Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stop, Look, and Listen: Tips for Talking to Older Adults

Three simple words can help you talk to the older adults in your life: stop, look, and listen. These words are important when you are in everyday conversation. They are even more important when you are trying to solve a problem or get essential information. It only takes a little time to stop, look, and listen. When you do, you will quickly find that you will feel less stressed. Your older friend or family member will also feel less frustrated and more understood.

Stop what you are doing and focus on your conversation. We often talk to each other while we are doing other things. Talking while we do the dishes or drive the car is normal. Those are good times to talk about the weather, whom we visited with last weekend, or how cute our grandchildren are. It's different, however, when we want to talk about something important. When we want to ask about a problem or be sure someone understands when their doctor appointment is, we must stop, look, and listen.

When we don't stop what we are doing, our older friend or family member may not hear or understand us. We may also miss important nonverbal messages that they are sending. For example, while coming out of the doctor's office you may quickly ask what the doctor said, but you may also be thinking about what you need at the grocery store. Take the time to stop and ask about the doctor's comments before moving on. Focus on the appointment and ask for details while the information is fresh on your older family member's mind.

Look at the older person when you are talking to them. Looking directly at a person lets them know that we are paying attention and that we care about what they have to say. Because most older adults have some hearing loss, they hear better when they can look at the person who is talking. Without realizing it, most of us increase our hearing by reading lips. It is easier to read lips when the listener can clearly see the speaker's face. So face the person you are talking to, avoid eating or drinking while you are talking, and be sure to speak in a strong, clear voice.

Listen with more than your ears. Listen for more than the words. Listen for unspoken messages. What is your older relative or friend telling you with his or her body language? Listen for the person's tone of voice—is he or she angry, sad, scared, or excited? Listen for the message you see in the older adult's face or posture. Listen with your ears, your eyes, your mind, and your heart.

Toward Better Communication
Three simple words can prevent many misunderstandings. When we stop, look, and listen we are showing our older relative or friend that we not only care, but also want to understand and to help. These three simple words are just the start of better communication. The following tips will also help you communicate with older adults in your life:
·         Involve older adults in decision making
·         Communicate openly and honestly
·         Focus on abilities not disabilities
·         Listen for feelings of guilt, grief, and sadness
·         Involve affected family members in important conversations

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Talking with Young Children about Alcohol

When playing the "blame game," fingers often point in many directions when dealing with the issue of underage drinking.

Research has found that children and even teenagers are mostly influenced by their peers and family—namely, parents and siblings—when making decisions about using alcohol. For example, researchers have learned that teens' drinking and substance use behavior was highly influenced by sibling behavior.

Also, teens that spend a lot of time around parents who drink are more likely to drink themselves. However, this same study showed that parents who set firm limits on underage drinking tend to have teens who are less likely to drink.

What does this mean for parents who want to educate their children about alcohol use? It's a good idea to start early by creating an environment where children feel comfortable about asking questions and discussing feelings.

Be realistic when talking about alcohol; exaggerating the dangers is not effective. Discuss the facts about alcohol use as well as your values. Know your teen's daily schedule and set clear limits on underage drinking.

Monitor who your teen becomes friends with and get to know their parents. Most teenage drinking occurs in someone's home, such as that of a peer.

Most important, examine your own behaviors about drinking and realize that your children will most likely adopt these behaviors.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fun with Language

Children communicate in many different ways. While most young children use words, some children with disabilities are not able to talk or communicate verbally. Learn about and use multiple forms of communication to support all children’s literacy development.

We can help all children learn to listen to, understand and use language by reading aloud regularly.

·         Choose interesting stories, poems, and magazines. Find developmentally appropriate computer software to provide children with another way to listen to stories, learn interesting words, and respond to directions and communication.

·         Make up language “clue” games. Ask children to name the “mystery fruit” for dessert; “It is round, juicy, and it has a peel.”

·         Invite children to look for print in the world around them, from street signs to cereal boxes.

·         Mix print and play. Create a dramatic play area with signs, shopping lists, menus, pads for taking orders, and other print and writing materials.

·         Focus on beginning letter sounds with word games like, “Look around, what begins with an ‘rrr’ sound?”

·         Play rhyming games; “I spy something you drink that rhymes with silk.”

Where to learn more:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Healthy From the Start

Feeding is how we help our children grow healthy and strong and it’s one of a parent’s most important jobs.  Here are some ideas from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help your child become a healthy eater: 

·         Meals are a time to connect with your child and support her overall development. Talk with your child during meals and don’t let her eat alone. You can help build strong family relationships by remembering that meals are more than food.
·         Create routines around mealtime. Routines make children feel loved and secure and they help children look forward to each meal. Establish regular meal and snack times beginning when your child is 9 -12 months old.
·         Offer 3 to 4 healthy food choices that your child likes at each meal. Research shows that children will choose a healthy diet when they are offered a selection of different healthy foods.
·         Don’t give up on new foods. You may have to offer your child a new food 10 to 15 times before he will eat it. Patience is the key!
·         Healthy eating and exercise go together. Make active play a part of everyday family life.
·         If you are concerned about your child’s weight or activity level, talk to your child’s pediatrician.

To learn more, visit

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tips for Healthy Development for Your Grandchildren “Crash Course”

Understanding what to expect at each stage of your grandchild's development is only the first step. The next step is to put it into practice. It is important that your behavior matches the developmental needs of your grandchild. The following tips are grouped by developmental stages. Review them and consider how they relate to your grandchild's stage.

·         Attend to an infant's cry—this will develop trust.
·         Establish a routine and predictable schedule—this will create a sense of security.
·         Talk and sing to your grandchildren and imitate their sounds—this will develop language skills.
·         Touch and cuddle your child—this will develop a strong, loving bond.

·         Keep your environment safe and childproof—this will allow them to be curious and explore safely.
·         Help your grandchildren develop a sense of independence by offering choices. For example, "Do you want to wear your sneakers or your sandals?"
·         Have appropriate expectations. For example, understand that they won't "play nicely" with other toddlers because they do not know how to share yet.
·         Read to your grandchildren daily—this will develop reading skills and promote a strong attachment.

·         Be patient while listening and responding to your grandchildren's many questions—this will help to create a healthy self-concept.
·         Establish clear rules and limits—this will guide expected behavior.
·         Encourage your grandchildren to play—it is through play that children learn best.
·         Monitor what your grandchildren watch on TV—children should not watch more than 2 hours daily of educational television.

School-age children
·         Keep an eye on your grandchildren's activities and friendships—school-age children still need your guidance in learning acceptable behaviors.
·         Provide support and encouragement for your grandchildren's hobbies and interests; keep in mind, though, that no matter their skill level, too many demands will discourage them.
·         Be consistent with discipline by setting clear rules and consequences—children need to know what is expected of them.
·         Get to know your grandchildren's school teachers—this will encourage good behavior and study habits.

·         Recognize your grandchildren's need for independence and a unique identity—work to create a supportive and loving environment for your grandchildren.
·         Be aware of the emotional and physical changes your grandchildren are going through. Be patient—expect moodiness and self-doubt.
·         Listen to your grandchildren before jumping to conclusions—this will open lines of communication and trust.

In summary, as a guardian for your grandchildren you have taken on a major and admirable responsibility. The discipline and rules you teach your grandchildren will have lasting effects.

Source: University of Florida Extension

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

A diagnosis of major depression represents an often debilitating illness that affects approximately 9.1% of adults in the United States. A clinical case of depression is separated from everyday blues in terms of the duration and severity of depressive symptoms. Periodic bouts of sadness or a depressed mood that lasts a few days are relatively common, but are not the same as major depression.

Here is a list of the signs or symptoms of major depression:
·         Sadness, depressed mood, crying over seemingly minor setbacks
·         Increased irritability, crankiness, difficulty being satisfied
·         More easily frustrated, gives up quickly after initial failures
·         Poor self-concept, low self-esteem, reluctance toward attempting endeavors
·         Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
·         Changes in appetite (decreased appetite most common) often signaled by rapid weight gain or loss.
·         Changes in sleep patterns (not enough or too much sleep)
·         Slowed, inhibited actions (slow, soft speech; slowed body movements).
·         Fatigue, loss of pep and energy
·         Poor concentration, attention and/or memory.
·         Thoughts or words about death or suicide.

Most people will experience some of these symptoms from time to time, but in order for it to be considered major depression; you should be experiencing at least 5 of these symptoms, continuously, for at least 2 weeks.

Depression is not grieving. Grieving the loss of a loved one may include some or all of the symptoms of depression. However, it's important to remember that these feelings of sadness, physical, and emotional fatigue are often a normal part of the grieving process. It is possible that an extremely long period of grieving may develop into an episode of depression, but that is a fairly rare experience.

Depression is more common in adults than in children, but it does occur in children. When children are depressed, their symptoms might be different from adults. For example, rather than showing sadness or crying, some children behave badly or show a lot of anger. They may be more cranky than usual, become picky about food, or may show a lack of interest in their usual activities.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Early Literacy

“Early Literacy” is a term used to describe the stage of literacy development occurring before children are able to read and write.  From infancy, children begin to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes that influence lifelong reading and writing behaviors.

Research indicates that the literacy skills children have when entering school is an important predictor of their school readiness, social adjustment and academic success.

The areas of early literacy areas include:

Oral language – children develop the ability to listen to and understand what is being said to them, as well as to communicate with others.

Print awareness – children develop knowledge of how the print system works; directionality (left to right, top to bottom); that print can take the form of letters, words and sentences; and that print has meaning.

Phonological awareness – children gain an awareness of the individual sounds that make up words. Children who play with beginning and ending sounds, break words into individual speech sounds, and make up nonsense words are developing their phonological awareness. Being able to identify sounds in words helps children when they start to read and must make connections between these sounds and the letters that represent them.

Alphabet knowledge and writing – children begin to realize that print is used to communicate and that drawings are different than print. They become interested in naming and writing the letters of the alphabet. Early writing efforts that look like scribbles may lead to scribbled print, the formation of letters, invented spelling and conventional writing.

Where to learn more:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dad says; "My Kids Should Always Obey Me!"

This is the perfect irrational statement for fathers and it often creates more problems for their families. For many men, this kind of thinking takes them further and further from their kids and it creates a cycle of anger and frustration that is hard to break. But for those who’d like to learn to manage their anger can do so, especially if you follow these six steps.

·         Take responsibility for your own anger. The only person in the world that can cause you to get angry is you. Stop blaming others for your outbursts and look for strategies to improve you. Become familiar with warning signs that you are getting angry.

·         Stay aware of your body and the signals it gives you that you are about to lose your patience or get mad.

·         If you sense you’re going to get mad, then leave the area immediately. You can’t say or do anything you regret if you’re not there, right? Give yourself some time to process and think about the appropriate response to the situation.

·         Count to ten. This may seem old fashion but it is still effective and it allows you to calm down a bit.

·         Do something to reduce your stress every day. Whether its exercise, meditation, or reading, try to at least one thing to make you more relaxed before you get home.

·         Use deep breathing. When you feel the signs of anger coming on remember to breath. This will help to relax you and have a calming effect.

Remember - anger will happen in families. The key is to have the tools to minimize the effects of your anger on the rest of the family. If you struggle with anger, show your family you care, and practice the six steps above.