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PR IC EL ES S

WINTER | 2017

THE PAIN BEHIND

the Laughs TOYS AND TANTRUMS -

How to Keep the Household Calm Over the Holiday HELPING YOUR CHILD

Through An Eating Disorder COMPARISON:

CONSIDER

Family Mediation HELP PREPARE YOUR CHILD FOR SCHOOL

The Contentment with Fine Motor Captor Skills Practice


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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Hello Readers! This has been a very exciting month for Family Matters Magazine! Recently, I was nominated for Mompreneur® of the Year for my work through the magazine, as well as in the community. Mompreneurs® is an association dedicated to supporting and educating women in business in Canada. It was founded by a fellow Miltonian, Maria Locker. Every year, they showcase a select few Mompreneurs® at their awards gala in March; The beginning stages of the contest begins with nominations. I am undeniably grateful for having been nominated in my community for the work I have done with the Family Matters Magazine, and in the community of Milton, Ontario. The next stage is where the nominees are narrowed down based on number of votes. They are further narrowed by a panel of judges who use preset criteria to choose their finalists. We are in the voting stage until December 31, 2016. Winning this award would give me the opportunity to continue giving back to my community on a much larger scale; It would enable me to grow the publication into other territories across the province, and possibly even the country! I would love to offer support to small businesses in every town across the country, allowing them to connect with their communities through a platform where they are the expert in the category of business, and where they offer advice that every family needs. This would allow more families to share their stories with their neighbours, in the hopes that they can help just one other family in their struggles, or offer inspiration in some way. Winning this would come with a lot of media exposure and support. Please click on the link provided to vote. The way the system is set up, it allows one to vote every 24 hours! No matter what happens, I will always be grateful for the undying love and support I have received in Milton; this community will always hold a special place in my heart. http://themompreneur.com/award/?entry_id=135003344 Thanks you in advance for your support!

Susana Medeiros

FAMILY MATTERS MAGAZINE - MILTON familymattersinmilton@gmail.com 647.407.5540

CONTENTS

Toys and Tantrums - How to Keep the Household Calm Over the Holiday.........................................2 The Insurance Corner – The Inside Scoop Five Things You May Not Know About Insurance............6 Helping Your Child Through an Eating Disorder........8 Finding Your Perfect Yoga Class.......................12 What To Consider When Choosing Your Real Estate Lawyer.............................................14 Comparison: The Contentment Captor...................18

Kendra Guidolin, Editor

Julie Rock, Photographer

Lynn Lockhart, Designer

All editorial content is the property of Family Matters in Milton Magazine and cannot be reprinted in part or in whole without the written permission of the Publisher. All rights reserved. The Publisher reserves the right to reuse content and may reuse content in other media forms for the purpose of promotion of the Magazine or the Advertisers. The Pubisher does not necessarily endorse the products or services advertised. The publisher makes all efforts to ensure that information is current and accurate. However, the Pubisher does not assume liability for errors or omissions. All content is meant for information purposes only. For medical advise, please see your medicial professional.

The Pain Behind the Laughs.................................23 Consider Family Mediation..................................28 Help Prepare Your Child for School with Fine Motor Skills Practice..........................................30 Why it is Important to Walk Your Dog and How to Do it For Maximum Benefit....................................32 Too Scared For School!........................................34


B Y: D R . C H R I S PA R R I S H & DR. BARBARA MORRONGIELLO

TOYS AND TANTRUMS -

How to Keep the Household Calm Over the Holiday As the holidays approach, do you daydream about the glow of Christmas lights and sipping hot cocoa in front of a cozy fire, or do you dread your kids’ inevitable sibling conflicts and cries of “Stop it!” and “He started it!”?

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ll kids have occasional emotional outbursts, and a change in routines, being cooped up in the house, and the excitement of holiday events increase the likelihood that issues will arise. Understanding and applying the following strategies can mean the difference between a holiday season that is “merry and bright”, and one full of miserable meltdowns.

1. When misbehaviours occur, ask yourself, “why?”

usually to say “no” and correct their behaviour, and we may resort to threats when our feelings of frustration and helplessness boil over (“Stop hitting your sister, or else...!”). Although it is important to set limits for our children, these strategies rarely work and sometimes backfire, “turning up the volume” on your child’s meltdown. In fact, showing anger or frustration can reinforce the misbehaviour, because even negative attention may be preferable to feeling ignored.

2. Connect before correct

A more helpful approach is to stop whatever you’re doing and really listen to what’s bothering your child. Then, repeat back both the content and the feelings they have expressed (e.g., “I can see how sad you are that we have to leave”). When we are feeling extremely upset, the right brain, which processes emotion, becomes activated and interferes with our left brain’s ability to think logically. This is why we find it hard to reason with our child when they are having a tantrum. We can help soothe the emotional centres of their brains by naming the feeling(s) they are experiencing, helping them retell what happened so they can make sense of it, and validating their feelings (“You’re angry

Despite our best efforts, we can never meet our children’s needs 100% of the time, and they will sometimes use negative approaches to get the attention and engagement they crave. This is where tantrums and meltdowns can occur. The behaviour we see as a problem might be seen by our children as a solution to their problem. How we respond to our child’s outburst is key in determining whether or not they will repeat the behaviour in the future. Trying to understand what our child needs from us in the moment and effectively meeting those needs will not only help avoid the blow-ups, but also model healthy problem-solving. When our kids misbehave, our first instinct is 2

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Continued on page 4


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that your brother took your Lego. I would be upset, too, if someone took something without asking!”). This helps children learn to use both sides of their brain simultaneously so they can self-soothe and control their behaviour instead of reacting to every emotion they experience. Once your child is calmer, you can help them explore alternative solutions to their problems, instead of relying on outbursts. Ask them if they can think of other ways to handle the situation, rather than simply telling them what they should or should not do. When possible, give them choice in how to resolve the issue, as they are much more likely to repeat the cooperative behaviour if they helped make the decision.

3. An ounce of prevention…

The above strategies help deal with your child during or after a blow-up. However, three effective ways to prevent meltdowns from happening in the first place are to (i) avoid common triggers when possible (e.g., consider doing grocery shopping when the kids are at school/daycare), (ii) anticipate

when you will be too busy or distracted to fully engage with your kids and proactively “fill their love tanks” by giving them a few minutes of your undivided attention beforehand, and (iii) pick your battles (e.g., if your kids are enjoying a harmless pillow fight, consider letting it go) to minimize whining, sulking and tantrums. The above strategies should help limit the frequency and intensity of your kids’ tantrums over the holiday season. Remember that it may take some time for these methods to work, and it is essential that you be consistent if you want to reap the benefits and make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone! Dr.’s Chris Parrish and Barbara Morrongiello practice at The Mindful Living Centre, a CBT- and mindfulnessfocused psychology clinic based in Milton, Ontario. For more useful tools and resources, please visit our website at: www.mindfullivingcentre.ca References: The Whole-Brain Child. Siegel & Payne-Bryson (2011). Honey I Wrecked The Kids. Schafer (2009)

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B Y: S H E L D O N D . W I L L I A M S

THE INSURANCE CORNER –

The Inside Scoop

Five Things You May Not Know About Insurance Let’s face it, auto insurance is not a popular topic to discuss over a glass of wine at a friend’s house. Mostly, the topic of auto insurance usually brings up feelings of frustration and uncertainty; Frustration because it seems to be so unfair, and uncertainty because unless you work in the insurance industry, there are many things you may not know.

A

s an individual who started his insurance career in 2001, I would like to take the time to highlight five things that you may not know about auto insurance. In the end, I hope to remove the shroud of uncertainty when it comes to auto insurance, to assist you in confidently answering insurance-related questions, and most importantly, add value to your peace of mind. So, let’s jump into it, shall we? (drum roll) 1. When you lend your vehicle to someone, you are also lending your insurance. For instance, if your friend borrows your car to run an errand and has an accident while driving your vehicle, your insurance policy will pay for the damages and your insurance record will have a claim against it. This began with the concept of No-Fault Insurance. Each insurer pays the losses of their own vehicle (exceptions can be made - a broker can help you with that) TIP: talk to your insurance broker about All Perils 2. Demerit points do not affect your insurance. The insurance industry is governed by Financial

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Services Commission of Ontario, and has no affiliation with the Ministry of Transportation. So, if you are told to fight your ticket, to reduce your demerit points and save money on insurance, that is incorrect. However, the severity of a conviction may affect your insurance rate. A conviction for 10 km/h over the limit may be rated differently than a conviction for 40 km/h over. Q? Do you have conviction protection? 3. You cannot insure a vehicle under your policy unless the vehicle is in your name. Many times we have parents hoping to insure their child’s vehicle under their policy, however that vehicle must be in the name of the parent to do so. The only exceptions are married couples TIP: talk to your insurance broker about what could happen if this is not followed 4. The type of car you drive affects your insurance - okay, you knew that one. What you may not know is that it is not solely based on the cost of the vehicle. For instance, a Honda Civic may be more expensive to insure than a high-end Volvo.


This relates to statistics of claims related to a specific vehicle. There are not many 22 year olds drag racing a Volvo. 5. Lastly, have you ever wondered what the difference is between an independent insurance broker and an insurance agent? An independent insurance broker works for you, and an insurance agent works for an insurance company. Imagine your personal shopper worked exclusively for one store; Wouldn’t that limit your options?

Well, there you go: five things that you may not have known about auto insurance. Hopefully, there were a few eye-openers that you can refer to the next time insurance comes up over a glass of Merlot. I would like to leave you with one thought: Are you currently being provided an insurance policy, or an insurance experience? Challenge yourself to expect more, you might be surprised!

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B Y D R . S H E R R Y V A N B LY D E R V E E N

HELPING YOUR CHILD THROUGH

an Eating Disorder

Anorexia Nervosa is the refusal to eat sufficient food to maintain health, and a fear of weight gain. Bulimia Nervosa is also characterized by a fear of weight gain and an overemphasis on the importance of weight and shape, but is also associated with periods of perceived loss of control with eating and engagement in behaviors meant to compensate for eating (e.g. vomiting, use of laxatives, and over exercise). In each case, the person is consumed with thinking about food and not eating. These disorders usually begin around the time of puberty, with most youth being diagnosed by health care providers around 15 years of age.

What Causes Eating Disorders?

There are still health care providers out there who may come across as blaming and judgmental of parents, but current research is clear that eating disorders are not the parent’s fault. In fact, there does not seem to be one clear cause of an eating disorder: the current literature suggests that eating disorders develop as the result of I) personality traits of either obsessiveness and perfectionism and/or emotional dysregulation and impulsivity (biological or genetic factors), combined with II) a desire for thinness or value placed on diet, healthy eating, or thinness (importance of body related ideals). To summarize, it is believed that there are people who are genetically or biologically at risk of developing an eating disorder, who, if they value and pursue thinness, will be at greater risk of developing an eating disorder. Bullying 8

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about weight and appearance is the most common form of bullying. Pursuit of thinness is believed to be the result of a variety of influences. Our culture’s “thin ideal”, and more recent “fit ideal” has been argued to be a large contributor to the pervasiveness of body dissatisfaction. Over half of women are unhappy with their bodies and appearance. Rates of body dissatisfaction in boys and men have been increasing in recent years, perhaps as a result of the recent media emphasis of the masculine fit ideal. Our relationships with others also influence our beliefs about the importance of weight and appearance. Among youth, bullying and “fat talk” is particularly concerning, as children conclude from these messages that thinness or attractiveness will result in happiness, Continued on page 10


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What are the Signs of an Eating Disorder?

Although the above factors are common for a wide range of children, less than three percent will develop an eating disorder. The first outward sign of an eating disorder is dieting, followed by gradually more drastic reductions in nutritional intake. Other signs include:

worth, and likeability. It is of note that over half of individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder report having been teased or bullied about weight as a child. Eating disorders affect all sorts of families. They are not a choice, they are a serious mental health disorder associated with illogical thinking and immense suffering.

• Calorie counting • Eliminating food groups (e.g. meat, dairy, grains) • Unusual food behaviors such as micro-eating (cutting things in small pieces) or using large amounts of condiments (mustard, hot sauce) • Weight loss or failure to continue growing • Using only the same cutlery or dishware • Feeling cold, particularly in the hands and feet • Lack of menstruation • Hair loss • Interest in cooking or baking, but not eating what they have made • Obsessive or compulsive exercise, and anxiety or guilt if they miss part of their routine Over half of individuals struggling with an eating

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disorder also have an anxiety disorder or struggle with depression.

Treatment of an Eating Disorder

If you think your child has an eating disorder, consult your child’s physician or pediatrician. Both anorexia and bulimia affect the heart, either by starvation or electrolyte abnormalities, which can be fatal. If the physician diagnoses an eating disorder, request a referral to a specialized pediatric eating disorder treatment program. The first line of treatment for an eating disorder in childhood is Family Based Treatment for an Eating Disorder. This treatment approach will provide you as parents with the supports needed to “re-feed” your child. If this approach is not successful, hospitalization may be considered. Treatment first focuses on normalization of eating and activity level, as, the sooner you make these changes the more likely your child will recover from the eating disorder. Once the behaviors are improved, psychological interventions will be introduced to address the overemphasis on weight and shape, as well as self-worth. The good news: children and youth who receive treatment for their eating disorder early, while still in their parent’s care, recover more quickly from their eating disorder than those whose treatment does not occur until they are adults. It is believed that this is due to the fact that weight restoration, which can be done more quickly when people are younger, allows the person to face their fears of a healthy body weight more quickly, reducing the number of years the disorder can be entrenched. This article was written by Dr. Sherry Van Blyderveen, Clinical and Counselling Psychologist with New Leaf Psychology Centre. Dr. Van Blyderveen previously worked as a psychologist with McMaster Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Eating Disorders Program, and is currently the Program Director of the Eating Disorders Program at Homewood Health Centre in Guelph. www.newleafpsychology.ca Also on Facebook and Twitter The main reference for this article is Help Your Daughter Beat an Eating Disorder (Locke & le Grange). For additional readings visit http://newleafpsychology.ca/ resources/suggested-reading-list/eating-disorders-andbody-image/


BY JANINA LEE DEL RIO

FINDING YOUR PERFECT

Yoga Class

Sometimes it could be overwhelming to choose a place to practice yoga for the first time or returning to practice again. Here are some tips you can take in consideration to navigate the wonderful and rewarding world of practicing yoga:

Get a sense of different studios: Many gut to find your “perfect” teacher; that is, someone studios offer introduction packages for very reasonable prices. Take advantage of as many as you can to have an idea of what the studio is all about. Don’t feel pressure to commit with the first one after doing the intro offer. Maybe you’ll fall in love with the very first class, but if that doesn’t happen, don’t feel discouraged. Besides price, the location is a very important factor; You want to make sure the studio is close to home for you to feel motivated to attend classes regularly, and don’t have any excuses because of the distance. Other factors in deciding yoga studios may include if they offer workshops to deepen your practice, outdoor activities during the summer promote healthy eating and free Wi-Fi to members. Search for studios that offer several different styles and levels that will allow you to experience not only one regimented style, but also static or flow classes. As your practice progresses, you will have the opportunity to explore advanced classes in the studio as well.

Choosing a teacher: You must make sure the teacher that guides your practice is a registered or certified one. They have the responsibility to keep you safe while under his or her guidance, so do not settle for less. An experienced yoga teacher has the ability to help you to find your full expression of yourself in class and it will encourage you to develop your own home yoga practice too. Last but not least, follow your 12

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that resonates with your soul and spirit.

Private Yoga Classes: If the studio scene

doesn’t appeal to you because you still don’t feel comfortable or skilled enough (and that’s okay), perhaps in-home private classes would be the best option for your needs. This is a great opportunity to learn one-on-one alignment, pranayama (breathing technique), meditation, philosophy, etc. Whether you are a beginner or a long time practitioner, inhome sessions will be specially tailored to your needs, strengths and potential. Look for a teacher that is registered or certified, has liability insurance in place, and is fully trained in first aid/ CPR. You will be surprised at how affordable in-home yoga sessions can be. Remember one very important thing: it’s your own practice, and whether you opt for a studio or in-home private classes, you must have fun, teacher’s orders. Namaste.

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BY GARY D. INDECH

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN

Choosing Your Real Estate Lawyer

You’ve just signed the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and you’re on your way to acquiring your dream home, the biggest acquisition of your life. You are elated and you believe the hard work is done, but it is actually just beginning. You have millions of questions and details swirling through your mind: financing, home insurance, home inspection, a mover, a home-decorator, etc. But you may be overlooking the most important piece of the puzzle: the real estate lawyer who will handle your transaction.

R

etaining a real estate lawyer is not a simple undertaking. The same amount of care, if not more, must be taken when selecting a real estate lawyer as when selecting a real estate agent, home inspector and mortgage specialist. Remember, your real estate transaction is financially the largest transaction you can make, and has the greatest risks and liability associated with it. So, careful consideration must be employed when selecting a real estate lawyer. The question is: what should you consider when choosing a real estate lawyer? In today’s legal environment, lawyers specialize in different areas of law such as matrimonial, criminal, business, litigation, estate planning and others. Some real estate lawyers specialize in residential real estate, while others do commercial real estate. Buying or selling a home requires a residential real estate specialist, and even within residential real estate, there is specialization. When selecting a real estate lawyer, look at the services that the lawyer offers: is the lawyer available when you require him or her most, especially when disputes arise either during or after the transaction closes? Does the lawyer deal with your transaction personally from beginning to end, or does the lawyer delegate work to clerks, assistants and secretaries? Does the lawyer have multiple

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offices that service hundreds of transactions each month and employs teams of employees, or is the operation small and hands-on? Clearly, personal attention by the lawyer can be an important and deciding factor when selecting a lawyer, and often separates one real estate lawyer from another. A real estate lawyer who spreads himself too thin can expose himself to liability; Such a lawyer may not be the best choice to serve your legal interests. Today, most real estate transactions are handled by real estate clerks, however, it is the lawyer who has final legal responsibility on each file, and must be on top of everything from beginning to end. Ensure your real estate lawyer values you as a client, and can be contacted quickly to answer your questions and/ or concerns, or can meet one-on-one without charging a fee, either by appointment or walk-in. You can even further research your lawyer on the Law Society of Upper Canada’s website to find their legal experience and history. Lastly, bargain-hunting, cost-cutting, and negotiating down legal fees, in my opinion, is the wrong approach when selecting a real estate lawyer. I find it very interesting, baffling, and even paradoxical that for the most expensive transaction in a person’s life, people search out lawyers that advertise the cheapest legal fees. Many times, when Continued on page 16


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prospective clients call me to inquire about my real estate services, the first question is “What’s the cost?” and “Can you lower your prices?” Many real estate clients, but not all, are not interested initially in services offered, experience of the lawyer and staff, and the process of the transaction. However, with marginal price differences between lawyers, costs should not be the primary criteria that sways a decision. Yes, price is important but so is availability, affability and ability of the lawyer and staff.

With a real estate acquisition being the largest asset transaction of your life, the question becomes what kind of real estate lawyer are you looking for. My recommendation is to interview the lawyer and their staff-members. Ask questions and if you are looking into a lawyer through a referral, still ask questions and interview the lawyer. Ultimately, trust your instincts, as there is no right or wrong way to select a real estate lawyer.

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DR. KERRIS DEL ROSARIO

COMPARISON:

The Contentment Captor What do you mean by “comparison”? circumstances, once we let comparison weasel in,

When I talk about comparison, I’m referring to the tendency we all seem to have at some or many points in our lives to view ourselves (our appearance, personality, circumstances, relationships, abilities, etc.) in comparison to others. As parents, we seem to also compare our children to other children and, subsequently, our parenting to that of other parents. Furthermore, our comparisons are often skewed; we usually compare how someone looks from the outside (e.g., “they seem like they have it all together”) to how we feel on the inside (i.e., not so “all together”). Thus, the sort of comparison of which I’m speaking is not healthy objectivity (as determining norms or benchmarks can often help us determine our strengths), and it’s not even competition per se (as competition in a healthy sense can sometimes spur us on to success; think of sport teams that thrive as they rise to meet the challenge of competing with other teams). But constant comparison of ourselves to others can actually impede our own growth and success.

What’s so bad about comparison?

As noted, when we get caught up in what others do or have (referred to as jealousy or coveting), we become discontent with ourselves and our circumstances. While it is true that we have flaws and weaknesses and may be coping with difficult 18

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we are at risk of not only inflating our struggles, but also of forgetting about our strengths and blessings (and we all have them too). A focus on the good stuff is what helps us to feel content, at peace, and even full of joy, despite our difficulties and weaknesses. Comparison also breeds insecurity, as well as holding us back from wellsuited aspirations (if we are trying so hard to be like someone else, we may miss opportunities to thrive in the areas in which we are truly talented). In addition, comparison creates impossible goals and sets us up for failure, since we cannot be as good as or better than everyone else out there in every area. And lastly, for those of us who are parents or other role models for the next generation, we are setting a bad example for them when we compare, because we pave the way for them to experience all the negative fallout just described.

So, how do we stop comparing?

We need a perspective shift. While we are all created equal, we are each uniquely equipped to handle our own blessings and burdens (and, likewise, illequipped to handle the combination of those that others possess). Furthermore, it seems that we are not meant to be duplicates of one another, or even to constantly compete with one another, but rather Continued on page 20


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to compliment and complete one another. These latter terms insinuate that we will all have areas where we are weaker or less skilled (perhaps even completely unskilled), but if we shift our focus away from comparison with others and onto our own strengths, passions, interests, and talents, we can find contentment and truly thrive. We will inevitably enrich the lives of those within our care and circle of influence as we become contented cheerleaders and teammates instead of insecure critics.

References & Related Reading: http://proverbs31.org/blog/comparisons-stink-3/ Swope, Renee (2011). A Confident Heart. Revell: Grand Rapids, MI This article was written by Dr. Kerris del Rosario, psychologist with del Rosario Psychology & Psychotherapy Group in Milton and Kitchener, Ontario. Dr. del Rosario provides personalized assessment and therapy for children, adolescents, adults and couples. www.delRosarioPsych.com www.facebook.com/DrKerris | Twitter: @DrKerris

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SHOULD YOU BE BEHIND THE WHEEL? YOUR FAMILY NEEDS YOU TO BE SURE!

On a sunny day in May 1991, when Denise Morissette - a head professional skating

Our vision is extremely important when driving, reading etc. With only 42 % of adults ever have an instructor - boarded a Mississauga Transit bus, she had no idea the ride she was in for. eye examination prior to age 40, most are not aware that they should not even be behind the wheel. John Cooperwhite was her bus driver; The two shared conversations on their bus rides Many patients assume they can see fine, but do they know? Vision is an adaptable sense. The brain and eventually found themselves married to each other on July 10, 1993. When the couple does not understand blur. Until one has undergone an eye examination, there is no way to know.

met, John had two children, and Denise had one son, Derick. The rest of their lives would be entertaining to say the least. It would be filled with unconditional and undying love, but not without its tears and heartaches. No matter what the couple faced they would say “we have each other.”

Six Reasons Why You May Have Blurred Vision

Refractive errors or being farsighted (Hyperopia) and nearsighted (Myopia), or having Astigmatism (variations of levels of Hyperopia and Myopia) require the need for glasses or contacts. Presbyopia, is the inability of being able to focus at near, and affects most people around the age of 40. This is where multifocals, or bifocals are required in glasses or contact lenses. Binocular vision or coordination difficulties. The eyes are meant to work together, however fine muscle alignments at various distances can strain the eyes ability to focus, and the brain can tend to either blur or suppress one of the images. Health. The various components of the eye will age with time. However the onset of Diabetes or

hypertension will diminish the health of the cell structures responsible for eye sight. Many diseases which affect vision may actually be behind the eye, in some region of the brain.

Hygiene. The eyelids and lashes produce wetting and protective layers for the front portion of

the eye. Poor hygiene results in a poor tear film. The result of a dry or infected eye reduces visibility. Proper daily cleaning of your eyelashes and lids with adequate consumption of water is necessary.

Diet. Yes carrots are good for you. Beta Keratin is necessary for the production of retinal. It is used for the rods and cones of the retina to receive light. Other vitamins and minerals include potassium and magnesium, as well as a balance of Omega 3 oils with some Omega 6 oils. Water is required to maintain the liquid volume of the eye and remove any used cell byproducts. Also, to maintain the tear quality of the protective layer in the tear film. Feel free to call our office to book your next eye exam and rest assured! Dr Ron Strohan 106 Wakefield Rd, Milton, ON L9T 2L8 (905) 878-5882 | miltoneyeandvisioncare.com


COVER STORY BY SUSANA MEDEIROS

THE PAIN BEHIND

the Laughs

On a sunny day in May 1991, when Denise Morissette - a head professional skating instructor - boarded a Mississauga Transit bus, she had no idea the ride she was in for. John Cooperwhite was her bus driver; The two shared conversations on their bus rides and eventually found themselves married to each other on July 10, 1993. When the couple met, John had two children, and Denise had one son, Derick. The rest of their lives would be entertaining to say the least. It would be filled with unconditional and undying love, but not without its tears and heartaches. No matter what the couple faced they would say “we have each other.”

T

he marriage started to face challenges in the very beginning, when John’s ex-wife moved to Scotland with his two children, before Denise and John were married. Between paying for support and legal fees to gain access to the children, their financial situation became very stressful. On one or two occasions, the couple found themselves at The Salvation Army to feed the family. John’s children were becoming more and more estranged due to the distance and this, along with the financial situation, was putting a strain on John’s emotional well being,

and consequently, the marriage. Their first years of marriage were filled with rough patches and enormous amounts of stress. Soon after the couple were married, John began to feel that Denise had unusual behaviours in many situations. He couldn’t understand why she obsessed with things being lined up and symmetrical, ie. why everything had to match. He soon learned that Denise suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Denise would often obsess Continued on page 24 FA M I LY M AT T E R S

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23


in the grocery store or in a department store about which sweater was the most perfect, even though they were all the same colour and size and on the same rack. It would be so severe sometimes, that she would sit on the floor and spread out items so that she could closely examine each one before making a decision. Her OCD has even been reason for store clerks to suspect she had been attempting to shoplift. It was very difficult for John to deal with until he had a full understanding of the disorder. The couple agrees that the OCD took a further toll on the marriage. As the years passed, the couple endured many dark days. John suffered two heart attacks; Denise was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, underwent gallbladder surgery, and was a victim of two serious car accidents that have left her in constant pain. This pain though, will never be compared to the pain they suffer since their son Derick took his life at the age of 25 in February 2010. The couple were away at their newly purchased Florida home when it happened. Derick suffered from anxiety from a very young age, then later depression. “He was always a very ambitious boy,” John remembers. From a young age, Derick would dream of becoming a millionaire and had many ideas for how he would achieve this goal. He was active in sports and many activities. It wasn’t until high school when John and Denise started to notice the change; He spent more and more time in his room and socialized less. His taste in music changed drastically. “We tried to understand him through his music. We couldn’t even get through one song, it was so graphic and dark.” Denise urges parents to not be afraid to 24

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talk to their kids. Keep the doors of communication open and look for changes in their behaviour. Take them seriously. John and Denise remain married today. “We are more in love than ever,” Denise smiles at John and he nods and smiles back. Denise runs an entertainment company called Fun-Shine Entertainment. The couple both love to entertain at events, Fun-Shine Entertainment is a full service entertainment and party company. Sneezy the Clown is the main character played by Denise, herself. John is a bagpiper and plays his tunes every chance he gets; He played “Amazing Grace” at their son Derick’s funeral, and at his father’s funeral, along with many other events. Bringing smiles to people’s faces is how Denise deals with her pain. In the past, Denise has always kept her personal identity a big secret. “It was very important to me, that Sneezy and Denise were two separate identities.” However, in light of recent “creepy clown” sightings, Denise felt that at this point revealing who Sneezy is would help people realize that clowns are real people too and professional clowns entertain and bring fun and laughter to all events; She has been doing so for nearly 18 years, and continues to do so, along with being a media and lifestyle photographer. The couple is always looking for sunshine in their lives despite the constant despair they have had to deal with over the years. They believe that no matter what comes their way, they will remain together through it all. They have recently sold their home in Milton and have realized their dream of buying a country home. Now that John is retired, there will be more time to start making their own sunshine. They believe wholeheartedly, that this change will be the beginning of better days to come.


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A 10 year old boy waited outside the locked doors of a church breakfast program. The program was to start at 8:15 and the child stood outside at 7:15 in the dark, in the cold and alone. He explained he had not had any food on the weekend and was hungry, and could he please have some food. This child inspired the launch of Food4Kids.

Food4Kids provides packages of healthy food for 1,300 kids in 99 Halton/Hamilton schools with limited or no food during weekend periods. The Optimist Club of Milton packs and delivers 52 healthy food bags for children at 12 Milton schools. We are truly grateful for the dedication of the Optimists that do so much for our children to ensure they have food at the weekend. For many children, hunger is not an occasional missed meal... it is a way of life. Children are often helpless in controlling the food supply in their homes. Participants aged 4 – 14 years are referred by schools aware of children with limited access to food in their homes. At the school, the food package is tucked into the child’s backpack. This helps shield the child from any stigma associated with hunger or receiving food assistance. It is hard to believe that we have poverty where we live and work, but this situation is very real for the many children who need us to provide food each weekend and during summer months. It really does take a village. There are many ways that individuals or businesses could get involved. For more information please go to our website www.food4kids.ca


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BY PAUL GROULX B.A. LLB.

CONSIDER FAMILY

Mediation

Are you experiencing a change in the family? Divorce? Consider Family Mediation to try to resolve any disagreements.

M

ediation is a confidential agreementreaching process in which the neutral mediator offers meaningful assistance to the parents/ spouses who in good faith try to reach agreement in a collaborative, consensual, and informed manner. Mediation will succeed in improving the parties’ communication, while evaluating the alternate options of dispute resolution including court litigation and identifying underlying shared interests. The parents/ spouses will address and resolve the matters in conflict. The issues to be addressed may include parenting, financial support and division of property. Parenting matters include residential schedules, holiday schedules, education decisions, medical decisions and extracurricular activities. Financial support matters may include: child support (amount of basic monthly payments, contributions for education, medical, dental and sports expenses; security for child support) and spousal support (monthly amount, duration). The division of property matters may include the equalization of the net family property value considering all assets and debts, and less the value of property owned on the date of marriage, and the division of joint assets. The goal is to engage in discussion through meetings to complete a comprehensive final memorandum of agreement with the mediator’s assistance. This

28

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memorandum is then to be submitted to each parent/ spouse’s respective lawyer to each obtain independent legal advice, and to complete the final legal separation agreement in an expedient and cost effective manner. After completing the above written legal agreement, the participants can then focus their hearts and minds on moving forward, whether as a single individual or a parent with their changed family arrangement. Instead of potentially incurring tens of thousands of dollars in a lengthy, destructive, and stressful court litigation process which could take years, consider Family Mediation First - a less expensive process in which all issues can be resolved by the parents/ spouses with the assistance of a mediator in a matter of days or weeks. PACIFIC GESTURES MEDIATION Serving the Region of Halton and Peel, with over 15 years of family dispute resolution experience, Paul Groulx B.A., LLB. (former lawyer) at Pacific Gestures Mediation offers a constructive, knowledgeable and cost-effective process. Contact Paul at (905) 691-9595 to schedule a free one hour consultation. 1109 North Service Road East, Oakville pacificgmediation@yahoo.com | pacificgesturesmediation.com Note: the information contained in the above article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any matter


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B Y C H E R Y L V R K L J A N , O C T, M . S c .

HELP PREPARE YOUR CHILD FOR SCHOOL

With Fine Motor Skills Practice

One of the most important ways we can help our children prepare for school is to practice their fine motor skills at home. Young children need to be able to hold and use scissors and pencils appropriately before using them in a classroom context. We cannot expect children to be able to write if they haven’t yet developed the strength needed in their hands and fingers.

F

ine motor skills do not come naturally to all children; They are a learned set of skills that can be strengthened over time. Children who have issues with fine motor skills have a harder time developing strong muscles in their hands, fingers and wrists. The good news? There are lots of easy and fun ways that parents can help, using simple, everyday activities and materials found around your home. Here are eight fun ways you can help your kids strengthen their fine motor skills:

Play-dough Time

Of course it’s tons of fun for kids, but handling

play-dough also develops some important skills. Squeezing and stretching it helps strengthen finger muscles, and touching it is a valuable sensory experience.

Get those fingers painting

Using finger paint can strengthen your child’s hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. All you need is some paper, some finger paints and a space to get messy and you’ve got yourself a great fine motor activity.

Squeeze your sponges

Set up two or more bowls, some filled with water and others empty. Ask your child to squeeze

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the water out of a sponge into different bowls. Transferring water back and forth between the bowls can help strengthen your child’s hands and forearms. For even more fun, add some coloured dyes or bubbles to the water.

child can strengthen important hand muscles, and hand-eye coordination. Start by cutting out larger dolls and snowflakes, and move to smaller pieces over time. It’s also a great way to talk about shapes and symmetry with your child.

Decorate the bathtub

Bring back the string

Color with broken crayons or short markers

Make bead or pasta necklaces

Show your child how to cut craft foam into different shapes, then create pictures and murals at bathtime! Wet craft foam will stick to the walls the side of the tub, and it’s a super fun way to improve cutting skills and manual dexterity.

Difficulties with fine motor skills can make it hard to grip a pencil properly. Coloring with small, broken crayons or short markers encourage your child to hold the crayon/marker correctly: between their thumb and forefinger.

Cut out paper dolls or snowflakes

Another low-tech activity that can provide hours of fun is string games, like Cat’s Cradle. String games help improve finger strength, hand-eye coordination and memory. All you need is some yarn and a little time to teach your child the game options. Stringing together necklaces is a great way for your child to be creative while working on handeye coordination and developing the ability to manipulate objects. Start with a long piece of string and large beads/ dry pasta. Work towards smaller pieces over time.

By cutting and folding paper into patterns, your

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BY MARY NEBESNY FA M I LY P E T S E R V I C E S

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO WALK YOUR DOG AND

How to Do It for Maximum Benefit

I

f I were to ask dog owners why they walk their dog, most often, the answer is: “For exercise.” A ten minute stroll around the block is really not much exercise for either you or Fido, but it does not mean that you should not do it at all. Here are some tips on how to get the most benefit out of your walk with your pooch.

Another amazing benefit to a leash walk, and one that most owners don’t take advantage of, is the mental exercise for your dog. All dogs need to be stimulated both physically and mentally on a daily basis and practicing your “heal” will do just that. You should spend a minimum of 15 minutes of your walk moving forward at a quick steady pace without stopping. Your dog will be better behaved and more tired after a structured walk.

walk with letting your pup sniff around and have a quick pee as soon as you leave the house (in an old, familiar place). I call this “free time.” You want your dog to relieve themselves if they have to go, so they are not uncomfortable for their exercise session. Next, clearly indicate to your dog that you are about to start a task. A good way to do this is to come to a stop, bring your dog closer to your body by shortening the leash, so your dog is no more than a foot or two away from you. Give them a clear one word command (for example: heal) and off you go. Time yourself and keep moving forward. Do not focus on your dog, focus on moving forward. A fast paced walk will help you and your pup avoid getting side tracked. The faster the pace, the harder it will be for your pooch to pay attention to other things. Once your exercise time is up, praise your dog and reward them with free time. During free time, they can sniff around, check out that “pee mail”, do their business and just have fun.

What is a structured walk? Think of your walk as a training workout with your dog. Your walk starts inside your home, when you go to put on that leash. Make your dog sit and stay when you put on the leash. Then, make sure when you open the door to go out, you are the first one out the door. Start your

What are the benefits of a structured walk? Your dog will be both physically and mentally stimulated and they will learn to follow you, as their leader or parent (whichever way you would like them to view you). This will build trust between you and your pooch for an overall healthy relationship.

Set aside 20-30 minutes daily; Just like it is important for us humans to do 20 minutes of cardio each day, it is also important for your dog.

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BY DR. SHONN A J O H N , C . Ps yc h. & DR. PAU L O PIR ES, C . Ps yc h.

TOO SCARED

for School!

About 5-10% of children struggle with significant anxiety. Anxiety can interfere with a student’s ability to perform in school and socialize with others. Times of change (e.g., first day of school) or performance/ evaluative situations (e.g., writing a test) typically cause some anxiety; There are times when a child’s anxiety gets in the way of going to school.

“School refusal” describes the problem of a child who does not stay at school or refuses to go to school on a regular basis. Children who struggle with school refusal tend to complain of not feeling well before leaving for school (e.g., stomachaches). They could also display tantrums, separation anxiety, or defiance, and when at school, they ask to go home. If allowed to stay home, the symptoms quickly disappear, only to reappear the next morning. In some cases, a child may refuse to leave the house. There are four typical reasons why children refuse school: 1) to avoid school-related objects and situations that cause distress (e.g., 34

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worries about reading, recess, group activities), 2) to avoid evaluative or negative social situations (e.g., science test, teasing/bullying), 3) to receive attention from parents, and/or 4) to obtain/pursue tangible rewards outside of school (e.g., playing video games)1.

What can parents do?

• Focus on gradually increasing school attendance. • For younger children, start with integrating them during morning class time. Continued on page 34


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• If your child is at home, do not let them engage in fun activities during the regular school hours (i.e., do academic tasks, like reading). • Track your child’s level of distress each day (e.g., use a 1 to 10 scale). • Make small goals, such as increasing the amount of time spent in class each day. • Consider attending school in a room outside the regular classroom (e.g., special education room, the office). • Extreme levels of anxiety may require medication to decrease the physical anxiety symptoms and ease exposure to school. • Severe delinquent activity may require residential or inpatient treatment before outpatient therapy. • School absence longer than a calendar year

may require alternative school programing (e.g. part time, night, home instruction, vocational, etc.) The most important thing is to get a comprehensive assessment from a mental health professional, such as a school or clinical child psychologist. That evaluation will highlight the reasons behind the school refusal and can help determine the best treatment options. Meanwhile, work with the school and do not allow your child to stay home. Missing school maintains or increases anxiety rather, than alleviating it. Dr. Shonna John, C. Psych. & Dr. Paulo Pires, C. Psych. School and Child Clinical Psychologists Halton Psychologists, 14A Martin Street, Milton, L9T 2P9 REFERENCES: 1. Adapted from “When Children Refuse School: A cognitive-behavioral therapy approach,” by C. A. Kearney and A. M. Albano (2007)

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A family and community-focused publication in Milton , Ontario. Found online as well as where families regularly frequent. familymattersma...

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