On the Horizon – 01/28/14

Welcome to "On the Horizon"

Issue 232: Why is it so hard to change?

On the Horizon is an award winning weekly ezine for parents of children with developmental disabilities who want simple, effective strategies to reduce stress, support their child’s development, and improve quality of life for the whole family.

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  • A Note from Dr. Beurkens
  • Feature Article: Why is it so hard to change?
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

I hope this finds you enjoying the start of 2014! Here in Michigan we are having the worst winter we’ve experienced in a while. It’s been snowing non-stop with frigid temperatures that have kept kids home from school many days so far this month. Based on the weather reports it looks like many places around the country are dealing with colder-than-normal weather. Here’s hoping it warms up a bit in the coming weeks, as we are out of room to plow the snow!

The feature article this week from Erin is about change, and why it’s so difficult. While we often talk about how inflexible and stubborn children can be, I find that adults are sometimes the most resistant to change. When making changes it is important to stick to it, even when it feels easier to give up or fall back into old routines. The Q&A this week is about helping kids fall asleep without “screen time”.

For those of you looking for some new things to do this year with your child and family, check out our featured resource this week. The Do Something Daily Calendar provides 365 ideas to engage your kids and spend quality time together. Get ready to make some positive changes in your family life with this great resource!

Have a fantastic week!

Looking to the horizon,

Why is it so hard to change?

By Erin Roon, MA CCC-SLP

Mac and CheeseResearch shows that it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit, or change a behavior. This change occurs with consistent practice over those two months. Why then is it that most people give up after only a few days or weeks? Is it because we don’t see immediate change, get tired or bored with what we are working on? Is it because we don’t really want to change, or the expectations are just too high? Is it the environment or other people involved that cause us to derail so quickly? Or are we scared that the change might actually work, and we will be left with a new/different behavior?

Click here to read the rest of this article…


My 9-year-old son has severe ADHD and has trouble falling asleep at night. We got into the habit many years ago of letting him watch television until he falls asleep. As he’s gotten older that has now turned into him playing on the iPad or his handheld games until he falls asleep. I’m concerned that he’s staying up too late, but it’s difficult for him to fall asleep otherwise. Do you have any suggestions?

-Kate in New York


Hi Kate,

I’m glad you asked this question because I know it’s one many parents struggle with. It’s also great that you are thinking about how to help your son establish better sleep habits, because research has shown how important good sleep is to physical health and brain function. You mentioned that your son has ADHD, which makes it even more critical that he get good quality and quantity of sleep at night.

There are many suggestions I can give for supporting sleep, and I will definitely write an article in the near future on this topic. In the meantime, it is important for parents to know that children who are exposed to “screen time” right before bed get less hours of sleep and poorer quality of sleep than children who do other activities before bedtime. Since this is a long-established habit, you may find it easier to wean the amount of nightly screen time down each week. Set a definite “screens off” time when the electronics are turned off (and taken out of the bedroom if necessary). Your son can then read or listen to music until he falls asleep. It will likely take him some time to adjust, and he may complain about struggling to fall asleep without his electronics. If you stick to the new routine he will adjust to it.

As I mentioned above, there are other supports that assist with falling asleep and I’ll share those with everyone soon!

Dr. Beurkens

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Upcoming Events

Hear Dr. Beurkens Speak

Upcoming dates and locations where Nicole Beurkens, PhD will be speaking:

Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Practical Strategies to Improve Processing

February 10, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas

February 11, 2014 in Little Rock, Arkansas

February 12, 2014 in Jonesboro, Arkansas

March 26, 2014 in Winchester, VA

March 27, 2014 in Charlottesville, VA

March 28, 2014 Roanoke, VA


Do Something Daily Calendar

The Calendar offers a daily dose of inspiration and ideas for spending time together—whether you have 60 seconds or 60 minutes.

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