motivational interviewing

Motivational Interviewing: How to Determine if Your Teenager is Ready for Change

The notion of therapy can conjure up ideas hope, support, and the development of skills necessary to instill longstanding changes. As a parent, you may have identified certain challenges or problematic behaviors that involvement in therapy can resolve, but what if your teenager does not share the same sentiments? Although there may be concrete goals and clear areas for improvement, if the client involved does not see the need to modify their behavior, change may be slow to occur. To determine if your teenager is ready to commit to change, motivational interviewing can assess if your child is willing to address the need for adjustment.

Here are the stages of motivational interviewing:

  1. Pre-contemplation: Here the client is not even aware of the presented problem and therefore is not motivational interviewingcommitted to change due to the lack of incite.
  2. Contemplation: The client is aware of problematic behavior but is cautious or uncertain about wanting to change the presented concern.
  3. Determination: The client has identified that change is something they want but are not sure how to achieve desired change.
  4. Action: The client is working towards making changes but is not stable in the change process (i.e. some changes have been made and the client is learning how to eliminate relapse to previous problematic behaviors).
  5. Maintenance: The client has achieved the changes they desired to make and work towards maintaining changed behaviors.
  6. Recurrence: The client has experienced a recurrence of the problem and works towards implementing newly acquired strategies to resolve the problem.

To evaluate the efficacy of therapeutic intervention, it is helpful to understand where the client is in the process of identification, acceptance, and desire for change of the presented problem. For example, if you determine there to be a problem with excess video gaming behavior, fearing that your child is addicted and anti-social in the process, if your child does not see this behavior as problematic, it may be hard for him to invest in change. If the child is in the pre-contemplation phase of change, sit down with him and identify the concerns inherent in the behavior (benefits and consequences of perceived changes) to help motivate the desire for change. It is important for the concerns of the child and the concerns of the parent to be transparent and in alignment to incite change.

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker can help you with talking to your teen as well.

Click here to read how you can support your teen into the transition to adulthood.

childhood friendship

Help! I Don’t Like My Child’s Friend

Have you ever found yourself saying “I don’t like my child’s friend?” As children develop their autonomy and sense of self, their friendships often times reflect their interests, values, and status in the social environment. Whether it is in school, on the soccer field, or in religious school class, children are exposed to a variety of peers and have many opportunities to connect with others to satisfy a sense of stability within the social fabric of their world. Although the acquiring of peers can be a validating and comforting process, what is the role of the parent when your child has identified a “bad egg” that you just can’t stand???

Tips When You Don’t Like Your Child’s Friend

childhood friendship

Help! I don’t like my child’s friend

  1. Recognize and monitor your feelings. These feelings are your feelings and not the same sentiments that your child experiences. Be cognizant of how you talk about this friend and the non-verbal language that you may communicate (not asking questions about this one particular friend, using a sarcastic tone, exasperated speech when you find out your child spent all of recess/lunch with this person, closed off posture, etc.) as these send messages to your child about how you feel about their friend. Your negative feelings may cause your child to become tight-lipped about their future interactions, therefore reducing the ability to process why this person might not be great friend material. On the contrary, your child may become awkward or cut-off from their friend but not truly understand why they are not a good fit. Check your emotions before dialoguing about this friend to turn every opportunity into a calm, teaching opportunity.
  2. Identify the value that your child finds in this friend and help them to develop more appropriate boundaries and relationships. Sit down with your child and find out what value and function this friend serves. Are they loud but nice? Impulsive yet inclusive? Are they mean yet popular? Help your child create a list of criteria that constitutes “good friends” and help them see that popular is not as important as being inclusive, kind, and share common interests. Also it is important to note that just because the friend might be loud or impulsive, does that constitute not being a good friend? Everyone has a variety of qualities and in this situation, do the good outweigh the bad as no one is perfect.
  3. Get your eyes on the situation to oversee what you perceive as negative to, in fact, determine if this person is a negative influence. Have your child invite their friend over to observe their interactions, how this person treats your child, and to evaluate all qualities to determine if your bias is accurate. Where does your bias come from? Your experiences, both positive and traumatic from growing up. Sometimes working overtime to prevent against negative experiences in your child’s peer relationships limits their bank of experiences and the lessons they can learn even from situations that may seem upsetting.

Read here for valuable tips on how to help your child find the right friends.

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.

 



How to Handle Cyberbullying

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

Tips on How to Handle Cyberbullying

cyberbullying

Cyberbullying

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

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

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

a beginners guide to babysitting

A Beginning Babysitter’s Guide-Getting Started

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

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

Steps to Begin Babysitting:

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

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

Step 2: Find a job

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

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

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

Step 4: Bring the fun!

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

 

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

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

Cyber Bully

Teenage Sexting: How does a parent handle?

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

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

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

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

 

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

teens and transitions how to help your child

Teens And The Transition To Adulthood: How To Support Your Child

If you have a teenager at home, then you know how exciting of a time adolescence can be. With the excitement, however, brings a variety of challenges. As boys and girls begin their journey of becoming young men and women, parents are faced with having to constantly respond to the changing needs of their sons and daughters. Parents of teenagers will often notice that their relationship seems to change with their child during these years. While young teenagers are eager to separate from their parents and make their own choices, parents feel the pull to ensure that their teens are making choices that will be beneficial for their future. How do you support your teen as he/she transitions to adulthood?

We know that adolescence is a time of change. Physical, psychological, and social changes can create some real discomfort for a young teenager. Although it is no simple task, parents can do a great deal to support their young ones through these changes. The following are some tips for parenting your adolescent child.

How to Support Your Teen as He/She Transitions to Adulthood:

  • Encourage your son or daughter to speak to you about the changes he/she notices including the desire toteens and transitions how to help your child be more independent.
  • Allow your child to make mistakes so long as safety and long-term future are not at risk. Talk to your teenager about the consequences of his or her choices in an empathic and understanding way.
  • Set clear and firm limits but allow for your teenager to have choices when possible; children of all ages need to have some say. Parents should collaborate with their children to set parameters and still allow for some “supervised” autonomy.
  • Help your child develop routines and structure to stay organized, especially when it comes to school. Teenagers are continuing to develop executive functioning skills and need your support to create and maintain solid systems for balancing home, school, and social life.
  • Be comfortable asking for help. If your teenager’s transition into and through adolescence seems especially difficult, be assured there is help available. Working with a social worker or other mental health professionals can provide you with support that is specific to you and your child’s situation.

 

switching the gaze from iPhone to eye contact

Switching The Gaze From iPhones To Eye Contact: Reconnecting With Your Teen

With the iPhone 6 now available, it is no “news” that our culture is influenced by and—at times—is all about technology. There are of course numerous reasons why technology,  and phones that also serve as computers are helpful, entertaining, and at times necessary. However, there are also a handful of reasons why these ‘computer phones’ can be burden—a key reason being they take away from the quality time that children and teens spend connecting with their siblings and family.

Set Technology Limits and Reconnect with Your Teen:

Setting limits on the amount of time your teen spends on their phone/iPad/laptop may help you reconnect with your switching the gaze from iPhone to eye contactteen. Your teen may have some initial resistance to this plan, however if the time spent without the device is spent in a meaningful and positive way, she will eventually open up to (and possibly even look forward to) the ‘tech free time’.

The following activities are ways to make ‘tech free’ time meaningful and positive:

  • Have a heart-to-heart discussion
  • Cook/bake together
  • Play a board game
  • Go for a walk or bike-ride
  • Invite your teen to suggest some ideas of what to do during this ‘tech free time’. This will be another way for this time to be enjoyable. Also, inviting them to suggest ideas is another way for you to reconnect and learn about your teen—you can learn new things about her when asking her to share what she would like to do with you.
  • Or do anything that would be enjoyable for both or all people involved—as long as it provides for some face-to-face and eye-to-eye time.

Similar to teens, adults and parents are also at times immersed in their phones and tech devices. It is important that the adult and teen disconnect for a set period of time. Providing specific praise as to how meaningful the time is, and how much you love and appreciate your teen will also be an important way to reconnect with her and show your teen how much this time—and she is valued.

books

Books by the Ages: Reading Fun for All!

 

 

 

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

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

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

Books for Children Birth to 3:

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

Tip-choose books with the following qualities:

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

Books for Toddlers:

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

 Tip-choose books with the following qualities:

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

Books for School-Age Children:

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

Tip-choose books with the following qualities:

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

Books for Teens:

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

Tip-choose books with the following qualities:

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

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





 

What is Co-Treating?

You may have heard your therapist say, “I think a co-treat would be a great option for your child!” But what does that really entail? Will your child still be getting a full treatment session? Will his current and most important goals be worked on? Will he benefit as much as a one-on-one session? When a co-treatment session is appropriate, the answer to all of those questions is…YES!

What is a co-treatment session?

Co-treatment sessions are when two therapists from different disciplines (Speech Therapy (SLP), Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical Therapy (PT), etc.) work together with your child to maximize therapeutic goals and progress.

When is a co-treatment session appropriate?

When the two disciplines share complimentary or similar goals.

EXAMPLE: Maintaining attention to task, executive functioning, pragmatics, etc. Playing a game where the child needs to interact with and attend to multiple people while sitting on a stability ball for balance. [all disciplines]
*When children have difficulty sustaining attention and arousal needed to participate in back-to-back therapy sessions.
EXAMPLE: Working on endurance/strength/coordination while simultaneously addressing language skills. Obstacle courses through the gym while working on verbal sequencing and following directions. [SLP + PT or OT]
*When activities within the co-treatment session can address goals of both disciplines.
EXAMPLE: Art projects can address fine motor functioning as well as language tasks like sequencing, verbal reasoning, and categorizing.
*When a child needs motivations or distractions. [OT + SLP]
EXAMPLE: Research has shown that physical activity increases expressive output. Playing catch while naming items in category or earning “tickets” for the swing by practicing speech sounds.  [PT or OT + SLP]
EXAMPLE: PT’s need distraction for some of their little clients who are working on standing or walking and working on language through play during these activities works well. [PT + SLP]

Why co-treat?

  • Allows therapists to create cohesive treatment plans that work towards both discipline’s goal in a shorter amount of time.
  • Allows for therapists to use similar strategies to encourage participation and good behavior in their one-on-one sessions with the child.
  • Allows for therapists to collaborate and discuss the child’s goals, treatment, and progress throughout the therapy process. Together, they can consistently update and generate plans and goals as the child succeeds.
  • Aids in generalization of skills to different environments, contexts, and communication partners.
  • Allows for problem-solving to take place in the moment. For example, an extra set of hands to teach or demonstrate a skill or utilizing a strategy to address a negative behavior.

Co-treatments sessions can be extremely beneficial for a child. There are endless ways therapists can work together to promote progress and success towards a child’s therapeutic goals.. However, co-treatments may not always be appropriate and are only done when the decision to do so is made collaboratively with the therapists and the parents.

Contact us for more information on the benefits of co-treating in therapy sessions.