Cyber Bullying | How to make sure it doesn’t happen to your child!

Recent media events have highlighted the issue of bullying. A Rutgers University student, for example, committed suicide a few weeks back due to being bullied over the Internet (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/29/dharun-revi-molly-wei-charged_n_743539.html ).Cyber Bullying Girl Crying

Bullying is nothing new. Older movies such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club have all featured some form of bullying behavior. The key difference between bullying in the past and present, however, is in the level of anonymity – changes in technology have made bullying much more anonymous over time. Almost every child is on Facebook these days. Anyone can create an account, and the identifying information as to who “owns” the account can often be limited. The impact of cyber bullying has lead to a great deal of emotional harm as well as actual physical harm, as shown by cases like that of the Rutgers University student.

Tips to help decrease the likelihood of your child being “cyber bullied”:

1. You must closely monitor your child’s computer face time. Have a central location for the family’s computer. Keep it in a den or office room that is accessible for all family members.

2. Social media tools, such as Facebook, can serve as a great avenue for social relationships. They are not necessarily a bad thing, and you should not have your children completely avoid such avenues of socialization. However, if your child is using Facebook, it is imperative that you know your child’s login and password. Let your child know that you will be monitoring the Web site to ensure that nothing dangerous is there.

3. If your child is going to be on the site, you must be on the site yourself. Also, one requirement that you would have for your child is that he or she must be your “Facebook friend.” This way you can monitor what information he or she puts on the Web site and what information people are leaving for him or her.

4. If you suspect that someone is bullying your child, the first thing you should do is click the “Report this person” link on that person’s profile screen. This is done anonymously and will lead to an investigation to determine if that individual’s Facebook page should be censured. Also, ask your child to “de-friend” the person and find out what the situation with the bullying was about.

Bullying has always been around and likely will always be around in some format. With the changing of the times and vast improvements in technology, bullying can now be done anonymously and on the Web. Parents, you need not shelter your children from new technological advances; however, you must take these advances into account when you decide howyou monitor your children.

Top 9 Tips For Over-Stimulating Holidays

The holiday season can be a very fun and exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming for some of us and for our kids.  When a child becomes over-stimulated during the holidays, it can lead to stress, anxiety, or behaviors that can make this special time with family and friends difficult.  Here are some tips to help make the holidays more enjoyable. 

  • Make a visual schedule of the events to take place and go over it with your child prior to leaving the house.  This way,  they can better prepare themselves for parties and events.
  • Try to keep their mealtime and bedtime routine as normal as possible. Read more

Developmental & Fun Holiday Gift List For All Ages!

Holiday gift giving can be tricky to juggle when providing educational toys that also happen to be fun for your children. Here is a list of suggestions that is seperated by Ages, Sensory Considerations and Fine and Gross Motor Skill Development.  girl with gifts

Holiday Toys for Infants (0-1yr)

Gross Motor:

“Tummy time” offers strengthening of the back, core and neck muscles that are critical to a baby’s development. There are many tummy time mats on the market to help this important position be a part of your everyday routine,

Tummy time play mats; $14.99 – $24.99

Fine Motor:

Babies enjoy exploring environments that are filled with music, colors, lights and a variety of textures. Cause and effects toys are great for developing fine motor skills as well as eye-hand coordination such as,

Fisher-Price Little Superstar Classical Stacker (6mos & up); $13.99

Sensory:

Providing infants with teethers and rattles of a variety of shapes, sounds and textures will assist in their exploration of their environment as well as help sooth those teeth coming in. Read more

The Truth About Lying | 12 Ways to Make Sure Your Tween Doesn’t Lie

Below are 12 easy ways to ensure that you will maintain a healthy and honest relationship with your child:

1. Keep communication open. Designate time, every night, when you and your child can talk about the day’s events. Discuss parts of your day at dinner time, bath time, and bed time.

2. Make yourself approachable. If your child is scared of you, they won’t feel comfortable telling the truth about certain things. Make sure you welcome any news with open arms. Mom and Teenage Daughter

3. Be proactive. Discuss the meaning of truthfulness, honesty, and sincerity. Discuss why honesty is important at home, in school and in the community. Teach The Boy Who Cried Wolf principle (a very effective moral lesson).

4. If you catch him/her lying, sit down and have a serious talk. Remove all distractions and give your undivided attention. Tell them you need to understand why they lied, and have them walk you through what happened or what they were thinking.

5. What are alternatives to lying? Share with them what you might do instead of lying and model it for them.

6. Make sure your child knows that you understand them – you’ve been a teenager too. Show them you can relate by making statements that reflect the feelings behind what they’re saying.

7. Give them the right to not tell you everything. What is acceptable to be kept private and what is not?

8. Make sure they are not lying to cover up another serious problem. Explain how this can turn into a vicious cycle and how they can get themselves into even more trouble this way.

9. Insist that your child take responsibility and apologize when it is due. Some children lie for the purpose of avoiding responsibility, so this is an important skill to focus on.

10. Use self-admittance and repentance as your course of discipline if lying is a new problem for your child, letting them know what consequences will follow if the behavior continues.

11. End the conversation on a positive note whenever you can. Is there any part of their decision, action, or feelings that is praiseworthy? Was there any good intention that they could pursue differently next time?

12. If lying becomes serious and pattern-forming, parents should consult with a professional counselor in order to understand and correct the lying behavior.

References: American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, November 2004, No. 44

*Blog Disclaimer

North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Inc. (NSPT) intends for responses to the blogs to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; all content and answers to questions should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).  Questions submitted to this blog are not guaranteed to receive responses.  No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by NSPT  to people submitting questions.  Always consult with your health professional first before initiating or changing any aspect of your treatment regimen.

Sibling Rivalry | Why Siblings Fight and How to Prevent it!

After reading Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, I had to question whether or not this title was realistic. Don’t all siblings have difficulty getting along sometimes? The answer is yes – all brothers and sisters go through conflicts that may cause you to pull your hair out. However, there is a difference between normal sibling rivalry and behavior that is not typical between brothers and sisters. There are also plenty of ways that parents can both reduce the tension in the household and actually exacerbate the situation. Sibling Rivalry

Why do Brothers and Sisters Fight?

• Siblings fight due to developmental levels. Younger children are going to argue over “silly” things, such as sharing toys and sitting too close to each other.

• Brothers and sisters may not get along because their personalities are either too different or too similar. You also may have two children with very strong personalities.

• Siblings of children with special needs may have difficulty with understanding why their brother or sister gets more attention than they do.

• Sex and age can also cause sibling rivalry. Children of the same sex and close in age may be more competitive due to having similar interests.

• Parenting plays a major role. How you resolve conflict may impact your children’s problem-solving ability. As a parent, you also have the power to increase or decrease the tension based on how you react.

• Fighting amongst siblings is normal. How and how much they fight is the question to be answered when determining what atypical behavior is. Physical interactions between siblings are never okay and should always be addressed. You may never fully eliminate arguing between siblings, but the frequency can always be reduced. Read more

What is DEVELOPMENTAL DYSLEXIA?

DyslexiaDyslexia is one of the more common conditions to affect school age children. It is estimated that between 5 and 10% of children between the ages of 5 and 20 meet criteria for the disorder. The definition of dyslexia is an inability to read; however, while this is a disorder that is very easy to define, it can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Reading is an intimate and essential skill in our school systems. Children are taught to read in first and second grade; but by grade three they are expected to acquire new information from what they read and children who have difficulties in reading will begin to suffer in all subjects if left untreated.

Dyslexia and The Brain

There has been a wealth of information published on this disorder since first conceptualized nearly a hundred years ago. What researchers have essentially concluded is that we don’t have a formal reading center in our brain. Rather, we utilize language and speech areas to make sense of written words. Thus, any disorder that affects language systems can impact reading. In fact, in adult stroke patients, there is an unusual condition called alexia (can’t read) without agraphia (can’t write), which means that a person could write a sentence but be unable to read what they had just written. Through the advent of neuroimaging, we have been able to trace the pathways that lead from the visual perception of written text to the decoding of that text for meaning and have a pretty good understanding of how children with dyslexia read (or don’t read) differently than normal children. We have not been as successful in figuring out the cause of this disorder.

The current thinking is that our visual system is built to recognize objects from a variety of different angles because we are creatures that move in the world. For instance, if I turn a chair on its side, it won’t take you longer to figure out it is still a chair. However, letters and words need to be identified in the same orientation and in the same order if they are to have meaning. The visual system, therefore, “cheats” by funneling letters and words over to the language centers for processing instead of in typical object recognition centers. If this process occurs correctly, most children will be able to read as early as five years of age. If they don’t funnel this information correctly to the left side, they will continue to treat letters and words just like objects in the environment. For instance, a child might see the word “choir” but say the word “chair” since they are visually so similar in appearance. However, their meaning is quite different and clearly comprehension is going to be affected if many of those errors occur.

Signs of Dyslexia in Children

Some of the common signs of dyslexia in younger children can be the omission of connecting words (i.e., in, an, the, to, etc.), taking the first letter or two of the word and guessing, or converting words that they have never seen into words that they already know, even when the meaning is quite different. I hear often that parents become worried because their child reverses letters and, while this does occur in children with dyslexia, it is also a fairly common phenomenon with children who are learning to read, particularly with letters that look similar (i.e., b and d). Thus, it often does take a trained professional to differentiate children who are poor readers or who are developing slowly or in a patch-like fashion from children who actually have dyslexia.

Dyslexia in School

One of the challenges with this condition is that many of the schools have gone to an RTI Model (Response To Intervention) for reading. This means that they wait to see how a child responds to a normal classroom and if they fail, they move them to additional services, and if that fails, they move them to further intense services. Failing that, an evaluation is ordered. In real life, this means that many children are not evaluated properly for several years and by that time there are major gaps in their learning and acquisition. We do know of several methods for remediating dyslexia, although they often involve multiple hours a week of tutoring on a one-on-one basis and some school systems are simply ill-equipped to provide those types of services for children.

Most children that we see here at the clinic with dyslexia are bright and capable children who become increasingly frustrated with school because they are unable to bring their intellect to bear on many of the activities they are asked to perform in the school system. Even subjects in which they find much enjoyment are limited in terms of their ability to access the material because so much of it is done through written form. They often look poor on standardized reading and math testing; but because they are bright they can usually “muddle along” just enough to escape attention until they have fallen several years behind by middle school.

Treatment for Dyslexia

Fortunately, several treatment methods have been developed over the years that lead to a “normalization” of the reading system within the brain on imaging studies and to a dramatic increase in reading scores on educational tests. Only a trained professional can determine if your child has a developmental delay, dyslexia, or some other condition that is impacting their reading; but these are often critical evaluations to get done early since the remediation process can take 12 to 24 months.

I have evaluated hundreds of children for this condition and seen rather dramatic improvements when these children are placed in evidence-based programs for even a short amount of time. I urge all families who have children who struggle with reading to at least get a consultation with a trained professional to determine an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment planning.

How To Keep Your Toddler Well Behaved At A Family Function

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

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

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

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

Talking to Your Teen About Peer Pressure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social Work

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

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

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

School Conferences: 3 Topics That Must Be Discussed

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

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