January 30, 2010

The Great Trade-In

Now through February 20th at Babies R Us and Toys-R-Us trade in cribs, toddler beds, strollers, travel systems, car seats, pack and plays, bassinets, high chairs and swings, from participating brands and receive 25 percent off a new item that meets the latest safety regulations.

The focus of the great trade-in program is safety. In addition to possible recalled items it also focuses on any baby care products that might be older and not compliant with the current safety standards.

More information HERE

January 29, 2010

IEP Checklist iPhone application

The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) is pleased to announce the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) Checklist iPhone application. The IEP is an individualized program designed to support the educational needs of school aged students with disabilities. This new IEP app helps parents of students with special needs become better-informed advocates by making IEP information easier to access.

The IEP app is offered free of charge. A special IEP app launch reception is being held on Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.

To download the IEP Checklist app, visit the Apple iTunes store, and type IEP Checklist in the search box.


Managing Your Child's ADHD

Executive function is the ability to plan ahead, organize, follow through, and finish tasks. Children with ADHD are often challenged by an inability to use their executive function successfully. As their parent you need to take over as the executive and guide your child while they slowly learn their own executive function skills. Here are some things you can do:

When communicating with your child make eye contact before you give him an instruction. Then check to see that he understood you. Say, "Tell me what I want you to do."

Give directions one at a time, not a long list that can overwhelm her. Use “When....Then” directions. For example, "WHEN you finish putting your clothes in the closet THEN you come downstairs and help me fix dinner."

Putting those directions into a check-off list can be helpful. As your child completes each step he checks it off and moves onto the next one. This will keep him on track and it will help him visually see that he's making progress.

When your child begins and completes a task successfully praise her for it. The next time she has a similar task and she feels overwhelmed or doesn't know how to begin, remind her of the time she was able to move through a task step by step and complete it. Tell her you know she can do it again. Then help her get started.

Parenting a child with ADHD is never easy. You have to be patient, consistent and you have to repeat things over and over. Over time, your support and encouragement will allow you to slowly move away from the role as your child's executive and into the role of his assistant.

January 27, 2010

How to Stay Connected to Your Child When Parenting in Separate Households

I work with many parents who are separated, divorced or never married and they all share similar frustrations regarding the challenges of parenting in separate households. They miss their children when they're with the other parent and their children miss them as well.

There are some things you can do to help your child feel close to you even when they're not with you.

* Make a small photo album with photos of you and your child. Whenever they're missing you they can look at the photos for an instant connection. They can sleep with it under their pillow. Include photos from when they were a baby up to the present day. It will serve as time line and help them understand the transitions that are a part of your family. Remember to add new photos on a regular basis.

* When your child leaves your home to be with his or her other parent send along a t-shirt you've recently worn. When your child misses you he or she can wear the shirt, cuddle with it, and sleep with it. It will have your smell which can make you seem close. You could also send them one of your hats or a piece of jewelry, etc. Something of yours that they can hold onto is very comforting to a child.

* Make a habit of calling your children the same time each day. Some parents call in the morning and again at bedtime. Work out a system with your co-parent and your child will look forward to those daily phone calls. Web cams are another way of staying in touch.

Staying connected to your child can be challenging but with a little creativity and effort you can help your child feel close to you even when you're apart.

January 23, 2010

Managing Sibling Fights

"Mom! He hit me!" "She called me dumb!" "Mom! He's thinking about touching me!" It's inevitable. Siblings are going to squabble. Parents often wonder why it happens and why it seems to happen all the time.

There are many reasons why siblings fight. They might be tired, hungry or bored. During winter months when days are short and time outside is limited siblings may be spending too much time together. If the fighting doesn't let up maybe it's time to have them take a short break from one another, feed them a healthy snack or help them find something different to do.

It's also possible they're fighting because it gets your attention. If it's late in the day and you're cooking dinner, feeding the baby and trying to finish laundry, your other two children might be needing some attention from you. They act up knowing it will get a reaction from you. Perhaps you need to stop what you're doing and give them your undivided attention even if it's only for ten minutes.

If the squabbling doesn't involve one child hurting the other you may want to try and ignore what's happening. If it's a petty argument don't get involved. See if they can find a solution. If the arguing escalates you will need to step in. Separate them so they have some physical space from one another and ask each one to tell their side of the story. Your job is to listen and to validate what they're saying. "You're mad because she came into your room without asking." "You're mad because he wouldn't play with you.' Don't chose sides. Ask them what they can do to solve the problem. If they're unable to come up with a reasonable solution you will have to offer one. You may have to teach your children how to make deals with one another.

Teach your children how to play with one another. Show a younger child how to ask his older sibling "Would you play with me?" Provide different activities that children of different ages can do together such as play dough or blocks. Teach them how to trade toys instead of grabbing what they want.

One of the best ways to prevent siblings from fighting is to avoid comparing your children. That's one of the big reasons why siblings fight with one another. "Why can't you be more like your brother?" "Your sister gets better grades because she studies harder than you." Hearing comments like that encourages a child to become competitive with siblings which can lead to even more fighting.

Take a close look at how you are responding to the sibling fights. Are you coaching your children or have you resorted to being a referee?

January 20, 2010

Praise vs. Encouragement

We praise children because we want to acknowledge their efforts and build their self-esteem. If we constantly praise a child he will learn to expect it whenever he completes a task regardless of the effort that he put into that task. Over time that child may learn to seek praise not for his own self-satisfaction but to please others.

Comments of praise we often say to children may include, "You're the smartest kid in your class!" "That's the most wonderful painting I have ever seen!" "You're such a good girl!"

Sometimes our praise can be seen as an evaluation. Especially when we use words such as "best," "wonderful," or "perfect." If you often praise your child with these words how will your child feel the day he makes a mistake and isn't perfect? Will he feel ashamed and guilty that he didn't meet your expectations? Will he try to blame his mistake on someone else so he won't be at fault? Will he be discouraged and not try as hard the next time because he doesn't want to be seen as less than perfect?

Encouragement on the other hand focuses on effort not the end results. Instead of praising your child with "That picture is so pretty!" you could encourage your child by saying, "You used lots of colors," or "You really enjoy painting." If your child received the highest grade in her class on her math test you could offer encouragement by saying, "You got a high score because you studied before the test."

However, if your child didn't study for her math test and received a low grade, you might be tempted to shame your child and say, "That's what happens when you don't study." or "I'm disappointed in you." Instead you could say, "I wonder what you need to do to get a better score on the next test?" This will encourage your child to figure out a strategy as well as motivate her to try harder instead of giving up.

Take a closer look at the messages you are sending to your child by the words you use. Are you praising or are you encouraging?

January 18, 2010

Don't Hide Your Feelings

I often work with families who are in the midst of a crisis. Emotions are running high and mom and dad's parenting techniques are no longer effective. They're understandably concerned about their child who is suddenly fearful of being separated from them and is anxious about everything.

The crisis that brought them into my office has them admitting that they too are feeling many of these same emotions. They're trying very hard to hide their feelings from their child. They want to be strong and not let their child see they're vulnerable as they're fearful this would cause their child to feel even more anxiety.

This crisis affected the entire family yet mom and dad aren't talking about how they feel. Their daughter is getting the message that she's the only one who is experiencing such intense emotions.

I encourage the parents to stop pretending they're okay. I suggest they sit down with their daughter and be honest with her. They need to tell her that they too are feeling scared and anxious. By validating her feelings and sharing their own they're telling her she's not alone. They should enlist her help in coming up with suggestions for what they can do to calm themselves and get through this challenging situation.

Once they've weathered this current storm they'll feel good in knowing they got through it together. It will also be a life lesson that they can fall back on the next time their family faces a difficult situation.

January 13, 2010

Are You a Play Therapist in the St. Louis Area?

Are you looking for a way to connect with other play therapists? I encourage you to join a new group, “St. Louis Play Therapists,” on Facebook by clicking on the link below:


This is a private group with the majority of information on the page only visible to the members. The group will be frequently updated with links to resources and conferences. Networking is an invaluable resource and I encourage you to participate.

January 10, 2010

What Type of Parent Are You?

There's no right or wrong way to parent but your parenting style can strongly influence the failure or success of your child. Let's take a look at three basic styles of parenting which were identified in 1966 by psychologist Diana Blumberg Baumrind.

January 9, 2010

Teaching Young Children About Feelings

It's important for children to recognize and name feelings. Young children are usually able to understand four basic feelings of Happy, Sad, Mad and Scared.

Stick puppets are a fun way to help your child learn to identify these feelings.

You can draw these feeling faces or have your child draw them. Better yet, draw them together. Attach them to a  craft stick using tape. Now it's time for the feelings puppet show to begin! Stand a two-pocket folder on its end for a puppet stage. Take turns with your child telling a story using the feeling puppets. Ideas for a story might be, "Grandpa and Grandma are coming for a visit," "My favorite toy  is lost," "Mom won't let me have a cookie." or "It's dark in my room." At the end of each story discuss with your child ways to cope with each feeling. "When you're feeling mad you can take three deeps breaths."  "When sad you can sing a song to feel happy."

When the show is over the puppets can be stored in the pockets until it's time for the next feelings puppet show.

January 7, 2010

Let's Make Play-Dough!

The winter weather has brought snow and frigid temperatures. Schools are canceled and parents are looking for fun things to keep kids occupied. I suggest making play dough. Here's my favorite recipe.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Food coloring

Mix dry ingredients in a saucepan. Add oil, water and food coloring and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when dough begins to pull away from the sides of the saucepan and forms a ball. Pour out and knead a few minutes. Store play-dough in a plastic bag or airtight container.

Use cookie sheets for a play dough surface. It's easy to clean and the edges keep the play-dough contained. Plastic knives, Popsicle sticks, and cookie cutters make great tools. An empty plastic bottle can be a rolling pin. Encourage your child to roll out the dough into long snakes. Pinch and twist the snakes into shapes, letters of the alphabet and their name. All these activities increase hand strength and strengthen fine motor skills.

WARNING: Use of play-dough can cause creativity to go wild!

January 5, 2010

Attachment Disorder Support Group

Are you parenting a child who has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder?

Are you looking for help and support from other parents who are facing similar challenges?

An Attachment Disorder Support Group has been meeting monthly, in West St. Louis County, since the spring of 2009. It's a place where parents can feel supported and heard, learn more about the causes and treatment of Attachment Disorder, and network about available resources.

Our next meeting is Thursday, January 21st at 7pm.

We meet at my office at 15332 Manchester Road, Suite 209 in Ellisville 63011.

For more information and to RSVP contact me via private message, email me pam@pamdyson.com or call 314-681-8272.

Join us and learn you're no longer alone and finally understood.

January 1, 2010

How Are You Doing?

It's a new year and a good time to take a close look at how you interact with your children. The next time you've had a difficult moment ask yourself the following questions:

Would I want someone to say to me what I just said to my child?

Am I talking to my child in such a way that he hears what I'm saying instead of tuning me out?

What am I trying to to accomplish with my child?

If your answers are not what you want them to be don't beat yourself up. We all have moments where we're not the parent we want to be. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, Tomorrow is a "great big do-over." Then take a few moments to re-frame that difficult moment and think of how you can handle it differently next time.

Just as it takes time to break a bad habit it will take time to change the way you interact with your child. Take it one small step at a time and be aware that success lies in the trying.