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Articles and expert advice to help you guide your child to educational success.
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How to Transition a Co-sleeper

February 26, 2015

By Noralba Martinez

How to Transition a Co-sleeper | 5 steps that will help you transition from co-sleeping to your child sleeping in their own bed. | Two parents smile and cuddle with their daughter in bed.

There are many developmental milestones and transitioning events your child will experience in his or her childhood. Several are major milestones: crawling, walking, running. Others will seem minor: picking up a raisin, throwing a ball, scribbling. If you are transitioning your baby to a sippy cup or your toddler to underwear, then you know how hard it can be to help your child adjust to the necessary change. Now imagine if you have been co-sleeping and have decided it is time for your child to sleep on his or her own. What do you do? How will you decide when and how? I want to help you make your child’s transitioning easier.

The hardest job is to decide when, which is a question you need to answer on your own. When you have concluded it is time, I want to assist you in the process of transitioning. Here are some things to keep in mind during this major event: 

  • Timing is Important. Begin this event when you can afford some sleepless nights. Sleeping alone and in his or her own bed is new to your child and it’s common for him or her to protest the change by crying. Crying or whining may be the only way your child can express dislike for the difference in sleeping arrangements. You both can get through it, though.

    Give yourself the time to make this happen without it affecting your ability to function. Remember that your child can only handle one major event at a time. Do not decide to stop co-sleeping if your child is currently experiencing another change. This will be stressful for him or her and may make the co-sleeping transition more difficult.
  • Consistency. Remember that consistency is the key to success with everything. When you decide it is time to stop co-sleeping, make that the end. Do not give in and make co-sleeping an activity you do when it is convenient for you, as it will confuse your child. This is new for him or her, so it might get challenging before you see the progress.
  • Lovey. Try to ease the emotional stress on your child related to being apart from you at bedtime. Some children who are transitioning into their own beds respond better when given a special blanket or toy. We call that special item a “lovey.” You don’t need to spend a lot of money on it; I recommend cutting an old t-shirt into a small blanket. The old t-shirt is perfect because it is soft, small, and smells like you. The new lovey will give your child some security and safety as it reminds him or her of you.
  • Heads Up. Like with everything we do as parents, there are things we prepare for without including our children in that planning. Give your child enough notice before the change begins. Talk about the independence and pros that come with sleeping on your own to motivate your child before the change. Help foster the change by using positive words and emotions.
  • Small Steps. If your child has difficulty adjusting to change, make this a gradual event. Begin by moving your child’s bed into your room to provide security. As your child starts sleeping through the night regularly in his or her bed, move it back into his or her bedroom.

Remember, you can do this! It just takes a little bit of planning, patience, and consistency.


Help Your College Student Prepare for a Career

February 25, 2015

By Mario Vela

Help Your College Student Prepare for a Career | A job and a career are very different. Help your child prepare for a career when they graduate from college with these 4 approaches. | The image shows a female college student in front of a chalkboard with diagrams that show how to get a job. She looks like she is floating away with the balloons drawn on the chalkboard.

It’s the time of year when college seniors and their parents worry about what comes next. Will they get a job? Will they be able to afford living on their own? While you’re thinking of your child’s future, have you considered how to prepare him or her for not just a job but for a career?

In my professional career, I’ve spent years helping colleagues and college students enhance and prepare for their careers. A career is much different than a job. A job pays the bills and happens in the present, but a career is made up of all of the jobs we have taken and will take, how we advance, and what our overall goals are.

I’ve noticed that first generation college students have a tendency to let their careers take control of them. There are two main factors that contribute to this:

  • Limited industry exposure
  • Limited networks

Basically, college seniors about to embark upon the adult workforce often don’t know what they’re preparing for, and therefore don’t have a plan for their future life-long career, but rather for their first job out of college. But you can help. There is a great opportunity to help your child learn what’s out there and prepare for a career by:

  • Visiting different companies
  • Meeting with industry leaders
  • Attending industry events
  • Working with faculty experts

When students understand the various opportunities available, from company culture to seeing a typical career path at a large organization, they can get a better idea of what is important to them. They can figure out the kinds of careers they want. The sooner they figure that out, the more prepared they will be to control their careers and make fewer missteps along the way.

Encourage your child to meet with his or her career counselor or advisor at school. They should be able to help your child arrange these opportunities like visiting different companies, attending campus networking events to meet with industry leaders, etc.

Once your college student knows what’s really out there, he or she can determine a career path and stick to it to ensure faster success.


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.


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.


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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