Sojourner Family Peace Center: Making an important family resource a reality

Sojourner Family Peace Center: Making an important family resource a reality

Rendering of the Sojourner Family Peace Center building opening in 2016

How do we make Wisconsin’s children the healthiest in the nation?

At Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, that is our vision. To everyone who works here, those are more than words, and we strive to improve the health of all children each and every day. We are making progress.

How do we do it? We don’t do it alone. Our work takes us into the community where we partner with organizations with the same commitment to kids. Through our partnerships with …Click here to continue reading

Identifying signs of teen depression that are not commonly known

Signs of teen depression

Listen to teens and watch their behavior.

“If I am not thin enough, no one will like me,” “I am always lonely,” “I can’t tell my parents because they will worry, and I can’t tell my friends because they will think I am crazy.” These are statements I often hear from teen girls I counsel.

They feel like they need to be perfect in their grades, physical appearance, personality, sports and every other area of their lives. They feel like they need to take care of others’ problems instead of focusing on their own, and they work very hard at developing a “mask” so their true feelings will not be revealed. For many …Click here to continue reading

Rebuilding hope after the loss of a child

A child’s death can be one of the worst experiences in a parent’s life. Many parents talk about the overwhelming sorrow and pain experienced after the death of their child and how their world was shattered. Grief is a normal and natural reaction to a loss and it is necessary to heal. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is committed to helping families who are on this painful journey by offering support, resources and hope.

Everyone grieves differently, which is why our Bereavement Program offers a variety of services to help our families begin the healing process. We have several adult support …Click here to continue reading

School shootings: How to help children cope with tragedy

We are stunned and saddened by last week’s shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. As an organization that cares, heals and protects children every day, our reactions are especially heightened to this terrible tragedy.

Talking to children about difficult community events can be challenging. Remember to be as honest as possible, speak on their level and remain calm. Here are behaviors to watch …Click here to continue reading

Cultivating a love for math and science through books

In the current issue of Children’s Advocate, writer Aimee Lewis-St Rain offers practical advice on creating natural opportunities for parents to cultivate a love of math and scientific discovery in their preschoolers. By encouraging your child to count everything imaginable, creating natural opportunities to explore and discover, and supporting your child’s natural impulse to play, you can boost your preschooler’s capacity for confidence and critical thinking.

For the purpose of this blog post, I was happy to discover her list of fun books for …Click here to continue reading

Why parents should consider books with the eye of a therapist

This quote from the great human rights leader Frederick Douglass reminds me of the emancipatory power of books.

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
— Frederick Douglass

As a therapist who works with traumatized children, I’ve seen how well-written, well-illustrated books can liberate a child’s life narrative in a way that traditional talk …Click here to continue reading

Finding time for literacy in a Blackberry-paced world

As parents, we all wish we had more time to read to our kids. And we’re equally aware of how the rush of school, work and other family activities can crowd out those slow, quiet times necessary for nurturing our child’s love of books. As the father of three active children, it seems my wife and I never have enough of the “lap time” Emilie Buchwald refers to. …Continue reading this post

When words fail, art therapy helps patients and their families

The language of art is colorful, messy, sometimes loud and sometimes quiet. The language of art extends beyond thinking into feeling, giving voice to the unspeakable. For families with a hospitalized child, the unspeakable can be overwhelming, painful, heartbreaking, worrisome and unfathomable.

As an art therapist, I have the opportunity to utilize my unique skill set, creativity, and the art process to bridge a seemingly insurmountable gap between hospitalization and home. I meet families in their time of crisis, when …Continue reading this post

Positively impact a child through reading – donate to the Barnes & Noble book drive

Did you know children who read regularly are more likely to succeed? Reading improves attention spans, enlarges vocabularies and exposes children to new ideas. Children who read tend to excel in school and social situations. Good reading habits can be developed long before children set foot in a classroom.

Now through the first of the year, you can positively impact a child’s life by purchasing a book at Barnes & Noble stores throughout Wisconsin during the retail bookseller’s annual book drive. …Continue reading this post

Helping a child cope with the loss of a loved one

I am privileged to have two very important roles in my life. First, I am a mom. Second, I serve as the bereavement coordinator at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

A few years ago, my family was faced with the decision to put our beloved cat, Zekky, to sleep. Here are some tips you can use to help your kids deal with the loss of a loved one.

Provide options.
As the “grief person” in our family, I knew to involve my kids in the process of putting Zekky to sleep. I explained to my children what would happen at the vet’s office. My 6-year-old son decided not to go. My 4-year-old daughter was able to hold Zekky as she was gently put to sleep. Even though I received criticism from some of my friends and family, I know that both decisions were right for my children.

Create rituals.
Having a burial ceremony for Zekky in our backyard helped my children grieve. The most important thing we did was talk about Zekky. We talked about our memories, how much we loved her and how sad we were that she died.

Tell the truth.
Unfortunately, death and dying is something that all of us experience. We are not protecting our children when we hide the truth from them. Through honest discussions about death and dying, we can take away some of the scariness. Why? Because the unknown is so much scarier than the known. Using the death of a pet to teach children how to cope with their grief can be a good experience, giving them skills to use throughout their entire lives.

Learn more about helping a child cope with the loss of a loved one here.

Nichole Schwerman, MA, CT- Nichole Schwerman, MA, CT, bereavement coordinator, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is committed to helping families who are on this painful journey by offering support, resources and hope. For more information about our Bereavement Program, call (414) 266-2995.