Parent Leadership, One of Our Most Valuable Resources

Stacy Hladek | Families First

One of the most valuable resources our society has at our disposable is parent leadership.  February is National Parent Leadership month. Created by Parents Anonymous ® Inc. in 2004, February is set aside to recognize, honor and celebrate parents for their invaluable leadership roles in their homes and communities, as well as state, national and international arenas. This annual event acknowledges the strengths of parents as leaders and promotes awareness about the important roles parents can play in shaping the lives of their families and communities.

The state of Colorado has a variety of Parent Leadership trainings and opportunities. 

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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. 

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School Avoidance

Stacy Hladek, Family Resource Coordinator | Families First

We have had three calls to our Family Support Line in the last month related to children refusing to go to school. It occurred to me that this might be a good topic to address in the blog. In the twenty years that I have been working with children and families, I have noticed that school avoidance seems to rise around the holidays. I believe there are a few reasons for the peak in school avoidance around this time of year. The first is that the semester is finishing up and the stress increase due to projects and tests that are due. Midterms and finals can be very stressful for students of all ages. The holidays also tend to bring out stress in most adults and children pick up on our stress levels. Another reason that school avoidance seems to be up this time of year is due to the school breaks. It can be especially difficult for a student that has anxiety around school to return after they have had a break for the holidays.

Be proactive and implement some of the following strategies to try to head off the possibility that your child will develop school avoidance over the holidays:

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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?

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Tips for taking your child to the Doctor

Stacy Hladek | Families First

Is your child a Nervous Nelly when it's time for a visit to the doctor?

Here are some helpful tips thanks to Mountainland Pediatrics:

  • Talk about doctor visits in a positive way. Read fun books to your child about doctor visits prior to your appointment.
  • If your child asks if the shot or procedure will hurt, don't fib about it; get down at your child's eye-level and explain that the shot may hurt a little for a few seconds.

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Mental Health in Children

Stacy Hladek | Families First

Parents/primary caregivers are the most important advocate for their children in all areas of their development, including social-emotional.  May is Mental Health Awareness month. Children as young as newborns can have social-emotional issues. Research shows, behavior problems that surface in early childhood are the single best predictor for several long-term outcomes, such as adolescent delinquency, gang involvement, incarceration, substance abuse, divorce, unemployment (Center for Evidence-Based Practice: Young Children with Challenging Behaviors, 2004). The good news is that there are many preventative and early intervention programs available to help head off mental health issues in young children or to help lessen the intensity of the problems a child may experience. 

The following are some red flags that may indicate that a child could benefit from an assessment.

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