If yoWith back-to-school shopping soon to be underway, added along with summer expenses like camp and vacations and the (regular list of food, clothes, toys, and gifts, your kids may notice the spending ask you questions related to money. Living in Miami doesn’t help. With such an abundance of goodies available, at all price ranges, and such stark contrasts between what social circles can afford, it’s no wonder our kids bombarded with the twinkling fantasy of having so much, just as much as we are as adults.
Questions like this may have you wondering how to talk to your kids about money:
“Why can’t I have two sneakers of XYZ brand instead of one?”
“How come you say that you can pay for this camp, but not the other one?”
“Why do I need to use these old school supplies instead of buying new ones?”
“How come we go to private school when so-and-so goes to public school?”
“Why do people ask for money on the street?”
“How much money do you make?”
“How much does our house cost?”
“Are we rich/poor?”
The list of questions goes on. And really, our kids can ask about money at any given point- so, it’s best that we have some idea of how we wish to respond instead of answering things like:
“That’s none of your business.”
“Why are you being nosy?”
“Talking about money is bad manners.”
“Because we can’t afford it.” (True or not!)
Or, saying nothing, changing the subject or ignoring the child’s question altogether.
Sometimes, you might take these questions personally, like our children are attacking or questioning our ability to provide for them. Many parents feel like their children are questioning our ability to be “good parents.”
You might find yourself feeling or thinking:
“How dare she complain about how many shoes I buy her! Doesn’t she realize how hard I work?”
“Is he that ungrateful that he is jealous of his friends?”
“I need to work harder. Maybe she feels lesser than because we can’t afford the same things as her friends. I don’t want her to feel left out. I can just put it on the credit card and pay for it later.”
“I should have become an accountant. This job pays #$&*%.”
“Am I raising a spoiled brat?”
These are great questions to ponder! Maybe not while you’re in the middle of the shoe rack aisles with one kid trying on shoes five times too small and the other kid is whining over Converse sneakers…but good ones to consider nonetheless. Why? Our kids come to this world to push our buttons. They push us to see the yucky-muck things within ourselves and to evolve. Let’s deconstruct…
If you are talking about money with your kids and taking it personally as an attack on your ability to provide for your family, sit down and take a seat. Consider these thoughts and questions:
Money is such a loaded subject, isn’t it? We are taught not to talk about money. For some people, talking about money is like talking about religion, sex and politics. The conversation is only to be had with your most trusted circle and even then, with major care.
As parents, we wonder when to start talking to our kids about wealth? How do we handle money? Do we start an allowance for chores? What about the tooth fairy, birthday gifts, toys, etc. The list goes on…
First, it’s important, as in most parenting decisions, to be on the same page with your partner or significant other on this topic. Once you have dealt with your own feelings about money, you can begin teaching your kids about money. Reflection is always a good place to start.
“I see you want to buy more than one pair of shoes.”
“You’re wondering about the people on the street with signs asking for money.”
Then, be honest with how you decide how to spend the money. Including your children in the process can help them understand how the world works and the importance of saving and spending money. If they are questioning why you spend on something verses another thing, they are questioning your values because they want to learn. This can be difficult if you don’t have an idea of your values. It’s always okay to say, “Let me get back to you on that one.” But make sure you really do when you’re ready. The more taboo you make a topic, the hungrier and more resourceful your kids will get at finding out the answers.
So don't shy away from those difficult conversations to have with your kids! If they are asking about an adult topic or subject, it's a good sign you have a curious little person that is interested in learning how the world works. Have you had a talk with your kids about money? How did it go? Are you thinking about teaching your preschooler about money? Do you wonder how to have this conversation with your kids? Let’s talk about it.
Happy Father’s Day!
Dads, on this Father’s Day, I want to commemorate you. I want to thank you for taking the time to learn about being a parent. To trying to be open to this challenge of raising little ones, with someone who may or may not come from a similar parenting background. I want to thank you for trying to raise independent thinkers instead of carbon copy mini-me’s. For taking the time to think- is how I am disciplining my child- building up his spirit or tearing him down? For teaching your daughters what to look for in “good guy” by the way you treat their mother and other women in your life. For looking at your double standards and trying to make amends so you don’t act hypocritical. All of this and more is how you are important. And all of this and more you accomplish every day of your life with your kids. I want to thank you because along with mothers, you are helping raise the next generation.
Society is waking up to the importance of mental health in parents. We are slowly (but surely) but too slowly- beginning to understand that when an infant is born, so too is a parent. We have a skewed and misinformed idea that men- fathers- must keep it together at all costs for the sake of being the breadwinner, support system, “man of the house”. This is the same illogical type of thought process society has for mothers, too. However, since maternal mental health is starting to be taken seriously, many believe that any feelings of anxiety, anger, sadness, questions of being good enough are solely experienced by the woman – mom.
Longer hours at the office, relationship betrayals, increasing alcohol or drug use, under/overeating, becoming hyper vigilant about the safety and health of the child, mother, or family unit are a reaction to the father's role and cannot be pushed aside as a "phase". We wrongfully assume that men just fall into the father role automatically. Men are expected to return to work full force, with the same capacity despite waking up to in the middle of the night, or with the added pressure of care taking (financially, emotionally, physically) for a new member of their family.
I say, let’s stop this nonsense. But, it’s not so easy. Why? The typical advice that is given – “share your emotions,” “talk about what’s bothering you to problem solve for solutions,” is just not very manly. Right? So, throughout childhood, boys are instructed to not cry, to act tough, to figure it out. But once a baby is born, men are suddenly supposed to know how to share their feelings? With the very same people who have lived with them acting all macho and put together? WOW. Talk about an adjustment.
It sounds easy, but it clearly is not. First, there needs to be a vocabulary- what words describe which emotions. For some people, this is easier than others. Some are at a loss for words and find it hard to describe what they are going through. They may think that their negative feelings mean that somehow, they are not cut out for this dad thing, or that they may not love their family as much as they hoped they would. These types of thoughts feed into the dismissing or obsessive types of behaviors that can create family turmoil during stressful times.
Statistics show that 10% of new fathers experience symptoms of depression that get in the way with their life at home and work. These situations do not define you, but if you don't get past them, you can get stuck in them and end up defining yourself within these parameters. The biggest barrier to getting help is shame. When we feel embarrassed and shameful about our thoughts and feelings, we c]am up. And then what happens? That thought or feeling becomes HUGE and takes up more and more space in our mind. We convince ourselves that what we are going through is despicable and unique to us. Don't fall for that trap!
Try, even if you can't find the right words- to talk to someone. Choose wisely, some people are not ready for your level of honesty. Try to find someone who can understand you. Many men have gone through similar situations and if no one in your social circle has gone through similar situations- look for support in other groups, speak to a professional, read books and articles. Just like it is okay for a woman to ask for help, it's okay for men, too.
Dads, you are important. Your well-being is crucial to the stability of your family. As a caretaker for others, take care of yourself.
Children’s books are a great way to explore and learn about so many things, including feelings. Reading, looking and learning about different feelings helps kids identify and name what they are experiencing. Kids also learn that their feelings are commonly felt by others.
Feelings books also facilitate difficult conversations between caregivers and children about tense topics. I find that using literature to explore feelings such as anger, perfectionism, anxiety, longing, sadness, happiness and love are great ways to help a child connect to parts of themselves on their own level. Feelings books also give caregivers a language and means to talk about big feelings using “kid terminology.”
I want to share some my favorite ones so far (I keep collecting as my kids grow and my client base changes). If you have any favorites, please add them to the list in the comments section.
This post is inspired by some personal events in my life, so bear with me. I used to believe that the only way I could really and truly be a “good” mom was if I was physically present with my kids. The emotional and psychological connection to them was solid, but I wanted to be there with them so that they would know that I cared for them. It was my Achilles heel with work because as an aspiring psychologist for children and families, I needed to be away from my kids to help others. Isn’t that how it goes? Mom goes to work, kids stay with someone else. But no, not for me! I wanted to be the perfect stay-at-home-mom and the perfect working woman. Easy enough, right?
So, my schedule revolved around their schedule. Man, was it tough coordinating clients’ availability and my kids’ preschool schedules, which for some years ended at different times (smack in the middle of the day)! The driving back and forth can be treacherous in lovely Miami traffic. Needless to say, I was stressed but I did not see any other way to live. I was so “in it.” My face was smacked against the window pane and I could not see further than the scratches and dirt marks on the glass.
So, I was physically there. But what was I doing? I was fretting about the future… what’s for dinner? Do they have cute outfits? The latest child friendly book on feelings and the BPA -free toys? And the work to-do list also dancing a ring-around-the-rosie in my mind. My kids felt it. I was overwhelmed. I was putting everyone’s needs above my own. Trying to do right by everyone while I negated my being. Until I reached a breaking point, and everything just changed.
I realized that I was not taking my needs into consideration when I needed to work. It was automatic for me to think about my kids’ schedules before my own because I didn’t have “my own schedule,” at least not one that had nothing to do with them! I had to stop blaming the “lack of time.” I started talking about choices and taking initiative
Obviously, I had to come to terms with the fact that there are only 24 hours in my day, just like everyone else’s. I didn’t have to squeeze out every second just to get more done. This meant spending less time physically with my kids and learning to be okay with it.
But then, something amazing happened. I moved away from the window and I realized that if I was so afraid of not being the perfect mother to my kids- I would not be worthy of this role raising them to become amazing individuals. I realized that I did not have the solid emotional and psychological connection thing I thought that I did because I was questioning it this whole time. I realized then that being physically there was more like being present to do the things that we needed to cross off the to-do list, but not necessarily connecting to my kids. I realized that I could let go of the guilt of not reading a book every night (there, I said it publicly!) or playing with them for endless hours (another confession) and that even then, we are very much so connected in a way that fosters their sense of belonging, stability, growth, and nurturance.
Now, my next challenge is this upcoming Mother’s Day. This will be the first time that I will ever be away from my children for an extended amount of time and without them on Mother’s Day. I don’t know how they will feel about it. I have already enlisted in the physical and emotional support of their grandmother and aunt to sub for me during Mother’s Day school events. The past me would have felt so guilty that this trip would not have happened. But, I am choosing to go and return to them with open arms. I am choosing to believe that this Mother’s Day is special because it is a national holiday and it commemorates all that we do for our kids, but I am also choosing to focus on me because that is perhaps the biggest way to commemorate myself.
Of course, we all think that our children are mini-Einstein’s-in-the-making. But, what many parents don’t know is that a gifted child is smarter than at least 98% of children his/her age. Therefore, having your child tested for giftedness is crucial to provide the most appropriate educational environment for your child.
Many parents often wonder if and when their child should undergo a gifted child test. Parents of gifted children are typically awe-struck by their child’s precocious and quick learning abilities in comparison to other children.
Gifted child characteristics include:
There is not one single gifted child definition out there. Gifted children can be advanced in different ways. For example, one child may be a whiz at solving mathematical problems but may not be so great at formulating sentences that explain what things mean. Other children can express themselves with such prose and are incredibly meticulous with getting everything just right, so it may take them twice as long to complete a task in comparison to their peers. Some gifted children may have a rigid way of thinking. They may come to understand something so clearly, that to them it is just so obvious. This can frustrate them when they see that others don’t understand the concept at their level or see things from another point of view.
If teachers are not adept at enhancing a gifted child’s learning style, they can inadvertently reduce the child’s innate desire to learn. Being surrounded by peers and teachers who do not quite understand you can be very lonely for children. Sometimes, out of sheer boredom, children who are gifted may act out by talking to peers or getting out of their seat, seemingly disrespectful when they are just not being challenged enough. Therefore, it is important that the child be placed in the right environment where his social and intellectual skills can flourish.
When should you evaluate your child for giftedness?
Teachers may note that your child learns at a speed and depth much more advanced than other children in the classroom. This is a sign that it may be time to evaluate your child for giftedness for the next upcoming school year. Some schools in South Florida have Gifted Kindergarten classrooms, while others begin the gifted program starting in first grade. No matter the age of your child, if you suspect that he/she has an advanced learning capacity, it is important to test for giftedness.
It is recommended that a child be evaluated for gifted by the age of six, as a child’s IQ is pretty unstable before this age. However, if there are clear signs that your child is quite advanced from a much younger age, then it is highly beneficial to evaluate for giftedness to help prepare and plan for an appropriate learning environment that meets your child’s needs. Gifted child testing can be done year-round. Before scheduling the test, make sure you understand the requirements for your child’s school district.
What to expect from the gifted child testing process:
I try to make the test as comfortable as possible for the child. Here’s what I recommend to parents:
I believe that the following practices set me apart from many of my colleagues who provide gifted testing.
Test results and the written report are provided within one week of the evaluation. I provide BOTH an electronic and paper copy of the report for your records. I remain available to parents should you have any questions regarding the scores and how they translate to everyday life.
If you're interested in having your child tested for giftedness, contact me at (786) 383-4942 to set up an appointment or schedule online.
Perfectionism, just as everything in life has its great qualities - but when it dictates your life, you lose out on ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING you were so painstakingly trying to achieve by being perfect. It's only when you let go, can you actually start to live the life you want with your family.
I can help you live a life without the heaviness of unrealistic expectations. Call me to schedule a free consult today.
Thank you Demi, for inspiring me to write this post.
Why do people apologize for everything these days? Saying "sorry" has replaced our form of communication.. It is so engrained in our speech that it can replace our hellos and goodbyes without a second thought.
"Sorry, I was sleeping before and didn't answer your call", "Sorry, my appointment is here, I have to let you go." The other day I was at the security screening area at the airport, and the lady in front of me had four boxes, a coat, and her carry-on. She looked at me sheepishly, smiled, and apologized for having so many things to carry. I thought to myself- not only is it a huge load for you and to top it off, you will carry the extra burden of feeling bad for others having to wait the extra 20 seconds at the screening?
I used to apologize for EVERYTHING. Hence, why I am writing this post. "Sorry for the traffic", "sorry for coming over and adding an extra coffee cup to the dishwasher", etc. I would apologize for things that were my fault as much as for things that truly had nothing to do with me.
Many of you may ask what is the big deal in apologizing? It's a polite thing to do, isn't it? I would say not. Apologizing to someone for something that is not your fault puts you at a disadvantage.
First, for all of you perfectionists out there- the expectation inherent in all that we do is "I must be flawless". The result is that acting as though anything but perfect is considered a mistake, a nuisance, or a burden to the other person. Apologizing is externalizing the "I am not good enough" faulty thinking and inviting the other person to our " I am not good enough" party. Not fun.
Apologizing for things out of our control creates a teeter totter of power games. It puts you at a disadvantage and raises the other person's sense of entitlement to feel as though what has happened is somehow your responsibility. This applies to all of our relationships and can become quite cumbersome if we begin to take responsibility for things that do not belong to us. For example, with our kids- if we apologize for feeling sick, the traffic making us late, not knowing an answer to a homework question, the rain cancelling our plans, etc- we create this notion that 1. Somehow we cannot EVER make a mistake, and 2. Our kids have a right to be just as angry or upset with us as if we did it purposefully. If we constantly take responsibility over things that do not belong to us, we absolve our kids from their greatest lesson in life: To deal with life when it does not go according to their plan. This means that we are not raising resilient kids.
When we constantly apologize to our kids or in front of our kids to other people, we are indirectly teaching them how to relate to the world. Our kids may imitate us and apologize for the most mundane things ("I'm sorry that I moved while you shampooed my hair") or will act as though we owe it to them to give them what they want now (I want another ice cream right now!) Most of us don't want entitled brats or doormats as kids.
So, in my work both professionally and personally, I catch how often I say sorry for something that I really don't need to be sorry for. At first, it was quite difficult, because I was an A+ student at apologizing. Now, it occurs less and less. During those moments when I would typically apologize, I take a moment and think of something else to say that conveys my feeling or not say anything at all. It's working out quite well. I do sometimes slip up and that's okay, it's a process. I suggest you try it and not beat yourself up over it when you apologize. I work with parents who want to raise awesome kids. Sometimes, our guilt about other things gets in our way and we take more responsibility than we should for our kids. In our sessions, we work through this and the results are parents who are less burned out and kids who are better able to deal with their own problems.
"But all of her friends got in to the gifted class!"
"His grades have always been "A" and high "B"'s!"
"Her teachers swore up and down that she was gifted!"
Yet, when your child took the IQ test, the score was nowhere near the 130 cutoff. What's going on? In my previous post, I talked about the gifted process. Many parents don't quite know the difference between smart and being genuinely gifted (because it's not a requirement). The minimum score of 130 is talking about the top 2% of kids your child's age. This means that the 2% of kids scoring in the gifted range are smarter than 98% of kids their age. This is a big, big difference.
Now, do not misunderstand. There are plenty of successful and intelligent children who grow up to be incredibly successful and competent adults who are not in that top 2%. How is that possible? Because there are plenty of other aspects to being a well-rounded, successful individual besides IQ. Grit, determination, stamina, intrigue, emotional stability, genuine curiosity, acceptance of a challenge- all of these characteristics are far more predictable of a successful future than IQ.
I see this all the time, specifically with the younger children that I test, tend to be quite smart, however; their attitude towards challenges- determined or gives up too soon, focused or rambunctious- let me know how well they will score on the IQ test.
IQ testing is standardized. This means that the test MUST be administered exactly as it was developed each and every time to each and every child being assessed. Scores depend solely on the child's effort, knowledge, and ability. There is of course a certain chance of error, as we can never be 100% sure of any score. This error is taken into consideration and explained as such for each and every scale and subtest item.
Many parents complain that their child will suffer because all of their friends are in gifted and they are the only ones left out. I explain to them the following:
Your negative attitude about their not-gifted score is demonstrating a conditional acceptance for who they truly are. When they see you upset with their score you are sending a clear message that they are not mounting up to who you think they should be. This is probably one of the biggest killers in a child's self-esteem- to be the disappointment for their parent. Try to keep your emotions at bay and consider the following:
So, why should you be happy about their not gifted score?
Because you are accepting for your child for who they are. You are teaching them the most invaluable lesson in life. You love them unconditionally, you are intrigued by their strengths and are there to support them in their weaknesses. Not so they can retake the test again- but to truly help them grow to become the best version of themselves.
You should be happy because if all of their friends are in gifted and they are not- they will learn the pains of struggling to keep in touch with old friends, and the pains of mustering the courage to make new friends. This mind you, will come in major practice as they grow up and go off to college, visit other parts of the world and find their significant other.
You should be happy because you will find a school that will fit your child's needs. And if that is not at all possible, you and your child will learn to go with it and make the best of what there is. Because you believe in your child. You believe in your parenting and you believe that an IQ score does not define your child or predict your child's future.
It's that time of year again where many parents of elementary students and Kindergarteners are in search of the best school for the upcoming school year. Or your child is already in public school and you feel like they are too smart for the classroom, often bored or completing assignments at astronomically fast rates, understanding concepts and asking questions that are well beyond their years.
Many of you have been told by friends, teachers, and others that your child seems quite advanced or even "gifted". As you consider having your child evaluated for giftedness, the following are all of the ins and outs you need to know before he/she takes the test.
If you're interested in having your child tested privately for gifted, contact me at (786) 383-4942 to set up an appointment.
The evaluation takes approximately an hour to an hour and a half and scores are given immediately once testing is completed. Gifted evaluations are $400. The report is completed within the week.
I test children as young as four who will be entering Kindergarten the following school year through adolescents.
Scores do not need to be shared with the school and are kept confidential.
The following information is specific to the Miami Dade County Public School System Process and may not necessarily reflect standards of Broward County or other counties in South Florida.
Procedures for referring for gifted education:
What is Plan B/ Part B?
For more information:
Enrolling your child in school can be an exciting and scary process. Now more than ever, there are so many types of preschools with defined philosophies and practices. A school that makes you feel at home and welcomes your child into their environment while teaching morals, values, social skills, and emphasizes a foundation for their self-esteem and sense of self is a good fit. When creating a list of schools to visit, it is important to keep a list of questions in mind (or in writing) to make sure that this school is the right one for your child.
I've compiled the following questions to help you make an informed decision when deciding the best academic environment to care and teach your child.
If you have any questions or want further guidance, contact me at (786) 383-4942 to schedule a consult.
First- Consider the Logistics of distance.
Second- School Philosophy
Fourth- Parent Involvement
Fifth- Extracurricular Activities
Sixth - Special Needs and Financial Needs
Seventh - Security
Questions to Ask Yourself as You Tour the School
How do you and your child feel when you walk through the gate?
Pay attention to your child’s instincts as a clue to whether the school provides an environment that will support his growth and development.
Do you feel welcome there or like you're intruding?
NAEYC: National Association for the Education of Young Children https://www.naeyc.org/caep/standards
Dr. Eva Benmeleh
I am a licensed clinical child psychologist in Hallandale Beach. I hope you enjoy the site!
221 West Hallandale Beach Blvd., Suite 202
Hallandale, FL 33009