Ask the Experts by Kristen DeVooght and Dorothy Heitjan
Q: What are some practical strategies parents can use to build their child’s language and interaction skills?
A: Language is the foundation of learning. Development of language occurs in the pivotal years between birth and 5 years of age. The role parents and caregivers play during this time is monumental.
There are three main strategies parents can use to bolster their child’s language and vocabulary skills. Read more: The Importance of Parent-Child Language Interactions
Ask the Experts by Det. Ryan Schroerlucke
Q: I monitor my son’s social media accounts periodically and some of what I see on his feed makes me uncomfortable. He says I’m overreacting. How can I help him understand the difference between sarcasm/joking and cyberbullying?
A: The definition of bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Cyberbullying uses technology to degrade, harass or humiliate another person or group of people and makes the victim(s) feel as though everyone in their peer group knows what is going on.
The problem with kids thinking they’re being sarcastic or “just joking” on social media and through technology is that it can be interpreted different ways by different people. If your son thinks what he sees (or does) is meant as a joke, but the person targeted takes what is written as literal and harmful, it is bullying. Over time, and with repeated targeting, the victim is more likely to skip/drop out of school, get lower grades, turn to substances or alcohol and show poor self-esteem. Read more: Understanding Cyberbullying
Ask the Experts by Lori Warner, PhD
Q: My daughter’s school has an online “parent portal” where I can see all her grades and assignments. How often should I be checking it? What should I do if I see something is missing?
A: Some schools limit updates and give families and students guidelines of how best to use this tool. Helping your daughter take ownership of and responsibility for her own learning experience and relationships with teachers is crucial. When we swoop in and “handle” something for our children, rather than discussing, supporting, and coaching them through handling it themselves, we communicate to them that we don’t think they can do it. The exact frequency of checking the portal is up to you, but multiple checks per day is likely excessive and will lead to stress for you, your daughter, and her teachers.
Read more: Smart Parenting
Ask the Experts by Jeff and Debra Jay
Q: My dad is a great guy and has always been a good father. He’s also been a big drinker as far back as I can remember. It never really concerned us much, to be honest, but he’s older now and the drinking is taking him away from us. We can all see it. We’re all worried. I’ve talked with my mom and brother about it, and, together, we asked our dad to cut back. He did for a week or so, but now he drinks like he always did. We read your book, “No More Letting Go,” which helped us understand that alcoholics lose the ability to choose and they push away help. That is exactly what we are living. I love my dad. I want to help him with dignity and respect. What road should we take forward?
A: We’re glad you reached out with this question, because how you choose to help a loved one suffering from addiction is very important. It defines who you are as a family and determines the quality of the journey you take together. It’s not just ambushing someone into accepting help. That approach can end in disaster, even if the addicted person agrees.
Intervention well done should be thought of as a spiritual negotiation that preserves family relationships, is a message of love, is choreographed to get the right kind of results, builds a family team that knows how to support the addicted loved one before, during and after treatment. When done properly, 85% of people agree to get help that day. Most of the other 15% accept help in a few days or weeks.
Read more: Planning helps foster successful intervention with loved ones
Ask the Experts by Evon N. Foster, LMSW, IMH-E®
Q: Is a healthy attachment relationship necessary for the development of infant/toddlers?
A: Optimal development (physical, cognitive, social and emotional) of infants/and toddlers through nurturing, protective, secure and stable relationships with parents promotes readiness to learn.
You may wonder how? Parental nurturing styles and response to young children is impacted by life stressors, lack of support, parent’s history, mental illness and substance abuse. Without a secure relationship, children can become insecure, anxious and disorganized. These are children who become an overwhelming part of the mental health and juvenile system.
Read more: Bonds Formed in Children with their Parents Have a Tremendous Impact
Ask the Experts by Mary Petersen
Q: My child just left to go away to college, and I am struggling with the adjustment to an empty nest. What would make this easier?
A: Parents put a great deal into the raising of children in anticipation of helping them someday leave the nest and transition to independence. Yet, parents are still often surprised to find that once children are launched it can leave a big hole in their lives. But this transition is also a beautiful thing that allows children to spread their wings in the way they have been prepared to do. It also gives parents a new freedom they haven’t had for many years – but now with the wisdom of maturity to enjoy it more richly.
Read more: Empty Nest: A Bittersweet Transition
Ask the Experts by Dana Constand and Carolyn Van Dorn
Q: My husband and I are getting older. We realize that there are healthcare, financial and lifestyle plans that we should put in place now as a protective measure for our future. Where do we start?
A: There are many things to consider as we age. Will you stay in our home or do we want to downsize? Who will make healthcare decisions if you are both unable? Who will manage your money? How will your bills be paid? What happens when one of you is gone— perhaps one spouse handled the finances and the other cooked, one handled car maintenance, the other plumbing snafus, etc. Will you be able to take care of the things your spouse/partner handled? Who will show you? It is best to think about what you may need and put plans in place while you are healthy and have the time to carefully consider your options for these important life decisions.
There are legal solutions to address healthcare and financial decision making.
Read more: Checklist for Aging
Ask the Experts by Gary and Janice Abud and Amanda Be
Q: My 8-year-old son was recently diagnosed with ADHD. Besides following up with his doctor, what else can I do to help him?
A: ADHD is a neuro-behavioral condition that, while it is chronic, is treatable. While working with your doctor is always the first approach to treatment, there are other things that should be considered to make sure your son is managing the behavioral side of ADHD. Here are three important areas to consider: Read more: Helping Your Child After an ADHD Diagnosis
Ask the Experts by Mark Aiello
Q: How does my special needs child qualify for supplemental security income (SSI) and what can I can do to get these benefits for my child?
A: If your child is under age 18 and has major health problems affecting his/her functioning, either physically, mentally or both, the first thing to determine is whether the family unit where the child lives meets the income threshold for benefits. If the parent’s monthly income plus existing assets are above the threshold set by law, it won’t matter how seriously disabled the child is. The claim will be denied. Typically, if the household is eligible for state assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid, the financial threshold is met.
Assuming the financial limits are met, just how seriously disabled must the child be to qualify for benefits? The child must be suffering from a condition that is both marked and severe lasting or expected to last one year or more. There are two ways to prove a condition is both marked and severe. First is through the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments. This Listing sets forth exact proof that must be met for the specific disease or condition of the child. The second way is to show the child’s poor health is so severe it is functionally equal to the Listing.
Read more: What can you do to get SSI for your child
Ask the Experts by David Gilboe
Q: My body gets really sore during the holidays and I feel a lot of stress. What do you suggest I do to help reduce the pain?
A: While there is definitely more bending, lifting, reaching and standing during the holidays (which can result in physical pain), many of us forget the toll that stress can place on our bodies and how this by itself creates or increases pain.
More times than not, we aren’t aware of the tension we are holding in our bodies. For example, when traffic is backed up or you are standing in a long line at the store, do you make time to notice your feelings? If you are feeling frustrated or anxious this will often create tightness in your muscles and rigidity in your posture. The first step towards easing the stress, begins with you making the decision to pay attention to what you are feeling in your muscles.
Read more: Holiday stress can result in physical pain