Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Local Psychologists Offer Parents Insight To Children’s Brains

By Megan CrepeauThe Daily Northwestern

About 100 area parents, teachers and child-care professionals traveled to Evanston on Saturday to brainstorm – specifically, about their children’s brains.

They were attending the third-annual “Maximizing Children’s Potential: the Power of the Brain” conference held at Evanston’s Civic Center at 2100 Ridge Ave.

The conference, aimed at educating caretakers about how to apply brain research to parenting, originally was funded by a federal research grant, said Harvey Saver, Evanston’s assistant director of mental health services. The program was so popular that the city brought it back with private sponsorship when the government funding ended last year.

That’s partially because the Evanston conference covers a unique topic, as opposed to more common studies on violence and similar problems, Saver said.

“(We thought) ‘Let’s do something positive,'” he said. “Let’s look at the brain.”

Participants snacked on grapes, bagels and coffee at the free event before listening to the keynote speaker and breaking into small groups led by local experts.

This year’s speaker, Madelyn James of Chicago Public Schools, spoke on the importance of play as a tool for school readiness in small children.

That topic gained the approval of local psychotherapist Melinda Dworkin.

“I think (the conference is) professionally done,” she said. “I think it’s right-on on the topics.”

The workshops, some of which also were held in Spanish, spanned subjects including language learning, physical education and neurological disorders.

Saver said the most popular breakout sessions were those dealing with childhood anger. Nearly half of the conference-goers attended clinical psychologist Dr. Linda Watson’s session, entitled “Mad Not Bad, Understanding the Angry Brain.”

Watson discussed anger as a natural feeling in childhood that can be dealt with in a healthy manner and can contribute to a child’s emotional growth.

“Think about (anger) like a diaper bag,” Watson said. “It doesn’t have to be with you, developmentally, forever.”

Evanston mother Cecile McHugh attended Watson’s session hoping to get some tips on how to control her three-year-old daughter’s anger issues.

“It’s validating some of the techniques I’m using and teaching me new ones,” she said.

Watson said she felt encouraged by the conference’s existence in Evanston.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “I think it’s a statement about (Evanston’s) dedication for young children.”

Reach Megan Crepeau at [email protected].

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Local Psychologists Offer Parents Insight To Children’s Brains