Family Files Facts for All Ages Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Stay Mommy, Stay! Fri, 19 Oct 2018 10:45:00 +0000

When my son was very young, I remember dropping him off at the child care center and then preschool. I recall seeing little ones crying, clinging to their parents – and then seeing those same parents crying in the parking lot. It is very difficult to leave your child somewhere when he is upset, but understanding that he is experiencing separation anxiety, which is normal, can be helpful.

Separation anxiety is not only normal, but is also very predictable. A child will start to show fear of people and places he is not familiar with around eight months of age. Separation anxiety usually peaks between 10 – 18 months and should fade by two years of age. This development is normal and a good sign that the child has formed important attachments with parents and loved ones. It is actually more worrisome if a child does not exhibit any preference of caregivers or issues with them leaving.

Although separation anxiety is normal, it is still upsetting for all involved. So how can caregivers make it easier for the child? The Illinois Early Learning Project offers some great tips:

  • Read children's books about separation
  • Take time and stay with the child in a new place or around a new person until they become familiar
  • Reassure the child you will return. You may also say when you will return, like after naptime or at dinnertime – be sure to keep your word
  • Let him have a favorite blanket or other possession for comfort
  • Avoid leaving your child if he is hungry, tired or sick
  • Don't tease or scold him for being upset and DO NOT sneak away without telling him
  • Don't bribe him not to cry

In addition, leaving the child for short periods of time at first – like a trial period – may be helpful. Also, having special hello and good-bye rituals may lessen the child's distress since children at that age love routines. Children can pick up on their parents feelings, so if parents are feeling anxious or guilty about leaving their child, that can contribute to the child's anxiety. Being confident in your child care/school choice and remembering that a little time apart is good for you should ease those feelings.

It is important to note, that if a child continues to be inconsolable in a new setting for more than two weeks, or if he stops eating or sleeping well, refuses to interact with others and has an ongoing change in behavior, that there may be another reason for your child's behavior. Consider other possible sources of stress in his life and/or consider alternative child care arrangements.

Something else I remember from those days were the parents that got really upset when they went to pick up their child, and the child wasn't that excited to see them and didn't want to leave. I thought, "you wanted them to be happy to be here, but you don't want them to be too happy!" When that scenario happens, parents need to feel grateful that their child feels that safe, secure and happy in his environment away from home and it is great news for his social and emotional development. So join in the fun for a while!

Source: Illinois Early Learning Project

Making the Grade Fri, 12 Oct 2018 13:43:00 +0000  


red apple fruit on four pyle books



School has been in full-swing for a while and…ready or not…the report cards will be coming home soon! Do you remember how nervous you were? Did you run home and joyfully hand it to your parents or did you want to feed it to the neighbor's dog? The anxiety caused by a piece of paper can be overwhelming, but it is not the paper that your child is worried about… is your reaction to it!

Here are some tips on what you can help ease the anxiety at home:

  • Know when the report card is coming home. This may sound like a silly reminder, but the weeks really go by quickly and it is easy to lose track of time. Write a note on your calendar to remind both you and your child when the report cards are coming out.
  • Keep an eye on your child's progress at school. Many schools offer parents on-line access to their child's academic progress, attendance and discipline records. Check the site regularly and speak to you child and their teacher if you see they are struggling in any areas.
  • Be involved in your child's learning. Take time to discuss what your child is learning at school and look through their backpacks and folders daily. Graded papers that are sent home can provide some insight as to what they may need help with.
  • Communicate concerns with your child's teacher. The teacher will appreciate your discussing issues regarding your child before the end of the grading period. This will make parent-teacher conferences go smoothly.
  • Celebrate the effort put into the grade they receive. If you know they have put forth their best effort for their grades, focus on their hard work!
  • Do not compare your child's grades with other children, including siblings. This may cause strife in relationships at school and at home. Be realistic about your child's abilities and uniqueness.

Make your child's education a team effort to foster a love of learning that will last a lifetime!

For more parenting tips visit the Family Files blog!

This blog originally was originally posted on October 22, 2015

Mental Illness Awareness Week - Be a part of the solution not the problem Mon, 08 Oct 2018 06:00:00 +0000

Throughout October, there is a theme focusing on raising the awareness of mental health issues and in support of mental health. This year, Oct. 7–13 is Mental Illness Awareness Week, a time to shine a light on mental illness and replace stigma with hope. This year's theme is CureStigma. Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults experiences a mental illness in any given year. Those problems can contribute to onset of more serious long-term conditions such as major depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Approximately one-half of chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14. Unfortunately, long delays—sometimes decades—often occur between the time symptoms first appear and when people get help.

It is critical to learn to recognize early symptoms of mental illness and talk with a doctor about any concerns. Early identification and treatment can make a big difference for successful management of a condition.

For example, major depression is a mood disorder that is more serious than "feeling blue" or temporary sadness. Be alert to any combination of the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood (sadness)
  • Poor concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Disturbance of appetite
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide

Bipolar disorder involves cycles of both depression and mania. It is different from normal "ups and downs" that many people experience. It involves dramatic shifts in mood, energy and ability to think clearly. Symptoms are not the same in everyone; some people may experience intense "highs," while others primarily experience depression. Mania involves combinations of the following symptoms:

  • Euphoria
  • Surges of energy
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Grandiosity
  • Talkativeness
  • Extreme irritability
  • Agitation
  • Pleasure-seeking
  • Increased risk-taking behavior

Schizophrenia is a different type of mental illness but can include features of mood disorders. It affects a person's ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to other people. Untreated, it also may include psychosis—a loss of contact with reality. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty with memory
  • Difficulty in organizing thoughts
  • Lack of content in speech
  • Emotional flatness
  • Inability to start or follow through with activities
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

Other types of mental illness include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders (including posttraumatic stress disorder) and borderline personality disorder. Mental Illness Awareness Week is a time to learn about them all.

National Depression Screening Day will be held on Thursday, Oct. 11. You can take an anonymous depression screening at as well as learn more at

There are website available with helpful and supportive information:

Anyone who experiences symptoms of mental illness should see a doctor to discuss and be checked for possibly related physical conditions. The next step might be referral to mental health specialist. Many treatment options exist.

If there is ever a moment that you feel in crisis or have a family or friend in mental health crisis:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • NAMI HelpLine – 1- 800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Disaster Distress Helpline – 1-800-985-5990

During Mental Illness Awareness Week, please take the first step to #CureStigma. Get tested at Find out if you have stigma and help become part of the antidote to cure the barriers that prevent people from finding help and support.

*Source - National Alliance on Mental Illness

Two Heads are Better Than One Fri, 21 Sep 2018 13:45:00 +0000