Jump to content

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'raising good kids'.

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Forums

  • NPN Community Forums
    • Discussion Forum
    • Childcare Classifieds

Categories

  • Childcare
  • Goods & Retail
  • Kids Activities & Classes
  • Health & Fitness
  • Just for Grown Ups
  • Photography

Categories

  • Schools
  • Parenting
  • Developmental Differences

Categories

  • Childcare
  • Doulas
  • Estate Planning
  • Feeding
  • Mom Health
  • Pediatricians

Categories

  • Developmental Differences Resources

Product Groups

  • MEMBERSHIPS
  • Registration Donation

Landing Pages

  • Things to Do
  • Find a School
  • Find Childcare
    • Find a Nanny
    • Chicago Daycare
    • Chicago Camps
    • Childcare Classifieds
  • Parenting Advice
    • Working Moms
    • New Moms
    • Raising Good Kids
    • Pregnancy
    • Sleep Training
    • Healthy Children
    • Relationships
    • Discipline
    • Behavior
    • Developmental Differences
    • Travel With Kids

Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

  1. How do Middle Schools Support the Development of Executive Function Skills in Students? Parents will learn from our school panelists on what exactly is Executive Function in the school setting, why it is important for students to develop these skills and how schools are supporting building EF in students to help them succeed in the classroom. In this recording, you will also enjoy a robust Q&A from parents who attended the live recording of the Webinar. Our Panelists include Representatives from Bennett Day School and The Academic Center at Whitney Young Magnet High School. Recorded on 2/16/2024
  2. There aren’t many topics that seem to ruffle feathers like the “Gentle Parenting” debate. And honestly, it makes so much sense. At some point the term Gentle Parenting came to be associated with permissive parenting, lack of boundaries, and parents who seemingly never get upset or raise their voice above 50 decibels. And while I didn’t coin the phrase, and I’m not too interested in defending the beast that gentle parenting has become, I will fiercely defend the parenting approach that I think it was trying to be. We love labels and categories, a quick google search on parenting approaches will turn up phrases like: gentle parenting, attachment parenting, connected parenting, permissive parenting, traditional parenting, conscious parenting, etc. But you don’t have to pay attention to any of that. If there is one thing I believe all parents need to understand, it’s that the best outcomes for our children depend on parenting in a way that builds a secure attachment between them (kids) and us (parents). And good luck trying to rebrand attachment theory, it’s grounded in decades of research. Its purpose and good name is here to stay! In my transformational parenting program The Empowered Parent: 90 Days to Parenting with Confidence, Pride, and Success, I lead parents to build this securely attached relationship with their children. And while my clients tackle aspects of parenting both deep and wide reaching, there is some myth busting that almost always takes place. So let’s set the record straight on three arguments I come across a lot. They’ll never be ready for the “real world” - which isn’t gentle at all. Yep! The world isn’t gentle. And guess what! Our kids are already living in that world. They experience pain, confusion, and heartache just as we do. They endure the death of family members, friends move away, they attend a new school, they encounter mistreatment, they witness images of violence. And they do all of this before they have a fully developed brain that could make better sense of it all. The world is tough, and we don’t need to be a source of that toughness. Instead, we provide security and safety. This is how our children grow to have resilience when they face hardships. The resilience is a result of having a safe and secure base in us to come home to. You can’t just let kids do whatever they want. I don’t know that anyone who understands attachment theory would advocate for letting kids do whatever they want - children need boundaries. I do however know that when parents move away from a mindset of needing to control their children and hold power over them, they see more cooperation and mutual respect. Think of your parenting as a set of guardrails along a path. If the guardrails are very narrow, our kids will constantly bump into them, causing friction and frustration for all of us. If the guardrails are too far apart or not present at all, our kids lack safety and reliable ways to learn from our leadership and presence. But when the guardrails are just right, we allow our children to explore, learn from mistakes with natural consequences, and provide the safety and leadership of thoughtful boundaries. Sometimes kids just manipulate for attention. This one may be half true! While I don’t think children misbehave to manipulate, I do think that a need for connection (i.e. attention) can show up with undesirable behavior. In her book Beyond Behaviors, Dr. Mona Delahooke explains that all behavior is communication. If we are able to shift from a behaviorist mindset that solely looks at behavior as something to be rewarded or punished, we are then free to examine beneath the surface and uncover the underlying cause of a child’s behavior. Often, our examination will reveal a child’s unmet need or an underdeveloped skill. At the simplest level, a newborn doesn’t cry to manipulate us. A newborn cries to get a need met - for example the need to be fed. And an infant hasn’t yet developed the skills (i.e. brain development) to ask for food with words or sign language. A key piece to the 90 day Empowered Parent Accelerator program is growing in knowledge of our child’s brain development. Understanding this development can make all the difference in how we respond to behavior - and probably most importantly the story we tell ourselves (and our children) about who our children are at their core.
  3. As parents, it's our job to do everything we can to make our children feel safe and secure. So it's only natural to default to avoiding topics that may frighten, concern, or cause panic in our children. But what should you do when the topic impacts you directly because of your religion or beliefs or when the topic feels unavoidable due to news and social media coverage? Ever since October 7th, many families (including my own) have been torn on how to answer this question. So, I compiled expert advice from trusted sources on how to best navigate these difficult conversations with their children in this age-by-age guide. Tip 1: TAKE INITIATIVE Don't wait for your child to ask you about it. Not all children will start a conversation or ask questions about what's going on and may instead choose to rely on information from their peers or social media. In order to ensure that your children are receiving accurate information, it's important to take the lead. Waheeda Saif, a program coordinator at Riverside Trauma Center in Massachusetts suggests using open-ended questions to start a conversation: "'Have you heard what's been going on in the world?' 'Have you heard anything about what's going on in Israel and Palestine?' And just see what they say, and take it from there," she said during a conversation with NPR. Children of all ages deserve a conversation — even those without loved ones who live in Israel or Gaza. Tip 2: LEAD WITH EMPATHY, NOT POLITICS Regardless of what you believe, we can all agree that everyone has a right to life. While this seems like a known fact, it's important to start here. According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Claude Bruderlein, leading with empathy in these discussions will help dissociate ourselves from categories like race, nationality, and religion, which can become divisive. “The first, more sensitive step is really to take a stand that everybody has a right to life and dignity, regardless of their nationality, regardless of their religion, regardless of their gender and age,” Bruderlein told The Boston Globe. Tip 3: IT'S OKAY TO NOT HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS It can feel impossible to answer all of the questions that may pop up during your chat but it's important to remember that you don't have to have all of the answers and that you are not expected to turn into a historian or political scientist overnight. Often children just want to better understand why and how people can be so cruel to one another and as difficult as it can be to explain, it's okay to redirect them towards believing in the possibility of peace and coexistence. Allow them to lead by asking them how they can improve the immediate world around them by being kind to others. Tip 4: CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF Protecting your mental health at this time is vital. Family clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, recommends that you "...check in with how you are doing, as well, to ensure that you are not flooding your own nervous system...be mindful of how you are feeling so that you can be more present for you children." How to Explain the Israel-Hamas War Age-By-Age *Source, Parents.com PRESCHOOL Many experts agree that discussing the war with your preschooler is not necessary UNLESS they ask you about it or see it on the news. You want to avoid dismissing them because of their age while keeping the topic age-appropriate by using words and situations that they can relate to. Leading the conversation with statements about people hurting each other and expressing that it is never okay to hurt someone else is an easy way to start. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Keeping things simple with this age group is best as well. You can begin by showing them a map of where the conflict is taking place, discussing why people may be sad or upset and being direct about what it means to be at war. MIDDLE SCHOOL Once social media has entered the chat, the discussion needs to be dialed up a bit. It's important to help your middle schooler realize how to spot fake news and how to fact-check information that they may find on the internet. For this age group, it's important to let them lead the conversation. You can do this by asking questions to see what they already know and to help determine how they may already feel about it. Respect their opinion while introducing them to and educating them on the history of the conflict. If you don't know it, this is a great opportunity to learn together. HIGH SCHOOL Helping your high schooler learn to discern fact from fiction is key. Help them identify and follow reputable, non-biased sources that you know and trust to try to help beat the algorithm of content that is designed to spark an emotional reaction. Help them understand the importance of being mindful of their mental health. Scrolling social media and seeing photos and videos of death and violence can be traumatic. According to reports, Israeli and Jewish schools in the U.S. have even urged parents to delete social media apps from their children's phones to shield them from seeing any purported hostage videos from Hamas. Deleting social media from their phone may seem extreme so it's important to remind them to take breaks from social media when they feel overwhelmed with any content they may see and to also report the content on social media to keep it out of their feed. A major part of keeping our children as safe as possible is to make sure that they are aware of what is going on around them. I hope these tips help prepare you to do just that. Let us know how your discussions go on the forum.
  4. until
    NPN Parent Chats are your monthly virtual opportunity to join in on a casual conversation centered around topics that matter to you. Unlike our monthly webinars that are more structured and have a presenter and topic - you get to lead the discussion, vent about current happenings, or just observe and chime in as you see fit; think of it as our forum in video format! Sitaara and Amy from the NPN staff team will join you. If you've been craving connection, we hope you join us. RSVP today! You will receive an email confirmation, including the Zoom link, immediately upon registration. We will also send you the Zoom link the morning of the event. These chats are for NPN members only. Not a member? For a limited time, join NPN for $20 using promo code school23. This also gets you into the school fair for free!
  5. NPN Amy J.

    Head, Heart, Hand Parenting

    In this video, join Reena Vohra Morgan of Hive Educational Consulting and Parent Coaching as she shares a parent-centric framework grounded in attachment theory, brain science, and responsive parenting strategies. In this introductory workshop, you will learn ten pillars that can help you develop healthier family relationships and bring more peace, calm, and joy to your home. This session is useful for parents with children of any age, from 0 to adulthood. This video was recorded live on 8/11/23.
  6. until
    How do Elementary and Middle Schools Provide and Inclusive Environment for all Students? A healthy, diverse and inclusive classroom environment can allow every student to thrive. Children should be given the opportunity to learn free from discrimination and feel comfortable expressing their identities within their classroom and school community. Parents will learn what practical steps schools take to build a welcoming environment for all students including differing cultures, gender identities and learning differences. Schools will share why creating an inclusive and diverse community is important for all students and families and what they are doing inside the classroom and with families to support these principles. Our panel of speakers will include representatives from: Bennett Day School Francis W. Parker School The Frances Xavier Warde School North Park Elementary School
  7. NPN Amy J.

    Head, Heart, Hand Parenting

    until
    Join Reena Vohra Morgan of Hive Educational Consulting as she shares a parent centric framework grounded in attachment theory, brain science and responsive parenting strategies. In this introductory workshop, you will learn ten pillars that can help you develop healthier family relationships and bring more peace, calm, and joy to your home. This session is useful for parents with children of any age, from 0 to adulthood. Reena Vohra Morgan is a mother to three children and has over twenty years of experience in education. She holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Development, Montessori certificates, and is a Jai Certified Parenting Coach. In combination with theoretical knowledge, practical experience, and compassion, Reena uses a strengths-based, reflective approach to coach and empower educators and parents. She offers concrete strategies, tools, and manageable action plans to support adults who interact directly with children. Reena is certified in positive discipline and Resources for Infant EduCareers (REI). Reena resides in Chicago with her family. Questions? Contact Amy at amy@npnparents.org.
  8. If you're like me, saving for my children's future is a top priority. But it's more than just saving for college: I want to help my kids have positive relationships with money. And that means talking to them early and often about money and finances so that they are equipped with the tools to make good financial choices as adults. However, in the last 10 years, the financial landscape and possibilities have changed drastically with the introduction of cryptocurrency and the Metaverse. As a parent, this leads me to ask so many questions: What does this mean for our kids and their future? How can I better educate myself so that I can safely introduce the world of web3 to my kids? And most importantly, is there a way that I can leverage crypto to incorporate it into our larger wealth-building journey to benefit both myself and my family? All of these questions led my husband and I to start a company called The CryptoMom App, the premiere destination for all things crypto for women, by women. I wanted to create an inclusive, secure platform for women to learn about crypto and then invest it in products that are meaningful to our lives, like college funds. And with April being Financial Literacy Month, there's no better time than today to start learning about cryptocurrency. Here are three ways to start conversations about financial literacy and web3 with your children: 1. Model good behavior by researching first The best way to learn about the basics of crypto is to start researching. There are really great social media accounts for women that encourage conversations and provide the basics of cryptocurrency; Some of my favorites are CryptoWitchClub on Instagram and Elana @TradingFemale on Twitter. You don’t have to know all of the jargon and buzzwords; It’s more about increasing your exposure to slowly gain familiarity. Then, talk about what you've learned with your kids in a casual setting, like at the dinner table. Your kids will certainly be impressed and you get to flex your 'cool mom' muscles! 2. Read Books Together Kids of all ages love to cuddle up and read books together. You can find books at your local library or online that teach kids the basics of crypto, even board books for infants and toddlers like Bitcoin for Babies. For your teens, offer to start a book club and read the book together. Not only are you learning together but you're also building authentic connections that are often difficult to maintain in the teen years. 3. Take the plunge by purchasing yourself first There's no better teacher than experience so now that you're prepared with research and knowledge, take your first step by purchasing your first coin. Don’t feel the need to invest large amounts of money; Invest what you feel comfortable with, whether it's $20 or $200. Platforms like The CryptoMom App allow you to buy small fractions of bitcoin in just three easy steps. If you're looking to connect with other women on their crypto wealth-building journey, sign up for the waitlist for The CryptoMom App to get exclusive, first access to our product.
  9. Zero to $25 Garfield Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show is here! Send your favorite flower lover off to the Conservatory with a cash donation ready to go. The spring flower show will give children and families the gift of warmth (truly! It’s balmy in there). Add on a disposable camera for fun and see what develops… you may be impressed with what captures the eyes of your nature lover. Bubbles Academy- For the younger child, look no further than Bubbles Academy for everything from drop-in art classes to outdoor classes and a nature playground. Coming this spring for families and children aged up to 7, check out their Silly Space Soiree or a gift card for one of their many fun and developmentally smart activities at any location. Chalk it Up - Chalk is an underestimated resource. Whether traditional or “spray chalk,” create sidewalk games like Hopscotch, Four Square, or more. Check out “Shape Hopscotch” for a fun twist. Birthday message artistry is also a fun treat to wake up to! Spray chalk works on grass and washes out after rain. Bee’s Knees (and butterflies, too!) – For kids or families abuzz to help our favorite little honey-makers, we suggest the gift of a native plant garden. For quickest impact, plant natives from a plug rather than seeds. Because the helpful native plants are hard to find at most big box stores or nurseries, we specifically like Possibility Place Nursery in Monee, (which also offers suggestions for plants to attract butterflies!). Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin also has native plant seeds with the option to ship. For a tree bee lover, we suggest making a donation in name to Southport Corridor Bees, or adding in a jar of local organic honey to the gift. Camping - If your child has their heart set on a camping adventure, we like the idea of sharing a weekend (or just an evening) away. With many camping areas within driving distance, you can make their dream come true easily. Check out Chicago Park District’s Coleman Gear Library, where you can rent everything from tents and sleeping bags to flashlights and much more for free. If your family is new to camping, you can attend a camping experience with Chicago Parks for around $50. Learn basic camping principles, take a nature hike and enjoy an evening around the campfire led by our expert camping staff. At night campers will enjoy hot dogs and s’mores over the fire, and a light breakfast in the morning. Art lovers - While the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute have daily admission or membership options, we find that children and adults alike enjoy spending time and money at the gift shops and surrounding restaurants. Check out specifically MCA’s Family Days and The Art Exchange at The Art Institute of Chicago. Send them with a calendar of upcoming events, and maybe some art supplies and snacks to supplement their fun. $25-50 Movie Theater- Many families have not been to the theater since 2019/early 2020, which means that some young kids have never seen a movie on the big screen at all. Make their day with a gift card to their nearest movie theater or IMAX location. Bonus points if you throw in cash for snacks! Chicago Children’s Theatre - offers drop-in day camps for performers and performance-curious. We also love their unique Red Kite Program, which has special offerings for children on the autism spectrum. They even offer financial aid options for those who need it. Indoor Play - Fit City Kids offers something from everything from crawlers to big kids. Parents can relax while children run, jump, slide, and dive around the massive play zone. Daily visit passes are available online. Personal and small-group training is also available for the more serious athlete. They even have pickleball classes for kids! You can also check out Climb Zone or Brooklyn Boulders; Trampoline parks like Altitude or Urban Air. And if you’re gifting for a grown-up 21+, check out Altitude’s Adult Nights, where tickets include a drink. $50-$100 Date Night - Who wouldn’t love to be gifted a date night with childcare covered? Send parents the gift of child care: whether by covering their babysitting costs, or gifting a “Parent Survival Night” at The Little Gym. If you’re feeling generous, send them with a gift card to a nearby restaurant for grownup conversation. Near The Little Gym in Lakeview, we suggest: El Tapatio, Volo, Coda Di Volpe, or Ella Elli. Over $100 Private food experience – For the foodie families in your life, consider giving a private or small-group class or dining experience. Who wouldn’t want to experience a cooking class with French Chef Vincent at Cook Au Vin? Cooking classes are BYOB, so feel free to package your gift certificate with a bottle of their favorite wine. We hear that private catering options are also available, which may be the perfect gift for small dinner parties or romantic special occasions. Sleep - Can you really gift sleep? We sure think so. Kelly Murray Sleep Consulting offers services for new and not-so-new parents. Professional sleep consultants offer free consultations and packages range from from program guides with online support to private in-home coaching. Bulls and Bears and Blackhawks, oh my - Tickets to a Chicago Bears, Bulls, or Blackhawks game are wonderful starting points. Chicago’s WNBA team, Chicago Sky, is also a fantastic idea. And for anyone who caught the soccer bug with last years’ World Cup, check out a match for the Chicago Fire (at Soldier Field) or Chicago Stars (Bridgeview). Family Photos – For families who are so busy making memories that they may forget to capture them, consider a family photo package. Various mini-shoots are available online around holidays. Little Bear Photography and TK Photography are both well-known for their high quality and ease to work with. Next-Level Sleepovers - The Shedd Aquarium offers many specialty events for families, including add-on events such as encounters with Sea Otter, Beluga, or even a shark feeding tour! The Aquarium offers impressive overnight events, from sleeping around the Caribbean Reef to Oceanarium, where you can wake up next to penguins, whales and even dolphins. The Field Museum has regular “Dozin’ with the Dinos,” where families with children ages 6 to 12 can spend the night in the museum. Even better, you can prepay for overnight parking! Museum of Science and Industry has the unique overnight “Snoozeum” The Getaway – The getaway gift is staple for a reason. Whether it’s your family or another, most enjoy the gift of a hotel overnight. For those with older children, consider offering a small party or sleepover for them at a cool rental property. While this gift may be reserved for very special occasions, it can be the memory of a lifetime. Imagine hosting a sixteenth birthday party at a rental property with a pool table and a hot tub. Families with younger children may appreciate being sent to an indoor water park or even to the spa for mani-pedis together. Priceless: The Gift of Cereal The best gift you can possibly give someone may not be one you could predict. A recommendation shared with me recently was this: Give the child something that they ask for often but usually don’t get. Maybe it’s something you would never think of. Maybe they want to wear mismatched socks one day, or have a parent say yes to their request for a popsicle at the beach or donut at the store. Ask the child’s parent for ideas of what the child is constantly asking for, and find out if you can give the child that. Perhaps it takes the shape of cash for the parent to keep on hand at the beach. In the case of one friend I know, it was cereal. The best gifts come from the heart, creative and even wacky gift ideas can be the most memorable.
  10. Let’s begin with a boundary check: The responsibility of homework completion falls squarely on the child. Without question, it is hard to watch our children struggle with the effort homework demands, but it is very important that we resist the urge to “rescue” our child from the discomfort of effort. If you “help” a butterfly out of its cocoon it dies because it wasn’t given the chance to build its wing strength. So, we can all agree that children should work through homework on their own, but there is still a tremendous amount of pressure on children and parents to achieve at very high levels in our culture. College applications reduce years of education to a discrete set of numbers and the status of being from certain high-performing schools. We are told to not interfere, and then we are shown a world in which not getting the best possible grades and achieving the accolades that come with that means dramatically reduced opportunity. And it all begins with homework, which is why it’s such a charged topic. While we often are looking forward towards an imagined future for our children, we are probably pointed in the wrong direction. To achieve a way forward through this achievement thicket, we should look to our own memories of doing homework as a child. There, we can mine the gold of memory: the parents who hovered over you and checked your work before you turned it in, or the parents who left you completely alone. We all have pain points from our school years. Exploring and healing these sore spots will free up space for you to more clearly choose how you want to interact with your child around homework. Your uncomfortable memories of homework and your child’s struggles with it today represent a perfect reparenting opportunity for you, which can lead to a deeply compassionate journey with your child as you work together to make homework work for them, instead of simply feeling like busy work. With this mindset you can start shifting the narrative from struggle and challenge to one that is about how we can learn and grow - together. Here are some suggestions of ways to foster relationship and a love of learning: Pair your own work time with that of your child by having work/study dates. You can set goals together, take breaks where you share what you are learning or working on, and most importantly celebrate progress together. Turn counterproductive statements or questions into learning opportunities by challenging them to problem solve. Respond to a statement like “I don’t know how to do this” with “What have you tried?” Having a good dialogue about a stumbling block builds critical thinking skills. Problem solve difficulty in completing homework together, as you might tackle a task management problem at work. Engage the challenge as a partner in removing obstacles. By making homework help a self-development opportunity, you can ensure a deeper engagement in learning for both your child and you.
  11. As a family law mediator and attorney, my hours are filled with former couples who must learn how to communicate for the benefit of their child. In advising clients on how to do this, we have to consider certain situations or feelings that get in the way. Before diving into advice on appropriate communication, I’ll explain a bit more on why it is so important: Your child deserves the best version of you, and the healthiest parents possible. Only you can provide them with a happy, healthy, and functional you. Your behavior is a model framework, and your child learns more from how you interact with others than from how you instruct them to interact with others. As we know too well, children are observant and smart. In their social skills now and for the future, your child will reference your communication skills (or lack thereof) as guidance for their social interactions. You are very uniquely positioned to help them become functional individuals who can face interpersonal difficulties. Your child will certainly pick up on your own attitude, demeanor, and language about your ex. If you ask adults whose parents were divorced to share a memory of how their parents communicated, they will undoubtedly remember. You don’t want your child to grow and think, “wow, my parent really couldn’t put me first. They hated my other parent more than they loved me.” You want your child to grow and know, “my parent did their best to protect me from the nuance and nastiness of their adult romantic relationship.” Finally, remember that your child is truly a combination of you and your ex. Regardless of who your child is closer to, resembles, prefers, etc., remember this: they have two parents. Your child could likely internalize at least some of what you’re saying about their other parent, because it’s, well, their parent! And you have a truly special opportunity to show them how to communicate in a healthy way. Caveat: My thoughts apply to standard or high-conflict situations where everyone is physically safe. Anyone dealing with an abusive or violence ex should, of course, put safety first. Universal guidelines for communication with a co-parent: Accept that your relationship with this adult is now primarily transactional. Consider this a business relationship where you are essentially professionals working together raising the child. Make, keep, and reaffirm boundaries. I highly recommend the book by Nedra Glover Tawwab as described below. Some common examples of boundaries with co parents are: Only being available to them for matters related to your child; Letting their calls go to voicemail and reviewing the voicemail; Answer non-urgent requests within 24 hours; and Reminding them as needed of your boundaries. Keep it BIFF: Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm. As described in the book mentioned below, communication between co parents can and should, in general, be straightforward. Your exchanges should be brief and to the point; informative and useful (no communication “just because…”); friendly without being flirty, and firm without being harsh. Again, you now have primarily a transactional relationship with this person. Behave accordingly. Consider shared calendar and family organization apps (Google Calendar, Our Family Wizard, Talking Parents) to limit unnecessary back-and forth. Never use the child as a messenger. Consider therapy another source of professional help for handling the massive emotions and changes you’re likely experiencing. You don’t have to do this alone. When one of you is still in love: Accept reality. However you must do this, learn and accept that you are now a solo parent and a single individual. This person is not your spouse, they are not your romantic partner. It is not ok to flirt with them or treat them romantically or “cute.” Distance yourself. Refrain from contacting them unnecessarily, or for reasons outside of their new role as co-parent (and not as your romantic interest). Ask some friends to be your assistants in this, and check with them before sending or saying anything that you think may not be best. Reframe their role in your life. While you may have once been comfortable calling this person your husband/wife/ spouse, this person has a new role: Teammate on Team Child. I have seen parents save each other's phones as new contacts “Sam Jones- Team Billy!” It’s corny, but maybe it will help. (Side note: if you can’t save them as something nice, save them as their own name. This is not a time for “nicknames.”) When there’s hate: Process it on your own. You are probably going to want a therapist, if only for a short term. How can you move forward if you’re still so angry abo it the past? Your anger may be well-founded and deserved, I get it. You must learn to leave your child out of this as much as possible, and prevent them from becoming collateral damage. Keep it away from your child. Regardless of where you are in the healing journey, your child is dealing with enough on their own. Protect them from adult matters by discussing co parenting issues when they aren’t around. Speaking in “code” or just out of their earshot probably doesn’t work as well as you think it does. Note: if there is or was abuse or violence in your relationship with your now-coparent, i recommend the following books in particular: “Splitting” and “Why Does He Do That?” These books separately address some of the considerations that you may unfortunately be dealing with. Regardless of where you are in the coparenting process, I hope you will consider your child above all else. Even the “best” parents struggle sometimes. It is hard! And you can do hard things. Especially ones that are so very worth it for your child. **Here are the links to the recommended reads mentioned above:** Set Boundaries, Find Peace: https://www.semicolonchi.com/humble-design/1du11v25tyoistwttyram0lgrgxvib BIFF: https://www.highconflictinstitute.com/bookstores/biff-for-coparents Splitting: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/9996542 Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/224552.Why_Does_He_Do_That_
  12. until
    Event Details: Give your baby a smart start! Maya Smart, author of Reading for Our Lives, will describe how reading unfolds from birth through the early elementary years and outline what caregivers can do to nurture it at each stage. You will leave armed with information about the six parent levers for literacy success, plus easy and research-based ways to nurture your child’s language and literacy development from the start. Chicago Public Library staff will facilitate an active play space for children and a caregiver before, during and after the presentation to demonstrate early literacy skills in action! Register for this event on the Chicago Public Library's website by clicking here. This is an external partner event. Please contact the organization directly with any questions or concerns: Children's Services (312) 747-4780 REGISTER HERE This event takes place in person at Harold Washington Library Center @ 400 S. State Street Chicago IL 60605. Masks are strongly encouraged in all CPL locations. Register by the start of the event. Chicago Public Library cannot collect personal information online from kids 0 to 13. A parent or guardian’s email address must be used to register.
  13. If your childhood was anything like mine, I’m sure you can remember being repeatedly asked what it is that you wanted to be when you grew up. I’m also pretty sure what you said then doesn’t match your life now! So, why do we force children to answer this seemingly rhetorical question? And how can we get our children to explore the endless possibilities of their future without boxing them in? As an adult and a mom, I’ve come to really appreciate experiences over things. You’ll often find me gifting tickets to shows, museums, or concerts instead of toys and clothing. So when it comes to getting my children to think about their future, I take the same approach and try to help them discover what they like and dislike based on their lived experiences. This is why I was really excited when I discovered Rocket Club Academy, a first of its kind program that provides children 7 to 14 years old the opportunity to explore industries in STEAM and entrepreneurship and discover their passions and interests along the way. With the help of industry leaders, Rocket Club Academy members learn by doing via the program’s proprietary curriculum, picking up valuable life lessons and skills that are not taught in the traditional education system. This January, Rocket Club Academy is launching a new module that will guide members on the journey of learning to own and operate a professional sports franchise! Members will analyze the marketing and financing behind major sports organizations, explore the technology behind how athletes are trained, and the impact on local communities. Encourage your child to expand their thoughts about their future by starting with a topic that sparks their interest and gifting them an experience that can change their lives and perspective forever! Rocket Club Academy is a boutique club with limited enrollment and locations in the heart of the Lincoln Park and Oak Park communities. As an NPN member, you have the opportunity to score a free 1-month membership (a $385 value) with access to the January class! Contact Rocket Club Academy to book a tour and learn more today at https://rocketclub.com/chicago
  14. As a pediatric physical therapist, something I hear quite often in new assessments with families is that they "knew something wasn't quite right and had questions on it, but were told to wait and see if it was still a problem" at their next pediatrician visit. Many times, things do work themselves out with development for a variety of factors. Unfortunately, it's not every time. If gaining anything from this article, my advice as a physical therapist and as a parent myself is to trust your instincts. YOU know your child best. Early intervention has been statistically proven to shorten overall intervention times as well as improve results across all disciplines with children. The challenge with the “wait and see” recommendation is that earlier in your child's medical care at their primary pediatrician, you are seeing each other every four weeks. By the time you may have concerns, your check-in period is every three months. Three months is a long time in a child's first year of development: it's a quarter of their life! [Related: Preschool, or therapeutic preschool?] So how does a family pursue occupational, physical, or speech therapy for their child? There are a multitude of different ways to access services, which move along their corresponding timelines for each path. Here are some of your options: 1. Call a reputable, outpatient center or home-based service to provide therapy services. Turn around time to services: one to two weeks Look at online reviews, ask for others’ experiences in local parenting groups, access NPN’s referral list — any of these areas could be a good starting point to contact for an assessment for services. Most places will directly call a pediatrician for the prescription to be on file prior to the assessment. In Illinois, you do not need a prescription for physical therapy, as it is a direct-access state. This means that patients can refer themselves and receive ongoing treatment without an initial referral. Reputable outpatient service locations will still gain a referral and share treatment plans and evaluation results with a primary pediatrician, regardless of the state requirement. You can also ask for this to be done! This is the most direct and fastest way to receive services. This can also be the most costly, especially if you still have to meet an insurance deductible or do not have private insurance to access. If you are in a rush to prioritize services, an important question during this process is whether the outpatient center or private-based therapy service site providers are also in network with Illinois's Early Intervention system. (We'll review how to access both services down below.) 2. Call the Illinois Early Intervention program. Turn around time to services: six to 12 weeks, depending on availability Illinois has a robust Early Intervention program offered for children ages 0 to 3. Services included in Early Intervention are speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, developmental therapy, developmental vision therapy, developmental hearing therapy, feeding therapy, social work, nutrition services, and diagnostic referral services, to name a few. Services are typically provided in home, in a daycare, or via teletherapy, depending on a family's preference. [Related: What to look for in a therapeutic preschool] Families can call the child and family connection facility associated with their home address ZIP code to obtain an assessment and report concerns related to their child's development. Pediatricians or other physicians related to your child's care can also directly refer to the Early Intervention system. To begin Early Intervention services, your pediatrician must agree with and sign off on all recommended services after the assessment. After calling to schedule an assessment, it typically takes two weeks to receive a scheduled assessment. Following the evaluation, recommendations are made and new providers are searched for to provide the recommended frequency of services. This process in finding your child's provider team can at times be lengthy to get set up, depending on availability of clinicians in your area. Despite the issues with timely services, the benefits to using the Early Intervention system are great for families! Monthly family fees are assessed based on number of family members and overall household income. This family fee is set from $0 to $200 max per month. Early Intervention can act as your primary insurance (as in, the only insurance plan that is billed for therapy services), or it can act as your secondary insurance (e.g., the insurance to handle any unpaid amounts after visits are processed by your primary insurance plan). Because of this set up, Early Intervention can provide an extremely affordable and accessible means for therapy services for children up to the age of three. 3. Combination of utilizing private insurance and the Early Intervention system through the state of Illinois. Turn around time: one to two weeks to get started; up to three months to bring on Early Intervention coverage At times, when a problem has been identified, waiting several months for services can feel like a lifetime. This is where a provider that can initially work with your insurance plan, that has providers certified through the Early Intervention program, can work nicely. Think of it as billing just your primary insurance for the first weeks before Early Intervention can "kick in." Early Intervention can then be used primarily as your benefits plan or to help supplement your insurance plan. Finding an initial provider that provides both services is also helpful so that you do not have to get services started and then switch providers to a different facility. Hopefully this has been a useful guide to accessing services and pursuing early intervention for your child. Again, listen to your instincts, pursue help when needed, and don’t rely on “wait and see”: it could prove to take even more time to make gains with this approach.
  15. until
    Join NPN program manager, Tareema, and other NPN members at the Cradle to Crayons Giving Factory. We will help sort and organize donations in the Cradles to Crayons warehouse. If you are bringing a child or children they must be at least 5 years old. Cradles to Crayon adult to child ratios are as follows: 1 adult for every 3 elementary aged children, 1 adult for every 5 middle school aged children, and 1 adult for every 10 high school aged children. Registration is a 2-step process. You must complete both steps to secure your spot. 1. RSVP with NPN. You will immediately receive an event confirmation email from NPN. 2. Complete the Cradles to Crayons registration link included in your NPN event confirmation email. Cradles to Crayons is located at 2500 W. Bradley Place, Chicago IL 60618. The GPS will not take you directly to our section of the property. We are behind Climb Zone, Power, and the other businesses in the front of the complex. Please go all the way to the back side of the complex near Elite Baseball Training and Windy City Ninjas and look for our purple Cradles to Crayons sign. We have parking spaces in front of our building that are first come, first serve. All adults and children must wear a mask over their nose and mouth. (Volunteers must wear the mask provided by Cradle to Crayons for the duration of their shift) Spaces are limited. Please honor your RSVP. RVSP no later than October 5th, 2022! Postpone your RSVP only if the following apply: - Diagnosed with COVID-19 and have not yet been cleared as non-contagious by state or local public health authorities. - Exposed to a person with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days. - Experiencing symptoms of illness such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Questions? Contact Tareema at tareema@npnparents.org
  16. NPN Lauren

    Gardening with kids

    Water, sunlight, soil. It’s what all plants need, and one of the first science facts that kids learn. So gardening is the perfect way to harness an interest in the environment and to cultivate future scientists. These steps offer suggestions that can be scaled to fit any size patch, from large outdoor garden to tiny indoor pot. Planning The winter seems rather endless in Chicago, so thinking of warmer times ahead is a wonderfully positive pastime. Once we get past new year we start to dream of a flower-filled garden. Last year we created mood boards (both as a collage on paper and digitally using Canva), to share our individual visions. Researching Looking up native plants, preferred growing conditions, and the necessary maintenance, makes great reading and research practice, while sparking a conversation about sustainable gardening and climate. We love going to the library either in person or digitally (using sites such as Epic which has a free basic plan). [Related: Family-friendly summer bike rides in Chicago] Selecting We’ve all read that children who spend time around nature are happier, better focused, and more empathetic to others and the planet. A trip to the garden center makes a lovely family activity. Assign tasks to keep things harmonious: who is responsible for the cart, the shopping list, keeping track of the time? Alternatively, purchase from any of the one-off plant sales that occur across Chicagoland (bookmark for next year). Some of these have the option to pre-order and then for drive-up collection, which can be convenient if you don’t fancy keeping a toddler in line. Planting You know how much children love to get their hands in soil. Seeking out smaller tools can facilitate the planting. Little ones will love the colorful options available, while older children will take greater ownership if they’ve chosen items that appeal to their emerging aesthetic. Readers can check that plants are finding their preferred piece of your patch, while new writers can practice their handwriting by labelling popsicle sticks – drawings encouraged. Watering Every small child loves to wield a hose or watering can. Use this as an opportunity to watch the weather forecast and talk about the seasons. Then formulate a coding-like plan for watering: if there is no rain, the temperature is between X and X, then water once in the morning, and so on. Create a chart (an opportunity to practice computer and/or graphic design skills) and assign responsibility. [Related: 7 things to have on hand for fun at-home activities with your kids] Harvesting If you can include something you can harvest in your plantings, this will hold everyone’s interest. Tomato plants with little green fruit will provide a quick reward, which is imperative with very little kids. Peppers and herbs are other vegetation that kids get excited about and can lead to some fun cooking activities, including the crowd-pleasing pizza. Assessing Of course, plants do not follow strict instructions and with even the most loving and zealous care do not always yield the desired results. Making a review of your "land" part of your weekly family time and having conversations around this can help children understand that as well as planning, problem-solving and flexibility are important skills to learn. Then encourage them to suggest solutions for you to try. With children’s affinity for the natural world, gardening is a perfect activity to involve the whole family. Whether you have a vast, outdoor space, or need to set up your greenery indoors, there is the opportunity to engage and converse. We hope that this shared interest will continue to bond us as a family as we navigate the years ahead together.
  17. until
    Join NPN program manager, Tareema, and other NPN members at the Cradle to Crayons Giving Factory. We will help sort and organize donations in the Cradles to Crayons warehouse. Each adult may bring one child. If you are bringing a child, register for 1 adult and 1 child. Children must be at least 5 years old. Registration is a 2-step process. You must complete both steps to secure your spot. 1. RSVP with NPN. You will immediately receive an event confirmation email from NPN. 2. Complete the Cradles to Crayons registration link included in your NPN event confirmation email. Cradles to Crayons is located at 4141 W. George St., Chicago, IL 60641. There are 33 parking spaces in front of the building that are first come first serve. There is also street parking. Please do not drive past the concrete barriers that separate the shipping and receiving area of the building. All adults and children must wear a mask over their nose and mouth. (Volunteers must wear the mask provided by Cradle to Crayons for the duration of their shift) Spaces are limited. Please honor your RSVP. RSVP no later than January 12th, 2022! Postpone your RSVP only if the following apply: - Diagnosed with COVID-19 and have not yet been cleared as non-contagious by state or local public health authorities. - Exposed to a person with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days. - Experiencing symptoms of illness such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Questions? Contact Tareema at tareema@npnparents.org
  18. until
    Join NPN program manager, Tareema, and other NPN members at the Cradle to Crayons Giving Factory. We will help sort and organize donations in the Cradles to Crayons warehouse. Each adult may bring one child. If you are bringing a child, register for 1 adult and 1 child. Children must be at least 5 years old. Registration is a 2-step process. You must complete both steps to secure your spot. 1. RSVP with NPN. You will immediately receive an event confirmation email from NPN. 2. Complete the Cradles to Crayons registration link included in your NPN event confirmation email. Cradles to Crayons is located at 4141 W. George St., Chicago, IL 60641. There are 33 parking spaces in front of the building that are first come first serve. There is also street parking. Please do not drive past the concrete barriers that separate the shipping and receiving area of the building. All adults and children must wear a mask over their nose and mouth. (Volunteers must wear the mask provided by Cradle to Crayons for the duration of their shift) Spaces are limited. Please honor your RSVP. RVSP no later than January 1st, 2022! Postpone your RSVP only if the following apply: - Diagnosed with COVID-19 and have not yet been cleared as non-contagious by state or local public health authorities. - Exposed to a person with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days. - Experiencing symptoms of illness such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Questions? Contact Tareema at tareema@npnparents.org
  19. I often find myself pondering the cultural differences between Britain and the United States, and how to negotiate these with my kids. While I fully embrace my American citizenship, I also want my children to know and appreciate their heritage. While it may seem like there are many similarities, it’s the little things that require consideration. Language Most people are aware of the language differences. Early on in my parenting journey, I decided to stick with American-purchased books, avoiding spelling confusion. That was an easy decision. But as for pronunciation…I find it hard to ensure that a zee-bra is never a zeb-ra, to the amusement of my family and co-workers. [Related: Take the time to learn how to pronounce 'difficult' names] Toys For a while, I held out against Barbie (like my sister successfully did with her daughter), and sought out traditional, European toys that I remembered from childhood. But my little ones hankered after shiny objects with robotic American accents — and I’ve found myself drawn to the innovative, modern creations too. The verdict? If they provide some level of education or creative play, they’re considered for purchase. Mealtimes Mealtimes, however, are more problematic. Starting with a fork in the right hand was a no-brainer, but introducing a knife caused confusion. For me, the fork should (almost always) be in the left hand, so the knife naturally goes into the right hand. No thinking required. And where does the napkin sit? There is a level of complexity I did not anticipate, so for now, we’re learning together at our weekly “etiquette” lessons — a sight to behold! Food Food is also the subject of discussion in our house. Kid-friendly meals in England consisted of bangers and-mash, bubble and squeak, and Welsh rarebit, which all sound alien to kids born and raised in Chicago. While my eldest loves to try new foods (“these snails are delicious!”), my middle child is very suspicious of “yukky” food with unfamiliar names. By making her my sous chef I’m hoping she’ll embrace new recipes and flavors. Holidays For the most part, we layer British holidays on top of the American ones observed at school. Boxing Day (December 26th) is a bonus day. Likewise, my youngsters get to double dip with British Mother’s Day (observed in March), while St. George’s Day (the English St. Patrick), St. David’s Day (their cousins are Welsh), and Hogmanay (Scottish word for "New Year") all add another dimension to our yearly calendar. Bedtimes When it comes to bedtime, I struggle to align with some of my local counterparts. We start our routine at an “absurdly early” hour. Although like many, I veto electronic toys in the bedroom, opting for books and soft toys that provide comfort and encourage sleep. After the long nights with our first newborn, I am unashamed of my relentless quest for "grown-ups only" evenings. And while we sometimes break our early-to-bed rule for special occasions, we try to keep a schedule even during the summer months. Sharing my traditions, and showing respect for differing customs, is something I can offer to my children. This is as important to me as building new traditions that embrace our changing world. In tandem, I hope these approaches will allow them to become the empathetic and respectful citizens I aspire for them to be. Photo: King's Church International on Unsplash
  20. I can hardly believe it myself when I tell people that I have been a pediatric mental health therapist for 12 years now. I mean, that is over a decade of my life! I would say that I don’t know where the time went, but I do. A lot has happened since beginning my professional career. I moved to Chicago, got engaged, and landed my dream job. But what really makes time fly is having kids. Nothing in my life has made me realize just how fleeting life is more than raising children. One day they fit into the palm of your hand, and the next, they barely fit in your lap. There are a lot of expectations about what kind of parent I am and how I raise my kids. After all, I keep up to date on the latest research in child development and behavior. My passion is in supporting parents and teaching parents how to be connected and attuned to their children. So I talk A LOT with parents. I am often told by parents I work with, “I bet your kids are so well behaved,” or, “I bet you never yell.” (Yikes, the pressure!) Of course, I do have to practice what I preach, and while I try my best to be a playful, accepting, curious, and empathic mother…I am also a “good enough” mom. I am not perfect. Despite my training, my knowledge, my passion, and my love, I am here to tell you: if you only knew how I epically fail on a daily basis! Well, actually, maybe it would help. Maybe it would help you have some compassion for yourself, because I promise you there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and good enough is actually all you need (and this is backed by research!). [Related: This is how to travel with young kids during COVID] So in all my vulnerability, I will share with you my top 10 epic parenting fails during the COVID-19 pandemic: Becoming so frustrated and out of control with my own emotions when my 5-year-old refused to go to bed that I threatened to throw out her JoJo Siwa Bow. Feeling guilty about my (above) tantrum, giving in, and allowing my 5-year-old to stay up till 10pm watching Naked and Afraid. (This went on for a month.) Experiencing the full range of working-mom shame when my daughter named each family member’s hobby and declared, “Mommy’s hobby is work.” Begging my 5-year-old to “Just leave me alone for two minutes while I finish my Zoom call!” realizing that I actually did not mute my mic. Spacing out from exhaustion while the baby crawls on the lawn…and eats actual bunny poop. Logging in my kindergartner late to virtual school. Every. Single. Day. Witnessing her announce to her teacher, “Sorry I am always late. We like to sleep in.” Knowing pandemic guilt has turned me into a “Yes” mom, and I have a trillion stuffed animals to prove it. Thinking that brushing my kid’s teeth before dessert was OK. Hello, child’s first cavity. Being mindless while getting my children out of the car and putting my laptop on top of the car. Forgetting about my laptop. Finding my laptop smashed to bits on North Avenue. If a child therapist can’t get it right all the time, take some pressure off yourself to be perfect. After all, we are in the midst of a pandemic. We are all truly doing the best we can. And that is good enough.
  21. NPN Lauren

    Talking to kids about racism

    Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash “Mommy, why are people protesting?” “Well, some people did some really bad things to a man named George Floyd and people want everyone to know that Black lives matter.” “But mom, what about the coronavirus?! People shouldn’t be that close together!” “You’re right, sweetie. This is so serious that all of these people are risking their lives because they’re tired of stuff like this happening.” I walk off to cry in a corner. To say that this year has been challenging would be an understatement. Racism is part of the Black experience in America. I can recount endless personal experiences but I wanted to delay the racism conversation with my 6-year-old as long as possible to preserve her childhood. But something about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor was different. The rose-colored lenses of the world suddenly cracked, and I was forced to confront it head on. [Related: Resources to help you talk about racism with your kids] I’ve purchased so many books to encourage her love of self — from the coils in her hair, to her beautiful brown skin. I’ve ensured she’s always in an inclusive and loving environment, and I’ve assumed my role as Mama Bear and will jump in to protect my little cub if necessary. Now, I have to tell her that the features I’ve spent so much time praising are the same features that may cause someone not to like her — or, even worse, harm her. I start the conversation with, “Some people won’t like you, simply because of the color of your skin.” She responds, “But my skin is beautiful! I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t like it!” She begins to cry as I take her into my arms. The conversation is uncomfortable but necessary. Here are some tips on how to speak with your children about racism. Educate yourself. Black History has been severely revised in America, so it is important to seek facts and understanding before beginning the discussion. Learn about the more subtle forms of racism. You may not have all the answers to their questions, but reassure your children that you will work together to be anti-racist and seek understanding. [Related: Can we build anti-racist communities?] Don’t make blanket statements. It may be hard for children — especially young children — to reconcile racist behaviors while having friends of other races. Be sure to soften the language and clarify that the conversation doesn’t apply to an entire race of people, but some people within that race. Normalize anti-racism. Buy diverse books and toys. Watch diverse movies. Make a point to go to restaurants and events outside of your neighborhood. Support Black businesses. Use inclusive, non-qualifying language, e.g., a movie vs a Black movie. Most importantly, call out racism everywhere: at work, in your family, and on social media. Changing the hearts and minds of people is a big step towards racial equality. The conversation with my daughter went well. She’s since followed up with questions and is beginning to understand bias. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unfair. It’s heartbreaking. Still, have the conversation.
  22. As centuries of racial injustice continue to be illuminated, parents likely have lots of questions about how to talk with their young children about race and racism, and how to raise an anti-racist child. To answer some of these questions, Dr. Angela Searcy, a child development expert from Erikson Institute, shared her insights. When do children begin to notice race? Dr. Searcy: Research confirms infants as young as 3 months prefer to look at faces similar to their own. By preschool, they begin to use information about race to make decisions about playmates. At what age should parents start talking to their children about race? Dr. Searcy: Start talking about race as soon as your baby begins to recognize faces. Babies that don’t have exposure to people from a variety of races have a hard time noticing facial features of people from races other than their own. Not talking about race directly and explicitly leaves your child unaware of how you feel about different races. It will also create uncertainty about what your child knows about race and any racial bias they may have unintentionally internalized about their own race or others. What are some helpful conversation prompts for tackling this topic? Dr. Searcy: Reading books that show a variety of races is a good way to start. Point out the different races in children’s books and ask your child questions. When it comes to topics of racial injustice, parents already know what words their child understands and what examples will resonate with them. So try something like: “This reminds me of your favorite superhero. How can we ensure people of all races have equal justice?” or, “Would your favorite character think that was fair?” [Related: How to become an anti-racist parent] What behaviors can I expect to see from my young child as they start noticing differences? Dr. Searcy: Noticing differences is an important part of learning. Children will start reacting to differences in infancy and talking about them as soon as they can speak. If they have a negative reaction, respond with positivity and words of acceptance like, “Our differences are what make us all special.” Then follow up to understand why they might be feeling that way. If you respond by telling them you are colorblind, it can be very confusing. It asks children to ignore salient parts of another person’s identity and sends a message that something is wrong with having color if it must be “unseen.” Imagine the message that sends to a child of color who must have parts of their identity ignored and unseen. What are some helpful resources or activities that I can use to teach my child about race? Dr. Searcy: A few of my favorite activities include: ● Use M&Ms to show children how different colors are still the same inside ● Make a knot with a string to demonstrate how it will take time and many people to untie the knot of racism ● Give your child books with characters with a variety of races and ethnicities and have them look in the mirror and compare characteristics As far as resources, I’ve listed many on my website. A couple of my favorites are: How can I have a Positive Racial Identity? I’m White! and Woke Kindergarten. Dr. Angela Searcy holds a M.S. degree in early childhood development, with a specialization in infant studies, from the Erikson Institute and a EdD in education. She is an author of the book Push Past It! A Positive Approach to Challenging Classroom Behaviors and nationally recognized speaker, and currently serves as an adjunct professor at Erikson teaching Culture.
  23. It’s been over a year since we retreated into our homes “for a couple of weeks”, to wait for the virus to pass. Weeks led to months, the new year rolled around… and we’re only now thinking of re-entering the world. So, as parents, how do we reintroduce play dates for our kids? Research First order of business is to take stock of the current conditions and guidance in your area. Be mindful that just because restrictions might have lifted, there may be reasons why others are reticent about getting together. Proceed with sensitivity and respect. Discuss Ask your child if they would like to meet up with friends. Try not to bring in your own anxieties but listen. They may well be excited to get out again, or they may be nervous. Let them know that what they’re feeling is ok, and that you’ll be there with them. Intros Start with a virtual intro, to (re)build familiarity with friends. Encourage sharing of masks over Zoom, so they can recognize buddies when they meet up in person. My daughter loves to show-off her new kitty look. [Related: Nurturing your child's mental health in the pandemic's aftermath] Practice Most children are practiced at wearing their masks now they’re back at school (at least part of the time), but they can be reluctant to keep them on. We’ve found jersey ones to be soft and tolerable, while disposable ones are apparently “stink.” A practice run can be helpful. Venue Pick an outdoor venue, so you can relax a little. Playgrounds are obviously fun, but fraught with challenges; all those touchable surfaces and potential crowds. Try picking somewhere a little less obvious and limit the stress. Props Expecting children to pick up where they left off in March 2020 is unrealistic. Making friends is an art that children learn as they grow. Understand that they’re out of practice and may need you to facilitate. Bringing along a game — a soccer ball or drone — can jump-start activities. Limit Having a time limit sets expectations, prevents boredom, and makes it easy to leave without awkwardness. Keep first play dates short and set your kids up for success. You can build up to longer later. Follow-up Have your child send a note or text a picture. I like the Photoshop Express app since I can use an image snapped while out, and the kids can have fun personalizing with stickers. This helps pave the way for an ongoing friendship. Review Ask your child if they enjoyed themselves. What did they like best? What was challenging? Then see what you can address. Perhaps another time of day would work better? Decide together what actionable things you can do to make the next occasion fun for all. Repeat Whether the play date was successful or not, don’t leave it too long before organizing another. If your little one is timid, or needs to enhance their play skills, then it’s important to get out there again. If necessary, find an activity that involves you too, and ease youngsters into the new social scene. It can be daunting for any of us to start meeting up again in-person. We’re following the numbers and reading the reports, feeling optimistic one minute and doubtful the next...then layer on some rusty social skills and think how it feels to be a child. By talking and doing some prep work, then following some simple steps, this can be a more successful experience for our kids, and even an enjoyable experience for us grown-ups, too.
  24. I remember the day my family welcomed Zoomy Zoom (pictured) into our home. We were filled with anxiety, excitement and love. Yes, you heard that right: our Yorkie Terrier’s name is Zoomy Zoom. We brought our pandemic puppy home on a drizzly March 29. Even though I had been researching hypoallergenic dogs for about a year, the first three months of having Zoomy in our lives were still an adjustment. From the vaccine schedule to the poop collecting to the food restrictions, our lives changed under quarantine. The best parts were of course the play and cuddle time with our “furbaby.” We have truly enjoyed our new family member’s rambunctiousness while playing inside and outside of the house. The not-so-fun part was the potty training. In the beginning, it felt like Zoomy and I were battling over who was more stubborn. There were a few moments where I wanted to put a diaper on his furry butt, but at last, I can finally say that we have reached a place of potty harmony. Despite the rare moments of annoyance, it’s been such a joy to have added a pet to our home. [Related: Help your kids capture memories of this strange year] Following are a few items on our checklist whose exploration ensured the smoothest transition possible. Before you commit to getting a pet, be sure to ask yourself these questions first: Do you want an accessory, or a family member? Once the quarantine is lifted, most of us will be less attentive to our new pets. Is that fair to them? It’s important to consider training your pet to be alone for a few hours a week in order to prepare them for more independence in the home when you return to “normal” life. Perhaps hire a dog walker so they can socialize with other pups. Researching boarding facilities for long travel they may not be allowed to experience is another possibility. [Related: To the moms running on fumes, this is how to refill the tank] Can you handle picking up poop and cleaning up urine? This will definitely feel like a repeat of that first year with your human babies. Until your dog is fully trained, be ready to clean...constantly. Can you handle a beloved object being chewed on if it’s left unattended? It happens, so be prepared: Breathe in, breathe out, and hide your valuables! Are you OK with possibly being the main caretaker? As much as my kids stated they wanted a dog to play with and take care of, Zoomy and I are the dynamic duo — indoors and out. Most days I don’t mind, but other days I demand a break from the additional mommy duty. Can you afford the responsibility? If your pet gets sick unexpectedly, pet insurance may not cover it. (Yes, you need pet insurance.) Are you ready to talk about death? Having had several pet-death traumas in my childhood, I thread this topic in with my children every so often so they know that it is a part of life. We do our best to cherish Zoomy while he is with us, rambunctiousness and all.
  25. I remember being pregnant with my daughter (kiddo #1), and having very ambitious plans about what kind of parent I was going to be. Make homemade baby food? Of course! How organic. Sign up for a variety of baby/toddler classes? Yes, swimming and music galore! And screen time? No way! I’m going to be a totally involved, dedicated parent focusing on real-life experiences. Fast-forward slightly to balancing work and life with a kiddo, and in comes the kid-friendly shockproof iPad case so we can start with Sesame Street and Chu Chu TV. At that point, we were still limiting the time to when I’m cooking dinner or taking a quick shower. [Related: I feel no guilt about my kids' screen time] Fast-forward a bit more to introduce kiddo #2, a global pandemic, a lifestyle shutdown, still working and balancing life, and trying not to lose my mind. (Thank you, iPad Screen Time Alert for reminding me how much my daughter’s use increased when that happened. Ugh.) Obviously we are all trying our best just to survive right now. Most kids are at home e-learning, and most parents are balancing working from home with parenting and schooling at the same time. Times are not easy. So what is the right call these days? The American Academy of Pediatrics — which, depending on the child’s age, generally recommends no or very limited screen time for kids — has recognized that kids’ media use will likely increase under these stressful circumstances. (See the AAP’s article on HealthyChildren.org’s COVID-19 link.) Among their recommendations are: Keep a routine Use screen time for positive, social connections Choose quality content Use media together Recommended screen times are definitely fluctuating now, too. Obviously if you have a middle-schooler who needs to virtually attend classes, their necessary daily screen time is likely more than a toddler’s. But the recommendations for keeping media use useful and also balanced can be broadly applied across different ages. Our family’s pandemic pendulum is more or less in a balanced state, and thankfully it seems to follow the AAP’s suggestions. Here’s what it took to get us there: Routine and schedule When the lockdown started and we were going bonkers trying to figure things out, screen time was whenever I felt stressed or didn’t know what else to do. But it felt panicked, disorganized, and lazy to consistently use it that way. So we wrote up a schedule and had very specific times on when screen time was allowed. It’s still very useful when I need to focus on cooking dinner. Positivity and socializing We have all been Zooming and FaceTiming more, and when my daughter started asking to call her friends, it was a great way for her to feel like she had some control over her own socialization. Bonus: Watching two 4-year-olds have an in-depth conversation about how much they like mac & cheese is pretty cute. [Related: For young kids, technology should be like ice cream: a sometimes food] Quality content This is really important to me. I’m pretty strict about being on YouTube. Kids can go down some weird wormholes watching videos of other kids eating gross food or strange adult hands playing with kids’ toys. We like Numberblocks and Cosmic Kids, videos of kids building with engineering-related materials. We also have total veg-out options, of course, like Disney+ movies on Friday nights and Saturday-morning cartoons. Togetherness Sometimes I sit with my daughter to chat with her about what she’s watching. Hearing her tell me about how multiplication works or how she is calming her yogi energy makes me feel reconnected with her, and allows her to process the information she’s absorbing and explain it in her own words. Not in AAP’s guide, but equally important: Forgive yourself As parents, we are often our own worst critics. There are times when I’ll need to jump on my computer when I’m wearing my Mom Hat and we are supposed to be having a no-iPad lunch. Guess what? Sometimes the schedule changes, and my daughter gets a bonus movie-with-PB&J time. Don’t feel guilty if it happens. Structuring your kids’ screen time within this framework can help you achieve a more successful balance in these crazy times. Using media as a limited tool — or an emergency helper! — is very normal. You know that you have some time to focus on your own tasks while your kids’ brains aren’t turning into mush. And a no-mush brain is always a win for a parent!

Privacy Policy Membership Terms

© 2024 Neighborhood Parents Network of Chicago

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Thank you for visiting our site. Browsing this site is an acceptance of our We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. and Terms of Use.