Monthly Archives: July 2015

Tips On How Families Can Spend Quality, Peaceful Time Together

Summer is often when families spend time together, whether vacationing at home, or traveling abroad. Being together presents an opportunity to grow relationships, and build feelings of connectedness. Of course, with more time together, tensions can sometimes increase, and conflict can ensue.

Here are a few tips to make sure your summertime “Family Time” is positive together time!

1) Unplug, to plug in.

Carve out a few hours per day of device-free time to focus on being present and interacting with family members. You hear it all the time… “Stop looking at your phone!” When you give your family members your undivided attention, they know it! They feel it (just as when they feel it, when you’re not paying full attention). Think about the power you have to make your family feel good.

2) Dinnertime is Family Time!

Making dinner together can be fun, and provide an opportunity to connect. Delegate smaller tasks to younger children… like setting the table, pouring drinks, making a creative centerpiece, or preparing an appetizer. Ask older kids to help with the more complicated meal prep. Interacting in the kitchen and dining area beats zoning out in front of the TV, or being spread out, in different rooms throughout the house.

3) “I” before “You.”

Refrain, and reframe…when communicating frustrations to another family member, refrain from using, “You Statements.” Reframe your message, using, “I Feel” statements. And, stick to identifying behaviors that can be described objectively. For example, instead of, “You aren’t listening to me”… try, “I felt like I was not being heard, when you interrupted me.” True, this tip isn’t just for Summer. Use it all year round!

4) Connect, Don’t Deflect

Certain words can act as deflectors, while others can help us connect. Try replacing “but” with “and,” in your communications. “But” can be interpreted as meaning, “no,” or deflecting. See how much better you can connect, when you use the connector word, “and,” in its place. For example, instead of saying “I like your idea, but that’s not appropriate for your little brother”… try, “I like your idea, and I bet some of the older kids would enjoy getting involved.” Another year-round piece of advice.

5) Family planned, family vacation

Parents can come up with a list of possible destinations. Then, the children can choose some of the activities. If the kids can be involved, they will more likely experience that their interests are regarded as important. Doing this will help everyone feel valued, and heard. And, that sets a good tone for the vacation, ahead.

6) Care to prepare

Familiarize yourself with the myriad of games that you can play in the car, or on the plane that get the family interacting. Start a round of, “The License Plate Game,” in which you try to spot the most license plates from different states. “Eye Spy” is especially fun for younger children, and it encourages them to be mindful of their surroundings. Mad Libs™ can create some laughs, while also teaching children about parts of speech and grammar.

7) Think ahead…about how to remember

Work together to make a scrapbook or video of the vacation to help remember the memories you create. Have each family member contribute a small video clip, or a couple of photos. Then, when you return from vacation, get everyone together to make a book, or video. Years later, the whole family will be able to reminisce about the time they spent together, over the Summer.

8) The Family Book Club

Pick a book that everyone is interested in, and take turns reading a chapter out loud, each night (during “unplugged time”). Encourage discussion about the different characters and storyline. Invite children and family members to express their opinions.

9) All together, for one-on-one

Vacations can be a perfect time for one parent to spend individual time with each of their children. Vacations are what afford us that extra time to be able to plan a Father-daughter, Mother-son excursion… or, a Mother-daughter, Father-son game! Spending one-on-one time with each child will help them all feel special.

10) Preparing for School and Setting Goals

Yes, though “school” somehow doesn’t seem like it ought to be a part of Summer vacation, the start of the school year is an important reference point. If the school year is only regarded as, “The official end of Summer”… well, then everyone is going to feel a level of dread, which will increase, as the months go by. Talking about the school year ahead can help the experience of Summer’s end seem less abrupt. Actually, preparing for school can be treated as another fun activity (as opposed to an end of a good time). Shop for school supplies, decorate binders, and make some concrete goals for the year ahead. Encourage kids to think about seeing their school friends. Arrange a playdate with school friends, before the school year begins reconnect with other school kid’s parents.

WFC Offering Free Community Presentation on “Strategies to Resolve Behavioral Sleep Problems In Children” on September 16th at 9am


Westport Family Counseling is hosting a Free Presentation for the Community on Wednesday September 16th at 9am.  Alison Bevan, Certified Sleep Specialist will be presenting on “Strategies to Resolve Sleep Issues in Children.”

9-9:30- Complimentary Breakfast

9:30-10:30- Presentation by Alison Bevan

Lack of quality of sleep has a pervasive effect on the physical and emotional well-being of children. During sleep, biological and physiological processes take place that are essential for maintaining optimal health and development.

Sleep problems are pervasive in the pediatric population, and effect the entire family. Studies show that approximately one in three children will experience a significant sleep problem in the first ten years of life and, if left untreated, they will be 50{f1cbbec8c52242e0435b0f8ae193f61eb53614017266a91800a694fa5707c0ea} more likely to suffer from chronic sleep problems as adults. Parents of poor sleepers are more likely to be anxious and/or depressed, and most report that their child’s sleep problems have a profoundly negative impact on their family’s quality of life.

Why Sleep Matters

  • The effects of sleep deprivation on children and families

Components of Healthy Sleep

  • Sleep as a learned skill
  • Amount of sleep –average sleep requirements by age
  • Timing of sleep – circadian rhythm, melatonin, cortisol
  • Quality of sleep – un-fragmented, motionless, undisturbed by underlying medical conditions

Why Sleep Problems Happen

  • Conscious and unconscious parenting choices/parental philosophy
  • Temperament
  • Developmental leaps/regressions
  • Circumstances/significant life events
  • Underlying medical conditions

Solving Behavioral Sleep Problems

  • Evidence-based sleep coaching methods (extinction, modified extinction, fading)
  • Choosing the right approach for the family
  • Choosing the right time to start

Roadblocks to Success

  • Parental inconsistency
  • Lack of support/resources

The Role of the Sleep Coach

About our Guest Presenter:

As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Alison Bevan is dedicated to offering parents the guidance and support they need to have a well rested family. Alison works with parents of newborns and infants to establish healthy sleep habits and parents of older children to solve daytime and nighttime sleep problems. She is the Pediatric Sleep Specialist at The Center For Advanced Pediatrics in Fairfield County, and works with families across the country through her private practice – Sleepytime Coach. She is a Happiest Baby Educator, a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach with a specialty in 4-5 month old sleep, a member of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants and a guest speaker and contributing author for numerous organizations and publications dedicated to family health and wellness.

Please email if you are interested in signing up.