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Addressing Your Child’s Physical and Emotional Delays

February 24, 2015

By Maureen Powers

Addressing Your Child’s Physical and Emotional Delays | Are you worried that your child isn't speaking, playing with other children, or growing and developing in the same way as other children the same age? If so, your child may have a developmental delay. Read on for how you can help. | The image shows a young child crying in public.

Are you worried that your child isn’t speaking, playing with other children, or growing and developing in the same way as other children the same age? If so, your child may have a developmental delay. The good news is that all states are required by the federal government to help identify children with physical or emotional delays and provide help for them to grow and develop to their fullest potential. Research proves that the earlier we start helping children with delays, the less likely children are to need help once they start school.

Helping children when there is a concern about development starts with a process called Child Find. This process requires states to provide developmental screeners for all children with suspected disabilities from birth through age 21 at no cost to the families. Each state develops its own criteria for meeting the requirements of the law.

In many states the local public school district handles the entire Child Find process for any age. In other states, the path is different depending on the age of the child. The first step for any concerned parent or adult is to contact your local school district. If your district does not handle Child Find for infants and toddlers, the ECTA Center can help you find the name and contact numbers for the lead agency for infants and toddlers in your state.

Once the Child Find developmental screener has been completed, the results will only indicate if there is or is not a concern about development. If the screener indicates a concern in one or more areas, it means that it is important to take a closer look.

At that point, the screener can refer you to qualified professionals who will conduct a more extensive, comprehensive evaluation that examines all aspects of development. This evaluation must be completed within 45 days of parents or legal guardians giving written permission for the evaluation.

If the results of the evaluation identify a delay, then the child is eligible for services. Details of what these specialized services will be are written in what is called an Individualized Family Service Plan or the IFSP for infants and toddlers or the Individual Education Plan or the IEP for children three years and older.

For information on one mom’s experience with an IEP, read her articles Early Intervention: Part I and Early Intervention: Part II.

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4 Tricks to Sneak Vegetables into Kids’ Food

February 19, 2015

By Jessica Vician

4 Tricks to Sneak Vegetables into Kids’ Food | It's tough getting some kids to eat their vegetables, but here are four tricks to sneaking the veggies into your child's food (hopefully without them noticing) | The image shows a boy smiling as he drinks a green smoothie.

We all know that some kids just won’t eat vegetables. It doesn’t matter how you prepare them—covered in butter, cheese, or some other concoction—they know the veggies are there and want nothing to do with them.

Covering up the vegetables isn’t enough to trick your smart little produce-hater. But by trying some of these tricks, you might be able to sneak a vegetable or two into your child’s next meal or snack.

  1. Make it mushy
    Sure, mushy food may sound gross to you, but these recipes feature broken-down vegetables, which means they don’t taste as strong and it’s more difficult to notice a vegetable texture in the food.

    Add broccoli to your next round of mac and cheese by boiling it in water longer than you normally would—until the broccoli is extremely tender—and then mix it in with the pasta and cheese. The broccoli will practically dissolve while you stir and your child won’t taste it.
  2. Chop chop chop until you can’t chop anymore
    If your child refuses even the sneaky mushy vegetables, try chopping and dicing and mincing them into the smallest pieces you can—you might even want to use a food processor to make them as small as possible.

    For example, with the broccoli mac and cheese, chop the broccoli florets as small as you can, then add to boiling water. Use a sieve or very fine colander, since there will be small pieces, and drain, adding the mushy small pieces to the mac and cheese.

    You can also use these tiny broccoli pieces (pre-boil) on homemade pizza, as well as any vegetable you purée into a paste. Just spread it on the crust in a thin layer before adding sauce or cheese and your child won’t ever know it’s there. 
  3. Soup is your friend
    The great thing about soup is that a lot of ingredients go in, but the flavors blend together so seamlessly that you often don’t taste exactly what’s in there. Think about it: carrots and celery are often key starters to soup, but by the time it’s done cooking, they’re either blended or so mushy that you don’t notice when you’re slurping.

    The next time you make a soup your child likes, add extra carrots and celery to the beginning of the recipe so you maximize the nutrients he or she is getting. Try a broccoli and cauliflower cheese soup—while the cheese isn’t the healthiest option, at least the blended vegetables don’t have a strong taste. Or use an immersion blender to make a soup thicker and creamier while disguising the vegetables.
  4. Sneaky smoothies
    As adults, we focus on sneaking vegetables like spinach and kale into our breakfast smoothies. Why not sneak those same vegetables into your kids’ smoothie treats? Make the green vegetable color part of the experience. Read Green Eggs and Ham with your kids, and then have a smoothie ready to go with bananas, strawberries, apples, and spinach. If the kids don’t see you add the spinach, they’ll never taste it but the color can be part of the experience. It’s all in the presentation, so make it fun and goofy and they’ll never notice.

Do you have tested techniques for sneaking vegetables into a picky eater’s food? Tell me your tricks in the comments below.

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Dangers of Prescription Medication

February 18, 2015

By Amelia Orozco

Dangers of Prescription Medication | How to talk to your teenager about prescription medication use and overdose dangers. | A teenage girl, looking depressed, stares at pills sitting on her bed.

Today’s drug scene looks much different than what many parents may have been schooled on. It is wise to assume that our children must know more than to “Just Say No” nowadays, but to also know why they should refuse drugs in the first place. Aside from the typical street drugs, they should know about prescription medications and why they should only take those prescribed to them by their doctor.

To begin, it is essential to refrain from accusing your son or daughter of any wrongdoing without clear evidence. Doing so may alienate them, which may be difficult to remedy. Instead, be a role model when using medications, and make time for this important conversation.

It is best not to even start.
One good piece of information to share with your son or daughter is that the younger a person starts using any type of drug, drinking alcohol, or smoking cigarettes, the tougher it will be to break the habit later in life. In addition, many of these drugs—which may be seemingly harmless to them—are known as gateway drugs, or drugs that entice the use of harder drugs. Children’s formative years are truly influential to the rest of their lives. Remind them that as with many habits, it can happen gradually, so it is important to be fully aware of their decisions to ingest any type substance.

Use your thinking cap while it still works!
Thinking that an occasional pill here or there will not do any harm is dangerous because there could be long-term effects. Your son or daughter could be allergic to one of the ingredients in the medication, which may cause some type of illness, paralysis, or even death. Although there may not be any signs of ill effects even when used for years, there can be lifelong repercussions. Some are addictive and may cause heart disease, complications to the nervous system, and behavioral problems that result in making bad choices. Any of these factors, of course, will affect physical and mental health well into the future.

Stay one step ahead of the game.
As a parent, it is important to keep track of all your medications. Aside from storing them somewhere private and safe away from your children, you should also know how many pills you currently have, both at home and in refills at the pharmacy. In addition, try to only purchase your prescriptions from one drugstore to avoid the possibility of someone trying to get your refills at different locations. Nowadays, drugstores have online and automated services that will indicate how many times your prescriptions have been filled. This will keep track of everything in one secure place.

Finally, because YOU are your child’s first teacher, remind your son or daughter how proud you are of their decisions and accomplishments. Have an open door policy, where they are always welcome to talk to you about anything without pre-judgments. Allow them to use social media or texting to communicate with you if they prefer. As a parent, you have become more keenly aware of their style and gestures, and can pick up on cues that will help you start these important conversations with them.



Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago and Extra Newspaper. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.

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5 Tips to Help Your Children With Homework

February 17, 2015

By Noralba Martinez

5 Tips to Help Your Children With Homework | Help your child with their homework with these tips, even if you don't know the material yourself. Great parent engagement tips. | This image shows a young girl sitting at the table working on homework while her mother looks on.

As a parent, part of your role is to help your children learn many skills that they will use throughout their lives. Your children will gradually transition from easy homework to more complicated projects. What if you do not understand or comprehend their homework? What if the language is foreign? What if you feel like you can’t help?

Thinking about all these questions can make anyone stressed. I want to share some ideas to alleviate your concerns and empower you with answers for your children. Try the following five strategies to aid you with homework assistance.

  1. Partnership. Be your children’s partner in school. Attend all parent-teacher conferences and open houses before school begins to create a partnership with your children’s teachers. This will allow easier communication with the teachers and access to guidance with homework. Build partnerships with parents in your children’s classes to ask them questions, too.
  2. Homework Time. Sit with your children and let them know how important school is. Turn all electronics off to give your children your undivided attention. Allow them to teach you the homework lessons they know. This will strengthen children’s confidence and allow you to learn some of the information they are learning in school.
  3. Tutoring. Inquire about free tutoring services in your children’s school. Ask about homework assistance and guides. Attend tutoring sessions with your children so you can learn new approaches to teaching your kids from the tutors.
  4. Learn. Enroll in any free or low-cost classes that can help you gain knowledge about the subjects with which you are having difficulty.
  5. Support. You are not alone. Read the tips on pages six through eight in this document and review this helpful advice, too.

Be an active learner with your children. You can gain and access new information with them while doing homework together. No parent knows all the answers and they, too, seek help to bridge the gap.

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City Dates on a Budget

February 12, 2015

By Jessica Vician

City Dates on a Budget | Music, BYOB restaurants, Babysitters | People gather on the lawn at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in Chicago for a concert and picnic.

As you know, practicing parent engagement includes knowing when to spend time taking care of yourself and your relationship. And based on the popularity of our date night outfits board on Pinterest (and of course this time of year), we know you’re aching for a night out with your parenting partner.

While date night always sounds like a great idea, it can be expensive. A babysitter and dinner alone could put enough of a dent in the wallet to make it an infrequent occurrence. But there are always options if you’re willing to get a little creative.

A good-sized city often has many budget-friendly options for couples. Even if you don’t live in the city, if you’re near one it might be worth the extra 45 minutes in the car or on the train to have a fun night out with your partner. Here are my favorite budget date night options in the city.

Music 
As Chicagoans, my partner and I often visit Millennium Park for free concerts in the summer. Even though we could sit in the pavilion and have a view, we prefer to bring a picnic and sit on the lawn. That way, we can listen to the music, eat together, chat, and lie down and watch the sun fall behind the skyline while the city lights brighten. Not only do we get quality time together, live music, and a great location for free, but since we prepare the picnic food at home, we save a lot of money on this “dinner out.”

If you live in a part of the country with more mild weather, this might even be an option during these winter months. If you’re in a wintery city like I am, try a local music school or university—students often perform regular concerts for free.

BYOB Neighborhood Restaurants 
Every few months, we visit our friends’ apartment to watch their kids while they head across the street to a local BYOB sushi and robata grill. Mom and Dad are able to pop out for a few hours, pick up a bottle of wine at the shop, and share it with delicious food and engaging conversation. Since the restaurant is BYOB (bring your own booze), they often spend under $50 on the full dinner. But the time away from the kids and the constant chores needing to be done is worth much more than the low cost of dinner.

Sitter 
Speaking of watching our friends’ kids, babysitters can be one of the most expensive parts of a date night. Enlist the help of friends and family. Arrange for the kids to play at a friend’s house or with their cousins so you can take the night off. After a few hours of playtime, they will be ready for bed (or already asleep) by the time you pick them up.

If friends or family are not an option, see if you have a neighborhood high school student looking for some extra money. High school students are old enough to watch kids of all ages, provided they are trained in CPR and first aid, but won’t charge as much as college students or professional nannies might.

These are just a few budget-friendly ideas to help you and your partner get out of the house and spend some time alone together. What are your ideas for date nights on a budget? Share them in the comments below.

Tags :  parentingmarriagebudgetsocial
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