September 2021

A publication of the Howard County Office of Children and Families
Family Institute
Nothing I Do Works: A Parent’s Guide to Challenging Behaviors
The Pyramid Model is a comprehensive, research-based approach that considers all of the factors that impact a child, family and a child's behavior. The Family Institute is offering a free virtual workshop to help parents learn how to decrease their child's negative behaviors and what to do when they occur. Parents can ask questions and leave with skills and resources to put into practice immediately that will provide more confidence in parenting. For parents of children ages two to eight. Wednesday, September 22 / 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Click here to register.

Brain Builders: Optimizing Your Infant’s Early Brain Development From Birth to 18 Months
Babies start learning from the day they are born! Understanding the science behind brain development can help parents understand how to support their baby during these critical early months. Through this workshop, parents and caregivers will learn how an infant’s brain develops, and how simple daily interactions and activities can support brain connections. Learning how to foster a secure attachment with your baby helps to create effective learning pathways. Explore the many resources in the community that can support your family and this developmental journey to help ensure that your baby starts off with a healthy and strong beginning. 
Wednesday, September 29 / 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Free Virtual Workshop, Register here.

National Emergency Preparedness Month
September is National Emergency Preparedness Month. The Howard County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is celebrating with "Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love." Each week the OEM will post preparedness tips on their Facebook page to help Howard County families:
  • Make a plan
  • Build a kit
  • Prepare for disasters
  • Teach youth about preparedness
OEM is participating in two community events this month as well, with free giveaways, safety tips and preparedness materials:

  • Friday, September 3 / 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. / Old Ellicott City (OEC) Night Market / Lower Main Street with vendors throughout Tiber Alley.
  • Saturday, September 11 / noon to 2:00 p.m. / The Mall in Columbia / Building a Stronger, Safer Community

For more information, visit or
Returning to School:
How Does it Make You Feel?  
Starting a new school year can cause many different emotions. Your child may feel nervous about the first day of school, excited to see friends after months apart, sad to be away from mom and dad or angry the summer fun must come to an end. As you start the new year, it is important to help your children identify and process their emotions. Here are some simple ways to start talking about feelings.  
  • Model labeling your own feelings (Example: "I’m sad summer is ending, but excited for all the fun we will have this fall!”)
  • Ask your child “How does that make you feel?” or label their emotions (Example: “You look disappointed that this is our last trip to the pool.”) 
  • Watch this video and play Guess the Feeling. Keep the game going by making different "feeling" faces and let your child guess the emotion.  
  • Use a visual feelings chart as a daily check-in so your child can share how they are feeling at the start of each day. 
As you focus on how your child feels, make sure to take time throughout your day to ask yourself How do I feel right now?" Parent’s feelings matter too!  
Monthly Challenge: Spend time this month focusing on feelings. 
Howard County Public School System: Working Together to Support Your Child 
The new school year is here with high hopes and expectations. To ensure a positive and successful year, the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) is here to support students and families. To start the year off right, link to HCPSS Connect. HCPSS Connect provides access to student information and classroom instructional tools, offering personalized communication and easily accessible information relating to your student. Get your child’s school courses, grades and view assignments. To get connected, click here
HCPSS continues to work with students and families throughout the year to provide services and programs including: 
Provides educational services to international students and families who do not speak English proficiently. 
Pupil Personnel Workers (PPW) work with students and families to prevent absenteeism and disruptions that may hamper a student’s academic achievement.  
Requires schools to provide students with disabilities an equal 0pportunity to participate in services, programs, and activities. 
For additional services, click here
Back to School Safety Tips:  
  • Help your child memorize your address and phone number. 
  • Be smart about posting back-to-school first day pictures on your social media.  
  • Establish a “safe word." For example, if you don’t want your child getting into a car with a stranger, establish a “safe word” that only your family and close friends know. If a stranger tries to approach your child, they can ask that person for the “safe word” before trusting them. 
  • Get to know the other children and parents in your neighborhood and make sure your kids use the “buddy system” when walking to and from school.  
  • Choose a backpack with two wide, padded straps and a padded back for increased comfort. 
  • Encourage your children not to keep secrets from you.  
  • Teach your children not to play in the street at the bus stop.  
  • Try to get everyone on a healthy sleeping and eating schedule, especially if you have relaxed things over the summer vacation. 
  • Teach children proper handwashing techniques, and provide reminders and encouragement to make sure it happens several times per day. 
Seven Reasons Why You Need to Advocate More Than Other Parents 
Are you a parent of a school-age child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Are you looking for ways to support and educate your child? ADDitude offers advice on how to advocate for your child in the school setting, setting them up for success. The goal is to provide the support they need until they can advocate for themselves. Here are a few suggestions: 
  • Meet with your child’s teacher. 
  • Introduce your child’s strengths, challenges, interests, and successes. 
  • Collaborate with the teacher on appropriate accommodations. 
  • Review and adjust your child’s IEP or 504 Plan several times a year. 
  • Get to know the school guidance counselor. 
  • Join the PTA. 
  • Keep a strict family calendar with time slots for homework, meals and bedtime. 
To learn more about advocating for your child, click here. To find support within the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), visit the Family Support and Resource Center
Social Confidence: Help Students with ADHD Acclimate to In-Person School and Friends
Thursday, September 16 / 1:00 p.m.
Free Virtual Event / Register here.
Social anxiety is real, and its sources are different for girls and boys. When ADHD and the absence of in-person socializing for more than a year are factored into the mix, feelings of trepidation make all the more sense. Learn how to recognize the signs of social anxiety and teach children and teens specific social strategies in this workshop, presented by the Family Support and Resource Center. .

ADHD Ages and Stages Part 2: Common Challenges and Practical Strategies for Teens and Young Adults with ADHD
Wednesday, September 22 / 1:00 p.m. 
Free Virtual Event / Register here
Adolescence is marked by dramatic change - physically, emotionally, and socially. These shifts challenge not only teens and young adults, but also the people who love them. An ADHD diagnosis can further complicate this tumultuous period. The dramatic transition to adulthood requires teens to build skills, gain maturity and confidence, and achieve greater independence. New pressures in adolescence can strain executive function and add to the already stressful life of teens and young adults at school, the workplace, and home. Discussion will focus on practical strategies to support adolescents with ADHD. 
Why Kids Have a Hard Time Understanding and Remembering What They Read 
The act of reading is complex. Children need skills to understand and remember what they’ve read. Understood, a resource for people with learning and thinking differences, explains why children may be struggling. 
  • Reading Speed: Does your child read slowly? The longer it takes to get through a sentence or paragraph, the harder it can be to hold on to the meaning. 
  • Vocabulary: Does your child understand the meaning of most words in the text? 
  • Interest: Is your child bored by the topic? It’s hard to pay attention if you’re not interested in what you’re reading. 
  • Stress and Anxiety: Is your child stressed out? It’s hard to concentrate when you’re worried or stressed.  
Any of these factors can affect how well children understand the material they read. For information on overcoming these challenges, click here
FREE Homework Assistance 
Instructors and Research Specialists stand ready to work with your child! Working closely with the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) media centers, the Howard County Library System (HCLS) supplements homework and research assistance. Students K-12 and college-age adults can connect with free tutors specializing in math, reading, science, social studies, English/language arts, and writing. Both English and Spanish speaking tutors are available seven days a week from 2:00 to 11:55 p.m. 

Other resources offered include: 
 The following programs are designed for children age two to five to explore, question and investigate simple science concepts related to animals:

  • Little Learners: Science / Animal Habitats: Hibernation 
Central Branch Warfield Meeting Room / Tuesday, September 21 / 2:00 to 2:45 p.m.  
  • Animal Habitats: Migration
Central Branch Warfield Meeting Room / Tuesday, September 28 / 2:00 to 2:45 p.m.
Why Are Rules Important to Children? 
Teaching young children about rules prepares them for school, helps keep them safe and guides their behavior. Routines help add structure, and help children feel safe and secure. They come to understand what’s next and what you want them to do. Establishing and enforcing rules builds confidence and increases a sense of cooperation and acceptance. Children will challenge the rules at times, but if you are consistent and provide age-appropriate boundaries, you will see fewer power struggles and more responsible children. For helpful resources, check out this article and videos. 
United Way Family Center
The United Way Family Center in Columbia is set to open January, 2022. This brand new center will provide affordable and accessible licensed child care, early education and family support for 76 children, including infants and toddlers. The center offers:
  • A convenient location at 7115 Columbia Gateway Drive in Columbia, 21046
  • Convenient hours, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Reduced tuition rates for those who qualify
  • Maryland State Child Care Scholarship (formerly Child Care Subsidy) accepted
  • Multigenerational support services and resources
  • Healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks
For more information click here.
How Anxiety Affects Teenagers 
Everyone feels anxious sometimes, but for teenagers the stressors can feel endless. As teenagers navigate their way to adulthood and independence, they may feel the weight of school, friends, romance, appearance, acceptance and so much more. Adolescent stressors can make even ordinary worries difficult to handle. Child Mind Institute has detailed the differences between anxiety and an anxious child, the symptoms of anxiety, how to recognize it in teenagers, and treatment for anxiety. For more information click here. Also available in Spanish. 
Teaching Kids How to Deal With Conflict 
Teaching children the skills they need to navigate the world can help build independence and confidence. With help from parents, children can start learning these important life skills early on. No one likes dealing with conflict, but arguments, fights and disagreements are a fact of life for adults as well as children. An unwillingness to address conflict can negatively impact relationships and lead to additional challenges. Conflicts tend to bring out intense emotions and young children may not have the tools to process them. Helping children identify these emotions is the first step to resolving conflict. Pinpointing the source of the conflict is an important next step. Once children can identify what the problem is, they can resolve what’s wrong. Younger children may need your help with this process. For more information on building lifelong skills and dealing with conflict, click here. Also available in Spanish
Grief, Loss and Trauma
Free Virtual Event / Register here
The Horizon Foundation, in partnership with Gilchrist and the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, is hosting a series on grief, loss and trauma. The series will include four one-hour sessions that frame the losses you have faced, and continue to face, as a grief experience. Discussion will center on grief responses and provide realistic strategies to sustain yourself and support others in the face of exposure to grief and trauma.

Tuesday, September 14 / 10:00 a.m. / Caring for Yourself
Learn healthy coping techniques and strategies to sustain yourself in the face of grief and trauma.

Tuesday, September 21 / 10:00 a.m. / Caring for Youth
Learn tips to support children and youth in the face of uncertainty.

Tuesday, September 28 / 10:00 a.m. / Caring for Older Adults
Understand the unique needs of older adults and learn tools to provide support through this time of uncertainty, grief and loss. 

Tuesday, October 5 / 10:00 a.m. / Caring for Each Other
Our communities and our world have grieved in many ways this past year. The losses, injustices and inequities we have experienced can impact our mental health. Come learn more about what it means to grieve as a community and how we can best support each other through times of trauma. 
Caring and Sharing 
Learning to share with others can be hard for children. They may want what others have or may not be willing to let go of a favorite item. Talking about sharing can help children see the bigger picture. Try these tips: 
  • Sharing builds teamwork - when we work together and share responsibilities we can get things done faster and have more fun; 
  • Sharing builds friendships - when kids invite others to play, they are sharing their time and presence, and that helps others feel valued; 
  • Sharing builds confidence - when we ask others to contribute or share their strengths, we help build their confidence. 
To build upon these skills, encourage your child to choose something to share with a friend or sibling. Maybe it can be an item that is special to them and a little hard to share. For more information, click here.  
Six "Healthy" Kids Snacks That Really Aren’t Good for Them
Providing healthy snacks for children can be a difficult task. With food marketing and confusing labels, it’s understandable why parents aren’t sure what is healthy. The Food Network has provided tips on what to look for when making snack choices, and ideas on preparing simple snacks at home. Click here to learn more. 
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