Once a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and with other special needs ”Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings“ – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” films in a safe and accepting environment.
The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.
Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden”.
On Saturday October 5th at 10am local time, Frozen – 2D will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program. Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).
Check back for information on the January Sensory Friendly Film Screening – we will post it as soon as it becomes available
Editor’s note: Although Frozen – 2D has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for some action and mild, rude humor. As always, please check the IMDB Parent’s Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.Pin It
You probably remember visiting the apartments of college friends who never had to clean up after themselves as a kid (and maybe you were that college kid!). But skipping the housework when you’re young can lead to one icky, unhealthy apartment when you’re grown up. So besides saving you, Mom, time and energy – which we all know are rare commodities – having your kids help clean now teaches them valuable survival skills they’ll one day need when they’re living on their own. But let’s face it: Getting kids to help clean can be hard. So sometimes you’ve just got to get creative.
Our family starts off our chores by playing a “categories” game, where we make a list of tasks that need to be done per room. Each of us, including my husband and me, then chooses the chores we’d prefer to do.
Most of the time, if our kids get to choose something they like (or at least don’t mind), they’re fairly happy to do it. If it comes down to a few chores no one wants to do, sometimes you just have to play parent and allocate – then stick to your guns.
Set a Timer (and Reward!)
Once the jobs are assigned, I set a timer and offer a small reward for the first one finished – as long as they’ve done a good job. I’m a firm believer in rewards. As adults, we work much harder when we get paid or rewarded in some way, and so do our children. Sometimes I don’t offer money at all; I might give my kids a special privilege instead, like staying up later, going to a friend’s house, etc.
One good thing about a timer: If your children are small, you can set it for a short time and give them very small chores. Once they see how easy it is to complete a task, they’ll be more willing to help in the future.
If All Else Fails: Allowance Rules
If the categories game doesn’t work at your house, you can also allocate a weekly set of chores for each child and offer them a set amount of money for completing their cleaning. Think of it as an allowance; if it’s work well done, it’s money well deserved.
Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 events & stories.
- 6 ways daycare is healthy for kids – and moms too http://t.co/8ifkqNqjet 2013-12-01
- Tips to teach gratitude and empathy in kids – important skills to learn even if brain development makes it hard. http://t.co/9NSeiSgjZ3 2013-12-01
- E-Venge: Selfies, Revenge Porn, Teens and Cyberbullying | Sue Scheff http://t.co/kN0F6Cp46X GREAT post Sue! 2013-11-29
- What does a safe online experience mean for your child? http://t.co/imld7tudEQ 2013-11-29
- 6 Reasons Why Bystanders Choose Not to Intervene to Stop Bullying http://t.co/ZC631uSTLq 2013-11-29
PedSafe Headline of the Week:
Help with gift-buying for special needs kids is now available via the Toys R Us
“Differently-abled Kids Gift Guide” http://t.co/M0A7RZVjlK
- How to Set Up PlayStation 4 Parental Controls : Yoursphere for Parents http://t.co/D2WZ3Kpyuk 2013-11-29
- Give the Gift of Digital Presence | A Platform for Good http://t.co/m3Xyavvps1 2013-11-28
- Gifts to help special needs kids play their way to a healthier brain http://t.co/JrXfX7NIFH 2013-11-28
- Safety Commission Recalls Baby Monitors – http://t.co/pQt0k7g0hx 2013-11-28
- When having a dilemma with your child, consult ‘The Doctor’ – an interesting approach http://t.co/rkLSsZt7Be 2013-11-28
- The Key to Boosting Your Child’s Health and IQ: Your Time | Dr. Gail Gross http://t.co/A2TaoCyLX9 2013-11-28
- Kids Hospitalized for Flu Need Antiviral Meds Right Away: New Study http://t.co/32e2AQThWI 2013-11-28
- Experts optimistic about Affordable Care’s benefits for children and young adults – http://t.co/r78sdY4xWq 2013-11-27
- Proton therapy is a cost-effective treatment for pediatric brain tumor patients – The Almagest http://t.co/NZESOlj9s7 2013-11-27
- UTMB researchers find ear infections down, thanks to vaccine | Science Codex http://t.co/LB5PgChral 2013-11-27
- China Pushing Child Safety Seats to Reduce Accident Toll in Cars – Bloomberg http://t.co/UIVnKc7P97 2013-11-27
- Screening children for mental health issues may not guarantee care – The Boston Globe http://t.co/DFzsb3J0hF 2013-11-27
- Quick Feel-Good Cold Remedies for Kids http://t.co/TGEljnmIOf 2013-11-27
Children with poor self-beliefs often have bombarded themselves for so long with a steady stream of derogatory messages. Their potential for success is greatly limited, because they don’t believe in their capabilities.
Self-talk is a critical part of how children acquire beliefs about themselves. One of the most powerful ways to help your youngster develop a firm belief in himself is to teach him to practice positive self-talk. If he learns the skill now, he’ll use it forever.
But what if you have a child who is a pessimistic thinker or has gotten into the habit of saying negative self-statements? Don’t despair, there are strategies you can use to turn negativity around.
Here is an example of how I helped a mom and dad turn their child’s negative thinking around and develop more positive inner dialogues.
FROM MY FILES: Meet Jose, His Parents, & How We Turned Negative Thinking Around
Six months after Jose appeared to adjust to his new school, the eight-year-old suddenly began protesting he didn’t want to go to school and complaining he had no friends. His mom noticed how often he reacted to situations by saying, “I can’t,” or “why bother?”, as though he assumed he’d fail.
Jose’s teacher confirmed he was using the same negative self-talk at school. His teacher and parents agreed that Jose’s new pessimistic attitude would be disastrous to his self-beliefs as well as to his learning, behavior and social competence.
But what could they do?
Jose’s teacher suggested that the parents call me for a visit and we arranged a time. I observed Jose, talked with his teacher’s and then chatted with his parents. It was obvious that Jose’s self-esteem was taking a steep decline due to his negative self-talk and beliefs. I explained to his parents the importance of children’s positive self-talk, and its potential to enhance self-confidence. I then offered six ideas that would help switch Jose’s negative thinking into more positive self-statements. I stressed that change takes time, but if they were consistent and encouraged Jose, change would happen.
We spent time reviewing each strategy. His parents decided to try the ideas, even though they knew it would take time and hard work. I stressed that they should try only one new idea at a time and provide many opportunities for Jose to practice the strategy so it would become a habit and he would finally be able to use it without their reminders.
A few weeks later, when Jose’s teacher called to say he seemed so much happier, was trying harder, and even making friends, the parents realized their efforts had actually paid off. Jose’s new behavior meant one thing: he was developing a more positive picture of himself. But the real golden moment came when I met with the family. Jose was the one who admitted the change, “No more stinkin’ thinkin’,” he said. “Now I catch myself!” Believe me, all four of us were wearing big smiles that day.
6 Ways to Turn “Cant’s” Into “Cans”
Helping a child break the habit of using negative self-talk is not easy. Like trying to break any habit, you’ll need to be consistent in your efforts to help change your child’s behavior usually for a minimum of three weeks.
Here are the six ideas I suggested Jose’s parents use to help their son develop a more positive self picture and reduce his negative self talk.
1. Model Positive Self-Talk
Recognizing that kids learn much of their self-talk from listening to others, Jose’s parents deliberately began saying more positive messages out loud so Jose would overhear them. One day his mom said, “I love the recipe I used today. I’m really liking how it turned out.” The same day his dad’s said: “I like how I really stuck to my ‘To Do’ list today and finished everything I’d planned.” At first they felt strange affirming themselves, but when they noticed their son praising himself more, they overcame their hesitancies.
2. Develop a Family “I Can” Slogan
Whenever someone in the family said, “I can’t,” they learned to say to the person: “Success comes in cans, not in cannots.” The simple little slogan became an effective way of encouraging family members to think more positively.
3. Point Out Stinkin’ Thinkin’
To remind Jose negative talk was not allowed, they created a private signal of pulling on their ear whenever he said a negative comment in public.
4. Confront Negative Voices
The boys’ parents gently encouraged him to talk back to his negative voice. They began by explaining how they confront their inner negative talk. His dad said,
“I remember when I was in school. Sometimes right before I’d take a test I’d hear a voice inside me say, ‘This stuff is hard. You’re not going to do well on this test.” I used to hate that voice, because it would take my confidence away. I learned to talk back to it, so I’d just say, ‘I’m a good learner. I’m going to try my best. If I try my best, I’ll do okay.’”
5. Turn Negatives Into Positives
The family developed a rule to combat negativity they called: “1 Negative = 1 Positive”. Whenever a family member said a negative comment, the sender must turn it into something positive.
If Jose said, “I’m so stupid.” His parents encouraged him to say something positive: “I’m pretty good at spelling.” Consistently enforcing the rule gradually diminished Jose’s use of negative statements.
They also taught Jose to reduce his self-defeating talk by helping him learn to say positive phrases instead. It’s best to help your child choose only one phase and help him practice saying the same phrase five or six times a day until he learns it.
Here are a few: • I know I can do it. • I can handle this. • I have confidence in me. • I’ll just do my best.
6. Send Positive Self-Statement Reminders
Their final step was to privately remind him to praise himself inside his head when deserved. The day he brought home a good spelling test, his mom said:
“Jose, you did a great job on your spelling test today. Did you remember to tell yourself inside your head what a super job you did?” After his soccer game, his dad said, “Jose, that was a great side kick you used today. I hope you praised yourself, because you sure deserved it.”
The technique took awhile for Jose to feel comfortable using, but gradually his comfort level increased as he slowly erased his negative thinking patterns.
Remember, change is possible but it takes consistent effort and a good plan.
Don’t give up!
Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at amazon.com.
Happy Thanksgiving! Whether you had your turkey yesterday, or (like us) yours is delayed until today to accommodate friends and family, this is a time to give thanks for the good in our lives and to think about the plight of others who may be less fortunate. It is also a time when many of us parents reflect on how well our kids are developing the skills of gratitude and empathy. These are important skills year-round as they play critical roles in personal happiness, prosocial behavior and emotional intelligence or EQ.
Based on my reflection this week, we have some work to do in our house on both gratitude and empathy. Most days our son complains about his classes and the other kids at school, and focuses on the negative that happened. One bad experience can “ruin” a whole day. He also recently complained about “tension in the house” (among his parents) – but couldn’t seem to understand our situation and how his recent behavior issues (e.g. not getting his homework done on time, not doing what he’s told in a timely manner, arguing with us on almost every request – ah, the joys of tween-dom!) contributed to said tension. Don’t get me wrong, Elliott is generally a happy and sweet kid, but he’s definitely not seeing enough of the bright side of life these days. However, based on my conversations with other parents of kids his age at recent sports events, we aren’t alone in this experience. Why is it so hard to help kids, especially in the tween and teen phases, learn gratitude and empathy?
Well, first of all these skills require a life-long learning process. Who among us adults couldn’t express more gratitude and empathy? But for our kids it’s an even bigger challenge since the frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for higher-order thinking processes – including empathy (which requires imagining and understanding another’s perspective) – isn’t fully developed until young adulthood, about age 25. This is also partly why kids and teens are more impulsive and have trouble considering the consequences of their actions.
So what can we do in the face of this biological reality? Well, practice now can help kids maximize their cognitive abilities, and lay the foundation for future development:
- Model it – demonstrating gratitude and empathy ourselves is one of the best ways to teach kids these skills. Try to talk about the positive things in your day before mentioning the negative. When discussing issue with someone in your life, make sure to speak about the other person’s perspective and what they might be experiencing.
- Emphasize the positive – one of the best ways to cultivate a focus on the positive is to keep a gratitude journal, listing 3 things at the end of the day – whether big or small – that were good. Or you can make this a part of the discussion over family dinners. One thing I do with Elliott is ask him to tell me both the good and bad that happened during his school day. Once he’s done a more balanced assessment, most days are getting at least an “OK” rating.
- Build a warm connection – studies have shown that connection and warmth between parent and child, developed at the youngest ages, result in greater empathy as children grow. Spend time with your small children, mimic their experiences, and demonstrate your love and affection.
- Show empathy to your kids – when they are feeling down or talking about the bad things that happened, it’s important to fully acknowledge their experience and feelings. But then it can help to ask them what they learned from the situation, what they might do differently, or what another involved might be feeling.
- Celebrate the successes – recently our son helped out a kid at school who was upset over a bullying incident, and was very affected by this boy’s experience. We really emphasized to him how proud we were of his actions and his concern for another person. Hopefully this will encourage more of this type of behavior in future.