Child Development Essentials


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When we start preschool, we are exposed to all these new faces. Some are flipping through picture books, driving trains along tracks, or playing house in the kitchen and dress-up center. We may join one cluster of kids and all of a sudden, due to a common interest, we have friends.

Children grow and thrive in the context of close social relationships. These relationships provide love, care, nurturing, and fosters cooperation. A positive preschool experience provides important protective factors for young children.

Learning to successfully interact with others is one of the most important aspects of a child’s development,” (Osman, National Centre for Learning Disabilities).

Children who begin kindergarten without adequate social and emotional development are often not successful in early years of school and can be plagued by behavioural, emotional, academic, and social problems that follow them into adulthood,” (Clawson, 2000, Stanford Report).

Some of these friends move up the education ladder with us, so the transition from one institution (preschool) to another (primary school) can make things easier. However, sometimes our path leads to new surroundings and we are left to discover new social bonds, while we are still growing and developing as individuals.

Children who are still in the process of developing a value system are more vulnerable to negative influences,” (Dr. Sylvia Rimm). Children are more prone to experimenting with different social groups as they venture into the world to see with whom they may find a suitable fit. As a result, with an indefinite value or belief system, children may behave in ways that can contribute negatively to their development (e.g., school performance problems, behavioural issues, substance abuse and/or disobedience at home).

The fact that children are naturally and easily influenced highlights the importance of consistent parental guidance and clarity around core values and beliefs along with imparting morals that will guide children well into adulthood. (Packer 2014)

Keeping an eye on children’s social and emotional development at a young age is crucial. Adult-child relationships that are loving and nurturing can foster open communication. It allows parents to take a positive, proactive approach to discuss friendships and help children make good decisions about friendships. Helping children learn some criteria for selection of friends can greatly impact their selection in future years.

Some parents may wonder what to do when they feel some friendships may be having a negative influence on their children. Start by setting limits, in which play with these children may be more supervised or even possibly temporarily discontinued.

For further information, call us today. We can help you and your child discuss the importance of positive relationships, help teach values about friendships, and help develop criteria for early social and emotional decision making.

 


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Composure Under Pressure

“After months of not hearing from my co-parent [trust me when I say it is difficult to use this term ‘co-parent’ rather than other names which easily come to mind… including “ex”], he makes contact with meet regarding the baby I am carrying. Our conversations when finding out about my pregnancy were difficult and created conflict. He repeatedly indicated that he did not want this child. I eventually took those words as not wanting me in his life either.

For sure as days went by I questioned whether I’d hear from him again. Sometimes I hoped I would hear that he just needed some time to sort things out and has come to the realization that he wants this family we have created.  Only in my dreams…

Although I did not know how this meeting would turn out or what exactly would be discussed, I prepared myself. I read articles and books on co-parenting. I took advice from these resources to help minimize conflict. My goal out of this first meeting was to prevent future meetings from requiring lawyers, judges, or mediators.

This goal was achieved because although my now co-parent could not indicate what his contribution or role as a parent would be, I guided the conversation with my plans as a co-parent. I had organized what expenses to consider. I asked questions about his considerations of being a part of our child’s life. I focused on specific questions regarding the baby, leaving out the previous romantic relationship.

Now don’t get me wrong. A tiny voice within me wanted to rage out of my body, questioning his disappearance act. I wanted to ask, ‘what about us?’ I wanted to receive a heartfelt, well-deserved apology for his behaviour and disrespect towards me. However I had to ask myself if it was worth it. Would it really make me feel better forcing an apology out of someone who didn’t care to give it in the first place?

Articles and books on co-parenting indicate the importance of letting break ups, divorce, or separation go. Take time to grieve but move past this part of your relationship. This may be the most difficult part of the co-parenting process, especially when we tend to seek closure from our ex-partners. If we keep chasing for answers, we are not accepting the relationship has ended. Thus, we tend to dwell in the hurt and pain of broken relationships even longer and risk even higher conflict.

This can result in a high-conflict co-parenting relationship as well and, subsequently, be detrimental to the innocent children. Overcoming a break up or divorce as well as coming to a mutual partnership between co-parents significantly strengthens the growth and development opportunities of children. For more information and coaching on how to develop the harmony to co-parent effectively contact us today .

   LIVE HARMONIOUSLY!

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  • Arguing every day about the smallest things.
  • Telling me that my dad is selfish and doesn’t care about anything but himself.
  •  Complaining that mom is an annoying nag, who can’t get a grip.
  • I don’t know whether having both of them at my soccer game shows love and support or shows that our house is like a world war right now.
  • I mean, what are they trying to teach me here? That being married sucks?

Unfortunately, for most children exposed to high-conflict parents, divorce usually does not end the conflict, nor does it end parents’ relationship. Although a romantic relationship is over in divorce, parents remain in a relationship of some sort. Divorce proceedings raise intensity of emotion. Subsequently, can actually heighten conflict between parents, therefore damaging behaviour can be increased in the family and impact all members, especially the children.

It takes intentional, consistent and persistent effort for parents to work together and overcome conflict and establish more appropriate and healthier conflict resolution strategies. A professionally trained mediator or counsellor can help high conflict relationships by coaching to find a common ground and new ways to structure their communication process. When there is much hurt, anger, confusion, frustration and heartbreak, a trained relationship specialist may be just what the doctor orders.

Parents who can put down verbal conflict fairly quickly and put hurt feelings aside can more quickly overcome the grieving component of separation and divorce. It is then more possible for parents to learn the skills required to effectively cooperate. This obviously provides many benefits for healthy child and family development.

Cooperative parenting:

  • Helps reduce the child’s symptoms of stress as parental conflict decreases
  • Creates a more relaxed home environment allowing for children to adjust effectively
  • Enhances the child’s confidence and self-esteem by creating an environment for growth
  • Removes children from the middle letting them relax and be kids
  • Models how to get along with others even though you may not be happy with them

Cooperative parenting also helps parents to;

  • Conserve energy at a stressful and draining time in their life
  • Lower argumentative conversations and increase respectful exchanges
  • Reduce the number of litigated cases
  • Learn better anger management, communication, and conflict resolution skills
  • Work in developing a detailed parenting plan

To create a cooperative, positive parenting plan for your family, book an appointment today.

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Welcome, Bienvenido, 欢迎, आपका स्वागत है, Fogadtatás

  • Canadian Birth Rate Low, Immigration To Thank For Growth
  • Canada’s birth rate is currently hovering around 1.67 children per woman, well below the minimum of 2.0 needed for natural population replacement.
  • For Canada, expanding our numbers means depending on immigration, which accounts for two-thirds of population expansion. About 250,000 immigrants, most of them from China, India, Pakistan and the Philippines, are accepted into the country each year.
  • “Some come from countries where economic, cultural and religious traditions have made larger families common”, said Jeffrey Reitz, a professor of ethnic and immigration studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.
  • At the current rate, if nothing changes, immigration — currently responsible for 67 per cent of Canada’s population growth — could account for 80 per cent of growth within the next 20 years, and nearly 100 per cent by the year 2061, Statistics Canada says.
  • I don’t see it really looking a lot different in the future than what it looks now,” McDaniel said. As older immigrants age and die, they will be replaced by new immigrants, changing and enriching the threads that make up the country’s multicultural fabric.

Between 2006 and 2011, around 1,162,900 foreign-born people immigrated to Canada.

Coming to a new country can be an overwhelming and challenging experience.

Why is it so stressful?

  • Feelings of loss
  • Parting from family
  • Language difficulties
  • Finding employment, housing, and education
  • Culture Shock
  • Enduring abuse, domestic violence and discrimination
  • Lack of understanding of healthcare system

Acculturative stress: My daughter is becoming too “Canadian”! I can no
longer relate to her!
Trauma: “I left my country at a time of war. Some of those thoughts still
haunt me” (Reena Hamid)
Discrimination: “My father left a great job back home. He now drives a taxi
in Toronto. I see how badly people treat him because his English is poor”
(Vivek Pratak)

Adjusting to a new culture and language is difficult as it is. Discrimination and multiple traumas (such as war and other types of violence in countries of origin) makes it even tougher. These challenges can weaken and challenge immigrants’ mental well-being. As a result, immigrants and their children can profit greatly from suitable psychological and social understanding and support.

Incorporating one’s culture of origin into one’s culture of new home is known as successful acculturation.

Our professional therapeutic approaches can help you and your children achieve successful acculturation by working with you on the following:

Learning to live with change

Understanding Canadian family law 

Separation from family

PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder or “reaction”

Solving issues within the family

Communicating with partners and children as well as coworkers 

Disciplining styles with children

Handling stress and burdens 

Welcome! At Jeff Packer MSW & Associates Inc., we use effective and culturally valid diagnostic tools sensitive and inclusive enough to account for cultural variability. If you’re looking for confidential and non-judgmental counselling services, book an appointment today.


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It almost goes without saying that media has a major impact on our perspective on many issues: mental illness, love and relationships, as well as body image, health and wealth. Here is one way in which the media can do some good for young girls and teenagers who are coming into their own bodies, adapting to hormone changes, and who are exposed to peer pressure.

The following link shares Lupita Nyongo’s acceptance speech at the Essence Magazine awards.

We are too often exposed to extremely thin waistlines, airbrushed faces, flawless skin, and long and flowing hair.  Little girls are growing up watching cosmetic commercials and teenagers are reading fashion magazines. As a result, their perception of beauty can become easily skewed by the media’s “acceptable” ideologies and portrayals of beauty.

This can, unfortunately, create inner turmoil in a preteen or teenager who does not resemble the bodies and faces seen on screen. Females, and even some males, may excessively strive to adjust their behaviours in hopes to eventually become the “beauties” they idolize in magazines and on television. These behaviours may include: restrictive eating, binge eating, vomiting, disordered eating, excessive dieting, manipulating medications (e.g. lower insulin dosing) and excessive exercising. These behaviours, when prolonged, have a severe impact on overall health (social, psychological and biological).

Fortunately, once in a while, we are able to hear celebrities comment on real beauty like Lupita did in her speech. However, is everyone listening to this message? Sometimes family support, well-intentioned comments and repeated requests just don’t seem to be enough. In fact, many common statements and approaches can actually, unintentionally, add to the problem. And it takes much effort and professional help to change disordered eating behaviours. Contact us today to get professional help!

What is peer pressure?


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Some may define it as when friends or peers attempt to influence how you think or act, however, it may also include how we perceive peer influences. While peer pressure can be helpful at times, it can definitely affect our decisions or make them slightly more difficult. During adolescence, developing healthy relationships is a new, fresh experience, like an adventure someone takes without much of a map or with little pre-planning or direction.

Some teens may not realize they are being “pressured” or influenced in any sort of way.  For instance, we may hear these statements like these from our teens: “They’re my friends, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”… “They care about me more than you do!”… “You’re too old to understand.”… “My friends really care and have my back”.

What are the negative effects of peer pressure?

When a peer or friend behaves in a way that has a teen questioning right from wrong, most likely that teen is being exposed to peer pressure. This may not always be negative, yet we usually think of peer pressure as leading another into something harmful or wrong. Friends may persuade teens to do things they may not want to do, such as: defying parents, staying out past agreed upon times, engaging in sexual activity, drinking alcohol prematurely or “experimenting” with drugs, stealing or other crime-related behaviours, poor school performance (e.g., skipping classes or homework assignments).

Choices and decisions may not always stem from peer pressure though. Some teens may admit to willingly making the choice to engage in destructive behaviour. Nonetheless, teens might experience an increased pressure from others to make certain choices in their lives, often without getting much advice from an adult. They may ask themselves any or all of these:

  • If I say no, will I be called a loser?
  • What if they don’t like me anymore?
  • Isn’t this my chance to be a part of the group?
  • Is this what having a real friendship is like?
  • They will have my back if I get in trouble….right?

There are positive effects to peer pressure?

There are positive effects to peer pressure. Some peers influence others to join school activities, play sports, and help reach goals. With this kind of support, the growth and development at adolescence is beneficial. It can go a long way to boost self-confidence and improve self-esteem. When peers influence each other toward positive behaviours, teens are better able to socialize, engaging in activities, sports and talents, improve academic performance and have a generally more relaxed, confident and positive outlook on life.

Counselling can be a great resource for teenagers, parents, and friends to find a balance with peer and family influences. With professional counselling, individuals are able to build the self awareness to more clearly consider the consequences of behaviours before acting impulsively. Strategies are available to help teens understand thoughts, related feelings and how these influence behaviour patterns. Counselling also helps people create action plans to recover and move away from difficult situations that may cause or increase chances of danger or harm.

Remember that you are not alone, and talking to an un-biased, non-judgmental counsellor can help.  Book an appointment with us today.

I come home from school every day and cry.

I don’t think I’m bossy.

I am a little shy.

The kids at school won’t play with me.

I think I’m nice and caring.

I don’t feel comfortable around the kids at my school.

I like going to the playground, but I don’t play with anyone there.

Kids do not talk to me very much.

I hate my life.

I am 8 years old… “my life sucks!”

It is very difficult for any parent to find out that their young child is not happy with his or her life. Our hearts are broken when we hear comments like those above. We just want our kids to be happy. We also understand the importance of developing healthy relationships, so how can we help our children grow and establish healthy and appropriate social skills?

It is important to identify what may be contributing to or fueling your child’s discontent. There are numerous reasons why children may have difficulty developing friendships. Let’s first remember that friendship skills are acquired, learned over time. These can be taught, practiced and fine tuned. Of course, each child is different. Some children’s personalities are highly introspective and even somewhat introverted. It may seem easy for some to make friends, however, for this personality type, it can often be a daunting task to reach out to and communicate with their peers.

Teen TroublesOthers may be more outgoing or extroverted, yet still may struggle with relationships for a variety of reasons. Studies suggest that a child without siblings may have a more difficult time making friends than a child who has siblings. Social relationships are pretty much developed from birth and can be fostered when siblings are involved.  These children may, yet not always, have an easier time meeting, playing and getting along with other children.

Even different parenting styles can contribute to how children develop social relationships. The level of parent cooperation, flexibility, structure and discipline all play an important role. How parents themselves get along with each other and socially interact strongly influences how their children approach others. In addition, stressors in the family such as health concerns, death and loss, moving, employment issues, family conflict and separation can significantly interrupt social development.

There is hope! Fortunately many resources, materials and yes… manuals are available. We often hear; “These kids don’t come with a manual”, yet this is simply not true. Most bookstores and libraries carry thousands.

Many parents seeking help will come across many “easy-to-do” steps from these books and internet sources yet find the advice difficult to put into practice. For instance, some “experts” suggest the following:

  • Be yourself
  • Relax – “Don’t sweat the small stuff”
  • Be a good listener
  • Give compliments and encouragement
  • Join a team/social club

Seeking help from therapists, school counsellors, pastoral counsellors and books are effective ways to help both parents and children learn about social relationships. In counselling, parents and children can explore current relationships, understand themselves and others better (in the social context), and develop a plan to reach the goals they wish to accomplish (e.g. improving confidence, learning communication, problem-solving and assertiveness skills).

Parents can also receive coaching to help them develop strategies to increase self esteem, competence and confidence at home.

If you find your child struggling to get along with others and are uncertain how to help, remember this is common as we tend to get very little formal training in parenting. While many find books and other media resources helpful, these may not be sufficient for the specific issues you have. Don’t wait. Get proactive and find the right solutions that work for you and your child.

Research counsellors experience, expertise and qualifications.  Then find one that you and your child feel comfortable with. To book a consultation and assessment with professional relationship coach call us today .