Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services Receives Loudoun Times Mirror Reader’s Choice Award

I am pleased to announce that Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services was voted the #1 mental health practice in the Loudoun Times Mirror.  I would like to personally thank all of those who voted for our practice.  It is an honor to be acknowledged by our community in this way.  We remain dedicated to the care and treatment of our patients.

To review the Reader’s Choice 2014 recipients, we invite you to visit:

http://northernvatimes.secondstreetapp.com/Loudoun-Readers-Choice/Ballot/HealthandMedical

Dr. Michael Oberschneider, Founder and Director

 

 

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Understanding Teen Suicide

Northern Virginia has recently experienced several teen suicides. Last month, two Langley High School students took their own lives just a day apart from one another, and this month it appears two students at Woodson High School also committed suicide.  Fairfax County alone has had 15 suicides over the past 3 years, and the surrounding counties, including Loudoun County, have also had a number of teen suicides in recent years.   

Suicide is tragic, and it seems to be even more so when it involves our young.  As the director of a private mental health practice, I can report first hand that the recent suicides in Fairfax County have had a profound impact on parents across Northern Virginia.  Over the past month, I have received a number of calls from upset and worried parents, with the majority of them asking the same question, “How do I know if my teen is suicidal?”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is currently the third leading cause of death among young adults and adolescents 10 to 24 years of age, following unintentional injuries and homicide.  And, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, scientific evidence has shown that almost all people who take their own lives have a diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder.  This makes sense if you consider that those who suffer from depression and/or other mental health disorders would be less capable of coping with difficult situations or strong, negative feelings than those who are free of such problems. 

But not all suicidal teens are depressed.  Teens in crisis, for instance, may impulsively act-out and some might even go to the extreme of suicide with several factors contributing to that final decision — personality style, identity struggles, access to external resources and relationships (perceived or real) and developmental immaturity to name a few of the important ones.  Research on the teen brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex, in recent years has led to some interesting findings on teen risk taking and impulsiveness.  The general conclusion being that teens do not possess the cognitive maturity of adults and thus are vulnerable to exercising extremely poor judgment and poor impulse control at times and especially when emotions are strong.

Recent research on the topic of teen suicide has also found that teens that are exposed to a peer who has committed suicide are significantly more likely to think about or attempt suicide. “Suicide contagion” is the term for this phenomenon.  Suicides can also then occur and spread (e.g., throughout a school system), and this is termed, “suicide cluster.”  Interestingly, this latter phenomenon is known to occur in response to celebrity suicides.  For example, the number of suicides reportedly skyrocketed nationally in the month of August following the suicide of Marilyn Monroe in 1962.

Researchers have estimated that there are between 8-25 attempted suicides for each teen suicide death and that four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warnings.  While knowing if a teen is truly suicidal is not always simple to determine, there are many factors and behavioral indicators that can help parents or friends recognize the threat of suicide in a loved one. Since mental and substance-related disorders so frequently accompany suicidal behavior, many of the cues to look for are the actual symptoms associated with such disorders as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, alcohol and/or drug use, disruptive behavior disorders, borderline personality disorder, and schizophrenia.

Some common signs or symptoms of these disorders include:

             Extreme personality changes

             Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable

             Significant loss or gain in appetite

             Difficulty falling asleep or wanting to sleep all day

             Fatigue or loss of energy

             Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

             Withdrawal from family and friends

             Neglect of personal appearance or hygiene

             Sadness, irritability, or indifference

             Extreme anxiety or panic

             Self-destructive behavior (e.g., drinking alcohol, taking drugs or cutting)

             Poor school performance

             Difficulty paying attention and concentrating

 

Other factors to consider include:

            Having a history of abuse

            Having a close family member who has tried or committed suicide

            Having access to guns

            Having significant relationship or social problems

Tragically, many of these signs and/or factors can go unrecognized, and while suffering from one of these symptoms certainly does not necessarily mean that one is suicidal, it is always best to communicate openly with a loved one who has one or more of these problems, especially if the problems are unusual for that person.

There are also more obvious signs indicating a higher potential for committing suicide.  Putting one’s affairs in order, such as giving or throwing away favorite belongings, is a strong clue.  And it cannot be stressed more strongly that any talk of death or suicide should be taken seriously and paid close attention to. It is a sad fact that while many of those who commit suicide talked about it beforehand, only 33 percent to 50 percent were identified by their doctors as having a mental illness at the time of their death, and only 15 percent of suicide victims were in treatment at the time of their death, according to the National Institute for Mental Health.  Moreover, approximately one-third of teens who die by suicide have made a previous suicide attempt, so a history of suicide attempts is a cause for careful monitoring of behavior.

While these most recent teen suicides are tragedies in our community, it is important to keep things in perspective.  Yes, suicide rates have increased in Virginia in recent years, however, statistics show that Virginia’s suicide rate is only slightly above the national average, and Northern Virginia reportedly has the lowest suicide rate in the State.    

If you, or is someone you know, exhibits any of the warning signs listed above, please get help right away.  Talk to someone you trust as soon as you can, such as a parent, teacher or school counselor.  If you are uncomfortable talking about your feelings with someone you know, please call a suicide crisis line (such as: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 911.  Most toll-free lines are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by trained professionals who offer confidential support to help you work through tough situations. Lastly, Northern Virginia has many well trained mental health professionals for your teen to meet with privately should you have concerns regarding your teen’s safety and well being.

Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D.

Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services

Published:  Ashburn Patch and Leesburg Patch, 03/26/2014

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More Snow Days! Enough is Enough!!

We invite you to enjoy Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services, director, Dr. Michael Oberschneider’s piece, which was published on the Ashburn Patch and Leesburg Patch on 03/17/2014 .

Snow Day:  Seven Survival Tips for Parents

It’s easy to understand why so many are struck with a case of the winter blues each year. We leave for work before the sun comes up and head home in the dark barely glimpsing daylight.

As the days get shorter and colder, many folks find themselves dealing with sadness, decreased motivation and energy, increased appetite and excessive sleeping, etc. But wait, this is March 17, and this shouldn’t be happening, right?

Well, while the calendar is reminding us that we are just days away from Spring, the weather in Northern Virginia seems to have us all stuck in an endless loop of snow days. And the snow, I believe, has taken a toll on a number of people.

A few of my clients have joked about the snow day situation this year. With school closings week after week, one client recently told me that she was reminded of the movie, “Groundhog Day,” in which the main character frustratingly experiences the same day over and over and over again. Another client joked about Posttraumatic Snow Disorder as the new PTSD.

But many I’ve spoken to aren’t laughing about this year’s accumulation (pardon the pun) of snow days or the negative impact they have had to endure. In fact, for many of my clients and working adults, the plethora of snow days this year have caused frustration, stress, anxiety, situational depression and financial concerns.

Scrambling to find last minute childcare when your child’s daycare or school closes, taking off work or managing a work schedule from home (often with kids at home), keeping your child or children entertained, keeping your child’s academics on track and driving on icy or snowy roads are but a few realties that many of us have had to deal with this winter.

So, what’s the solution? While you cannot control the weather, you can control how you manage yourself and your family today. I’ve included a few ideas below from a past article of mine.

Get out of your own head and see the positive of the moment. Yes, as a parent you may be overwhelmed, and you may also now need to balance more with your children being unexpectedly home for more days. But try to remember what a snow day felt like when you were a child. I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago, and some of my fondest childhood memories involved snow days and all the things I did for fun with my siblings and parents.

Create some snow day traditions. Making a snow man, snow angels, building a snow fort, making snow ice cream (there are plenty of recipes on-line), sledding, a snowball fight, etc. Simply bundle up your kids, open the door and let them play until their hearts are content. Maybe go ice-skating as a family. There is the Ashburn Ice House for indoor skating and the Reston Town Center for outdoor skating to consider nearby. After time in the snow, perhaps s’mores, hot chocolate or baking something delicious might be a fun family activity. Board games or maybe movies in PJ’s are nice ways to get cozy and keep it fun.

Take advantage of the time you now have with your children to get things done. Snow days are an excellent time to get those doctor and dentist appointments for your children checked off your to-do list. There might be some family chores or tasks that everyone could do together. You might also pack the kids in the car to run the many errands you need to get done but haven’t had
the time for. Perhaps you could compromise with lunch or some frozen yogurt out to make the time doing errands more agreeable to your kids.

Extend your children’s video game and social media time. As we all know, most children and teens enjoy video games and social media. So, relax your rules and restrictions a little to let your children have extended fun with their screens. The more social and interactive you can make your children’s screen time the better. Show some interest in your children’s games, and maybe even grab a controller and jump in as a parent. You could also use this time and opportunity
to introduce your children to educational apps and games (e.g., Leapfrog Leapster Explorer Learning Games, Little Big Planet 2, My Word Coach and Big Brain Academy).

Encourage down time. Snow days can be over stimulating for all involved – including parents! And too much excitement without enough structure can lead to fights, behavioral problems and punishments. Reading, draw, arts and crafts are a few quiet activities to consider in between the more active fun moments.

Set-up play dates. Encourage your older children to spend time with their friends both outside and inside, and use your parent network to set-up play dates for your younger children. If you work from home (or just for your own piece of mind), there may be blocks of time where you will want the noise level lowered and the kids out of the house. Planning ahead with other parents for this can be a great help.

Get some schoolwork done. Your children will likely be back to school tomorrow or soon after, so staying on top of homework, projects or assignments or review is a good thing to do.

Most importantly, remember to keep things in perspective and to enjoy this extra time with your children. Most of us work very long hours in Northern Virginia, and we don’t get to spend as much time with our children as we’d like. And also remember, March 20, is the first day of Spring!

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New “Ask Dr. Mike” article in Ashburn Patch and Leesburg Patch

What to do when your teenager doesn’t want to drive

My 17 year-old son has no desire to get his license, which makes no sense to me. When I was his age, I couldn’t wait to get my license and to have the freedom to drive and drive and drive. Getting a driver’s license opens up so many possibilities and so much more independence, and you would think that he would want some of that.

Instead, my son seems more content being left to himself to text his girlfriend and to play with his video games in his room. He tells me that he just isn’t motivated to drive and doesn’t care. I don’t get it. Is this just the way things are now with teens? I’d love your advice on this.

A Concerned Parent

Concerned Parent:

Actually several research studies have shown that young adults today are driving significantly less than young adults from just a couple of decades ago. For example, a study conducted at the University of Michigan last year reported a fall from 69 percent in 1983 to 46 percent in 2010 for 17 year olds with active drivers’ licenses.

That study revealed several other interesting findings, and some of the study’s top reasons for why young adults are not getting their licenses sooner than later include: (1) being busy and not having enough time, (2) expense, (3) and preference of public transportation, biking and walking over driving. Participants in the study also reported that technology affords many opportunities to get things done without needing to travel.

As a psychologist who works a lot with teenagers, I too have seen a trend in which teens are less excited about driving in recent years than they used to be. Anxiety, emotional immaturity and technology, in my opinion, are the main issues for teens not wanting to drive as much.

It may be the case that your son is simply unmotivated to drive, but it may also be the case that he is anxious about driving and the responsibility and independence that goes along with his getting a driver’s license may be too much to him. You note that texting and gaming are areas of interest for your son. Some teens today find greater comfort and security in the virtual world than they do in the real world. So, it may also be the case then that your son is overlying on technology and his lack of interest in driving (i.e. participating in an age appropriate real-life experience) is a sign of a larger interpersonal or social problem for him.

I recommend sitting down with your son for a heart-to-heart talk. Once you gain a greater understanding of his views on driving, you can address the problem appropriately. Your son may just be a late bloomer and may need more time to warm up to the idea of driving, and your giving him the space to do so may be all that you need to do. Or, your son may be truly anxious about driving, and he
may need some active support and guidance.

Developing an action plan and working alongside your son toward achieving short-term driving goals would then be advised. If he is anxious about driving, start with baby steps and try to make his behind the wheel experience manageable and enjoyable. With his permit, driving in a large empty parking lot or on a quiet road may be a good start. Maybe he could work up to driving to his favorite restaurant with you for lunch or to Game Stop to pick up a new video game.

Keep in mind that, as the old adage goes, “This too shall pass.” If your son is anxious about being behind the wheel now, gradual exposure to driving and ample practice should serve to diminish his anxiety and increase his confidence later.

Gunning for better communication in your marriage

My husband recently bought a gun “for protection in the house if someone breaks in.” We have children, and he knows that I am very much against having a gun in the home. I am furious that he did this without discussing it with me first. I guess he didn’t discuss it with me because he probably knew I’d say “NO!”

He assures me that he has taken all precautionary steps, for example, keeping the ammunition separate from the gun and locking the gun in a gun safe. My husband is a great guy, and I am sure he will be super responsible with the gun (as he usually is with everything), but I just can’t get passed my anger right now. Your thoughts would be helpful.

A Concerned Parent

Concerned Parent:
The gun is not your problem, but rather the problem is your communication as a couple. Replace the gun with the unilateral purchase of a boat, or a new car or an expensive watch and you would probably be just as upset with your husband.

If, as you write, your husband knows that you are against having a gun in the house, and he chose to purchase one without telling you, he did so either (1) because he wasn’t thinking about you at all in that moment or (2) because he purposely avoided you to do what he wanted even knowing that you would become upset. Either one of these possibilities is problematic.

In my opinion, I think you need to reboot the gun moment as a couple so that you can both feel respected in mutually deciding on what is best for your family. First, your husband should return the gun. Second, you should openly discuss your thoughts and feelings on the topic. If you remain far apart after that, I would leave the gun topic alone for a while. If, after listening to one another, however, you can find a compromise, then repurchase the gun with agreed upon expectations in place (e.g., the gun and ammunition are kept in a gun safe, etc.).

By: Dr. Michael Oberschneider, Director

Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services

Published:  Ashburn Patch and Leesburg Patch, 03/05/2014

 

 

 

 

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“Ask Dr. Mike” Advice Column in This Week’s Ashburn Patch and Leesburg Patch

Our director, Dr. Michael Oberschneider, has been writing his advice column “Ask Dr. Mike” for area papers and news agencies for several years now.  Please click on the link below to read his most recent piece for the Ashburn Patch and Leesburg Patch.  Also, should you have a question for Dr. Oberschneider, please send it to Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services at:  info@ashburnpsych.com

http://ashburn.patch.com/groups/around-town/p/ask-dr-mike-teens-winter-shorts–being-cool-and-cold-at-13

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Snow Day Tips: how to manage (and enjoy) the next few days!

As a child, the excitement of a snow day or two can bring great joy and the memories that follow can be magical and lifelong.  For parents, however, snow days can be very stressful.  We in Northern Virginia have had several snow days this winter, and we’ve just been handed another two in Loudoun County.  And while the children and teens in my practice are thrilled, many parents I see are complaining about the extended time and lack of structure which have led to arguments, increased sibling rivalry and behavioral problems in the home.  So, I offer a few thoughts here to help manage your children (and yourself) for the coming snow days.

Get out of your own head and see the positive of the moment.  Yes, as a parent you may be overwhelmed, and you may also now need to balance more with your children being unexpectedly home for more days.  But try to remember what a snow day felt like when you were a child.  I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago, and some of my fondest childhood memories involved snow days and all the things I did for fun with my siblings and parents.

Create some snow day traditions.  Making a snow man, snow angels, building a snow fort, making snow ice cream (there are plenty of recipes on-line), sledding, a snowball fight, etc., etc., etc.  Simply bundle up your kids, open the door and let them play until their hearts are content.  Maybe go ice-skating as a family.  There is the Ashburn Ice House for indoor skating and the Reston Town Center for outdoor skating to consider nearby.  After time in the snow, perhaps s’mores, hot chocolate or baking something delicious might be a fun family activity.  Board games or maybe movies in PJ’s are nice ways to get cozy and keep it fun.

Take advantage of the time you now have with your children to get things done.   Snow days are an excellent time to get those doctor and dentist appointments for your children checked off your to-do list.  There might be some family chores or tasks that everyone could do together.  You might also pack the kids in the car to run the many errands you need to get done but haven’t had the time for.  Perhaps you could compromise with lunch or some frozen yogurt out to make the time doing errands more agreeable to your kids.

Extend your children’s video game and social media time.  As we all know, most children and teens enjoy video games and social media.  So, relax your rules and restrictions a little to let your children have extended fun with their screens.  The more social and interactive you can make your children’s screen time the better.  Show some interest in your children’s games, and maybe even grab a controller and jump in as a parent.  You could also use this time and opportunity to introduce your children to educational apps and games (e.g., Leapfrog Leapster Explorer Learning Games, Little Big Planet 2, My Word Coach and Big Brain Academy).

Encourage down time.  Snow days can be over stimulating for all involved – including parents!  And too much excitement without enough structure can lead to fights, behavioral problems and punishments.  Reading, draw, arts and crafts are a few quiet activities to consider in between the more active fun moments.

Set-up play dates.  Encourage your older children to spend time with their friends both outside and inside, and use your parent network to set-up play dates for your younger children.  If you work from home (or just for your own piece of mind), there may be blocks of time where you will want the noise level lowered and the kids out of the house.  Planning ahead with other parents for this can be a great help.

Most importantly, remember to keep things in perspective and to enjoy this extra time with your children.  Most of us work very long hours in Northern Virginia, and we don’t get to spend as much time with our children as we’d like.  So, focus on what matters most to you – your children – and strive to be a part of their childhood snow day memories.

Reposted from Leesburg Today, 01-23-2014

By: Dr. Michael Oberschneider

Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services

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Snow Days: some thoughts on how to manage (and enjoy) the next few!

Reposted from Leesburg Today, 01-23-2014

By: Dr. Michael Oberschneider

Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services

As a child, the excitement of a snow day or two can bring great joy and the memories that follow can be magical and lifelong.  For parents, however, snow days can be very stressful.  We in Northern Virginia have had several snow days this winter, and we’ve just been handed another two in Loudoun County.  And while the children and teens in my practice are thrilled, many parents I see are complaining about the extended time and lack of structure which have led to arguments, increased sibling rivalry and behavioral problems in the home.  So, I offer a few thoughts here to help manage your children (and yourself) for the coming snow days.

Get out of your own head and see the positive of the moment.  Yes, as a parent you may be overwhelmed, and you may also now need to balance more with your children being unexpectedly home for more days.  But try to remember what a snow day felt like when you were a child.  I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago, and some of my fondest childhood memories involved snow days and all the things I did for fun with my siblings and parents.

Create some snow day traditions.  Making a snow man, snow angels, building a snow fort, making snow ice cream (there are plenty of recipes on-line), sledding, a snowball fight, etc., etc., etc.  Simply bundle up your kids, open the door and let them play until their hearts are content.  Maybe go ice-skating as a family.  There is the Ashburn Ice House for indoor skating and the Reston Town Center for outdoor skating to consider nearby.  After time in the snow, perhaps s’mores, hot chocolate or baking something delicious might be a fun family activity.  Board games or maybe movies in PJ’s are nice ways to get cozy and keep it fun.

Take advantage of the time you now have with your children to get things done.   Snow days are an excellent time to get those doctor and dentist appointments for your children checked off your to-do list.  There might be some family chores or tasks that everyone could do together.  You might also pack the kids in the car to run the many errands you need to get done but haven’t had the time for.  Perhaps you could compromise with lunch or some frozen yogurt out to make the time doing errands more agreeable to your kids.

Extend your children’s video game and social media time.  As we all know, most children and teens enjoy video games and social media.  So, relax your rules and restrictions a little to let your children have extended fun with their screens.  The more social and interactive you can make your children’s screen time the better.  Show some interest in your children’s games, and maybe even grab a controller and jump in as a parent.  You could also use this time and opportunity to introduce your children to educational apps and games (e.g., Leapfrog Leapster Explorer Learning Games, Little Big Planet 2, My Word Coach and Big Brain Academy).

Encourage down time.  Snow days can be over stimulating for all involved – including parents!  And too much excitement without enough structure can lead to fights, behavioral problems and punishments.  Reading, draw, arts and crafts are a few quiet activities to consider in between the more active fun moments.

Set-up play dates.  Encourage your older children to spend time with their friends both outside and inside, and use your parent network to set-up play dates for your younger children.  If you work from home (or just for your own piece of mind), there may be blocks of time where you will want the noise level lowered and the kids out of the house.  Planning ahead with other parents for this can be a great help.

Most importantly, remember to keep things in perspective and to enjoy this extra time with your children.  Most of us work very long hours in Northern Virginia, and we don’t get to spend as much time with our children as we’d like.  So, focus on what matters most to you – your children – and strive to be a part of their childhood snow day memories.

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A Place To Be Meeting at Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services

A Place To Be Music Therapy Center from Middleburg, VA, presented to Dr. Michael Oberschneider, Dr. Margaret Wong, Dr. Amy Gordon, and Dr Andrea Lee on Thursday January 16th sharing all the wonderful things that are happening there! A Place To Be’s Mission is to help people face, navigate, and overcome life’s challenges through the therapeutic arts. The doctor’s saw videos of Music Therapy in action, with stories about things like how they helped a young man with a traumatic brain injury relearn to speak, play instruments and even sing and perform!

They saw videos of autistic kids making better connections, and read testimonials from grateful parents about how much their children’s well being had improved. At A Place To Be, people of all abilities Lind conLidence, leadership, and self acceptance through participation in their large variety of programs.

There were many clips from recitals, other performances, and the ongoing two part “Same Sky” show. “Behind the Label” is a show that was written by the kids themselves about living with labels, and what life is like from their perspective. They also saw a snippet of a show called “How Far I’ve Come” written by a girl with Cerebral Palsy about how she has dedicated her life to being an ambassador for all. The message of the performance is that “We All Live Under the…Same Sky!”

Those in attendance at Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services learned about A Place To Be’s Music Therapy, Groups, Teen mentoring, Lunch Bunch work with a variety of Special Needs Adults, Outreach Performances, Summer Performance Camps, and their ground breaking Immersion Program. The Immersion Program is for 8-­‐12th grade kids through college age young adults helping people with a variety of abilities learn life skills and social skills through spending an entire day at A Place To Be. In Immersion, they participate in a variety of activities as a group. They become a part of a community and learn to give to the community, and recently raised money for instruments for a school in India! At A Place To Be, not only do people grow, but they get involved in volunteering for others as well.

A Place To Be is so thankful to Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services’s for hosting the event and for the doctors’ curiosity in knowing about all that’s available for their patients! To learn more visit their web site at www.aplacetobeva.org.

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Snow Day Tips: How To Manage Your Children and Yourself on Snow Days

Leesburg Today, 01-23-2014

By: Dr. Michael Oberschneider

As a child, the excitement of a snow day or two can bring great joy and the memories that follow can be magical and lifelong.  For parents, however, snow days can be very stressful.  We in Northern Virginia have had several snow days this winter, and we’ve just been handed another two in Loudoun County.  And while the children and teens in my practice are thrilled, many parents I see are complaining about the extended time and lack of structure which have led to arguments, increased sibling rivalry and behavioral problems in the home.  So, I offer a few thoughts here to help manage your children (and yourself) for the coming snow days.

Get out of your own head and see the positive of the moment.  Yes, as a parent you may be overwhelmed, and you may also now need to balance more with your children being unexpectedly home for more days.  But try to remember what a snow day felt like when you were a child.  I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago, and some of my fondest childhood memories involved snow days and all the things I did for fun with my siblings and parents.

Create some snow day traditions.  Making a snow man, snow angels, building a snow fort, making snow ice cream (there are plenty of recipes on-line), sledding, a snowball fight, etc., etc., etc.  Simply bundle up your kids, open the door and let them play until their hearts are content.  Maybe go ice-skating as a family.  There is the Ashburn Ice House for indoor skating and the Reston Town Center for outdoor skating to consider nearby.  After time in the snow, perhaps s’mores, hot chocolate or baking something delicious might be a fun family activity.  Board games or maybe movies in PJ’s are nice ways to get cozy and keep it fun. 

Take advantage of the time you now have with your children to get things done.   Snow days are an excellent time to get those doctor and dentist appointments for your children checked off your to-do list.  There might be some family chores or tasks that everyone could do together.  You might also pack the kids in the car to run the many errands you need to get done but haven’t had the time for.  Perhaps you could compromise with lunch or some frozen yogurt out to make the time doing errands more agreeable to your kids.

Extend your children’s video game and social media time.  As we all know, most children and teens enjoy video games and social media.  So, relax your rules and restrictions a little to let your children have extended fun with their screens.  The more social and interactive you can make your children’s screen time the better.  Show some interest in your children’s games, and maybe even grab a controller and jump in as a parent.  You could also use this time and opportunity to introduce your children to educational apps and games (e.g., Leapfrog Leapster Explorer Learning Games, Little Big Planet 2, My Word Coach and Big Brain Academy).

Encourage down time.  Snow days can be over stimulating for all involved – including parents!  And too much excitement without enough structure can lead to fights, behavioral problems and punishments.  Reading, draw, arts and crafts are a few quiet activities to consider in between the more active fun moments. 

Set-up play dates.  Encourage your older children to spend time with their friends both outside and inside, and use your parent network to set-up play dates for your younger children.  If you work from home (or just for your own piece of mind), there may be blocks of time where you will want the noise level lowered and the kids out of the house.  Planning ahead with other parents for this can be a great help.

Most importantly, remember to keep things in perspective and to enjoy this extra time with your children.  Most of us work very long hours in Northern Virginia, and we don’t get to spend as much time with our children as we’d like.  So, focus on what matters most to you – your children – and strive to be a part of their childhood snow day memories.

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Dr Andrea Lee Presentation at Loudoun Pediatric Associates

On January 8th, Dr. Andrea Lee, a psychologist at Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services, presented at Loudoun Pediatric Associates monthly provider meeting. She was asked to speak about developmental and mental health screening in pediatric primary care offices, and how collaboration can occur across medical and mental health professionals as a result of findings from screening.

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