All posts by Nichole

Fathers Day

Importance of Father Involvement in Children     

An extensive amount of research has emphasized the pivotal role that mothers play in the lives of childhood development. Many studies highlight the valuable influence that mothers have on the cognitive, emotional and social development of the child. However, until recent years, there has been little research that highlights the benefits of father involvement on the well-being of the child. There has been an increasing body of research that emphasizes the differential outcomes between children that actively engage with fathers versus those that do not. According to a study published in Acta Pediatrica, active involvement of fathers has decreased oppositional behavioral, reduced psychological problems and enhances cognitive development. Additionally, active engagement of fathers can improve the overall efficacy of the family system. Consistent engagement of fathers reduces the responsibility and workload of mothers and decreases the likelihood of mothers burning out. When mothers burn out there is an increased risk of dysfunctional interactions with the family. These effects include tension, outburst of anger and unintended neglect. Unfortunately, mothers on average spend more time engaging with children than the fathers. Additionally, if parents are at work, often nannies end up spending a significant amount of time with children. Nannies serve as a buffer in the family unit and provide support during times parents are not present. Unfortunately, male nannies are less likely to be hired and are commonly discriminated against in the “nanny sector”. This is largely due to the underestimated value of the role that males and father figures play in the lives of children. Father’s and male figures play a crucial role in facilitating emotional and psychological well-being in children. In this article we will highlight some of the most valuable contributions fathers and male figures can make in children.

Gate Keeper

Historically, fathers have maintained the impression of the dominant figure in the home. Additionally, they have been viewed as the firm figure that maintains the rules. Although, women actively take on a dominant parental role in the family dynamic, studies have shown the mere presence of fathers in the home can reduce the frequency of defiant behavior. At various stages in development, it is typical for children to test the limits and boundaries of their parents. At each stage defiance can come in different forms ranging from refusal to do school work to staying out after curfew. Although “children will be children”, it is essential that children are provided with flexible boundaries and firm expectations to safely navigate these phases of their lives. Father’s can help play an important role in safeguarding children through those phases of “testing the limits”.

Coach Motivator

Growing up in a competitive culture can be difficult for children. Many children lack motivation and confidence in their abilities at each stage of their development. Girls typically struggle with self-esteem issues more than boys. Several studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents. Fathers typically take on a coaching and solution-focused approach to helping their children build confidence and attain their personal goals. During early childhood through late adolescence, children are faced with more competitive situations through sports, arts, and education. These experiences may have a negative impact on a child’s self-esteem. Fathers play an important role in encouraging and motivating children to try their best and continue to strive for their goals.

Mental Health

Research has shown that father involvement is linked to better psychological adjustment. There is evidence that active and regular engagement of fathers reduced psychological problems in young women. Girls typically experience challenges with mental health at an earlier age. These mental health issues include; depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Although the experiences of mental health challenges are inevitable for some children, father involvement can provide children with reassurance and comfort throughout the process.  Additionally, challenges with mental health can be debilitating and hinder functioning in school and extracurricular activities. Active involvement of fathers can help children maintain optimal functioning through challenges with mental health.

Sources

Sarkadi, A., Kristiansson, R., Oberklaid, F., & Bremberg, S. (2008). Fathers’ involvement and children’s developmental outcomes: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta paediatrica, 97(2), 153-158.

Philia’s Featured Caregiver: Kathleen Kousa

Philia’s Featured Caregiver: Kathleen Kousa

Q&A.     Tell us about where you come from and how that influenced who you are today.
I come from a large, supportive, loving family. My mother raised my brothers and I on her own for many years and did such an amazing job. She motivated me at a young age to babysit. She taught me that doing these small acts of kindness makes all the difference in a parents life. In High School I completed two Child Development classes, and loved everyone moment. After High School I attended Northern Virginia Community College to become a Certified Nurses Assistant. I was able to complete a year in an amazing nursing home and a few months in a clients home before I was blessed with my first beautiful son. I was able to stay home with my son for a year. For the next two years I was a housekeeper and Nanny for family and friends. Today I am a proud Mama of my two boys, five years old and 7 months old. I am currently studying more in Depth about Child Development. As I like to say, “Every child is unique and different in an awesome way, there is always something new to learn because there is no handbook to  raising a child.”

Q&A.      What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time I love spending time with my sons. I birthed two and was blessed with two more. Having four boys is so much fun. We all love playing soccer, going to museums, finding new parks to explore, going on nature walks, on rainy days we have movie time, puzzles, forts in the living room and so much more. My spare consists of children and family, if you were to ask what I like to do when the children are fast asleep? I would say read up on the latest news, fold laundry while I watch my favorite shows, tidy up the house, and enjoy the quiet.

Q&A.      What motivated you to become a caregiver?
My mother and grandmother are my two motivators when it comes to being a caregiver. My grandmother’s knowledge over the years has made me the caregiver I am today. She grew up in a small town home with seven brothers and sisters, helped raised them and then had three of her own. Becoming a mother really helped me realize that at anytime there can be situation where a parent needs help that they can trust and rely on. I wanted to be that caregiver that anyone can rely on and trust that their children are safe with. I am proud to say that I have become that caregiver. I am so glad that I am able to help ease parents minds when stressful moments happen in life.

Spring Cleaning and Organization In The Washington DC Area

It’s that time of the year again to start thinking about spring cleaning, which likely means some serious decluttering, reorganization, scrubbing and polishing. Spring is the time that we all begin thinking about cleaning and organizing our homes. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that a good spring cleaning is a worthwhile exercise.

 

But did you know that it can also benefit your health and wellbeing? Below are some reasons why clearing out those closets and grabbing the polish can actually good for you. Let the cleaning commence!

In the Washington, D.C area, many residents lead busy schedules that prevent them from routine spring cleaning as other responsibilities become prioritized in the “to-do-list”. Spring Cleaning can increase productivity. Making the effort to declutter and organize your home or office can save you tons of time looking for or replacing lost items in the future. Organization makes you more productive, while the cleaning process itself can increase energy levels. We all need to learn to let go. If you haven’t used something since the last spring clean, it might be time to say goodbye. Cleaning can be a great way for Senior Care professionals to get clients active and engaged.

Spring cleaning is also healthy. Many elderly individuals struggle with allergies but already take a slew of medications leaving little room for allergy medication. A good spring clean can help you avoid allergy symptoms and lower Asthma attacks. Removing allergens from the home can make you feel healthier, especially at a time when allergies are rife. You want to try to get those hard to reach places too where dust build up. Make sure though to ask for help moving big pieces of furniture or climbing up ladders when going for those hard-to-reach spots.

 

Spring cleaning can make you happy. Taking the time to thoroughly clean and maintain a tidy home makes people happier, studies have shown. The act of cleaning provides a sense of satisfaction, which in turn can put you in a good mood. Also, putting on some of your favorite music while cleaning can make it even more fun!

Spring cleaning can help to reduce stress. Cleaning and organizing your personal spaces lets you enjoy a tidier and more organized environment and this can relieve stress. Levels of stress can also be reduced during the act itself as cleaning is considered to be therapeutic. But make sure to always be realistic. If it’s all getting too much, take a break. It’s not a race after all.

 

Lastly, Spring leaning can help you to focus. Those who make a point of clearing out the clutter once in a while are able to free up the brain for more essential decision-making, according to a study carried out by the founder of America’s Anxiety Disorder Center. A thorough clean helps to clear your mind of things that need to be done around the house and makes it easier to focus on other more important things. You should concentrate though on one room at a time to make sure you get the job done properly

Early Stage Dementia: What To Do

Recognizing Early Stage Alzheimer’s in the Washington DC area

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that affects each individual differently. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for roughly 80% of all new dementia diagnoses. Each stage of Alzheimer’s introduces symptoms that directly impacts the cognitive and functional abilities of the individual. In the early stage of the disease, symptoms are generally mild and may be difficult to notice. At this stage, the individual may functional independently with the ability to complete all of their own activities of daily living. However, they may begin experiencing frequent memory lapses or the inability to identify familiar words. Friends and family may notice the individual struggling with performing routine tasks or maintaining organization. During a medical examination, doctors may identify problems in memory or concentration. It can be helpful to involve Senior Care professionals, family and friends in the examination to provide their personal accounts of symptoms, as the individual may not be readily able to identify changes in themselves.

Common challenges in the Early-Stage of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Difficulties with planning or organization
  • Difficulties with recalling the right word or name for familiar objects
  • Difficulties with performing social or work tasks
  • Frequent memory lapses
  • Frequently losing or misplacing valuable objects
  • Difficulties with retaining new information
  • Difficulty following storylines
  • Deteriorating sense of direction

Once medical examinations are completed and an Alzheimer’s dementia diagnosis is received, it’s important to optimize the safety and quality of life of the individual. Caregivers and friends should provide the individual with support and empathy while preparing for upcoming challenges ahead. Senior Home Care professionals should discuss advance directives and preferred future plans of care with the individual, to ensure that their wishes are upheld when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Take the time to carefully plan for comprehensive and holistic care which meets the entire needs of the individual– it’s the best way to honor their life and legacy. Finding holistic and comprehensive care in the Washington, D.C area can be challenging. However, care that is tailored to the needs of the individual and enhances their well-being is essential to ensuring longevity.

Sources

Alzheimer’s Association . (2017). Stages of Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from alz.org: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_stages_of_alzheimers.asp#mild

Higuera, V., & Ellis, M. (2016, July 12). 10 Early Symptoms of Dementia. Retrieved from healthline.com: http://www.healthline.com/health/dementia/early-warning-signs

Mayo Clinic. (2017). Dementia. Retrieved from mayoclinic.org: http:www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/diagnosis-treatment/diagnosis/dxc-20198511

Spring Activities

Spring Activities

Spring is an exciting and beautiful time of year that allows everyone to break out of winter hibernation mode. During this time of year, all things become new, and we are surrounded by growth. The blossoming flowers and tree leaves wake up our senses and remind us that we have entered a new phase.  We earn back daylight hours that allow us to start basking in the sunshine. The longer daylight hours increase our vitamin D exposure, which plays a significant role in boosting our moods. As change is making headway all around us, we are reminded of some ways we can switch up our routine and take advantage of all spring has to offer.

Indoor Fun

Although our calendar’s alert us that spring is here, the weather does not always cooperate with our spring endeavors. Nevertheless, the spring party must go on. Indoor spring activities are a great way to have fun getting into the spring spirit without allowing unpredictable weather “rain on your parade.” Additionally, indoor activities may be more ideal for parents and kids that suffer from seasonal allergies. Indoor activities are a great way to encourage children to let the creative parts of their brains flow. Moreover, it provides a contained environment for kids to explore scientific concepts related to nature. Spring break is the best time for parents to catch up with children and spend quality time creating fun projects together.

Outdoor Fun

Outdoor activities that involve exploration of nature can be significantly beneficial to children’s learning and development. A study from Pediatric Medicine suggests that outdoor play provides opportunities for problem-solving, creating thinking and decision making. The outdoor environment provides a sensory-rich experience for children. Through activities outdoors, children can experience scientific theory come alive before their eyes. Unfortunately, in major metropolitan cities such as Washington, D.C, nannies and caregivers may feel limited by the vast concrete jungle surroundings as they hunt for green-rich environments for children to work off high energy. However, it is crucial that children have exposure to nature rich environments. This type of environment can be particularly fruitful for children with ADHD. Moreover, nature has a therapeutic influence on children with behavioral problems. The American Institute of Research for the California Department of Education found that at-risk youth gained positive self-esteem, better relationships with peers, increased attentiveness and willingness to learn from an outdoor camp-like education program. Springtime is the best time to assist kids with combining fun and learning to enrich their development and well-being. Nannies and caregivers in Washington are privileged to have accessibility to a number of beautiful parks that can allow children to explore diverse outdoor activities. Rock Creek Park is one of the largest parks in the district with a 0.9-mile trail. Throughout the park you may come across beautiful streams and mini-waterfalls, coupled with soothing sounds of nature.

 Indoor Spring Activity Ideas

  • Use recycled supplies in the house to create paper crowns. Teach children about the importance of recycling and waste.
  • Turn flowers different colors using colorful dye. Teach children about the anatomy of flowers and nutrient absorption.
  • Build a tent/teepee
  • Use nature to create art. Teach children about an artist that tried to capture nature in their artwork (i.e. Claudia Monet).
  • Create fun stories with pictures that tell a story about an unusual plant in nature. Teach children about the life cycle of a plant and its unique.

Outdoor Spring Activity Ideas

  • Feed ducks at a local pond.
  • Create a bird feeder for your home
  • Fly kites at a local park. Teach children about the four forces of flight.
  • Have a Nature Scavenger Hunt. Incorporate colors and numbers to teach children to find corresponding objects.
  • Create a visual list of items in nature (i.e. acorns, pine, maple seed, flowers, and leaves). Encourage children to explore nature and find each item and glue it to the corresponding visual.
  • Start planting a vegetable garden. Teach children about responsibility, cause and effect and weather.

Spring Recipe

 Apple-Raisin Baked Oatmeal Recipe

♣    3 cups of old fashioned oats

♣    ½ cup packed brown sugar

♣    1-½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon

♣    ½ teaspoons of salt

♣    ½ teaspoons of ground nutmeg

♣    2 eggs

♣    2 cups fat-free milk

♣    1 medium apple, chopped

♣    1/3 cup raisins

♣    1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine first six ingredients. Whisk eggs and milk; stir into dry ingredients until blended. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in apple, raisins and walnuts.
  2. Transfer to 8-in square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, 35-40 minutes or until edges are lightly browned, and a thermometer reads 160 degrees. Serve with additional milk if desired.

Why Gender Roles Don’t Matter

The Gender Role Rabbit Hole

From the moment a child is born, the course of their identity is steered by their closest loved ones that will guide them throughout their lives. The moment a pink versus blue infant cap is chosen, identity has been framed. However, the question becomes who these children might be without our interfering social demands? Most children don’t recognize their sexual differences until around age 2-years old. Thereafter, they begin to understand norms associated with their gender as masculine or feminine. Kids begin to work hard to maintain behavior that fits into the gender specific frames assigned to them. Nevertheless, parents and caregivers soon learn that these frames don’t always conveniently fit their children. Sooner than later their authentic personality springs forth in rebellion, and parents watch in amazement as their genial girl begins kicking off those pink ribbon shoes they never wanted and throwing a pair of cleats over their shoulder ready to get dirty at the local sandlot.

Gender Identity & Play

Despite our efforts to control human nature, children revert to what feels true to themselves and seek out ways to feel most like themselves. Play is the primary way children learn about the world and themselves. According to child analyst Piaget, through play, children strengthen their relationship to and mastery of their environment. Personality typically drives children to interact with the environment in unique ways. The process of learning through play further develops a child’s identity. Children will choose their playmates based on their own true interest and sense of commonality with peers. These peer relationships become mutually beneficial and independent of sex differences. The interference of gender roles and expectations stunts the natural honing process of play. Ultimately a child’s unique way of learning becomes inhibited. Thus, children work twice as hard to behave in a manner that is counter to their particular traits and characteristics. Essentially, gender roles may train children to be unlike themselves. Gender expectations can send messages of rejection to children that don’t quite meet societal norms. Parents and Childcare professionals should allow children to freely explore their own unique interest without introducing gender biased rules. Allowing children to be free and explore what feels true to their unique personality, puts children on a successful trajectory. Moreover, enabling children to be and play according to what feels natural to them, sends a message of unconditional love, which is crucial to healthy self-esteem.

Parents Role In Loosening the Gender Reigns

Childcare workers and parents play a major role in ensuring healthy identity and cognitive development in their children. At birth, it is essential for parents to provide children with an environment that encourages free exploration. For parents to provide an environment free of gender role constraints, they must first identify their own gender biases. The influence of gender expectations is so ingrained in human thought and behavior that this way of thinking may be automatic. Once parents have identified these automatic biases, they will be better equipped to provide a gender-free environment. Additionally, parents must positively correct other adult figures actively involved with their children to refrain from gender specific coaxing. For example, nannies and other childcare workers should be fully informed about how they can best provide “gender-free” care. Finally, parents must accept that identity is not necessarily static and that shifts in gender preferences occur. Thus, at any given stage parents and caregivers must be loving and supportive.