Tag Archive for: social work

Anxiety Disorders in Children- What Are They and What to Do? | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric social worker explains ways to determine if your child has an anxiety disorder.  You will walk away confident knowing there is help available for your child in the event your child experiences the disorder symptoms.

In this video you will learn:

  • How to tell if your child suffers from an anxiety disorder
  • What you can do to check the validity of the disorder
  • Best approach to take when determining an anxiety disorder

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’m your host, Robyn

Today I’m sitting here with Michelle Winterstein, a pediatric
social worker. Michelle, can you tell us what are some signs a
child may suffer from an anxiety disorder?

Michelle: Absolutely, Robyn. All children suffer from anxiety from time
to time. However, some signs to look out for that your child may
suffer from an anxiety disorder would be clinginess to parents,
panicking at the thought of meeting new people or going to new
places, stomachaches or headaches before school or frequent
trips to the nurse’s office, trouble sleeping or irritability.

What you really want to consider is whether this anxiety is
typical for your child’s age and is the anxiety pervasive. If
you’re ever in doubt as to the depth of your child’s anxiety
symptoms, don’t leave that decision up to yourself. It’s always
best to contact a medical professional.

Robyn: Thank you so much, Michelle.

Michelle: Thank you, Robyn.

Robyn: And thank you 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.

Helping Your Middle Schooler Become More Inclusive

Middle school can be a tough time for children (and parents!) as they transition to adolescence and navigate changes in a variety of areas. One of the biggest challenges in middle school is the social aspect as it often marks a shift toward focus on popularity and cliques, to determine who is “in” and who is “out.” These pressures can create anxiety, confusion, and stress in students, especially if left unspoken. Below are 7 tips to help your middle schooler healthily navigate social changes and become more inclusive.

7 Tips To Help Your Child Become Socially Inclusive:

  1. Learn about your middle schooler’s friendships. Your child is likely to meet new students from other elementary schools, and this can create shifts in friendships. clique teenagersAsk gentle questions, such as “Who did you eat lunch with today?” or “Who would you like to invite over this weekend?” to learn who your child’s friends are. Because friends have an influence in the ideas, activities, and pressures you child may face, knowing who your child is friends with is important.
  2. Become a safe person your middle schooler can confide in about social issues. Fully listening, empathizing, and reflecting what your child confides in you about friendships can help her to see you as a go-to person. Be mindful not to problem solve and criticize right away, as the most important step is that your child feels completely heard and accepted. (Ex. Instead of “Why would your friend do that?! Don’t hang out with her,” try “So I hear you saying that your friend made up a rumor about a classmate. How did you feel about that?”
  3. Help your child problem solve. If your middle schooler confides in you about a friendship issue, empower her by guiding her to problem solve. Ask open ended questions, such as “What do you think is something you can do the next time that happens?”
  4. Help your child think critically. There may be times when your middle schooler talks to you about her classmates that leads you to believe that she is being exclusive. Instead of placing blame or using criticism, ask your child open ended questions to guide her to think critically. Asking questions, such as “Why do you think your friend said that to your classmate? How do you think your classmate felt?”, “How do you feel about that?”, and “What do you think a good friend is?” can help your child think critically without feeling judged.
  5. Emphasize the importance of inclusivity. Take the opportunity to teach your middle schooler about why it is important to be inclusive. Give examples, such as “Spending time with people who are different from you can help you learn new things” or “It is important to make sure everyone feels safe and welcome at school,” and ask for her own examples.
  6. Teach by doing. Encourage your middle schooler to invite a new friend or a classmate who does not have appear to have as many friends over for a play date.
  7. Model the importance of inclusivity. Show your middle schooler that you think it is important to be inclusive by inviting a new co-worker or parent for coffee or lunch. Your modeling of inclusivity can help your child understand and believe in its importance.

What have you tried to help your middle schooler navigate social challenges and become more inclusive? Please share with us!

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Hey, PE Teachers! Start Picking Team Leaders Who Will Pick The Right Kids For The Right Reasons!

Do you remember when your gym teacher picked two team captains and they got to pick their teams? Were you the captain? Great! Were you the last one picked? Not great. If the team captains are always the most popular or the most athletic of the bunch, make sure to rotate in those that are quiet or withdrawn. coach and childThey may not be the one scoring all the points but they could turn out to be a great coach one day! PE teachers can be intimidating to the quiet group, but your strength and assertiveness is a valuable lesson for them to model after! First meet them on their level as best you can (at their voice level, eye level, etc.), and slowly help build them up to your level. They will respect you for this and leave gym class feeling more confident!

The Importance Of Leadership Skills in Children:

Leadership skills are important for the development of self-esteem and social relationships. When learning the basics, children need to understand how and when to be a leader, as well as when it’s time to follow. This also leads to the development of another important skill: how to work well with others and be a part of a team. The children with less athletic abilities shouldn’t have to dread gym class, when they could be learning how to find their own role, develop leadership, and communicate as a team. They could be the ones who are great at planning, organizing, and strategizing. They could be empathic and able to support their teammates as they deal with frustrations of losing. So, don’t forget that they need to be chosen too. They might surprise you!

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10 Do’s and Don’ts for Talking about Adoption

“Where do babies come from?” This question can feel overwhelming for any parent to tackle, but when adoption is a part of your child’s story, this question can become more complicated. Understanding adoption as a part of one’s identity is a life-long process. As your child’s understanding of family, relationships, and society develops, so will her ideas about her own adoption. Talking to your child about her adoption requires empathy, validation, openness, and courage. Here are some tips you can use along the way.

DOs and DON’Ts for talking to young children about adoption

  1. DO begin talking about adoption with your child at an early age.  Talking about adoption with your child early on can set the tone that adoption is a comfortable and safe topic to discuss, which canadoption family encourage children to ask questions and develop their adoption stories as they get older. See below for a list of activities you can do with your children when talking about adoption.
  2. DON’T use adoption as a descriptor for your child.  Using terms, such as “our adopted child” can make children feel inferior to children who are raised by their birthparents. Instead, use adoption positive language, such as, “We are so happy we adopted you and that you are our son!”
  3. DO start at the beginning.  When first telling young children about their adoption, start at the beginning of the story with their birthmother and birthfather. For toddlers, use simple explanations about why the birthparents made their decision (ex. “They loved their baby but couldn’t take care of her and wanted to find a mommy and daddy who could love and care for her”) and why adoptive parents wanted to adopt (ex. “We really wanted a baby girl to love and be a part of our family. We were so excited to meet you and are so happy you are our daughter!”) Be sure to emphasize that there was nothing “wrong” with your child, but rather that her birthparents could not raise a baby. Also, emphasize that adoption is permanent, as children may fear that they could be placed for adoption again. Note: Families have varying circumstances and reasons for adoption, and parents can include these unique details into the adoption story as they see fit (ex. Domestic adoption, international adoption, transracial adoption, foster parenting, adopting relatives, adopting infants/children/teenagers).
  4. DON’T minimize loss and grief.  An adoption story begins with a loss for children-loss of the birthparents. As children reach preschool age, they may start to question why their birthparents made the decision to place them for adoption. They may have questions about their birthparents and feel sad when they do not have answers. They may also feel out of place among their peers when they realize that most of them live with their birthparents. Also, with comments, such as “You are such a lucky girl to have been adopted,” a child may think that she should feel grateful and not sad. As parents, normalizing your child’s feelings of loss and grief is vital. Children need a place where they can feel safe discussing these difficult feelings.
  5. DO pay attention to your own feelings.  When your child makes statements, such as “You are not my real parent” or “I wish I could meet my birthparents,” you may understandably feel sad and confused. Having a space to discuss your own feelings as an adoptive parent is important. Children in general, both adopted and non-adopted, make comments, such as “I hate you” or “I wish you weren’t my parent,” but these statements may feel more loaded when they are made by a child you adopted. Attending to your own feelings can ensure that when your child makes these statements, instead of taking these comments personally, you can provide validation and empathy for your child’s feelings of loss, confusion, grief, and anger.
  6. DON’T lie to your child.  While there are some parts of the story that children may not be ready to understand, you can add these details to the story as children get older.
  7. DO add more to the story as children become older.  As children get older, they may have more questions and thoughts about their adoption. Adding more developmentally appropriate details to the story is important, so that children can process more information when able. Also, adding to the story can encourage children to continue to ask questions as they have them. Adoption experts suggest that children should know all of the history and facts about their adoption by their teenage years.
  8. DO initiate conversations.  Initiating conversations about adoption is a great way to provide an open, safe space for children to talk about their adoption. Some children may not ask questions or talk about adoption on their own, but this does not necessarily mean they are not thinking about adoption. Opening the conversation as parents models to children that adoption is a comfortable, appropriate topic to discuss and can allow children to initiate conversations in the future.
  9. DO encourage questions.  Children may need prompts from their parents to ask questions. They may think that it will hurt their parents’ feelings if they ask questions about their birthparents. When able, use concrete, simple language to answer questions. If children ask questions you do not know the answer to (ex. “Do you think my birthmother is looking for me?”), be honest and empathize with and validate your child’s question (ex. “I can understand why you want to know that, but I don’t know either. It must be hard to not know. Would you like to talk about it?”).
  10. DO reach out and educate yourself.  Adoption is a life-long process, and more questions and issues may arise as children get older. Learning about potential conversations to expect as children get older, as well as strategies to provide validation and empathy for your child, can help with this process. One way to reach out and educate yourself is to join support groups. There are parent-child support groups, as well as separate groups for parents and children. These groups can provide a safe, understanding environment, as well as promote community and belonging. Here is a website that can help you search for support groups based on state, county, and family type (any, U.S., international, foster): http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/support_group.php

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iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch Apps to Teach Kids Social Skills

As a licensed clinical social worker, I have worked with hundreds of kids and teenagers since 1994. For many, social skills do not simply come Child with iPadnaturally; they need to be taught, just as they need to be taught spelling, reading, mathematics, social studies, and science. Kids with ADHD, learning disabilities, and autism spectrum disorders often find learning social skills to be especially challenging.

Throughout time, kids have learned through play. Kids as young as one year use pretend play to learn about their world. And, as any kid will gladly tell you, kids like to learn when we make it fun for them. When I was growing up, video games were emerging, but now the tiniest little ones can be observed effortlessly playing with their moms and dads’ iPhone, iTouch, and iPad.

Since the kids are interested anyway, why not teach them something while they play? There are many apps that teach kids social skills in a non-threatening, engaging manner.

The following is a list of some apps to help children with social skills:

1. Model Me Going Places– Free is a visual teaching tool to help children navigate common challenging locations in their community. Each location incorporates a photo slide show of children modeling appropriate beahvior. Locations include: hair salon, mall doctor, playground, grocery store, and restaurant.

2. Responding Social Skills– $0.99 teaches how to listen and respond to others, give directions, understand others’ feelings and perspective-taking.

3. Initiating Social Skills– $0.99 includes practice in greetings, starting conversations, giving information, and introducing oneself.

4. Everyday Social Skills– $0.99 Teaches basic social skills needed for everyday activities in the child’s community, including common activities like walking down the street, using a public restroom, waiting in line, asking for directions, asking for information, and joining a group.

5. Personal Social Skills– $0.99 Teaches responsibility, dependability, accepting consequences, maintaining personal hygiene, grooming, dressing, and more.

6. Hidden Curriculum for Kids– $1.99 Real-life scenarios spur conversations about the many unwritten social rules that we encounter daily that can often cause confusion and anxiety for those who cannot read these cues well.

7. Small Talk App– Presents conversation fillers for those awkward social moments, allowing users to choose between conversation: starters, jokes, factoids, “would you rather” questions, etc.

8. Look in my eyes– There are a series of apps that address eye contact as a social skill. Choose one of high-interest to the child: restaurant, car mechanic, undersea, dinosaurs, etc.

9. How would you feel if…–  Allows children to discuss their feelings about a variety of situations to promote emotion awareness.

10. Eye contact toybox app–  Helps kids practice eye contact while earning fun rewards.

11. Body language app–  Offers full-body illustrations of body language to help kids become aware of gestures, postures, handshakes, and other body cues.

12. Conversation Builder– Teaches elementary-aged children how to have multi-exchange conversations with their peers in a variety of social settings.

13. Social Skills– $6.99;  Offers social stories complete with photographs and sound to help children with social skills such as: attention, non-verbal communication, greetings, structured game play, turn-taking, imitation, and classroom rules. For the iPod Touch, one will need an external microphone to record the sound.

14. Super Duper What Are They Thinking?– Children can listen to 180 entertaining “thoughts” or answer “what are they thinking?” questions to teach perspective taking.

15. Stories2Learn– $13.99 Offers social stories that can be personalized using photos, writing, and audio messages. This allows stories to be created that show targeted social cues.

New apps are added frequently and as this industry grows, we will update you with the latest technology and apps.

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*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.

Supporting Your Child To Make Friends | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode, our  Marriage and Family Counselor gives us some wonderful take away tips on what to do when your child tells you he/she has no friends.

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • When and how to listen to your child’s social problems
  • How to respond to your child
  • What questions to ask your child
  • Suggestions and tips to help your child be more social

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’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and today I’m standing with marriage and family
counselor Beth Chung. Beth, can you tell us how to help children
make friends?

Beth: Sure. I think this is a really important question and one that I get
asked pretty often. In our previous segment of Pediatric TV, Dr.
Stasi was really talking about tailoring the treatment of
helping your child make friends to each child’s individual
strengths and growth areas and needs. Today I’ll just touch on
some general strategies, but I’d really encourage parents to
keep that tidbit in mind.

One really important strategy, I think, which is often
overlooked, is to really listen to your child. I think a lot of
times parents realize that their child is struggling when he or
she comes to their parents and says, “Mom, dad, I have no
friends. No one wants to hang out with me.” It can feel really
tempting for parents to say, “No, that’s not true. I’m sure you
have tons of friends,” or, “Who cares what other kids think?”
It’s a way to reassure their child, but really it can minimize
your child’s concerns and prevent them from coming to you in the

Something that I would suggest is something as simple as, “That
must be really hard,” or, “I bet it feels really tough when
you’re picked last in gym. I can understand why you might feel
like you have no friends,” even if you may feel differently,
because as soon as your child feels heard and accepted, you can
move on to some problem solving. This is a really great way to
help your child to feel more empowered.

Asking open-ended questions such as, “One possible reason is
that you don’t have friends, which is why you’re alone on the
playground. What else could it mean?” Coming up with suggestions
such as, “Well, you’re new in school and the kids might have
some other friends, and they might be shy to ask you to play,”
or, “Maybe they don’t know that you want to play with them,” are
some good suggestions to offer.

Another really good open-ended question is, “How can you show
that you want to be friends?” Coming up with a list of concrete
skills, such as asking to join in a game, asking someone to play
a game with them, saying hello, or complimenting are strategies
that your children can practice at home. You can make it fun and
role play with your kids. If you’re driving to the playground,
you can say, “All right, Carrie. Today we’re going to go to the
playground and if you see two girls playing house together, how
can you ask them to play? What are two things you can do?” This
can really help your child to feel empowered.

Those are some strategies that I’d suggest. But again, it’s
really important to reach out to the school, the teachers, the
principal, the social worker, as Dr. Stasi mentioned in our
previous segment, to really tailor this to each child’s unique
needs and growth areas.

Robyn: Thank you so much, Beth, and thank you 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.

“No! Don’t touch me there.”: How to Teach Young Children about Safe Touch

With all the news on the Penn State Scandal where a coach sexually assaulted children and no one stopped him, parents are asking how and what they should teach their children about “Safe Touch”.

There are multiple lessons parents teach children to ensure their safety, such as: handling interactions with strangers, getting help when bullied, maintaining a healthy diet, using the internet in appropriate ways, and opening up to their parents for advice and guidance. Another vital lesson that parents can begin teaching in early childhood and continue throughout adolescence is the difference between safe and unsafe touch. Guidance and conversations regarding safe touch can help children improve safety skills, body awareness, assertiveness, and confidence.

Below are some strategies in teaching children about Safe Touch:

1. Teach your children about their body parts and privacy.

  • Help your children name their body parts so that they are aware of and comfortable with their bodies. You can make this a fun activity by tracing your children’s bodies on paper and then labeling and coloring the body parts together.safe touch holding hands
  • Once your children can label their body parts, teach them where their “private parts” are. A simple way to explain “private parts” is to outline
    body parts that are covered by a swimsuit. Test your children by asking them to name the parts covered by a swimsuit.
  • Explain to your children that we do not share our “private parts” and that if anyone asks to see or touch our “private parts,” we should say “no” and tell a trusted adult. Be sure to differentiate when touching private parts is appropriate (ie. Getting a checkup at the doctor’s, changing a diaper, parents tending to injuries, etc.) and inappropriate.
  • Also emphasize to your children that everyone has “private parts” and that they should respect that. They should not ask to see or touch people’s “private parts” either because that could make people feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Teach your children that if their peers ask to see or touch “private parts,” they should say, “Those parts are private, and we should not share” and ask a trusted adult for help.
  • The Right Touch is a great book, written by a licensed clinical social worker, that parents can use to start the conversation about privacy and safe/unsafe touch.

2. Explain the concept of consent.

  • Emphasize with your children that their body parts belong to them and them alone. Explain that no one should touch them without their permission. You can practice this when friends, relatives, or acquaintances want to hug your children. You can ask your children, “Do you want to give Auntie a hug?” If they say no, resist the temptation to tell them to be polite and give hugs anyway. This can send the message that they have no control over their bodies. Instead, you can offer safe choices: “Would you like to wave ‘goodbye’ or blow a kiss instead?” If well-meaning friends and relatives feel hurt or offended, explain to them, “We are practicing how to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to touch.”
  • Tell your children that if they feel uncomfortable, scared, worried, and upset about how someone touches them, they should loudly and firmly say, “No. Do not touch me there” and tell a trusted adult. See below for tips on how to develop a safety plan.

3. Clearly outline what constitutes as safe and unsafe touch.

  • Talk with your children to discuss what the difference is between safe and unsafe touch. You can turn this into a game by listing types of touch (ex. Hitting, giving high fives, patting on the back, touching private parts at the doctor’s, a stranger asking to touch private parts, kicking, etc) and asking your children to decide “safe” or “unsafe.”
  • Keep your children accountable when you see them engaging in unsafe touch. If they are hitting siblings, for example, explain, “Hitting is unsafe touch. We do not hit.”

4. Encourage and answer questions in an age-appropriate way.

  • Your children are likely to have many questions, especially if they have not learned about safe and unsafe touch before. Provide an open, comfortable space where you respect each question and explain that there are no “stupid” or “wrong” questions.
  • Your children may need additional help differentiating between safe and unsafe touch regarding private areas. For example, they may ask, “What if people see my private parts when we shower at the swimming pool locker room?” You can turn this into a game by giving “what if” scenarios and asking your children to decide whether they are safe or unsafe situations.
  • Avoid graphic details, as these descriptions can frighten, confuse, and scar your children. Instead, use honest, gentle language, such as “private parts” or “under your clothes.”

5. Develop a safety plan.

  • Make sure your children know that if anyone touches them in unsafe ways, it is NOT their fault. Emphasize that if they ever feel uncomfortable, confused, scared, worried, or upset about any type of touch, they should tell you or another trusted adult right away. Explain that they would never get in trouble for doing so.
  • Teach children that if they ever feel uncomfortable with the way someone is touching them, they should loudly and firmly say, “No. Do not touch me there” and get to a safe place. Teach your children how to ask for help when you are not with them.
  • Create a safety plan that includes what to say and do, who to find, and where to go. Practice with your children so they feel comfortable.

How do you talk about safe touch with your children? What resources have been helpful? Please share with us!

Death: How to Explain it to Children

Sad girl with motherMany parents are concerned about discussing death with their children. They try to avoid the topic and some have said it’s one of their most feared topics to discuss with their children. Yet, death is a fact of life and if we aim to help our children cope, we must let them know it is okay to talk about it. Your efforts will help your child through this difficult time and through the inevitable losses and tough times that will come later in their lives. The death of a pet is often a child’s first experience with death. For information about talking with your kids about this, click here. 

How Children Understand Death at Various Ages:

Kids’ understanding about death depends on their age, life experiences, and personality.

Preschooler’s Understanding of Death

Preschoolers see death as reversible, temporary, and impersonal. They may see cartoon characters brush themselves off after being crushed or blown up and these images reinforce this notion. Kids at this age have a difficult time understanding that that all living things die and can’t come back.

5-9 Year Old’s Understanding of Death

Five to nine year-olds typically begin to realize the finality of death and that all living things die, but they do not see death as relating to them directly. They have magical thinking that somehow they can escape death. They also tend to visualize death as being a skeleton, the angel of death, the grim reaper, etc. Some children have nightmares about these personifications of death.

9-10 Year Old’s Understanding of Death

Nine or ten year-olds through teens begin to understand that death is irreversible, that all living things die, and that even they will die some day. Teenagers often become intrigued with finding out the meaning of life and search for meaning in the death. When teens ask why someone had to die, they are not looking for literal answers, but rather are trying to understand.

Remember, children develop at individual rates and have their own personal ways of managing their emotions.

10 Tips on Explaining Death to Children

1. Be honest with them and encourage their questions and expressions of emotions. It is important that kids know they can talk about it (even if you don’t have all the answers) and be sad, angry, scared, or whatever emotions they feel.

2. It is usually easier to talk about death when we are less emotionally involved. Children are exposed to mortality at a very young age: from dead flowers, trees, insects, or birds. Take time to explain these to children. Though it may sound morbid to us, it is an opportunity to help children learn about death.

3. For children under age 5 or 6, explain death in basic and concrete terms. Often it helps to explain it as the absence of familiar life functions. For example, “When Grandma died, she cannot breathe, eat, talk, think, or feel anymore.”

4. Kids often will repeatedly ask the same questions; it is how they process information. As frustrating as this can be, continue to calmly tell them that the person has died and can’t come back. Also, do not discourage their questions by telling them they are too young.

5. Try to answer children’s questions with brief and simple answers that are appropriate to their questions. Answers should be ones they can understand. Be careful not to overwhelm them with too many words.

6. Avoid using euphemisms such as telling children that the person “went to sleep” or “went away” or even that your family has “lost” the person. These explanations can lead young children to become afraid to go to sleep or worried when parents leave the house and “go away”.

7. Using the word “sickness” can be scary to young children. It is often helpful to explain to children that serious illnesses may cause death and although we all get sick sometimes, we usually get better again.

8. Avoid telling children that only old people die. When a child eventually learns that young people die too, they may not trust you. It may be better to say, “Grandpa lived a long time before he died. Most people live a long time, but some don’t. I think that you and I will.”

9. As children get older, they will have more questions and different questions about death. Take care to answer their questions as best you can.

10. When you don’t know the answers to children’s questions, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know.

If you need help, many resources including books, articles, community organizations, and social workers or counselors can provide guidance.


Some Books to Help Explain Death to Children/Teens

For preschoolers:

Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley- Andersen Press Ltd.

Granpa  by John Burningham

For ages 5 to 8:

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Michael Rosen

Gentle Willow by Joyce C. Mills.  One of few books written for children suffering an illness from which they may not recover.

For ages 8 to 12:

When Someone Very Special Dies by Marge Heegaard.  A practical workbook rather than a story. This book encourages children to illustrate their thoughts about death and loss through art.

The Cat Mummy by Jacqueline Wilson.  Begins to talk about the death of a feisty girl’s cat, but it then causes the child to think about the death of her mother many years ago.

What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies? By Trevor Romain.  Describes the range of emotions that people experience when a loved one dies and discusses how to cope.

For teens:

Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers by Earl A. Grollman.  A self-help book that discusses in straightforward terms, how to deal with the grief and other emotions caused by the death of a loved one.

The Grieving Teen by Helen FitzGerald.  A fairly sophisticated book that gives advice for teens on how to cope with death, discussing the emotional impact of bereavement and the special needs and concerns of teens during the grieving process.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.  A simple book that doesn’t describe heaven in the literal sense, but rather it establishes that every life has a purpose and that all uncertainties will be cleared up in the end.


*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.


Why Your Child Needs Play Time With You!

When days are over-scheduled, make sure to save at least 15 minutes a day to just play with your child. Teach your child that down time is just asParents Playing with Daughter important as organized activities and daily responsibilities. It also teaches work-life balance early on, so he can better handle the stresses of school and eventually a career.

TV and video games may seem like the only thing your child is interested in, but what they truly crave is your attention and genuine connection. Video games can’t compete with the feeling a child gets when he get to share a special object, or even just a special moment, with his parent.

Tell your child to pick out 1 special toy and bring it to you so you can play together. When you’re down on the floor, on his level, look in his eyes and express genuine interest in what you’re doing together. Let him lead playtime with his imagination and excite your child with your facial expressions, sounds and your own imaginative ideas.

Quick tips for one-on-one play time with your child:

  • Play at eye-level and use loving touch
  • Unplug the electronics and give undivided attention
  • Commit to 15-20 minutes per day
  • Follow the child’s lead and join in his/her themes
  • Stimulate his/her creativity by asking questions
  • Use simple objects that can easily change meaning (i.e. a cardboard box is a car, and then it’s a hat, etc.
  • Children today don’t use their imagination enough, something they need in order to develop creativity. Designating a daily play time has a multitude of positive effects for your family.

8 Benefits of daily play time:

  • Sense of security
  • Stronger bonds
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Frequent stress relief
  • Less risk-taking behaviors
  • Less attention-seeking behaviors
  • Better mood throughout the day
  • More cooperation with rules/directions

Try it out and have a great time. Please share with us what your favorite things are to do with your child during one-on-one time!

*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.


The Death Of A Pet: How To Help Your Child Cope

When your family adopts a pet, it becomes a part of the family. When the pet grows old and becomes ill, inevitably you must discuss the possibility of the death of your beloved pet. For many children, losing a pet is the first experience they have with death, and the grieving process can be difficult for themYoung Boy Hugging Dog. As you talk with your children about the death of your pet, it is important to listen to their concerns, questions, and feelings.

Euthanizing Your Pet

No one wants a  pet to suffer any longer than necessary, so some families decide it is best to euthanize their pet. Euthanizing a pet involves “death by injection” for a terminally ill or suffering animal.

If you decide to euthanize your pet, be honest with your children. Talk about death before it happens using age-appropriate terms. For instance, “We all love Bailey so much. She is very, very sick and can’t do the things she used to like to do because she is in so much pain. The veterinarian said that was Bailey’s way of showing us that she could no longer live the life she was used to living. She said she could help Bailey die, so Bailey wouldn’t hurt anymore.” Make sure that young children know that very ill pets can be euthanized, but sick children never are.

Be Honest With Your Child About What Happened to Your Pet

When your pet dies, do not tell your child that the pet has run away. This explanation can leave your child wondering whether he did something to make the pet want to leave. Also, don’t tell your child that the pet has gone to a farm. This could give your child the false hope that he can see the pet again.

Although adults often talk about having to put their pet “to sleep”, it is not recommended that parents use this terminology with young children (under the age of 6). For young children, sleeping implies that the animal will eventually wake up. When the pet doesn’t wake up, young children can develop fears about going to sleep.

I also recommend that you don’t tell your children that you are putting your pet “down” because often parents will use the same term when they put an infant down for a nap. This can be very confusing for young children.

Managing Grief Over The Loss Of Your Pet

It is healthy for children to see that you are also sad about the death of your pet. It’s a great way for children to understand that being sad is okay. You can tell your children, “I’m so sad because I really miss Bailey.”

Everyone grieves differently, so if your child doesn’t cry, let her know it is okay to show her feelings any way that feels comfortable. Your child may enjoy showing her feelings by looking at pictures of the pet, drawing her own pictures, or telling stories about  positive and silly memories of her pet. Why not make a book of everyone in the family’s favorite memories of the pet, complete with photographs or drawings? It will be a great keepsake for years to come.

What Happens To The Pet After He Dies?

If your family’s religious or spiritual beliefs impact how you view death, share them with your child. There is also a poem about the death of a pet called Rainbow Bridge that has a beautiful way of describing where the pet goes once she dies. I recommend that families only share the first three paragraphs with small children, as the next two paragraphs discuss people reuniting with a pet when they die. If your child is having a particularly difficult time with the death of your pet, this can be very unsettling.

When To Adopt a New Pet

It is a very personal decision as to whether or when it is appropriate. Children should not be encouraged to get a new pet merely to “get over” the loss of their pet. A new pet doesn’t replace their beloved pet. Once your child can speak openly about the pet that died and begins to show an interest in a new pet, then the family can discuss if it is the right time.

*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.