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Finding enjoyable outlets -- like Chai Lifeline's Family Camp Adventure-- is one way that parents can refresh their minds and bodies.

6 Ways To Take Care of Yourself When Parenting a Sick Child

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From the moment you wake up until the time you rest your head upon your pillow at night, your day is filled with the responsibilities of caring for your sick kid (or sick children!), and their brothers and sisters. Treatment, therapy, medical appointments, or school issues, not to mention the day to day necessities of taking care of a home and making a living. As you haul that last load of laundry up the stairs or fall into bed at night, you find yourself wondering, “When is it time for ME?”
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help your teen with chronic illness become independent and treatment-compliant

5 Steps to Take To Nudge Your Teen With Chronic Illness to Take Responsibility For Her Health

Adolescence is a time when parents of teens with chronic illnesses or medical challenges may want to tear their hair out.

Adolescence is the period where teens need to psychologically move away from their parents and become more independent. Many times, teens will push limits to see how far they can go.
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Parents can take concrete steps to help brothers and sisters thrive despite the illness of a sibling.

Fitting Everyone In: Raising Healthy Siblings When a Child is Ill

When a child is born or diagnosed with a serious illness, brothers and sisters are bound to be impacted. Why do some exhibit signs of stress or depression while others seem to thrive?

Siblings living alongside a child with a chronic illness will experience a jumble of positive and negative reactions. They can feel love and a combination of resentment, embarrassment, guilt, sorrow or fear simultaneously. Without the skills to understand and cope, a child’s self-esteem can suffer. Anger and guilt can turn inward, leading to a sense of shame or worthlessness. Depression, anxiety or somatic symptoms can arise.
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New Video Shows That There Are No Limits to What Sick Kids Can Do.

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Despite having lost both his legs to illness, Benji maintains there are no limits to what he will accomplish in life.

 

Too often, our default emotion when we hear about childhood illness is pity. It’s natural to feel awful when confronted with the reality of pediatric illness, but does it really reflect how children with illnesses see themselves?
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Does Your Child Qualify for SSI Benefits?

We welcome this contribution from Deanna Power of Social Security Disability Help. Please note that we cannot answer any questions about specific situations. Please address all questions about eligibility or how to apply to help@disability-benefits-help.org.

It is almost a law of nature that a child’s illness impacts a family’s income. Medical bills, time off from work, extra housekeeping or childcare needs add up quickly. SSI (Supplemental Security Income), a program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides some relief for families through monthly financial assistance to parents of children with life-threatening or severe chronic illnesses.
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Two Questions To Ask Yourself About Summer Camp For Your Child

Two Questions To Ask Yourself About Summer Camp For Your Child

The right camp experience is the one that offers children fun, friendship, and a chance to enhance their social and emotional toolbox.

The right camp experience is the one that offers children fun, friendship, and a chance to enhance their social and emotional toolbox.


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While most parents of overnight campers are already thinking about trunks and sunscreen, there remains a group of moms and dads who are still on the fence about sleepaway camp. Many parents of children who are ill or disabled haven’t found the camp that meets their child’s needs.
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Rivkah Reichmann, the associate director of Camp Simcha Special, a camp for chronically ill and disabled children and teens in Glen Spey, NY, has counseled hundreds of parents since the camp was established in 2001. She asks parents two questions to help them decide on camping options.
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Can the child’s health and safety needs be met by the camp?

Clearly, this is the most important concern regardless of a child’s health status. Parents should ascertain that the camp’s facilities are appropriate. If the child needs a wheelchair or walker, there should be easy access to every building so that the child can participate in all aspects of camp life. As important, maintenance and cleanliness standards must be high. Parents should also check the medical program: is there staff who can deal with both day-to-day needs and emergencies? Does the camp have emergency procedures in place? What about medication? Injections? Does the camp feel confident that its medical staff can deal with your child’s health requirements? Do you?
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What about your child’s social and emotional needs?

Summer camp is about friends and fun, but it’s also about growth and self-enhancement. The best camp for your child is the one that will allow him or her to shine through friendships and new skills. When the choice is between a “normal” camp and one designed for children with special needs, parents should consider the child’s social life throughout the year. Children who have to work to keep up may do better in a camp where everyone is working at their pace.
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“Sometimes children with illnesses or disabilities are the only kids who are sick in school. They are labeled. They feel left out. They may have few friends. These children may do better in an environment of peers, where all the children are struggling with similar challenges,” said Mrs. Reichmann. “They learn to appreciate their own strengths and differences. They are no longer isolated. The ‘bump’ they get at camp may be enough to make a difference all year long.”

 

Speaking To Your Children About the Midwood Fire

7 Ways to Help Children Traumatized by the Midwood Fire

Note: The professionals at Project CHAI, Chai Lifeline’s crisis intervention and bereavement division are available to answer questions and provide personalized assistance to parents, educators, and community leaders following this weekend’s tragic fire in Midwood, Brooklyn. Please call 855-3-CRISIS or email CRISIS@CHAILIFELINE.ORG. Rabbi Sruli Fried, MSW, has prepared this video presentation: Speaking To Your Children About the Midwood Fire

The Jewish community of Midwood, Brooklyn, one of New York’s five boroughs and home to one of the largest Jewish communities outside Israel, was rocked by the devastating fire that killed seven siblings, ages 5 to 16, and left a mother and surviving daughter in critical condition.

Within minutes after the Sabbath ended, Chai Lifeline’s  crisis hotline lit up with phone calls from concerned parents who needed assistance talking to their children about the tragedy. Project CHAI’S professionals, all therapists with training and experience in responding to traumatic situations, offer the following suggestions for parents, educators, and community leaders:
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  • Be attentive to your child’s behaviors that may signal distress. An event like the recent fire can trigger reactions in the immediate aftermath and for the next several weeks.  These behaviors are normal after a traumatic event, and are the child’s way of coping with the trauma. Some children will be able to verbalize their fears right away. Others may experience nightmares, difficulty falling asleep, a reluctance to separate from parents, or a terror of ordinary fire, among other responses.

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  • Be aware of your own reactions to the event. Children work out how to react to a situation by watching the significant adults around them, particularly parents and teachers. Try, if at all possible, to behave in a calm and controlled manner.

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  • Be prepared to speak about the event with your child. Your child may want to speak about the event at great length, or may prefer not to talk about it at all.  Feel free to ask questions, but do not force your child to speak if he or she does not want to. If the child wants to talk about feelings, be supportive and encouraging. Show your understanding and acceptance of these feelings by explaining that feelings such as fear, anger and guilt are all normal reactions to such an “abnormal” event.

 

  •  Encourage alternatives to talkingDrawing, writing, drama and music are all wonderful creative outlets that can be introduced to help children share their experiences.

 

  • Try to maintain a normal routine, and provide children with reassuring and realistic messages about their safety. Talk about what steps you have implemented in the home to ensure safety, and to prevent fires in the future. This will strengthen the children’s sense of safety and control.

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  • The single most important resource for children after exposure is the network of adults in their lives. Most children will recover from exposure to trauma with the aid of those close to them, including parents and teachers.

 

  • Don’t hesitate to call a professional if your child’s behavior or feelings seem extreme or if they persist after a month. The Project CHAI hotline, 855-3-CRISIS, is staffed by therapists who are trained in helping families cope with the aftermath of traumatic events. Emails to CRISIS@CHAILIFELINE.ORG receive immediate responses.

 

 

 

Your Child Beat Cancer (YAY!). 5 Things Your Pediatrician Should Know

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Your Child Beat Cancer (YAY!). 5 Things Your Pediatrician Should Know

Physicians Lisa Diller, the chief medical officer of the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and Peter Manley, an oncologist and directorStop & Shop Family Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic, note five areas for pediatricians as survivors transition back to healthy pediatric care.
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The end of treatment calls for a celebration -- and a conference with your pediatrician.
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The end of treatment calls for a celebration — and a conference with your pediatrician.

1. Physicians should receive a copy of the child’s treatment summary and care plan created by the oncologist.
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2. Remember that the end of treatment is also a time of anxiety and transition for children and parents.

3. Watch for signs of side effects from treatment. (The article notes resources for the physical effects of treatment, but pediatricians and parents should be on the lookout for emotional and social changes as well.)
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4. Know what services are available for survivors and their families.

5. Promote good health habits.

 

Read the entire article here.

 
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7 Tips to Remember When Breaking Bad News to Children

7 Tips to Remember When Breaking Bad News to Children

 

There are a million reasons why we can’t shield our children from the reality of death. Nor should we.

 Our challenge is not to keep bad news at bay, but to help our children understand, accept and express themselves when it happens.
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Adults can help children synthesize news of death, tragedy, or trauma into their lives. 
Adults can help children synthesize news of death, tragedy, or trauma into their lives.

It will be the rare child who will pass into adulthood without being touched by the death of someone close. Events like this week’s massacre at a Har Nof, Israel, synagogue, splashed all over the media in gory detail, can also shock or trigger distress. Chai Lifeline’s crisis team offers parents a 7-point guide for adults who must help children process a personal or communal tragic event.

1. Get yourself under control. Showing emotion is appropriate. Allowing yourself to be overcome with grief when transmitting news is scary for children. They need to know that an adult will take care of them.

2. Talk about death in age appropriate, direct, factual terms. Speak in a gentle voice. Parents can hug their children, hold their hands, or place their arm around their shoulders.

3. Encourage children to give voice to their feelings. Emphasize that there are no right or wrong reactions. Validate their emotions. Chances are, whether the dominant feeling is sadness, anger, relief that someone is no longer in pain, or intense longing, others feel it as well.oakley gascan sunglasses

4. Focus children’s attention on activities that can provide solace. If they don’t want to speak, they may feel better by drawing, writing in a journal, playing, making music or engaging in art projects.

5. Let children know who they can turn to for support. Never leave a child feeling stranded.

6. Encourage children to engage in activities they find comforting and relaxing. Let them know that even the saddest people need to play, be with friends, and distract themselves or they will be overwhelmed by grief. At the same time, you need to allow children to be children. Don’t get upset when they act their age.

7. Understand that children process bad news differently at each stage of childhood.Cheap ray ban sunglasses

Getting Your Kids Into the Game

Getting Your Kids Into the Game

Most of us recognize Title IX as the shorthand for Federal regulations requiring schools to provide equal access to sports to women. But do you know that similar regulations mandate that children in schools that receive federal funding have equal opportunities to participate in all activities, including sports and extracurricular programs?
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 In theory, this means that schoolchildren can’t be left out because of physical or cognitive disabilities. In reality, inclusion takes understanding and work on the parts of families, schools, community sports leagues and sports facilities.  
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Sports and group activities are an important outlet for all children, regardless of health or abilities.

Sports and group activities are an important outlet for all children, regardless of health or abilities.

 
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Many times, children who are ill or who have disabilities end up on the sidelines simply because no one knows how to include them or because they fear that inclusion will be expensive, intrusive, or uncomfortable for healthy children. Sometimes, talking to coaches, teachers, and other parents can help ease the way for a disabled athlete. Be prepared to stand your ground, though. PGA pro Casey Martin, who suffers from a degenerative nerve disease, went all the way to the Supreme Court to assert his right to use a golf cart in tournaments.
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Remember that some sports activities are easier to integrate. Disabled athletes can use prosthetics during swim meets or hand cycles during bicycling events without impacting other children. Team sports require more cooperation, but isn’t what we’re trying to teach children when they play together? If you encounter resistance (and even Casey Martin’s pro-colleagues groused when he needed a golf cart), ask dissenters to remember that sports are supposed to be fun for children. It isn’t – and shouldn’t be – all about winning. Offer to speak to classes and teams about inclusion. Many times, the kids get it before their parents. They feel good about helping someone else feel like part of the group.
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If your child needs more assistance than your school or town can give, there are organizations that specialize in everything from adaptive skiing to therapeutic riding to running marathons.  Disabled Sports USA is a good place to start. The New York City Sports Commission lists NY State resources, including adaptive playgrounds; other states may have similar guides.

Physical activity promotes cardiovascular and physical strength and increases range of motion and physical activities. These are as important for sick children as healthy ones. Most important, mastery of a sport or activity (at any level) helps children feel good about themselves. The self-confidence and esteem will transfer to other areas of their lives. So encourage all children — healthy, ill, or disabled — to have fun!

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