April 30, 2015

6 Links That Shed Light On Baltimore's Outrage

I was - admittedly and ashamedly - out of the loop as the events following Freddie Gray's death unfolded, and I found myself playing catch up after news of the riots in Baltimore peppered my Facebook feed earlier this week.

In spite of being temporarily oblivious to what was happening in Baltimore, in recent weeks I have found myself immersed in books and podcasts about the history of our legal system in relation to African-Americans and the complicated relationship between people of color and the police. I want to understand what is happening and why. I want an explanation that will tell us how to move forward - not just in Baltimore, but as a country.

April 28, 2015

How To Explain Autism to Kids

Recently, a friend asked if I would write a post about how to talk to kids about autism. She wants to know how to explain autism to her son, who has a playmate with autism, and figures other parents might be wondering about this too. I love when readers ask questions, so I said Absolutely!

I'm by no means an expert on autism, but as a psychologist I do have a basic understanding of the diagnosis and what it means for kids and families. And, since two of my boys' cousins have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we have personal experience, too.

I wanted to be sure that my suggestions honored the experiences of parents of kids with ASD, so I asked a friend who is both a psychologist and a mom to two boys with autism to help me out. While Juliann's thoughts may not reflect the thoughts of everyone in the autism community, I appreciate the wonderful insight she provided. As she pointed out, "How you explain autism is really a personal choice that depends on how you see autism. Do you see it as a disorder? Do you see it as a little left of normal? Or do you see it as part of the new normal of society?"  

With that in mind, here are a few guidelines for explaining a friend's (or classmate's or family member's) autism to neurotypical kids.

April 13, 2015

7 Fun Ways to Turn Nature Exploration into Summer Education

Summer means mud! 
The beauty of summer—the part I get excited about—are the endless possibilities for exploring, socializing, and (dare I say?) relaxation. When I'm not working, we have the freedom to spend time as a family, taking on new experiences and enjoying old favorites. Just like the structured activities I described in my last post, free time offers ample opportunity for summer learning.
My boys especially love exploring nature—our backyard, parks, trails through the woods. I am grateful for this because, as nature expert Richard Louv explains, “A growing body of research links our mental, physical, and spiritual health directly to our association with nature—in positive ways.” And according to studies out of the University of Michigan, outdoor play has been shown to build better brain function and improve academic performance. 

For the most part we let the boys' curiosity guide us, but we’ve also found some easy, no-fuss ways to turn our exploration of nature into opportunities for learning. 

April 12, 2015

5 Ways to Create Summer Structure

5 Ways To Create Summer Structure for Your Family
Kids need time to relax and just "be," in the summer
























My oldest wanders into our home office, his latest piece of art in hand. “This is great, bud! I love the detail on the alligator.” He lingers, rambling on about alligators versus crocodiles and his plan to visit the Everglades someday.

“Hey, love, Mommy’s working right now. You need to find something to do.” Where is my husband? This is my workday. … Isn’t he entertaining this kid? I hear the lawnmower rumble past the house. Oh.


“Why don’t you sit on the floor here and draw?” It seems like a good idea, but Oh.my.gosh how noisy can drawing be?! When I’m trying to concentrate: VERY. 

March 31, 2015

The Delicate Balance of Preparing & Protecting {Parenting Biracial Kids}

"When they built the Eiffel Tower, did they build a white one and a brown one?"

I am squatting in front of my five-year-old, my eyes on his black and red sneakers as I tie the laces - something he hasn't quite gotten the hang of yet. "What do you mean?" I ask him.

"Well, was that when Abraham Lincoln was president? Because Martin Luther King Junior wasn't born yet. So did they build a white tower and a brown one?"

I'm in awe of the questions that Bee asks, his obvious effort to wrap his head around what skin color and American history and civil rights all means. Beneath these questions I know he is also figuring out what it means for him and for us, as a family.

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