Susan's Blog

21
Mar

When you have more than one child, you naturally entertain fantasies of your little ones growing up to be the very best of friends. It can be distressing to realize that, as they grow older, arguments can become more common than peaceful playtime.

12
Mar

Besides my own mother, no one has shaped my parenting style and caregiving philosophies more than Dr. Thomas Phelan, clinical psychologist, founder of the 1-2-3 Magic program

19
Feb

What are some of the secrets of a successful playdate, rainy day or time at home? One of the beloved activities that children love is art.  Children get excited by the art projects that they do and it is a great rainy day activity.  The following are some easy art activities to do with children of different ages:

  1. Egg Carton Caterpillar: Cut the egg carton off and discard. Cut the bottom of the egg carton in half lengthwise. Note: 1 egg carton makes two caterpillars. Paint both halves with bright colours. You can paint each egg slot a different colour if the child likes. Cut the pipe cleaner and insert two pieces into the head end of the caterpillar for antennae. Lastly, glue the googly eyes onto the head. If you are using white felt, cut into small circles for eyes and use markers to make black pupils in the eyes. (materials needed: 1 egg carton, paint, pipe cleaners, glue, googly eyes or white felt scraps and black marker, scissors)

  2. Lollipop Friends: Glue the eyes on the styrofoam ball (or paint them on). Cut a small triangle from the black felt for a nose and glue it on (the camper may also use a bead for the nose). Cut two small strips from the black felt for the eyebrows and glue them on. Cut a mouth (any shape the camper likes) from the red felt and glue it on. Glue strips of yarn on the head of the face you have made for hair. When you are sure that everything is glued on well and dry, stick the lollipop stick into the bottom of the head where the neck would be. (materials needed: small Styrofoam balls- 2-3” round, small googly eyes, or you can use beans, beads or just paint eyes and nose on, small scraps of felt- brown, black, red and blue, small scraps of colourful yarn, lollipop sticks and glue)

  3. Tanagram Puzzle: Tanagram is an ancient Chinese puzzle often called the “seven pieces of cleverness.” The object is to rearrange the pieces of a square to form different figures. Start by making a square piece of paper. To start making the square, fold one corner of a piece of paper over to the adjacent side. To finish making the square, cut off the small rectangle, forming a square. Fold the square piece of paper in half, then in half again (making a square that is divided into quarters). Repeat this step (resulting in a square that is divided into sixteenths). Unfold the paper. Draw lines along the red lines marked at the left. Cut along these lines. You will now have seven pieces- a small square, two small isosceles triangles, a medium-sized isosceles triangle, two large isosceles triangles and a parallelogram. (An isosceles triangle has two equal angles and two equal sides. A parallelogram is a four-sided figure with each side parallel to the opposite side). You can arrange these seven pieces into an incredible number of shapes; making animals, people, everyday objects, etc…See how many the campers can make and invent new ones! (materials needed: paper- cardstock or other thick paper works well, scissors, ruler and a pencil).

  4. Apple Dolls: To start, choose an apple for the doll’s head- the bigger the better! The carved fruit will shrink to about two thirds its original size. Red Delicious apples work well. Peel and core the apple. Carve a face on one side, using the tip of a potato peeler to hollow out deep-set eyes and a paring knife to make a slit for a smile or a frown. For a nose, incise a triangle that extends from between the eyes toward the mouth. Ambitious carvers can add ears, dimples and extra facial creases. Store the carved apple in a dry spot until it shrinks. Once the head is dry, use coloured markers or water-based paints to enhance the eyes, lips and rosy cheeks. To make the body, cut the base off the plastic bottle. Plug the top with a cork to serve as the doll’s neck. Wrap the fabric around the body so that it extends beyond the top and the bottom of the bottle. Secure the fabric around the bottleneck with a rubber band and then fold the cloth down. Tuck excess cloth at the base into the bottle. Now top off the doll by gently pushing the cored apple down onto the cork. It generally takes two weeks for the doll’s head to dry, but campers will agree that the result is worth the wait. (materials needed: apple, vegetable peeler, paring knife, coloured markers or paint, wool yarn, scissors, 16-ounce plastic bottle, bottle cork, fabric scraps, rubber band).

  5. Dough Handprints: Add food colouring to the water. Use pink for girls and blue for boys. Mix all ingredients well, kneading until smooth. Dough should be pretty stiff, not soft or runny or it will fill with air bubbles when baking. Form dough into a ball, of about what you can enclose in your two hands and form into a round smooth ball. Using a rolling pin with the dough on wax paper, roll out into as round of a circle as you can. Dough will be about ½ inch thick. Press your camper’s hand with fingers splayed into the dough. Depending on the child’s age, you will have to help and individually press their fingers. Make sure to press deep enough without going completely to the bottom. (When it bakes, it tends to raise the handprint up). Put on a cookie sheet. Use a chop stick or a pencil to make two holes in the top about ½ inch apart. This will be used to string the ribbon through. Bake at 200 degrees for about 2-3 hours. Dough should be fairly hard but watch to see that it doesn’t burn. When they are done and cooked, use a gold marker pen and write the child’s name and date (year). You can put the child’s name on top and the year on the bottom or if there isn’t room, put the name

01
Sep

As we get deeper into the school year and children begin to feel the pressure of homework, tests and book reports, parents are asking themselves how to make this school year a noteworthy one. Family therapist and parent support counselor Susan Lieberman suggests ways a parent can help their child achieve success in school.

01
Aug

Summer will soon be over. June turned into July, July to August and just as quickly, August will become September. Children will soon give up camp stories for homework and long summer nights for bedtimes.

As the first day of school nears, many parents are asking themselves how to make this school year a good one. Family therapist Susan Lieberman suggests ways a parent can give their child a head start before and after school arrives.

  • Develop a routine within the home around bedtimes, mornings, mealtimes, chores and responsibilities. This type of structure gives kids an increased sense of security and confidence.
  • Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. This helps open the lines of communication and improve the relationship between you and the school.
  • Give your child practical, every-day experience (at home) with reading, writing and math.
  • Encourage get-togethers with classmates and other kids to help make school more enjoyable.
  • Work out a homework schedule with your child including where the homework is done and how much time is to be spent on it. Make your child responsible for their homework and make sure that there are consequences in place (by yourself and/or the teacher) should the homework not get done.
  • If time permits, offer yourself as a volunteer for school events; in other words, get involved!
  • Catch academic and/or social problems before they get out of hand or go too far. Deal with issues as they come up instead of waiting to see if things will improve.
  • Limit television watching. As much as possible, children should spend their extra time developing skills through physical activity, arts and crafts, reading and socializing.

And most importantly…

  • Be positive about school; on a regular basis talk to your child about their day at school, get excited about upcoming lessons and events and support the teacher as well as your child.

Susan Lieberman is in private practice in Toronto as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information call (416) 512-6356.

15
Jun

One of the major concerns, besides fighting, that parents identify continuously is their fear that their children hate each other.  This is a concern that is commonly shared by most parents.  Here are some tips that will help you promote positive relationships between your children:

  • Acknowledge and praise your children when they are playing well together
  • Each day find at least three things your children do well and let them know you like it
  • Acknowledge and praise your child when they express kindness, love or consideration towards their sibling and identify this act of kindness to the sibling receiving it
  • During occasions of celebration (birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, graduation, etc...) encourage siblings to make a card or give to give one another
  • Encourage moments of sharing
  • Spend time with each sibling separately.  This will promote individuality and it will also prevent children from vying for your attention
  • Encourage expressions of love and affection by modelling and by indirect suggestions: hugs, kisses, handshakes, “I love you,” “I like what you did,” “Thank you for helping me,” (encouraging politeness with one another), “Happy Birthday,” “I’m sorry you lost your favourite doll.”
  • Allow special times together.  Have fun.  For example, reading together, playing family games, family outings, dinner out to celebrate something...

Suggested Reading:

  • Siblings Without Rivalry: By Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
  • A Parent’s Guide To Child Discipline: By Rudolf Dreikurs, M.D.
  • Parenting Young Children: Systemic Training For Effective Parenting (STEP): By Don Dinkmeyer Sr., Gary D. McKay and James S. Dinkmeyer
  • The Difficult Child: By Stanley Turecki, M.D. with Leslie Tonner

*Most books are available at Parentbooks- 416-537-8334

Susan Lieberman is in private practice in Toronto as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information call (416) 512-6356.

01
Jun

How much you tell your child about the cause and effect of your separation and divorce must depend to a large extent on their age and their ability to comprehend the situation.  No matter what, don’t hide the situation from your child- they are more perceptive and aware than you may realize and by not telling them what’s going on, they can become more confused, worried and stressed out.  The following are some strategies to helping your child cope.

  • Assure them that both parents love them
  • Give them reassurance and understanding
  • Acknowledge their dilemma and confusion
  • Allow them to be loyal to both parents
  • Minimize conflict in front of your children
  • Try not to substitute children for adult companionship
  • Children should maintain links with their extended family
  • Share feelings and/or information with your children- children feel terribly insecure and fearful when you keep them in the dark
  • Inform your children that leading a good life after the divorce requires teamwork and demands new responsibilities from everyone in tending to household duties.  Children welcome being part of a team; it makes them feel needed and more secure
  • How you talk to your children is just as important as what you talk to them about.  For example, they will hear  your anger if you keep raging at the injustices in your life and will believe that they are the cause of your anger
  • Explain to your children why you are working- because you have to provide their food, home and fun times you have together.  You reassure them that going to work is not a way of abandoning them, but is how you show them that you love them

Set up a support structure for your child.  People who could be a part of your child’s support network could be: the parents’ of your child’s best friend, your child’s teacher, your family doctor, family, friends, a therapist who specializes in children, after-school group activity leaders, a pet and most importantly, yourself!

Susan Lieberman is in private practice in Toronto as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information call (416) 512-6356.


How much you tell your child about the cause and effect of your separation and divorce must depend to a large extent on their age and their ability to comprehend the situation. No matter what, don’t hide the situation from your child- they are more perceptive and aware than you may realize and by not telling them what’s going on, they can become more confused, worried and stressed out. The following are some strategies to helping your child cope.

·Assure them that both parents love them

·Give them reassurance and understanding

·Acknowledge their dilemma and confusion

·Allow them to be loyal to both parents

·Minimize conflict in front of your children

·Try not to substitute children for adult companionship

·Children should maintain links with their extended family

·Share feelings and/or information with your children- children feel terribly insecure and fearful when you keep them in the dark

·Inform your children that leading a good life after the divorce requires teamwork and demands new responsibilities from everyone in tending to household duties. Children welcome being part of a team; it makes them feel needed and more secure

·How you talk to your children is just as important as what you talk to them about. For example, they will hear your anger if you keep raging at the injustices in your life and will believe that they are the cause of your anger

·Explain to your children why you are working- because you have to provide their food, home and fun times you have together. You reassur

How much you tell your child about the cause and effect of your separation and divorce must depend to a large extent on their age and their ability to comprehend the situation.  No matter what, don’t hide the situation from your child- they are more perceptive and aware than you may realize and by not telling them what’s going on, they can become more confused, worried and stressed out.  The following are some strategies to helping your child cope.

  • ·Assure them that both parents love them
  • ·Give them reassurance and understanding
  • ·Acknowledge their dilemma and confusion
  • ·Allow them to be loyal to both parents
  • ·Minimize conflict in front of your children
  • ·Try not to substitute children for adult companionship
  • ·Children should maintain links with their extended family
  • ·Share feelings and/or information with your children- children feel terribly insecure and fearful when you keep them in the dark
  • ·Inform your children that leading a good life after the divorce requires teamwork and demands new responsibilities from everyone in tending to household duties.  Children welcome being part of a team; it makes them feel needed and more secure
  • ·How you talk to your children is just as important as what you talk to them about.  For example, they will hear  your anger if you keep raging at the injustices in your life and will believe that they are the cause of your anger
  • ·Explain to your children why you are working- because you have to provide their food, home and fun times you have together.  You reassure them that going to work is not a way of abandoning them, but is how you show them that you love them

Set up a support structure for your child.  People who could be a part of your child’s support network could be: the parents’ of your child’s best friend, your child’s teacher, your family doctor, family, friends, a therapist who specializes in children, after-school group activity leaders, a pet and most importantly, yourself!

e them that going to work is not a way of abandoning them, but is how you show them that you love them

Set up a support structure for your child. People who could be a part of your child’s support network could be: the parents’ of your child’s best friend, your child’s teacher, your family doctor, family, friends, a therapist who specializes in children, after-school group activity leaders, a pet and most importantly, yourself!

17
May

When a child’s parents’ break up, it can be a very confusing time.  Here are some common signs that kids are reacting to the separation:

  • Clinging to one or both parents
  • Weight loss
  • Withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in friends
  • Attention seeking behaviour
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Bed wetting (younger children)
  • Physical symptoms such as: stomach aches, headaches, etc...
  • Nightmares/crying
  • Refusing to sleep in own bed
  • Drinking/drugs/smoking/sexual promiscuity
  • Stealing/shoplifting
  • Moody/silent/listless
  • Avoiding coming home i.e. spending all their time with friends
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Resentment
  • Defiance i.e. refusal to do chores

The younger a child is, the less they are able to communicate their needs and feelings verbally to you after the separation.  When preschool children feel insecure, stressed out or neglected, they tell you by their behaviour.  Often they regress back to earlier stages such as, thumb sucking, bed wetting, being afraid of the dark, waking up frequently in the night etc...

Older children are more capable of expressing themselves verbally, but they will still show their feelings through their behaviour.  For example, they may begin to withdraw from friends, show a lack of interest in school, or get poor grades.

Adolescents may tell you that they are reacting to the separation by cutting classes, becoming verbally abusive, becoming sexually irresponsible, defying curfew or using alcohol and/or drugs.

Susan Lieberman is in private practice in Toronto as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information call (416) 512-6356.

01
May

Where does play fit into a child's development?  From a young age children need the freedom that play provides them.  Through the freedom of play, children learn about themselves, others and the world around them.  Play helps develop self-concepts and a sense of "who I am" and "what I can do."  At a young age, play is integral in a child's cognitive, emotional and physical development. Each child learns and grows through play.  Through play children learn confidence, learn to set goals and to work towards them.  This in turn teaches them the value of hard work and practice.

From the ages of 2-6 it is important that gross motor skills and fine motor skills be developed.  Movement involved in play provides a way to explore the environment and helps children learn how to solve problems as they learn what they are and aren't capable of.  Gross motor in play includes throwing, catching, kicking and running.  As well fine motor skills should be developed in play through drawing, painting and building with blocks.
The three main types of play are:

  • Solitary play

- Puzzles - which help build attention span, thinking before acting and staying focussed

- Dress up and drawing - which encourages imagination and creativity

  • Parallel play

- Arts and crafts

-Playing with dolls

-Building blocks

  • Cooperative play - encourages getting along with others, cooperation, sharing and understanding different points of views

- Playing house

-Tag

-Tea party

-Catch

-Table games - which teach how to follow rules and take initiative

These types of play occur at different ages and stages and help children develop knowledge, social skills and motor skills.  Given the freedom that play allows children, it also enables them to express their feelings appropriately.  Play needs to be allowed, fostered and encouraged.  Therefore, when a child enters grade one they will be ready to learn; enjoying all the skills that will allow them to do so.  A world centered on play provides the base for everything which is to be learned.

Susan Lieberman is in private practice in Toronto as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information call (416) 512-6356.

15
Apr

Children misbehave and act out for many reasons.  If you take the time to figure out why your child is acting poorly instead of just reacting, it might go a long way to solving the problem.  Some reasons why children misbehave are:

  • Boredom
  • Immaturity
  • For attention
  • To  see how far they can push (limits)
  • Responding to stress
  • Anger/tired
  • Fear
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Developmentally typical
  • Jealousy
  • To avoid consequences

If at all possible, it is best to ignore the behaviour that you don't like; by doing so, you don't reinforce it.  A child often doesn't care if the attention they receive is positive or negative.  Some other behavioural strategies to try are:

  • Praise: Make sure those good behaviours are rewarded and praised.  It is very easy for us to get caught up in the negative and forget about the good things that our children do everyday.  Compliment your children everyday.
  • Be clear about expectations: Tell your child exactly what you expect them to do.  Be clear about what the consequence will be if they do the expected behaviour and what will happen if they do not.  Always follow through with the consequence- good or bad.  Consistency is vital to shaping behaviour.
  • Have one-on-one time with your child:  If you have a positive relationship with your child then that will help with feelings of happiness and with the development of good self-esteem.
  • Don't over program:  Children need downtime in order to relax and unwind.  This will allow them the opportunity to decompress which will in turn help them to cope with everyday situations and those that are more stressful.
  • Communication:  Listening and validating feelings are important to dealing with misbehaviour.  Children want to be heard.  It's easy for parents to not take children's issues seriously, but these issues are a big deal to them.  If a child feels heard they will be more open to changing their behaviour.

Susan Lieberman is in private practice in Toronto as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information call (416) 512-6356.

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