Category: ‘Childcare Tips’

Kid Friendly Holiday Activities in Las Vegas

November 18, 2013 Posted by Ali

The Las Vegas strip is not known for being the best place to bring children, but don’t overlook the benefits of having some of the world’s best attractions right here in our backyard! The lights, colors, sounds and sheer size of the strip make a magical experience for kids, especially around the holidays. Keep it kid friendly by just strolling around the outside of the casinos!

Walk around the fountains at the Bellagio, listen to some music at the Hawaiian Marketplace, watch the light show on Fremont Street (have an adult run in for fried Oreos at Mermaids- 99 cents for three!), or grab a crepe at the Paris and eat it under the “Eiffel” tower.

Thank you to guest author Kendra Thornton for providing us with some additional suggestions to do with children in Las Vegas this time of year!  So pack the kids in the car and head to the strip or downtown for some fun activities- tourist style!

Experience the Magic of New York for a Fraction of the Cost in Las Vegas

By Kendra Thornton

If you’re like me, you enjoy the hustle and bustle of New York City during the holidays. But, NYC is just so expensive that we’ve decided to have a New York-style holiday vacation for a fraction of the cost in Las Vegas. Now, I know that nobody wants their kids’ holiday memories to be about gambling, strip clubs and drunken revelry. But Las Vegas isn’t only about those activities, and the truth is that traveling to Las Vegas is cheap because businesses want visitors to spend money in the casinos. You’d be surprised by the variety of inexpensive, family-friendly cultural amenities, accommodation and activities. Here are five Las Vegas holiday attractions that will give your family a taste of the Big Apple.

1. New York New York Hotel

Enjoy the perks of NYC without all the hassle and expense. This faux-city is built just like the real thing, with replicas of the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building. Their arcade is the home of the world’s first roller coaster to feature a 180-degree loop. Your kids will love being able to watch the coaster from your room. You’ll love staying in a luxury room for a knock-off price.

2. Shopping at Caesar’s Palace

If you like to shop, then visit the Forum at Caesar’s Palace. With over 160 stores, it’s even better than Madison Avenue. Choose from affordable shops to high-end boutiques like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Dior. Its unique atmosphere simulates ancient Roman streets. Ride the spiral escalator to see replicas of the Trevi and Triton Fountains, the giant reflecting pool and the beautiful skylight.

3. Serendipity 3

You’ll enjoy this offshoot of the NYC restaurant of the same name. Kids love the funky decor and tasty menu. Beat the heat with their signature drink – frozen hot chocolate. They’re also known for their super-sized versions of classic favorites, like monster spaghetti and meatballs and dinosaur-sized BBQ ribs. It’s right on the Strip, overlooking the iconic fountains at Caesar’s Palace.

4. Go Ice Skating

If ice-skating at Rockefeller Center is your idea of a quintessential holiday activity, then visit the winter wonderland at the Venetian. They’re creating a snowy scene that will make you forget you’re in the desert. Sip on hot cider while the kids ice skate. Listen to live carolers as you enjoy the light show. You’ll never miss the real snow falling in NYC.

5. The Nutcracker Ballet

Crazy shows featuring Elvis impersonators are the only cultural events in Las Vegas. Vegas offers many cultural amenities. The Nevada Ballet Theater performs the traditional Nutcracker ballet. This larger-than-life performance is just as magical as the Balanchine production in NYC. Treat your family to this holiday classic that’s so closely associated with the season.

There’s no denying the magic of New York City, but don’t break the bank to give your family these holiday memories. Las Vegas offers an affordable alternative to many of the same dining, shopping and cultural experiences of New York.

Las Vegas Summer Camps, Childcare and Activities for Children

May 22, 2013 Posted by Ali

Summer is almost here, and with it, more time with your children! For some, this can be difficult, as you have to re-balance childcare needs and find activities for the family. It can also be expensive! But there are ways to meet childcare needs on a budget and have some fun too!

Foster Kinship has pulled together some information on local childcare and summer activities. All the information is taken directly from the organizations website and consolidated here for your convenience. Please contact the organization directly for applications and questions. Many places will offer discounts or free childcare depending upon your financial circumstances.

Clark County Library (

The library is a great place to take the kids. Check for storytimes and other free activities offered by your local branch.

Get the kids reading all summer long by signing them up for Club Read: Registration for Club Read, our free program designed for kids and teens to read, earn prizes and have fun, begins Saturday, June 1 and continues through Saturday, August 3. Stop by any library branch to pick up a reading log or register online.

Children from birth to 11 years of age have one log, and teens in grades six and up have a different log just for them. Kids and teens can earn prizes by keeping track of their reading. Every child who signs up for Club Read will get a membership card and a special wallet to put it in!

All participants earn a Book Buck for every five books that are read aloud to them or they read on their own. They can exchange the Book Buck at any Library District Foundation Used Bookstore for a book of their choice. After they read 20 books, they’ll earn a special prize!

Entertaining programs throughout the District will help toddlers, children and teens enjoy the summer, such as a theatrical adaptation of The Secret Garden, a Fratello Marionettes performance of Aladdin, Tony Daniels magic show, storyteller Jim Cogan, storytimes, music, yoga and more.

Call (702) 734-READ to find your local branch and for more information.

Las Vegas Urban League Child Care Subsidy Program (

The Las Vegas Urban League’s Child Care Subsidy Program provides financial assistance to income eligible families who struggle with the high cost of child care.  We work to empower parents to make the choices that will lead to self-sufficiency.  Our program is contracted through the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services (DWSS) with the purpose of connecting our families to a variety of quality child care programs at an affordable cost.

Administrative Offices:
2470 N. Decatur
Suite 150
Las Vegas, NV  89108
(702) 473-9400

For your convenience, we have provided an application for child care subsidy.

Application for Childcare Subsidy Program (.doc)

Application for Childcare Subsidy Program (.pdf)


Sizzling Summer Pass: Enjoy everything the Y has to offer for 4 full months!

  • $99 for individuals, only $199 for families
  • Access to pools, water parks, wellness centers, group classes and more
  • Full member benefits at all four Y locations
  • Good for 4 full months from date of purchase


Summer Day Camps: It’s the Summer to Shine! Registration is now open for all of the Y’s Summer Day Camps.

  • June 10-August 23, 9am-4pm
  • FREE CAMPER CARE 7-9am & 4-6pm
  • Traditional camp and tons of speciality camps and field trips
  • Financial assistance available

For Summer Day Camp information and schedules, select from the location below:

Heinrich YMCA Day Camp Schedule
Durango Hills Community Center YMCA Day Camp Schedule
Centennial Hills Community Center YMCA Day Camp Schedule
SkyView YMCA Day Camp Schedule


Boys and Girls Clubs (

Join the fun! Becoming a Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas member is easy. The Club offers more than 100 fun-filled, value-based programs that include arts and crafts, games, team sports, homework help, and so much more. Visit your local Clubhouse for a tour and to pick up a membership application.

1. Find a Club that is near your home, school, or place of employment.
2. Download a membership form click here. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the PDF file. Download it free here.

3. Bring this membership form along with your membership fee to the Club and you are ready to have fun and learn new skills.

For more information about hours and fees please call (702) 367-2582 or email at


Child Care Assistance (CCA): No child is ever turned away for economic reasons. Free Child Care Assistance is available at all Clubhouses for all fee-based programs. Your Program Administrative Assistant will be happy to provide the necessary paperwork.


If you would like your child to join a Club, please complete a Membership Application and submit the application and membership fee  of $20 (*5-12) or $10 (Teens) to the Clubhouse nearest you upon registration.

**Check with your local Boys & Girls Club for hours of operation

Lied Memorial Clubhouse

2850 Lindell Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 368-0317 | Fax (702) 367-9522

Cross Roads: Sahara & Decatur


Donald W. Reynolds Clubhouse

2980 Robindale Rd.
Henderson, NV 89014
(702) 614-8550 | Fax (702) 614-8553

Cross Roads: Eastern & Robindale 


Andre Agassi Clubhouse

800 N. Martin Luther King Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89106
(702) 638-1120 | Fax (702) 638-0190

Cross Roads: Washington & Martin Luther King


John D. “Jackie” Gaughan Clubhouse

920 Cottage Grove Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 731-6658 | Fax (702) 731-6682

Cross Roads: Flamingo & Maryland Pkwy.


Downtown Clubhouse

2801 E. Stewart Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89101
(702) 388-2828 | Fax (702) 388-1326

Cross Roads: Stewart & 28th Street


James Clubhouse

2530 E. Carey Ave.
North Las Vegas, NV 89030
(702) 399-3172 | Fax (702) 649-1952

Cross Roads: North Las Vegas Blvd. & Carey


Ralph and Betty Engelstad Clubhouse

3540 Cambridge St.
Las Vegas, NV 89169
(702) 792-1388 | Fax (702) 792-0505

Cross Roads: Maryland Pkwy. & Dumont

Wet ‘N Wild: http(//

New this summer! Wet’n'Wild Las Vegas is located in southwest Las Vegas, near I-215 between Sunset Road and W. Warm Springs Road on Fort Apache Road- 7055 S. Fort Apache Road.

There are two great passes on sale at Wet’n'Wild now including the Season Pass and the Gold Pass. Both passes offer you unlimited entry to the park during the season’s public operating days and times, and the Gold Pass provides you with VIP benefits, including FREE parking and discounts inside the park. Passes are assigned to a specific person and are non-transferable.

2013 Pass Pricing (ages 3+)
Season Passes and Gold Passes are both great value and offer you an entire season of unlimited fun. Right now you can save even more with the Family & Friends Deal when you purchase 4 or more passes. This Friends & Family discount is only available when you purchase 4 or more of the same pass type (Season Pass or Gold Pass). Gold Pass and Season Pass combinations are not eligible for the Family & Friends discount. Season Passes can be upgraded individually to Gold Passes at Guest Services, once the park is open for the season. The price to upgrade may vary depending on the price paid for the Season Pass and the advertised Gold Pass price at time of the upgrade.

Fees for parking, food, merchandise, tube and locker rentals, games, special concerts or events are not included in Season Pass or Gold Pass prices, unless otherwise stated.

City of Las Vegas Summer Camps ( :

Kids Kamp (ages 6-11)
Teen Kamp (ages 12-15)
Summer Kids Kamp offers children and teens fun, fitness and adventure with age-appropriate activities, including arts & crafts, games, sports, special events and/or field trips, all in a safe, supervised environment.

Camp hours are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some camps have extended weeks through August.
Fees are $75 per child per week, $70 each additional child.

Not all camps are held at all locations. Call the individual facility for details.

Cimarron Rose Community Center, 5591 N. Cimarron Road, (702) 229-1607
Doolittle Community Center, 1950 N. J St., (702) 229-6374
Stupak Community Center, 300 N. Boston St., (702) 229-2488
Rafael Rivera Community Center, 2900 E. Stewart Ave., (702) 229-4600

Specialty Camps
$100 per child per week, $90 each additional child

Mirabelli Community Center, 6200 Elton Avenue, (702) 229-6359
Veterans Memorial Leisure Services Center, 101 N. Pavilion Center Drive, (702) 229-1100

Clark County Summer Camps (

(702) 455-8251 –

Day Camp is extremely popular and available space in the program fills quickly. Priority for registration will be given on a first come, first serve basis. Mail in registration that is postmarked before the mail in date will be returned. Drop in registration is accepted if space is available.


What parents need to know?

  • Day Camp is for children ages 6 – 12 (may be age 5 and have completed kindergarten)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on designated dates
  • Participants are required to bring a lunch and two snacks that do not need heating or refrigeration.
  • All day camp participants will be required to take a swim test prior to participating in any swim activities or field trips where swimming is included. Swim dates and times will be announced in advance at each location. Parents may escort their child to any Clark County pool in order to obtain a swim test certificate.
What can my child do at Day Camp?

  • Paint, draw, make crafts and do special theme projects.
  • Play sports, games, take field trips, and have free time in the gymnasium.
  • Enjoy skits, drama, movies, and science projects.
  • Have fun with friends.How do I reserve a spot for my child?

How do I reserve a spot for my child?

  • Payment in full is required to reserve a spot.
What does it cost to join Day Camp?

  • $15 per day or $70 per week, per child
  • There is a 50% discount for the third child if enrolling three children for the entire week (from the same family)
  • We accept Las Vegas Urban League CCAP
  • Field trips may be offered at an additional fee. Field trip shirts are mandatory for participants attending the field trip. Shirts may be purchased for $4 prior to the trip.
  • A late fee will be assessed for children picked up after 6:01 p.m.
  • Refunds for Day Camp will be issued if notice is given by Wednesday of the prior week
That’s a lot of money up front.  Do I have any payment options if my child will be attending for several weeks?

  • Yes, if your child will be attending more than two full weeks consecutively, you can reserve your spot by paying for the first two weeks. The remaining payments will be due by 6:00 p.m. each Wednesday for the upcoming week. Your spot will not be held if payment is not received by the deadline. Remember: this optional payment plan is for consecutive full weeks only. Breaks in attendance, or partial weeks, do not qualify for this payment plan.


We provide free breakfast and lunch for all registered participants in our summer camps.
Clark County Parks and Recreation assures the Nevada Department of Education that meals will be served to all children without charge. Acceptance and participation requirements for the program and all activities are the same for all regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.

There is no Summer Food Program on June 6 & 7, 2013
The Summer Food Program will start June 10 and go through August 23, 2013

Where is the nearest program?

Bob Price Recreation Center
2050 Bonnie Lane 89156
Nellis & Lake Mead
(702) 455-7600
Cambridge Recreation Center
3930 Cambridge St. 89119
Maryland & Flamingo
(702) 455-7169
Helen Meyer Community Center
4525 New Forest Dr., 89147
Rainbow & Tenaya
(702) 455-7723
Hollywood Recreation
& Community Services Center

1650 S. Hollywood, 89142
Hollywood & Sahara
(702) 455-0566
Paradise Recreation Center
4775 McLeod, 89121
McLeod & Tropicana
(702) 455-7513
Walnut Recreation Center
3075 N. Walnut 89115
Las Vegas Blvd. & Cheyenne
(702) 455-8402


Springs Preserve Summer Camps (

Let your kids run wild here! Springs Preserve Summer Adventure Camps offer something for every young explorer, with 11 full-day (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), week-long camps June 10 to Aug. 23 for children ages 6 to 12.

Campers experience new activities each week. Get face-to-face with a Gila monster, make eco-friendly crafts, go on a nature walk or scavenger hunt, explore our museums, climb a 9-foot kapok tree and explore a gorilla’s nest in our exclusive summer Rainforest Adventure exhibit. Ready for more? Act out and get silly (or serious!) with drama pros on our stage and even go for a swim at the nearby Y. Kids have fun and come home knowing more about the world around them, but we won’t let on! Educational experts lead the fun, so skip the day-care and explore more this summer.

Enrollment is $200 per week ($180 for Springs Preserve members). After-hours care is available from 6:30 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6:30 p.m. for an additional $25 weekly fee. Register online, at the Springs Preserve ticket office, or by calling (702) 822-7700.


Discovery Children’s Museum Summer Camp ( :

Come play and learn with us this summer! Bring your curiosity and sense of wonder as you join Museum educators for fun activities that focus on science, art and more. There’s something for everyone at DISCOVERY Children’s Museum!

Sessions will be offered in the morning (8 a.m. to 12 p.m.) and afternoon (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) Weekly camp sessions are offered for two age groups: 6 to 9 years, and 10 to 12 years.

PRICES: $180.00 per camp session (1/2 day) per week; Museum members receive a 20% discount per camp, per week. Between Care is FREE with purchase of both morning and afternoon camps in the same week (same children); $25 per week with half day camp registration only. Additionally, an add-on lunch (provided daily) option is available for $75.00 per week, per child.

SPACE IS LIMITED, call the museum reservationist at 382-KIDS (5437).

Innovative Health Insurance Option for Children Only

November 16, 2012 Posted by Ali

One of the issues some grandparents and other relatives have in Nevada is the difficulty or impossibility in obtaining child-only health insurance policies. For individuals who are on medicare, adding dependents is impossible. And some children do not qualify for Medicaid or NV Check Up because their income (Medicaid) or family income (NV Check Up) is too high. With Nevada no longer offering child-only policies, this has left some children being cared for by relatives dangerously uninsured leaving families vulnerable to a medical issue that could lead to financial disaster.

Thankfully, one particularly resourceful family I know has found a solution to this problem.There is a company based out of Texas called Health Insurance Innovations ( that has developed unique solutions for complex health insurance needs. One of those solutions is temporary insurance that can be renewable. It is available in Nevada for 6 months periods and in child-only policies,  as long as the child does not have pre-existing conditions.

For more information contact Health Insurance Innovations at (877) 376-5831.

Please note, most children in Nevada will qualify for medicaid or NV Check Up. But in those cases where they do not, it is good to know that creative solutions exist!

If you are caring for an uninsured relative’s child in Clark County, NV please contact Foster Kinship today at (702) 546-9988 to discuss your options. If you are in another state please visit this site to review options:

In the meantime, these two resources that may provide free health care for children in Clark County without insurance:

Please let us know in the comments what other solutions health insurance solutions you have found!


Activities and Stress Relievers for Caregivers and Children

November 6, 2012 Posted by Ali

Research shows that relatives such as grandparents are very willing to step in and raise the children in their family when parents are unable to parent. Grandparents have deep love for the children and would prefer to have the children remain in the family and not go to an unfamiliar foster home. However, raising your relative can be incredibly difficult. You may feel exhausted, impatient and alone. Taking care of yourself is critical- so you can be the best caregiver you can be.

The following excellent suggestions are adapted from a brochure published by Michigan State University School of Social Work Kinship Care Resource Center.

Drawing: Art is a great way for not only children, but also adults to express themselves. The next time your children are coloring, sit down with them and create a picture.

Social support: Do fun things with your friends and their children. Play dates like this will help your children create new friendships, and they will help you maintain your own friendships. This will give you time to talk with other caregivers, receive advice, or just catch up.

Writing: This is a great activity that will help a stressed caregiver express feelings and frustrations. Older children can write in a journal while you write in yours. Younger children can have their own journal to draw pictures or practice their letters. This is a wonderful activity as a routine before bedtime.

Gardening: Keep a small garden, whether it’s a flower garden outside or an indoor herb garden. It will teach the children responsibility to help you maintain it, and it will give you a sense of satisfaction when you see the fruits of your labor.

Take a power nap: A quick 10 to 30 minute nap will recharge you more than you think. If your children go down for an afternoon nap, catch one yourself also!

Breathing techniques: Slow, deep breaths will lower your heart rate and make you feel more relaxed. Breathing in a paper bag when extremely distressed or nervous will also help calm you down.

Exercise: Physical activity releases endorphins in the brain, a substance that makes you feel good, relieves tension, and acts as a painkiller. Taking a walk with your children to a park and playing an outside game with them are both great ways to get exercise and spend time with the children. If the children are young, push them in a stroller.

Fresh air: Try eating your lunch at work outside or enjoy dinner in your backyard. The outside environment will be refreshing, and good weather may put you in a better mood. A simple picnic or barbeque will be a fun change of scenery for both you and your children.

Stay organized: Keep a calendar at home to organize the family’s commitments. Keep a list of all the numbers and contacts for your children and the people and organizations you contact for thief support. A log with dates, names, phone numbers and brief descriptions of conversations will help you keep track of the sometimes complicated processes and procedures you encounter. Make copies of all important documents and store legal documents, such as birth certificates and social security cards, in a safe place.

Create a chart for the children to remember and keep track of their chores. This also helps to divide work evenly. Always put bills to be paid in the same spot and mark the envelope with their due date or put it on the calendar. Once you find a system of organization at home that works for you, you will need to keep track of fewer appointments and reminders in your head.

Meditation: Whether silently at home or in the form of prayer at your local church, meditation is a great way to clear your mind. Find a comfortable space, listen to relaxing music, and sit quietly for 15 minutes.

Massage: Rub pressure points on your neck, head, hands, and arms to relieve tension. If appropriate, involve your children to help them relieve stress too by creating a massage train. Each person massages the hand of the person next to him or her for a few minutes.

Yoga: Children may not be able to perform the same workout as you, but you will still be promoting a healthy lifestyle to them if they are around you while you are doing it. Yoga helps with flexibility, stress relief, and is a healthy form of exercise.

Adult Recreation: Research local recreation centers to find classes and activities offered for adults. Child care is often provided during adult classes. Try these local organizations:

  • Clark County Parks & Recreation
  • Las Vegas YMCA
  • Clark County Community Centers


Sources: Evenson RJ, Simon RW. Clarifying the Relationship Between Parenthood and Depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. December 2005.



Parenting Your Relative: Dealing with Misbehavior

May 13, 2012 Posted by Ali

Children misbehave for several reasons, but we can categorize them into three main buckets:

  1. They don’t know the rules.
  2. They know the rules but break them anyway. This can happen when they are frustrated, angry, in need of attention or unable to control their desires.
  3. They feel tired, sick, hungry or upset and don’t know how to express their needs.

When a child misbehaves, there are three tasks to handle:

  1. Responding to the child so that he/she stops behaving.
  2. Find out if the child needs something- a snack, a nap, a hug, or if they are sick.
  3. Teach the child to know and strive for good behavior.

Tips to Help Prevent Misbehavior:

  1. Set clear rules and routines for bedtimes, bathing, meals and getting to school/activities.
  2. Set clear expectations and outline age appropriate consequences.
  3. Be consistent with rules and stick with them.
  4. Be fair and firm when the child breaks the rules.
  5. Be encouraging when the child is behaving well. Notice and specifically point out how the good behavior is pleasing.  Never take good behavior for granted!

Setting Appropriate Consequences:

  1. Time-outs: Send your child to a safe quiet place aay from people and toys for a few minutes. A good rule of thumb is 1-2 minutes for each year of the child’s age.
  2. Tune-outs: For lesser misbehavior, let the child know you will not respond to them until they stop the undesired behavior.
  3. Remove Privileges: Take something temporarily away that the child values- a toy or game, playtime, etc.

*A note on physical punishment. Most professionals do not recommend spanking as punishment. It teaches that hitting is a method for solving problems and it can be very damaging for children. Please reconsider carefully the use of physical punishment to discipline your child.

What other tips do you have for dealing with misbehavior?

Source: Empowering Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Parenting your Relative: Staying Informed

May 8, 2012 Posted by Ali

Good parenting includes good communication. Staying informed on your child is key to parenting well. If you are a grandparent or other relative raising a relative’s child, you are parenting a child through a difficult time. Luckily, parenting is a skill that can always be improved upon, and one need not be the biological mother or father of the child to be a great parent.

It is important to be as informed as possible about three areas of the child’s life:

  1. School and Friends
  2. Health
  3. General Well Being

These are a list of questions you should know the answer to. Consider covering them in a scheduled “chat time” each week, and work to really listen to and communicate with your child (see previous articles on communication 1 & 2 for more).

School and Friends

  • Does your child like going to school? Do they get up easily and leave happily? Are they often sick or nervous before going to school? Do they come home happy?
  • Who are your child’s best friends? How does the child get along with children their own age? Are they introverted or extroverted?
  • What is your child’s favorite subject(s) in school? Favorite activities? What subjects does your child excel in most? What subject does your child have the most trouble with?


  • How is your child’s appetite?
  • When is the last time your child saw a doctor? Eye doctor? Dentist? Mental Health Specialist? Do you have the records?
  • Does your child have any trouble sleeping, falling asleep, staying asleep? Do they have nightmares? Do they wet the bed? Do they wake up happy? Are they tired during the day?
  • Does your child get frequent headaches or stomachaches?

General Well Being

  • Does your child have any specific fears?
  • What makes your child angry or frustrated? How does your child express their anger? Their frustration? How often are they angry/frustrated? Does your child have any tantrums? How do you handle your child when they have these emotions?
  • How does your child show happiness? How often are they happy?
  • How does your child show sadness? How often are they sad?
  • Has your child ever gone to therapy and if so, what was the result?

These are just a few questions to get you started. As you talk with your child, take note of their responses. Observe them closely in their daily lives and watch their patterns. Note changes in behavior, and ask questions when you talk to the child. Check your assessment against those of teachers, doctors and other individuals in your child’s life.

What other questions help you be a better parent?

Source: Empowering Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Communicating with Children: Painful News and Secrets

April 30, 2012 Posted by Ali

No family system is perfect, and often times, families have secrets or information that kept within the family system.  However, often times keeping secrets is not in the best interest of the child. It is important to understand when both you and the child may be ready to know information- by assessing readiness to disclose secrets. Examples for kinship families in particular may be why the child is not living with their parents or what happened to their parent.

It can be difficult to maintain secrets with children. They will often sense something is wrong, or feel that a secret is their fault. They may hear about the matter from someone besides you, and that can feel bad for all parties involved.

Here are some tips for preparing to disclose painful news or secrets:

1. Set the Stage – Prepare for a difficult conversation by first determining:

  • Where the child might feel most comfortable- is there a location that is best for serious conversations?
  • When the best time to sit and talk -do you have a weekly “chat time” set up?

2. Assess the Age- Understand what the child is capable of understanding to prepare for the discussion:

  • Age 0-2: Very young children don’t understand illness or future events. They are concerned about what is happening to them in the moment. Separation from parents is a major cause for anxiety.
  • Age 2-7: Children believe the world revolves around them- so they will tend to think they are the cause or to blame of problems in the family system. Give simple explanations. Expect the same questions and concerns to come up over and over. Children this age need time and repeated reassurance.
  • Age 8-12: Children are able to understand relationships between events (cause/effect). Death is a worry, although they  may not tell anyone. Honesty is important. Keep explanations simpler but allow the child to voice their concerns and anxieties and work together to address them.
  • Age 12+: Children can now understand complex relationships between events and they can think about things that they have not experienced. Details become more important as they piece together their world view. Allow time for regular conversation- be a part of their process.

3. Prepare for the Reaction: It is common for children to act out in some way, perhaps by misbehaving, or by withdrawing, when the child receives painful news. Delayed reactions are also common. Allow time for children to process news, pay attention to any changes in behavior or signs of depression, and encourage regular communication and questions.

Communicating with children is a ongoing process. Make it a part of your schedule to make difficult conversations easier.

Source: Empowering Grandparents Raising Grandchildren


Communicating With Children: Difficult Questions

April 16, 2012 Posted by Ali

When you are caring for your relative’s children, they may ask difficult questions such as:

  • “When is mommy coming back?”
  • “Why is daddy in jail?”
  • “Where do people go when they die?
  • “Are you going to get sick/die soon?”

These concerns loom very large for children. Children want direct answers to questions, but if your communication style with the child is not developed, these conversations can be even harder than they are naturally.

In general, it is easier to talk at a child than to talk with them. It’s easy to tell a child what to do, and often when they ask difficult questions a first reaction could be something like, “You are too young to understand.” Such a response will shut the door to the conversation and perhaps make your life easier in the moment, but does not foster a productive and open space for which to have difficult conversations. Some children will even avoid asking you questions if they think it will make you angry or uncomfortable. This is too much for the child to hold. A better solution is to create safe space and work on communicating with the child.

Communication building responses:

  • “What do you think?”
  • “That is a good question, lets talk about it together.”
  • “I don’t know but let’s find out.”
  • “It sounds like you are feeling [upset/angry/sad/frustrated] right now, lets talk.”

Address the present emotion, and keep your responses age-appropriate. Don’t lead the child to believe something false by providing hope where there is not.

Another important step is to try to elicit more information from the child, in order to see what information they were really trying to learn or tell us. If a child asks something like, “What is sex?” it is important to try to draw some additional information from the child with a response such as:  “Good question, what led you to ask me that?”

The important thing is to work on actively listening to your child, to make it safe to ask questions, and to answer as directly as you can while eliciting additional information. Next week we will discuss talking about painful news and assessing readiness to disclose secrets.

If you are raising your relative’s children and would like additional support or resources in Clark County, NV- give us a call today at (702) KIN-9988 or email We are here to listen to you!

Source: Empowering Grandchildren Raising Grandchildren.

Helping Children Build Positive Self Esteem

April 9, 2012 Posted by Ali

If you are a grandparent or other individual raising your relative’s child, you are playing an important role in that child’s life. Children come to be cared for by relatives for situations we may wish the child had never been exposed to, and by the time they come to their grandparents or other relatives, they may feel they have little value or importance. Often, children who have been neglected, abused treated poorly, ignored or exposed to traumatic situations form the self-belief early on that they do not matter or their needs are not important. This creates a foundation of poor self-esteem that will affect them in many areas of their life. As the stable adult and their caretaker, there are ways to understand the child’s need for self-esteem and work to help them build it up.

The first thing to know is that children who suffer from low self-esteem do not trust the adults in their life. Based on their own experience, they have learned that those who should of protected them instead made their worlds very unstable or even dangerous. Often, these children are unable to relax and trust their relative or grandparent. Building trust requires time and patience. As the caregiver, know that it is your behavior that will build trust, not just your words. Trust is basic to feeling secure and valuable and is fundamental to building positive self-esteem.

Here are some ways to build trust and promote positive self-esteem:

  • Be predictable and consistent. Children may feel they have to test you  time after time before they believe you.
  • Create boundaries and rules and follow through when rules are broken. When a child breaks a rule, it will be easy to say, “You shoved your brother. I understand you are frustrated, but shoving is not allowed because I am concerned you might hurt your brother. You know that when you break the rules you get a 5-minute time out. When you are done we can talk about other ways to deal with your anger when you feel frustrated.” When the child is done with the consequence, talk to them about their feelings. Make it safe to have feelings, but to show them other ways to regulate.  The child may not like the rules, but it will provide security knowing they are there and the consequences.
  • Give specific compliments tied to the child’s behavior. Find something daily to praise them on. For example, if they hung up their towel after their shower, say, “I really appreciate how you cleaned up your bathroom after using it. It shows you are a responsible person. Thank you.”
  • Show you are proud of the child. Hang pictures, school work, drawings up publicly.
  • Show your love. Hug, read, play and tell the child how much you love them and how important they are.  Make art with the child, play games, listen to music, play at the park. Have a regular reading time, hug the child frequently. Give affection often and without warning.  Praise the child regularly in response to their positive behavior.
  • Watch your words and use mistakes as learning opportunities. Instead of criticizing or ridiculing to teach a lesson, stick with the facts to point out a problem and offer solutions. If the child spills something, don’t yell out of your own frustration. Instead, offer, “I think you hit the glass when you reached across the table, please get a damp cloth and lets clean this up.”
  • Listen to the child. Ask them questions, even if you don’t understand entirely what they are trying to express. Talk to them about their interests.
  • Model the behavior you want to see. If you have rules against hitting  and screaming, do not use spanking as a punishment. Do not yell at the child, at your spouse. Children will pick up on your behavior and learn from it. This goes back to consistency.

It is important to focus on the child’s strengths rather than their faults. When you get frustrated, tired, and overwhelmed, seek support for yourself. Find a support group, talk to a therapist, and take a break with some friends. Remember the very important work you are doing: creating a safe, predictable, and loving place for the child. It is on that foundation that you are helping to build positive self-esteem and restore what may have been taken from the child.

What other tips do you have for building self-esteem in children? Let us know in the comments.


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