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Archive for February, 2011


Posted on: February 24th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Save, Save, Save. 

  1. It is never too early to start a savings plan for your child. Even if you only contribute a small amount every month it adds up when it starts collecting interest.
  2. If your child ends up receiving scholarships, this money will be helpful for their other living expenses, to buy them a car or a great down-payment on their first home.

Research and encourage your child to be adventurous.

  1. The more information you have the better. It is never too soon to look at schools, prep programs and financial assistance options.
  2. Discuss possible career paths and look in to summer programs for high school students at colleges and universities. This will allow them to experience the career they think they want to pursue and give them a leg-up when they apply to schools.
  3. Explore subjects and topics beyond your child’s comfort level. If your child limits him or herself to just a few sets of subjects, your child may never find out what it is they are good at, or what really excites them.

Teach Financial Responsibility.

  1. When your child goes off to college s/he will most likely be on her or his own and although you will be helping out it is never too soon to teach your child to spend and handle money wisely.
  2. Encourage Them to Have a Summer Job or Part-time Job. Once your child is in high school s/he should start to learn what it is like to hold a job.

Encourage Independence.

  1. While you want to make sure your child doesn’t miss admission deadlines, SAT testing dates, and financial aid deadlines, this is the time when s/he needs to start being independent. Going to college means being an adult and therefore your kids should be filling out applications themselves.
  2. Have them do their own laundry, prepare meals for the family and look after younger siblings. They will need to prepare to do these things on their own when they are away at school.

Teachable Moment: When kids receive money as a present for their birthday or for a holiday encourage them to deposit it into their college savings plan. Explain to them the value of saving it rather than spending it right away. 


Posted on: February 18th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments


Angela is truly an advocate for the kids. A kid whisperer, if you will. She relates to them, understands and helps parents remember what it’s like to be a young person who is learning and growing.

She also feels passionate about creativity and play in the lives of children.

“I remember when I realized that parents didn’t know how to ‘play’ with their children. At Miami Childrens Theater, for more than five years, parents would ask me if I had classes for 3 and 4 year olds. When I started Creative Camps, I changed the minimum age of 7 to 6 because people were begging for their 5 year olds to come, and then 4 year olds were showing up! I thought to myself, ‘Why am I going to teach 3 and 4 year olds about theater, music or dance?’ However, the demand was so high that when I moved into a larger location and had more space, I started a class called, ‘Let’s Pretend.’ It filled up so quickly, I had groups of moms requesting that we run a second class. Then it hit me. I realized that some parents wanted their children to come to the theater because they just didn’t know how to play with their kids. Some of the parents had poor imaginations, felt awkward in front of their children and simply didn’t know how to be creative. At least these parents paid someone else to be creative and play with their children. Imagine all the parents who don’t have the money or simply don’t think it’s important!”

Below you’ll find an article from Ben Michaelis, Ph.D., who provides tips and strategies for recreating creativity in our children and ourselves to help richer, more interesting lives.


Reports have been flowing in from academic circles, news magazines, and authors that American kids are no longer as creative as they once were. As a nation obsessed with numbers, data, and test scores, seeing the decline in kids’ scores on measures of creativity has caused concern for our children and the future of our country.  In his article, “Recreating Creativity in our Children and Ourselves,” Dr. Michaelis, a New York-based clinical psychologist, provides useful tips to help us recreate our creativity.

Dr. Michaelis, who specializes in helping patients achieve mental health and well-being through creative expression, examines the “culprits” that limit our creativity: reliance on video games and an overemphasis in making money. He also provides recommendations on how to overcome these obstacles in order to be more creative, productive, and happy.

He advocates taking an approach to limiting exposure to video games and spending more time encouraging active innovation. Michaelis says, “Consuming media is fine, but it should be done in balance with active creative production.”

The other creativity-limiting offender is an overemphasis on our narrow definition of success, which is defined in monetary terms. Our kids have become trained to focus their sights on a linear and conventional model of success: “Most middle class kids are taught to believe that if you get into Harvard you can get an MBA from Wharton and then you can make a six- or seven- figure salary and live happily ever after.”

“In pushing this limited idea of achievement, we de-emphasize non-linear and non-traditional ways of thinking.  Innovation, unless it serves the end of making money, is discouraged.”

Reclaim your creative edge

To help regain innovative thinking and creativity, Dr. Michaelis provides proven techniques to help jump-start your creativity:

* Inspire curiosity and imagination: Bring your kids into new environments, get them to try new foods or learn about different cultures.

* Do something creative every day:Try to make things with your kids or encourage them to use their imagination during daily activities.

* Promote Active Problem Solving: Challenge your kids to think of solutions to everyday problems to get them to work their brain muscles in order to broaden their ways of thinking.

Bringing creativity into your life and your kids’ lives is  useful for helping to lead richer and more interesting lives and it’s also a lot more fun.

For additional suggestions on how to share daily creativity with your children, visit “Sharing Creative Time With Our Kids” at

Dr. Ben Michaelis is a clinical psychologist who specializes in helping patients achieve mental health and well-being through creative expression. His clients include New York Times bestselling authors, musicians, and a wide range of artists and professionals. He is an adjunct professor of psychology at Columbia University and on the medical faculty at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.  Dr. Michaelis is the co-founder of the Downtown Clinicians Collective, one of New York City’s largest networking organizations for mental health professionals. The author of numerous scholarly articles and studies, he has been featured as an expert on creativity and relationships in articles on and in Entertainment Weekly, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times. Dr. Michaelis lives and creates with his wife and two children in New York City. For more information or questions for Dr. Michaelis, email him at or visit


Posted on: February 17th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Don’t treat it as a taboo subject.
It is a fact of life and the earlier and more openly you communicate with them the better. Plus, if you start talking to them early, it is more likely that as they become teens they will continue to talk to you about things.

If your child is asking questions, be honest. Have open communication with your child early on so that when    they do become interested in someone they feel comfortable talking about it.

Ask questions.
You know your child better than anyone. If you notice differences ask questions. Do you feel your body changing? Do you know what sex, menstruation or wet dreams are?

Set a Good Example.
Children learn how to act or behave in a relationship from you, so set a good example. Be sure to discuss things like self-respect and respecting one another.

Play Dates.
Meet your child’s person of interest by inviting them over to the house. Invite them as a part of a group so that they feel less awkward. This will allow you to get to know them and to feel more comfortable if your child begins to date.

Set Rules and Stick to Them.
Be sure that they are not distracted by their “crushes” and continue to be productive in school. Make sure that they know once they start dating that there are rules, like curfews, about what is appropriate for someone their age

Angela’s Teachable Moment: Create Valentines with your children to send to their friend who they “like”. This is a great opportunity to talk about who these people are and what they mean to your child. If there is a “love”, it is a great time to speak about what is appropriate for their age and that they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to and can just be friends.


Posted on: February 10th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

There are tons of benefits to healthy eating and getting your kids into good eating habits early, even if they’re picky eaters, can help to establish healthy, lifelong patterns.

Fruits & Veggies!
1.  Always pack some sort of fruit or vegetable as a lunchtime snack. Keep a few options at home that kids can choose from. This way they will choose something they like but it will still be healthy.
2.  The earlier you get them eating fruits and veggies, the more likely they are to grow to like them and keep eating them when they’re adults.

Don’t Bring Junk in to the House
1.  If your children don’t have unhealthy snack options they won’t make unhealthy choices. The best way to ensure they’re eating right is simply not to offer foods loaded with fat and sugar.
2.  Set an example. If you eat junk food at home, your kids are going to want to do the same.

Healthier Alternatives
1.  Sandwiches are a lunchtime staple, but the bread can make a difference. Try putting peanut butter and jelly on a whole-wheat bagel or whole-wheat toast instead of white bread.
2.  Hummus is a great alternative to dressings filled with fat and carbs, instead try hummus as a dip for veggies like cucumbers and celery.

Do It Yourself
1.  Instead of buying a snack mix that’s full of salt, make your own, with low-fat pretzels, dried cranberries and mini chocolate chips.
2.  Making homemade cookies with fresh ingredients is much better than buying pre-packaged cookies or pre-made dough.
3.  Plant a garden together.  Learning where fruits and vegetables come from will give them a better sense of where these important foods come from.

Teachable Moment: Instead of just telling kids what to eat, explain to your kids why they’re eating this food and teach them the importance of nutrition. It doesn’t mean they will stop liking sweets and soda but they will want to make better choices if they understand the reason behind them.


Posted on: February 3rd, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Being a parent is a full-time job and the support of a two-parent household can alleviate some of the workload. Single parents may face some extra challenges and below you’ll find some survival steps to keep single parents equally equipped for their roles!

Look For Other Role-Models

1.   Look to other family members to be role models for your children, someone who will be around and can take them for one-on-one time once in a while.

2.   Become close with your child’s teachers, instructors and coaches. This way, they can become important influences and role models for your children and will help you keep you informed about your child’s progress.

Build A Support Group

1.   Share responsibilities with other parents, it will lighten your load. They can help you with picking up the kids from school and getting them to swim practice.

2.   Free babysitting is the best. You can trade with friends who have kids, other family members and don’t underestimate grandma and grandpa!

Empower Your Kids

1.   Let them take on responsibilities they can handle on their own, children as young as four can take on tasks like picking out clothes for school.

2.   All household activities can be accomplished as a family and can double as bonding time. Have your kids help out with cleaning, cooking dinner and grocery shopping.

Dating Dilemma

If you are dating it should not be kept a secret because then you’re lying to your kids. You’re not doing anything wrong, so why would you hide it? If you have open communication with them, they will understand.

Even though these tips are especially important for single parents they are really tips for all parents. Even if there are two parents, there should still be communication with a child’s teachers, coaches and other adults in their life.

Angela’s Teachable Moment: Take one night a week for just you and your children where you either make a special dinner or take them out for one on one time to remind them that despite life’s hustle and bustle they are still important to you.

For more information, please visit


Posted on: February 1st, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Click image to watch video!


This exercise creates a great bonding experience between parents and children while helping parents visualize their own goals. It’s also a focused, results-oriented activity in the classroom for teachers and students, which allows the teachers to see what their kids aspire toward.

Step One:  Make a Vision Board

  • Parents and children collect and cut out words, images, and artwork and take pictures of things they want or wish for. Divide into categories like Health, School, Family, Career, and Life…
  • Glue the items on one board.  Be creative and have fun.  Add color, objects or write inspirational words across images.
  • Hang the vision board in a prominent place in their room so they can reflect on it every morning before they get up and every night before they go to bed.  Tuck them in at night by talking to them about their vision board and reading a book that may be related to one of their goals.
  • For teenager’s and parents visit for great ideas on how to get the most out of your vision boards.

Step Two:  Write down your goals

  • Have the entire family write down the things they want or wish for in life.  Again, they can use ideas that reflect Health, School, Family, Career, and Life…
  • Each family member can read their list and explain the items they wrote down translating them into goals.  Parents can help children prioritize their list and make suggestions on how to achieve them.
  • After the goals are organized they can start breaking each goal out to come up with a plan to achieve them.  Let the children come up with ways to achieve their goals.  Some may need guidance and be educated on what their goals may really entail, however you will be surprised how much they do know about things that interest them.
  • Goals may need to be broken down.  For instance if they say “I want to be rich”, then this becomes an awesome opportunity to TEACH your kids about the hard work, dedication and education it takes to reach that goal and to TEACH what it means to be “rich and happy”.

Step Three:  Celebrate and Reflect on the Achievements

  • Once the first goal is reached be sure to celebrate this great achievement! Whether it’s yours or theirs!  Lead by example and involve them
  • Discuss how easy it was to reach the goal when they took the time to think about it and work towards their goal.
  • Make this an annual event you do together every January or every quarter.  You can reflect on last year’s goals which will help make this year’s goals even easier.
  • Encourage older children to keep a diary and/or blog about their experience.  The more they write about it the more they learn how to achieve the goals and believe in them.
  • Hold on for the goal reaching ride.  Once they experience the sense of accomplishment, they will work even harder to reach other goals.
  • Remember there is no better way than to lead by a good example. Be sure to include discussions about your own Vision Board and list of goals. Through goal setting, kids can learn what to do or not to do when they become adults.

Children thrive on this quality time with their parents and creative energy in the classroom.  It gives them a great feeling of being a part of “Team Family”, a sense self-worth and confidence.  They learn that they can achieve anything they put their mind to.  Having a purpose and reaching goals will help them become happy, independent, successful adults and that is what we all wish for.

7 News/WSVN