written by Laurie Lafortune

There’s a lot to discuss about your kid’s phone use. How old should they be when they get a cell phone?  Who pays for the phone and the monthly bill? What are the family rules around phone use?

First, you need to consider the existing expectations and routines in your home. Do you expect family meal time to be a time for conversation and for family members to be together?  Are you trying to teach your kids financial responsibility? Are you careful about amount of sleep and bedtime routines with your kids? Do you think screen time should be limited to a certain amount of time each day? Continue reading


As parents, we hope our child will be successful at school, learning and growing towards adulthood and independence. Children spend many hours in school, and parents can help make this time successful by trying the following tips.

Read aloud daily and have conversations with your child. Sometimes as our children get older, we may no longer think reading aloud is as important, but it is still a special and valuable way to spend time with your child, building vocabulary and lifelong learning skills. Asking your child to read aloud to you, with “chapter books” is a great way to help with fluency in reading. Encourage general conversation with open ended questions like, “What was a good thing about your day at school?”  Or, you can ask your children to think of a topic of conversation to raise at the supper table, for example, a current event, an upcoming trip, or a sports event, a movie or a book.

Get to know your child’s teachers: Recognize that school success is a team effort from teachers and parents. Encourage and support the teachers’ efforts.

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Family Meetings: Good Idea or a Waste of Time?

Some parenting experts have recommended family meetings as a positive part of active parenting strategies for many years, while others feel that the idea of a ‘meeting’ is too structured and formal for a family.  Let’s take a look at the concept.

A family meeting isn’t like a workplace meeting or board meeting; it’s simply a time where all family members, young and old, get to talk about topics, and everyone has a chance to give their views and opinions.  It also allows family members to share concerns or get help with problems.  Family meetings can be very brief, or as long as needed. Ten to fifteen minutes is usually enough, especially if your children are younger, and up to 45 minutes might be needed for complicated issues or with teenagers. Your goal is to make the meeting enjoyable and useful. It’s not mandatory that everyone come to the meeting, and if a family member refuses at first, they might join in later when they see how it works. And who doesn’t like to have a say?  Everyone who lives in the household, including extended family members is encouraged to be part of the meeting.

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Helping Your Child To Be Respectful

Respect is a word that we hear often; phrases like “Show some respect,” or “Respect your elders”, were commonly said by adults to children in the past, and similar statements are still heard today, especially in an autocratic style of parenting. The implication is that children should automatically show respect to all adults and those in positions of authority, such as teachers, caregivers, or coaches. Continue reading

When parents need more help…

Are you familiar with the resources and services for families in your community?

As a parent educator, facilitator, or group leader you’ll be spending a lot of time talking with parents about their children and families. As you meet with them regularly providing your interactive workshops, you will develop a relationship with each participant. Some parents will be more quiet and formal, and others will be very open and extraverted. Some will not ask many questions and others will be very open about their family situation.   Every parent, every child and every family is unique, with their own strengths and challenges.

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Dealing with the Worst Time of Day for Family Stress

Parenting is stressful, and parents need to deliberately make an effort to manage stress in order to be successful parents. There are many ways to that  parents can take care of themselves and manage their own stress, in order to provide children with the most supportive environment possible. One important thing to do is to encourage parents to get their home and routine organized. Continue reading

Helping Children Manage their Behaviour-Remember HALT

The challenging task of successful parenting often centers around kids’ behaviour. Parents attend groups and seek help when their kids won’t behave, and this is often due to stress that the child is experiencing. Behaviour is a way of communicating, and sometimes issues can be handled quite easily if you encourage participants in your parent groups, to think about preventing challenging behavior, rather than reacting to it. One easy tip to help children deal with stress and self-control is to use the acronym HALT. HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

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Parents Need to Look after Themselves, Too!

The Importance of Self Care;

As a parent, you are the primary caregiver for your children. You have a huge responsibility and are doing probably the most important job you will ever have.  Being a parent takes a lot of energy, yet unlike at a paid job, there are no scheduled breaks, lunch hours, vacation days or wellness seminars.

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How Parents Can Help Build a Healthy Brain

In a previous blog, I described the basic process of brain development. A key point is that a child’s brain is impacted by all experiences, through their senses of touch, taste, hearing, feelings, smell and sight. The brain actually changes physically based on these experiences and the environment that a child grows up in. So it’s very important for parents to know how they can support healthy brain development.

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Your Child’s Developing Brain

Parents think a lot about the weight and height of their children, carefully recording the stats on a chart or in a baby book, but what about a baby’s brain? What actually is going on in the brain as a baby grows? Here’s a basic overview of brain development in the early years. Continue reading

Having a Conversation with a Baby

How can you have a conversation with a baby, when she can’t talk yet? It’s actually pretty easy, AND it’s important for a baby’s cognitive, social and emotional development. A recent study in Pediatrics showed a large increase in the number of children with communication disorders over the past ten years. So parents should try to do all they can to encourage speech and language development in the context of loving interactions.  Continue reading

Caring for an Infant: A brand new job

Here’s a post that might be helpful for new parents who are feeling overwhelmed with all the new tasks and responsibilities and who need some parenting help. As part of parent self care for new parents, it can be helpful to keep a sense of humour, to realize that no new parent really knows what they are doing, and that all parents worry about doing the right thing.

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