Archive Page 2

Beaumont’s Big Brother – Big Sister Class

big brother holding baby brother

The Big Brother – Big Sister Class continues to be popular among families year after year. Beaumont’s Prenatal and Family Education department offers approximately one or two classes per month at Beaumont Royal Oak, Troy, and Grosse Pointe.

This lively, interactive class is designed for children ages 3 to 8 years old (although 9- and 10-year-old children are also welcome). During the class, your child will learn what new babies are like and how to prepare them for their new role as a big brother or big sister. We use dolls and an educational DVD to keep your child interested and engaged.

Your child will learn the day-to-day care that a new baby needs. Children also learn how they can help mom and dad when the new baby comes home. Safety is discussed and stressed to the young child. Hand hygiene is another component taught.

A parent joins the child for the class. As your child learns about his or her new baby sibling, we will share written information with you on how you can prepare your child for the new baby’s arrival and how to help the big sibling adjust to the newest member of the family. Techniques are discussed to help the sibling understand the normal range of emotions during this time of family transition and how to express these feelings based on their age.

The Big Brother – Big Sister Class should be taken approximately four weeks before your new baby arrives.

Click here for more information or to register for an upcoming session.

– Maribeth Baker, RN, LCCE, HBCE, Program Coordinator, Beaumont Health Prenatal and Family Education

“Leave me alone!” Life with a threenager

little girl pouting

My daughter, C, turned three over the summer. “Whew, we survived the terrible twos. It’s finally going to get easier,” I thought to myself. However, as C approached her third birthday, people starting throwing around this term at me: “threenager.”

“A what?” I asked.

“A threenager. You know, a 3-year-old teenager.”

“Uh, no. I’m not following.”

“It’s the like the terrible twos, but worse.”

“Worse?!” My heart sank.

I then started Googling “threenager.” Yep, it’s a thing. Apparently the terrible twos are just the start of toddler tantrumhood. Things really start to get interesting when our little one hit the 3-year mark.

In honor of this fun phase, here are a few of the threenagerisms I’ve encountered so far.

  1. Ms. Independent. While I applaud my little one for trying new things, I could do without the “I can do it myself!” snarls. (Then five seconds later, “Mama, Mama, help me, help me! HELP ME NOW!”)
  2. Highly illogical behavior. OK, tiny one, I kind of see your point when I ask you to put on your shoes and you reply, “No, they’re Crocs.” But when you yell at me because the french fries you’re eating are touching your teeth, I can’t help you.
  3. “Leave me alone!” At least once a day she blasts this exclamation to her father or me. It’s even more fun when she screams this in public accompanied by “Stop! Get away from me!” The looks, oh, the looks.
  4. Mom/Dad/anyone other than herself is always wrong. The other morning I praised C for sleeping in her own bed all night. She threw herself on the floor and screamed “No, I didn’t!” (See No. 2.)
  5. Constantly changing obsessions. TV. Underwear. Toys. Snacks. It doesn’t matter what it is, whatever she’s into, it’s intense and irregular. What she loves one day/hour/minute, disgusts her the next. Cue up Netflix to the show she’s watched for a week straight without consulting her first? Disaster. Attempt to put on the Paw Patrol pajamas she requested before bath time? Meltdown. I can’t keep up! (See No. 4.)

Fortunately, C hasn’t mastered the eye roll yet, but she’s well on her way to being seriously annoyed by the mere existence of her parents. I keep telling myself the threenager phase is good training for actual teenage angst.

Anne Hein is a past participant of the Beaumont Parenting Program, as well as a mom of a strong-willed toddler.

I’m bereft

mom, dad, son and daughter getting ready for school

First day of kindergarten send off

The day has come for my twins to start kindergarten and I’m not sure what to do with myself. I thought I’d be excited — no more paying for child care, someone else entertaining my kids for hours, the classroom parties, field trips and all the new friends.

I am excited about all that, but I can’t help but feel a tug of sadness.

You know what I’m most sad about? I know I won’t be allowed to put pigtails in my daughter’s hair soon. That my son won’t want shirts with firetrucks on them anymore. That their babyhood is officially over and the next phase is beginning and I can’t pump the brakes.

I’m terrified for my kids. What if they get made fun of? What if someone is mean to them? What if they get scared or confused and I’m not there to help them out? Five seems awfully young to have to start fending on your own. But then I think back recognizing that I was that 5-year-old and I did just fine. All those things I’m afraid of for my kids happened to me and I lived to tell the tale and they will, too.

But I also know that they’re going to start being exposed to meanness and cruelty and that’s just the way it goes. It still makes me sad, that stripping of innocence. I have to hope, though, that we’ve taught them well enough to make good choices, and if they don’t we have to be prepared to coach them through the consequences.

Parenting is tough.

Everyone has asked whether we kept them together or put them in separate classes. We decided to leave it up to the school to decide and we would object or concur as needed. Turns out, they’re in the same class.

I wanted to be able to prepare them for separation, so I emailed the principal about it. He convinced me that keeping them together would be a good introduction to school for them and it would be easier for us parents — same homework assignments (in kindergarten?!?!), same field trips, same class parties.

For now, I’ll keep trying to be excited for the fun things and take the other stuff as it comes. But I’m still mad at Father Time. What a jerk.

– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive mom to twins and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.

The gift of listening

hand cupping ear to hear

Unaltered image. jppi, Morguefile.

What are the most important skills you want to teach your kids?

Self-reliance and independence? Valuing education and learning? Being confident and helpful? Being kind and understanding? These are all wonderful traits, but one that shouldn’t be missed is teaching our children to be good listeners, and modeling how!

In our modern American culture, being a good speaker is often emphasized over being a strong listener. We want our children to communicate and share their thoughts, feelings and ideas. However, well-developed listening skills are one of the most important ways to maximize our kids’ potential for connection and happiness. Why?

Listening has multiple benefits! Al Ritter, author of “The 100/0 Principle,” says, “listening is a gift”. But what does that mean?

Listening grants others the power of speaking, and is one of the most direct and powerful means of creating strong relationships. It improves communication and collaboration, especially if we listen creatively. Ritter says this means being open and interested, perhaps asking questions to clarify and ensure we understand the message, but mostly remaining silent and thinking about what the message means.

quote about listeningGood listeners are rare; even when we intend to listen well, we sometimes find ourselves distracted or lost in our own thoughts. Sometimes we are listening judgmentally, waiting to pounce on something incorrect, or focusing on what we want to say next. Truly paying attention to the other person and listening, not simply hearing, is the best thing we can do. People who are listened to feel understood. They are more likely to work with us through a conflict or difficulty rather than becoming defensive and argumentative.

One popular model to teach kids better listening skills is “whole body listening,” first introduced in the 1990s by speech pathologist Suzanne Truesdale. Whole body listening focuses on what different parts of our bodies should do (or not do) in order to be a good listener. For example, our eyes should be on the speaker, our hands calm and quiet, etc. This is “a tool, not a rule,” says Elizabeth Sautter, MA, CCC-SLP, so it’s important to be flexible and adjust to any special needs your child may have. For more resources and ideas, read this post.

Common games are often good opportunities to build listening and attentional skills while having fun. “Show and Tell,” “Telephone,” “Simon Says,” and “Red Light/Green Light” all teach kids to listen and control their bodies.

Most importantly, be a good role model! Our previous posts on digital addiction and mindfulness offer tips for staying more connected. One key piece of connection is actually slowing down to listen.

Overall, being talented listeners helps our children build self-control skills, connect and learn, and create deeper social relationships. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!

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

Is your child in the right car seat? 

dad buckling young daughter into car seat

image credit: NHTSA Traffic Safety Marketing

Most people believe that their child is safely restrained in the correct car seat, and yet 80 to 90 percent of people are misusing their child safety restraint. That means 8.5 people out of 10 are either doing something with the car seat that they shouldn’t be, or not doing something that they should be. Today, we’ll review the basics of car seats and make sure that your kids are in that top 10 percent.

The first and best piece of advice for parents with kids in car seats is to have their seats inspected by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). You can register for a free inspection through Beaumont. Every time you get a new car seat or a new vehicle you should have your seat inspected by a professional.

Installation highlights

  • Installation standards require that you refer to both your car seat manual and your vehicle manual to achieve a safe installation. In general, however, remember to use either lower anchors or a seat belt to install the seat — never both.
  • Lower anchors have weight limits so always refer to your vehicle manual when using them.
  • Seats should be installed tightly enough that they move less than one inch from side-to-side at the belt path.
  • Rear-facing seats should also be installed at the proper level, which is usually indicated with a level indicator on the seat. Also, be sure that they do not touch the seats in front of them.
  • Forward-facing seats should be tethered using the belt at the top and back of the seat to prevent forward head momentum. Locations of top tether anchors are found in vehicle manuals.

Selecting the right seat

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated its recommendations to say that children should be rear facing in child restraints until at least age 2, but longer if they can remain rear facing according to the height and weight limits of their seats. Many people shorten this recommendation to “Rear facing until 2.” However, the most important part of the advice is the second part referring to the height and weight limits of the seat. The best way to ensure that your child is using the right car seat is to check the label on the side of the seat. All seats provide labeling that gives the height and weight limits for car seats, and children should use those seats until they reach one limit or the other (height or weight). Using each restraint until its height or weight limit before moving to the next step ensures that a child stays as safely restrained as possible.

Restraining the child in the seat

While putting the seat properly in the vehicle is important, equally important is safely restraining the child in the seat.

  • Children using 5-point harness seats should have their harnesses snug at all five of those points (hips, shoulder and breast bone).
  • A strap is snug enough at the shoulders when no slack in the strap can be pinched at the shoulder from the front of the strap to the back.
  • Hip straps should sit low on the hip bone, with no more than one finger’s space between the strap and the hip.
  • Finally, the chest clip of a 5-point harness should sit at the armpit level of the child in order to ensure its position over the breastbone.

Other useful tips

  • Ensure that the car seat hasn’t reached its expiration date. Once a child passenger restraint has expired, it is no longer safe to use.
  • Register your car seats with their manufacturers so that you will be notified of any safety recalls. A recalled car seat needs to be repaired or replaced according to manufacturer directions.
  • Restrain any loose articles in cargo areas, storage pockets, or by using unused seat belts. Loose articles in a vehicle will tumble around the car in an accident, potentially causing injuries. Securing those loose items will keep both child and adult occupants of the vehicle safer.
  • Refrain from adding after market products to your car seat. Believe it or not, products sold in stores to go with car seats (e.g, extra shoulder strap covers, head and neck supports, mirrors, sun shades secured with suction cups, and seat protectors) take away from the safety of the child restraint and should not be used.
  • In the upcoming cold weather, put a blanket or jacket over your child’s harness in their seat (rather than under it) to ensure you have the snug fit of the harness that I covered earlier.

Remember: All a car seat needs to be perfect is your child!

– Nicole Capozello, CPST, Beaumont Parenting Program

Back to school

kids getting on school bus

In the 1980s, the band Foreigner had a hit, “Feels Like the First Time,” which I believe was about going back to school after the summer off. It’s true; every year does feel like the first time. Even for experienced parents, every new school year brings a new array of questions, hopes, frustrations and expectations. And the forms, the endless forms! Doesn’t the school have this information already?

After many years of trying – and failing – to be the Parent on Top of Everything, I finally realized this: the key to surviving Going Back to School is simply to endure. Soldier on through the paperwork, supply shopping, and re-outfitting.

To make life a little easier on both yourself and your student, here are some helpful additional guidelines:

  • Write down dates as soon as you have them in your hot little hands. I promise dates will come in, thick and furious, a cascade of numbers and dashes. Many people use their phones for calendar-keeping but sometimes a simple paper planner is better for quickly jotting down important events and deadlines (and then you can add them to your phone later). Picture day, curriculum night, 5th grade camp, conferences, half-days, late starts. Write them all down now.
  • Do you have the deadline for ordering your child’s yearbook? It’s a firm deadline and one of those sneaky ones that you think you’ll remember or “get to later” and then it slips by. Write it down.
  • Forgot to schedule your child’s physical at the pediatrician in time for the fall session of sports? Many medical facilities offer sports physicals for reasonable rates. Look for one in your area.
  • Scrutinize your student’s forms carefully. You’ve already signed one form in two different places? Look again for that third spot hidden in 8-pt. font at the bottom of the form. Yes, that one. The one that you didn’t notice at all and now your lack of signature has resulted in your daughter not being able to receive her schedule or her locker. Not that I speak from experience.
  • Realize that all is not lost if your child didn’t get the desired teacher or classmates. This is a tough one, but it is a situation that most students face at some point in their academic journeys. Try to recognize it as an opportunity to explore the unknown – a chance to be a modern-day explorer, if you will. There are new people to be met everywhere … why not start now? That new best friend or adult mentor just might be waiting in the wings.
  • You found a great deal on tissue? Fantastic, buy some extra boxes for the classroom. And for yourself. This year will be over before you know it; you will find yourself weeping not only at the bittersweet experience of your child moving on, but at the thought of having to fill out more forms in the fall.

Here’s to an amazing 2017 – 2018 school year!

– Wendy MacKenzie is a mother of four, Parenting Program volunteer, and famous for narrowly missing deadlines.

Do “North”

view on Mackinac Island

I’ve lived in Michigan for over four decades; my wife was an Air Force brat growing up around the world, but her roots were always in the mitten state. Together we ate in New Buffalo, swam in Lake Superior, and tailgated at our alma mater numerous times. So it’s amazing that neither of us ever hopped on the ferry to Mackinac Island. That changed in a recent family road trip “Up North.”

First off, let’s talk “Up North.” Where does it start for you? Past Midland? West Branch? Gaylord or crossing the mighty Mac? For our family, we consider “Up North” anything past the 45th parallel is north. We even make sure that everyone lifts their feet so no one trips over the imaginary latitude line that crosses over the highway.

We’re lucky enough to have family all over “Up North” which is great because it helps keep costs down, but more importantly gives us a little more time to reconnect with those we don’t get to see enough. And truthfully, it gives our girls the time to meet family for the first time and create a bond that can be built on for years to come.

One evening, my wife and I went to her class reunion (the reason for the trip) and had to leave our girls with family they don’t know very well and the plan was to go to a BBQ at another family member’s house they never met.

Our girls are OK at meeting new folks, but they have separation anxiety when we leave them for a longer period of time. But guess what? When we returned, our girls were running around like they’ve been there for years. They met cousins they never knew they had and a neighbor girl who showed them the ropes on the trampoline. The next day there was talk about coming to visit for a week next summer — without us!

Our trip ended on the mainland in the shadow of the Mackinac Bridge. Beautiful part of the state; the mix of tacky shops and history is perfect. Nowhere else can you buy a Mackinaw Strong camo hoodie and learn about how soldiers lived watching out for redcoats. It sets the stage for a whole different world on the island.

The four of us didn’t know what to expect when we got on the ferry to Mackinac Island. We knew we were all going to experience something new as a family. We sat on the second deck of the boat to see the sights. We saw the bridge, buoys up close and personal, and the island itself.

I won’t give you every twist and turn of our Island adventure, but I can say it lives up to the hype. You are transported to a simpler time (if that simpler time had 24 different types of fudge). Our girls learned a lot about the history that is around every turn and they seemed to soak it in.

The point of all of this is that we all experienced something for the first time that we’ll remember for a lifetime. Our state is built for lifelong memories, you just have to go find them and make them.

– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.


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