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      The Parents Guide to Play: 9 Tips to Ignite Your Child’s Learning    During the holiday season, all parents dread this familiar scenario: you buy your kid a new toy, they’re thrilled for ten minutes, but then the toy sits on a shelf collecting dust for six months. While you can’t stop your child from shifting interests, you can engage them through play to support their learning, develop their social skills, and boost their creativity. But with hectic lives and daily distractions, it can be hard for parents to know how to channel their inner-child and connect with their kids through play.    So what can parents do to help their kids get the most out of playtime?    1. Accept the challenge   Play has always been a natural part of childhood across cultures, but today’s society doesn’t lend itself to children getting much unstructured play. Kids aren’t going outside as often, they’re involved in more structured activities, and many schools have reduced recess periods. Research has shown a correlation between society’s decrease in play and increases in depression and anxiety. For these reasons, it’s important that parents accept the challenge of consciously making play a priority.      2. Learn the benefits   Understanding the perks of playtime will help you make educated decisions about what types of toys and activities will benefit your child most. Play can help your child:      Learn about their world    Manage their feelings    Build relationships and social skills    Learn from playmates    Enhance their physical health     Discover how to self-entertain    Ignite their creativity     It’s also important to realize the damage that inactivity can cause – not getting adequate playtime can prevent your child’s brain from developing normally, increase attention issues, and negatively impact their academic performance.     3. Put quality before quantity   When it comes to playing with your kids, it’s important that you genuinely connect with them, even if only for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. If you’re sleep-deprived or stressed out like parents often are, take a break and catch up on bonding time later. Your child will benefit most from playing with you when you are rested, calm, and ready to have some fun.      4. Rotate playmates   It’s important for your child to play and interact with you as their parent, but also make sure they get ample playtime with peers their own age as well as some alone time to play by themselves. Playing with peers will help them develop social skills, and playing alone will help them learn to entertain themselves creatively.      5. Tailor toys by age   As your child’s brain develops, they will require different types of toys to stimulate their interests and learn new skills. Toys generally list which age groups they are geared toward, but you can also check out this    year-by-year toy guide      for details on which toys are best for your child in each stage of development.      6. Balance nurture with boundaries   Play provides a space for kids to lead and parents to learn what their kids are thinking and feeling. While play should be child-led, it also provides opportunities for parents to set limits and teach their children to respect boundaries. Empower your child by letting them choose and lead activities, but don’t allow them to behave in disrespectful or inappropriate ways. Playtime is a great opportunity to teach your child to consider the feelings of others – a lesson that will benefit them when playing with other kids at school.      7. Don’t Dominate   It’s great for you to become engaged in play, but make sure you don’t dominate activities yourself. Parents are especially prone to doing this with crafts or projects that are supposed to turn out a certain way, and can end up pushing their child aside as they create the finished product. So next time you’re creating a Lego masterpiece or building a robotic unicorn, make sure your kid is equally engaged in the assembly.      8. Practice PRIDE skills    Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) identifies 5 skills that parents can use to shape their children’s emotional and behavioral well-being. Incorporate these skills to get the most out of playtime with your child:        PRAISE   – Compliment your child for their positive behaviors. This will reinforce desirable actions, making them more likely to repeat them. Example: “I love how you’re stacking your blocks carefully and keeping them on the table.”      REFLECTION   – Repeat back or reflect what your child talks about during play. This shows that you are listening and value their thoughts. Example: Child says, “The dragon is flying to a far-off land.” Parent reflects, “The dragon is flying to a far-off land.”       IMITATION   – Boost your child’s confidence by copying their creations or ideas. Imitation shows your child you enjoy playing with them and think their ideas are cool. Example: “I’m going to draw a swamp monster just like you.”      DESCRIPTION   – Support your child’s language development and communication skills by describing what you see them doing during play. Example: “I see you’re taking your doll’s sneakers off and putting her roller-skates on.”      ENJOYMENT  – Don’t forget to show enthusiasm and enjoyment as you play. The more fun you are having, the more engaged your child will be. Example: “I am having so much fun playing soccer with you!”    Dr. Marta M. Shinn, a specialist at Variations Psychology, is a    PCIT      and    PC-CARE    Trainer for the University of California, Davis and has taught many moms, dads, and caregivers how to incorporate PRIDE skills in their parenting.     Click here to find a PCIT Provider       


   
     
      
        Click here to consult with Dr. Shinn on PCIT or PC-CARE Training 
      
     
   


 
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       Are you a dad? Click here to check out our PRIDE skills for dads     9. Get support   It can be difficult for parents to know how to connect to their inner-kid and engage their children through play. But remember – behind every great player is a supportive coach! Our specialists at Variations can help you bridge the gap between yours and your child’s interests to make play enriching and rewarding for both of you.    Cynthia R. Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. Cynthia is an experienced PCIT therapist and can teach parents techniques to apply PRIDE skills at home.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia  
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. If you are concerned with your child’s development, Dr. Shinn can provide diagnostic testing and educational consulting to meet your child’s needs.      
	   Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      References:   O’Connor, Siobhan (2017). The Secret Power of Play.  Time Magazine . Retrieved online: http://time.com/4928925/secret-power-play/  Raising Children – The Australian Parenting Website. (2018). Why Play is Important. https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/play-learning/play-ideas/why-play-is-important  Bongiorno, L. (2018). 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play.  National Association for the Education of Young Children.  https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/10-things-every-parent-play  National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2018). Good Toys for Young Children by Age and Stage. Retrieved online: https://www.naeyc.org/resources/topics/play/toys

The Parents Guide to Play: 9 Tips to Ignite Your Child’s Learning

Every parent knows what it feels like to buy your kids new toys, have them play with them for a day, and then have them collect dust for 6 months! While you can’t stop your child from shifting interests, you can make play more engaging to inspire your child to learn and maybe keep that toy off the shelf a little longer. Check out this week’s blog for 9 tips on igniting your child’s learning through play.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Should I Let My Teen Get a Job? 10 Things Parents Should Know    As much as teens rely on mom and dad for a warm bed, free laundry, and a stocked refrigerator, they desperately want to feel like adults. Often times, this desire results in teens wanting to take on their first job. While parents want their teens to have a healthy transition into adulthood, it can be scary to let them take on the responsibility and the demands of a job while they’re still in school. Allowing your teen to get a job is a big decision, especially if they are involved in challenging classes or demanding extra-curriculars.   So how can parents know if their teen is ready to start filling out job applications? Here are 10 things to consider:    1. There are tons of benefits   We’re not talking about health insurance or retirement plans; those will come later down the line when they reach their career goals. But there are countless benefits that an entry level job can bring to a teenager’s life.  To name a few, jobs can help them:   Discover how to search and apply for jobs  Learn about money management  Gain confidence  Feel independent  Become more responsible  Develop work ethic and job skills  Stay occupied when school is out  Network and make friends  Develop time management  Pay for their own stuff (can I get a YASSSS!)    2. It doesn't have to kill your grades    “My son?! A job?! How will he pass AP bio?!” Despite many parents’ concern that by earning an income, kids will lose all motivation to make good grades, research has indicated that teens working 10-13 hours per week tend to have higher grades than their unemployed counterparts. It should be noted however, that working more than 13 hours per week can make it difficult to manage the high school work-load   3. It gives a "feel for the field"   Sadly, many students spend years pursuing high level degrees only to find themselves unsatisfied with their field after they graduate. An entry level job related to a field they are interested in can give them a sense of the pros and cons and help them determine if it’s really what they want to pursue long-term. For this reason, it’s good to encourage them to look for jobs that develop skills related to their interests. For example, if your daughter wants to be a doctor, becoming a lifeguard would teach her CPR and other lifesaving techniques.    For more tips on supporting your teen’s success, check out our blog on fostering passion and persistence in your children     4. Jobs help careers   While college degrees are important, let’s face it, employers want work experience. Whether or not your teen’s job has anything to do with their long-term pursuits, the skills and work ethic instilled by minimum wage employment can definitely make them stand out above candidates who only have academic track records. Plus, working as a teen demonstrates that they are successfully able to balance work and education, a trait that shows they are both persistent and adaptable.   5. Baby steps are the way to go   …just don’t call them that – your teen wants to be treated like an adult, remember?! They don’t have to go straight from total dependence on you to working 30 hours a week and moving out. Make a deal with your teen that they can only work as long as nothing else suffers – that means school, social relationships, extracurriculars, and family time. Start out with allowing them to only work weekends or seasonally. As they prove themselves capable and responsible, consider allowing more hours after school.   6. Motives matter   Taking on a job is a great way to teach goal-setting, persistence, and financial education to your child. If they express interest in getting a job, ask them why they want one. To buy a car? To prepare for a career? To gain responsibility? Have them set goals and hold them accountable as they work. This is also a great time to teach them how to budget and create a savings plan to earn things they want to work for.   7. Volunteering isn't the same thing   Don’t get us wrong, volunteering is a wonderful thing for your teen to take part in. It builds character, encourages compassion, and fosters gratitude. But there are certain takeaways from paid employment that volunteerism just can’t provide – jobs will teach your teen a heightened level of accountability and will help them understand the relationship between time, effort, and compensation – all important concepts as they enter adulthood.   8. There are cons to consider    While there are many benefits in allowing teens to work, it’s important to understand potential setbacks. First, teens are still developing, and their lack of real world experience can make them vulnerable for being exploited by employers. Working excessive hours can also harm their social life, extracurricular activities, and school attendance. Employment also exposes teens to older adults, potentially increasing the risk of them being exposed to drugs or alcohol. These reasons are why it’s critical for parents to stay involved, making sure their child’s working hours are moderate and that employment is not impacting other areas of their life.     9. Personal factors play a role   At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether teens should get a job. Parents have to base the decision on their child’s mental health, emotional maturity, and current demands. If your teen is taking a ton of high level classes and really stressing out about them, this year might not be the right time to add a job to their plate. If they struggle with time management or showing up to school on time, have them work on improving those areas before you consider letting them work.   10. Variations can help you decide    Every parent’s goal is to help their teens transition from carefree children to productive, responsible adults - but knowing how to do that can be tricky. The decision to let your teen work can be difficult, but our specialists at Variations Psychology can help.     Cynthia Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. She has years of experience in supporting parents, teens, and children in working through challenges, reaching their goals, and building strong, healthy relationships.      
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia.  
       Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D . specializes in supporting men and teen boys through life’s transitions. Teen boys and men face a variety of unique challenges throughout their lives, and Dr. Sample is experienced in helping clients cope with issues such as school or work challenges, family and relationship struggles, anger, anxiety, depression, and trauma. Dr. Sample provides a comfortable place for men of all ages to overcome obstacles and gain the tools for leading successful and fulfilling lives.      
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D ., is a Child and Educational Psychologist. Dr. Shinn can get to know you and your teen, discuss your goals and concerns, and help you decide if your teen is ready to take on their first job. In addition, Dr. Shinn can give you tips on how to better prepare your teen for the workforce before making your decision.        
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Marta M. Shinn 
       Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life         
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.

Should I Let My Teen Get a Job?
10 Things Parents Should Know

“If you want to be treated like an adult you better start acting like one!” Us parents say that, but do we really want our teens to run out and get a job? If you’re wondering if your teen is ready for the workforce, check out this week’s blog and find out!