State of Florida Department of Children and Families Approves OnlineParentClass.com

by Dr. Ari Novick November 8, 2016

The rules and regulations for approved parenting classes has been modified in the state of Florda and all providers must strickly follow and apply for approval to offer these classes for the state.  OnlineParentClass.com has been approved by the state of Florda an one of only a few online programs to help educate Florida famililes going through divorce.  The approval is valid for 3 years, at which point a re-approval process will take place.  For more information on our Florida Parent Stabiliation Program, Click here.

Parenting Challenges in the Twenty-First Century-Understanding Technology

by Dr. Ari Novick December 30, 2015

One of the biggest challenges parents face these days is how to address the issue of technology and how much (or little) their children use.  Ipads, phones, computers, watches, game consoles and much more all give access to the internet, games and information.  What should parents to do both understand the technology as well as protect their children?  I think the first step is to get educated.  Parents need to understand the ways their kids are using technology and the effects it may be having on their emotional and physical state.  Most parents don't realize the impact websites like Instagram, SnapChat and Facebook have on their children.  Kids as young as 7 are creating Instagram accounts and as more young people have access to cellphones we will continue to see a variety of problems exist with usage.  Learn more about these technologies as well as a great information on how to improve parenting skills by taking one of our online programs, or simply call our office at 949-715-2694

Why Consistent Parenting Is So Important

by Dr. Ari Novick October 29, 2015

One of the most important skills a parent can learn and establish is consistency. Children generally do best in environments where they know what to expect. This means that setting rules, guidelines and schedules that are age appropriate and the same from one time to the next, can help the child to feel safer and more confident in the family life around him. For example, every morning we get up at 7 a.m., get dressed, eat breakfast and then go out to start our day. After school we come home, have a snack, complete homework and then have free time until dinner. After dinner we bathe, read a book and go to bed by 8:30 p.m. Without structure, many families create unnecessary chaos. An example I have heard about often is “my kids get up and watch TV or play video games and then we are always rushing to get to school.” Parents who enforce schedules aren’t necessarily being strict but instead are using good parenting skills to keep the household running smoothly.

Sometimes extenuating circumstances can derail an otherwise organized environment. A parent might be sick, stressed, have long workdays or be going through divorce and this structure goes by the wayside. For a short time, this can be fine, but over the long term, inconsistent parenting can be harmful. When a child doesn’t know how a parent will respond to a particular event, then the child’s level of anxiety heightens, as he doesn’t know what to expect. Is he going to be punished for skipping class to go surfing like last time or will his parent be understanding and forget about it like she did the time before? Inconsistent parenting can lead to low self-esteem, insecurity, increased anxiety and an overall lack of trust for the parent.

If you are going through a divorce and are having a difficult time staying on the same page with your ex-spouse about how to raise your kids, here are some reasons why you should try to work it out:

1. Security – consistency gives the child the sense that they can rely on their parents.

2. Less tantrums and bad behavior – when children know what to expect and that “no” means “no!” and not “maybe”, they are less likely to push their parents for an alternate outcome.

3. Stress reduction – when children can’t predict what will happen next, it creates anxiety, fear and confusion.

4. Responsibility – children growing up in consistent households develop a sense of ownership for their behavior and it boosts self-confidence. They know what is expected of them and what happens if they act otherwise.

It is understandable that both parents might not always agree on rules and consequences and sometimes through the divorce process, one parent might become more lax so the kids favor him or her. You may not be able to control your ex-spouses household, but you can control yours. In the long run you will find yourself with a more peaceful, organized home life and the children will ultimately feel more safe and stable while in your domain.

Orange County Courts Receive Anger Management and Parenting Class Brochures

by Dr. Ari Novick August 17, 2015

Civil, criminal and family courts are bombarded with cases related to anger management and parenting issues.  The courts are overburned by familes who have limited resourses for getting help and finding quality programs.  The AJ Novick Group, Inc. has been a valuable resource in Orange County for both parenting and anger management classes since 2003 and 2006, respectively.  While the O.C. Probation Department often refers people to these programs, many defendants aren't on probation either informally or formally and struggle to locate programs that are structured, with licensed and/or trained providers with consistent instruction.  

Over the last few weeks, we have contacted the court system at large here in Orange County to provide them with our brochures for these two programs.  The response has been extremely favorable, with several judges contacting our office for more information about our classes and what we do.  Both programs provide a structured curruculum and cover a new, unique skill each week.  Class length can range from as short as 10 sessions and last as long as 52 sessions, depending on what is need or required.  Some anger and parenting students attend weekly group classes, while other participate in one/one counseling directly with Dr. Novick in conjunction with attending the group classes.

All classes are offered at our Laguna Beach based office.  If you would like to download information on either our parenting or anger classes, simply click the links below.

http://www.ajnovickgroup.com/portals/0/PARENTING_FLYER_downloadversion.pdf

 

http://www.ajnovickgroup.com/portals/0/ANGERMGMT_FLYER_downloadversion.pdf

Good Parenting Includes Setting Boundaries From Early On

by Dr. Ari Novick April 29, 2015

How many times have you been a birthday party with your child and noticed another child act rudely to other partygoers or even to the host? I can say that I’ve worked in my son’s classrooms for years and there’s always the same handful of kids that talk back to the teacher, roll their eyes when asked to do something, and have even defaced a desk or the public bathroom during the school day. There may be all sorts of explanations for the behavior, but the one that comes to the forefront is that these children come from families in which the parents haven’t worked on setting boundaries. From early on, kids need limits to feel safe and to learn how to behave properly with friends, at school, and when out in public. Setting boundaries gives them the security of knowing what is expected of them.

Why are setting boundaries so important? When children are brought up in an environment without boundaries, they tend to have more social issues and problems in life. Research shows that they are more likely to be followers who make bad choices. It starts with coloring on the walls of the bathroom with markers because their friends are doing it, and can progress to drinking and drugs with a little peer pressure in high school. Some parents are reluctant to discipline because they grew up in strict households or they want to be “friends” with their kids, however, setting boundaries is a gift because it gives them the security of knowing what is expected of them in various situations.

Loving and compassionate parents understand that setting limits with appropriate consequences is an important life lesson. The punishments or restrictions for bad behavior should be age appropriate and reflect the level of the act. For example, if a child hits his sister once, a night of no electronics or television is reasonable. However, if it happens again, then a week might be memorable enough to make the child think twice about ever doing it again. And, it’s also imperative to stay consistent when administering restrictions so your kids know you mean what you say. If your child goes out and misses curfew and you sometimes ignore the lapse in judgment, it will teach them not to take your words very seriously.

So, how do you go about setting limits? To start, plan ahead. Think about when the kids start to lose it or cross the line. Consider what your response will be and then act confidently in your decision to set certain boundaries. If you are weak because you’ve had a bad day and are too exhausted to administer the punishment, or aren’t sure if it’s the right thing to do after all, the inconsistency will cause more issues in the long run. Explain in clear language, and a calm, firm tone what the repercussions of the behavior are. If the child is young, try to get down to their level by sitting or kneeling so you are at their eye-level. A yelling, red-faced giant will only be interpreted as scary and diminish your connection with the child.

When all is said and done, setting boundaries will teach your kids to accept responsibility for their own behavior and the difference between right and wrong. It improves overall self-esteem as they gain confidence in how to make good choices and will contribute to their ultimate success in relationships, school and work environments.

Six Parenting Tips To Boost Your Child's Self-Esteem

by Dr. Ari Novick April 20, 2015

Are you pregnant with your first child and interested in learning some parenting skills from the comfort of home? Or, do you look around at all the other mom’s and wonder how they seem to know exactly what to do? Parenting can be intuitive, but many people model their behavior off of what they saw growing up, some read books; others talk to friends with experience and most have taken a parenting class at some point. These classes are designed to give recent research based advice on how to be the most successful parent you can be. As we all know, parenting is more than just providing physical care, it’s about helping children gain the self-esteem and emotional intelligence they need to someday become well balanced, contributing adults. Taking a 4-hour online program can help reinforce some key qualities of successful parents so you too can feel confident about how you are handling things. Some of these points include:

1. Walk the walk. Children are very aware of how adults behave. If you treat them with respect, are honest, show them empathy and love, they will acquire these characteristics as well.

2. Let your child feel heard. One of the greatest attributes of a good parent is letting your child express herself and acknowledging her/his emotions. Helping your child to express their feelings in a way that doesn’t hurt others, instead of avoiding or ignoring them will validate it’s normal to have ups and downs and that their opinion matters and most importantly, they matter.

3. Empathize with them. When you acknowledge their perspective in a non-judgmental way, it gives them a feeling of safety and a confidence that they are understood. Children also learn to develop their own empathy towards others by being on the receiving end of it.

4. Teach them how to problem solve. The best way to do this is to model it by explaining in a clear and organized manner how and why you are resolving things in a certain way. For example, you have rsvp’d to a party and then get a more desired invitation to another event. Explain that you can’t back out of the first party without being rude to the organizer, so you will decline the 2nd invitation and talk to that host about getting together another time.

5. Teach them to do things for themselves! As eager parents, we tend to want to make our children’s lives as easy for them as possible. So we clean up the spilled milk, do all the laundry, put away toys and make their school lunches for them everyday. While this might seem helpful, you actually do more to help increase their self-confidence by teaching them how to do make their own sandwiches and having them complete the task on their own every once in a while.

6. Help your kids to understand that life isn’t perfect and that everyone has limitations. Failure is to be expected from even the greatest leaders.  They don’t have to be shameful experiences but instead chances to learn and improve.

Instituting these type of parenting skills will help send your kids on the path towards becoming grounded, self-confident and resilient adults.

Parenting Classes For Practical Solutions to Common Problems

by Dr. Ari Novick April 6, 2015

Most of us learn to parent based on what we saw growing up, combined with watching our peers, reading books and our basic common sense and instinct. However, we weren’t all blessed with positive role models and can often use a little guidance from specialists in the field. Therefore, the best time to take a parenting class is when you are about to become a first time parent because you have less to “unlearn”. If you are a seasoned parent, you might take a parenting class to learn how to prepare for the next stage, or rework how you have been handling things. Or, you might be a parent who has been mandated to take a class for divorce. Online parenting classes are an excellent option for all 3 of these scenarios because they give you the opportunity to stay in the comfort of your own home to master skills in effective communication, setting boundaries, the importance of building self-esteem, creating positive relationships and other practical solutions to the common daily obstacles you are bound to encounter.

Parenting is one of the most difficult as well as most rewarding jobs you will ever have. Just like going to school or having a career, over time you will get better at it. The ultimate goal as a parent is to teach our kids how to become a contributing, caring, self-disciplined, independent and responsible adult. So, what is one of the most important things you can do? Spend quality time with your kids! This means listening and paying attention to them while acknowledging their ideas and feelings in a non-judgmental way. During this time, your cell phone is put away, there’s no checking email on your computer and you are in the moment. When researchers ask successful, happy families what they do to create a positive environment, this is what they say:

1. Have weekly family meetings. This is at least a 30-minute block of time when the entire family gets together to talk about successes, air grievances and make suggestions for upcoming events. This gives each child to feel like they have a voice and what their feelings matter.

2. Schedule family outings. Even if there is a wide age span, find activities that everyone can enjoy together. Some ideas include: creating and maintaining a vegetable garden; cooking and baking for a special family dinner or event; old-fashioned board game night; hiking; beach day; or breaking out the crafts to make cards, work on a blanket, or scrapbook family photos.

3. Volunteer together. Each family member picks one charity that is important to him or her and the entire family donates some time together once a month to help out for this cause. There are hundreds of things to do like feeding the homeless or going shopping together to purchase food for a homeless shelter. Another idea for families with young kids is spending a Sunday at home making doggy toys and blankets to donate to the local animal shelter. Or, doing a beach or trail cleanup together.

4. Support each other. Each member of your family might have a different interest. For example, your daughter plays the piano, your son plays soccer, you enjoy going to plays, and your husband loves baseball. Take the time to gather the entire family and attend each of these special events as a unit a few times a year.

Co-Parenting Classes Help Reduce Long-Term Negative Impact On Kids

by Dr. Ari Novick March 27, 2015

After years of trying to make your relationship work, you’ve finally decided that it’s best if you part ways. Many of our clients explain that one of the main reasons they stuck with their marriage for so long is because they are worried about how divorce will affect their kids. While it’s true that the change and general upheaval will be upsetting and complicated at first, research shows that when done right, it does not necessarily have a long-term negative impact on the your children. In order to help make the transition as calm and seamless as possible, many courts throughout the country now mandate that divorcing parents take co-parenting classes to learn how to best help their kids through this difficult time.

The problem for many parents is that they already have a huge laundry list of things to take care of, and they express that getting to a weekly parenting class will just topple the cart. The good news is that quality online programs are available specifically to help busy parents fulfill this requirement. In most jurisdictions across the country, the judge can allow an online co-parenting program rather than making the parents find babysitters, leave work early or find transportation to get across town to a traditional classroom. If this sounds like your situation, it’s worth taking the time to ask the judge or social worker involved in your case if you can take advantage of this private and convenient way of learning.

Being able to remain at home with your kids to learn these new skills will reduce your overall stress while teaching you effective communication, listening and conflict resolution skills. This is a time when the kid’s needs should come first and parenting classes accentuate the importance of being empathetic towards your children’s needs and struggles at this time. The way you act and react to the situation will set the tone for how well your children come through this.

To further help reduce the stress level for your kids during divorce and better face this emotional challenge, parents need to immediately reassure them that the divorce is not their fault. There is nothing they could do differently to make you stay together. Both parents should be present to tell the kids together and leave plenty of time for discussion and emotional responses that might ensue. Sometimes the reaction doesn’t happen right away so be sure to watch their behavior closely in the following weeks to look for increased anxiety, sleep issues, depression or just overall sadness. Make a point of having discussions related to the logistics of the divorce outside of ear shot and most importantly don’t fight in front of the kids! If you can’t have a civil discussion then look for outside support from a mediator or attorney to help you work out the co-parenting plan. It’s healthy to stay away from any new relationships during this time until things have settled down and your kids are more fully adjusted.

Finally, parents know that this can be an extremely anxiety-provoking time for the kids, so it’s not the time to be making any unnecessary changes. Don’t start redecorating the house the way you’ve always wanted it or completely change your look. The kids need you and their surroundings to remain as routine and stable as possible. It also helps if you can put duplicates of the items they love over at the new second home so they feel comfortable in both places. Following all these suggestions will help lower your child’s stress and anxiety and will pay off in the long run.

Develop A Positive Relationship With Your Child To Last A Lifetime

by Dr. Ari Novick March 13, 2015

There has been a huge groundswell over the past couple of decades to get away from the Authoritarian way of parenting that many of us grew up which included strict rules with no input from the kids to the Authoritative style. This style still puts expectations and boundaries on the child’s behavior but in a more nurturing and understanding way. In this scenario, the child’s views are considered and there is a major emphasis on getting the child to think on his own. When rules are broken, the disciplinary action taken by the parents is not punitive but instead aimed at teaching the child reasoning and communication skills to improve behavior.

The result is meant to be a more well-balanced and respectful approach to develop a strong lifelong relationship with your child. Studies show that children raised in this environment generally do well in school, are good at developing positive relationships and have a lower chance of getting involved with drugs and alcohol.

Parents who follow this parenting approach utilize positive discipline to correct bad behavior. It’s never too late to improve your parenting skills. Some of the key strategies involved include:

1. Redirecting. Give the child something else to do to stop the inappropriate behavior. For example, you are at the market and your child is running around making way too much noise and about to knock over the display, tell her to fill up a bag full of apples or to go find the bag of pretzels she likes and bring it right back to the cart.

2. Whispering. Instead of contributing to an already crazy scene by yelling and screaming, get down to the child’s eye level and speak quietly. This helps to calm everything down and gets their attention.

3. Modeling. Sometimes actions are more effective than continuously repeating yourself like a parrot. For example, if your child gets up throughout the night and comes to your bed in the hopes of being allowed in, stay strong and keep walking him back to his bed. You can answer a question or help him get some water but keep taking him back to his own bed. Eventually he will learn that you aren’t going to give in so there’s no point to the entire exercise.

4. Resolving together. Teaching your kids problem solving skills from a young age helps them to develop empathy and increases their self-confidence. Let your child have his say without interrupting. Re-state his point of view clearly to make sure you are on the same page. Explain how the child broke the rule or reacted poorly. Guide them in a discussion of how they could have reacted more appropriately. Have the child help you to come up with an age appropriate consequence and a solution for how to avoid it next time.

5. Proactive encouragement. Focus on reassurance when the child does something right rather than punishment after she’s done something wrong. Tell the child how proud you are for how hard he is working on a project instead of waiting to respond to the final grade.

Learn How To Minimize Drama In Your Divorce With A High Conflict Parenting Class

by Dr. Ari Novick February 27, 2015

Going through a divorce when children are involved can be difficult, but when you are dealing with a partner with extreme behavior it can be really tough to coordinate your parenting styles. Years of research shows that divorce doesn’t generally have long-term negative repercussions on kids, but how the two parents handle the divorce makes all the difference. In some situations, the ex-spouses are so bitter after years of not getting along that the separation and all the details that go along with it just bring out the worst. Our kids are our most precious objects so fights like who gets primary custody, how much time each parent gets to spend with the kids, what schools they will go to, household rules, religion and even what kind of movies and video games they are exposed to can turn into World War III.

Does this sound familiar to you? High conflict personalities generally are rigid people who lack empathy and aren’t very good at taking a clear look at the way they are reacting. They tend to blame others for everything without understanding that they too have a role in the disputes. They get so caught up in all the negative emotions of the situation that the behavior can turn disrespectful and even violent.

To help resolve these conflicts the judge will often send divorcing parents through mediation and mandate that each take a high conflict co-parenting class. These programs are for couples that just can’t resolve their disagreements in a healthy way. The ultimate goal is not to torture the parents by forcing them to talk to each other in front of a “babysitter” to monitor the discussion, or to punish them with a class they feel is unnecessary. It’s to protect the children from harm and hopefully teach the parents that it’s not about them but about the best interest of the kids.

If you are involved in a high conflict divorce, some quick tips that many therapists agree upon include:

1. Lay low. The high conflict personality actually likes the drama that they are creating. Do your best to minimize any contact you have and when you do have contact, put it politely, clearly and concisely in writing.

2. Do not get sucked into their emotional attacks. Remember that they thrive when they feel like they’ve gotten the upper hand and have made you angry, sad or stressed. Don’t bad mouth your ex in front of the kids, or let him or her feel like they are winning because you are falling apart. Keep in mind that the more emotional you get, the less logical you become.

3. Get support. Look for help from close friends, family, divorce groups or through therapy. This is not the time to try to go it on your own.

Detach yourself from the conflict your ex-spouse tries to bring into the relationship by treating it like business. You can’t control his/her behavior but you can control yours. Stick to the agreed upon custody order and do your best to have as little interaction as possible.