Tag Archives: Parenting

Holiday Hothead? Tips for Preventing and Managing Your Child’s Holiday Behavior Problems

holiday-upset

It can be the most wonderful time of the year! It can also be a stressful time for parents who worry about how their child will behave at events with family and friends. The hustle and bustle of the season, changes to daily routines, parties, and gifts can contribute to parent-child conflict and meltdowns. The following tips will help you prevent problems and keep the season festive for all.

Anticipate potential problems
Different aspects of the season will be challenging for different children. Take a few minutes to think what parts may be hard for your child. For instance, will your child have trouble playing nicely with the children of relatives and family friends? Do you worry that your child may have tantrums or show disrespect if disappointed about a gift, or test the limits and try to get away with more than what is allowed at home? Problems during holiday travel are also common.

Set up for success
—Playing nicely with others: If your child tends to have trouble playing with others during less structured times, consider planning activities for an event you are hosting, such as cookie decorating, holiday coloring projects, holiday movies, and other games. Try to limit less-structured times if possible. If you are visiting instead of hosting, see if you can bring some activities for all of the children or ones your child can do independently such as stories, paper snowflakes, and coloring books.
—Avoiding meltdowns over gifts: Talk to your child in advance about the reason behind gift giving and the need to be polite to everyone who gives them a gift. Let them know it’s okay to be disappointed, but they still need to show respect. Get them involved in the giving process by picking out gifts for family and friends or donating toys for children less fortunate. Role play situations that may come up, like getting a hand knit sweater instead of that new video game they’ve been wanting.
—Travel tips: If your plans include a lot of travel, consider scheduling it during your child’s nap or at night so they can sleep. You can also bring snacks and toys, sing holiday songs, play games like 20 Questions, and consider using electronics, especially if you have a long flight or drive.
—Testing limits: Decide if it’s realistic and appropriate to use any punishment strategies. Knowing in advance if you will take away privileges or use a timeout will help you avoid making threats that only serve to frustrate you and your child when you cannot follow through.
—Scheduling: For any child who struggles to manage their behavior and emotions, longer days and events will test their resources to keep it together. Consider shortening visits and even saying no to some invites if the day is going to be too action-packed. It’s better to have shorter, more pleasant get-togethers than one that ends in an epic meltdown. If shortening a visit is not an option, see if there is a quieter place in the home for your child to take a couple breaks.
—Have a “worst case scenario” plan: This could be pulling your child aside for a break, having them stay with you if they are having trouble getting along with other children, or even leaving early if you are visiting. Make sure that you are comfortable following through with anything on the plan. Knowing the specific plan will help you feel most prepared.

Review expectations ahead of time
Based on the anticipated problems, let your child know exactly what you expect during holiday visits. Avoid vague expectations such as “Behave” and instead state clearly what behavior you want to see, like “Listen to me,” or “Share toys with other children.” Try to use positive language. Tell your child, “Say thank you for gifts even if it’s not what you were hoping for,” instead of “Don’t be rude.” Choose your battles carefully to focus on the most important goals–which can mean letting go of some limits you normally place. For example, it may not be critical to limit your child to one treat, especially if other children will likely have more and it will be hard for you to fully monitor while spending time with relatives.

During get-togethers
Instead of waiting for the end of a party, try giving frequent spontaneous feedback when you see your child following set expectations to build positive momentum. Make statements such as, “I’m so proud of you for playing nicely,” or “You did a great job being polite to thank grandma for the mittens and hat.” If you start noticing problems, stay as calm as possible (which will help your child stay calm) and use your “worst case scenario” plan. You may feel like other friends and relatives are judging your parenting. Try to remember that every parent has dealt with outbursts and problematic behavior at one point or another; some may just have trouble remembering or feel like they have to share their behavior management tip at an inopportune time.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Stephanie Wagner, Ph.D., is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. She specializes in behavioral treatments for sleep as well as providing psychosocial interventions, including parent training, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and school consultation to parents and teachers of children with ADHD and disruptive behavior disorders. She is also the co-director of Early Childhood Service at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center.

Music Matters: Benefits of Music for Young Children


By Pam Wolf, Founder & CEO, NY Kids Club

I became pregnant with my first child in 1991, the year the “Mozart effect” sent millions of ambitious parents running to CD stores. The theory was coined by psychologist Frances Rauscher, who claimed that listening to classical music boosts a child’s brainpower. As a mother-to-be I joined the cult following, holding headphones with twinkling and melodious sonatas to my belly.

Now, the question is: Did it work? Did Mozart make my daughter smarter? While studies since have shown mixed results on Wolfgang Mozart’s particular brain-enhancing qualities, the link between music and childhood development is indisputable.

According to Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, a child’s musical intelligence is of equal importance to their logical and bodily intelligence. Gardner states that engaging with music and sound play heightens a child’s day-to-day cerebral abilities such as language, numerical skills, memory, attention, and problem-solving.

Since babies and toddlers perceive the world around them through colors, shapes, and sounds, Gardner’s theory on music intelligence holds significant truths. Think back to being taught that blaring sirens warn of emergency, a dog goes “woof”, and a doorbell ringing signals an arrival. Music and sounds are a relatable medium from which a child can recognize rhythmic patterns, melodies, and the diversity of instruments—skills that set the foundation for everyday activity and elevated brain functioning.

A further study at Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience laboratory concluded that music particularly enhances speech and communication. The study found that the level of precision used in processing music (discerning, pitch, key, and instruments), is even higher than that of processing speech. Therefore, musical studies can lead to earlier literacy and the ability to communicate at an earlier age, whether that be through language, body signals, or sounds.

I used music as a means of communicating emotion with my children. With my baby in my arms, I would dance around the living room to The Beatles to convey upbeat happiness, a Bob Dylan ballad to communicate sadness, or a James Taylor tune to evoke contentment. These were unique moments with my children where we could connect emotionally on a non-verbal level. As my children grew older I encouraged them to make their own music on pots and pans, produce at-home renditions of Les Miserables, or have a dance party with friends. They used music as a means of expression.

I built NY Kid’s Club from the experiences I had with my own children. Since music was an integral part of my parenting method, I infused NY Kid’s Club curriculum with dance and sounds. In our Musical Tots and Musical Kids classes, a professional guitarist and talented singer introduce children to jazz, rock and roll, nursery rhymes, and sing-alongs, for example.

Take every opportunity to introduce your child to music early in life. It not only contributes to future success—it makes for a more joyful journey.

From the Enrichment Experts at NY Kids Club:

Pamela Wolf founded the NY Kids Club and NY Preschool in September of 2001, which have grown to become the premiere enrichment centers for children two months to12 years. Ms. Wolf has been recognized as a Business Mentor of the Year, Best Entrepreneur, and one of the top female entrepreneurs of the year by Entrepreneur magazine. Ms. Wolf’s extensive business background and simultaneous experience as a mother of four have allowed the NY Kids Club to successfully expand to sixteen locations in New York and twelve in China. The company received INC 500/5000 list recognition in 2014. Of the several successful businesses Pamela Wolf has owned in New York, she is most proud of the NY Kids Club.

Welcome to Summer: Tips for Choosing the Right Summer Day Camp for Your Child

NYC kids summer day camp

By Pam Wolf, Founder & CEO, NY Kids Club

A summer day camp can be the perfect opportunity for children to discover a new passion, dig deeper into an existing one, and, most importantly, learn resilience and independence in a new setting away from their parents. Families that find a good match often have children who want to return year after year.

When you begin the work of researching and selecting a day camp for your child, you will find the pool of options to be both wide and deep. By asking the right questions and looking for certain qualifications, the process does not have to be strenuous. If you’re looking for a day camp for the first time, consider these 5 factors:

A focus.
Always start with your child. What are his interests? What is she drawn to? Most day camps have a specialty or focus, whether it’s gymnastics, arts, a sport, music, or STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Many specialty camps have limited availability, so be sure to call the camps your child might be interested in to ask when enrollment begins and how many spots are available.

A philosophy.
The whole point of sending your children to a day camp or any other summer enrichment program is to expose them to activities and experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. If you’re eyeing a particular camp, read up on its mission and values (i.e., fostering independence by providing campers with choices). Decide if its philosophy is reflected in its activities.

The staff.
For obvious reasons, this is an important point to assess fully. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk with the directors of a few camps before you make your final decision. Good camps are expecting to hear from parents, and are happy to answer all of your questions.One of your first inquiries should be about the training their staff receives on counseling, safety and supervision. You also have the right to know the staff’s qualifications (for example, a camp that specializes in teaching gymnastics should have instructors with a strong background in that area) and whether or not camp staff are background-checked or require references before they are hired. In the case of indoor camps, it is also important to ask if the camp is being held in a space licensed by the Department of Health.Here are some other questions you may want to ask the staff before you make your choice:

• What is the counselor-to-student ratio?
• What is your communication plan? Who will contact me if my child gets sick or has a problem?
• Is your staff mindful about how the students are getting along, and will they place certain students with each other to ensure everyone has a positive experience?
• What does a typical daily schedule look like?
• Are children with the same counselor all day, or do they switch between activities? How closely are they supervised?
• Is an open house or camp kickoff event offered before camp starts?

Food service.
Is lunch served, or are campers expected to bring their own lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided? Does the camp acknowledge the needs of children with food allergies?

References.
Check out camp reviews and testimonials online. If you have any concerns, ask if you can speak directly to a parent who has sent his/her child to the camp in the past.

If you do your homework, you’ll likely find an excellent fit for your child. Best of luck finding an environment that will enhance your child’s summer!

Learn more about NY Kids Club summer camps for children ages 2 ½ – 8 years here.

From the Enrichment Experts at NY Kids Club:

Pamela Wolf founded the NY Kids Club and NY Preschool in September of 2001, which have grown to become the premiere enrichment centers for children two months to12 years. Ms. Wolf has been recognized as a Business Mentor of the Year, Best Entrepreneur, and one of the top female entrepreneurs of the year by Entrepreneur magazine. Ms. Wolf’s extensive business background and simultaneous experience as a mother of four have allowed the NY Kids Club to successfully expand to sixteen locations in New York and twelve in China. The company received INC 500/5000 list recognition in 2014. Of the several successful businesses Pamela Wolf has owned in New York, she is most proud of the NY Kids Club.

An Important Milestone: Reading Proficiency in the Third Grade

Kumon_GroupBy: The Kumon Team

Reading proficiently by the end of third grade is considered one of the most important benchmarks in a student’s academic journey. Students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade start falling behind in their knowledge and comprehension across all subjects. This effect “snowballs” as these students often fall further behind each year.

This is significant because the national average percentage of public school students reading proficiently in the beginning of fourth grade was only 34% in 2013. The other 66% of students are considered basic readers, and are four times more likely to drop out of high school. This finding comes from research conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which linked factors in students who drop out of high school. Many states have cited this report when making changes to their educational policies.

The Kumon Reading Program strengthens students’ reading abilities by building many essential literacy components such as vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension. It’s important for students to read often and be exposed to a variety of genres to maintain reading proficiency throughout school. Getting into good study habits and developing strong reading skills as early as possible sets an important foundation for school success. Studying ahead of grade level enables Kumon students to read proficiently and be confident in their reading abilities.

Interested in Kumon’s reading program? Check out all available NYC programs and locations here!

How to Help Kids with Chronic Hoarseness


“My five-year-old son constantly loses his voice, and has sounded hoarse for a long time. His teacher has a hard time hearing him and I’m concerned something is physically wrong. What should I do?”

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Chronic hoarseness is the most common voice problem in children. Unlike short-lived hoarseness typically caused by upper respiratory viral infections, chronic hoarseness can persist for months or even years if not treated. This can lead to communication difficulties in the classroom, on the playground, or in other noisy environments.

Why Some Kids Get Chronically Hoarse

Some children are hoarse from birth because of how their vocal cords developed. But most chronic hoarseness is caused by overuse or misuse of the voice.

Kids who are naturally loud or scream and yell a lot may incur injury of the vocal cords, the bands of tissue that vibrate to make sound. Speaking with injured vocal cords takes extra effort, and rather than resting their voices, kids typically get even louder. This sets off a repetitive cycle of increasing injury and pushing the voice, eventually causing bumps—also called nodules—to develop on the vocal cords, producing chronic hoarseness.

If your youngster experiences long-term hoarseness or has been hoarse longer than two or three weeks after getting over a respiratory infection, it’s time for an evaluation. Your pediatrician can refer you to a specialist to find the underlying cause and recommend the best course of treatment.

How It Is Diagnosed

Diagnosis involves laryngoscopy, a simple, 30-second procedure that allows inspection of the vocal cords. Older kids and those young enough to be held by a parent usually undergo laryngoscopy at the specialist’s office. After applying a topical anesthetic inside the nose, the doctor will insert a thin tube with a tiny camera through the child’s nose, down into the throat. Children between the ages of about four and seven may struggle and need to have it done in the operating room under anesthesia.

The most common finding is nodules, related to injury and chronic non-healing wounds of the vocal cords. Sometimes cysts or polyps are found, which are more advanced types of growths caused by overuse of the voice. Occasionally, examination will reveal papillomas, or warts, which generally occur in younger children and are usually related to a viral infection acquired in the birth canal.

Treatments for Chronic Hoarseness

Voice therapy. Most kids, particularly those with nodules, can be treated with voice therapy, where a voice therapist trains them how to speak and use their voices more efficiently. This might include teaching how air pressure affects the vocal cords, how to control the energy they put into their voices, and exercises to practice less abusive vocal behaviors.

Medication. In addition to voice therapy, some kids need steroid medication to calm down the bumps.

Voice rest. Your doctor might also recommend the child not talk for a period, but that may be difficult for younger children.

Surgery. Therapy alone may not be enough to treat cysts and polyps, which often must be removed surgically in an outpatient procedure. Papillomas typically require surgery as well. Pain is minimal and kids are generally up and active later in the day. It usually takes a couple of weeks for the voice to recover, so if surgery is performed during the academic year, children will have to miss some school to allow their voices to rest. It may be more practical for them to undergo surgery during summer break to minimize overusing their voices during recovery.

Temporary hoarseness is nothing to worry about, but don’t ignore longstanding hoarseness. Evaluation and treatment are essential for healing your child’s voice and improving his or her ability to communicate with the world.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Milan R. Amin, MD, is Director of NYU Langone’s Voice Center, specializing in the treatment of vocal cord problems, voice disorders, and swallowing and airway concerns. He is chief of the Division of Laryngology at NYU Langone, as well as president of the New York Laryngological Society.

Why Reading Aloud to Children from Birth is SO Important

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Reading aloud to children is a critical part of the learning process, one that will help them develop the vocabulary and skills necessary to read on their own. In fact, a recent New York Times article discussed the announcement of a new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which stresses the importance of read-aloud time for infants and their parents. The AAP now urges parents to read aloud to their children from infancy to help build the pre-literacy skills needed for preschool and kindergarten. Studies have shown that children who have developed these pre-literacy skills tend to have larger vocabularies than students without them. Similarly, students with advanced pre-literacy skills perform better academically once they enter elementary school.

The new policy encourages reading, as well as talking and singing, to help increase the number of words children hear during their first few years. The article also suggests that reading should be a fun, daily family activity from infancy on.

While this new policy by the AAP is a recent development, the importance of early childhood education and the development of pre-literacy skills is a crucial concept that has been ingrained within the Kumon Program and the teachings of Toru Kumon. Toru Kumon promoted this idea of reading and developing pre-literacy skills at an early age with the phrase “reading before the age of three.”

In an essay written by Toru Kumon it states, “Children can easily learn to read before the age of three if you have children listen to songs and read to them.” Through the memorization of songs, children can increase their vocabularies and develop the ability to learn by heart, which in turn helps form the basis for self-learning. By exposing children to songs and books at an early age, parents can provide them with opportunities to build their familiarity with reading and help increase their vocabularies. In doing so, children also develop their abilities to think actively while listening to stories and picture the scenes described. By singing songs to your children and reading aloud to them, you can help strengthen their pre-literacy skills and prepare them for their academic futures.

Safety First: Teaching Safety Skills to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Child holding father's hand
If you have a child with autism, you know that safety skills are a primary concern. Your child can encounter situations every day—like crossing the street—that might pose a risk, or they might engage in dangerous behaviors such as wandering. It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to teaching your children best practices to avoid or how to respond to unsafe situations, but the strategies below can be applied to many common safety concerns that arise. Think about applying these steps to the scenario of your child getting lost in a store.

1. Assess: What is the safety issue? What does your child know about the situation?
Your child tends to wander or get separated when you’re shopping in a large store and you want to create a plan for what to do in that situation. Right now he doesn’t know who to seek help from or what information to give him if he gets separated from you.

2. Plan: Create a strategy for dealing with the safety issue at hand if and when it occurs.
In case of separation, make sure your child knows his full name, parents’ names, home address, and telephone number. If your child has very limited language abilities, he should have an ID card or bracelet with him at all times. If he gets lost in a store, he should go to the person or people you have indicated are safe to go to for help—e.g. police or security.

3. Teach a plan: Talk to your child about how she should behave in the situation.
Speak to your child about what might happen if she gets separated from you at the store. Explain how to respond when people call her name and to listen for an announcement on the loudspeaker. Also make sure she knows who to ask for help and to stay in one place if she can’t find help. Many children with autism respond well to having concrete rules and steps to follow.

4. Model appropriate skills: Demonstrate skills or activities in action using social stories, pictures, videos, and other helpful teaching tools.
Show him pictures online of the types of people he should ask for help (e.g. police, firemen, security). You can demonstrate the steps for him at home: pretend you are a lost child and go through the steps. You can also find videos online that demonstrate what to do when lost in a store.

5. Practice: Practice putting your child in the situation—in a safe, controlled environment—and allow her to practice the new skills in many different natural settings.
When you’re at a store, have your child point out people who could be helpers. Have her repeat what she would say to someone if lost, such as “I can’t find my mom, can you help me?” Then set up a realistic drill. Give the security guard at a store you’re familiar with a heads up that you’ll be practicing. Stay within earshot of your child—but not with her—and have her go through the steps you’ve explained. Generalization doesn’t occur easily, so repeat in a variety of settings with different kinds of helpers to ensure she can demonstrate her skills in unfamiliar situations.

Reward/give feedback: Praise and reward your child when he gets the skill right. You can gradually phase out the reward system as the skill becomes well-learned.
Tell your child how well he followed the steps of your plan, provide additional teaching where necessary, and reward attempts at learning new safety skills.

The most important step is to practice, practice, practice! Not only will it help your child stay safe, but it will help your peace of mind to know he has the skills to manage the situation.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Rebecca Doggett, Ph.D. is a clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

A Love Song For the Ages: Science Confirms Power of Music for Bonding With Babies

f229646b-84aa-4287-876d-b516101f5cd7-oBy Renee Bock

Sometimes science confirms what we know already on a gut level, a truth that we live by every day. I’ve been singing with young children for over a decade. Babies, three year olds, five year olds. They come to me as strangers and immediately connect through song. I don’t yet know their names, but they relax, they trust me, they are present as a group.

This week, scientists at Oxford University revealed that singing bonds people together more quickly than anything else. Over seven months, researchers studied the adult relationships forged in singing groups vs. creative writing or craft making experiences. They found that music makes people feel closer to each other faster and has tremendous power as an “ice breaker” between strangers.

Scientists have long debated the evolutionary value of music to humans. What contribution does singing make to our survival as a species? It doesn’t help with reproduction or self-defense. Is it nothing more than “auditory cheesecake” as cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker asserts?

Here we begin to carve out an answer, one that reminds us as parents, teachers, and caregivers, that singing is an incredible tool for bonding with children from birth, creating deep attachments and expressing love even before spoken language emerges.

Yes, classes in creative writing and craft making brought people together. Adult students shared stories, learned about each other lives, and relationships evolved as familiarity blossomed. Not so with music. When people sang together, they didn’t need time or stories, they just felt connected. Imagine what this means for tribes in early human history, large groups newly interacting, needing to forge immediate ties to find food, build shelter or fight enemies. They’d skip a lot of steps if singing inspired immediate affinity. Congruence, alignment, agreement, harmony, synchronization—the building of social networks. We don’t need to speak the same language to be a force, a community that moves and acts. Perhaps this is why religion is so often accompanied by song, and why we make music as we go into battle. Certainly this is why throughout human history we continued to sing and enjoy singing today.

As someone who sings with babies, this study feels like old but welcome news. We’ve known for a long time that singing generates good feeling, aligns our heart rhythms and produces endorphins. Singing changes our brains and makes us happy. Now we know that singing provides immediate glue between strangers. Babies, who can’t yet talk, share stories of their lives, communicate feelings in words, can bond immediately through music. It’s part of being human. Way more than “auditory cheesecake,” a dessert or afterthought of human evolution. Singing is elemental.

For those parents or caregivers who feel they can’t sing or who simply get embarrassed, the Oxford study reminds us to put those feelings aside and jump right into singing with children to deepen our relationship right away. Your special face, your special smell, and now your special song, will let them know that you are their special someone. The impact will be immediate, a love song for the ages.

Renee Bock is the chief academic officer at Explore+Discover, a social learning center in Manhattan. She has a master’s in early childhood education and more than a decade of experience in the field.

Resources:
1) http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/2/10/150221
2) http://mic.com/articles/127865/new-study-finds-singing-brings-people-together-better-than-anything-else
3) http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/
4) https://theconversation.com/how-music-helps-resolve-our-deepest-inner-conflicts-38531
5) http://mic.com/articles/124457/science-shows-how-singers-brains-are-different-from-everyone-else-s
6) http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00334/abstract
7) http://mic.com/articles/110628/13-scientific-studies-prove-music-lessons-were-the-best-thing-your-parents-did-for-you

 

 

 

Parental Self-Care: Why We Need to Make Time For Ourselves

Peaceful woman relaxing at home with cup of tea or coffee
We’ve all heard the announcement as we’re settling into our seats for takeoff: “If oxygen is required, put on your own mask before assisting others.” Logically, this makes sense, but emotionally, it’s difficult to stomach the idea of taking care of yourself at the possible expense of others. As parents, we all experience the same mental tug-of-war, which can be exacerbated by well-meaning but guilt-inducing messages from family, friends, professionals, and the media. It can feel as if you need special permission to take time for yourself!

Parents of children with special needs may feel this pressure especially intensely given their additional commitments and expectations of their time and efforts. However, parental self-care is not about neglecting your child’s needs. For all parents, but particularly those of children with special needs, taking care of yourself can actually make you a better parent. When you tend to yourself, you have more emotional, physical, and psychological stamina for your child’s everyday care and the unexpected or crisis situations that inevitably arise.

But what IS self-care? Does it require unlimited time, money, and freedom? Luckily, it doesn’t. Self-care includes all of the things you do for yourself to keep yourself healthy physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Examples of self-care include:

Physical: Eating healthy food regularly; fitting in exercise; getting preventive and medical care; getting enough sleep; turning off or putting away electronic devices (TV, phone, tablet) for portions of the day and at bedtime.

Emotional: Expressing your emotions to a supportive person, not taking on too much; making time to connect with your spouse or partner.

Social: Keeping in touch with family or friends (this could be electronic, by phone, or in person); trying a new hobby.

Spiritual: Visiting a place of personal spirituality or worship; meditation; journaling.

This list may seem overwhelming, but the good news is that doing even one small thing for yourself will make a difference. Here are some ways to integrate self-care into your daily routine:

Prioritize: Your time is already scarce, so don’t feel guilty about saying “no” to, or postponing, additional commitments.

Commit to one non-negotiable self-care act: Schedule time into your daily/weekly routine for this activity and let your family know what the time is for. Your non-negotiable self-care does not have to take a lot of time or energy. It may mean getting up a few minutes earlier so you have time for a quiet cup of coffee, asking a caregiver to stay 15 extra minutes so you can take a walk around the block, or setting your phone to “do not disturb” at a specific time each evening.

Ask for or enlist help: Schedule a qualified sitter or ask a family member or friend familiar with your child’s needs to provide extra support one or more days per week. Set aside that time to connect with friends or schedule a date with your spouse or partner.

Consider special-needs respite: Every parent needs and deserves a break. Respite services are available for a few hours, a weekend, or longer, and provide a safe, nurturing environment for your child with specially-trained caregivers, while you can take some time for yourself to recharge. In many places, respite is available to qualified families at little or no cost.

When parents aren’t able to take care of themselves, it can make the job of parenting that much more stressful and can lead to exhaustion, illness, and resentment. By taking small steps toward caring for yourself, you’ll notice a change in how you feel and cope with the unique challenges of parenting.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Ered Massie, LCSW, ACSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. She specializes in family therapy, mood disorders, oppositional and defiant behavior in children and adolescents, and autism spectrum disorder. She also has extensive experience in client advocacy and navigating the mental health, developmental services, and educational systems.

Thanksgiving Tips for Gluten-Free Families

09 30 15 Silly Yak Pizza Party Photo CollageTake a moment to think about your favorite Thanksgiving memories. Chances are your thoughts immediately focus on family—and food. If you’re one of the “chefs” in your family, you know that meal-planning can be stressful, from planning a grocery list to perfectly timing each dish. For families with special dietary needs, the stress of planning food for the holiday can overshadow the excitement that should accompany such a celebration.

The NYU Langone Pediatric Celiac Disease & Gluten Related Disorders Program helps gluten-free families balance the stress of meal-planning with the enjoyment of holiday gatherings. As Thanksgiving approaches, here are some new ways of celebrating and showing gratitude:

  • Focus on and nurture your relationships with friends, family, and your community.
  • Start a new family tradition. Try playing games, having a movie night, or reading a book together.
  • Find something to be grateful for each day. Keep a gratitude journal to commemorate all you have to be thankful for.
  • Make it a priority to smile and laugh every single day.
  • Send cards or letters to the important people in your life to let them know how much you appreciate them.
  • Volunteer for a cause that’s important to you.
  • Practice random acts of kindness. Do something nice for someone for no particular reason.
  • Give encouragement to someone who really needs it.
  • Be kind to yourself. With all the love you’re showing to everyone else, make sure you don’t forget yourself!
  • Get creative. Express your happiness and gratitude through art, music, dance, or whatever else helps you feel inspired.
  • Make a conscious effort to think positively and see the good in others.
  • Continue to celebrate all the wonderful things in your life all year long. If you ever need a reminder, check your gratitude journal!

Silly Yak Club Pizza Party 008 Diaz Fam 2And finally, connect with others and share your experiences. Join the Silly Yak Club at NYU Langone Medical Center! Kids ages 3-10 years old with Celiac disease (and even non-Celiac gluten-related disorders) are invited to join this special club that celebrates living life without gluten. The club meets regularly at NYU Fink Children’s Ambulatory Care Center for fun activities such as our back to school pizza party and our upcoming celebration of the fall season. Our next event is Wednesday, November 18, from 5-6:30pm. All “Silly Yaks” are welcome (along with siblings and caregivers) to join us for dinner, plus a fun gluten-free candied apple activity and art projects to take home! Note: all items served are gluten and peanut free, however only the items used for our candied apple activity will be kosher-certified (certificates available for verification).

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Janis Atty, MA, CCLS, ATR-BC, LCAT is a child life specialist and creative arts therapist at NYU Langone’s Fink Children’s Ambulatory Care Center. She helps pediatric patients and their families understand and cope with medical illnesses and experiences. By providing education, preparation, emotional support, and guidance, she promotes positive development and well-being in patients facing a wide range of challenging life events.

Hayley Adkisson, LMSW is the primary social worker for the pediatric gastroenterology, endocrine, infectious disease, nephrology, and rheumatology services, as well as Adolescent Medicine, at the NYU Langone’s Fink Children’s Ambulatory Care Center. She specializes in the areas of severe mental illness, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, sexual assault and recovery, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), emergency medicine, and mood disorders.