Author Archives: Dana

About Dana

Dana Rosenbloom has a master’s degree in Infant and Parent Development and Early Intervention and has been working with children and families for over 10 years. She is the founder of Dana’s Kids which provides 1:1 parent education, play and behavior therapy, special education services, parent workshops and support groups, and professional development. Find out more at www.DanasKids.com

What Should You Look For In Parent Support Groups?

Support groups can be an incredible aid to parents.  Whether you are a parent of a toddler, coping with elementary school issues, dealing with a testing teenager or are managing the challenges and successes of having a child with special needs, knowing there are others out there like yourself can be reassuring and empowering.  Finding a support group that is the right fit and encompasses specific characteristics, can ensure a rewarding experience that you’ll want to repeat.

parent support groups

What to look for in Parent Support Groups

First and foremost, choosing a support groups made up of people with whom you have something in common in essential.  More often than not, a parents’ biggest complaint about a support group is that too much time is spent covering topics that are irrelevant to that parent.  By choosing a group with parents of other children in the same age range, or those that are having trouble with the same issue, live in the same neighborhood, or attend the same school, you’ll spend more time discussing subjects that will be helpful to you.  A parent should also consider who is facilitating the group.  Having a therapist or facilitator who is familiar, and experienced, with the age group or topic that brought the group together, directly affects the groups’ success.

When choosing a group, you should consider whether you would feel more comfortable in a group of friends or strangers.  This is very a personal decision.  Some parents feel more comfortable talking to a group of people who do not know their child or the specifics of their life situation.  For others, talking with parents who know their child, and might give information about their interactions with your son or daughter, can be insightful.  For some, knowing that the people they see day to day, have the same concerns and stresses, and are there to share in their successes, can make participation in a support group all the more worthwhile.

Confidentiality is essential in a support group.  When a group is formed, the first session should begin with a few guidelines including the fact that information that is shared, that is specific to a family or child, must remain confidential.  What happens in support group stays in support group!  Mutual confidentiality gives participants a sense of security that encourages openness, compassion and empathy.  It gives parents permission to be vulnerable.  When support groups create safe spaces for parents, they leave feeling connected, understood, and in the best groups, educated and empowered.

Successful support groups have an agenda that is specific to the parents involved.  Often, support groups begin with each parent sharing updates, current challenges and recent successes.  Sometimes groups follow up on prior sessions.  When discussing issues, other parents are given the opportunity to offer suggestions that have worked for them and the facilitator offers tips they have seen be effective in their own experiences with children and families.  Typically, the therapist facilitating the group will come prepared with a topic that is relevant to the group.  In some sessions there will be no time to cover the theme brought by the facilitator and in other sessions, this may be the subject matter that drives the groups’ discussion.

Support groups are not appropriate for all parents.  In some situations, having a private session with a therapist will be more effective in dealing with a concern about your child’s development or an issue in your parenting or family.  Whichever format you choose, support from a therapist and your peers can be invaluable.  In support groups, you take away as much as you put in.  Those who share honestly, listen intently, and support others, will receive the same.

Check out all the support groups at Kidz Central Station where you can search by support group’s location, type (new moms, first time moms, second time moms, etc.) and day and time and directly enroll.

Helping Your Child, And Yourself, Through A Tantrum

toddler tantrum

Tantruming is not new to childhood but it seems that every day an expert has a new way to end your child’s tantrums. I say stick with the tried and true…

Before your child tantrums, think about what sets them off.  Why does he or she tantrum?  Think about where your child is developmentally.  Is your 3 year old having a tantrum because you won’t give him something he wants?  Is your 19 month old tantruming because she’s lost control of herself?

When a toddler has a tantrum it is often because they are melting down, tired, or hungry.  Whatever the cause, a toddler does not have the tools to calm their bodies and regain control on their own.  They need you.  At this age I recommend that you sit on the floor next your child, tell them you see they are having a hard time and that you are going to help them calm down.  Some like to be held, others do not want to be touched.  You can ask your child what they prefer, or just try what you think might work and see what happens.  To be clear, this doesn’t mean to give in if the child is demanding something, it just means that you are giving your child what they need.  Something, at that moment, that a toddler can not do for themselves.

As your child gets older, think about their temperament and try these techniques:

Reflect your child’s emotions.   Bend down so that you are level with their eyes.  Try saying, “You are so mad (fill in the emotions) right now.  I know you really wanted that 5th scoop of ice cream but you may not have it.  I understand that makes you feel angry and sad.”  Then move on.  Give your child a choice, should we play with blocks next or take out the crayons.

Give positive alternatives.  Explain to your child that banging that block on his infant brother’s head is not a choice, but he can bang the block on another block, or play the drums if he feels like banging.  Remind your child that banging on another person’s body is not safe.  Ask, “where do you think is a safe place to bang?”

Keep it light.  Use a little humor to diffuse the situation.  When your child is begging you not to go out to dinner, remind them that you have to come home to sleep in your bed.  Ask them “Can grown-ups sleep in a restaurant?  A car?  On the table?  No! How silly!  Grown-ups have to come home to sleep in their beds.”  We even use this idea during the separation process at school.  When your child is having one of those delightful moaning tantrums, reflect their feelings and be silly.   ”You are so mad, I wonder if you can stamp your feet as loud as I can.”

Ignore it.  There are times when a child begins to have a tantrum, that the best thing you can do is simply ignore it.  Check in to be sure your child is safe, but keep yourself out of the tantrum.  If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there to see it…

Remove them from the situation.  This idea can be interpreted in two ways.  For some children, having a conversation with their grown-up while being distracted by the item they want, the child who has it, or something else that is happening in the environment, is just too much.  For these children, removing them from the situation can mean going into the next room to work through the tantrum in a quieter place.  That being said, sometimes there is no other option than to remove your child from the situation entirely.  If your child has gone past the point of no return, leaving will often give them the opportunity calm their bodies in a less stimulating environment and help them understand that their behavior is unacceptable.

Deciding how to deal with tantrums has a lot to do with your child’s temperament.  I say this often: Parents know their children best.  Think about your child and the way they handle different situations.  Children give us a lot of information every day, from whether they need to be prepared for something new a week before or an hour before, to how to handle their tantrums.  When a tantrum begins, assess the situation, decide on a technique, and set the limit.  Do not tolerate unacceptable behavior.  The consistency in your reactions to tantrums, as with any other behavior, will help your children develop their ability to regulate their own emotions and behaviors.  You can do this!

More questions?  Not sure how to make this work for your child? Or feel overwhelmed by the idea of trying?  Reach out!  Dana@DanasKids.com


Dana Rosenbloom has a master’s degree in Infant and Parent Development and Early Intervention and has been working with children and families for over 10 years. Dana’s Kids provides 1:1 parent education, play and behavior therapy, special education services, parent workshops and support groups, and professional development. To learn more about Dana and Dana’s Kids please visit  www.DanasKids.com.  You can also follow Dana on Facebook:www.facebook.com/DanasKids and Twitter: Danaskids

Dana’s Kids 

empowered parents, happy families.

 

 

Teaching Picky Eaters Positive Food Behaviors: Part 2

child wont eatIn the Part 1 of this series we covered the first 5 tips to help parents teach their children to have different attitudes towards food and subsequently, open their minds to an expanded variety.  I hope they were helpful!  In this post we’ll cover the next 5 tips to turn, what can be a frustrating experience, into a time that’s enjoyable for the whole family.

Just to review:  First things first, I’m not a doctor.  If you have concerns about your child’s nutritional intake, you should always check in with your pediatrician.  Make sure they are pleased with your child’s height and weight, and go from there.  Understand that young children have different nutritional needs than adults.  They are full of energy with little bellies.  What, how much, and when we feed them, should look different than what we feed ourselves.  Over the years I have found that multiple small meals works well for young children.  You can Google information regarding specific food suggestions and nutritional requirements to meet a young child’s needs.

Your next 5 tips:

6. Snack Wisely: Snacks during the day can be a part of the multiple, small meal setup for young children.  Offer fresh fruit or a ¼ of a sandwich.  It takes a little planning, but on-the-go snacks don’t have to be carb-only.  Try to be aware of frequently offering your child snacks during down time (rides in the stroller, waiting for a turn on the swings, etc.).  If you child is snacking all the time, they aren’t going to want to eat at meals.

7. Explain Your Pouches: If you’re using food in pouches (“Because it’s the only way they’ll eat a vegetable!”), talk about what’s in the pouch.  The same goes for sneaking spinach, or any other food, into sauce, pasta, nuggets, etc., it works for the moment, but it’s not taking advantage of the teachable moment.  We want children to be aware of the variety of things they eat and enjoy, and the foods that they may want to try going forward.

8. Acknowledge Preferences: We all have favorite flavors and textures, including our young children.  This is an opportunity to help your child think about what it is about particular foods that they like and feel attracted to.  Focus on the positives.  When adding new foods, use this information.  Start with something familiar, but different.  If you child likes strawberries, you might add strawberry jam.  Combine that with the cream cheese they already like, and you’ve got a new sandwich option.

9. Offer Variety: At each of the major meals, offer 2 familiar foods and 1 new one.  If doing this for 3 meals sounds overwhelming, start with one, but remember that consistency helps shape behavior.  Rotate through their familiar foods.  You don’t need to offer a large amount of the new food…just enough for a taste.  If they want more, they’ll let you know!  Now here’s the tricky part: don’t insist they eat it.  For some children leaving a new food on the plate, smelling it, touching it, licking it, and talking about it are huge successes themselves.  Remember, we are not trying to force them to eat new foods; we are trying to help them have positive behaviors around food.

10. Back Off: Once the plate is in front of them, let them eat.  In whichever order, foods in any shape of recognition, or lack there of.  If you hover or insist, your child is likely to become more resistant.  That type of behavior also sets them up to be stubborn right off the bat at the next meal, rather than keeping them open to the possibilities of trying and liking something different.  Children at this age like to feel a certain amount of autonomy.  Use this time to talk and connect! This is a good time for some of that conversation about how food benefits their body and recognition of flavors, colors, shapes and textures: salty, sweet, yellow like the sun, crunchy, etc.  But it’s also a great time to talk about things besides food: their day, their thoughts, and your plans for later or tomorrow.  Be social at the table but not a nag.  How would you like it if someone did that to you?

BONUS: (Because it bears repeating) Be Patient And Positive: Change takes time.  You are teaching your child to have a new attitude towards food.  This is exciting!  Once you’ve taken the battle out of it, made it seem intriguing, an opportunity to be grown up and make some choices, they will want to try new foods.

Remember having a young child who is a picky eater is not unusual.  But battling with a young child over food can lead to bigger issues.  So check in with the doctor to make sure your child is on his or her appropriate growth curve and whether a multivitamin would be beneficial.  Concentrate on new behaviors surrounding food rather than focusing on eating more in quantity and variety.  You can both do this!

Have more questions or want support with changing your child’s behaviors around food, get in touch! Dana@DanasKids.com

Dana Rosenbloom has a master’s degree in Infant and Parent Development and Early Intervention and has been working with children and families for over 10 years. Dana’s Kids provides 1:1 parent education, play and behavior therapy, special education services, parent workshops and support groups, and professional development. To learn more about Dana and Dana’s Kids please visit www.DanasKids.com.  You can also follow Dana on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DanasKids and Twitter: Danaskids

Dana’s Kids

empowered parents, happy families.

 

 

Teaching Picky Eaters Positive Food Behaviors: Part 1

frustrated mom cartoonI’m not sure there is a parent of a toddler or preschooler out there who hasn’t, at one time or another, lamented the lack of variety in their child’s diet.  Whether you’ve got a carbo-loader, a chicken nugget king, or a sweets specialist, mealtime can be frustrating.  My approach to the situation starts the same way I approach many other behaviors in young children…find the teachable moment.  Mealtime, or snack time, can be an opportunity to change your child’s attitude towards and behavior around, food.

First things first, I’m not a doctor.  If you have concerns about your child’s nutritional intake, you should always check in with your pediatrician.  Make sure they are pleased with your child’s height and weight, and go from there.  Understand that young children have different nutritional needs than adults.  They are full of energy with little bellies.  What, how much, and when we feed them, should look different than what we feed ourselves.  Over the years I have found that multiple small meals works well for young children.  You can Google information regarding specific food suggestions and nutritional requirements to meet a young child’s needs.

But let’s go back to the behaviors you’re noticing: whining about new foods, requests for familiar foods, outright refusal to eat what you’ve made.  Sound familiar?  We’ll be covering this topic in a two-part series.  Here are the first 5 tips to help you teach your child to have a different attitude towards food and subsequently, open their minds to an expanded variety.

1. Model The Behavior: What do you eat?  How do you talk about food?  When you eat with your child (even if it’s a snack while they eat a meal) and talk about trying new foods, you model for your child the “goal” behavior. They see it as something positive, that the most important people in their lives do.  Talk about trying new things, what you like and what you aren’t so sure about.  Mention when you feel hungry and full, and how you make your food choices.

2. Get Them Involved: Choosing, cooking, and preparing food together is another way to help your young child feel comfortable with a variety of foods.  You don’t have to be a master chef to help your child spread his or her own jelly.  Getting involved makes eating more exciting and children tend to be more willing to try foods they’ve helped to create.  There are lots of special, safe, knives, spoons, and kitchen tools on the market made just for kids.

3. Talk About Their Bodies: Depending on your young child’s age, you can talk and read stories about, how food helps our bodies.  Growing muscles; higher jumps; stronger eyes; brain power!  Children love to feel they have important jobs and roles in the world.  Having a safe, strong body is one of those.

4. Make It Look Good: Along the same lines as #2, we all eat with our eyes first!  Take an extra moment to make sure the food on your child’s plate, and your own, looks enticing.  Cut triangles and squares, offer small bowls for dipping options (ketchup, hummus, yogurt sauce); place those raisin ants on that celery log.

5. Be Patient And Positive: Change takes time.  You are teaching your child to have a new attitude towards food.  This is exciting!  Once you’ve taken the battle out of it, made it seem intriguing, an opportunity to be grown up and make some choices, they will want to try new foods.

Remember having a young child who is a picky eater is not unusual.  But battling with a young child over food can lead to bigger issues.  So check in with the doctor to make sure your child is on his or her appropriate growth curve and whether a multivitamin would be beneficial.  Concentrate on new behaviors surrounding food rather than focusing on eating more in quantity and variety.  You can both do this!

Have more questions or want support with changing your child’s behaviors around food, get in touch! Dana@DanasKids.com

Dana Rosenbloom has a master’s degree in Infant and Parent Development and Early Intervention and has been working with children and families for over 10 years. Dana’s Kids provides 1:1 parent education, play and behavior therapy, special education services, parent workshops and support groups, and professional development. To learn more about Dana and Dana’s Kids please visit www.DanasKids.com.  You can also follow Dana on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DanasKids and Twitter: DanasKids

Dana’s Kids

empowered parents, happy families.