Saving the Parent-Teen Relationship

Stacy Hladek | Families First

I have recently been talking to one of my close friends regarding parenting struggles he is having with his teenagers. The topic of protecting the parent-teen relationship in the context of setting boundaries and consequences has come up several times. I began to think about how to negotiate the boundaries and consequences all families must have to function effectively, within the parent-teen relationship.

In my friend’s case, he is concerned if he is too strict or pushes too hard he will damage the relationship. However, he has also acknowledged there is a good chance his sons are aware of his fear and use this to their advantage. On the other hand, my friend understands if he is passive he may give the boys the impression that their behaviors are acceptable or that he does not care about the behaviors or them. What is a parent to do?


School Avoidance (Part Two)

Stacy Hladek, Family Resource Coordinator | Families First

As I mentioned in my previous blog, we have had an increase in calls to our Family Support Line related to children refusing to go to school.  If you did not read the previous blog, it would be a good place to start regarding general information on heading off school avoidance in children. 

What is school avoidance?  The website, Human Illnesses, defined school avoidance as “when children and teens repeatedly stay home from school or are repeatedly sent home from school, because of emotional problems or because of aches and pains that are caused by emotions or stress and not by medical illness”.  School avoidance, also referred to as school phobia or school refusal, occurs in approximately 2-5% of school age children.  It is most common in 5-6 year olds and 10-11 year olds. 

Typical behaviors for a child or teen that has school avoidance is for them to come up with reasons not to go to school, to complain of physical symptoms shortly before it is time to go to school, or to make repeated visits to the school nurse or counselor once at school, with similar physical complaints. 


The Magic of Toddlers

Stacy Hladek | Families First

August is not only the month that most children return to school, but it is also unofficially National Toddler Month. So it seemed appropriate to blog on something related to toddlers this month. Toddlers are defined as children between the ages of one to three. This is my favorite age group. They are those magical creatures that find awe in everything!  Everything is new and exciting to them. They are working on figuring out how to assert their independence, but also want to know that they can come back at a seconds notice to the security of their adults. This time is fleeting, in about two short years your cute little toddler will turn into a preschooler. How do you capitalize on and enjoy those magical years of toddlerhood?


Kids and Biting

Stacy Hladek | Families First

I recently spent an afternoon with a good friend, who has a toddler.  While we were talking about parenting she told me her son has started biting his baby brother.  My friend said nothing she or her husband had tried is working.  Her son bit another child at childcare this week for the first time

Biting is a behavior that many toddlers display at one time or another.  It can be something that makes the adults feel frustrated and helpless.  There is hope! 

Whenever a child is having a behavioral issue adults should start by increasing positive interactions with the child, such as catching them being good, increasing affection, and increased praise.  Often times this will be all that is needed to decrease the negative behaviors.

If the biting continues to be an issue the next step is to try to prevent the biting.  Give the child a teething toy that can be used to bite on when needed.  Also increase adult supervision when the child is around other children.  Do not keep the child from interacting with other children, but make sure the adult is close and can help with the interactions.

What to do when a child does bite someone else:

  1. The child who was hurt gets the attention.  Make a big deal about their owwie, hug them, give them an ice pack, or wash the hurt body part.  The child that was aggressive should be kept in eye sight so that he is not going off and hurting another child, family pet, or himself.
  2. Once the above is completed, the adult should take the child who was aggressive gently but firmly by the hand and remove him from the situation.  One brief statement such as “teeth are not for biting” and then no other words or attention should be given to the child.  The adult should use a firm voice, but not yell or raise their voice.
  3. The child should be away from everyone else for a minute or two, but in eye sight of an adult.
  4. Once he is calm, the adult will give him a hug or pat.  
  5. As soon as the child who was hurt is ready and the child who was aggressive is being safe, and adult should help the two make-up. 

For more ideas on aggressive behaviors in children of all ages, ways to support your family, and other parenting tips call the Family Support Line at 1-800-CHILDREN (800-244-5373) OR 1-866-Las-Familias (866-527-3264) for Spanish speakers. You can also e-mail with questions or concerns. The Family Support Line offers parenting tips, resources and information only and does not serve as legal or mental health advice. We believe the adult(s) raising the child is the expert on that child and knows what is best for their family. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.