me a long day and night of tears!

What to Do When Prevention Does Not Work:

Although preparation is a life-saver, it is not going to prevent every problem. Sometimes, you will ultimately have to discipline your “little monster.” Here are the basics steps to effectively handle the task.

  1. Talk to their parents in advance – find out what the house rules are before the parents leave, and how they discipline bad behavior (This way you never have to guess at whether a kid’s statement about how “Mommy or Daddy always let me do this.” is true or not.)
  2. Give a warning – In a calm yet firm tone explain to them that if the behavior continues, he will receive “______” as a consequence.
  3. Stick to your guns – If you warn the child and he continues then you have to follow through or he will walk all over you forever – he now owns you! 😉
  4. Take a deep breath and don’t make it personal – Sometimes a kid can try your last nerve, and it can make you want to lose it. You should never take out your anger on a kid. Take a deep breath and administer the discipline with a clear head.
  5. Remove the problem source – If he abuses something he loses it. End of story. If he is hitting a sibling with something, or blasting the TV too loud, then simply take access to the item away and explain thathe can have it back when he begins to behave.
  6. Time out is a sitter’s best friend – Time outs are really the easiest method, and most parents will approve of this tactic. Calmly sit the child in a quiet area and tell him to stay there. Set a timer – a good rule of thumb is one minute for every year of the child’s age (2 minutes for 2 year old, 5 minutes for a 5 year old etc…) When the timer goes off, go over to the child, make eye contact, and calmly remind him why he was in a time out. then explain what you expect from him in the future, ask if he is ready to go play nicely. This might also be a good time for a hug.

There you have it! Hopefully, discipline doesn’t seem to be quite so scary now. Stay tuned for more upcoming blogs with more great tips and tricks of the babysitting trade trade!

For more information on getting started babysitting, click here.

 



Step-by-Step: Potty Training a Child with Autism

Potty training can be an overwhelming process for parents of young children. Potty training a child with autism can make the process seem even more daunting. But not to worry, with consistency and patience, children with autism can be successfully potty trained.

When to begin potty training – There is no magic age to start potty training, as it varies from child to child. Children with autism are not always developing at the same pace as their same-aged peers. However, no matter what your child’s current functioning level is, you should be able to start the potty training process around age 3.

Step-by-Step: Potty Training a Child with AutismPottyTraining

  • It is best to begin during a time when you have at least 3-4 days in a row to devote to potty training (i.e., a holiday break or a long weekend).
  • Divide potty training into two phases:
    • Phase 1 – Urination
    • Phase 2 – Bowel movements
  • Start by working on phase 1, and once your child is consistently urinating on the toilet, you can then begin working on phase 2.
    • When potty training boys, have them sit instead of stand. This will make it easier when you introduce phase 2.
  • When begin the toilet training process, begin to slowly fade out the use of diapers or Pull-Ups. If your child learns that they will go back to wearing a diaper every time they don’t go in the toilet, they will most likely wait until the diaper is on to urinate.
  • Make highly desired items (i.e., IPad, computer games, favorite treat, etc.) contingent on urinating in the toilet. Do not give your child access to these items at any other time. Restricting these items will increase their reinforcing value, making urinating in the toilet more motivating.
  • Provide natural consequences for accidents. Never yell or scream when accidents occur. Instead, have your child help with the clean-up, change themselves (to the best of their ability), and put their dirty clothes in the laundry.
  • Expect some resistance from your child when you begin toilet training. Children with autism love routines, and you are going to disrupt their normal routine as soon as you start potty training. Negative behaviors like crying and screaming are very likely in the beginning. It is important to ignore these behaviors and continue with the process. Once they learn the new potty routine, the behaviors will decrease.
  • Be consistent. Once you start potty training, stick with it! Requiring your child to use the potty one day, and then putting them back in a diaper the next can be confusing and will most likely extend the potty training process.
  • Once your child is consistently urinating in the toilet, you can move onto phase 2 and follow the same steps. It is common for phase 2 to take longer, so do not get discouraged if your child is more resistant at first.

Following these general guidelines can help with the potty training process. It is important to remember that every child is different, and what works for one child may not work for another. If you have been trying to potty train your child without any success, it is recommended that you contact a professional to assist you. Someone with knowledge and experience with potty training can write an individualized plan tailored specifically for your child.

Click here to download a printable potty chart.






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.

Crossing the Midline: Activities to Promote

Crossing the midline is a fundamental skill that begins to emerge in infancy and continues to develop into early childhood. It is necessary for important developmental milestones such as crawling, walking, using a spoon to eat, writing, and reading.

Simply put, crossing the midline refers to the ability to meaningfully use a hand, foot, or eye on the opposite side of the body. In order for this to happen, the two hemispheres of the brain must be able to communicate with one another. If a child has difficulty crossing his midline, it can be a greater challenge for him to engage in everyday tasks from dressing to school work to sports. If you notice your child is having difficulty developing hand dominance, gets lost or frustrated when visually tracking words or objects, or seems generally less coordinated than other children his age, his ability to cross midline may be underdeveloped.

7 Activities to Promote Crossing the Midline:CrossingtheMidline

  1. Have the child straddle a low bench or other object that keeps his feet planted on either side. Use two different bracelets, stickers, etc. to differentiate the right and left hand while you have him pick up objects near his feet from the opposite side. This could be bean bags to throw, puzzle pieces to place, or beads to string onto a craft necklace. This activity can also be done in a “criss cross” seated position on the floor but be sure the child is not turning his entire trunk to pick up items.
  2. Having the child sit or stand in one place, throw, bounce, or roll a ball off-center of their body. He will need to use two hands to catch the ball and toss it back to you.
  3. With one hand placed flat on the surface in front of the child, have him use the other hand to trace over a large infinity sign. Switch hands after 10 cycles. Ideally this should be done on a vertical surface with the feet kept in one place.
  4. Trace big shapes, letters, and numbers in the air using index fingers and big toes.
  5. March to music and try to touch hands or elbows to the opposite knee.
  6. Trace horizontal lines across a long piece of paper. Make sure the paper is placed directly in front of his body and one hand is stabilizing the paper while the other traces across.
  7. Sit back to back and practice passing a ball to each other on each side. If you have more than two people, you can sit in a circle and play hot potato!

For additional suggestions and general recommendations to promote this skill, stay tuned for next week’s blog with even MORE great activities to try!

 

Click here for more information in helping your child cross the midline.

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.

5 Reasons Free-Time is a Good Thing

Free-time is a good thing. Parents spend a lot of time encouraging their children to participate in recreational activities during the school year. There is nothing wrong with having your child participate in different activities and helping them to figure out what they are passionate about; however, over-scheduling your child with too many activities can often lead to increased stress in children and their parents. It is important for parents to be cautious about how much they are scheduling their children and to encourage more free time.

Here are 5 reasons why it is important not to over-schedule your child:KidsFreeTimeFall

  1. Over-scheduling can create increased stress and anxiety for both parents and children. Over the last several years there has been an increase in anxiety related disorders due to the stressors involved with over-scheduling.
  2. It creates less time for children to complete their homework and can cause them to have less sleep at night due to staying up later to complete their homework.
  3. It decreases the amount of quality time a children can spend with their family.
  4. Over-scheduling can cause a child to have less time for free-time and with you. Quality time doing imaginative play with your child is important in order to encourage creativity and to help develop independence in children.
  5. It can also cause children to have difficulty maintaining with peers due to not having enough free time to spend with them and to build their relationships.


 Is over-scheduling or homework creating stress? Read here for 8 Tips to Ease Homework Time Stress.

Building Self-Esteem in Children

Building Self-Esteem in Children

A child’s self-esteem is very important as it helps with his daily successes. If a child is able to start off the day with a positive outlook then the child will be able to follow directions in class and become a better learner. A child can build self-esteem by forming and maintaining positive relationships with family, friends and other people he comes in contact with, for example, teachers, therapists and other adults. A child can also build self-esteem when he hears positive praise, when he does something good or when he is able to learn and master new skills. Often times a barrier can be placed in front of a child that will cause him to lose his self-esteem. Negative comments from people such as adults or bullies are the fastest thing that can tear a child down.

How can we teach our kids self-esteem?Building Self-Esteem in Children

  1. Praise the child
  2. Be there for the ups and downs. Use the down times for teaching and educating.
  3. Accept the child for who they are
  4. Allow the child to be themselves
  5. Don’t just celebrate the wins but teach from the loses

Is there a point where you are being too positive and too much of a cheerleader?

Children need to know that they are supported in every arena they enter. When it starts to hinder the child is when realistic expectations start to be forgotten and children are expected to do things that are over his head. Too much cheerleading can cause the child to lose hold of what is expected and what is required. There needs to be a fine line with building positive self- esteem and enabling children.






baby sign language

The 411 on Baby Sign Langauge

What is Baby Sign Language?

Baby sign language is one example of an unaided communication system which permits infants and toddlers a means of communication using gestures. It allows for young children to adequately have their needs and wants met before they are able to verbally communicate. It also gives parents and caregivers another fun way to bond with the child.

Why is baby sign language beneficial?

By providing a child with a different means for communicating, children at an early age present with reduced frustrationbaby sign language by having their needs and wants met more consistently. It also gives children another means of bonding with their parents and caregivers, as they are able to engage more functionally with each other. Additionally, some research has shown that children who are introduced to early signs have been shown to verbally communicate more quickly, and at a younger age, than peers who are not exposed to signs. Though the jury is still out, other research has suggested that children who use baby signs have higher IQ’s as well!

Some helpful tips for using Baby Sign Language:

  • When should we start? Children between the ages of 6-9 months will benefit most from early introduction to baby signs. Parents should note that it can take a couple of weeks or a few months for their baby to begin using the signs. As the child’s fine motor skills continue to develop, the accuracy of the signs will continue to increase, so parents need not worry if the early signs are just approximations and are not completely accurate. Therefore, be realistic with the timeline and know that most children will not begin using signs immediately after they are introduced.
  • How do they learn? Parents and caregivers should remember to pair the signs with spoken words in order to reinforce verbal communication. Children learn through demonstration and practice, though they should continue to be exposed to verbal communication to help their language develop. Additionally, it is important to make sure the child is looking at their conversational partner when they are engaged. Parents and caregivers can provide a visual model for the child and even give the child tactile support to help them use the gestures with their own hands.
  • Make it meaningful! Early signs should be meaningful to the child and can contain names of family members, pets, and requests. Signs such as “Mom/Dad, milk, more, all done, and dog” are good choices for first signs. Secondary vocabulary could contain favorite foods and toys as well as simple action words.
  • Keep it simple! Make sure not to introduce too many signs too quickly. Stick to 3-5 signs in the beginning and be consistent! Use the signs throughout the day in a variety of settings in order for the child to generalize them in different environments. Once those signs have been mastered, parents can continue to add new signs and tailor the vocabulary to be more functional and meaningful to the child.
  • Be persistent! In order to succeed, parents have to remember to be patient! It can seem like a slow process in the beginning, so consistency is key. Parents and caregivers should remember to keep this teaching process fun and interesting, and give the child ample opportunities to practice, offering hand-over-hand support when needed. Encourage the child to use the signs, particularly with motivating objects, people, or items and frequently reward their success.

Click here to watch a short video on how to sign the word “more.”

Click here to watch a video on how to introduce two-word sentences with sign.