The heart of a Parenting Program volunteer

Thank you

During National Volunteer Week, I am especially cognizant of the massive impact made by each of our volunteers. I am reminded that this program would not and could not exist without our team of volunteers. And if I am perfectly honest, I don’t need a nationally recognized proclamation to appreciate the efforts of our volunteers. I already have an immense amount of pride and sincere appreciation each and every time I see one of our volunteers giving dedicated time on the unit or helping out in our office.

I frequently leave a parent group setting on a utopic high. I’ve been known to drop a tear or two, when reading parent evaluations that highlight above and beyond volunteer support. I continue to be amazed by the many volunteers who come into the hospital on weekends and on holidays. One, in particular, has been doing it for more than 20 years. Beaumont senior leaders and administrators can attest to the fact that it is not uncommon for me to gush about our team of volunteers whenever and wherever I can. Yep, without reservation and quite unabashedly, I shout from the mountain tops on a regular basis that the Parenting Program unequivocally has the best of the best volunteers.

I could spend days on end sharing the many stories of extraordinary volunteers. And yes, I must admit, I have some favorites. But what I find most compelling, and perhaps even a phenomenon, is that our volunteers don’t wish to be acknowledged in front of a crowd or presented with a pin signifying years of service. In fact, most of our Parenting Program volunteers specifically verbalize that an award luncheon and monetary gifts are unnecessary.

So, what does that tell you about our amazing volunteers? Parenting Program volunteers give straight from the heart.

To all of our volunteers – I am grateful for the many lessons you have taught me and I am thankful for your passion, time and talents. With each family that you support, the ripple effect is monumental.

Happy National Volunteer Week!

– Deanna Robb, Beaumont Parenting Program Director

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Danielle Rumple

mom, dad and little girl

Danielle with her husband, Steve, and their daughter, Gabrielle.

Volunteers come to the Beaumont Parenting Program via many different paths, but one common avenue that brings people to the role is having participated in the program as a new parent. It speaks volumes about the BPP that so many families who reap the benefits of community and support from participating in the program, turn around to sow the seeds of love and friendship by giving back to their community as a Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer. One such person is Danielle Rumple.

Danielle, 33, and Steve are raising their 2-year-old daughter Gabrielle in Birmingham. Prior to becoming a mom, Danielle worked as a director at the Detroit Regional Chamber. Though she returned to work briefly after Gabrielle was born, Danielle decided to change her path to become a stay-at-home mom. Danielle enjoys working out, baking, and spending time with family and friends. She also enjoys reading; her favorite books are “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo, and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. For children, she recommends Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff, but spends time every week at the library with her daughter reading books and looking for new favorites.

Danielle currently serves two roles for the BPP: a group leader (leading her third group!) and a speaker on baby sign language. Danielle learned about baby sign language with her daughter when she participated in a daytime moms group with Gabrielle. She continues to sign with her daughter, and decided to take the opportunity to share her knowledge with other participants in the program. As part of her role guiding new parents through their journey, Danielle encourages them to “appreciate each day with their child. The days are slow and sometimes quite exhausting but the years go very fast.” Danielle is grateful that she documents her daughter’s days on film and video because she has changed so much in her two short years.

woman on Wheel of Fortune

In addition to volunteering for the BPP, Danielle volunteers with Girls on the Run, “a YMCA program designed to inspire young girls to be confident and healthy through practices and training for a 5K.” Additionally, she is a group exercise instructor at the Birmingham YMCA. Danielle is also a bit of a celebrity, as she was recently a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. She came in second, but says that she had a blast.

We don’t need to buy a vowel to solve the puzzle of Danielle’s role with the BPP. The garden she is cultivating with those seeds of love and friendship comes in first place with the Beaumont Parenting Family.

– Nicole Capozello is a Parenting Program volunteer.

Earth Day every day

heart earth from sticks and shells

Unaltered image. Kate Ter Haar, Flickr. CC license.

Children love to get out into nature and have fun. They also love to help and learn new skills. Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to weave those together. You can celebrate with your children in your own backyard or attend one of the many local events for families listed below.

Since we need our Earth to be healthy every day (and not just once a year), I challenge you to find an activity that will have lasting meaning for you and your children and make a pledge. Perhaps even consider a service to the Earth.

Find your (or your child’s) “love” from the list below and learn what you can do. Easy activities may take a few minutes. More challenging tasks can be done in an afternoon. Commitments are ongoing. Here are some ideas to get started.

Love: Playing outside in the yard

  • Pledge: Avoid chemical pesticides in your lawn and garden.
  • Activities
    • Easy: Embrace the dandelions!
      • Make dandelion flower chains with your young children.
      • For older children, make your own pest control spray with this recipe.
    • Challenge: Plant native plants and trees. These varieties don’t need high amounts of water, fertilizer or pest control. Bonuses: They attract birds and beneficial insects to eat any pests. Children can help choose which plant species to add to the landscape and where, then use a smaller size shovel to help dig.
    • Commit:
      • Use manual and non-toxic techniques to remove weeds.  Small hands are great for pulling young weeds, but maybe leave thistle and picky plants for gloved grown up hands or shovels.
      • Learn more about green gardening.

Love: Going to the local park

  • Pledge: Keep your favorite park beautiful and toxic-free.
  • Activities
    • Easy: Bring a bag, wear gloves, and pick up litter.
    • Challenge: Inquire about the pesticide policies at your favorite park and request pesticide-free.
    • Commit: Volunteer to help maintain (e.g., pull weeds, spread mulch, etc.) a pesticide-free playground or park.

Love: Bees and butterflies

  • Pledge: Provide food sources and habitat for pollinators.
  • Activities
    • Easy: Dandelions and clover are important food sources for bees.
      • Spread clover seeds in your lawn to attract and support bees.
      • Let the dandelions flower.
    • Challenge:
      bee house

      Bee house by Ty Gwenyn. Flickr, CC license.

      • Plant milkweed seeds in your garden for monarchs.
      • Plant other native plants to attract pollinators.
      • Build native bee houses.
      • Make a bee watering dish by putting rocks and pebbles in a wide, shallow bowl and partially covering the rocks with fresh water.
    • Commit: Avoid neonicotinoid (neonics), a type of insecticide.
      • Don’t buy neonicotinoid pesticides. (Look for a warning label and a small picture of a bee.)
      • Don’t purchase plants that have had neonics applied.
      • Ask your favorite bedding plants store to avoid neonics products on shelves and on bee-friendly plants.

Love: The Earth’s climate

  • Pledge: Use less energy.
  • Activities
    • Easy: Post small reminders to turn lights off when leaving a room and to unplug unused devices and appliances. Try: “Be nice, unplug twice: once at the outlet, once at the device.”
    • Challenge: Think foot power
      • Leave the car in the garage for short trips that are close to home, like to the park, school or errands.
      • Gear up your family’s bikes. Kids can pump air into bike tires, help clean bike chains, etc.
    • Commit:
      • Set up a clothes line or rack to take advantage of free solar energy to dry clothes (even if just some of your loads) and give the second biggest consumer of electricity in your household a time out. No need to spend money and energy heating up clothes in a machine when it’s plenty hot outside!
      • Speaking of hot, remember to forego the A/C whenever possible or turn it to a lower setting.

These are just a few ideas, but we can think about the Earth in all of our favorite activities. If you love to swimming or spending time on the water, find ways to help protect rivers, the Great Lakes, and our oceans (such as avoiding microbeads in facial scrubs and sparkles in toothpaste, or helping at a beach clean up day). Gather ideas from your children as well. They may offer up some wonderful surprises!

If you’re looking for more ways to explore the bounty, the beauty, and the wonders of this planet, check out one of these local Earth Day 2017 events. Events are free unless otherwise noted.

  • GreenFest at the Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak
    Saturday, April 22, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
    Cost: Free with Admission (Bring in an old cell phone for reduced admission of $9)

Our children are passionate about the Earth. Let’s find ways to have fun and also show them that they can make a difference!

– Melissa Cooper Sargent, Environmental Health Educator with LocalMotionGreen at Ecology Center. For more information, you can email her at melissas@ecocenter.org or visit http://www.ecocenter.org/lmg

Chicago with kids: Nonstop fun

Let’s pretend we’re penguins!

My husband and I have a serious travel bug, but we’ve been grounded since having kids. For either cost or reasons lacking courage, we haven’t had it in us to go anywhere far with twins.

But we just got back from Chicago, and I’m so glad we went. The kids had a blast. We had a great time. It was amazing.

We started by driving to New Buffalo, Michigan, then taking an hour-long train ride into the city. The kids thought this was amazing and we thought it was economical and relaxing. For all four of us to take the train round-trip, it was $120. We’d have to pay $50 a day to park in Chicago.

girl at Adler Planetarium exhibit

Mission control at Adler Planetarium

After a short cab ride (another thrill for the kids) to our Airbnb, we set out to explore. My husband did great research and found a reasonably affordable place to stay that was central to what we wanted to see and do, as well as close to public transport. Luckily, the kids are just 5, so they ride for free on city buses and trains. Do your research, though. I thought we’d Uber around with them, but in Illinois, Uber has to abide by car seat laws, which means we’d have to tote their boosters around or pay an additional $10 per seat through Uber. Public transportation such as taxis and buses are considered commercial, so boosters aren’t necessary.

Our first stop was the Field Museum. I was warned that the museum was outdated, stuffy and not too kid-friendly. I found it the exact opposite. Just as we passed through the admission area, a dinosaur walked out — and not a Barney type, either. This guy was impressive! The museum was awesome with lots to look at, touch and do. But take this little bit of advice: Pack your own food. We had a small snack from the café there of three bags of chips, a water and two chocolate milks. Our total was $18.

boy watching two dolphins

Dolphin watching at Shedd Aquarium

The next day, we went to the Shedd Aquarium. It was a blast. From climbing rocks dressed like penguins to seeing the dolphin show and even watching a 4D SpongeBob movie, we all had a great time.

Finally, we headed to the Adler Planetarium. We didn’t spend a ton of time here, but what time we did spend was fun. It was definitely my least favorite of the three; it had a great play area for kids, but the rest of the museum went way over my 5-year-old’s head.

All in all, it was a great trip. I wish we’d been able to experience more of the cuisine, but time for that wasn’t in our favor. I guess we’ll have to go back again!

– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer enjoying her newly enhanced mom status and past Parenting Program participant.

Five tips for raising emotionally secure children

little girl hugging her dad and a teddy bear

If you read my post on Tuesday, you know I believe that a strong emotional security is one of the most important qualities you can instill in your child. Here are five tips to help you along your journey of bolstering that emotional security.

  1. Consistency. I can’t stress this one enough! Children thrive on routine and consistency because it makes them feel safe and secure in knowing what to expect. This starts in early infancy and carries through into adolescence.

    Consistency on the part of adults is of prime importance. When you act consistently, children know where they and their surroundings stand. Otherwise, children can feel confused and become unpredictable. Always do as you say. Be consistent in your actions and follow through with promises or consequences.

    Children sense chaos, so when things are getting chaotic, I often ask myself, “Am I staying consistent?” If not, I try to regroup and create a sense of routine in any way possible, this helps create a safer, more predictable environment, which in turn helps children feel more secure in the happenings of their lives.

  1. Encouragement. This is simple but very important! Try to let your children know that they are good at things, that they are nice people, and that you like them. It’s important that they know that we don’t just love them, but that we like them. We like being with them, we like spending time with them.

    We generally tell our children when they fail, when they annoy us, or when we feel let down by them, but we may forget to mention the good things. Thus, many children get the impression that they aren’t “getting it right” and can easily feel emotionally insecure and develop a poor self-concept. Remember, success breeds success. Children need to have successful experiences and have their achievements recognized to develop self-esteem and emotional security.

  1. Listen and explore their feelings. Try to accept your child’s reality. If a child is upset or scared about something (regardless of how irrelevant or trivial it may seem to you), accept that this is the real feeling of the child.

    Rather than brushing over the issue/feeling or trying to fix the problem (as we tend to do as parents), dig deeper. In other words, ask what the child is feeling and then help to go through these feelings to either accept or work around the worrying feeling. This can lead to your child’s better understanding of his feelings and teaches good coping techniques. The result: Your child feels more emotionally secure.

  1. Realistic expectations. Keep your level of expectation within the realms of the child’s ability. It is great to challenge our kids to be the best that they can, but keep it realistic. We shouldn’t expect kids to do more than they are capable of achieving. Success is a progression of small steps, not one giant leap.
  1. Lead by example. This is one of my favorites! Children are always watching and listening. It is extremely important to lead by example, in our daily interactions with our partners, our loved ones, our friends, our community. Be aware of how you interact with your children. Be aware of how you interact with others. Listen to yourself. Stay aware that children emulate us and use us as role models.

    Hey, I get it. We are all human and we lose it sometimes. But if you start focusing on what your children are doing or how they are feeling, you may start to see a mirror image of yourself in your children (like a *gasp* “I’ve become my mother” moment). Stay cognizant that we lead by example in our everyday interactions. When our children see us as confident, responsible, loving, mature, and secure parents, they will emulate the way we interact and sense the way we feel. Strive for your own emotional security and chances are your children will sense it and feel more secure themselves.

– Dr. Hannan Alsahlani is a Beaumont pediatrician and proud mother of four girls.

Let’s secure our children’s emotional security

four girls cuddled under blanket

I just kissed my four daughters good night and tucked them into bed. Surrounded by love, cuddles, giggles, and an immense sense of joy, it was a sweet ending to a rough day. I laid down and the first thing that came to mind was emotional security and feeling secure. I’m nowhere close to a perfect mom, I have my ups and downs. Life comes like a tornado at times and then settles down and we see the sun. Today I am seeing the sun and I am grateful for the sunny days.

Then the word security popped up again. I know my children feel secure; I am sure of it. Another thing I am absolutely sure of: As parents we must strive to make our children always feel secure. Not just by telling them they are safe and secure, but by our actions. Regardless of our children’s ages, it’s never too early to implement the sense of emotional security in their lives.

One of the most important qualities you can instill in your children is a deep sense of security in themselves and their world. Secure children grow up to be more confident, resilient, and empathetic, and they persevere in difficult situations.

There are a few things that help nurture my children’s developing sense of emotional security:

  • Security in one’s self. I am capable of taking care of myself. I am in control of who I am and what I want to be.
  • Security in the people around them. There are people in my world who will protect me and be there for me when needed.
  • The way they view the world. My world is a safe place that I can explore with confidence and free from fear.

To feel secure in themselves, children first need to feel secure in their world. If the family feels safe, then the child feels safe and secure. As a child grows up, this sense of security is internalized. We must show our children that unconditional love is unrelated to their actions, appearance, social standing, or achievements. With unconditional love comes emotional security.

I’m not sure I always felt secure growing up. Maybe it is for this reason I’ve been hypervigilant to make sure my daughters felt secure from infancy. I tell them, “You are safe, you are loved, you are special, you are strong, you are fierce, you are unstoppable, and you are capable,” before they sleep at night, when they wake up in the morning, and any chance I get.

I’ll be honest. Today was a rough day for me with lots of stressors and lots of very sick kids at work. When I came home and my daughters hugged me, immediately they could tell it was a rough day. My girls sat me down, asked me to take a deep breath, and together said, “Mommy,  you are safe, you are loved, you are special, you are strong, you are fierce, you are unstoppable, and you are capable,” and then they hugged me.

In that moment I knew I had done something right. Without question, I felt safe, emotionally secure and home again.

As I watch my 6-month-old sleep on her baby monitor, as I peek in on my 2-year-old hugging Mickey Mouse in her crib, and as I kiss my sleeping 8 and 9-year-olds’ sweet sleeping cheeks, I feel relieved knowing they feel secure. And for now, in this moment, I know I am helping them grow into emotionally secure human beings. I truly believe this is one of the greatest gifts I can give them.

You can give your child this amazing gift, too. Check back on Thursday for the second article in this series: Five tips for raising emotionally secure children.

– Dr. Hannan Alsahlani is a Beaumont pediatrician and proud mother of four girls.

 

Stuck in cyberspace? The hidden dangers of internet addiction

We are surrounded by cyberspace! Computers connect and help us in so many ways. We often take for granted all of the resources at our fingertips, at least until the power goes out! I’m enjoying the wonders of technology right now as I write this post on my computer and technology will allow you to read it. Technology is an amazing tool.

However, any tool can be used as a weapon. This same technology can be used for cyberattacks, cyberbullying, and even increased depression and anxiety resulting from too much negative news consumption. Too much screen time can horribly impact our relationships, health and mood.

How does this happen?

The immediate gratification from computers and mobile devices create a powerful reward loop that works something like this:

feel bored or unhappy → tap into internet or game → feel entertained/better

The reward pathways that light up in our brains when we use the internet are the same pathways that light up when we use alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs. Wow! Whether we use technology to escape bad feelings or just in a habitual way, risk factors for significant problems.

Taken to extremes, people can actually become addicted to the internet. There is scientific debate whether it’s truly considered a “mental disorder,” but we do know that psychological and social problems occur. Both China and South Korea identify internet addiction as a significant public health issue, and the United States is starting to take this issue more seriously as well.

How do you know if you or someone you love is addicted to the internet? A recent study describes signs, and you should consult a professional if you see:

  • “changes in mood,
  • preoccupation with the Internet and digital media,
  • the inability to control the amount of time spent interfacing with digital technology,
  • the need for more time or a new game to achieve a desired mood,
  • withdrawal symptoms when not engaged,
  • continuation of the behavior despite family conflict, a diminishing social life and adverse work or academic consequences” (Cash et al., 2012).

Parents know that kids need reduced screen time and lots of face-to-face, active interactions to thrive and grow. But at the same time, screens are all around us and the constant pull of notifications from emails, text messages, games and apps can leave us distracted and scattered. So how do we balance the benefit of technology with the hidden dangers of these amazing machines?

First and foremost, practice what you preach! If your phone is your constant companion, start being more mindful of how and when you use it. Specific tips for breaking digital addiction in our next post, so stay tuned!

– Dr. Lori Warner, Ph.D., LP, BCBA-D, Director, HOPE Center at Beaumont Children’s


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