Self-Care for Parents

Calling All Parents! This one is for you. Parenting is difficult sometimes and often the many tasks required of it go unnoticed. So, how do you recharge or replenish yourself to be the parent you want to be?  Think about what you need to do for self-care that you have probably neglected because you don’t have the time or the energy to do.  Examples might be going to the gym, taking a walk/hike, birding, gardening, or whatever you feel centers you.  It is the activity that can resupply you with what you need to parent well.  It might also be purchasing a brand of coffee or tea that you ran out of but really love.  If you hear a parent in trouble, ask them what small thing they have done lately to take care of themselves and it can make a big difference.  So, think about what your self-care was/will be and go and do it soon.  Your kids will thank you.

Bringing the Fun Home this Summer!

What will you and your child(ren) do this summer? I usually start asking this question during sessions in April or May. This year things are a bit different. Now I ask, how will you bring the fun home this summer…because of the pandemic. This can mean updating sports equipment, finding new ways to cool down with water, or setting up a swing set for the kids or the grown-ups. It helps to think of what you did as a child, when there was more time outside to engage in free play. Maybe you decide to plant a small container garden. Perhaps, you bring out some board games or add new ones to your collection. Maybe you add some of the outdoor furniture that you’ve been wanting so your teen(s) can hang out with a couple of friends. Or you just throw a blanket down and have a picnic. You can even set up a tent and camp out. Work together as a family to make your outdoor space, whatever the size, as comfortable and fun as possible.  If you don’t have an outdoor space, you can still find ways to enjoy time outside while being safe and social distancing.  Think of these ideas as an investment in yours and your child’s wellbeing.

Homeschooling in a Pandemic

I have been teaching my children since they were born. I knew that teaching would be a part of the job, but I never expected to homeschool them. I’m sure none of us expected to homeschool because of a pandemic either. I never imagined teaching them what was on someone else’s plan for the week for four months. Some children learn faster than others, and some are more self-motivated than others. Some parenting days are just easier than others. I just want to take this moment to acknowledge that homeschooling is difficult. More difficult than many parents ever imagined.  At least at school, teachers send kids off to the lunchroom for lunch, and at home, I am making that too. I have never in my life had so many hats as I do now. I just hope for more patience tomorrow.

Photo by Element5 Digitalon Unsplash

What Will Your Child Do This Summer?!

If you do not have plans for your child this summer, it is not too late. Does your town, or a nearby town, have a recreation department with activities or even a day camp? I have referred many parents over the years to look at the American Camp Association website: You can search for a camp by location, interests, cost, weeks needed, and also find specialized camps such as for children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) for instance. Some camps have counselors/therapists on staff that can handle your child’s challenges more effectively. If you have the luxury of being home in the summer, the local library is a definite source for fun and engaging programs. Keep in mind that they may have limited weekend summer hours depending on your library. Joining the summer reading program is a must even if your child is not reading independently. Attend one of the, oftentimes, weekly programs to meet other parents, share challenges, and simply support each other. Your child(ren) will then have the benefit of socializing with other children their age in these age specific programs. If your child is in daycare, while you work during the week, these weekend programs give you the benefit of watching them interact with other children. Whether or not you choose to sign your child up for something structured like a camp or follow a bucket list of things (Pinterest has great ones) you’d like to do this summer, have fun with your child(ren) because they will only be this age once!

ADHD Awareness Month

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Keep in mind, however, that not all children with ADHD are hyperactive.  If your child’s teacher has been making comments that he/she is inattentive, hyper, easily distracted, not focusing or concentrating then keep reading.  There are professionals such as neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health providers who can confirm if this is indeed what your child is facing.  Then you can take that information to your child’s school, where they may be eligible for accommodations via a 504 plan to help them succeed.  Examples of accommodations are: preferential seating (near the teacher or instruction area), written homework assignments, and giving extra time and a quiet space to complete classwork or tests.  If you require any further information or would like to discuss how Family Values Counseling LLC can help your child contact (973) 202-6580.

When to Get Help for Your Child at School

      This is the first full week of school for many students in New Jersey. Hopefully, the 2017-2018 school year is off to a good start and will remain so for the remaining 39 weeks. As parents, we want our children to do well academically, emotionally, and socially. So what can you do if you sense some difficulties? Get help for you child as soon as possible. Try your best to make it to ‘Back to School Night’ to meet their teacher(s) and know what is expected. Open communication with educators is critical to your child’s success. Ask them what you can do at home to help. If it is academic, get a good tutor or find a learning center near you, if you can afford it. For a more economic option, look for a teacher recommended high school student or even a family member (retired teacher etc.).  Make sure their eyesight is checked by a professional to rule out any vision problems. If year after year, teachers make the same comments about your child consider what might be going on with them and how you or someone else can help. If you have concerns, there are teams at every school that can meet with you and other administrators/staff to discuss your child. These can be called Intervention and Referral Services or Child Study Teams. Writing a letter to the team is the best way to express your desire to meet with them to discuss your son or daughter. The school counselors, social workers, and school psychologist are a part of the teams and can help with some behavioral/ emotional issues. If you need further assistance in figuring out how to get help, when to do so, or how to write the letter contact me today at (973) 202-6580.

Report Card Worries

The 100th day of School Tips for Parents

Since in New Jersey there are a total of 180 days of school each academic year, more than half of the school year has passed.  The second marking period is ending and soon you will be seeing your child’s report card.  Are you ready for this?  Are you worried about what you might see?  Will the teacher ask for a conference?  These and other questions may be going through your mind.  Below are some suggestions to make the next half of the school year go smoothly.

  • If your child is doing poorly in a particular subject, ask if he/she can do some extra credit to bring up their grade before the next report card.
  • Is your child not completing their homework? Daily contact with their teacher(s) either in person, via phone (even text if agreed upon) or in writing can prove helpful in these situations.  If you know your child has not completed something, you can hold them accountable.  If they simply do not understand something, then you can try to help.  If for some reason you cannot assist, find someone who can such as a high school student, other family members, or teachers (either your child’s or another one that tutors).  Keep in mind that some of these options may be free and others may charge a fee.
  • Does the teacher have any recommendations on how to help your child? For example, to learn multiplication facts there are CDs (probably available at your local library) with songs that make learning them a little bit easier and fun.
  • Are there behavioral concerns listed on the report card? Be mindful of words like: inattentive, does not listen, trouble focusing or concentrating.  These could indicate a problem and require further assessment by a counselor/therapist, neurologist, or psychiatrist.  The latter two of these could prescribe medication if deemed necessary.
  • If their grades are consistently low, could they have a learning disorder? In this case, it may be helpful to talk with the teacher(s) and the School’s Child Study Team to possibly assess their learning issues via an evaluation.  Keep in mind that when doing so, it really makes everything flow better when write a letter to request this.
  • Is your child absent too much? What is the maximum number of times they can be absent before they are required to repeat the grade?  Hopefully, you are not close to that magic number and if you are, you had better have a doctor’s note.  It may be important to explore if there are emotional issues or family changes that are contributing to their absenteeism.
  • No matter what number or letter your child received, stay positive when reviewing the report card with them and focus on what they are doing well. Remember that what they do well may be how they decide on their careers in the future.  Someone who is good in math could be an accountant, for example.
  • If you need help with any of the above, or to discuss other options to help your child you can reach me at (973) 202-6580






8 Essential School Supplies for Children with ADHD

If you haven’t already bought school supplies, now is the time.  But what do you buy?  Sometimes teachers and schools send out supply lists, and sometimes you are on your own to decide.  Below, I am going to suggest some supplies that could be helpful to a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

  • Color coding

If green is the color you choose for science then get a green folder to match it.  Discuss with your child what each color association can be.  Red, for example, can be a subject you really love.  If your child comes up with these, they will be more likely to remember them.  You can even keep the colors the same year after year to make it even easier for them.

  • Watch with an alarm

This works well for an older child, and make sure to sync it with the school bell on the first day.  If a child only has two minutes to change classes, for example, the alarm can be there guide to speed things up along the way. It can also be helpful to keep them on track in the classroom if used properly.  Be wary, however, of one with too many functions as this could be more of a distraction.  Cell phones can also be used for alarms, calendars, and even note taking.

  • Writing instruments

You can never have too many writing supplies, and since they are on sale now try to stock up for the school year.  Have one pen taped to the inside of their locker as an emergency back up too.  Please don’t send them with all the writing supplies on the first day.  Keep some at home near their homework area too.  Maybe you can even try to find a way to Velcro a pen to their notebook to prevent it from getting lost.

  • Grippers

Children with ADHD can often struggle with penmanship.  Helping your child write more legibly may be a matter of getting the correct pen/pencil gripper.  Local stores have a variety.  Find one that works best for your child.  Also keep in mind that younger children (Pre-K-2nd) need fatter pencils for better grip.  Hopefully, your child’s teacher can be flexible with having things typed instead of written when possible too.  If you don’t know this, ask.  If the writing problem seems more significant and does not improve with different strategies, you may want to consult an occupational therapist for an evaluation.

  • Laminated schedule

For older children, laminate their schedule so it is durable and can be easily found on the front of a binder for example.  It is critical that your child knows where they are going, especially as they get older and teachers expect them to be on time for class despite overcrowded halls.  If you can color code it to match the notebook color it’s even better!

  • Label everything

This can be a joint effort as the first day of school approaches.  Make sure to label all supplies and even clothing.  I’ve seen the lost and found bin in many schools, and if you want items back make sure they are labeled.  You can even label pencils with a smiley face sticker.

  • Clear pencil case

This will hopefully contain some of the other supplies.  It is important to practice putting things back into the case at home with your child after homework is finished.  Younger children will need help organizing their bookbags for the next day and clearing out any loose papers.  Older children will need help with this but try to talk them through it so it builds this skill.

  • Big eraser

Everyone makes mistakes.  Children with ADHD tend to make careless mistakes on their school work.  It could be because they are rushing to be finished.  Whatever the reason, make sure they have what they need to correct the errors they see when reviewing their work.

Most importantly, do what works for you and your child.  These are just suggestions, and they can and should be modified to meet your specific needs.  Use what works and toss the rest.  Please make sure to check with your child’s teachers about their progress along the way so there are no surprises later on.  Small steps can go a long way to prevent a problem at report card time.  Hope you and your child(ren) have a wonderful school year!