Hope for Arkansas children and families facing emotional and behavioral challenges.

Keep Summer Break From Breaking You

July 5, 2017

  For many parents, school can’t wrap up fast enough. The early-morning scramble, the late-night projects, the checking backpacks / homework / due dates / EVERYTHING – it all adds up to overwhelming. But now that we’re well into the break, a whole new dynamic could be making these long summer days seem a little too long. Can you keep sibling squabbles, activities, childcare issues and more from putting a damper on your summer? Yes! Read on for tips on staying sane and making the most of these next few weeks of freedom.   SPEND SPECIAL TIME TOGETHER. Sure, you could knock their socks off with a surprise vacation or elaborate, color-coded schedule of summer activities. But some of your best family memories will be far simpler: making homemade ice cream, having an epic water balloon battle, catching lightning bugs (yes, it’s still magical) or picking out the perfect watermelon from a roadside stand. Meaningful family time doesn’t come with a set price tag, or require hours of research and planning. In fact, you get bonus points for keeping it low-tech! The real beauty of summer, maybe even the whole point of it, is to slow down and just enjoy each other. Live in the moment. Appreciate where you are – and who you’re with.   LET KIDS ENTERTAIN THEMSELVES. As students become more and more involved in extracurricular activities throughout the school year, family schedules are getting packed tighter than ever before. Add to that the lightning-fast rise of gaming consoles, streaming content and phones for everyone, and we’ve got a whole generation who seems to struggle with downtime. What’s a parent to do? Nothing. Literally. When your kids are bored, you might suggest a few activities: reading, crafting, playing with pets, building a fort, etc. Then move on. Letting kids bust boredom on their own does more than relieve the entertainment burden on parents. Research suggests that occasional boredom encourages daydreaming, which can boost creativity. Win-win!   SET ASIDE TIME FOR YOURSELF. Summer is more than a break for the kids. It’s a break for YOU. Yes, work still goes on. No, the chores will not do themselves (actually, the kids can be doing more of that!). But parents and caregivers should enjoy some summer fun of their own. Give yourself permission to go see that blockbuster movie. Grab that book you’ve been meaning to start and head outside to read in the shade. Meet a friend for lunch and order dessert in the middle of the day. YOUR summer matters, too. Because few people work harder – and deserve more of a break – than the ones raising kids. And take it from us: YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB.

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Budget Summer Activities

June 29, 2017

  Summer time brings about exciting opportunities for children and families as well as many potential challenges. Keeping children active, entertained and giving them continued room to learn and grow can sometimes be difficult for parents who are working or who have limited finances. It’s also important to keep in mind your child’s individual needs especially for those children who experience sensory related issues, struggle in social situations, or who are impulsive or easy to anger. Here are a few fun and simple activities to get you started on summer adventures that won’t break your bank. Books in the Park Take your child to your local bookstore and find a few books they find interesting to rent. If you are unable to go to the library, bring their favorite books from home. Pack a picnic lunch and go to the park. Encourage your child to read, eat lunch and then allow for free play time. Make Your Own Playdoh Playdough is easy to make and great for kids of all ages! It’s a great way for children to be creative and express themselves. Ingredients   1 cup of flour (whatever kind you have on hand)   ¼ cup of salt   ½ cup of water   3 to 5 drops of natural food coloring Instructions Mix together the flour and the salt. Mix together ½ cup of warm water with a few drops of food coloring. Slowly pour the water into the flour mixture, stirring as you pour. Stir until combined, then knead with your hands until the flour is completely absorbed. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it doesn’t stick at all. https://www.diynatural.com/homemade-playdough/ Color Scavenger Hunt A color scavenger hunt gets your kids outside and exploring all that nature has to offer. Just grab some markers and a paper bag and you have a fun adventure ahead of you! Supplies: – white paper lunch bag – markers Directions: Write “Color Scavenger Hunt” at the top of your white paper lunch bag. Choose the colors you want the children to hunt for and use your colored markers to scribble small squares onto the front of the bag of each color. Pass out the bags to the children and let them have fun finding all of the colors on the bag. When they find an item that matches one of the colors, place it in the bag. When everyone is finished, sit in a circle and have a fun time having a show and tell about all of the items everyone found. http://iheartcraftythings.com/simple-color-scavenger-hunt-kids.html Flashlight Tag Flashlight tag is essentially hide-and-seek taken to a whole new level. One person is chosen to be “it” and is given a flashlight. Everyone else gets to hide in the back yard and wait to be found. The person who is “it” uses the flashlight to find everyone who is hiding. The first person to be found then becomes “it,” and the game starts over again. This game works for groups of kids, but it can also be played by as few as two people. http://premeditatedleftovers.com/naturally-frugal-mom/flashlight-tag-nighttime-games-kids/ Caitlin Forrest, LCSW, is a registered play therapist with Methodist Family Health. Methodist Family Health’s emotional and behavioral healthcare services are designed to help children, adolescents and their families. Methodist Family Health offers inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for children ages 3 to 17; outpatient counseling clinics; grief counseling services; psychiatric residential treatment centers and more. For more information, visit MethodistFamily.org.      

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Summer Sibling Health

June 23, 2017

  Every kid looks forward to summertime because it means some time off from school, but it has the potential to be much less exciting for parents of multiple children. Playtime can quickly turn into arguments, which can escalate into screaming and crying. Summertime arguments between siblings leave everyone unhappy. If you have a close relationship with a sibling, you know that the friendship between siblings is something special. Ashley Petray, therapist at Methodist Family Health, has put together a few activities to help foster these friendships in your own kids and keep them from bickering all summer.   Encourage teamwork Your kids are most likely to bond when they’re working together towards a common goal. This can happen in a number of ways – through work and play. Give your kids specific tasks in joint chores they have to complete together. Washing and drying the dishes, tidying up the living room, washing the car – whatever the task, it will require cooperation to get done, and they’ll want to get it done as quickly as possible. Plus, it means a little less work around the house for you. Teamwork can be fun, too. Give your kids structured games or let your kids get bored together – get them away from screen time and encourage them to make their own fun. Kids are often the most creative when they’re allowed to use their imagination, and the games they come up with when creativity is encouraged are often some of the best ones.   Practice respect and fairness “That’s not fair!” A phrase parents of little ones hear all too often. From an early age, kids start to pick up on how their relationships with their parents compare to those of their siblings. With this in mind, it’s important not to treat your kids exactly the same, but to make sure your kids believe that your treatment is fair. Sibling relationships are more positive if they feel that their parents show them similar levels of affection, praise and discipline. Sibling relationships can also benefit when kids are taught how to identify, monitor, evaluate and relate their emotional reactions to their siblings. Parents can help their children express themselves appropriately by helping them identify feelings when conflict occurs. When their siblings start to push their buttons like only siblings can, they won’t react as intensely. They’ll also be better communicators and will therefore have a more positive play experience.   Be together Set aside time for regular family discussions. Eating meals together without electronics or phones is a great place for this. Being together as a family creates opportunities for everyone to speak up about their grievances as well as their celebrations. This helps your kids find solutions to their problems in a much calmer and easier way than arguing it out and encourages healthy communication between siblings. It also strengthens your kids’ relationships when you set aside time to just be together as a family. Whether it’s something as simple as taking a walk around the neighborhood together or going on a road trip, family time encourages your kids to work as a team and makes them feel like valued members of the family.   Ashley Petray is a registered therapist with Methodist Family Health. Methodist Family Health’s emotional and behavioral healthcare services are designed to help children, adolescents and their families. Methodist Family Health offers inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for children ages 3 to 17; outpatient counseling clinics; grief counseling services; psychiatric residential treatment centers and more. 

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Purposeful Parenting

June 19, 2017

With kids being home in the summer, it’s the perfect time to practice purposeful parenting! Parenting can be difficult at times – it takes courage, commitment, and consistency. It is being flexible when necessary and understanding that even with misbehavior, children are trying to communicate their need for help. Discipline is to teach, so it is important to understand positive intent in order to help children be successful. A child’s purpose in life is to grow, develop and learn.  A child must learn how to make sense of the world around them, communicate fully, discover and develop all bodily powers, deeply connect with people, and understand how everything works! Your purpose as a parent is to provide a safe environment with loving guidance in which children can grow, develop, and discovery the world. So, how do we set our children up for success? Spend TIME with them. T – Talk with them, not at them, and listen to what they have to say I – Instruct them by setting clear expectations M – Monitor them to keep them safe E – Encourage them with praise and loving guidance Give acceptable choices that encourage problem solving. Set limits and boundaries based on their current stage of development and temperament. Use positive reinforcement. Praise and notice the positive behavior and attempts at good behavior. It will encourage more of the positive behavior. Use an assertive parenting style that sets clear expectations with positive consequences. This encourages positive behavior and negative consequences and helps children change the negative behavior. Say what you mean and mean what you say! Be a good role model for your children. If you want your children to be kind, you must be kind. If you want your children to show empathy to others, you need to be empathetic, etc. Remember that how you handle problems in front of your children when you are upset gives your child permission to do the same. Nurturing and showing unconditional love. With words – “I love you to the moon and back.” With actions – Meet their physical, mental and emotional needs. With touch – Give hugs and kisses. Remember, how you parent directly impacts who your children are and who they will become. It’s okay to ask for help! Click here to submit your questions to our experts and we will get back to you as soon as they can. [Judy Green, CIT, is a Parenting Educator with Methodist Family Health’s Arkansas CARES program.]

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Bright Night

May 26, 2017
Bright Night Family Fun Night

We are excited to announce a brand new event taking place on August 4 at Big Rock Fun Park – BRIGHT NIGHT! With a night full of mini golf, laser tag, go-karts and more, Bright Night will mean brighter days for children and families served by Methodist Family Health! Tickets are $30 per person in advance or at the door. Click here to purchase! Contact Denise Luft at dluft@methodistfamily.org or 501.906.4201 today.

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Upcoming Events

August 4, 2017 - 5:00PM
Bright Night event benefiting Methodist Family Health
August 11, 2017 - 6:00PM
Back-to-School Bash for Kaleidoscope Grief Center
August 29, 2017 - 6:00PM
Kaleidoscope Grief Center Group Meetings
September 12, 2017 - 6:00PM
Kaleidoscope Grief Center Group Meetings
September 26, 2017 - 6:00PM
Kaleidoscope Grief Center Group Meetings