Kinder Academy

Taking Care of Kids

Establishing a Morning Routine for Your Toddler

Mornings can be a crazy and chaotic time for parents with toddlers. Often times, dressing, eating and bathing are rushed through in order to get to daycare and work on time. Weekend mornings can become frustrating as well when tired parents want to sleep in and hear the pitter patter of little feet much earlier than they themselves would like to be awake. With a change in perspective and a commitment to a simple, consistent routine, you can bring more peace into your weekday mornings and restful joy to the weekends.

  1. Think through your morning. What must be accomplished? What can you push back to the night before? An evening bath, lunch-making and clothes selection the night before may simplify your morning routine. Having less to do in the morning may help you get out of the house in a less harried fashion.
  2. Set alarms for yourself. Make sure you are getting to bed early enough to give yourself the sleep you need. Then, set your alarm to get yourself up and ready before you wake your toddler. When your toddler wakes, you will have more flexibility to focus on her and getting her ready to get out the door.
  3. Set a simple routine. If it will help, write it down, especially if your older toddler is beginning to read. Make a chart, using pictures or stickers of activities to show your toddler what tasks must be accomplished each morning and in what order. For example, you could write your child’s name at the top and then have three or four rows with pictures of a toothbrush, bowl of cereal, and a toilet in them to show his need to brush his teeth, eat breakfast and go to the bathroom in the mornings.
  4. Establish room time. If your toddler is an early riser, set an expectation that she remains in her room until a reasonable hour. Understand that you can’t abuse room time and sleep-in for hours with your child awake in her room. But, you can train your child to play quietly, look at books or put puzzles together in the safety of her bedroom for 30 minutes or so until your normal weekend wake time. Getting yourself to bed at a reasonable hour, even on Friday and Saturday nights, will help you parent your toddler with love and patience come Saturday and Sunday morning.

Teaching Your Child Charity

All kids are born with an innate sense of charity and compassion. Sure, it's easy to lose sight of that fact as we listen to our little ones clamor for the hottest toys, tastiest treats, and trendiest clothes. But if we look closely, the signs are everywhere. Watch your 2-year-old stop to offer a wailing baby a comforting toy. Catch your 5-year-old consoling a pal who has just been walloped by a playground bully.

"Children naturally look for ways to make a contribution and help others," says Deborah Spaide, founder of Kids Care Clubs, a national organization based in New Canaan, CT, that provides information on community-service projects for youngsters. "But just as we give our children opportunities to use their legs when they're learning to walk, we need to give them opportunities to exercise their charitable muscles so they become really good at giving too."

The benefits of actively fostering children's charitable impulses are enormous. Besides helping counter the overdeveloped "gimme" impulse, it gives kids a powerful boost in self-esteem to realize they can make a difference in someone's life. "And as corny as it sounds," says Patricia Schiff Estess, a New York City writer and the author of Kids, Money & Values, "when you help a child help others, you are helping to create a better world." Here are the best ways to go about it.

BE HANDS-ON

Most people tend to associate charity with giving money. We write a check to our favorite cause, drop a few dollars in the basket at church, participate in school fund-raisers, and feel good about our efforts. But preadolescent children may have trouble understanding such an abstract concept as donating money to a worthy cause. "It's hard for kids to grasp that the money is going to, say, buy bread, which in turn will help feed ten homeless people," says Spaide. "Many children can't take the process that many steps forward in their minds."

Spaide encourages parents to let their children experience charitable giving firsthand. Even a preschooler can help a parent bag lunches for a soup kitchen, distribute socks to the people in a homeless shelter, or clean an elderly neighbor's yard. And as children grow, so do their opportunities for making a difference.

In choosing a project, try following your child's lead and interests. The more you let her direct the process, the greater the involvement she'll feel and the more she'll learn from the experience. Suppose your 6-year-old has expressed concern that poor children don't get enough toys. You might ask her if she can think of ways to collect and distribute toys to needy kids. Perhaps she'd like to do extra chores around the house to earn some money to buy the toys herself. Or she might suggest posting a sign in school to solicit toy donations from her classmates.

Of course, if your child is stuck for inspiration, there's nothing wrong with gently leading her to a worthy path. One book that's full of ideas for suitable projects: Spaide's Teaching Your Kids to Care. Also consider helping your child band together with friends to do good works by helping her launch a Kids Care Club.

PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS

An allowance can be as handy a tool for fostering charity as it is for teaching other aspects of money management. Peggy Houser, a Denver financial planner and author of How to Teach Children About Money, advocates starting an allowance system as soon as your child starts school (or even earlier if you think he can handle it) and dividing the weekly dole into three parts, each clearly earmarked for a specific purpose: spending, saving, and sharing. Explain that the sharing portion is to be used for gifts to charity, and couple your explanation with a simple statement of your philosophy on the subject, such as "Our family believes it's important to share our good luck with people who are less fortunate."

The exact percentage of the allowance you apportion to charity doesn't matter; what is important is simply to incorporate giving into the child's budget. "The goal is to make giving money to those in need a routine," says Houser.

What you encourage your child to do with the money is key too. Instead of simply giving cash to a worthy organization once he has accumulated a reasonable amount, suggest that he use the money to buy a toy for a poor child or socks for a homeless person or some other item needed by someone in serious straits. Then take him to deliver it.

SEIZE THE MOMENT

You don't need to set aside a special time to talk about the importance and joy of giving. Opportunities pop up all the time. Passing a homeless person on the street, for example, might be a good occasion to talk about the fact that some families don't have enough money to pay for a place to live. Visiting an elderly or ailing relative might be the right moment to discuss how important it is to reach out to people in need. Says Spaide, "The idea isn't just to sensitize your child to some of the pain and suffering in the world, but to give her the great gift of thinking that she has the power to help make it better."

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

As with everything else in life, kids learn best by example. You don't have to regale your child with tales of your charitable works or keep him glued to your side while you serve meals in a soup kitchen to prove that you care too. But neither should you hide everyday acts of kindness. If you're taking a meal to a friend who has just gotten out of the hospital, say so. If you help raise funds for worthy causes through your church, temple, or local community group, talk about it. If you give money to an organization you believe in, explain why doing so is important to you.

By talking about to whom and how you give, you not only show your kids the importance of giving itself, but you're sharing your values about the issues that matter most to your family  -- whether you're passionate about supporting the arts, cleaning up the environment, assisting the elderly, or helping to alleviate poverty and homelessness. Although some parents may worry about exposing young children to painful experiences that might haunt them later, Houser thinks the joy inherent in giving far outweighs any sadness they may encounter. She notes, "Kids can handle so much more than we give them credit for."

So can moms and dads. Busy parents who have found it hard to devote time to worthy causes outside their own homes may well discover that teaching their children to give back to the community is an ideal way to get back in touch with their own charitable impulses. "We call it trickle-up charity," says Spaide. "The effort starts with the kids, but the parents often get the biggest payoff of all."

http://www.parenting.com/article/teaching-your-child-charity?page=0,4

A Quarter of All Moms Confess to Having a Favorite Child

"Hey!” both my sisters shouted, half-glaring at me over my mother’s shoulder. It was Mother’s Day 2008, and I’d given Mom a card I couldn’t resist: it said “FROM YOUR FAVORITE CHILD” on the inside.

Funny, right? (At least, if you aren't my sisters.) But I may have been onto something.

Last month, Parenting joined forces with HLN’s Raising America with Kyra Phillips for an uncensored look at moms’ most revealing confessions. Together we surveyed more than 1,000 readers, viewers, and social-media fans from around the country to get the scoop on how they really feel about parenthood.

One dirty little secret we uncovered? Almost a quarter of us have a favorite kid, or have to squelch an urge to play favorites.

Sure, these feelings may not make us feel like Parents of the Year. Yet emotions like those are normal, says Bonnie Harris, MS Ed., a parenting specialist and author of When Your Kids Push Your Buttons.

“It’s natural to be a little more attached to a certain child, if he gives you more,” she says. “Maybe he’s more affectionate than his siblings, or shares your interests, or is just plain easier to raise and makes you feel like a great parent.” 

Plus: When Parents Play Favorites

Her take? Don’t feel guilty — but don’t broadcast your preference, either.

“It only becomes a problem when you’re unconsciously playing it out, like muttering, ‘Why can’t you be more like your brother?’” she says

Our survey also uncovered a guilty secret on the opposite end of the spectrum: More than 35 percent of us sometimes wish our child was more like someone else’s kid. Most frequently, we wonder why he isn’t as well-behaved as one of his pals. Other yearned-for traits include being more outgoing, more talented, brainier, and (eek!) less geeky. 

“We always want our children to think they’re the apple of our eye,” says Harris. And, she adds, we see our children as a reflection of ourselves—if they’re coming up short in some department, we feel we’re at least partly at fault.

Luckily, there are ways to appreciate and enjoy the child you have instead of wishing he were different. For starters, “Understand that you’re not 100 percent responsible for how your child is, or his success in life,” Harris says. “Yes, maybe it would be easier for him to fit in if he were an athlete, but you can’t necessarily change him, and it’s not your fault.”

Acknowledge too that you’re probably idealizing his ‘perfect’ friends. “You’re only seeing them some of the time—who knows how they are the rest of the time, or with their own parents?” Harris points out.

Also, stop to ask yourself whether you’re projecting some of your own childhood wants and needs on your kid.  “If you wished you had more friends when you were little, and your child has just a couple of pals now, you may think she’s a misfit. But maybe she’s the kind of person who’s fine with a small social circle,” Harris explains.

Plus: Study: Favoritism's Sinister Side

Lastly, try to spend more one-on-one time with your child, getting to know her on her own terms.

“If you’re disappointed because she’s a tomboy and you love shopping for girly clothes, maybe you can find another kind of shopping to do together, like for cool sports equipment,” she says.  “Finding what you have in common, and building on it, is the key to making a different and better relationship.”

http://www.parenting.com/blogs/show-and-tell/deborah-skolnik/favorite-child?lnk=hp&loc=horiz1

A Guide to Baby Poop, Pee and Spit Up

What goes in must come out, and in the world of babies that fact takes on a whole new meaning. It will seem like your baby pees, poops, and spits up way more than he takes in, leaving you wondering if he’s getting any nourishment at all. To reassure yourself that he is not going to wither and die from malnutrition anytime soon, you will find that you inspect diaper contents with a zeal once reserved for an elegant gourmet dinner, then discuss them ad nauseam with your partner, relatives, friends, and strangers in the grocery checkout line. Anyone who has ever been a parent will relish the conversation, fully sympathizing with where you’re coming from. (Anyone who has never had this privilege will find you revolting, but who needs them right now anyway?) Meanwhile, there are really only a few things you need to get straight.

Pees and q’s. First off, it’s going to take a few days to jump start your baby’s system. If you’re breastfeeding, it may not be until your milk fully comes in (between two and five days) that she starts to wet the expected eight to ten diapers a day. The hospital staff will be keeping an eye on her production while you’re in there, but when you get home five or so wet diapers may be the norm for two or three days; then she’ll up the ante. If your baby’s urine output doesn’t seem to increase, check with your pediatrician ASAP.

In this era of super-absorbent disposable diapers, it can be tricky to tell if they’re actually wet. Our best advice is to familiarize yourself with the texture of the diaper layers when they’re dry, then touch them to see if they feel a bit puffier at the next change. The gels inside inflate as they absorb the urine. This will also make the diaper feel heavier. Still uncertain? Go ahead and give the diaper a sniff at the front leg area and see if you get a whiff of that unmistakable urine smell. (You’ll be doing a lot more gross stuff than this as time goes on.) Once you’ve started changing her, if you still can’t be sure there’s pee in it, put the diaper back on and wait another hour or so, then check again.

Poop parameters. You’ve no doubt heard that breastfed babies poop messy, runny, French’s-mustard-colored stools at every feeding, but again, this becomes true only after about the first week. Immediately postpartum, babies produce a thick, black tar-like poop called meconium (this may happen in the hospital, so you may not see it). Then as breast milk and/or formula begin to make their way through the system, the stools become brown and pasty. Formula-fed babies will continue to poop this way (though it becomes more formed, and the color may vary), while breastfed babies will go on to the thinner, yellow, seedy variety of legend.

The next fun feature about baby poop you’ll find yourself obsessing over is how often to expect it. Again, many breastfed babies have a bowel movement during or after almost every feeding. However, this truism does not apply to all. Formula-fed babies are definitely less frequent poopers, and may even go as little as every few days. This behavior usually sends grandparents into a total panic, and by default new parents as well. Because babies are also notoriously loud poopers—straining, grunting, and getting very red-faced—all of this can add up to major anxiety about the big C: constipation. Try to tune Grandma out on this one: Babies are seldom constipated. Like adults, infants are unique in their bowel habits, and your pediatrician is likely to dismiss your concerns. As long as the poop is soft when it eventually arrives, your baby will be diagnosed as quite normal.

Another related myth along these same lines pertains to the iron content in formula. As you yourself may have experienced very recently, iron supplements can be, well, binding in adults. Not so with babies, and don’t be tempted by low-iron formulas (which most medical experts think should be pulled from the market). Full-iron formulas are essential for your baby’s brain development and will not constipate him. Nor will the iron supplements your pediatrician prescribes for your baby if he’s being breastfed. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Spit happenings. The mouth, of course, is at the other end of the bodily fluid spectrum, and many babies spit up as often as ten or twelve times a day. Sometimes we’re talking a major eruption; other times it just trickles out like overflow. Either way it’s messy. One mom told us that whenever she was trying to get ready to go somewhere with her firstborn, she could never decide whether to dress herself first, then have her daughter spit up on her, or dress her daughter first and watch her spit up on herself. No matter how much experts describe spit-up as just a nuisance, it’s these little issues that make moms go bonkers.

As for the science behind it, if you must know, the most common reason for spitting up is that a baby’s digestive tract muscle between the stomach and the esophagus is immature (essentially, it’s loose and will gradually tighten up by about six months of age). Most babies are not bothered by spitting up, and there’s probably a lot less nutrition being lost than you think—typically about a tablespoon, but because the breast milk or formula mixes with other fluids, it can seem like more. Just keep plenty of bibs, towels, and clothes for quick cleanups on hand, especially when you go out. (Keeping an extra change of clothes for yourself in your trunk isn’t a bad idea, either.)

To minimize spitting up, try these tactics:

  • Keep feedings smaller and more frequent.
  • Don’t pressure your baby to finish a feeding if he seems full.
  • Hold or keep your baby sitting upright after feedings for a little while to let gravity help with digestion.
  • Burp your baby regularly.
  • If you’re feeding your baby formula, talk to your pediatrician about a brand that might be easier for him to digest.

Occasionally, spitting up warrants medical attention. If your baby is very irritable and fussy and prone to spitting up, he may have a reflux problem that could be relieved with medication. If your baby experiences true vomiting—more forceful expelling of a greater amount of his stomach contents—diarrhea, bloating, and is not gaining weight adequately, he may have a milk allergy, so discuss it with your doctor. Both reflux and milk allergies are uncommon, but they do occur. Spitting up any blood is a sign of infection, and yellowish green bile indicates a blockage, so if you see either of these, call your doctor right away.

This is an excerpt from THE BABYTALK INSIDER’S GUIDE TO YOUR BABY’S FIRST YEAR by the Editors of Babytalk Magazine. Copyright © 2008 by The Parenting Group, Inc. Published by Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Handling a Toddler Who Won't Nap

Every parent knows how a missed naptime can wreak havoc on an otherwise perfectly good day. And, every toddler has tested his parents' resolve by refusing to go down for a nap.

 

Naptime can be the most frustrating time of the day for parents, causing many to prematurely decide to stop the daily nap routine. However, a mid-day rest is one way to prevent late afternoon meltdown and provides parents with a break as well.

 

Don't let naptime become a battle at your house. When your child refuses to nap, Boys Town Pediatrics offers these helpful tips:

 

•Put her down right after lunch. This is a good time for napping - any later and she will probably have a hard time going to sleep at bedtime.

•Set a firm rule that he must stay in his room during naptime. About 60 to 90 minutes is a fair amount of time to expect a toddler to sleep or at least rest while in his room. Return him to his room right away if he comes out before the set time. If he comes out again, close the door for a short time.

•If your toddler is at home with you during the day do not let her sleep someplace different than she sleeps at night. Allowing her to sleep in your bed or on the couch will only cause difficulties at bedtime.

•Do not give in and lay down with your child until he falls asleep. This starts a bad habit that will make bedtime frustrating as well.

•Do not let your frustrations show when naptime becomes a battle. Your reaction will only give your toddler incentive to continue refusing to nap.

 

If your toddler still refuses to nap, provide a few books or quiet toys and insist on a set quiet time in his room each day. At least this will help your child to feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle the remainder of the day.

Top Five Strategies for Creating Holiday Family Traditions

Children are great learning machines, but they learn more through experience than they do from their parents talking. Teach them about family time by creating unique traditions.

  1. Kids remember and appreciate time with people they love. Create traditions that involve those people nearest and dearest to your kids. 
  2. You don’t need to spend money to make memories. Gather the family for ice skating in the park, free holiday concerts, or trips to see Santa or view holiday lighting displays. 
  3. Carry forward at least one of your most cherished family traditions from your own childhood—and talk to your kids about it. 
  4. A few carefully considered traditions that everyone will enjoy is better than overloading your schedule and resources. 
  5. Create traditions that honor your family’s faith.

“During the holidays, what kids remember most is time with loved ones,” says Laura Buddenberg, Boys Town Child Expert. “When advertising and popular culture tell kids the holidays are all about ‘getting stuff’, teach your kids to love people and use things, instead of the other way around.”

Managing Anger Between Parent and Child

By Nancy Carlsson-Paige

 

www.nancycarlssonpaige.org

 

 

 

Mothers often say that they get "horribly angry" with their young children. As one mother stated "I get so mad at them sometimes, mostly when they fight, that I end up screaming—no screeching—at them. I even told them I hate them one time recently. I feel so out of control when I'm like that. I know I scare them. Then I feel so bad for unleashing my uncontrollable temper onto my kids."

 

When we're in an emotional state, we can't communicate or problem solve constructively—our feelings hijack us and block our capacity to focus. We need to find ways to reduce the anger so that we can begin to communicate again.

 

Learning to deal with our own anger is an essential skill for conflict resolution and for life. First, it can help just to notice that you're getting angry. What's happening in my body? Is my breathing more rapid? Does my face flush? Is my voice rising or my heartbeat increasing? Then you can ask yourself, what is it that's triggering my anger?

 

Next, see if you can lower the intensity of your feelings by breathing deeply, using "self talk," such as repeating a key calming word or phrase, or taking a step away for a moment, or just simply pausing and waiting. Then try to communicate your anger in an "I" statement—using words that say what you feel, what is making you angry, and what you need.

 

It's worth noting here that anger is often a secondary emotion—that is, it can arise as a response to other emotions such as fear, sadness, or insecurity—and it can be a challenge to go inward and try to find the underlying feeling or need.

 

Marshall Rosenberg, founder and educational director of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, explores anger deeply in his nonviolent communication (NVC) approach, set out in a body of work that may be very helpful for many parents. Rosenberg explains that often what triggers our anger is not its true cause; that is, it isn't what people do that makes us angry but something in us that responds to what they do. He encourages us to try to go beyond what triggered our anger and become more conscious of the need that is at its root. His belief is that we get angry because our needs are not getting met, but that often we are not in touch with those needs and instead of recognizing them within ourselves we focus on what's wrong with other people.

 

On the other side of the equation, what happens when we're dealing with a child who is angry? First, if the child is acting aggressively, it's vital before anything else to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Once you've made sure everyone is physically safe, try to listen attentively to the angry child while he or she expresses how he or she feels. Try to reflect back the essence of what you hear.

 

Sometimes this alone is enough, especially for a young child, to enable him or her to move beyond being upset. With younger kids anger often passes quickly, especially if they know they are being listened to and respected for how they feel.

For a child whose anger is not dissipating, suggest that they try one or two of the calming techniques mentioned above.

 

I believe that by helping kids develop inner life skills, we're putting in their hands new tools that will help them manage all kinds of life situations. And when there are conflicts, or kids are angry, we can call on these skills to help bring down tension and restore peace.

 

 

 

Nancy Carlsson-Paige is a professor of education at Lesley University and the author or co-author of five books. Her most recent book is Taking Back Childhood: Helping Your Kids Thrive in a Fast-Paced, Media-Saturated, Violence-Filled World. Nancy writes and speaks about how media, violence, consumerism, and other social trends are shaping children today and what parents and teachers can do to raise caring and compassionate children. For more information visit www.nancycarlssonpaige.org.

Catching Kids Being Good

If you’ve ever taken a family dog through obedience training, you know the power and importance of praise in encouraging positive behavior. Praise is helpful not only for pets, but also for children. When parents consistently practice acceptance, approval and appreciation, they help their children grow into responsible, successful and confident adults.

The first step to using praise to reinforce your child’s good behavior is learning to catch him or her doing good.

Every day, children do good things that parents often overlook – dressing themselves, asking permission to do something or go somewhere with friends, and playing, reading or watching television quietly. Unfortunately, it’s natural, and sometimes easier, to inadvertently ignore positive behavior and react to negative behavior. That’s why most adults tend to notice when kids do bad things far more often than they recognize good behavior. 

So, get in the habit of looking for your children’s positive behaviors. If you notice your teenager doing homework or your two young children playing well together, take a moment to say something specific like ““Thanks for getting your homework done” or “I like how you and your sister are playing together.” 

Opportunities for Approval
When you ask your child to do something, make sure you recognize his or her compliance. Select a few 20-minute periods throughout the day when you intentionally focus on looking for your children to follow your instructions. When they do, praise their good behavior with enthusiasm. Consistent, specific and immediate praise for good behavior is a powerful and effective way to show your child your approval. These actions and words can all be used to praise your child:

  • Frequent hugs, smiles and pats on the back
  • “I am proud of you.”
  • “You did a great job!”
  • “Way to work hard.”

Other Ways to Praise
Tangible rewards are another excellent way to praise a child for good behavior. A special treat or activity, like going on a bike ride with Mom or reading a book with Dad, is a great way to reinforce positive behavior. Use verbal praise and physical touch most often, but mix in tangible rewards on occasion to show your children that you recognize and appreciate their good behavior.

Offer praise often, to the tune of five praise statements or actions for positive behavior for every one negative behavior that you correct. As you consistently “catch” your child being good, you’ll find yourself being more positive around him or her. In time, you should notice your child using more positive behaviors as a result.

How to Match Your Parenting to Your Child’s Developmental Level

Tip—Parents will be most successful if they change their parenting to match their child’s growth.

Children need different levels of parenting at different ages. You can recall, or are in the midst of, parenting an infant, who is completely dependent of you for satisfying most of his or her needs and wants. Your school-aged child goes off to school everyday and you have six hours of time in which you can think about something else. Your teenager is out of your hair for even longer periods of time, though you may feel like you’re back at the toddler stage, considering how much time you think about or worry over the kid. Not only does the amount of one-on-one time change as kids grow, so does the kind of parenting support you provide. Elizabeth Crary talks about this topic in Am I Doing Too Much for My Child?: Getting Your Child on the Road to Responsibility and Independence.

Link to book description

Parent as nurturer is the first stage, infancy. You soothe your child or fix the problem. You talk to your child and tell him/her what you’re doing as you do it. You acknowledge and identify out loud the feelings you see in your child. As you chat away, your baby is storing up language for future self-soothing or problem solving.

Parent as teacher is in full gear by the time the child is a toddler, if not before. Toddlers want to be independent (except when they don’t), so teaching them how to solve problems or soothe themselves is right on target for their developmental stage. You begin by reflecting the child’s feelings and describing the situation, just as you did in the nurturer stage. Now, however, you stop short of solving the problem and offer your child two choices in how to accomplish that. For example, if you are teaching self-calming skills, you could say, “Do you want to take some deep breaths to calm yourself or do you want to shake out the mads?” If you’re working on problem solving, you might say, “You’re upset your trike is broken. Do you want to ask your brother if you can ride his, or do you want to wait until I can fix yours?” Once your child can choose between two alternatives, you can propose three or more. Not only does the child get to choose how she wants to solve her problem, she also learns that there are many ways to solve problems.

Parent as coach takes over once the child can think of ideas to solve problems. At this point you need only say, “Wow! The fireworks display is awfully loud. You are uncomfortable. How will you protect your ears?” or “Sadly, you have run out of time to play another game of chess. What are you and your friend going to do?” You provide the structure (taking note and commenting, asking the question), but let your child decide on the solution.

Parent as consultant is the stage all parents hope to get to. This is when you offer assistance if asked; this is your support level throughout most of your child’s life. By the time you reach it, your child knows how to comfort or calm himself and how to seek solutions to problems and implement them. You are valued for your greater experience, skill, and wisdom, not as a meddler. A parent can be a consultant for a young child as much as for a teenager or young adult. Maybe you say, “How frustrating. Your bike tire is flat. Let me know if you need me,” or “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted at three colleges. Let me know if you want some help making a decision.”

There is no fixed age at which you give one kind of parenting support exclusively. The levels roughly follow your child’s growth. However, you can use all four levels on any given day depending on the circumstances. Let’s say, for example, your 10-year-old son has injured himself while skateboarding. You will want to nurture him (comfort him because he’s scared and hurt), teach him (how to manage with a cast on his leg), coach him (does he want to do his schoolwork now or take a nap and do it afterwards?), consult with him (does he feel ready to return to school on crutches?).

You’ll find more practical tips you can use right now in Am I Doing Too Much for My Child?: Getting Your Child on the Road to Responsibility and Independence by Elizabeth Crary, M.S.

Exercise Tips for Overweight Kids

It's not surprising that overweight kids often don't like to exercise. Exercising in public can be humiliating if your weight makes it more difficult to move around. In fact, just wearing shorts and a T-shirt in front of other kids can be too embarrassing.

A 2006 University of Florida study of 100 children found that bullying is a major reason why overweight kids don't exercise. Overweight children are bullied more than other kids, and they tend to avoid situations where they have been picked on before, such as gym classes or sports.

But avoiding exercise isn't the answer. Hardening of the arteries can start during childhood in obese and inactive children. Regular exercise can help children reduce – and even reverse -- the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

As a parent, there are ways you can help. WebMD asked fitness experts for tips to help overweight kids find activities they'll enjoy and can do at their own pace. With your encouragement and support, you and your child can start moving more together. Here's how.

1. Build Confidence

Studies show that kids who feel more confident about their ability to be physically active are more likely to exercise. Try boosting your child's confidence with these tips.

Make kids' exercise easy to master. "All kids want to feel competent and self-efficient in any activity they do," says Jackie Epping, MEd, a physical education expert at the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the CDC. For a start, "choose exercises that don't take a lot of extra coordination and skill. Brisk walking, bicycling, and swimming are all good options."

Take it slow. While health experts recommend that kids get 60 minutes of exercise a day, that can be a lot for a kid who hasn't been active. "Start with just five to 10 minutes of play," says Laura Alderman, MEd, an exercise physiologist and wellness coach at Sanford Health in Fargo, N.D. "For example, throw a Frisbee or play volleyball for just a few minutes and then stop when the time is up. The idea is to show kids that moving can be fun and to leave them craving more."

Avoid elimination games. Some games, such as dodgeball, make it too easy to be eliminated from play. "These kinds of games can make an overweight child feel self-conscious," says Epping. "And then the child sits out for the rest of the game and doesn't get any exercise."

2. Make Family Time Active Time

"One of the best ways to help your child get more exercise is to be active with your child," Alderman tells WebMD. "For example, play with your child at the playground or go swimming together rather than just watching."

Getting the whole family involved will also make it less likely that your overweight child will feel singled out. Parents need to be role models and stress the value of healthy living to their children on a daily basis. A family activity that may be especially helpful for overweight kids is walking the family dog.

"Walking a dog doesn't seem like exercise to kids, so it's especially good for overweight children who may otherwise shy away from being active," says Epping. "And walking with a dog can help increase social contact and provide a level of social support."

3. Find the Right Exercise for Their Age

When considering the best type of kids' exercise for your child, it's helpful to try to tap into activities that work to your child's age, interests, and strengths.

Young Kids and Grade-School Kids

  • Explore different activities. "Try to expose your school-age child to as many activities as possible," says Lisa Esposito, MS, RD, CSSD, LN, a sports dietician with Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. "At this age, kids often like team sports, such as soccer, basketball, or volleyball." For kids that don't like team sports, try activities such as gymnastics, swimming, or dance.
  • Practice builds confidence. "If your child feels self-conscious about her weight, she may feel more comfortable being active in the house or in her own backyard," says Alderman. "You can try to find fun ways for her to exercise at home, like setting up an obstacle course, using an active video game, or playing catch."
  • Buddy up. If your overweight child is reluctant to try any kind of exercise, it may be helpful to find a mentor. Younger children often look up to older kids and enjoy doing things with them. Look for an older friend, relative, or neighbor to be active with your child. This will help her see that it's "cool" to exercise.

Tweens and Teens

At this age, it can be a bit trickier to get children interested in new activities.

  • Think outside the box. "You may need to start with small changes," says Esposito. This might mean walking to school, doing chores, being active with friends, or volunteering. Your teen may also be interested in doing active things with you, such as taking a yoga class, going on walks, or training for a charity walk or run together.
  • Go digital. Turn your teen's love of technology into activity. "There are all kinds of fun apps that teens can use to track their physical activity," says Alderman. "Or your teen might be interested in doing a GPS scavenger hunt with friends." GPS scavenger hunts, also known as geocaching, use global positioning system devices to direct players to treasure boxes hidden in a variety of locations.

4. Keep at It

If one approach or type of kids' exercise doesn't work right away, don't be discouraged. There are no simple answers, and no single activity is right for all kids. The key is to stay positive and be active yourself. Before long, your child will likely follow in your footsteps

Divorce: Making It Work for Children

Approximately half of all marriages end in divorce. Considering this statistic, countless children are impacted when their parents divorce. Some areas of children’s lives that are affected include where they live, what school they attend, what types of activities they can participate in and their contact with friends and family members. Despite these changes, most children whose parents divorce are well-adjusted, and it helps when children can continue to have regular time with both parents.

This is often a difficult time for parents and children alike. But there are steps parents can take to minimize the impact of their divorce. Here are some tips for how you can help your children, and yourself, through this transition:

  • Rely on friends and family for the support you’ll need.
  • Avoid dating for several months following the separation to give you and your children time to adapt to the changes.
  • Avoid arguing with or speaking negatively about the other parent in front of your children. Schedule times to talk when the children aren’t present, and don’t criticize the other parent.
  • Communicate with each other to make necessary plans and arrangements; this isn’t a child’s responsibility.
  • Let your children be children. Don’t place adult responsibilities on them or confide in them as though they are adults.
  • Financially support your children to maintain their standard of living.
  • Have consistent rules and routines for your children in your home.
  • Consider mediation, which involves parents working with a neutral third-party to assist with negotiations. Mediation is associated with better outcomes for children and families, when compared to court involvement.  

There are a number of supports available to help you and your children through these changes. A good parenting resource on this topic is Dr. Robert Emery’s book, The Truth about Children and Divorce:  Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive.  Boys Town has trained counselors who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer support.  If you would like assistance, call 1-800-448-3000 or email us at hotline@boystown.org today.   If you notice drastic changes in your child, consider contacting his or her school counselor or asking your child’s physician for a referral to a mental health professional.  

http://www.parenting.org/article/divorce-making-it-work-children

I love my children, but being a parent can be so hard!

Being a parent can be a joy, but it's also a tough job. No parent is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Even loving parents sometimes do things they don't mean to do, such as yell at a child. But if you think you're having trouble controlling yourself, get help so a pattern of abuse doesn't start.

I get so frustrated sometimes. Is this normal?

Yes, all parents get frustrated. Children take a lot of time and energy. Parenting is even harder when you have problems in your own life, such as worries about your job, your bills or your relationships, or problems with alcohol or drugs. To be a good parent, you have to first take care of yourself. That means getting help for your problems.

What can I do when I feel frustrated?

Take a break. Everyone needs a break from being a parent once in a while. If you have another adult in your family, take turns getting away. For example, have your partner stay with the children so you can visit friends. Take turns sleeping late on the weekends. If you're a single parent, ask friends and relatives to help by running some errands for you or watching your child while you go out.

I sometimes lose my temper. Does that mean I'm a bad parent?

No, many parents lose their temper with their children. It's okay to feel angry, but it's not okay to take it out on your children. When you're really angry, take a break. For example, take your children for a walk or call a friend to come help you. If you feel angry with your child almost every day or have trouble controlling your temper, get some help by talking to your family doctor. He or she can offer advice and provide resources to help you. There are groups that can help parents, also.

Is it okay to spank my child?

Spanking isn't the best way to discipline children. The goal of discipline is to teach children self-control. Spanking may teach children to stop doing something out of fear. There are better ways to discipline children.

One good way for infants and toddlers is called "redirecting." When you redirect a child, you replace an unwanted (bad) behavior with an acceptable (good) behavior. For example, if throwing a ball inside the house isn't allowed, take your child outside to throw the ball.

If you have older children, explain the consequences of their actions and why it is important to take responsibility for them. For example, you can explain to your child that everyone had to wait for dinner because he or she didn't set the table when asked. Explain that your child has to wash the dishes after dinner because he or she didn't set the table before dinner.

How can I be a good parent?

There's not just one right way to raise children. And there's no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. But here are some guidelines to help your children grow up healthy and happy:

  • Show your love. Every day, tell your children: "I love you. You're special to me." Give lots of hugs and kisses.
  • Listen when your children talk. Listening to your children tells them that you think they're important and that you're interested in what they have to say.
  • Make your children feel safe. Comfort them when they're scared. Show them you've taken steps to protect them.
  • Provide order in their lives. Keep a regular schedule of meals, naps and bedtimes. If you have to change the schedule, tell them about the changes ahead of time.
  • Praise your children. When your children learn something new or behave well, tell them you're proud of them.
  • Criticize the behavior, not the child. When your child makes a mistake, don't say, "You were bad." Instead, explain what the child did wrong. For example, say: "Running into the street without looking isn't safe." Then tell the child what to do instead: "First, look both ways for cars."
  • Be consistent. Your rules don't have to be the same ones other parents have, but they do need to be clear and consistent. (Consistent means the rules are the same all the time.) If 2 parents are raising a child, both need to use the same rules. Also, make sure baby-sitters and relatives know (and follow) your family rules.
  • Spend time with your children. Do things together, such as reading, walking, playing and cleaning the house. What children want most is your attention. Bad behavior is usually an attempt to get your attention.

Who can I ask when I need help raising my child?

There are many ways to get good parenting advice. Sign up for parenting classes offered by hospitals, community centers or schools. Read parenting books or magazines. Talk to your family doctor, a minister, a priest or a counselor.

You can also ask your family doctor for parenting help. Don't be embarrassed to ask. Raising children is hard, and no one can do it alone. Your doctor can help you with issues like discipline, potty training, eating problems and bedtime. Your doctor can also help you find local groups that can help you learn good parenting skills.

http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/kids/parenting/parenting-tips.html

Vaccines Overview

Overview

By the time a baby is 2 years old, she may have had more than 20 vaccine injections. After a few more shots as a preteen, your child will be protected from 16 major diseases. Here's what you need to know about the process.

How vaccines work

When we get a virus, we produce antibodies to fight it and give us immunity from another attack. Vaccines do the same thing, but the antibodies are made from weakened or killed viruses (or bacteria) that stimulate the antibody formation without the illness. Once an entire population is immunized, a disease could be virtually wiped out. (After the polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s, the death and paralyzation rates fell to zero in the U.S. and most of the developed world.)

But it's not a foolproof plan. In 2003, 33 children and six adult caregivers in New York got whooping cough; by February of 2004, another 34 cases were reported. Health officials traced the outbreak's origin to four children in two families whose parents chose not to have them vaccinated.

During an outbreak, even a child who has been inoculated can get sick because in about 5 percent of cases, a vaccine doesn't fully "take." The best protection for all kids, then, is universal immunization whenever possible.

Age-by-age vaccine schedule

Birth: HepB
HepB protects against hepatitis B, a viral illness passed from mother to newborn. Most hospitals give it before discharge, often within hours of birth. In rare circumstances, it can be delayed, but only with a physician's order and a copy of the mother's lab report showing that she's not a carrier. An exception: Preemies under 4.4 pounds should wait until the one-month checkup, unless the mother is a HepB carrier (they should get all their other vaccines on schedule at their actual age, not their gestational age).

1 month: HepB
If your baby got the HepB vaccine (see above for what Hep B protects against) at birth, he'll now get a booster shot; if not, he'll get his first one. In any case, he must get his first shot by 2 months and the second one by 4 months.

2 months: DTaP, Hib, IPV, PCV, RotaTeq
DTaP protects against three bacterial diseases: diphtheria; tetanus, which causes lockjaw; and pertussis (whooping cough). Hib protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b, a cause of bacterial meningitis and pneumonia.
IPV protects against polio, a viral illness that causes paralysis and can be fatal.
PCV protects against pneumococcal bacterial infections, which can cause deafness, pneumonia, and meningitis.
RotaTeq protects against rotavirus, a viral disease that causes severe diarrhea.
Your child can get one vaccine  -- Pediarix  -- in place of HepB, DTaP, and IPV, but there is a higher risk of a mild fever. Pediarix is given at 2, 4, and 6 months.

4 months: Boosters for DTaP, Hib, IPV, PCV, RotaTeq
(See above for explanations of the diseases these vaccines protect against.)

6 months: Boosters for HepB, IPV, and RotaTeq, and often for DTaP, Hib, and PCV
(See above for explanations of the diseases these vaccines protect against.)
Annual flu shots, available in October, aren't mandatory but are recommended for kids 6 months to 5 years old. Ask for a thimerosol-free children's vaccine (regular ones still contain the mercury preservative). Skip the shot entirely if your child is allergic to eggs, which is what's used to make flu vaccines.

12 months: Boosters for Hib and PCV (any time up to 15 months); varicella, MMR (both up to 15 months), and HepA.
(See above for explanations of the diseases that the Hib and PCV vaccines protect against.)
Varicella protects against chicken pox.
MMR protects against three viral illnesses: measles, which can cause pneumonia; mumps, which can lead to deafness; and rubella, a.k.a. German measles, which is especially dangerous if a pregnant woman is exposed to it because it can cause miscarriage or birth defects.
HepA protects against hepatitis A, a viral illness spread by hand-to-mouth contact that affects the liver and can cause jaundice, severe stomach pain, and diarrhea.
You can ask for the ProQuad vaccine, which combines MMR with varicella, so there's one less shot.

15 months: Booster for DTaP (up to 18 months)
(See above for an explanation of the diseases that the DTaP vaccine protects against.)

18 months: Possible boosters for HepB, DTaP, IPV; booster for HepA
(See above for explanations of the diseases these vaccines protect against.)
If your child hasn't had her HepB, DTaP, or IPV boosters yet, she'll get them now. After a booster of HepA, your baby is home free until kindergarten.

4-6 years: Boosters for DTaP and IPV (even if your child got Pediarix), MMR (even if your child got ProQuad), and varicella
(See above for explanations of the diseases these vaccines protect against.)

11-12 years: MCV4, Tdap; girls will be offered a three-dose series of HPV
MCV4 protects against meningitis, a rare infection that can be fatal.
Tdap is the booster for adolescents (and adults) against diphtheria; tetanus, which causes lockjaw; and pertussis (whooping cough).
HPV protects against human papilloma-virus later in life, a sexually transmitted disease and the main cause of cervical cancer.
Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates vaccine recommendations based on new data. For the most recent information on recommended vaccines, go to the CDC's website

Who shouldn't be vaccinated

* Children with moderate or severe illness  -- a high fever, vomiting  -- should wait until they're well before getting shots. If it's just a cold, cough, mild fever, or even mild diarrhea, though, go ahead and get the immunizations.

* Kids who've ever had a severe reaction  -- hives, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, or shock  -- to a shot should not be given that particular vaccine again. But stay on schedule with other shots.

* Children with a weakened immune system due to cancer or AIDS should not be given MMR or varicella, which are made from live viruses. Talk to your doctor.

* Any child on long-term, high-dose steroids should not receive the live vaccines. But they're fine if your child takes inhaled steroids or uses oral steroids on a short-term basis.


"I nurse my babies right after their shots while we're still in the doctor's office. It comforts them every time."
 -- Ann Dominick, Homewood, AL

* Children allergic to gelatin or to the antibiotics neomycin, polymixin B, and streptomycin should receive alternative vaccines. Talk to your doctor.

The vaccine debate

The odds of your child becoming ill from not being vaccinated are much higher than the odds of her having a serious reaction to a shot. Over the years, concerns have been raised linking vaccines to SIDS, autism, and other problems, but no links have been substantiated. The details:

Autism: Until 1999, several vaccines contained tiny amounts of the mercury derivative thimerosol as a preservative. Some researchers hypothesize that thimerosol may contribute to autism rates by damaging the developing brain, and, as part of a campaign to reduce all mercury exposure, vaccine makers voluntarily stopped using it. (It's still in some flu vaccines, but thimerosol-free versions are available.) Since then, repeated studies have failed to find a link between the preservative and any form of neurological damage, including autism.

SIDS: The suspicion that there's a link between sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and the hepatitis B vaccine has never been proven. In fact, SIDS rates have actually plummeted since the vaccine was first recommended for newborns in 1991 (though experts argue that may have more to do with babies being put on their backs to sleep).

Allergic reactions: Most vaccines produce no side effects, or very minor ones, like soreness at the injection site or a low-grade fever. But some do contain ingredients that kids could be allergic to, such as gelatin. Still, the risks are very small. The MMR vaccine, for example, has been linked to one death per 2 million doses.

How to take the ouch out of shots

An appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen about an hour before the appointment can help lessen the pain. But there are effective ways to soothe your child without medication:

Blow soap bubbles. Your child's eyes will follow them instead of the syringe. Even better: Let her blow them herself (kids can do it as early as age 3). She'll have to breathe deeply to do so, which automatically relaxes the body.

Work your magic. Simple stuff like "Peekaboo!"; "Which hand has the red ball?"; and "Look how I can stretch my thumb!" can be great distractors.

Sing or read together. Humming along to a favorite tune or soothing lullaby can go a long way toward taking her mind off the shot. Or read a book with interesting pictures  -- preferably something upbeat that never fails to garner giggles.

Summary

Making sure your child is up to date on vaccines is one of the most important things you can do to keep her healthy. Shots aren't the most fun part of a checkup, but with the right distractions and soothers your child will get through them just fine.

http://www.parenting.com/article/vaccines

Giving Good Instructions to Children

Author: Deanne C. Haisch, M.A., LMHP

 

Does getting your child to do something feel like an impossible task? One of the reasons may be the way in which you are asking. Children are not necessarily receptive to the types of verbal instruction that we use with our spouse, colleagues or other adults. Instructions for children must be given in a way that they understand. Below are some helpful hints on how to give kids instructions that will make both you and your child more successful.

Get your child’s attention – Make sure that you have your child’s attention before you give a direction. You should be within three feet of your child so you can talk in a normal or calm voice. This helps your child know that you are talking to him/her. You can get your child’s attention by calling his/her name, making eye contact, or turning off the lights.

  • Be clear and concise – Instructions should be short and to the point. The fewer words the better. A good guide is one word per year of life. (ex. Instruction for a two-year-old might be “shoes on”; where a five-year-old might be “go get your shoes on”). If there are too many words, it becomes more difficult for the child to know what is expected. The instruction should also be free of vague words.
  • Give one instruction at a time – Do not give your child a long list of instructions. When you give more than one instruction at one time, your child may forget, not understand, or feel overwhelmed. 
  • Be realistic – Give your child instructions that you know he/she can follow. For example, do not expect a 3-year-old to get completely dressed by him/herself. 
  • Be positive – Let your child know what you want them to do rather than not to do. When we only describe the negative behavior “don’t run” we still leave many other options available (skipping, hopping, etc.). Telling the child what we want them to do “walk, please.” Does not allow for any other options. 
  • Don’t ask, tell – Do not ask your child to do something. Instead, tell your child in a firm but pleasant voice what you want them to do. Do not say “will you go brush your teeth?” To the child this implies that they have a choice. Instead, say “go brush your teeth.” 
  • Reward compliance – let your child know that he/she did a good job following the instruction. Praise your child. The more you praise your child the better the chances that he/she will follow directions in the future.

Examples of Good Instructions: 

  • John, give me the truck.
  • Lindsey, go wash your hands. 
  • Dylan, look at the book. 
  • Taylor, put three blocks in the bucket. 
  • Jessie, walk next to me.

Examples of Bad Instructions:

 

Why it's a bad instruction:

• Be careful

Too vague.

• Can you put your toys away?

Don’t ask, tell.

• Go upstairs, wash your face, brush
your teeth and go to bed.

Too many instructions.

• Okay, I think it is time for you to go to bed

Too many words

• Don’t run in here.

Negative and too vague

• Stop horsing around!

Negative and too vague

• Can you give the toy to your sister?

Don’t ask, tell

• It is time for you to go upstairs to go to sleep.

http://www.parenting.org/article/giving-good-instructions-children

Not Everyone Can Be a Sports Superstar

If you attend a kids’ sporting event, whether it’s school-sponsored or otherwise, you’re likely to notice that some parents and coaches are far more competitive than the kids. Many adults have a win-at-all-costs mentality when it comes to sports, and this attitude can lead to hyper-competition among children. 

When parents are tempted to overemphasize the importance of sports and winning, they should stop and ask themselves, “Why are my kids playing sports in the first place?” If the answers don’t include “for fun,” “for exercise,” “to spend time with friends,” or “to learn important values that sports and competition can teach,” then there could be a problem. 

When Playing Sports Isn't Fun

Most kids don’t participate in a sport to win games or trophies or to become a pro athlete. They just want to have fun playing with their friends. 

But the pressure parents can put on kids in sports often results in kids retreating to the sidelines. The National Council of Youth Sports reported that more than 41 million girls and boys currently participate in some kind of organized youth sport each year. Experts estimate, however, that more that 70 percent quit organized youth sports by age 13, or before they enter high school. Often, the pressure from adults to win or excel strips the fun out of playing sports, and that turns kids away. 

But My Kid Could Go Pro!

Even if your child is one of the 30 percent who continue to play sports in high school, it’s highly unlikely that he or she will play college sports, let alone earn an athletic scholarship. It takes a “perfect storm” — the right combination of talent, hard work and luck — for a youth to go on to play at the college or professional level. 

Consider these facts:

  • Of the nearly 7 million boys and girls who currently play sports in high school, only about 126,000 student-athletes will receive either a partial or full athletic scholarship to play sports in college. That’s less than 2 percent.
  • The chances of going pro are even slimmer:
    • 1 in 1,250 for football
    • 1 in 3,300 for men’s basketball
    • 1in 5,000 for women’s basketball

So, Why Should My Kid Play Sports?

The best reason is that young people can have fun and come away with something that helps them grow and mature — if the activity they participate in is carried out in a positive manner. Kids can learn skills and lessons they will use in other parts of their lives, for their entire lives. 

It’s okay to want your kids to improve and become better athletes. But in the end, it’s more important that they walk away from their sports experience as better people. Sports give kids the opportunity to learn good character and sportsmanship, and those qualities — combined with fun, friendship and fitness — are the greatest benefits of any game. 

Source: Competing With Character by Kevin Kush, M.A., With Michael Sterba, M.H.D. To order this book, visit http://www.boystownpress.org

Teaching Your Child Charity

All kids are born with an innate sense of charity and compassion. Sure, it's easy to lose sight of that fact as we listen to our little ones clamor for the hottest toys, tastiest treats, and trendiest clothes. But if we look closely, the signs are everywhere. Watch your 2-year-old stop to offer a wailing baby a comforting toy. Catch your 5-year-old consoling a pal who has just been walloped by a playground bully.

"Children naturally look for ways to make a contribution and help others," says Deborah Spaide, founder of Kids Care Clubs, a national organization based in New Canaan, CT, that provides information on community-service projects for youngsters. "But just as we give our children opportunities to use their legs when they're learning to walk, we need to give them opportunities to exercise their charitable muscles so they become really good at giving too."

The benefits of actively fostering children's charitable impulses are enormous. Besides helping counter the overdeveloped "gimme" impulse, it gives kids a powerful boost in self-esteem to realize they can make a difference in someone's life. "And as corny as it sounds," says Patricia Schiff Estess, a New York City writer and the author of Kids, Money & Values, "when you help a child help others, you are helping to create a better world." Here are the best ways to go about it.

BE HANDS-ON

Most people tend to associate charity with giving money. We write a check to our favorite cause, drop a few dollars in the basket at church, participate in school fund-raisers, and feel good about our efforts. But preadolescent children may have trouble understanding such an abstract concept as donating money to a worthy cause. "It's hard for kids to grasp that the money is going to, say, buy bread, which in turn will help feed ten homeless people," says Spaide. "Many children can't take the process that many steps forward in their minds."

Spaide encourages parents to let their children experience charitable giving firsthand. Even a preschooler can help a parent bag lunches for a soup kitchen, distribute socks to the people in a homeless shelter, or clean an elderly neighbor's yard. And as children grow, so do their opportunities for making a difference.

In choosing a project, try following your child's lead and interests. The more you let her direct the process, the greater the involvement she'll feel and the more she'll learn from the experience. Suppose your 6-year-old has expressed concern that poor children don't get enough toys. You might ask her if she can think of ways to collect and distribute toys to needy kids. Perhaps she'd like to do extra chores around the house to earn some money to buy the toys herself. Or she might suggest posting a sign in school to solicit toy donations from her classmates.

Of course, if your child is stuck for inspiration, there's nothing wrong with gently leading her to a worthy path. One book that's full of ideas for suitable projects: Spaide's Teaching Your Kids to Care. Also consider helping your child band together with friends to do good works by helping her launch a Kids Care Club.

PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS

An allowance can be as handy a tool for fostering charity as it is for teaching other aspects of money management. Peggy Houser, a Denver financial planner and author of How to Teach Children About Money, advocates starting an allowance system as soon as your child starts school (or even earlier if you think he can handle it) and dividing the weekly dole into three parts, each clearly earmarked for a specific purpose: spending, saving, and sharing. Explain that the sharing portion is to be used for gifts to charity, and couple your explanation with a simple statement of your philosophy on the subject, such as "Our family believes it's important to share our good luck with people who are less fortunate."

The exact percentage of the allowance you apportion to charity doesn't matter; what is important is simply to incorporate giving into the child's budget. "The goal is to make giving money to those in need a routine," says Houser.

What you encourage your child to do with the money is key too. Instead of simply giving cash to a worthy organization once he has accumulated a reasonable amount, suggest that he use the money to buy a toy for a poor child or socks for a homeless person or some other item needed by someone in serious straits. Then take him to deliver it.

SEIZE THE MOMENT

You don't need to set aside a special time to talk about the importance and joy of giving. Opportunities pop up all the time. Passing a homeless person on the street, for example, might be a good occasion to talk about the fact that some families don't have enough money to pay for a place to live. Visiting an elderly or ailing relative might be the right moment to discuss how important it is to reach out to people in need. Says Spaide, "The idea isn't just to sensitize your child to some of the pain and suffering in the world, but to give her the great gift of thinking that she has the power to help make it better."

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

As with everything else in life, kids learn best by example. You don't have to regale your child with tales of your charitable works or keep him glued to your side while you serve meals in a soup kitchen to prove that you care too. But neither should you hide everyday acts of kindness. If you're taking a meal to a friend who has just gotten out of the hospital, say so. If you help raise funds for worthy causes through your church, temple, or local community group, talk about it. If you give money to an organization you believe in, explain why doing so is important to you.

By talking about to whom and how you give, you not only show your kids the importance of giving itself, but you're sharing your values about the issues that matter most to your family  -- whether you're passionate about supporting the arts, cleaning up the environment, assisting the elderly, or helping to alleviate poverty and homelessness. Although some parents may worry about exposing young children to painful experiences that might haunt them later, Houser thinks the joy inherent in giving far outweighs any sadness they may encounter. She notes, "Kids can handle so much more than we give them credit for."

So can moms and dads. Busy parents who have found it hard to devote time to worthy causes outside their own homes may well discover that teaching their children to give back to the community is an ideal way to get back in touch with their own charitable impulses. "We call it trickle-up charity," says Spaide. "The effort starts with the kids, but the parents often get the biggest payoff of all."

http://www.parenting.com/article/teaching-your-child-charity?lnk=activitiesfeaturearticle&loc=nav1

Why Creative Education is Important for Kids

It's a brisk winter morning in New York City and a class of bubbly preschoolers have burst into Room 5 of the Brooklyn Heights Montessori School for a period of free play. Amid an explosion of drawing, coloring, and play-dough kneading, Maxine, 3, and Harper, 4, two towheaded girls in pink skirts, are building a tower out of colorful wood blocks. Their structure, however, is top-heavy, and it begins to wobble. The pair stops and scrutinizes their work. Harper dismantles the tower and starts to rebuild. “Let's put it like this,” she tells Maxine, using the biggest blocks to create a solid foundation. Up the tower goes again, this time standing firmly on a solid base.

This may not seem like a remarkable activity—kids build stuff and pull it apart on a daily basis. But what Harper did in revising her construction methods was to engage a two-step thought process known as “divergent thinking.” First, her mind flipped through her knowledge on the geometry of blocks (cubes are sturdy; cones, not so much). Then it generated new ideas for how she might use them (place large cubes at the bottom, instead of on top). Divergent thinking is key to problem solving and is the backbone of creativity—understanding what is, and then imagining the possibilities of what could be.

The word “creativity,” in our society, tends to be applied to artistic endeavors. But divergent thinking is an essential part of everyday life, whether it's navigating office politics or devising a new social-media network. When a toddler figures out that he can climb a strategically placed chair to reach a cookie on the kitchen counter, he has engaged in highly creative problem solving (to the chagrin of his parents). “We all have creative potential,” says Mark Runco, Ph.D., director of the University of Georgia's Torrance Center for Creativity & Talent Development. “Our job as parents and teachers is to help kids fulfill it.”

Whether that potential is being fulfilled is another story entirely. Kyung Hee Kim, Ph.D., an educational psychologist at the College of William & Mary, in Virginia, has spent the past decade poring over the creativity scores of more than 300,000 American K—12 students. The news is not good: “Creativity scores have significantly decreased since 1990,” she says. Moreover, “creativity scores for kindergartners through third-graders decreased the most, and those from the fourth through sixth grades decreased by the next largest amount.”

The scores Kim is referring to are those generated by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking—the standard-bearer in assessing creativity in children since the 1960s. In fact, the results of the Torrance Tests are also better indicators of lifetime creative accomplishment than childhood IQ. The tests consist of open-ended questions, such as “How many uses can you think of for a toothbrush?” Scores are awarded based on the number and originality of the ideas produced. A creative child might respond by saying that he can brush his cat's teeth, polish a rock, and clean his fingernails—all answers that show dexterity in generating a wide range of potentially useful ideas.

This unique ability is one that will be crucial to the workforce of the future. Today's toddler faces a universe of rapidly evolving technology, an ever-shifting global economy, and far-reaching health and environmental challenges—scenarios that will require plenty of creative thinking. Here's what you can do to ensure your child gets it.

Cont:  http://www.parenting.com/article/creative-play

Reasons Children Get Angry

Tip—Unsatisfied basic needs can lead to anger.

Link to book description

A child’s anger can be fueled by many separate things. In general, however, there are three main influences on a child: his development, his family, and his broader environment. All of these are interrelated, because what happens in one area impacts each of the others. Therapists Jennifer Brown and Pam Provonsha Hopkins, authors of What Angry Kids Need: Parenting Your Angry Child Without Going Mad, comment that sometimes the most overlooked explanations for angry outbursts are simply unmet basic needs.

Coming fast on the heels of basic needs are health issues and your child’s various development issues and temperament traits. All of these areas definitely contribute to the reasons your child might get angry.

Tools—Brown and Hopkins recommends looking at the following areas to identify possible reasons behind your child’s patterns of anger.

  • Unmet basic needs. Is your child hungry? Tired? Coming down with something? Been too-long confined in a carseat or indoors? Often the hallmark of a child whose basic needs require tending is his total lack of reason and control. Parents sometimes are too busy to notice the warning signs and then ten minutes into a raging tantrum realize that it’s 1:30pm and little Carter hasn’t yet had his lunch. Or, after two hours in the car, a hostile fight breaks out between your four year old and her seven-year-old brother. “Before you dig for deep meaning in your child’s behavior, consider the possibility that tending to basic needs may solve the problem,” advises Brown and Hopkins.

  • Health issues. There are many medical-issues whose symptoms may cause moodiness, irritability, decreased impulse control, or lowered frustration tolerance. For example, a child who is hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) may appear irrational and irritable. A child with food sensitivities may appear to suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder and anger issues. Both of these examples can be treated with diet and meal schedule changes. It is important to rule out other medical conditions that may be causing the angry behavior.

  • Development and Temperament. Brown and Hopkins say that every child comes into the world genetically predisposed to certain ways of developing and responding to the world around her. Many parents refer to this as how their child is “wired.” Part of your child’s wiring are her development, any neurological disorders she may have, and her unique temperament. Any conditions, such as ADD/ADHD, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Delays (Autism, Asperger’s), or language delays, can affect your child’s ability to manage and express anger appropriately. Lesser challenges, such as sensory problems (highly sensitive to stimuli like sounds or sights or touch) or simply a very challenging, spirited temperament, also fall on this spectrum and can affect how a child experiences anger.

You’ll find more practical tips you can use right now in What Angry Kids Need: Parenting Your Angry Child Without Going Mad by Jennifer Anne Brown, M.S.W. and Pam Provonsha Hopkins, M.S.W.

CDC: Cost of Child Abuse Higher Than Cost of Diabetes or Stroke

WebMD Health News

sad teen girl

Feb. 1, 2012 -- Child abuse and neglect are rampant in the U.S., and the annual cost is as high or higher than the cost of other major health problems, the CDC reports.

In 2008, based on data from child protective services, there were about 579,000 new cases of child abuse. But based on earlier U.S. survey data, there are as many as 2.8 million new cases a year.

The annual cost is between $124 billion and $585 billion. The lifetime cost of each case -- the CDC's low-end estimate is $210,012 -- outstrips the lifetime cost of diabetes or stroke cases.

"Compared with other health problems, the burden of child maltreatment is substantial, even after conservative assumptions are used," conclude CDC researcher Xiangming Fang, PhD, and colleagues.

Using 2008 data, Fang's team added up the lifetime dollar cost (in 2010 dollars) of the average case of child abuse. They looked at health care costs, productivity losses, child welfare costs, criminal justice costs, and special education costs. They were unable to determine other important costs, such as the impact of psychological abuse or costs linked to reduced life expectancy, poor quality of life, and future negative parenting behaviors by the abused person.

They also counted only cases of child abuse confirmed by state and local child welfare departments. Data suggest that the actual number of cases is much higher than this, Fang and colleagues note, "implying that our baseline results are probably conservative, lower-bound estimates."

'Costs Can Be Prevented Through Prevention of Child Maltreatment'

Child abuse often is fatal. When it is not, abused children suffer lifelong consequences. These can include poor health, poor social adjustment, lower earnings, and mental health conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder, adult criminality, and violent behavior.

There are many forms of child abuse. These include:

  • Physical assault, including excessive corporal punishment
  • Sexual abuse or exploitation
  • Close confinement, such as tying the hands or feet or locking in a closet
  • Threats of assault, threats of abandonment, or other extreme verbal abuse
  • Abandonment or expulsion from home
  • Permitting or encouraging behaviors such as skipping school, prostitution, or drug abuse
  • Refusing to allow treatment for professionally diagnosed physical, educational, emotional, or behavioral problems
  • Failure to seek or unwarranted delay in seeking competent medical care
  • Consistent inattention to the child's physical or emotional needs
  • Failure to enroll the child in school as required by state law

"No child should ever be the victim of abuse or neglect -- nor do they have to be. The human and financial costs can be prevented through prevention of child maltreatment," Linda C. Degutis, DrPH, director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Degutis points to programs through which communities, local governments, and even individual parents can get help. These include the health program called the Nurse-Family Partnership and the educational program Triple P America.

Do you know or suspect a child is being abused? Call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD or visit Childhelp online at www.childhelp.org.

The Fang study appears in the current online issue of the journal Child Abuse & Neglect.

The Child Who Always Says “No” to New Activities

Tip—Figure out ways to help your reluctant child try out new activities in small steps.

My sister and I were discussing our children recently and comparing notes on how they react to certain new situations. We each have a child who often refuses to try new activities. Recently they attended a summer camp together and both refused to try climbing the rock wall. Interestingly, these two kids are not alike at all. My niece is very outgoing, extroverted and physically talented (she plays all kinds of sports well). My daughter is fairly social, but physically cautious—she typically achieves physical milestones late—like swimming or riding a bike.

Temperament is the root of both behaviors here. At first glance, you’d think both kids were low in “Approach”—one of the nine basic temperament traits. Parent educators Helen Neville and Diane Clark Johnson, authors of Temperament Tools, define it as “Approach to New Things” Children high in Approach are attracted to and seek out new things whether they are safe or not. Children low in Approach are cautious, prefer the familiar and are almost always reluctant to try something new. It takes them time to become accustomed to a new sitter, school, or bed.

My daughter is low in Physical Activity (her preferred activities are drawing and writing) and she is definitely low in Approach. She prefers to watch new activities for a long time before she is willing to try them.

My niece isn’t such a straightforward case. She is high in two other temperament traits: Intensity and Physical Activity. These two traits combine to cause her to want to do everything perfectly the first time she tries it. Thus, she often feels safer refusing to try a new activity, like rock-climbing, rather than look like a beginner. Although this results in initial reluctance to try physical things, it’s not consistent across the board. She’s generally happy to try new foods, likes to visit new places, and eagerly tries any new, scary amusement park ride she comes across. She is not especially low on the Approach scale.

Link to book description

Tools—Neville and Johnson offer some ideas for helping children who are high in Intensity or low in Approach become more comfortable trying new activities.

  • Take it step by step. If climbing a rock wall looks too intimidating, then perhaps climbing on the familiar playground equipment is a better first step. Point out that the top of the slide is just as high as the rock wall. When she’s comfortable climbing up the play structure, ask her if she’d like to try the first three steps of the rock wall. Don’t push or insist she try. Let her decide when she’s ready.

  • Make it less public. For a child who is concerned with doing it perfectly all at once, give her a chance to practice without onlookers. Praise her for effort, not skill. Say things like, “I’m really proud that you were willing to try that. It isn’t easy at first.”

  • Make a deal. If you are pretty sure your child would enjoy something new, perhaps soccer camp, but doesn’t want to try it, then make a deal with him. Tell him you’ve signed him up and you’d like him to try it for two sessions. If, after two days he doesn’t enjoy it, you will let him quit.

What Can Parents Do About Antibiotic Overuse?

Q:  I’m worried that kids -- mine and others -- are taking too many antibiotics too often. What can parents do?

A:  You’re right to be concerned. Antibiotics are overprescribed. And the potential consequences, including drug-resistant bacteria and hard-to-cure diseases, are real. The problem is due partly to habit (doctors are used to prescribing them) and also to parental pressure. Some doctors feel parents insist on a prescription and are disappointed if they don’t get one. Not all parents do this, but some are very vocal about it. Perhaps doctors have a false impression that all parents want antibiotics all the time.

Doctors need to stand firm, and parents need to learn. Few of the most common upper respiratory infections in children require antibiotics. Most fevers and respiratory infections -- including bronchitis -- are caused by viruses, which don’t respond to antibiotics. Ear infections in children older than 2 usually go away without antibiotics. And most sore throats require antibiotics only if a strep test is positive. A few exceptions, such as bacterial pneumonia, apply -- but not for most of these conditions.

What can you do? Prevent illness by making sure your child’s vaccinations are up to date. Let your pediatrician know you’re fine with not getting antibiotics unless it’s truly necessary. And if your child is prescribed antibiotics, make sure she takes the full dose. Don’t stop or start them on your own without your doctor’s OK

Babysitting Reminders

The following list of information should always be left with a babysitter:

  1. Parents phone numbers
  2. Neighbors phone numbers
  3. Doctor
  4. Fire/Rescue
  5. Police
  6. Poison center
  7. Home phone
  8. Home address

Parents Should:

  • Meet the sitter and check references and training in advance.
  • Be certain the sitter has had first aid training and knows CPR.
  • Be sure the babysitter is at least 13 years old and mature enough to handle common emergencies.
  • Have the sitter spend time with you before babysitting to meet the children and learn their routines.
  • Show the sitter around the house.
    Point out fire escape routes and potential problem areas. Instruct the sitter to leave the house right away in case of fire and to call the fire department from a neighbor's house.
  • Discuss feeding, bathing, and sleeping arrangements for your children.
  • Tell your sitter of any allergies or specific needs your children have.
  • Have emergency supplies available including a flashlight, first aid chart, and first aid supplies.
  • Tell the sitter where you will be and when you will return.
  • Be sure any guns are stored unloaded in locked cabinet.

Sitters Should:

  • Be prepared for an emergency.
  • Always phone for help if there are any problems or questions.
  • Never open the door to strangers.
  • Never leave the children alone in the house - even for a minute.
  • Never give the children any medicine or food unless instructed to do so by the parents.
  • Remember that their job is to care for the children.
  • Tender loving care usually quiets an unhappy child.

Television Addiction – A Growing Problem

 

Television Addiction - What is it?
It is noted that the average person spends about three hours a day sitting in front of the TV set, which is half of their leisure time. And, it is known that heavy viewers report watching eight hours a day. The question is, “Are these people addicted to the television?”

First, let’s define an addiction. It is said that addiction is characterized by spending an unusually large amount of time using a substance that is addictive; finding oneself using it more often than intended; thinking about reducing the use, and are making repeated unsuccessful attempts to reduce it; giving up social activities to use the substance, and reporting withdrawal symptoms when one does achieve stopping the use.

Television can teach and amuse, and it does provide needed distraction and escape. Yet, the difficulty arises when one strongly senses the need to stop viewing as much, and yet find they are unable to reduce viewing.

Television Addiction - What are the Effects?
In 1997, 700 Japanese children were rushed to a hospital to be treated with epileptic seizures. These seizures were later attributed to a program which was aired that involved an exaggerated version of the Pokemon game that had flashing colorful lights.

Laboratory experiments1 have also been done to study people’s reactions to TV by monitoring brain waves by the use of EEG (electroencephalograph). Those who participated in the study carried a beeper. They were signaled six to eight times a day randomly over the period of a week. When they heard the beep, they were to write down what they were doing and how they were feeling. People who were watching TV when beeped reported feeling relaxed and passive. The studies showed less mental stimulation as measured by alpha brain-wave production during viewing TV than if these participants had been reading. After the television set was turned off, this study showed the participants were still very relaxed and passive as if all energy had left them.

This suggests1 that TV viewing has a numbing effect, and reaction to the body is likened to that of a tranquilizer. Drowsiness occurs, and one may even experience depression as the viewing continues. A person actually disengages from real life becoming immersed in what is being shown on the screen which, in turn, causes excessive viewing; more so than anticipated in the beginning.

Television Addiction - How to Avoid It
Is there hope from becoming struck with television addiction? Yes, start here.

  • Keep a record of how much TV you watch and when you watch. Do this for one week.
  • List all the other fun activities you can do at home instead of watching TV. Place your list on your refrigerator so you can check this list BEFORE you turn on the TV. Consider fun things to do as a family, household projects you’d like to complete, outside activities, reading, exercise, etc.
  • Set a limit for how much TV you will watch in one week. Record your time and stick to your commitment.
  • Commit to exercising whenever you watch TV, such as walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, etc.
  • Consider removing your TV for a set period of time. You might find yourself talking to your family again instead of watching the TV so much.

Television Addiction – A Personal Story of Surrender
One day, I realized that everywhere I went, there was a TV -- the grocery store, my workout gym, the bank, my church, the airport, repair shops, doctors offices, and many rooms of my own home. My family room had even been renamed the TV room. Where could I go to escape it?

I decided to do something about it. My family did not have to suffer from television addiction any longer. When my family moved to a new city recently, we deliberately did not bring the TV with us. Our friends and family thought we were crazy, but it was an important step for our family. The housing development we moved into offered a new beautiful TV to our family, but I declined. As the husband and father of our family, I wanted to take a stand and show my children that they meant more to me than TV.

The past few years, the violence and objectionable content has gotten worse and I felt that our family needed a break. I felt as though TV had hijacked my family and I wanted to protect my children from television addiction.

The solution that worked for my family -- I got rid of our television! The result has been more family time and healthier relationships.

This family decided that giving up their TV was the best solution for them. What is your solution? Don’t delay. Set some guidelines and stick to your commitments.

I love my children, but being a parent can be so hard!

Being a parent can be a joy, but it's also a tough job. No parent is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Even loving parents sometimes do things they don't mean to do, such as yell at a child. But if you think you're having trouble controlling yourself, get help so a pattern of abuse doesn't start.

I get so frustrated sometimes. Is this normal?

Yes, all parents get frustrated. Children take a lot of time and energy. Parenting is even harder when you have problems in your own life, such as worries about your job, your bills or your relationships, or problems with alcohol or drugs. To be a good parent, you have to first take care of yourself. That means getting help for your problems.

What can I do when I feel frustrated?

Take a break. Everyone needs a break from being a parent once in a while. If you have another adult in your family, take turns getting away. For example, have your partner stay with the children so you can visit friends. Take turns sleeping late on the weekends. If you're a single parent, ask friends and relatives to help by running some errands for you or watching your child while you go out.

I sometimes lose my temper. Does that mean I'm a bad parent?

No, many parents lose their temper with their children. It's okay to feel angry, but it's not okay to take it out on your children. When you're really angry, take a break. For example, take your children for a walk or call a friend to come help you. If you feel angry with your child almost every day or have trouble controlling your temper, get some help by talking to your family doctor. He or she can offer advice and provide resources to help you. There are groups that can help parents, also.

Is it okay to spank my child?

Spanking isn't the best way to discipline children. The goal of discipline is to teach children self-control. Spanking may teach children to stop doing something out of fear. There are better ways to discipline children.

One good way for infants and toddlers is called "redirecting." When you redirect a child, you replace an unwanted (bad) behavior with an acceptable (good) behavior. For example, if throwing a ball inside the house isn't allowed, take your child outside to throw the ball.

If you have older children, explain the consequences of their actions and why it is important to take responsibility for them. For example, you can explain to your child that everyone had to wait for dinner because he or she didn't set the table when asked. Explain that your child has to wash the dishes after dinner because he or she didn't set the table before dinner.

How can I be a good parent?

There's not just one right way to raise children. And there's no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. But here are some guidelines to help your children grow up healthy and happy:

  • Show your love. Every day, tell your children: "I love you. You're special to me." Give lots of hugs and kisses.
  • Listen when your children talk. Listening to your children tells them that you think they're important and that you're interested in what they have to say.
  • Make your children feel safe. Comfort them when they're scared. Show them you've taken steps to protect them.
  • Provide order in their lives. Keep a regular schedule of meals, naps and bedtimes. If you have to change the schedule, tell them about the changes ahead of time.
  • Praise your children. When your children learn something new or behave well, tell them you're proud of them.
  • Criticize the behavior, not the child. When your child makes a mistake, don't say, "You were bad." Instead, explain what the child did wrong. For example, say: "Running into the street without looking isn't safe." Then tell the child what to do instead: "First, look both ways for cars."
  • Be consistent. Your rules don't have to be the same ones other parents have, but they do need to be clear and consistent. (Consistent means the rules are the same all the time.) If 2 parents are raising a child, both need to use the same rules. Also, make sure baby-sitters and relatives know (and follow) your family rules.
  • Spend time with your children. Do things together, such as reading, walking, playing and cleaning the house. What children want most is your attention. Bad behavior is usually an attempt to get your attention.

Who can I ask when I need help raising my child?

There are many ways to get good parenting advice. Sign up for parenting classes offered by hospitals, community centers or schools. Read parenting books or magazines. Talk to your family doctor, a minister, a priest or a counselor.

You can also ask your family doctor for parenting help. Don't be embarrassed to ask. Raising children is hard, and no one can do it alone. Your doctor can help you with issues like discipline, potty training, eating problems and bedtime. Your doctor can also help you find local groups that can help you learn good parenting skills.

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Kids Super Foods

Eggs

Eggs offer protein, and they're one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Eating protein at breakfast helps kids feel satisfied longer (no mid-morning hunger pangs).

Oatmeal

Research shows that kids who eat oatmeal are better able to concentrate and pay attention in school. Fiber-rich whole grains, like oatmeal, digest slowly, providing kids with a steady stream of energy

Fruit

Any fruit is good for your child, providing essential vitamins and minerals. Fruit also has fiber, which keeps kids regular. To reap the nutritional benefits, aim to eat a variety of fruits, like berries, melon, kiwifruit, and oranges

Nuts

Nuts are made up of healthy fats, which kids need for growth and development, as well as for heart health. Having a little bit of “good” fat in the morning gives your kids a burst of energy to keep them going.

Milk

Protein and calcium in dairy products provide fuel for the brain and body. Protein helps build brain tissue, while milk's calcium keeps kids' bones and teeth strong.

It's a fact of life: Chips, cupcakes, and lots of other not-so-nutritionally-noble foods are going to find their way into your child's mouth. Heck, if left to their own devices, a lot of kids wouldn't eat anything that didn't come out of a pizza or pasta box. But that's all the more reason to make sure the meals you serve up are packed with as much good stuff as possible. Parenting went to Rachel Beller, R.D., founder of the Beller Nutritional Institute in Beverly Hills, CA, a mom of four, and an expert in eating for disease prevention, to get her top picks of true bite-for-bite nutritional powerhouses. Most important, they're also foods kids might actually eat. Add them to this week's shopping list!

Blueberries

They've ranked among the healthiest fruits for years (go, antioxidants!). Now research suggests that in addition to protecting against heart disease and diabetes and improving brain function, blueberries may also help reduce visceral "toxic" belly fat -- a type of fat that has been linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome. Ways to get them in your kid's diet: They're a natural go-with breakfast choice (say, tossed into a bowl of granola and milk) and are also great in summer salads and desserts. Try making ice pops by freezing a blend of whirred-up blueberries, yogurt, and some honey (after age 1).

Tofu

"Whole soy foods are an excellent source of lean protein and have potent anti-cancer benefits," says Beller. "Tofu is great for young girls because it has a protective effect as their bodies and breast tissue are developing -- which lasts into adulthood." Ways to get it in your kid's diet: Dice and toss tofu into stir-fries or soups; use the silken variety as a sub for yogurt in fruit smoothies; snack on lightly boiled and salted edamame (soybeans) -- the kids will have fun popping them out of the shells.

Tomatoes

They're loaded with lycopene -- a substance that protects against many cancers. Cooking tomatoes makes them even healthier because the heat releases the lycopene. Hint: Pairing tomato-y foods with a good fat, like olive oil, helps the body absorb more. Ways to get them in your kid's diet: Pizza and pasta sauces are obvious choices, or add tomato sauce to turkey meatballs or meatloaf if you need to disguise it. A bowl of chili and salsa for dipping are good options if you've got a spice lover.

Low-Fat Greek Yogurt

It contains healthy bacteria known to boost immunity and aid digestion, and has two to three times the amount of protein and less sugar than regular yogurt. Add a drizzle of honey (after age 1) for sweetness, a bit of maple syrup, or try a squeeze of agave syrup (a sweetener with a lower glycemic index, so it won't make your child's blood sugar -- and energy level -- spike and then crash soon after breakfast). Agave is available in grocery stores, either in the organic aisle or where you'd find honey.

Cabbage

It has a mild flavor and crunch that kids tend to like better than the usual salad greens. And cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, broccoli, and kale contain phytonutrients known to lower the risk for many types of cancer, as well as improve digestion. It also helps clear harmful toxins from the body by triggering the release of enzymes whose job it is to whisk them out. Ways to get it in your kid's diet: Make coleslaw with low-fat mayo; shred and toss it into soups or Asian noodle dishes.

Salmon

It contains heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which are also known to boost brain development, fend off depression, and have superb anti-inflammatory powers. Be sure to pick the wild kind, which is lower in mercury and higher in omega-3's. Best way to get your kid to eat it: Pair salmon with ingredients he already likes. Glaze salmon fillets with orange juice or brush them with teriyaki sauce. Or serve it as salmon cakes, burgers, or salad (mashed and mixed with low-fat mayo).

Cocoa

You probably think of the marshmallow-studded beverage, but cocoa powder actually has one of the highest concentrations of flavonoids, a compound known to improve blood pressure and heart and oral health. They may also protect skin from sun damage. Use at least 70 percent pure cocoa and check that it isn't processed with alkali (also called "Dutch processed"), which removes most of the flavonoids. Ways to serve it (beyond hot cocoa): Sprinkle it on pancakes, waffles, or French toast, or melt some dark chocolate and dunk strawberries in it.

Black Beans

"Beans are a great source of protein, as well as fiber and calcium -- two things kids tend not to get enough of. The darker the color, the better they are," says Beller. "They also help guard against heart disease and high cholesterol, which aren't adults-only problems. I have a nine-year-old patient with very high cholesterol." Ways to get them in your kid's diet: Make nachos or quesadillas with black beans, cheese, and salsa; try black-bean veggie burgers, or whip up black-bean hummus.

Basil

This herb is packed with antioxidants -- vitamins A, C, and K -- as well as iron, potassium, and calcium and can help improve digestion. Some research shows it may even ease headaches, notes Beller. Ways to get it in your kid's diet: Make pesto and spoon over chicken breasts or stir into cooked pasta. Does your kid freak out at the sight of little green flecks in his food? Welcome to the club! Grind basil up superfine and hide it in sauces, soups, and that ever-popular master of disguise, meatballs.

Cinnamon

Research shows that this spice can help regulate blood sugar, which may also minimize those all-too-common mid-morning energy crashes (kiddie meltdown!), says Beller. Ways to get it in your kid's diet: Sprinkle it on oatmeal, pancakes, cold cereal, and yogurt, and add a few extra dashes of cinnamon to muffin or quick-bread recipes that call for it. "My kids also love it on air-popped popcorn," says Beller. Or combine it in a shaker with cocoa and sprinkle both together for a superfood two-fer.

Work these superfoods into their diet! Find great cookbooks at Barnes & Noble orBorders, and you'll get cash back when you shop online through Parenting Privileges.

Is Your Child Gifted?

Did your child walk and talk early? Does she have a brain like a sponge? Scribble magnificently? Love learning? Ask questions that leave you marveling (and scrambling to Google an answer)?

Wow, clearly she's a genius!

Or, um, maybe not.

"Gifted" has become one of the most tossed-about words in the parenting lexicon. Unfortunately -- sorry, but let's get this out of the way right up front -- it's also one of the most misused. The vast majority of children are not gifted. Only 2 to 5 percent of kids fit the bill, by various estimates. Of those, only one in 100 is considered highly gifted. Prodigies (those wunderkinds who read at 2 and go to college at 10) are rarer still -- like one to two in a million. And despite the boom in infant-stimulation techniques, educational DVDs, learning toys, and enrichment classes, those numbers haven't been increasing. You can't build giftedness; it's mostly built in.

Still, it's hard to resist scrutinizing your child for signs of greatness. (Those "signs" in the first paragraph, by the way? Not one guarantees an intellectual giant.) The growing fascination with giftedness is part natural impulse to see our offspring as special, part wanting to be sure a child's needs are met, and maybe a bit of hoping for a competitive edge in the increasingly cutthroat school-admission process -- or bragging rights. "There are no average kids anymore," notes Devra Renner, a clinical social worker and coauthor of Mommy Guilt. "The word 'good' is like the new 'bad.' Why settle for even 'smart' when you could instead call your child 'gifted'?"

True giftedness may be as rare as Einsteins and Mozarts, but the good news is that there's loads you can do to help your child reach her full potential. Even better: Whether young children are truly advanced or happily average (where they have lots of company), in the early years they need pretty much the same things. To raise a happy, emotionally healthy kid, follow these five steps to success:

1. FORGET ABOUT THE "G" WORD

There's plenty of wishful thinking about giftedness because there's no standard definition of it. Broadly speaking, a gifted child has special abilities in a particular area. The five main ones outlined in a popular 1993 U.S. Department of Education report are intellectual, academic, creative, artistic, and leadership -- none of which is normally associated with the performance of babies and toddlers.

"'Gifted' is often misunderstood," says Julia Roberts, director of the Center for Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University. "People don't always recognize a gift because they're expecting a prodigy." And parents whose kids are "highly capable" or "advanced" in one area or another may not feel satisfied until somebody official labels it "gifted."

Many parents of kids under 5 look to IQ tests for a number that will "prove" their child's ability. In truth, IQ testing doesn't tell you much before the school years, and even then is generally considered unreliable. Why? Because "giftedness" is typically concentrated in one area and doesn't refer to overall intelligence -- the focus of an IQ test. (If you're going to use it for academic placement -- as many schools do, among numerous other factors -- testing between ages 4 and 9 is optimal.)

 

2. START WITH THE BASICS

In the first three years of life, all children need to feel a sense of security and attachment. Being held, being loved, and having one's basic needs met are all critical for future learning.

The growing brain next needs stimulation in order to change and develop. One thing it loves: novelty. Every time your baby is exposed to new toys, words, sounds, textures, tastes, smells, faces, and places, she's learning. You don't have to work overtime to make this happen; everything in everyday life is new to a baby.

By late infancy and toddlerhood, some kids do dart way ahead on milestone charts -- and some don't. Whether your kid does or doesn't, experts say, all babies, toddlers, and preschoolers will thrive as long as they are:

 

  • Provided a predictable life with a reasonably ordered environment
  • Held and touched often
  • Talked to (or sung to) often
  • Read to frequently
  • Exposed to interesting experiences
  • Given many opportunities to learn through play.

3. PLAY'S THE THING

What even chart-busting toddlers and preschoolers don't need are special "gifted" programs or learning tools such as flash cards, educational DVDs, or brain-building computer games. There's no evidence that this "edu-tainment" does anything to boost children's intellectual ability.

Most educators believe kids don't benefit from academically oriented preschools, either. Far more important is having opportunities to explore without constraint -- and teachers and parents who know how to keep learning fun.

"When it's fun and playful, that's when it gets into your head," says Robin Schader, Ph.D., parent resource advisor for the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). Neuroscientific research confirms that pleasure is what makes our brains want to repeat and remember an activity, and it's that kind of natural repetition that fuels learning.

This helps explain why play is everything to young children. It's how they learn, experiment, tinker, express creativity, work through feelings, practice socialization, develop language and math skills, and see the world in new ways. Pre- schools should mainly be play schools, centered on this kind of discovery learning and the teaching of basic social skills. Many parents want their kids to start kindergarten being able to read Dr. Seuss, write their names, and count to 100.

But a kid who can do all that is actually going to have a harder time than his peers in school if he can't also sit still and listen, take turns, share, and follow directions. Those are the real skills teachers expect kindergartners to have.

 

4. TUNE IN TO YOUR KID

If, for example, your child is very verbal, "you can make your language a little more complex, use more adjectives," says Nancy Robinson, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. "Expand a little on where the child is."

That's what Jackie Brezinski of Apple Valley, Minnesota, did. She credits talking to 21-month-old Seth and reading to him from infancy for his big vocabulary. "I talk a lot. I tell him what we're doing, what we're eating, where we're going," she says. Now he wants to "read" the books to her.

Building on ability is known as "scaffolding." It means presenting experiences that are challenging but not overwhelming and doing it in a positive, supportive way to help the child reach the next level, higher than she could on her own, explains Schader. For example, if your child asks about a stop sign, you can describe the sign and explain its meaning. Point out the letters S-T-O-P. Later, you can point out an "S" on a store name, then ask if she can find some more.

Another idea for a curious, verbal child: Make Question Books. Scatter three or four notebooks around the house. If your child asks a question you either don't know the answer to or are too busy to answer, say, "Let's write it down." Later, you can explore the question together -- find a book, go online, visit the library or a museum.

Enrichment doesn't have to cost money. There's learning in practically everything you do with a young child.

5. BE A GUIDE, NOT A COACH

Ultimately, the relationship between a child and his parents and teachers shapes his attitude toward learning. Aim to be a gentle guide, not a high-pressure coach. "Rather than ask, 'Is this kid counting better than others?' ask, 'Am I supporting what's interesting and exciting to my child?' " says Alison Steier, Ph.D., director of clinical training at the Arizona Institute for Early Childhood Development.

Cecilia Jerkatis says her son Kyle, 3, keeps her on her toes as she looks for stimulating activities for him. Yet at the same time that the Albuquerque mom wonders whether her clever, verbal boy is gifted, she also wonders whether the label matters. "I think we're here to support their development, whatever their interests are," she says.

Just don't think you have to drive yourself (or your kid) crazy signing him up for teams and classes to find activities he loves. Simply exposing him to different experiences will spark things that "click." Build on his interests. If he likes dinosaurs, find books and movies about them, or visit a museum. You don't need to sit down and "teach" anything.

Above all, don't overfocus on cognitive abilities. "You also want your child to be resilient, empathetic, and creative," says the NAGC's Schader. And you both want to enjoy his childhood. "I do forget Kyle is three," says Jerkatis. "Then once in a while he gets a little whiny and I remember."

So relax. The best gift your child can have is the gift of time with you. Reading, singing, playing, dancing, catching fireflies -- it's all good. The rest is gravy.

Paula Spencer is the coauthor, with Jill Stamm, Ph.D., of Bright From the Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind (Gotham).

10 Single Mom Secrets

How do successful single parents keep it all together? Author, blogger and single mom Christine Coppa shares her advice for surviving (and thriving) as a single parent.

 

Seek Out Role Models

 

Single parents and their kids can flourish, and there are plenty of examples to prove it. Make a list of single parents—or children raised by a single parent—who inspire you, and refer to it when you’re having a rough day. Some of the people on my list include President Obama, who was raised by his single mom and grandparents; President Clinton, who was brought up primarily by his mom; and actress Bridget Moynahan, who went through her pregnancy alone after splitting from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. I’m not just inspired by celebrities though; my real life friend Matt who blogs at mattlogelin.com about unexpected single fatherhood is another confidence booster for me. Seeing all of these success stories and many more unfold before my eyes is proof that single parenthood is not only manageable, but an incredible gift that allows me to shape my son into a wonderful human being.

 

If you need more inspiration, check out the book Holding Her Head High: 12 Single Mothers Who Championed Their Children and Changed History by Janine Turner. It’s full of amazing single moms dating back to the Middle Ages.

 

Find A Work Schedule That Suits Your Family

 

As a freelance writer, I’m lucky to work from home, but it wasn’t always this way. I used to be on staff at a magazine where I worked long hours that didn’t really match up well with JD’s daycare pickup. So, I took a deep breath and asked my boss if I could work a slightly different schedule where I came in earlier but left in time to get my son from daycare. My boss was understanding and allowed me to work a more convenient shift. Don’t be afraid to express your needs to your employer, or reveal you’re a single parent, because most bosses want to work with you, not against you. You can also check out the best companies for working mothers to target your job search to companies with family-friendly benefits.

 

Read the rest of the article at:  http://www.parenting.com/gallery/help-single-mothers?pnid=138069

How to Get Involved at School

Not really into baking cupcakes? Some other ways you can be active at your child's school:

Spruce up the grounds. If you like being outdoors, volunteer to spread wood chips, plant a tree, or pick up trash.

Speak to the class about your job or hobby. Keep it short and bring visuals and small projects for the kids to do. Or book a guest speaker.

Organize an event. Just one is a big help to the teacher or PTA president  -- and you'll feel better about saying no next time.

Help the teacher decorate and dismantle. It's a big behind-the-scenes job to get the classroom looking so good for holidays (not to mention taking it all down afterward). Offer your help now.

Go high tech. Put together the class phone and e-mail list, or help the teacher set up a website so she can display the kids' artwork online.

Go low tech. Make phone calls to help arrange a class field trip, or see if you can make a supply run before a party or an event.

Share your video. Did you get some great shots of the fall concert? Less technically inclined parents will love to have copies of the footage.

Just go. Even if you're not the organizer, you can still help out by attending the events.

Scarcity Drives Value: A Business Principle Behind the Creation of Free Rewards

Author: 
Patrick C. Friman, Ph.D., Boys Town Director of Clinical Services

Scarcity drives value. This is a time-honored maxim in business and it could, and in my opinion, should, achieve a similar status for parents raising children. 

I was recently interviewed by Momaha.com about ways to motivate children to pursue free summertime activities rather than those that are costly. The simple answer is to make the “free” activities less available. When activities are less available, their value to children increases. This does not mean that brussels sprouts will become children’s most preferred food if we substantially reduce their availability. But it does mean that the value children place on things they do like will increase.

There are other easier and much more obvious examples where parents could apply the principle of scarcity to determine value. For example, parents are often puzzled about how to best reward their children without surrendering time and money to commercial enterprises to do so. They need worry no further. They can create powerful rewards out of freely available “material” abundantly present at home. 

For example, for younger children, bedtime is a limit on their personal freedom that they virtually always want extended. To create a large batch of free rewards, parents merely need to establish an early and firm bedtime that is an hour or so earlier than the latest one the parents could actually accept.  Then the time between the established bedtime and the later bedtime becomes batches of minutes (e.g., 15-minute units) parents can use as rewards.  

For older children, curfew is the personal freedom limit they always want extended. To create a batch of powerful rewards for free, parents merely need to set an early and firm curfew, one that is an hour or two earlier than the latest one parents could actually accept. Like in the bedtime example, the time between the established curfew and the later one produces batches of minutes (e.g., 30-minute units) parents can use as rewards.  

In both situations, children will work to obtain these units. And parents can use them efficiently because they cost nothing, do not clutter the house, and don’t go out of style.  

More generally, parents can use this same strategy by surveying their child’s daily landscape for goods, services, and privileges that are freely available, and then make them less available, thereby increasing their value and enlarging their potential role as motivating rewards for their children. 

Sometimes in running a home well, parents find that using well-established business principles can pay big dividends

Pill Swallowing Tips for Kids with ADHD

Since many kids can't begin to swallow pills or capsules until they are about ten years old, it can be a difficult to get a child with ADHD to take their medicine.

Fortunately, these tips work for many parents:

  • ask your Pediatrician to prescribe a medication that can be opened and sprinkled on applesauce, etc., such as Adderall XR, Ritalin LA, and Metadate CD
  • consider getting a prescription for Methylin Chewable Tablets or Oral Solution, which are short acting forms of Ritalin
  • see if your pharmacist has a 'recipe' to turn the pill or capsule into a liquid. Some people are already doing this with Strattera, but you will likely have go to a compounding pharmacy to get it done.
  • teach your child to swallow pills, which is not always as difficult as it sounds.
To teach your child to swallow pills, it may help to:
  • have your child put the pill in his mouth and then drink a glass of water through a straw. With this method, many kids concentrate on the straw and don't think about the pill, so it goes down easily.
  • in addition to the pill, put a spoonful of applesauce, yogurt, or pudding in his mouth and then have him swallow it all together.
  • have him chew on a piece of bread or a cookie and then put the pill in his mouth just before he would swallow it
  • put the pill under your child's tongue and then have him drink a glass of water
  • have your child practice swallowing smaller things first, before moving on to a pill
  • put the pill on your child's tongue and then have him fill his mouth with water, so that his cheeks are full and puff out, and then have him swish it all around and then swallow it all

These tips were submitted by Vincent Iannelli, MD from Dallas, Texas

Halloween: Safety-proof Your Kids For a Fun Night

Halloween is a great holiday for kids of all ages. With common sense and respect for others, the holiday can be a wonderful and safe family occasion.

Please remember the rules of safety and courtesy:

  • Make sure an adult or responsible teenager accompanies kids when they go door-to-door.
  • Choose safe houses; kids should only go to homes where you know the residents and have outside lights on as a sign of welcome.
  • If children are going to be out after dark, make sure they carry a flashlight.
  • Make sure your kids stay on the sidewalk and only cross the street at corners, with a hand to hold.
  • Instruct kids never to eat anything until they are home and the treats have been inspected. Throw away anything unwrapped.
  • Buy flame-resistant costumes.
  • Respect others' property: Your children should not walk across people's lawns to get to the front door.
  • Make sure your children remember to say "thank you!"

Television: the good, the bad and the useless

Television is a part of our young children's daily lives. TV is on in preschools, in waiting rooms, in doctors' offices - even automakers are making it easier to hit the highway with high definition. Now, more than ever, you need to monitor and supervise your child's TV viewing.

Is television for your child good, bad or just plain useless? The following questions are frequently asked by concerned parents and are probably questions that you have had on your mind, too. We hope you'll find the answers enlightening and practical for your home.

Are my children watching too much television?

A good test to determine if children watch too much television is to turn the TV off and keep it off for 24 hours. If your kids don't know what to do with their time, it is likely that they are too dependent on television. Ironically, some parents find this test harder than the kids. When adults rely on TV for entertainment, they train their kids by example to do the same.

If you fail the 24-hour test, don't feel bad. Try cutting back just a little on TV each day or week until you have cut back to almost nothing. One of the best things you can do is replace TV time with less sedentary activities (walking, biking, playing with the kids).

Are the programs my child loves so much good for him to watch?

There are lots of ways to find out if a TV program is a waste of time. You can review a program summary and viewer rating in your TV guide, surf the Web site of the show or channel for detailed information, or talk with teachers and other parents. The simplest way is for you to watch the show before your child does. This way you can make an informed decision. You may also want to consider watching more educational and learning programs during the week, age-appropriate entertainment shows on weekends, and designate time on Sunday to watch TV as a family. But even quality television in large quantities is a brain-waster. A couple of hours total viewing per week is plenty.

What should I look out for when trying to choose healthy and entertaining television programs for my young children?


Excessive violence, suggestive images, disrespect for adults or peers, vulgar language and poor role models with even worse social skills and values are indicators you can use for judging the value of a program. However, those concerns must be viewed in context. Certain programs, including biographies and documentaries, include subject matter that may not be suitable for children, yet they have educational, historical or social significance. These programs tell important stories that can help children understand the world they live in. A good rule of thumb is to avoid programs that target children but have themes, concepts and language that are adult in nature.

I am a TV junkie! What can I do to keep my children from becoming couch potatoes?

Be a role model. You must be willing to reduce the hours you spend in front of the TV. Breaking the habit is hard, but you can start by curbing your TV hours. Do this by using the newspaper or TV Guide to select just a few shows that you really want to watch. Don't spend the entire evening mindlessly channel surfing. Don't allow your children to watch programs that are inappropriate for their ages. And if you can't give up a program that is for mature viewers, tape it and watch it after your kids have gone to bed or are napping.

My child can only go to sleep with the television on. What can I do?

Your child learned this behavior. Any behavior that is learned can be unlearned. Patience is the key. You must replace your child's TV with something else: listening to music, reading a book, playing a game, etc. Schedule TV time, with the help of your child, during specific daytime hours and adhere to the schedule

Product Recalls

Please visit this site for a listing of recalls dating back to 2005:  http://www.parenting.com/recalls?lnk=hp&loc=tools

5 Signs You Could Be Feeding Your Kids Too Much

1. They push the food around on their plates and don't finish what you give them.

2. They're not very hungry for the next meal or snack-which they normally would have eaten.

3. The amount on their plates is close to the amount you have on yours.

4. The first thing you do when your kids are upset, stressed, fatigued, or cranky is hand over a snack. What they may really need is just a hug, some quiet time, or something to drink instead (thirst is often confused for hunger-ditto tiredness).

5. Their clothes are becoming tight in the chest, waist, or rear, even though the length is still fine. "A lot of parents don't notice if their child gains a few pounds-it's the whole 'love is blind' thing. But they will pick up on pants or shirts that suddenly look snug," notes American Dietetic Association spokesperson Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.

How to Get Your Kid To Sleep in Her Own Bed

Colleen Mulder-Seward and her husband, Rob Seward, were dying for a good night's sleep. Once their daughters got to ages 3 and 5, the Dexter, MI, couple fully (and perhaps foolishly, they now admit) expected they'd be enjoying eight hours of shut-eye again. Ah, the eternal optimism of parenthood!

In reality, Colleen and Rob would put their younger daughter, Jenna, to bed, only to see her again three hours later, throwing a queen-size fit and begging to sleep in their queen-size bed. They were way too tired to do anything but throw back the covers and invite her in.

Problem is, a threesome just wasn't their speed. "Eventually, one of us would get fed up with being kicked in the back by Jenna and go sleep in the guest room. We were tired all the time," says Colleen.

Tons of parents who didn't plan on having a family bed are finding that's exactly what they now have -- and want to get rid of, says Jill Spivack, L.C.S.W., a family therapist and formerly sleep-deprived mom herself who is the cocreator of The Sleepeasy Solution. "When you're exhausted, you follow the path of least resistance," she says. "You may have tried other things, but in desperation, you pull your kid into your own bed. You may not get perfect sleep, but at least you get some sleep."

The good news: You can untrain the little monster who's taking over your bed. The bad news: It may not be pretty. Your life is not an episode of Supernanny and your family's sleep issues won't get resolved in an hour or even a day. If you really want to make the change, though, and you're prepared for tears, wails, and cries of "But Mommy, don't you love me?" you'll make it through. Here's how to pull the my-bed-to-your-bed switcheroo:

Before Bedtime
First things first: Is today a good day to start? If you're in the midst of potty training, are going on vacation, or are expecting a new baby, wait until things settle down. Yes, you'll have to put up with your little bed partner longer, but the sleep training will go much faster if you wait until your routine is more regular.

Once you've decided to take the plunge, start talking about your new bedtime expectations in the afternoon -- that way, she'll know what to expect at lights-out. Try saying something like "Mommies and daddies sleep in their beds, and kids sleep in their own beds," says Spivack.

She also suggests making a homemade "sleepytime book" -- nothing fancy, just stapled-together paper illustrated with stick-figure pictures that your child can color. If your family recently moved, for instance, and your daughter started sleeping in your bed while she got used to the new house, your story would focus on that and end with how she finally started sleeping happily in her very own bed. A picture book can help young children understand their new sleeping situation in a very concrete way.

Do your usual bedtime routine (here's help if you don't have one!), then get ready for the boot-camp -- tough part.

After Lights-Out
Okay, reality check: This is where moms who couldn't stand the cry-it-out method when their kids were babies may turn back and say "Forget it." Hey, kids will eventually sleep alone (show me a teenager who wants to be in bed with Mom and Dad and I'll show you a reality show waiting to happen). But if you'd rather yours go solo more like this month than this century, you can do it -- you just need to brace yourself.

In general, both sleep consultants and parents who've been there say that once you decide to start this sleep training, bed sharing needs to end entirely. No "Well, just for five minutes" or "Maybe tonight because she had a long day." That means midnight visitors get walked back to their rooms, tucked in, kissed, and left behind. No extra snuggles, no drinks of water, as many times as it takes. There will be screams and sobs, and kids so resistant you'll have to carry them, wriggling and accusing all the way, to their beds. Which they will jump out of in a split second. You will start to wonder if you will ever sleep again. You will; just maybe not tonight. Keep this up until the new rules sink in.

If your child has been starting out in your bed and sleeping there all night, every night, your job is even less fun (sorry). Take a comforter into your child's room and sleep on the floor -- not in her bed -- all night long (double sorry). Even though a slumber party in your child's room is probably not your idea of a good time, it's a smart move in the long run. "If you're in her room when she falls asleep and then not there when she wakes a couple of hours later, she will call out or come looking for you," says Jennifer Waldburger, L.C.S.W., cocreator with Spivack of The Sleepeasy Solution. "Sleeping in her room all night pushes the reset button, so to speak, on whatever anxiety your child is having about being there alone. She can wake up and see Mom or Dad each time, then just go back to sleep."

After two or three nights, switch to sitting quietly in a nearby chair until your child falls asleep. But no talking! You want to bore your child to sleep. If she kicks up a fuss, temporarily leave the room. She'll settle down if she knows the reward is that you'll rejoin her.

Each night, move yourself farther from your child's bed -- to the door, to the hallway, and eventually back to your own bedroom. "If your child follows you, you want to calmly, unemotionally, walk her back to bed every time she gets up," says Waldburger.

A secure door gate -- or just the idea of it -- can also work wonders for certain kids. When she was 3 years old, Monica and Ron Calderon's daughter, Marquesa, started waking up around 4 a.m. and sneaking into bed with her parents. After a few nights of crowded quarters, the Tigard, OR, couple reminded little Marquesa of "the gate," the one she knew from when she was a "baby" (a few months back). Marquesa hated being corralled, so that gentle threat was more than enough to coax her back to her own bed.

The Next Morning
How'd your kid do? If not so great, keep encouraging him and reminding him of the new rules. If he made it through the night -- or even made some improvements -- bring on the praise. He's a big kid! He can do it! Toddlers and preschoolers, thank goodness, thrive on pleasing you.

Prizes are also generally welcomed by little kids. You could let your child pick a small "sleep treat" from a grab bag in the morning or leave one under his pillow. I admit it: I lured my younger daughter, Flora, back to her bed with prizes. Borrowing an idea from Janie Peterson, author of The Sleep Fairy, I told Flora that the Sleep Fairy (sort of like the Tooth Fairy) leaves stickers, small toys, and other goodies under sleeping children's pillows. It worked like a dream. Within a week, she was in the habit of staying in bed, and the prizes weren't even a big issue.

It may take more than one tactic to entice your child into his bed. But whatever you do, be consistent and have faith! Colleen and Rob, the parents of bed-hog Jenna, stuck it out and report that now their problem is getting her up in the morning. Well, at least everyone's getting some rest.

How to Be a Good Fan at Your Childs Games

Just as your child learns physical, social and mental skills while playing sports, you can learn how to model appropriate behaviors at athletic contests by developing a few skills of your own:

Cheering for your childs team and not against opponents

Respecting all game officials

Being positive, not critical

Cheer for Your Team, Not Against the Opponent

You have more influence on your child than anyone else. How you act at a sporting event will influence your childs actions. If you want to teach him or her how to be a good sport, start by modeling sportsmanship.

Your reaction to bad calls, unfortunate circumstances, disappointment and even failure will teach your child how to handle similar situations. For this reason, you must be aware of what you say and do at all times during games. Remind yourself of the role you play. As a fan, your job is to cheer on and support your child, the team and the coaches. Thats it! Theres no reason for you to get involved in any other way with officials, opposing fans, players, coaches or even your child during a game.

Focus on cheering for your child and the team. Praise all the players for their efforts and the good plays they make. Don't heckle opposing players. In fact, if a child from the other team makes an outstanding catch, shot or pass, clap for him. This behavior helps create a fun game atmosphere for everyone involved. When you do your job well, you show your child and other parents exactly what they should do, too.

Respect Officials

When it comes to not criticizing referees and game officials, the sad truth is that many parents fail miserably. If you are someone who gets upset at officials, keep in mind that most of them are volunteers who are trying their best to get things right. Rarely will their calls affect the outcome of a game. In youth sports, referees have two responsibilities:

To make sure both teams (or players) follow the rules

To keep order

Officials strive to be neutral and keep everything as fair as possible. Thats their job, and thats why they are there. They arent professionals. In fact, many youth sports officials are teenagers who volunteer their time. They will make mistakes occasionally, so it’s unrealistic to expect perfection all the time.

You can model respect for officials by doing three things:

Keep quiet when theres a questionable ruling

Learn the rules of your childs sport

Thank officials after games

By modeling these behaviors, you help your child (and other players and parents) recognize and respect the tough job officials have. You also teach them about showing respect to authority figures, whether they are referees, bosses, teachers, elected officials or law enforcement officers.

Now let’s look at the importance of being positive, not critical. Who hasn’t heard parents screaming commands or opinions like these from the sidelines?

"What were you thinking?!"

"Throw it to Johnny!"

"Get her out of there!"

"Hustle!"

When parents shout out criticisms and complaints, or even instructions and advice, they can disrupt the game for everyone. Players can get distracted and discouraged when someone other than a coach tells them what to do. Nothing good comes from being a critical fan in the stands.

Practice Being Positive, Not Critical

When a game is close or a questionable call doesnt go your teams way, thats when its most important for you to be positive. Remind yourself that it’s just a game. Let the players play and the coaches coach.

If you do find yourself getting emotional or upset, take a few deep breaths and give yourself time to calm down. Maybe call a friend or talk with another parent about something other than the game. If necessary, leave the game for a few minutes (get a drink or go to the restroom). Once you've regained your composure, you can enjoy the game with a more positive attitude and realistic outlook.

Always remember that your job is to be a cheerleader, and nothing else, for your child and the team at practices and games. Do your job well by cheering for the team, respecting officials and staying positive.

Potty Training: Girls vs. Boys

Most moms potty train in hopes of (finally!) being able to walk past the diaper aisle. But the difference between teaching boys and girls can seem like night and day. Both genders begin by sitting, but boys eventually learn how to stand and aim. Girls learn more quickly but have to figure out how to position themselves and wipe correctly.

To train boys and girls in their own special way:

Girls

The equipment

Try using a potty chair  -- her feet will touch the floor, which relaxes her pelvic muscles. If she's using an adult toilet, give her a step stool.

Positioning

Limit spray by having her sit all the way back so her bottom and vagina are over the potty opening. Encourage her to sit with her knees apart, which will also help relax her pelvic muscles.

Toilet tactics

Teach her to wipe (or pat) from front to back by letting her watch you. Keep her entertained and sitting with books, stickers, or music next to the potty.

Boys

The equipment

Let him use a potty chair to pee if he's not ready to stand and aim. For pooping, use a potty chair or toilet-seat insert (plus a step stool).

Positioning

Have him push his penis straight down before he sits on the potty chair to avoid scraping it on the splash guard. If he's standing, be sure to position him, feet slightly apart, directly in front of the potty.

Toilet tactics

Have him watch his dad, or show him how to aim his pee into the bowl. To improve his aim, drop a few Cheerios or goldfish crackers in the toilet, then offer him a fun sticker for hitting a few. If he's making poop, give him a book or play some music to encourage
him to sit.

Cutting and Self-Injury: We Can Help

Our toll-free Boys Town National Hotline, 1.800.448.3000, serves as a crisis helpline for people all over the country.  Every year, our highly trained counselors help more than 450,000 people with problems ranging from depression and drugs to anger and abuse, and much more.

Over the past few years, we have noticed a steady increase in the number of callers with self-injury behaviors. In 2002, we received 294 calls from persons whose primary issue was self-injury.  In 2007, that number more than doubled to 696, an average of almost two calls a day for an entire year.

The Hotline also handles hundreds of calls each year from people who are in crisis over relationships or mental health issues, and for whom self-injury is the secondary focus.

Regardless of whether self-injury is a primary or secondary reason for calling, a large number of these callers are children and teens. Consider these Hotline statistics:

  • 42 percent of self-injury callers are under 18
  • 21 percent of self-injury callers are between 19 and 23 
  • 87 percent of self-injury callers are female 
  • Females who are 18 or younger make up 37 percent of all self-injury callers

Parents need to understand that self-injury is not necessarily a suicide attempt.  Typically, people  intentionally injure themselves as a way to cope with other crises in their lives.  Kids and teens need to find better ways to deal with these situations.  One way is to call our Hotline because someone there is always ready to help.

How do Hotline counselors comfort self-injury callers and help them cope?

  • They praise callers for taking the first step and talking about their issue (self-injury and cutting). Many times, these callers are in the midst of a crisis, which is when they typically will cause self-injury. 
  • They de-escalate the immediate crisis.  Counselors  work with the caller to help him or her identify alternative coping skills, which can include doing some deep breathing with the caller, having the caller write down his or her feelings in a journal, or having the caller engage in physical activity.  The main focus is to determine what works best for the caller. 
  • They assess any current safety issues:  Has the caller already self-injured? Does he or she need  medical attention?

Once counselors have comforted self-injury callers, what strategies do they offer? 

  • They help callers identify an emotional support system they have in place.  This involves having at least two people (friends, family members, a therapist, Hotline counselors) the person can call and talk to before self-injuring.
  • They have callers create a list of at least 10 things they can do instead of self-injury. 
  • They ask callers to get rid of all the things they might use to harm themselves (razors, knives, lighters, etc.). 
  • They help callers understand that it is okay to feel uncomfortable, scared, and frustrated. 
  • They help callers understand that they can endure the thought of wanting to injure themselves without actually doing it. 
  • They encourage callers to express their feelings in writing (poetry, journaling, etc.).

We also encourage self-injurers to call us back if they feel like they are going to hurt themselves. We stress to them the importance of calling us or someone in their support system before they self-injure.

If you need help with self-injury and cutting, or know someone who does, call the Boys Town National Hotline toll free at 1.800.448.3000.  We also offer referrals to local programs that help people with self-injury issues and can provide information on treatment options.

To find out more about cutting, read the article, Understanding Teen Cutting and Self-Injury, an excellent resource that explains self-injurious behavior, risk factors, signs, and what to do.

If you are the parent of a child who self-injures, another resource is the book, When Your Child Is Cutting, by Merry E. McVey-Noble, and available from the Boys Town Press.

When Disciplining, Be Like a Dispassionate Cop

When police officers ticket citizens for routine traffic violations, they do so dispassionately.  They don’t raise their voices or threaten the driver.  They merely ask for the persons drivers license and registration, specify the violation, write a ticket and ask for a signature.  Then they issue a polite departing message and drive away.

People who receive a ticket almost always immediately begin to drive like they just got out of driving school.  They signal to leave the shoulder, they place their hands at ten and two on the steering wheel and they drive down the highway slower than the posted speed limit.  They continue to drive in this fashion for days and even weeks afterwards.  In other words, their driving behavior substantially improves merely as the result of receiving one ticket delivered by a dispassionate person.

This is a good model to use when disciplining your teenager.  A dispassionate delivery of consequences is all that is necessary.   Getting angry, raising your voice and taking a threatening stance not only is unnecessary, but actually jeopardizes the success of the interaction, the discipline and your relationship with your teen.  You merely need to specify the violation, what the penalty will be (the ticket) and the time frame for the penalty.

It is possible your teenager will become angry about being punished, which is fine unless he or she crosses the line (e.g., become aggressive). When children are disciplined, they are supposed to be upset.  Discipline is an upsetting process.  If they cross the line, it merely means a bigger penalty is probably in order, not that parents need to respond in kind.

The message to bear in mind here is that the dispassionate delivery of a consequence can produce powerful behavior changes in all persons - even teenagers.  The emotional delivery of consequences, on the other hand, can turn a simple teaching interaction into a major confrontation and family fight.  When disciplining your child, I recommend modeling your behavior after that of a dispassionate police officer.

Baby Milestones: Why She Won't Stop Crying

So long, quiet, dreamy newborn; hello, certified screamer? If your baby has begun shrieking endlessly, his face turning purple in frustration, console yourself with this fact: A series of Canadian studies have shown that sometime in the first five months, all newborns experience unsoothable crying jags, some of which can last two hours. Overall, they may cry as much as five hours a day. Some infants sit at the calm end of the spectrum, some are in the middle, and some cry for hours, says Ronald Barr, M.D., the study author and a professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. (The children on the high end of the spectrum are often considered to have colic.) Dr. Barr calls this stage "the period of PURPLE crying." (See below.) By giving it a name, he hopes parents will realize that it's not their fault; some babies cry -- a lot. Talk to a doctor to rule out a medical cause, and then try to ride it out: Hold your child, walk him, and get help, so you can refuel. You will get past this!

P - Peak crying occurs between 2 and 5 months of age
U - Crying is unpredictable, coming and going for no reason
R - The baby resists soothing
P - The baby looks as if he's in pain, but you can't find a cause
L - The periods of crying are long, up to two hours each
E - Crying tends to occur in the evening or the late afternoon

Fairness

From a very early age, we learn that life is not fair. Children have a keen understanding of this concept. When someone breaks a rule, or makes a decision or behaves in a way that puts children at a disadvantage, they instantly respond “That isn’t fair!”

As parents, we need to teach our children that fairness is about actions and consequences that are moral, honorable and equitable. A parent’s role in teaching and modeling fairness is twofold:  First, we must both respond to our child’s need to be treated fairly, and second, we must also teach our child to be fair and to play fair.

Modeling fairness is extremely important. As parents, we have an amazing amount of control over our children’s lives. We determine allowance amounts, bed times, punishments and praise. We have a responsibility to be fair and consistent and not to abuse our power.

There are two types of fairness:

  • Fair results, or substantive fairness
  • Fair procedures, or procedural fairness

Substantive fairness: This means giving people what they deserve. However, deciding what people deserve is subjective. There is often no agreed-upon standard for establishing what a person is due. Thus, it is not always possible to come to an undisputable, fair conclusion. 

This is especially true for teenagers. Teens tend to think that a fair decision results in them getting what they want. Likewise, an unfair decision results in them not getting what they want. Your teen will not always agree that an outcome is fair, but if you reach a decision thoughtfully and according to your conscience, that is the best any parent can do.

Procedural Fairness: Procedural fairness relates to how one reaches a decision. Fair decisions are made in an appropriate manner based on appropriate criteria. Four essential elements of reaching a fair decision are fair notice, impartiality, fact-gathering and fair hearing.

  1. Fair notice: Parents clearly outline rules, expectations and consequences for breaking the rules.
  2. Impartiality: Parents assess the situation objectively.
  3. Fact-gathering: Parents gather all the information they can by talking to their child and verifying the facts if necessary.
  4. Fair hearing: Parents give their child the opportunity to tell his or her side of the story, and then thoroughly investigate the matter to ensure that all of the important information has been gathered. Being heard – explaining and defending oneself – is very important, especially to a teen. It is also necessary when determining consequences for breaking the rules. 

A fair procedure should result in a fair decision. Consequences and punishments must match the offense. Avoid overzealous punishments. Fair, reasonable punishments will result in better behaviors than wildly over reactive ones.  

Fairness is a two-way street. You, as a parent, need to make it clear to your child, especially teens, that you expect fairness from him or her as much as they want fairness from you. And it is extremely important that you model fairness to your child by being as open, honest and objective in your decision-making as possible.

How do I ... prepare her for kindergarten?

The skills that your child will need to be ready to start kindergarten include knowing the names of colors, identifying some letters, counting to ten, writing their first name, counting items, playing cooperatively with others, following two to three part commands, paying attention and concentrating, sitting for long periods of time, and fitting into the daily routine of the school day. Your child should also be able to listen to and understand simple stories, spend extended time away from parents, dress himself, verbally communicate his needs and wants, and be enthusiastic and curious about new activities.

Not all children are ready for school at the same time. If your child is very immature or shy, you can take some steps to help in preparing him for his first day of kindergarten, such as spending time with and playing with other children (especially children who will be in his class), taking him to see his classroom and meet his teacher beforehand, or allowing him to take something special to which he is attached with him to kindergarten. If you feel that your child is still not ready to start kindergarten, you can discuss the problem with his teacher and school to see if accommodations can be made and to discuss the pros and cons of retaining him for a year.

Keep in mind that many professionals recommend keeping children with other kids in their same age group and not holding them back a year. Most children seem to be able to adapt to kindergarten and if they are behind or test low on school readiness tests, then they may just need extra help once they begin. Being held back usually means that they will be one of the older children in the class, and this can lead to problems in adolescents, when these older children are more at risk for smoking, drinking, using drugs, being sexually active, and dropping out. All cases should be considered individually though.

Creating Family Traditions

One of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy family life is to have family traditions. If you don’t have traditions already, this holiday season is the perfect time to start a ritual, celebration or habit of your own.

Your family can celebrate the holidays in many ways. Here are a few examples of traditions that may work for you:
  • Prepare special foods that honor your family’s ethnic, religious or cultural heritage.
  • Create at-home activities that everyone gets involved in: decorating the house, making dinner, eating together, watching a favorite video, playing games or cards, singing carols.
  • Take a family outing; they can be as elaborate as ski vacations or as simple as trips to a local museum or attraction.
  • Volunteer some time for a charitable cause: serving food at a soup kitchen or shelter, visiting residents of a nursing home.
  • Attend worship services as a family.

As your family marks holidays or special events, be sure to talk to your children about the specifics of your family celebration. Make sure your children help plan the celebration and assist with preparations, such as helping set the table or greeting guests.

As your children grow older, you can provide more details about how your family traditions got started and why they’re important. These details will help your children understand the traditions so they can carry them on when they are adults or adapt them to their own lives as they get older. Traditions provide each generation with links to the past.

For some, memories of holidays and special events may not be pleasant. If that is true in your family, try to establish different traditions that give new meaning to these special days.

Whether it’s with special foods or one-of-a-kind activities, traditions create fond childhood memories and bring everyone in the family closer together.

Making a Parenting Plan

You wouldn’t take off on a family vacation without knowing where you were going, how long you’d be gone or how much it would cost. So why would you make the even more important journey through parenthood without a plan?

Developing a parenting plan is like having a roadmap you can follow to find the best way to teach and care for your children. A parenting gives you multiple skills to use in many situations to resolve conflict and build positive relationships with your children. It also lets you develop a detailed, positive strategy for dealing with problem behaviors before they become out-of-control issues.

What Is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is an agreement between spouses or primary caregivers to use appropriate, effective tools in a consistent manner with the children in their care. That means following the three “C’s” of parenting every day – courage, commitment and consistency – as you formulate and implement your plan. Start by writing down the main components, which can include:

  • How to teach new, appropriate behaviors
  • How to stay calm in stressful situations
  • How to model the positive behavior you want your children to learn
  • How to determine the root of your children’s behavioral problems
  • How to accept the unique and different personalities in your household

Develop guidelines or signposts that will help you and other caregivers know when you’re on track and when you’ve taken a detour. Give yourself the freedom to be flexible with your plan so you can effectively adjust it for new situations as they arise.

How to Make a Parenting Plan
The easiest way to start using your parenting plan is to build it around one problem area at a time. Identify the problem you want to address. Describe it in detail and note the appropriate behavior you want your child to use instead. Think of a variety of positive consequences that will encourage the good behavior and negative consequences that discourage the bad behavior. Remember to stay calm whenever the bad behavior occurs and be consistent with your consequences and how you give them.

For example, if your son lies to you on a regular basis, identify the problem as “dishonesty” and replace it by teaching your son the skill of “being honest.” Tell your son the steps to being honest (telling all facts; not omitting information; offering truth; calmly accepting responsibility for one’s behavior) and practice these steps daily through role-play situations. Discipline lying with negative consequences like losing privileges and reward honesty with positive consequences like getting privileges and praise.

Having a plan will give you the confidence and support you need to create and use teaching tools that will help your children grow into responsible and successful adults. Consistent use of a good parenting plan creates a positive family atmosphere filled with tolerance, support and love.

SODAS – A Sweet Way to Make Decisions

SODAS are more than just drinks. It’s also the name of a strategy that gives parents a roadmap for teaching children how to solve problems and make good decisions. SODAS stands for:

S = Situation
O = Options
D = Disadvantages
A = Advantages
S = Solution

The SODAS method helps children and parents think clearly and make decisions based on sound reasoning rather than external pressures or spur-of-the-moment feelings. SODAS is a decision-making strategy that can help children and parents make decisions together and help children make good decisions on their own.

SODAS works best when you teach your children to look at the “big picture” when they’re facing a problem or decision. Asking who, what, where, when, why and how questions will help you and your child clearly define the problem. Practicing this method will help your child avoid the trap of making a decision based solely on emotion.

How to Use SODAS
You receive a call that your child got in a fight at school. When he gets home, you talk with him about what happened. Ask him what he was doing, where he was and what time of day it was (when) just before the fight started. Ask him who else was involved,  exactly what the other person (or people) did, why they might have done it and how those actions made him feel. Then ask him to tell you what he did in response. Once you have defined the SITUATION, you can begin discussing the best way for him to respond in the future.
 
Encourage your child to think of other ways he could have responded instead of fighting back. Don’t tell him outright what he should do; instead, help him think through OPTIONS. Once he’s done that, have him think of the DISADVANTAGES and ADVANTAGES of using each option. It helps to write all this down so you both can keep track of what you’ve discussed. Then ask your child for his thoughts on each option. End the process by guiding him toward the option he thinks will work best and will have the most advantages, and have him choose that as his SOLUTION.

For more difficult decisions, give your child time to choose the best solution. Practice using the SODAS decision-making method with small, simple problems and work your way up to larger ones, once you are comfortable with the technique. If you hold family meetings, use them to teach your children how to use SODAS to solve problems and make good decisions as a group, as well as individually.

Why You Need Family Meetings
If you’ve ever been involved in a project at your workplace to improve communication, relationships or performance, then you know that brief, daily meetings are commonly used to tackle all three topics. It’s no surprise that what works at work can work at home, too.

Daily or weekly meetings are a great way to keep family members who often play, eat and study in different places, connected and communicating with each other. Family meetings cover four critical areas:

  1. Providing praise and encouragement for every family member
  2. Coordinating schedules for the week
  3. Discussing what’s happening in each other’s lives
  4. Developing group decision-making skills

Family meetings are a regular opportunity to heap praise on each other for individual and group accomplishments. Meetings also are a convenient way for everyone to share what’s going on and to make sure everyone gets where they need to be on time and with as little stress as possible. Family meetings help kids and parents develop group decision-making skills by deciding together what TV shows to watch, where to go on a family outing and what to eat for the week.

How to Run a Family Meeting
Have your family meeting when every family member can attend. Meetings can be short –  usually 15 minutes – and can be after dinner, weekly or even bi-weekly. Experiment with different times and how often you have them until you find an arrangement that works for your family. Make your meetings a priority without being inflexible; adjust the time and location as needed and remember that the most important thing is to have every family member present. Once you set a time limit, stick to it.

After calling the meeting to order, thank everyone for being there, make announcements and coordinate schedules, discuss family concerns, make decisions about upcoming events and current issues, and praise members for accomplishments. Be sure to end the meeting on time.

Give all family members an equal opportunity to raise questions, discuss concerns and voice opinions. Practice politeness by not interrupting each other and respecting each other’s opinions, especially when there’s disagreement. Finally, make your meetings fun. While there will be times when you have to address serious issues, lighthearted family interaction should be the norm.

For Kids: Cheating

Just as Mrs. Waldman hands out the spelling test, you see Jeff pull out a small piece of paper with a lot of little scribbling on it. Jeff tucks the note into his closed fist but soon takes it out again. While he's taking the test, you see him looking back and forth between the teacher and his paper. There's no mistaking it — he's cheating.

What Exactly Is Cheating?

Cheating is when a person misleads, deceives, or acts dishonestly on purpose. For kids, cheating may happen at school, at home, or while playing a sport. If a baseball team is for kids who are 8 or younger, it's cheating for a 9-year-old to play on the team and hit home run after home run.

At school, in addition to cheating on a test, a kid might cheat by stealing someone else's idea for a science project or by copying a book report off the Internet and turning it in as if it's his or her original work. Copying someone else's words or work and saying they're yours is a type of cheating called plagiarizing (say: play-jeh-rise-ing).

How Do People Cheat?

Cheating can happen in a lot of different ways. Jeff is doing it by sneaking answers to a test, but it's also cheating to break the rules of a game or contest or to pretend something is yours when it isn't. When people cheat, it's not fair to other people, like the kids who studied for the test or who were the true winners of a game or contest.

It's tempting to cheat because it makes difficult things seem easy, like getting all the right answers on the test. But it doesn't solve the problem of not knowing the material and it won't help on the next test — unless the person cheats again.

Sometimes it may seem like cheaters have it all figured out. They can watch TV instead of studying for the spelling test. But other people lose respect for cheaters and think less of them. The cheaters themselves may feel bad because they know they are not really earning that good grade. And, if they get caught cheating, they will be in trouble at school, and maybe at home, too.

Why Kids Cheat

Some kids cheat because they're busy or lazy and they want to get good grades without spending the time studying. Other kids might feel like they can't pass the test without cheating. Even when there seems to be a "good reason" for cheating, cheating isn't a good idea.

If you were sick or upset about something the night before and couldn't study, it would be better to talk with the teacher about this. And if you don't have enough time to study for a test because of swim practice, you need to talk with your parents about how to balance swimming and school.

A kid who thinks cheating is the only way to pass a test needs to talk with the teacher and his or her parents so they can find some solutions together. Talking about these problems and working them out will feel better than cheating.

Truth and Consequences

Many kids feel tempted to cheat once in a while. Most resist and do the work instead. Some kids cheat once and feel so bad that they never do it again. Others get caught and decide it isn't worth it. Unfortunately, some kids start cheating and feel like they can't stop.

Kids who cheat may feel worried about getting caught. Whether they are caught or not, these kids may feel guilty, or embarrassed, or ashamed — or all three. Even if the cheater feels fine or doesn't get caught, that doesn't mean it's OK. If you see someone cheating, or if someone asks to copy your work, you can tell a teacher or another grown-up.

Kids who get caught cheating might be given a "zero" score on the assignment, be sent to the principal's office, and have their parents contacted. Worse than the bad grade may be the feeling of having disappointed other people, like parents and teachers. A parent may worry that you are not an honest person and a teacher might watch you more closely the next time you're taking a test.

Cheaters cheat themselves in a way because they don't make an honest attempt to learn as much as they can. For instance, if you cheat your way through spelling tests, you won't learn how to spell. That can katch — I mean catch — up with you when you get older! And adults who cheat — at work, sports, or in their relationships — get into serious trouble, far more serious than a bad grade on a spelling test.

Making a Comeback

There are plenty of reasons why a kid shouldn't cheat, but some kids have already cheated. If that's you, it's never too late to stop cheating. Cheating can become a habit, but like other bad habits, a kid can always decide to act better and make better choices. It might help to talk the problem over with a parent, teacher, or counselor. Choosing to play fair and be honest again can help a kid feel relieved and proud.

There's an old saying that cheaters never win and winners never cheat. This may sound confusing because sometimes it seems like cheaters do win — at least for the moment. But kids who don't cheat are true winners because, when they win, they do it fair and square.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: July 2010

Parenting Tips

I love my children, but being a parent can be so hard!

Being a parent can be a joy, but it's also a tough job. No parent is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Even loving parents sometimes do things they don't mean to do, such as yell at a child. But if you think you're having trouble controlling yourself, get help so a pattern of abuse doesn't start.

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I get so frustrated sometimes. Is this normal?

Yes, all parents get frustrated. Children take a lot of time and energy. Parenting is even harder when you have problems in your own life, such as worries about your job, your bills or your relationships, or problems with alcohol or drugs. To be a good parent, you have to first take care of yourself. That means getting help for your problems.

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What can I do when I feel frustrated?

Take a break. Everyone needs a break from being a parent once in a while. If you have another adult in your family, take turns getting away. For example, have your partner stay with the children so you can visit friends. Take turns sleeping late on the weekends. If you're a single parent, ask friends and relatives to help by running some errands for you or watching your child while you go out.

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I sometimes lose my temper. Does that mean I'm a bad parent?

No, many parents lose their temper with their children. It's okay to feel angry, but it's not okay to take it out on your children. When you're really angry, take a break. For example, take your children for a walk or call a friend to come help you. If you feel angry with your child almost every day or have trouble controlling your temper, get some help by talking to your family doctor. He or she can offer advice and provide resources to help you. There are groups that can help parents, also.

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Is it okay to spank my child?

Spanking isn't the best way to discipline children. The goal of discipline is to teach children self-control. Spanking may teach children to stop doing something out of fear. There are better ways to discipline children.

One good way for infants and toddlers is called "redirecting." When you redirect a child, you replace an unwanted (bad) behavior with an acceptable (good) behavior. For example, if throwing a ball inside the house isn't allowed, take your child outside to throw the ball.

If you have older children, explain the consequences of their actions and why it is important to take responsibility for them. For example, you can explain to your child that everyone had to wait for dinner because he or she didn't set the table when asked. Explain that your child has to wash the dishes after dinner because he or she didn't set the table before dinner.

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How can I be a good parent?

There's not just one right way to raise children. And there's no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. But here are some guidelines to help your children grow up healthy and happy:

  • Show your love. Every day, tell your children: "I love you. You're special to me." Give lots of hugs and kisses.
  • Listen when your children talk. Listening to your children tells them that you think they're important and that you're interested in what they have to say.
  • Make your children feel safe. Comfort them when they're scared. Show them you've taken steps to protect them.
  • Provide order in their lives. Keep a regular schedule of meals, naps and bedtimes. If you have to change the schedule, tell them about the changes ahead of time.
  • Praise your children. When your children learn something new or behave well, tell them you're proud of them.
  • Criticize the behavior, not the child. When your child makes a mistake, don't say, "You were bad." Instead, explain what the child did wrong. For example, say: "Running into the street without looking isn't safe." Then tell the child what to do instead: "First, look both ways for cars."
  • Be consistent. Your rules don't have to be the same ones other parents have, but they do need to be clear and consistent. (Consistent means the rules are the same all the time.) If 2 parents are raising a child, both need to use the same rules. Also, make sure baby-sitters and relatives know (and follow) your family rules.
  • Spend time with your children. Do things together, such as reading, walking, playing and cleaning the house. What children want most is your attention. Bad behavior is usually an attempt to get your attention.

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Who can I ask when I need help raising my child?

There are many ways to get good parenting advice. Sign up for parenting classes offered by hospitals, community centers or schools. Read parenting books or magazines. Talk to your family doctor, a minister, a priest or a counselor.

You can also ask your family doctor for parenting help. Don't be embarrassed to ask. Raising children is hard, and no one can do it alone. Your doctor can help you with issues like discipline, potty training, eating problems and bedtime. Your doctor can also help you find local groups that can help you learn good parenting skills.

Reduce Power Struggles with Your Children

Tip--Reduce power struggles with your child by using parenting tools.

My three-year-old has trouble with transitions. In particular, he hates to leave anywhere when he's having fun. Sometimes he's not really enjoying himself and still protests going. We have a crying or screaming scene each time I insist he come with me.
 

Keep in mind--In Love & Limits, parent educator Elizabeth Crary writes about power struggles. She explains that power struggles occur when both parent and child want their own way. If either the child or parent always wins the conflict, then the conflict will happen again and again.

Tools--There are several techniques that help reduce power struggles. For the mother in the example above, the following tools could help make a difference.

  • Give children power in some areas. One way to give power is to offer children choices. Choose the issues that are important to you and let others go. For example, the mother described in the situation above could share some power in the departure issue by offering the choice, "Do you want to stay for five more minutes or leave now?"
  • Praise cooperative behavior. Praise your child whenever she cooperates with your requests or directions. For example, say, "Wow, you got dressed really fast. I appreciate that," or "Thank you for coming right away."
  • Acknowledge feelings. When the child has trouble leaving, say, "You're really sad that we have to say goodbye to Kaeli."
  • Do something unexpected. If you usually roll your eyes and say, "We go through this everyday!" then change your response. For example, when your child has a tantrum, sing a silly tune: "You're so mad at your mom. You're so mad at your mom. You wanted to stay and you have to go. You're so mad at your mom."
  • Give two yeses. Telling a child what he may do often stops a power struggle. The mother in the example above could say, "It's time to go and you want to stay. You may invite Kaeli over tomorrow or call her when you get home." Both ideas respect the child's desire to be with her friend.

You’ll find more practical tips you can use right now in Love & Limits: Guidance Tools for Creative Parenting by Elizabeth Crary.

6 Potty Training Methods

Want to know how to potty train a toddler? You’ll need patience…and a sense of humor. But first, pick a method that works for you both!

There's no single, guaranteed method for success in potty training. You've got to choose your strategy based on the kind of kid your child is, and the kind of parent you are, too.

Here are six popular approaches to taming the toilet.

The Wait-and-Pee (or Poop)

The Method: Starting at around age 2, watch for signals that your child is ready, but don't pressure him. Put a potty seat in the bathroom, for example, but don't insist that he use it. Just be supportive and praise him when he does.

Pros: Less frustration and fewer accidents because (theoretically, at least) a child succeeds quickly once he's ready.

Cons: More than likely, your child will be in diapers longer than with other methods (though he won't be alone—40 percent of kids aren't trained by age 3).

Is It Right for You? This approach is especially good for a kid who's accomplishment-oriented—“say, if he has a big brother he wants to be like,” explains Peter Stavinoha, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist at Children's Medical Center, in Dallas, and the coauthor of Stress-Free Potty Training: A Commonsense Guide to Finding the Right Approach for Your Child. And if you don't mind diapers, what the heck

The Potty Planner

The Method: Set aside some time—say, the month before preschool—and make a focused effort to promote potty use. Stay close to home and gently steer your toddler to the bathroom at predictable intervals (also ask if she needs to go, to help her recognize the sensations). At the end of the allotted time, your child will be at least partly trained. Some parents declare “booty camp,” where a day or even a week is structured entirely around potty use.

Pros: Making a concerted effort helps your little one concentrate on the task at hand.

Cons: You'll have to structure your time so that you're home a lot, and your efforts can backfire if you're too intense.

Is It Right for You? Yes, if you've got a generally cooperative child who thrives on routine. But if you or your child gets distracted or frustrated easily, pick another strategy

The Training-Pants Transition

The Method: Switch your child from diapers to disposable training pants. Take him to the bathroom at intervals, ask him often if he has to go, and praise him when he gets to the potty in time. Or you could try “wet sensation” diapers that cause a coolness when he pees, and ask him to tell you when he does, so you can start timing his potty trips.

Pros: Disposable trainers contain accidents. Wet-sensation diapers do, too, and can increase your child's awareness of his own bodily functions.

Cons: Training pants and wet-sensation diapers both can be more expensive than traditional diapers. And don't count on wet-sensation dipes providing a jolt that sends your kid scurrying to the potty, says Edward Christophersen, Ph.D., a clinical child psychologist at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, in Kansas City, MO. “He's been sitting in wet diapers his whole life.”

Is It Right for You? Sure, if you don't mind waiting a little longer for results and you know you'll get annoyed if your child fails to perform, disposables will reduce the anxiety for both of you

Eyes on the Prize

The Method: Reward your child after her potty triumphs with something small, like a sticker. You'll combine this method with one of the others above.

Pros: For some kids, the thought of a trip to the toy store or Grandma's house is motivating.

Cons: You run the risk of having your child demand compensation for every “performance.” “There are many other milestones your child must reach, and this sets a precedent for regular rewards,” warns Stavinoha.

Is It Right for You? It can be, if you know when to draw the line. Try eventually switching to rewards related to potty use, like fancy underwear

The Panty Raid

The Method: Let your child pick out fun underpants. Put them on and let the spills fall where they may.

Pros: Your kid will feel grown up—and also feel accidents acutely, so she might get to the potty sooner next time.

Cons: Well, this is certainly the messiest route!

Is It Right for You? If you're very patient and you've got a washing machine and dryer handy, it might be easier than going through boxes of disposables

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Pee

The Method: Each time your child uses the potty correctly, sing his praises. Ask relatives to fuss over him, too.

Pros: Internalized rewards build self-esteem, and kids usually relish attention more than any toy.

Cons: Avoid going overboard, says Christophersen. “Then, when your child has an accident, he may be deflated by the lack of support.” Tell him that accidents happen!

Is It Right for You? Words of encouragement are always a smart choice. Soon you'll be patting yourself on the back, too—for escaping the changing table's clutches!

How to Be a Good Fan at Your Child’s Games

Just as your child learns physical, social and mental skills while playing sports, you can learn how to model appropriate behaviors at athletic contests by developing a few skills of your own:

  • Cheering for your child’s team and not against opponents
  • Respecting all game officials
  • Being positive, not critical

Cheer for Your Team, Not Against the Opponent
You have more influence on your child than anyone else. How you act at a sporting event will influence your child’s actions. If you want to teach him or her how to be a good sport, start by modeling sportsmanship.

Your reaction to bad calls, unfortunate circumstances, disappointment and even failure will teach your child how to handle similar situations. For this reason, you must be aware of what you say and do at all times during games. Remind yourself of the role you play. As a fan, your job is to cheer on and support your child, the team and the coaches. That’s it! There’s no reason for you to get involved in any other way with officials, opposing fans, players, coaches or even your child during a game.

Focus on cheering for your child and the team. Praise all the players for their efforts and the good plays they make. Don’t heckle opposing players. In fact, if a child from the other team makes an outstanding catch, shot or pass, clap for him. This behavior helps create a fun game atmosphere for everyone involved. When you do your job well, you show your child and other parents exactly what they should do, too.

Respect Officials
When it comes to not criticizing referees and game officials, the sad truth is that many parents fail miserably. If you are someone who gets upset at officials, keep in mind that most of them are volunteers who are trying their best to get things right. Rarely will their calls affect the outcome of a game. In youth sports, referees have two responsibilities:

  • To make sure both teams (or players) follow the rules
  • To keep order

Officials strive to be neutral and keep everything as fair as possible. That’s their job, and that’s why they are there. They aren’t professionals. In fact, many youth sports officials are teenagers who volunteer their time. They will make mistakes occasionally, so it’s unrealistic to expect perfection all the time.

You can model respect for officials by doing three things:

  • Keep quiet when there’s a questionable ruling
  • Learn the rules of your child’s sport
  • Thank officials after games

By modeling these behaviors, you help your child (and other players and parents) recognize and respect the tough job officials have. You also teach them about showing respect to authority figures, whether they are referees, bosses, teachers, elected officials or law enforcement officers.

Hair Pulling, Head Banging and

I have a 13 month old daughter who is just starting to grow her hair [out], but she keeps pulling it out .... Is this normal for an infant to do?

Hair pulling, head-banging, body rocking, thumb sucking and other habits often appear in infancy. Parents who witness these sometimes alarming behaviors wonder why their children do it. Oddly enough, these habits are considered self-soothing to the infant and are often associated with boredom, loneliness, or some other stress. Fortunately, the habits in young infants and toddlers are not usually associated with emotional or development problems, and they often stop after few months without any special intervention.

Many parents become concerned that the child could actually injure himself, especially with head banging, but that is very unlikely. A child who bangs his head against a hard surface rarely gets a bruise or a cut. Some children may develop a callous or thickened area to the scalp. Hair pulling is also concerning becomes some parents worry that a permanent bald patch may develop, but again that is unlikely to happen. Occasionally, if a child who pulls out his hair also likes to eat it, he may then end up with a wad of indigestible hair (known as a bezoar) in his stomach. The bezoar must then be surgically removed. As long as the child does not eat her hair, then a bezoar is not an issue to worry about.

Sometimes one habit is done in concert with another. The child who sucks her thumb also twirls her hair. Eliminating thumb sucking may also mean the end of the hair twirling.

Is there anything a parent can do to help eliminate these habits sooner rather than later?

The best advice to stop a habit is to ignore it.
The best advice is to ignore the behavior. If the child sucks her thumb, resist the urge to say, “Get your thumb out of your mouth!” Instead, consider quietly offering her something else to do that will require her to get her thumb out of her mouth like blowing bubbles or playing a game together, but do this without mentioning her thumb sucking.

The second best bit of advice is to give your child more attention overall. Do not increase your attention only after observing the “bad” habit; to do so would just make the child associate the habit with getting more attention.

Finally, make the behavior less pleasurable. For a child who pulls his hair, consider a short haircut. For a girl who pulls her hair, try a hairstyle that makes it hard to get at her hair like a braid or ponytail. (Be careful not to pull the braid or ponytail too tight because this can lead to excessive traction on the hair root.)

For the child who engages in raucous head-banging at bedtime, pad the headboard or crib. (Remember, even though head-banging sounds anything but pleasurable to you, it is a tension reliever for the child.) Nail biting is another common habit and keeping the nails short and the cuticles softened and trimmed may help.

When should a parent worry that a bad habit like hair-pulling has crossed the line into something more worrisome?

You may need professional help if the child is closer to school aged, if the habit does not resolve within several months, especially if there is a family history of trichotillomania, obsessive compulsive disorder or anxiety disorders. For head banging and body rocking, a parent may worry if the child is showing signs of mental retardation or abnormal language and social development. As always, if you have any doubts about the nature of your child’s behavior, consult your pediatrician

Parenting Tips - Dedication

Parenting Tips - Raising Children is Demanding
If I was to share parenting tips with a “wanna-be” Mom or Dad, I would absolutely do my best to help them understand just how demanding and time consuming it is to take care of children. Parenting sounds heavenly to the soon-to-be Mom and Dad, but not long after that little bundle of joy is delivered, most begin searching for tips on parenting. Why? Even though we all know that parenting is demanding, it still takes most of us by surprise.

When I had my first baby I didn’t have a clue how much time was going to be dedicated to caring for my son. Because I was so in the dark, I actually thought being a Mom wasn’t going to change my lifestyle much at all. I’d still be free to do whatever I wanted, whenever and wherever I wanted. I was completely wrong and therefore totally unprepared. I became depressed over the constant attention he needed. It was such a hard adjustment for me because I was completely clueless to the fact that parenting is very demanding.

If you are expecting a child or already have a child the best parenting tip anyone can give is this:
  • Be mentally prepared to meet the demands and then resolve in your heart to give the much needed time and attention over and over again to your little one.

Parenting Tips - Genuine Love
The next parenting tip I would give is that children cannot grow up to be healthy, happy well-functioning adults unless they’re loved -- genuinely loved by their parents. Children need to know they are special, important, and irreplaceable, otherwise they won’t be able to get past this much need affirmation. They will seek to find it in drugs, bad relationships, and rebellion. They won’t be equipped emotionally to stand toe to toe with pear pressure.

Children strive for the approval of their parents. But we as parents won’t be able to give this approval on a constant level if we don’t first come to understand tip one, that children need our time and attention. This is normal for any child and if we don’t understand how imperative this is deep down in our hearts and minds, then we will send the message to our kids that they are a burden. Think about this, it would be impossible for a child to feel as though he is a burden if we have first resolved in our hearts to give ourselves up for his needs. That is genuine love and we know this by Jesus’ example: He gave Himself up for us and He did so because of genuine love.

Parenting Tips – The Importance of Respect and Guidance
This will bring us to our next parenting tip which is guidance. Kids will learn what they live. If we disrespect our kids, they will disrespect us and others. A common way we as parents disrespect our children is by letting them get away with being disrespectful to us.

For example, I say to my four year old son Johnny, “It’s time for bed, hurry off now.” His response is, “NO” and I laugh and say, “How cute.” I have disrespected him. In other words, I didn’t care about his need for guidance. If we walked into someone’s house and smoked after they have expressed their desire for not smoking in their house, I would be showing disrespect for the needs of the home owner. If we laugh at our kids when they are disrespectful to us (which they will be at times) or don’t correct them, we show disrespect for their needs. Children need guidance. But unless our guidance stems from love, it will come off as nothing but orders: “I am parent and you are a nothing child, do as I say!”

As a parent, we owe it to our kids to guide them into being respectful children. Otherwise they will grow to be disrespectful to all authority.

  • Guidance takes time and love -- lots of time and lots of love. Never, ever give up.
If children know beyond a doubt that they are loved, special, and important to their parents, and are learning respect for others, they are well on their way to a healthy happy future. But the key is to be persistent and realize that this bundle of joy came into this world with a number of great needs that we can meet if we realize the demands of parenting and love them all the way through their growing up stages.

Bad Breath

Bad breath (halitosis) is common in children, especially older children and adolescents. It is often related to bacterial activity in the back of the mouth, nose or on the teeth.
  • postnasal drip is the most common cause of bad breath in children, and may be caused by allergies, recurrent colds or chronic sinus infections.
  • poor dentition is usually suspected when children have bad breath. It may be from cavities, inflammed gums (gingivitis) or trapped food particles, which can also become trapped in the crypts of the tonsils, leading to tonsilloliths.
  • mouth breathing, whether because of allergies or enlarged adenoids, can also lead to bad breath, usually because the mouth becomes dry and saliva can not perform its role of washing away bacteria in the mouth. Other conditions that lead to a dry mouth, such as taking certain medications, can also lead to bad breath.
  • nasal foreign body - a small item placed and stuck in a child's nose can often get infected and lead to an odor. A clue for this problem is that they will often just have a green discharge from one nostril, whereas most infections would cause drainage from both sides of their nose

Bad breath can also be associated with eating certain foods and with cigarette smoking (another good reason to advice your kids not to start smoking).

Bad breath can often be treated or prevented through good oral hygeine, including brushing and flossing, cleaning the back of the tongue, keeping the mouth moist, rinsing the mouth, and treatment of any underlying allergies, sinus infections or other medical conditions that may be contributing to the bad breath.

Birthmarks

Birthmarks

Birthmarks are common in children and can include:

Stork Bites

Stork bites (also called angel's kisses or salmon patches) are common birthmarks in children and usually begin as a flat, pink or red area on the skin on the back of the neck, forehead, eyelids, or around the nose. Stork bites usually fade as your child gets older, but faint remnants may persist.

Mongolian Spots

Mongolian spots are dark flat bluish-black areas on the lower back or buttocks. These birthmarks will darken at first and then fade with by the time he is six to seven years old.

Cafe au lait spots

Cafe au lait spots are flat light brown oval shaped patches of skin that can occur anywhere on the body. They do not fade and may even increase in number as your child gets older, especially around adolescence. If your child has more than 6 cafe au lait spots that are larger than half a centimeter in diameter, you should discuss it with your pediatrician, as this can be associated with some medical problems.

Strawberry hemangioma

Another common type of birthmark that affects ten percent of babies is the strawberry hemangioma. These are soft, firm, raised red areas that can occur anywhere on the body. They may be present at birth as a small red spot or they may appear later in the first month of life. They usually grow rapidly during the first six to twelve months, remain unchanged until your child is about eighteen months old and then slowly become smaller and fade by the time your child is five to ten years old. Fifty percent of hemangiomas will fade by the time your child is five years old and seventy-five percent will fade by the time he is seven years old. Hemangiomas will usually become pale in the center and turn a more purple and then grayish color just before starting to get smaller.

Unless a strawberry is in an area that can interfere with your babies normal development (for example by blocking his vision or causing difficulty breathing or hearing), no treatment is necessary. If it begins bleeding, you should apply firm pressure as you would for any other area of the skin that was bleeding. About 5% of hemangiomas become ulcerated, especially if they are in an area that is under pressure or touched a lot. Other complications, including congestive heart failure from very large lesions and Kasabach-Merritt syndrome are rare.

You may consider treatment if it is not showing any improvement by the time your child is four years old. Treatments for hemangiomas include the use of high doses of steroids (either orally or injected into the lesion) to stop their growth (keep in mind that steroids only keep them from growing, they don't make the hemangioma any smaller), interferon alphs, laser therapy and surgical removal. But remember that most hemangiomas do not require treatment.


Port wine stains

Port wine stains are deep red or purple flat areas on the skin of the face or extremities. They are present at birth and grow at the same rate as the child. They usually occur on one side of the body only and do not fade with time. However, they can usually be treated with laser therapy to help them fade. Port wine stains that are on the face, especially around the eye can be associated with Sturge-Weber Syndrome, in which children can also have seizures and mental retardation.

In a Crisis, Parents Must Be There, Be Aware for Their Children

http://www.parenting.org/article/crisis-parents-must-be-there-be-aware-their-children

Author: 
Dan Daly, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Director of Youth Care, Boys Town

In the aftermath of a crisis like a school shooting, there is often a rush to provide psychiatric counseling for students affected by the tragedy. 

While such counseling can be valuable, not every child who experiences such a crisis needs it.  Humans are hard-wired to survive emotional trauma, and everyone – including teens – has natural, “built-in” coping mechanisms that can help them deal with the challenges of such events.

This doesn’t mean kids can go it alone. Parents must take the lead role in supporting their children, promoting the healing process and encouraging a return to normalcy, immediately after the event and in the months that follow.

The keys are being available to listen and giving kids the time and space they need to sort through and share what they’re feeling, using those built-in coping mechanisms.

First, parents must understand that it is normal for their children to feel upset, sad, confused or scared and other strong emotions when something bad happens, and let their kids know it’s okay to have those feelings.  Parents should make sure their kids know they can talk to them anytime, but should not force or press the issue. Being available and supportive is the most important thing.

One way to encourage youth to talk about how they’re feeling is to say a family prayer during dinner for the person or persons who lost their lives or were hurt. This is a wonderful, proactive way to remember the victims and make it easier for a young person to open up and confide in Mom and Dad. 

The days and weeks following a crisis also are a time when family members should show affection and be kinder and gentler with each other. Surrounding a child with tender loving care and the “milk of human kindness” is exactly what is needed to begin the healing.

Parents also should encourage their children to return to their regular activities as soon as possible. This means getting back to school, continuing involvement in academics, sports, music and church, and socializing with friends (talking on the phone, going to movies, shopping at the mall, hanging out).

Parents, teachers and friends are natural grief counselors; they are often the most potent sources of comfort and assistance in a crisis. That’s why it’s important for children to get back to the activities and people who are important to them.

Kids may put up some resistance. They might feel it’s just not “right” to go back to life as usual; they might feel it shows disrespect to those who were hurt or killed in the event. Or, they may think that things can never go back to the way they were. But parents have a responsibility to support their kids and to help them understand that life will go on and that it’s okay to study, laugh, have fun and be a kid again.

Finally, children should be allowed and encouraged to grieve for those who were killed or injured. Religious ceremonies, candlelight vigils, moments of silence, tributes and funerals are ways to honor those who were lost, but also serve as a release for those who are left behind to mourn. 

Through all of this, parents should be vigilant and watchful, keeping their eyes and ears open for signals of deeper problems. These might include changes in eating or sleeping habits, not being able to return to normal activities or feeling guilty about being a “survivor.”  If parents notice these or other red flags continuing two weeks or longer after the event, they should seek professional help.

Monitoring and vigilance should continue long after the crisis. It is normal for young people to still feel grief and sadness or to want to talk about the event or someone who was lost months later. It’s the same as remembering or missing a loved one who passed away years earlier. As long as a child is functioning normally and hasn’t had any problems getting back to his or her routine, this shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.

A tragedy like a school shooting affects the whole community, but it is most difficult for the students who were directly involved and their parents and families. Parents must provide the time, support, understanding and vigilance necessary for their children to cope, heal and move on.      

Crisis Care Tips for Parents

  • Everyone – including teens – is hard-wired to recover from crisis events and has “built-in” coping mechanisms.
  • It is normal for kids to feel upset, sad, confused or afraid after something bad happens; let your child know it’s okay to have these feelings.
  • Always be available to talk and listen to your child, but don’t force children to talk about their feelings.
  • Parents, friends and teachers are the best sources of support, caring and understanding.
  • Getting kids back to their normal activities as soon as possible promotes coping and healing.
  • Give kids time and space to sort through their feelings.
  • Monitor kids and stay vigilant as the healing process continues, even months after the event.
  • If kids can’t get back to their normal life, show unusual changes in their routines or give other signals they are struggling, seek professional help.

Signs Your Baby Loves You

How do you know your baby loves you back? Sweet, surprising ways she shows it.

Let's be real. Babies this little are not going to give you the kind of feedback you might desperately wish for after that grueling labor and those sleepless nights. But as you and your baby get to know each other, you'll get glimmers that a bond is forming, and that can be more meaningful than a big declaration of love. "Attachment is a process," says Debbie Laible, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Lehigh University. When you take care of your baby, he falls more in love with you every day, and says thanks in his own baby ways.

“Within a few weeks, babies can recognize their caregiver, and they prefer her to other people,” says Alison Gopnik, Ph.D., author ofThe Philosophical Baby and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Partly, your little one's just following her nose: In one study, researchers put a nursing newborn between two breast pads, one belonging to her mother. The scent of Mom's milk was enough to get the baby to turn toward that pad.

Become the foremost expert on what your baby's various cries mean. Relentless and desperate usually means hunger, abrupt might mean pain, and more plaintive can signal discomfort. You'll figure it out through trial and error, eventually grasping nuances that will baffle outsiders. The better you know his language, the better you can meet his needs. “When a baby's distressed and his parents respond, he learns he can count on them for comfort and relief, and that he matters,” says Linda Gilkerson, Ph.D., director of the Irving B. Harris Infant Studies Program at Erikson University. But don't worry if you can't always nail the wail: “You don't have to be perfect,” says Gilkerson. In fact, she says, research shows that caregivers are in perfect sync with their babies only about 40 percent of the time. What's more important is that you will learn to recognize and respond when your baby needs you. “Your baby learns ‘I can rely on Mom. Even if I cry for a little bit, she gets to me soon enough that I don't fall apart,’” Gilkerson says.

“Within a month or so of being born, babies respond to the facial expressions of their mothers, and without thinking about it, the moms start doing it right back,” says Gopnik. We're talking about the smiles, the meaningful looks, the coy looking away and back again (think back to ninth-grade study hall; you get the idea!). These goofy games appear to be as important in cementing a baby's attachment as your responses to her physical needs. At around 4 months, she'll also be unable to take her eyes off of you. And who can blame her? By then, she's gotten used to life on the outside, can suck and swallow, and is physiologically more regulated (i.e., is no longer eating and sleeping like a jet-lagged traveler), so she can begin to pay attention to more than just her immediate bodily needs, explains Gilkerson.

Flirt back—and don't be afraid to use exaggerated expressions. “Face-to-face interaction is part of how babies learn about positive give-and-take,” says Gilkerson. Your child's starting to realize that with a single look, she can show you how happy she is that you're around—and that it's a feeling worth sharing, since you'll beam back.

http://www.parenting.com/gallery/signs-baby-loves-you?pnid=136218

Parenting Tips

I love my children, but being a parent can be so hard!

Being a parent can be a joy, but it's also a tough job. No parent is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Even loving parents sometimes do things they don't mean to do, such as yell at a child. But if you think you're having trouble controlling yourself, get help so a pattern of abuse doesn't start.

I get so frustrated sometimes. Is this normal?

Yes, all parents get frustrated. Children take a lot of time and energy. Parenting is even harder when you have problems in your own life, such as worries about your job, your bills or your relationships, or problems with alcohol or drugs. To be a good parent, you have to first take care of yourself. That means getting help for your problems.

What can I do when I feel frustrated?

Take a break. Everyone needs a break from being a parent once in a while. If you have another adult in your family, take turns getting away. For example, have your partner stay with the children so you can visit friends. Take turns sleeping late on the weekends. If you're a single parent, ask friends and relatives to help by running some errands for you or watching your child while you go out.

I sometimes lose my temper. Does that mean I'm a bad parent?

No, many parents lose their temper with their children. It's okay to feel angry, but it's not okay to take it out on your children. When you're really angry, take a break. For example, take your children for a walk or call a friend to come help you. If you feel angry with your child almost every day or have trouble controlling your temper, get some help by talking to your family doctor. He or she can offer advice and provide resources to help you. There are groups that can help parents, also.

Is it okay to spank my child?

Spanking isn't the best way to discipline children. The goal of discipline is to teach children self-control. Spanking may teach children to stop doing something out of fear. There are better ways to discipline children.

One good way for infants and toddlers is called "redirecting." When you redirect a child, you replace an unwanted (bad) behavior with an acceptable (good) behavior. For example, if throwing a ball inside the house isn't allowed, take your child outside to throw the ball.

If you have older children, explain the consequences of their actions and why it is important to take responsibility for them. For example, you can explain to your child that everyone had to wait for dinner because he or she didn't set the table when asked. Explain that your child has to wash the dishes after dinner because he or she didn't set the table before dinner.

How can I be a good parent?

There's not just one right way to raise children. And there's no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. But here are some guidelines to help your children grow up healthy and happy:

  • Show your love. Every day, tell your children: "I love you. You're special to me." Give lots of hugs and kisses.
  • Listen when your children talk. Listening to your children tells them that you think they're important and that you're interested in what they have to say.
  • Make your children feel safe. Comfort them when they're scared. Show them you've taken steps to protect them.
  • Provide order in their lives. Keep a regular schedule of meals, naps and bedtimes. If you have to change the schedule, tell them about the changes ahead of time.
  • Praise your children. When your children learn something new or behave well, tell them you're proud of them.
  • Criticize the behavior, not the child. When your child makes a mistake, don't say, "You were bad." Instead, explain what the child did wrong. For example, say: "Running into the street without looking isn't safe." Then tell the child what to do instead: "First, look both ways for cars."
  • Be consistent. Your rules don't have to be the same ones other parents have, but they do need to be clear and consistent. (Consistent means the rules are the same all the time.) If 2 parents are raising a child, both need to use the same rules. Also, make sure baby-sitters and relatives know (and follow) your family rules.
  • Spend time with your children. Do things together, such as reading, walking, playing and cleaning the house. What children want most is your attention. Bad behavior is usually an attempt to get your attention.

Who can I ask when I need help raising my child?

There are many ways to get good parenting advice. Sign up for parenting classes offered by hospitals, community centers or schools. Read parenting books or magazines. Talk to your family doctor, a minister, a priest or a counselor.

You can also ask your family doctor for parenting help. Don't be embarrassed to ask. Raising children is hard, and no one can do it alone. Your doctor can help you with issues like discipline, potty training, eating problems and bedtime. Your doctor can also help you find local groups that can help you learn good parenting skills.

http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/children/parents/behavior/368.html#top

Kids and Sleep

When they're infants, it's middle-of-the-night feedings. When they're toddlers and school-age, it's awakening to give medicine or soothe them after a nightmare. It's no surprise that, according to the latest poll from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), more people without kids in the house rated their sleep as "excellent" or "very good," compared to those with children.

Some sleep interruptions come with the territory. But experts say the best thing people can do for themselves and their children is to develop a regular sleep routine and bedtime for youngsters so that they get used to falling asleep on their own. Experts say school-age children generally need 9-12 hours of sleep each night.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, many childhood sleep problems are related to irregular sleep habits or anxiety about bedtime. Young children view bedtime as a time of separation, which is why they pull out a number of stalling tactics such as repeated requests for water and trips to the bathroom.

Here are some sleep tips for children from NSF:

  • Establish positive sleep habits with your child at an early age. Have a set sleep schedule for bedtime and waking. Keep the same schedule for weekdays and weekends. Know how much sleep is appropriate for your child's age.
  • Establish a 20-30 minute nightly "calm-down" bedtime routine that can include taking a bath, putting on pajamas, reading, and other relaxing activities. TV viewing at bedtime, especially having a television set in the child's bedroom, may interfere with falling asleep.

Other childhood sleep problems include talking during sleep and bedwetting. Many children get over sleep problems as they grow. But if you have concerns, talk with your child's doctor.

If you think your child may have a sleep problem, ask yourself these five questions (remember them by the acronym "BEARS"):

  • Bedtime: Does my child have problems going to bed or falling asleep?
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness: Does my child seem sleepy or overtired during the day? Is he or she difficult to get up in the morning?
  • Awakenings: Does my child awaken frequently during the night or have trouble getting back to sleep?
  • Regularity and duration of sleep: What time does my child go to bed and get up on weekdays? Weekends? How much sleep does he or she get? Need?
  • Snoring: Does my child snore loudly? Does he or she seem to have breathing problems at night?


Reproduced from FDA Consumer magazine
November-December 2002

Preventing Temper Tantrums in Children

You're standing in the snack aisle of the supermarket. Lying by your feet is your toddler, who has just been informed (by you) that no, she cannot have the Cinderella fruit snacks. Her face has turned a shade somewhere between red and purple. Her fists are pounding the floor in fury as she emits a shriek that can be heard in the farthest reaches of the parking lot. The other shoppers are gaping at this spectacle as you wish desperately for a hole to open in the floor and swallow you up.

Many a parent has witnessed a scenario such as this one, although the tantrum itself might have taken a slightly different form; crying, hitting, kicking, stomping, throwing things, and breath holding are all popular tantrum techniques.

Temper tantrums are exceedingly common in children, especially between ages 1 and 4 (the early part of which is sometimes labeled the "terrible 2s") when kids are still learning how to communicate effectively. More than half of young children will have one or more tantrums a week as they vent their frustrations and try to push back against a world they want desperately to have some control over.

Though they are a normal part of the toddler repertoire, temper tantrums can be distressing to parents. When they occur infrequently, tantrums aren't a big deal. It's when they become regular or intense that parents need to look into what's causing them and find ways to stop them.

Some children are more prone to having tantrums, particularly kids who are intense, hyperactive, moody, or who don't adapt well to new environments. For most toddlers, tantrums are simply a way to get out their frustration and test limits (Will Mommy buy me that toy if I scream really loud?)

The smallest things can set off young children, from asking them to take a bath while they're in the middle of watching Sesame Street to requesting that they share a favorite stuffed animal with a younger sibling. Any situation that involves change may spawn a tantrum, including getting ready for school, having to leave a fun activity, or getting into disputes with other children. Add fatigue or hunger to the equation, and children are even more likely to throw a tantrum.

How to Stop the Screaming

The easiest way to stop a temper tantrum is to give the child what he or she wants. Obviously, that strategy won't do you any good in the long run, because your child will constantly go into tantrum mode whenever he wants something.

The first step in diffusing a temper tantrum is to keep your own temper in check. You're not going to get anywhere with your child if both of you are screaming at each other. Spanking your child is also not a good option, and it will only make the tantrum worse. Take a deep breath, gain control over your emotions, and then discipline your child by calmly but firmly letting her know that tantrums are not acceptable behavior.

If your child still won't calm down and you know the tantrum is just a ploy to get your attention, don't give in. Even if you have to walk through the supermarket dragging a screaming toddler, just ignore the tantrum. Once your child realizes the temper tantrum isn't getting him anywhere, he'll stop screaming.

If your child is upset to the point of being inconsolable or out of control, hold him tightly to calm him down. Tell him gently that you love him, but that you're not going to give him what he wants. If that doesn't work, remove him from the situation and put him in a time-out for a minute or two to give him time to calm down. The general guideline for the length of a time-out is one minute per year of the child's age.

Tantrum Prevention Tactics

Instead of having to stop a temper tantrum after it starts, prevent it by following these tips:

Avoid situations in which tantrums are likely to erupt. Try to keep your daily routines as consistent as possible and give your child a five-minute warning before changing activities.

Make sure your child is well rested and fed before you go out so he doesn't blow up at the slightest provocation. Put away off-limit temptations (for example, don't leave candy bars lying on the kitchen counter close to dinnertime) so they don't lead to battles.

Give your toddler a little bit of control. Let your child choose which book to bring in the car or whether she wants grilled cheese or PB&J for lunch. These little choices won't make much of a difference to you, but they'll make your child feel as though she has at least some control over her own life.

Pick your battles. Sometimes you can give in a little, especially when it comes to small things. Would you rather let your child watch 15 extra minutes of television, or listen to her scream for 30 minutes?

Distract. A young child's attention is fleeting and easy to divert. When your child's face starts to crinkle and redden in that telltale way, open a book or offer to go on a walk to the park before it can escalate into a full-blown tantrum. Sometimes humor is the best way to distract. Make a funny face, tell a joke, or start a pillow fight to get your child's mind off what's upsetting her.

Teach your child other ways of dealing with frustration. Children who are old enough to talk can be reminded to use their words instead of screaming.

Praise your child for getting it right. When she stays cool in a situation that would normally have triggered a tantrum, tell her she did a good job of controlling her temper.

If temper tantrums are becoming more frequent, they haven't stopped by around age 4, or your child is in danger of hurting herself or others, it's time to call your pediatrician.

The New-Dad's Guide to Baby Bonding

Want to bond with your new namesake? No problem. You're probably doing a lot of the right stuff already. Today's fathers are way more involved than previous generations (way to go, guys!). Over the years moms have proven that they can do anything -- got a house or company to run? No problem. Moms have it covered. But dads do too. (Ladies, a little respect for the modern father, please.) Perhaps that's why dads make perfect partners in this whole parenting thing. Besides the obvious cuddling, baby talk and silly dances, there's a slew more pop (or mom) can do to get in on the baby-bonding act.

Hello? Anyone There? Bueller?

Moms have intimate contact with their babies for nine months. But dads also can bond even before the baby is born. Sure, it can be hard to connect with a being you can't see, feel or touch, but you can still do things that matter, from putting money aside for a college education to learning how to change a diaper -- if mom is a first-timer, you may want to show her too. Even easier: Talk to the belly. Research shows that unborn babies can recognize their mother's (and possibly their father's) voice starting at 32 weeks. So belt out your best karaoke, read him an article from Esquire or just let him know how your day went.

Dive in -- Headfirst!

Be there at the birth (duh). Cut the cord (not really that weird or gross). Bring baby to mom. Those first moments are so important, stresses Greg Bishop, founder of Boot Camp for New Dads (dadsadventure.com), a program with more than 250,000 graduates throughout the United States. "Don't let anybody -- not even your wife -- get in the way of you and your baby," says Bishop, offering the tale of one father he knew who spent all of his time after the birth of his child working. After the divorce, the father told Bishop, "You know, one day I came home and it was like they were a family, and I was on the outside." Even everyday tasks like feeding and giving baby a bath are bonding moments. Get into the bathtub with your baby. Let her nap while lying on your chest. (Just make sure you don't fall asleep too!). Newborns thrive on all skin-to-skin contact -- who says it has to be all mom, all the time?

Make a Date with Baby

Hanging out with your baby for hours every day isn't always practical, especially if you work outside the home. Moms and dads both may worry that quality time only comes in brief snatches instead of long stretches. The key is making the minutes you have count the most. "Establishing a routine is a good way to maximize your child's understanding [of how] you fit into his life," says Jonathan Pochyly, Ph.D., a psychologist at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "By the time they're 5 or 6 months old, babies start responding to a schedule. It's comforting to them, and they begin to get a sense of the role the parent plays in their life." Think about incorporating one or more rituals into your new life with baby: breakfast together every morning, a walk after work, bathtime or a bedtime story are all great ideas. Whatever you choose, try to do it at the same time every day to truly establish a routine, and you might find that you look forward to those moments as much as your baby does.

Spitting Up and Vomiting in Babies

Spitting up and vomiting in babies have become a huge area of parental concern. Part of the concern is positive because it reflects a better understanding of reflux disease, but another part may be negative and reflects a push to blame vomiting for all problems (such as colic). As a result, there is a trend to place younger and younger infants on medications they may not really need and for whom possible side effects have not been determined.

What Causes Reflux in Babies?

After your baby swallows milk, it glides past the back of the throat into a muscular tube (the esophagus) and, from there, into the stomach. At the junction of the esophagus and the stomach is a ring of muscles (lower esophageal sphincter) that opens to let the milk drop into the stomach and then tightens to prevent the milk (and the stomach contents) from moving back up into the esophagus. If the stomach contents should happen to re-enter the esophagus, this is called "reflux."

Infants are especially prone to reflux because:

  1. Their stomachs are quite small (about the size of their fists or a golf ball), so they are easily distended by the milk.
  2. The lower esophagus valve may be immature and may not tighten up when it should.

Is Your Baby a "Happy Spitter?"

Every baby spits up or vomits occasionally, and some do quite often or even with every feeding. If, despite the spitting, your baby is

  • content
  • in no discomfort
  • growing
  • experiencing no breathing problems from the vomiting

she is what pediatricians call "a happy spitter" and no treatment is needed. Typically, the lower esophagus valve tightens up sometime in the first year, usually around 4-5 months of age, at which time the spitting up may go away.

Could Your Baby Have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

Unlike happy spitters, babies are diagnosed with GERD if the vomiting seems to be causing significant problems, such as:

  • discomfort and pain (presumably heartburn due to the acid-filled stomach contents irritating the esophagus)
  • breathing problems of any kind (gagging, choking, coughing, wheezing, and, worst-case scenario, pneumonia due to inhalation of the stomach contents into the lungs, called aspiration).
  • poor growth (due to the loss of so much nutrition from vomiting)

If your baby has any of the above GERD symptoms, talk to your pediatrician, who can perform different tests to diagnosis and treat it correctly.

One misconception is that GERD is often due to an intolerance to the milk. But if you think about it, the milk has just entered the stomach and hasn't had time to be digested, much less be recognized as one type or another. So changing your baby's formula usually does not help.

Tips for Concerned Parents

For any spitter, there are a few things that might help:

  • Keep your baby upright for a half hour or so after a feeding (to let gravity help out).
  • Make sure there's no pressure on the stomach after a feeding. For example, try to wait at least 30 minutes after feeding before putting baby in her car seat.
  • Thicken feedings (usually by adding some rice cereal) so they're heavier and less likely to come back up.

Sometimes these simple maneuvers help enough to keep your baby as a happy spitter. But when they don't work, your pediatrician may suggest antacid drugs and/or medications that tighten the valve. Each has potential benefits and side effects, and only your pediatrician can decide which, if any, is right for your baby.

When to Worry About Baby's Spitting Up and Vomiting

If your baby is a spitter and experiencing discomfort, poor growth, choking, gagging, coughing, or frequent respiratory symptoms, then GERD should be considered.

However, most babies who have reflux are happy spitters. Medications in such cases should be avoided!

Baby Shower Event Planner

Welcome to our baby shower event planner where we will provide you with the ideas you need for everything from invitations and favors to cake, decorations and games for that perfect fun baby shower.

baby image

The history of baby showers goes back many years and is traditionally a time when friends and family bring gifts to help the proud new mother and, although this was not originally the time for a party, today a baby shower provides an opportunity to truly celebrate the value of the family.

Originally the baby shower was held when a newborn reached about one month of age and was often timed to coincide with a baby's christening. However, over the years tradition has changed not only in terms of the format for a shower, but also in terms of its timing and today it is common to hold baby showers to celebrate the imminent arrival of the child.

Another important change we see today, which in part reflects changes in the modern family unit, is that baby showers are no longer the preserve of women but are also often attended by men.

Your baby shower is a significant event in your life and one which should be memorable for both you and your friends and family. For this reason, it is important to start your planning early and that means thinking about such things as your invitations and the favors which your guests will take away as a memento of the day. Buying or making invitations means looking carefully at appropriate designs and also concentrating on the wording for baby shower invitations. Choosing favors also means deciding whether you should buy them in or make your own baby shower favors, perhaps making them uniquely personalized.

Next you will want to think about decorations for the party and, once again, whether you should simply buy these in or think about using home made baby shower decorations. And do not forget too those all important party games, because no baby shower these days is complete without some unique and different baby shower games.

Finally, you will want to plan ahead when it comes to your cake and here it is a good idea to look at several baby shower cake designs to see just which one will suit the occasion best.

Planning you baby shower can be great fun but it does take some work if you are to ensure that your party goes with a swing and is a truly memorable event. So, check out the topics on the index to the right of this page and we will give you more than a few really elegant baby shower ideas

Don't forget that if you cannot make it to a shower, or are lost for gift ideas, then you can always pick up some great specialty newborn baby gift baskets


Social Skills

We use social skills every day – greeting co-workers, asking a clerk for help, telephoning a friend, talking to a salesperson about a product, giving someone a compliment. The list goes on and on. Using these skills appropriately greatly influences how other people treat us and how we get along in the world. If we have learned a wide variety of social skills, we can effectively handle more situations and get along better with more people.

Obviously, it is essential for children to learn social skills too. Social skills define for them what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior to other people and to society in general. For parents, they provide a framework for teaching children how to behave.

You can teach your children social skills by using Preventive Teaching and Corrective Teaching. When your kids use skills appropriately or make an attempt to use them, you can reward and reinforce their efforts through Effective Praise. In other words, you pick the teaching technique that best fits the situation you’re in with your kids. This enables you to teach children how, why, and where they should use these skills.

When your kids can use social skills appropriately, they are more likely to know what to do or say when they deal with other people and be more successful in their interactions. Parents who actively teach social skills to their children are equipping them with “survival skills” for getting along with others, for learning self-control and, generally, for having a successful life.

Helpful Hints

Teach each of the skills step by step.

Try to include a brief pause following each step that gives your child time to process the information. Take time to explain to your children when they can use these skills and give positive child-oriented reasons for how and why these skills will help them. Let them see how one skill overlaps into other areas. For example, knowing how to accept criticism from parents is very similar to accepting criticism from other adult authority figures such as a teacher or coach.

Make learning social skills fun.

Praise your children or reward them with something special for taking the time to learn. They might not realize the benefits of learning social skills right away. But the more they use these skills and see the positive way other people respond to them, the more the skills will “sink in.”

Finally, be patient.

After your children learn a new skill, it may take awhile before they are comfortable using it and before it really becomes a part of them. Learning new skills is an ongoing process. It’s not a “done deal” just because skills have been practiced once or twice. Comparisons can be drawn to almost any other skill we learn. You don’t learn how to dribble a basketball in one try; you don’t learn how to drive a car the first time you climb behind the wheel. We don’t become good at anything without practice, practice, practice.

Review the 16 basic social skills all children should learn and master. Remember that when you teach these skills, you must use wording and explanations that fit your child’s age, developmental level and abilities

Positive Consequences: Linking Rewards to Acceptable Behavior

Positive consequences can be a parent's best friend because they can be used to increase positive behavior. Give positive consequences and rewards after your child demonstrates positive or acceptable behavior.
Positive consequences are often referred to as rewards. Generally, a reward is any type of consequence that makes behavior more likely to recur. The reward consequence should be appropriate, immediate, important and linked to the behavior.

Sometimes, it's challenging to come up with meaningful consequences on the spur of the moment. A Joy Jar offers a quick and easy supply of consequences. You and your children can write down the things they enjoy on slips of paper. Put the slips in a jar, and the next time your child does something well, let him or her grab a slip from the Joy Jar.

Some of the rewards you might consider putting in your Joy Jar include:

  • Staying up late
  • Having an indoor picnic
  • Having a messy room for a day
  • Going over to a friend's house
  • Leaving the radio on at night
  • Choosing the TV program
  • Having a friend over
  • Choosing an outing
  • Playing a game with you
  • Playing a video game
  • Reading a story
  • Choosing a movie
  • Planning a meal
  • Taking a trip to the library
  • Having extra computer time
  • Choosing breakfast cereal at the store
  • Doing one less chore

7 Simple Tips for Baby's First Birthday Party

Your baby is 1, and it's time to party! "Our darling Gracie's first birthday was in January, and it felt like a celebration for us for making it through our first year," says Tori Horne of Tallahassee, Florida. We asked Penny Warner, child development instructor and author of more than 12 party and activity books, including Baby Birthday Parties: 20 Fun Theme Parties for Babies 1 to 3, for ideas on hosting that first milestone party. "There's a lot to juggle -- the unpredictable mood and schedule of a toddler, appropriate themes and snacks, even the number of guests." Her seven stress-free tips and theme ideas will have you and your bambino tossing your party hats into the air.

1. Watch the clock. Plan the party to last an hour to an hour-and-a-half. Babies have short attention spans and run out of energy and interest quickly. Plan the party for late morning or late afternoon–pre- or post-nap–when baby isn't tired.
2. VIPs only. Scale back the guest list to avoid overwhelming your babe and keep costs down.
3. Ask for help. Consider hiring a babysitter or asking a family member to help you balance your hosting duties with enjoying your baby's big day.
4. Babies love balloons. Opt for foil, or Mylar, balloons instead of latex to avoid choking hazards for kids under 8. Find Mylar balloons and Balloon Time helium tank kits at partycity.com.
5. Create a play place. Many of the babies in this age range are still on all fours, so baby-proof a play zone filled with age-appropriate toys for your little guests. Set chairs around the zone for parents to relax and watch.
6. Check your treats. Ask your guests if there are food allergies to consider. Keep snacks simple, like chopped fruit and graham crackers for the kids, and more grown-up versions for the adults to munch.
7. Don't stress. You're still a few years shy of hiring a D.J. and hosting pony rides. It won't matter to baby whether you throw the party of the season or just celebrate at home with your immediate family. As long as he's with you and feels love all around, that's all that matters.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Spark his imagination with a transportation celebration.

activity Expect oohs and ahhs when you set up Cardboardesign's airplane along with finger paints and smocks for pint-size artists to decorate. The final handprint-laden masterpiece makes a great keepsake. $50 for plane; mightynest.com
decor Hang paper airplanes made from colored paper and yarn from the ceiling for a modern mobile effect.
invite All aboard! Download and print free train-ticket invitations from birthdaygirlblog.com. Add construction-paper backing for a sturdy, styled look.
sweet treat Rev up their appetites with these modern cupcake toppers. An easy, do-it-yourself template is available for download at parenting.com/cupcake. Shh … we won't tell your friends just how easy it really was.
favors Cultivate your tiny guests' creative genius with oversized crayons shaped like their fave modes of transportation. $5 for a set of five; gaddynippercrayons.etsy.com

Storybook Party
Turn kiddie books into a birthday wonderland and watch the "characters" come to life!

activity It's story time. Ask a dynamic friend or hire a storyteller from your local library to host story time. Sing-a-long nursery rhymes optional.
decor Make your walls come alive with paper garland strung with vintage storybook illustrations. $8; lejeune.etsy.com
invite Set the tone for your party with a fairy tale-inspired
invitation that looks just like a book. Download instructions and templates from parenting.com/storybook-party. You can even ask guests to come dressed as their favorite storybook character!
sweet treats Decorate
cupcakes with quotes from books and nursery rhymes. favors Little Golden Books make great vintage-inspired takeaways. $4 each; borders.com

Bed Wetting

 Bed Wetting - The Names
Bed wetting has many different names: enuresis (en-yoo-ree-sus), Primary Nocturnal Enuresis (every night), Secondary Nocturnal Enuresis (intermittently), night soiling, and sleep wetting. Bed wetting, no matter what you call it, is stressful to the child and the family.

Bed Wetting - The Causes
To a child, bed wetting is no laughing matter. It shouldn't be to the child's parent, either. Without someone to help them make the transition to dry nights, a child may have lingering psychological effects. The key to an easy transition is for parents to be knowledgeable and informed.

There are various causes of bed wetting:

  • Immature bladder muscles - Fifteen out of one hundred children wet the bed because of immature bladder muscles which aren't strong enough to hold urine through the night. These children will outgrow their bed wetting problem as soon as the bladder matures.

  • Life Changes - Stresses in children's lives are the second highest cause for bed wetting. The stress could come from a new baby brother or sister, divorce, moving, a death in the family, or physical changes such as diabetes.

  • Emotional Turmoil - An emotionally negative home life, such as a child's failure to adjust after being adopted, can also lead to bed wetting. Any family situation that causes the child sudden emotional instability can cause serious psychological strain which physically manifests itself in bed wetting.

Bed Wetting - The Solutions
Many encouraging steps can be taken by the parents and child to eliminate the problem of bed wetting:

  • Listen to the concerns of your child. Children rarely wet the bed on purpose. Take the time to listen to their fears and concerns. Make plans on how to deal with the bed wetting, such as having the child help with the clean up. Assure them that it is not punishment, but a way for the child to help. Outlining the steps that need to be done allows the child to handle it with privacy and discretion, and minimizes sleep disruption.

  • Assure the child that you will not tease or scold him for wetting the bed. Embarrassment is common for bed wetting children, which is another concern added to their already stressed minds. Alleviate this concern before it becomes a problem.

  • See a doctor. Your physician may prescribe a medication to help the bladder hold urine through the night. The doctor may also share several techniques in training the bladder and strengthening its ability to hold urine longer, such as exercises or silent buzzers alerting the child to wake up.

  • Keep clean linens close to the bed for night time clean ups. Consider purchasing waterproof sheets or mattress protection.

  • Stay encouraged! The good news is that most children grow out of bed wetting without intervention. Caring adults and determined children are a winning team when it comes to overcoming the bed wetting problem.

6 Things You Got Right as a Parent

Your kids used to complain about your parenting style. Now they're copying it.

Today's parenting books are full of smug declarations that yesterday's parenting methods have been proven wrong and that new approaches are best.

Not so fast.

Lately, researchers and parenting experts have discovered that, as parents, your generation may not have been so misguided after all. But since we know your children probably won't tell you that you were correct all along, here is a list of six things you got right.

1. Good for What Ails You
They're back: Cod-liver and other fish oils, the banes of your kids' childhoods, were recently invisible in families' medicine cabinets. Now these healthy oils are found not only to boost academic performance, but also to help kids with attention-deficit disorder and dyslexia, and even to protect the heart from disease. There is one improvement from the past, though—now the oils come in easy-to-swallow soft geltabs. Mention this to your kids, but remind them to check with their pediatricians before giving it to their young ones.

2. Early to Bed, Early to Rise
Working parents try to squeeze in an hour or two of evening time with their kids, but a consensus of researchers now says that the children would be better off if they were put to bed as early as possible. Earlier bedtime appears to be a key to better sleep and to happier kids in general. Research by the National Sleep Foundation has found that most kids today don't get the sleep they need. The foundation has discovered that just one hour less sleep than kids need each night can lower their ability to concentrate in class to that of children two grade-levels below. Beyond toddler meltdowns, lack of sleep has been linked to attention problems, dulled memory, hyperactivity, and obesity.

3. Go Outside and Play
Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of the best-selling parenting bible you may have referred to while raising your kids, used to prescribe at least one hour outside, every day, rain or shine. Now, even in the age of hand sanitizers and hovering parents, the benefits of unstructured play, running around, and digging in the dirt are being recognized again. It's good for kids to be on their own and with other kids, without such close parental supervision.

"Unstructured play builds the imagination," says Dr. Robert Needlman of MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, the co-author of the eighth edition of Dr. Spock's "Baby and Child Care," (Simon & Schuster, 2004). Even in winter's chill, children are unlikely to get sick from playing outside. Needlman says: "Outdoor play is healthy for kids, whether it's cold or not. In the cold weather, we get sick more often because we are inside, with the windows shut, and so are more exposed to germs from everyone else."

4. Manners Matter
Remember when families sat down to dinner together each night and used real utensils, and kids were told not to slurp or chomp? –When kids said "please" and "thank you," and had to ask to be excused from the table? According to Cindy Post Senning of the Emily Post Institute, author of the book "Emily's Christmas Gifts" (Collins, 2008), more people today are seeking a return to social graces they believe have been ignored too long. And a recent Columbia University survey found that sitting down together for real, regular family dinners has been linked to better grades for teens and a decreased likelihood of taking up smoking or abusing alcohol, among other benefits5. This Is Not a Democracy
After what many parenting experts have called a generation of indulgence, it's becoming OK to say "no" to kids again. Setting limits and standing firm as parents—instead of letting kids set their own rules—is now seen as a cornerstone to ensuring a happy and healthy future for children. And chores are once again being seen as good for the soul. According to Muffy Mead-Ferro, author of "Confessions of a Slacker Mom" (Da Capo, 2004), for the sake of their kids, and for their own sanity, parents need to get back to the art of household management and delegation. "It's painful to watch my kids load the dishwasher," Mead-Ferro says. "Stuff gets broken, and I could do it faster myself, but think what they're learning—how to help around the house, how to be self-sufficient, and how to work hard."

6. You Get What You Get
The Rolling Stones were right, Dr. Needlman says. You can't always get what you want. And kids shouldn't. If there's a silver lining to the current economic downturn, it may be a move away from high-end distractions and back toward simple pleasures. "Remember what fun kids can have with a cardboard box?" he asks. The recent epidemic of "affluenza" among kids and parents alike now even has a formal diagnosis in the annals of medical science—"spoiled-child syndrome"—and after a lengthy shopping spree, parents are beginning to opt out of mass-consumption by paring down their holiday shopping lists and teaching kids to ask not what they can get, but what they can do.

This article originally appeared on Grandparents.com. © Grandparents.com LLC.

Manage Attention Deficit Disorder - The Prevailing Psychiatric Diagnosis for Children.

 

Manage Attention Deficit Disorder - The Prevailing Psychiatric Diagnosis for Children.
For the past several decades, theories on how to manage Attention Deficit Disorder has been a hotly debated topic. It has been estimated that 6% of children and 3% of adults in America have been diagnosed with some degree of Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADD/ADHD is a diagnostic label given to children and adults who have serious problems in four areas of their lives -- inattention, debilitating impulsive behavior, hyperactivity, and severe boredom that lead to destructive behavior. This is a neurologically based disorder. Most often it is not a result of bad parenting or willful defiance of the child.

In order to accurately diagnose this disorder, important characteristics of ADD/ADHD must be witnessed in many situations, not just at school or at home. This has become the prevailing diagnosed childhood psychiatric disorder. Anti-social behavior affects 60% of ADD/ADHD children, often most visible in defiance. Symptoms are usually evident before the child reaches the age of seven.

These children are very often very bright and creative. Unfortunately, they are often seen as disruptive and out of control, leading to problems with their peers and other family members. For the child with ADD/ADHD, he or she knows that something is not right, but often cannot control themselves because they don’t understand how to, leading to a downward spiral in self esteem. They often feel unloved, unworthy, and alone -- sometimes to the point of giving up completely.

Manage Attention Deficit Disorder - What Types Of Treatment Are Available?
There are a variety of treatments available to help manage Attention Deficit Disorder. Each individual with ADD/ADHD responds differently to them. It is recommended that parents or individuals carefully research which intervention is best for the one diagnosed and for those who live with them. Some of the considerations to include are: the personality and needs of the individual diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, the finances available for treatment, insurance coverage, eating habits, and the time commitment required by both the individual and loved ones in order to further enhance intervention success.

Talk with the family doctor or a licensed professional concerning whether a regimen of medication is right for your situation. There are many medications currently being prescribed for ADD/ADHD. However, every available medication is a stimulant (amphetamine) having both positive and unwanted (negative) side effects. Other considerations in terms of medication are the age and maturity of the individual, the dose versus the body make-up of the individual and the goals of successful treatment. A caution with medication is the danger of addiction, whether the individual will take the medication as prescribed and the follow-up care provided while on the medication.

Another treatment intervention includes implementing Behavior Training, which is a behavior management system that rewards the positive behaviors of ADD/ADHD children. This type of treatment will depend on the reinforcement needs of the child, provide frequent positive feedback on the child’s progress, often changing the types of rewards in order to provide changing positive stimuli for the child. Additional types of treatment include EEG Biofeedback training, family therapy/counseling, training classes teaching self-control, respect for others, and possibly a change in diet for the whole family. There is growing evidence that diet, allergies, and exercise all play a huge role in counteracting the effects of ADD/ADHD.

It is vital to work with children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD -- both at home and at school with definite teamwork, goals, communication, and consistency between those adults who interact with the child. These children, more than most, require scheduling, consistency, and a framework of expectations in performance and in dealing with the impulsive behaviors that lead to “anti-social” behavior. The ADD/ADHD child is “high maintenance,” requiring a lot of time, energy, patience, consistency, and sometimes, creativity from those they encounter on a regular basis.

Manage Attention Deficit Disorder - Do Children Outgrow The Symptoms Of ADD/ADHD?
The good news is that you can manage Attention Deficit Disorder. Studies show that up to 60% of ADD/ADHD children will outgrow most of the serious symptoms by 20 years of age. The hyperactive feeling may become more of a fidgety restlessness. If the individual has gone through any of the treatment options, he or she will have learned self-control techniques to control the impulsive behavior. Some problems with inattention may persist into adulthood, becoming more of a “brain-fog,” causing difficulty in completing repetitive, unfulfilling tasks such as balancing a checkbook or filling out tax forms. A cup of coffee for the caffeine may help clear this feeling for many sufferers. Many adults with ADD/ADHD who have learned both coping skills and personal styles have succeeded and are succeeding in jobs that utilize their strengths.

In order to manage Attention Deficit Disorder, some adults have learned to use color coded binders to separate work and tasks in order to help them stay focused. They have learned to trust someone at work, home, and in friendships who will lovingly help them when the ADD/ADHD is beginning to negatively impact their daily living. Many have learned to enjoy the high energy spurts to their advantage to accomplish many tasks and then to admit when they are having problems. Some have learned to make lists, cue cards, visual presentations when they have a series of tasks to be accomplished. There is also evidence that certain kinds of music will help to keep them on task and some use that as a way to stimulate the brain in the right direction. Most recognize that the danger of alcohol poses a significant risk to someone with ADD/ADHD and avoid it.

A college professor writes, “In the college classrooms I teach, I encourage those with ADD/ADHD to let me know that they live with this. The only way I can help them as an instructor is to know about it. I can gently steer them back to topics at hand when the symptoms are presenting themselves. I can present material differently and with more animation for them so that the brain get stimulated in different ways -- sometimes through visual aids, sometimes with getting them physically involved in some portion of the lecture, etc. It’s vital that the adult student knows that they are cared for, respected, understood and still expected to meet classroom guidelines. I can and do offer extra one-on-one help for those students in need.”

How to Get Your Kid To Sleep in Her Own Bed

Colleen Mulder-Seward and her husband, Rob Seward, were dying for a good night's sleep. Once their daughters got to ages 3 and 5, the Dexter, MI, couple fully (and perhaps foolishly, they now admit) expected they'd be enjoying eight hours of shut-eye again. Ah, the eternal optimism of parenthood!

In reality, Colleen and Rob would put their younger daughter, Jenna, to bed, only to see her again three hours later, throwing a queen-size fit and begging to sleep in their queen-size bed. They were way too tired to do anything but throw back the covers and invite her in.

Problem is, a threesome just wasn't their speed. "Eventually, one of us would get fed up with being kicked in the back by Jenna and go sleep in the guest room. We were tired all the time," says Colleen.

Tons of parents who didn't plan on having a family bed are finding that's exactly what they now have -- and want to get rid of, says Jill Spivack, L.C.S.W., a family therapist and formerly sleep-deprived mom herself who is the cocreator of The Sleepeasy Solution. "When you're exhausted, you follow the path of least resistance," she says. "You may have tried other things, but in desperation, you pull your kid into your own bed. You may not get perfect sleep, but at least you get some sleep."

The good news: You can untrain the little monster who's taking over your bed. The bad news: It may not be pretty. Your life is not an episode of Supernanny and your family's sleep issues won't get resolved in an hour or even a day. If you really want to make the change, though, and you're prepared for tears, wails, and cries of "But Mommy, don't you love me?" you'll make it through. Here's how to pull the my-bed-to-your-bed switcheroo:

Before Bedtime
First things first: Is today a good day to start? If you're in the midst of potty training, are going on vacation, or are expecting a new baby, wait until things settle down. Yes, you'll have to put up with your little bed partner longer, but the sleep training will go much faster if you wait until your routine is more regular.

Once you've decided to take the plunge, start talking about your new bedtime expectations in the afternoon -- that way, she'll know what to expect at lights-out. Try saying something like "Mommies and daddies sleep in their beds, and kids sleep in their own beds," says Spivack.

She also suggests making a homemade "sleepytime book" -- nothing fancy, just stapled-together paper illustrated with stick-figure pictures that your child can color. If your family recently moved, for instance, and your daughter started sleeping in your bed while she got used to the new house, your story would focus on that and end with how she finally started sleeping happily in her very own bed. A picture book can help young children understand their new sleeping situation in a very concrete way.

Do your usual bedtime routine (here's help if you don't have one!), then get ready for the boot-camp -- tough part.

After Lights-Out
Okay, reality check: This is where moms who couldn't stand the cry-it-out method when their kids were babies may turn back and say "Forget it." Hey, kids will eventually sleep alone (show me a teenager who wants to be in bed with Mom and Dad and I'll show you a reality show waiting to happen). But if you'd rather yours go solo more like this month than this century, you can do it -- you just need to brace yourself.

In general, both sleep consultants and parents who've been there say that once you decide to start this sleep training, bed sharing needs to end entirely. No "Well, just for five minutes" or "Maybe tonight because she had a long day." That means midnight visitors get walked back to their rooms, tucked in, kissed, and left behind. No extra snuggles, no drinks of water, as many times as it takes. There will be screams and sobs, and kids so resistant you'll have to carry them, wriggling and accusing all the way, to their beds. Which they will jump out of in a split second. You will start to wonder if you will ever sleep again. You will; just maybe not tonight. Keep this up until the new rules sink in.

If your child has been starting out in your bed and sleeping there all night, every night, your job is even less fun (sorry). Take a comforter into your child's room and sleep on the floor -- not in her bed -- all night long (double sorry). Even though a slumber party in your child's room is probably not your idea of a good time, it's a smart move in the long run. "If you're in her room when she falls asleep and then not there when she wakes a couple of hours later, she will call out or come looking for you," says Jennifer Waldburger, L.C.S.W., cocreator with Spivack of The Sleepeasy Solution. "Sleeping in her room all night pushes the reset button, so to speak, on whatever anxiety your child is having about being there alone. She can wake up and see Mom or Dad each time, then just go back to sleep."

After two or three nights, switch to sitting quietly in a nearby chair until your child falls asleep. But no talking! You want to bore your child to sleep. If she kicks up a fuss, temporarily leave the room. She'll settle down if she knows the reward is that you'll rejoin her.

Each night, move yourself farther from your child's bed -- to the door, to the hallway, and eventually back to your own bedroom. "If your child follows you, you want to calmly, unemotionally, walk her back to bed every time she gets up," says Waldburger.

A secure door gate -- or just the idea of it -- can also work wonders for certain kids. When she was 3 years old, Monica and Ron Calderon's daughter, Marquesa, started waking up around 4 a.m. and sneaking into bed with her parents. After a few nights of crowded quarters, the Tigard, OR, couple reminded little Marquesa of "the gate," the one she knew from when she was a "baby" (a few months back). Marquesa hated being corralled, so that gentle threat was more than enough to coax her back to her own bed.

The Next Morning
How'd your kid do? If not so great, keep encouraging him and reminding him of the new rules. If he made it through the night -- or even made some improvements -- bring on the praise. He's a big kid! He can do it! Toddlers and preschoolers, thank goodness, thrive on pleasing you.

Prizes are also generally welcomed by little kids. You could let your child pick a small "sleep treat" from a grab bag in the morning or leave one under his pillow. I admit it: I lured my younger daughter, Flora, back to her bed with prizes. Borrowing an idea from Janie Peterson, author of The Sleep Fairy, I told Flora that the Sleep Fairy (sort of like the Tooth Fairy) leaves stickers, small toys, and other goodies under sleeping children's pillows. It worked like a dream. Within a week, she was in the habit of staying in bed, and the prizes weren't even a big issue.

It may take more than one tactic to entice your child into his bed. But whatever you do, be consistent and have faith! Colleen and Rob, the parents of bed-hog Jenna, stuck it out and report that now their problem is getting her up in the morning. Well, at least everyone's getting some rest.

My So-Called Life During Football Season

There are two kinds of women in this world: Those who claim to like watching football with their husbands or boyfriends; and those who don't pretend to enjoy it, no matter how hard they’ve tried to tolerate it. Despite my former single life as a "guy's girl," I am one of those women who has grown to abhor all forms of spectator sports. When watching games used to consist of Super Bowl or March Madness parties, I could get into the spirit with the best of them. But now, as a wife and mom who works full time and is away from her family for 50 hours a week (and just can't get away with day-drinking on weekends like I used to), watching football is a form of slow and painful torture for me. 

Case in point: ESPN is on constant rotation in my house. So thank god we have two televisions: Jay has the living room TV, and I have the bedroom TV. Every minute of the day that he’s home, his TV is either tuned to SportsCenter or whatever local game is on. It's all just noise to me. The only thing I even came close to caring about recently was "Hard Knocks," a documentary-style miniseries on HBO, following an NFL team during its pre-season training camp. It was sort of like a reality show for sports, so of course it interested me. But let's be honest: I'd still rather watch re-runs of The Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion, parts one and two.

I've tried for years to care about sports, mostly because Jay is a huge sports nut. He’s a season ticket holder for the Bulls, and has been since Michael Jordan brought them to six championships in the ‘90s, so his seats are pretty freaking amazing. I don’t mind the occasional Bulls game, ya know like maybe one a season, but I wish I could be one of those cool wives who watches football with their husbands on Sundays. I wish I wanted to fry up buffalo chicken wings, make seven layer dips and serve beers all day long to my husband and his buddies while they yell at the TV. Actually, football food and the camaraderie are about the only things I do like about sports. But the games themselves? Nope, don’t care, don’t want to care, don’t want to waste my weekends inside watching them. Want nothing to do with them.

Isn’t it enough that I work for Playboy, and work with men all day who talk about sports? I’m even producing an NFL photo gallery with one of our Playmates modeling the jerseys and T-shirts from each of the 12 teams that Playboy magazine has picked to go to the playoffs this year. I know more than I’ve ever wanted to know about the 2010 NFL season. I’ve earned my “cool wife” wings, if you ask me.

So now that we have a son, Jay's greatest pleasure is putting Preston in his Bears T-shirt, and watching football with him. Though it's not just NFL football Jay cares about; Saturdays are all about college football. And not just one or two games, we’re talking ALL of them, every Saturday and every Sunday. In his former single life, he would be able to sit on the couch all day, or go to a bar, and waste his hours like this. But in our current married-with-kids life, there’s no way in hell I’m allowing it.

The last two Saturdays I gave him a free pass, and he took Preston to a bar in our neighborhood to watch the college games with his cousins. I even came to meet them for some of it on Saturday, and while seeing Preston hang out with his older male cousins watching football is quite adorable, I don’t want him spending his weekends in front of a TV (or 20 TVs, in this case). Once in a while I don’t mind it, and I’ll even join them for the food and beer—once in a while—but I don’t want to set a precedent that this is how we’re spending our weekends for the entire football season, for the rest of our lives.

But now this is where the wife guilt comes into play: I also don’t want to totally rob Jay of his favorite pastime. He so looks forward to football season, like most men do, and if he’s not watching the games, he’s looking up scores, texting with his buddies about games and players and whatnot. Football is to Jay what The Bachelor is to me, a guilty pleasure that he feels little to no guilt about (but Jay watches The Bachelor too, so it’s not a totally fair comparison).

I know it’s normal male behavior to love sports like this, but I’ve made it crystal clear that we’re not watching football all weekend, every weekend, until February. It's not like I would watch The Bachelor (or Bachelorette, or The Bachelor Pad) every weekend if it was on that much. (I really wouldn't!) So other than enrolling Preston in another music class or taking him to Gymboree classes this winter, anything that will keep us busy—as a family—what else can I do to make everyone happy? I am not revolving my fall and winter weekends around this nonsense. It’s just not happening. But I want everyone to feel like they're getting to do what they want on weekends.

How do you handle football season with your husband and kids?  

Chores and Allowances

Dear Mr. Dad: Our 12-year-old daughter says all her friends get paid for helping around the house, and she wants an allowance for doing chores too. This sounds crazy to my wife and me. Is it really a good idea?

A: I can see why you might scoff at the idea of paying your daughter for doing household chores. After all, when we were growing up, chores were a given, and our parents never would have paid us for doing simple things that contributed to the smooth running of the household. But that was  also the era when we walked 12 miles to school every day, uphill both ways. In the snow. Barefoot. Without a cell phone.

Today, things are different. Allowances are – right or wrong – part of our culture. That said, there’s a big difference between mandatory chores your daughter should do just because she’s part of the family, and the extra ones you might consider paying her for.

Before you cringe at the thought of buying your daughter’s services, look at it this way: You’ll be teaching her some worthwhile lessons that will serve her well in the future: a sense of responsibility, strong work ethic, and the knowledge that you value and appreciate her efforts.

So how do you decide which chores are obligatory and which ones are extras? First, mandatory tasks should be age-appropriate. In your daughter’s case they could include setting and/or clearing the table after meals, loading and unloading the dishwasher, keeping her room tidy, taking out the trash and recycling, sorting laundry into lights and darks, helping care for family pets, doing some babysitting for a younger sibling, and helping plan a meal now and then. As she gets older, that list of responsibilities should grow as well. Your daughter should understand that everyone in the family chips in to the best of his or her abilities without expecting to be paid for every single task. That’s what families are all about.

Bigger jobs, tasks that take a lot more time than her daily to-do list, or projects that aren’t strictly related to the day-to-day running of the family could be paid. These might include doing yard work, organizing the garage, cleaning the attic, or installing insulation in the basement.

Of course, these are just examples. I suggest that you and your wife sit down with your daughter and discuss which chores should be freebies, which ones you’d be willing to pay for, and how much. It’s important that all of you participate in this negotiation process and that everyone’s point of view gets taken into account. There are going to be some non-negotiable topics—health and safety issues come to mind. But by being flexible and open-minded, you’ll be helping your daughter hone her critical thinking and bargaining skills.

How much you should pay depends on what her peers are getting. You wouldn’t want to either overpay or underpay her, right? Rather than ask your daughter, make a few calls to the parents of some of her friends and ask them what the going rates are. If there’s a wide range, you can’t go wrong with a mid-range figure. The kicker here is that if you notice that your daughter isn’t performing her paid tasks as well as she should, or if she’s slacking off in her mandatory duties, it’s back to the negotiating table. And that offers an opportunity to teach her one more valuable life lesson: Bargains are a two-way street. If you don’t hold up your end, you shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t get what you were expecting.

Childhood Illnesses: Get the Facts

You may not have heard of these childhood illnesses, but they are more common than you think.

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD

Sick days are part of being a kid; worrying about childhood illnesses is part of being a parent. You wonder, what's that weird rash? Does that cough sound worse than before? Am I going to catch this, too?

Parents quickly learn from experience all about ear infections, pinkeye, stomach bugs, colds, and the flu. These things may be most familiar to you, but there's a whole world of childhood illnesses out there that you may not know about.

Several of these childhood illnesses are viral or bacterial infections. That means they are preventable to some extent by encouraging your child to keep his or her hands clean with old-fashioned soap and water. Practicing good "cough etiquette" is another important way of reducing the spread of childhood illnesses. Kids should be taught to cover their mouths when they cough and wash their hands afterward.

1. RSV

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a very common childhood illness. It's even more common than seasonal flu. "It causes a lot more problems for children than influenza does," says Michael Brady, MD, an infectious disease expert at Nationwide Children's Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio.

Most of us have had exposure to RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) by the time we're 2 years old. RSV causes some of the same symptoms as cold and flu, such as fever, runny nose, and cough.

For babies less than 1 year old, RSV is the most common cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small air passages in the lungs. Wheezing is a telltale symptom of these conditions, which sometimes have to be treated in the hospital. Only about 25% to 40% of young children with their first RSV infection will have any noticeable wheezing, however. Even fewer, 2% or less, are hospitalized.

RSV infections last about one to two weeks. You're not immune to RSV once you've had it. You can have an RSV infection at any age, but "after you get it a few times, it's just a cold to you," Brady says.

2. Fifth Disease

Fifth disease has been called the "slapped cheek" disease because it causes a red rash on the face that looks like a slap mark. A lacy red rash may also appear on the child's torso and limbs. Fifth disease doesn't always make a child feel ill, but it can feel like a cold early on, before the rash shows up.

The cryptic name is a holdover from medical lingo a century ago, when a French physician assigned numbers to the common childhood diseases characterized by rashes. For example, measles was "first disease," scarlet fever was "second disease," and so on.

We now know that fifth disease is caused by a virus called human parvovirus B19. Up to 20% of children may get the virus before age 5, and up to 60% have had it by age 19. Infections are usually not very serious and go away in seven to 10 days. Many children infected with the virus don't show any symptoms. "In most cases, it's a pretty benign situation," Brady says.

However, sometimes infection with parvovirus B19 can lead to new onset of joint pain and be mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis. These joint symptoms usually go away within three weeks.

3. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is not to be confused with foot-and-mouth disease, which infects only livestock. A common childhood illness, hand, foot, and mouth disease causes a fever with blisters or sores inside the mouth and on the palms and soles of the feet. The blisters may also appear on the buttocks, "but we decided to leave that out of the name," Brady says.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by a variety of viruses called enteroviruses. In the United States, the disease is usually caused by a virus known as coxsackievirus A16. This virus usually goes around in the summer and early fall.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease may cause a lot of discomfort, but for most children it isn't very serious and goes away on its own after a week to 10 days.

4. Croup

Croup is a childhood illness usually caused by a group of viruses called human parainfluenza viruses, which also cause the common cold. The main symptom of croup is a "barking" cough, sometimes likened to the barking sound a seal makes. Croup can be serious enough to require treatment in a hospital. Up to 6% of children with croup are hospitalized, but it is very rarely fatal. For severe cases, treatment helps to keep the sick child breathing normally until the infection ends. A case of croup typically lasts about one week.

It's estimated that six in 100 children get croup each year. Children who get it tend to be younger than 6 years old, and it's seen most frequently in 2-year-old children.

5. Scarlet Fever

Scarlet fever is a rash that sometimes appears with strep throat -- an infection with a bacterium called group A streptococcus. A child with strep throat will usually have a very sore throat and high fever. The scarlet fever rash starts on the chest and abdomen and spreads all over the body. It is bright red like sunburn and feels rough like sandpaper. The color of the rash may be deeper around the armpits. The child's tongue may have a whitish appearance, except for the taste buds, which look bright red, a symptom known as "strawberry tongue." There may be some flushing in the face, with a paler area around the mouth.

Scarlet fever was once a feared and deadly childhood illness, but it is easily cured with antibiotics. Now scarlet fever is just another kind of rash.

6. Impetigo

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection. It's the third most common skin condition in children, seen most often in children aged 2 to 6 years. It's very contagious, and adults can get it, too.

Impetigo appears on the skin as clusters of itchy little bumps or sores that weep fluid, forming a honey-colored crust over them. Touching the fluid from the sores can spread an impetigo infection to the skin on different parts of the child's body, as well as to other people.

Prescription antibiotics are needed to clear up an impetigo infection. The sores heal without causing scars.

7. Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki disease is a very rare childhood illness with no known cause. It is a peculiar combination of symptoms including a high fever, rash, red palms and soles of the feet, swollen hands and feet, bloodshot eyes, swollen lymph glands, and chapped lips. The disease can cause the vessels of the heart to become inflamed, damaging the heart. In the hospital, doctors treat Kawasaki disease with high doses of drugs that boost the body's immune response. Most children recover with treatment, but the disease is sometimes fatal.

A doctor named Tomisaku Kawasaki first discovered the disease in Japan in the 1960s. It's still most common in Japan, but each year in the U.S., hospitals admit about 4,000 children suffering from Kawasaki disease. Most of them are children younger than age 5.

Whatever makes these children sick has eluded researchers for decades. But an idea that has some traction among scientists, Brady says, is that an infection, maybe a virus, triggers this reaction in children who have a certain genetic trait.

8. Reye's Syndrome

Reye's syndrome is a very serious but now extremely rare childhood illness. If you've ever wondered why you shouldn't give aspirin to children, Reye's is the reason. Reye's syndrome comes on suddenly after a viral illness like chickenpox or the flu. It causes liver problems and brain swelling, leading to radical behavior and personality changes, loss of conscious, seizures, and coma. About 30% of children who have fallen ill with Reye's syndrome die from it.

The cause of Reye's syndrome is still unknown, but there's a lot of evidence to suggest that it's somehow related to taking aspirin during a viral illness.

The CDC first warned about the possible link between aspirin and Reye's syndrome in 1980. Afterward, the number of cases reported each year fell sharply, from 555 cases reported in 1980, to no more than two per year between 1994 and 1997. "It really isn't something we see more than once every 10 years now," Brady tells WebMD.

9. Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Pertussis, or "whooping cough," is a contagious bacterial infection. Adults and children can get the disease, but infants tend to become more severely ill with it. It's called whooping cough because it can cause a child to cough so hard and so rapidly that he runs out of breath and must inhale deeply, making a "whooping" sound.

According to the CDC, more than half of babies under 12 months old who get pertussis have to be treated in the hospital.

All children should get vaccinated against whooping cough. Many adults also need booster shots. Ask your doctor about the vaccine and booster schedules.

Vaccines have made whooping cough much less common than it was in the past, but the number of cases reported each year has been on the rise since the 1980s. In 2007, the latest year for which national statistics are available, more than 10,000 cases were reported in the United States, resulting in 10 deaths.

That may be because immunity to whooping cough wears off five to 10 years after getting vaccinated, so some adults who were vaccinated during childhood are no longer protected from the disease. Adults who catch whooping cough may not have severe symptoms, and they may pass the infection to young children.

 

Helping Kids Living In Volatile Homes

Tip—One concrete way to help children cope with domestic violence is to help them develop a safety plan.

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When kids live in a house where the parents fight, it obviously creates stress for everyone. When fighting becomes violent, children are deeply affected. Unfortunately, they usually go on living in these conditions until the abused parent decides to get help. What can concerned adults do for these children? Diane Davis, children’s advocate and author of the newly revised Something Is Wrong at My House, says kids living in violent homes need some concrete ways to take care of themselves. “Teaching children coping skills and discussing a safety plan are good places to start.”

Tools—In Davis’ story, a young boy talks with his teacher about the fighting between his parents at home. The teacher talks with his whole class about the importance of feeling safe at home and what things kids can do if they do not feel safe. She helps each child make up his or her own safety plan. Here are a few points, drawn from the story, that can be used for making up a safety plan.

  • Where can you go inside your house to feel safe?
  • Where can you go outside your house to feel safe?
  • Who is an adult in your family that you can go to for help? (Grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. are all possibilities. Help the child write down their names and phone numbers.)
  • Who is an adult outside your family that you can go to for help? (People like teachers, coaches, school nurses or counselors, ministers, or your best friend’s mom are all candidates. Again, write down a couple names and phone numbers.)
  • Role play calling 9-1-1. The child needs to memorize name, address, and phone number.

Make sure the child has this information written down for himself. Explain how to call 911 and role play it with him a few times. He can take the paper home and keep it in a safe place.

You’ll find more practical tips you can use right now in Something Is Wrong at My House by Diane Davis.

Family History and Your Risk of Disease

Family members share their genes, as well as their environment, lifestyles and habits. Everyone can recognize traits that run in their family, such as curly hair, dimples, leanness or athletic ability. Risks for diseases such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease also run in families.

Everyone's family history of disease is different. The key features of a family history that may increase risk are:

  • Diseases that occur at an earlier age than expected (10 to 20 years before most people get the disease)
  • Disease in more than one close relative
  • Disease that does not usually affect a certain gender (for example, breast cancer in a male)
  • Certain combinations of diseases within a family (for example, breast and ovarian cancer, or heart disease and diabetes)
  • It may also be concerning if multiple family members have high cholesterol or if anyone had a heart attack at a young age, like before they were 50 years old.

    If your family has one or more of these features, your family history may hold important clues about your risk for disease.

    To learn more about your child's family history, you should ask questions and collect information about their grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, siblings, and other children, including:

    • major medical conditions and causes of death,
    • age of disease onset and age at death, and
    • ethnic background
    These resources may also help you learn more about your child's family history: Be sure to tell your Pediatrician if you find anything suspicious in your child's family health history.

Military Wife – How She Copes with Uncertainty

How can a military wife cope with uncertainty when her spouse is overseas?

Consider the helpful advice given by these military wives:
  • Bonnie tries to make home life as normal as possible for their three children. She also leads a support group on the base. “I try to discourage spouses from watching too much news,” she said. “A little (news) in the morning and some at night to get recaps is all you need.”

    Having children in the house is another reason she minimizes time spent watching the news. “Those of us who have children old enough to understand the news have to be really careful of even having the news on in the background. The increased level of fighting has to happen and it absolutely scares me to death. But our soldiers are extremely well trained; know what they need to do and how to do it.”

  • “We encourage a lot of activities in our group for our own sanity and that of our children,” Bonnie said. “We get together as much as possible, even if there is laundry or errands to do. The bottom line is that we all try and watch out for each other and help each other. Just being in the company of others who have the same anxieties and stresses is a great comfort.”

  • Judy urges other military wives to stay busy. “I love to swim and the base pool is so convenient (walking distance) from our home. My friends and I take our children swimming almost every day in the summer. We also attend the base theater on the weekends. In the winter, we join a bowling league.” Get together with others to work on scrapbooks, exercise, e-mail, and garden. Take a class at a local college or learn a new skill. Look for volunteer opportunities.

    “I teach a Bible study to the military wives in my church. We enjoy a breakfast once a month along with this study. This is a great opportunity to reach out to other military wives and be a support to them, especially when their husbands are overseas.”

  • Chris is learning new skills, especially the family jobs her husband did prior to deployment. “Right now, I’m learning how to budget our finances. I’m learning that the most important step to financial freedom is to tithe our gross income, pay our self by placing money in either a savings account or an envelope marked savings, and then pay others.”

  • Missy urges military wives to stay in touch with their husbands as much as possible through e-mail, phone calls, Internet chat, digital pictures, letters, and care packages. Buy two copies of the same book and read it together. Both of you can journal and then exchange the journals occasionally. Be intentional about staying in contact as much as possible.

Military Wife – She Pays the Price for Freedom
Jill, another military wife, says, “I’m concerned about what our husbands will see and if they’ll come home changed.” But many husbands find that their wives have changed as well. These wives have become more independent, stronger, and maybe a little more stubborn. All wars are not fought by the military. Some are waged at home -- one day at a time.

Judy says, “My thoughts go back to the day my husband came home from the war after serving his country in Vietnam. As he got off the airplane, I ran to meet him with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart. He looked different; he was thinner and seemed quieter. Had he changed? Yes, he could never be the same person he was when he left. He had seen another way of life. He had been on a journey afflicted with sorrow.”

“The most important change is how we have grown together spiritually,” recounts Judy. “How did I cope while my husband was overseas? The power of prayer sustained both of us.”

Sun Screens

It is now well known that exposure to sun puts people at risk for skin cancer and premature aging and that most of that exposure comes during childhood (80% of a person's lifetime sun exposure occurs before they are 21). Regular use of sunscreen in children can lower their risk of skin cancer by almost 78%.

There are many sunscreens available for safe use in children over six months old. Pick one that offers UVA and UVB protection and that has a SPF of 15 or higher (especially if your child has light skin). Apply the sunscreen in a thick coat at least 30-45 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours (or more often in he is swimming or perspiring heavily).

Here are some other tips to protect your child from the damaging effects of the sun.

  • Wear protective clothing, including a hat and long sleeve shirt and long pants. Keep in mind that most clothing only has a SPF of 5-9, so you can still get sun damage with a shirt on.
  • Limit exposure to the sun when it is at its strongest (10am-4pm).
  • Protect your child's eyes with sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB radiation.
  • Use sunscreen daily, even if it is cloudy, since most of the sun's radiation penetrates clouds and can still cause sunburn.
  • Consider using a sunscreen with ingredients (such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) that physically block the sun's radiation if your child has sensitive skin.
  • Deet lowers the effectiveness of sunscreens, so use a higher SPF if you are using a combination product that has both a sunscreen and an insect repellent.

Reverse Psychology

Even parents who don't effectively use other parenting techniques, like time-out, using natural and logical consequences, distraction or extinction, likely know about reverse psychology.

Using this technique, to get your kids to finish their dinner, you might say something like:

"I bet you can't eat all of those peas in 30 seconds."

or when trying to get him to put away a toy, you might say:

"I'll put it away for you. You probably don't know how to fit it all back in the box anyway."

So you are essentially trying to get your child to do the exact opposite of what you really want him to do.

This should not be confused with trying to make chores fun. If you say 'let's see who can put more toys away in 5 minutes,' then that isn't reverse psychology, since you are actually telling him to do what you what him to do.

It also can work to 'encourage' your child to not do something that they really want to do. For example, you might try to scare your child into not crossing the street by saying:

"OK. Go ahead and cross the street by yourself. You'll just get hit by a car..."

Does Reverse Psychology Work

Parents who use reverse psychology as a discipline technique recognize that it can work. But is it good parenting?

If your child is getting bad grades, is it really a good idea to say:

"That's okay. You're probably not smart enough to make better grades anyway"?

Some kids might study more after being told that by a parent, but many others will simply think that they aren't smart and should stop trying to make better grades.

When using reverse psychology, if you consider that you are more 'manipulating' your child than anything else, then all of a sudden it takes on a more negative tone and doesn't seem like good parenting. After all, discipline is supposed to be about teaching, isn't it?

Also, reverse psychology doesn't always work. And when it does, a more traditional discipline technique would likely have worked just as well.

Using Reverse Psychology

If you do use reverse psychology, don't use it often. And don't use it in a way that might hurt your child's self-esteem or make him feel guilty.

For example, if your toddler or preschooler doesn't want to take a bath in the evening, you might say 'okay, let's just go straight to bed then.' That will probably work, because most younger kids would rather do almost anything than go to bed early.

Or if she doesn't want to sit in her car seat, you might say 'fine, then we just won't go to the zoo.'

Why are these examples more appropriate then the ones mentioned above? While you are still trying to get your child to do something that they don't want to do, you are offering them choices instead of simply trying to manipulate them in a negative way to do something.

Using pure reverse psychology, for the kids not wanting to take a bath, a parent would probably say:

"OK, don't take a bath. Then you will smell bad and no one will like you" or "you will get sick from the germs on your body and have to go to the emergency room"

So go ahead and use reverse psychology, as long as you don't mind paying for years of therapy later on to boost your child's self-esteem and fix any damage you do...

How to Get Your Kid To Sleep in Her Own Bed

Colleen Mulder-Seward and her husband, Rob Seward, were dying for a good night's sleep. Once their daughters got to ages 3 and 5, the Dexter, MI, couple fully (and perhaps foolishly, they now admit) expected they'd be enjoying eight hours of shut-eye again. Ah, the eternal optimism of parenthood!

In reality, Colleen and Rob would put their younger daughter, Jenna, to bed, only to see her again three hours later, throwing a queen-size fit and begging to sleep in their queen-size bed. They were way too tired to do anything but throw back the covers and invite her in.

Problem is, a threesome just wasn't their speed. "Eventually, one of us would get fed up with being kicked in the back by Jenna and go sleep in the guest room. We were tired all the time," says Colleen.

Tons of parents who didn't plan on having a family bed are finding that's exactly what they now have -- and want to get rid of, says Jill Spivack, L.C.S.W., a family therapist and formerly sleep-deprived mom herself who is the cocreator of The Sleepeasy Solution. "When you're exhausted, you follow the path of least resistance," she says. "You may have tried other things, but in desperation, you pull your kid into your own bed. You may not get perfect sleep, but at least you get some sleep."

The good news: You can untrain the little monster who's taking over your bed. The bad news: It may not be pretty. Your life is not an episode of Supernanny and your family's sleep issues won't get resolved in an hour or even a day. If you really want to make the change, though, and you're prepared for tears, wails, and cries of "But Mommy, don't you love me?" you'll make it through. Here's how to pull the my-bed-to-your-bed switcheroo:

Before Bedtime
First things first: Is today a good day to start? If you're in the midst of potty training, are going on vacation, or are expecting a new baby, wait until things settle down. Yes, you'll have to put up with your little bed partner longer, but the sleep training will go much faster if you wait until your routine is more regular.

Once you've decided to take the plunge, start talking about your new bedtime expectations in the afternoon -- that way, she'll know what to expect at lights-out. Try saying something like "Mommies and daddies sleep in their beds, and kids sleep in their own beds," says Spivack.

She also suggests making a homemade "sleepytime book" -- nothing fancy, just stapled-together paper illustrated with stick-figure pictures that your child can color. If your family recently moved, for instance, and your daughter started sleeping in your bed while she got used to the new house, your story would focus on that and end with how she finally started sleeping happily in her very own bed. A picture book can help young children understand their new sleeping situation in a very concrete way.

Do your usual bedtime routine (here's help if you don't have one!), then get ready for the boot-camp -- tough part.

Those who couldn't stand the cry-it-out method when their kids were babies may turn back and say "Forget it." Hey, kids will eventually sleep alone (show me a teenager who wants to be in bed with Mom and Dad and I'll show you a reality show waiting to happen). But if you'd rather yours go solo more like this month than this century, you can do it -- you just need to brace yourself.

In general, both sleep consultants and parents who've been there say that once you decide to start this sleep training, bed sharing needs to end entirely. No "Well, just for five minutes" or "Maybe tonight because she had a long day." That means midnight visitors get walked back to their rooms, tucked in, kissed, and left behind. No extra snuggles, no drinks of water, as many times as it takes. There will be screams and sobs, and kids so resistant you'll have to carry them, wriggling and accusing all the way, to their beds. Which they will jump out of in a split second. You will start to wonder if you will ever sleep again. You will; just maybe not tonight. Keep this up until the new rules sink in.

If your child has been starting out in your bed and sleeping there all night, every night, your job is even less fun (sorry). Take a comforter into your child's room and sleep on the floor -- not in her bed -- all night long (double sorry). Even though a slumber party in your child's room is probably not your idea of a good time, it's a smart move in the long run. "If you're in her room when she falls asleep and then not there when she wakes a couple of hours later, she will call out or come looking for you," says Jennifer Waldburger, L.C.S.W., cocreator with Spivack of The Sleepeasy Solution. "Sleeping in her room all night pushes the reset button, so to speak, on whatever anxiety your child is having about being there alone. She can wake up and see Mom or Dad each time, then just go back to sleep."

After two or three nights, switch to sitting quietly in a nearby chair until your child falls asleep. But no talking! You want to bore your child to sleep. If she kicks up a fuss, temporarily leave the room. She'll settle down if she knows the reward is that you'll rejoin her.

Each night, move yourself farther from your child's bed -- to the door, to the hallway, and eventually back to your own bedroom. "If your child follows you, you want to calmly, unemotionally, walk her back to bed every time she gets up," says Waldburger.

A secure door gate -- or just the idea of it -- can also work wonders for certain kids. When she was 3 years old, Monica and Ron Calderon's daughter, Marquesa, started waking up around 4 a.m. and sneaking into bed with her parents. After a few nights of crowded quarters, the Tigard, OR, couple reminded little Marquesa of "the gate," the one she knew from when she was a "baby" (a few months back). Marquesa hated being corralled, so that gentle threat was more than enough to coax her back to her own bed.

The Next Morning
How'd your kid do? If not so great, keep encouraging him and reminding him of the new rules. If he made it through the night -- or even made some improvements -- bring on the praise. He's a big kid! He can do it! Toddlers and preschoolers, thank goodness, thrive on pleasing you.

Prizes are also generally welcomed by little kids. You could let your child pick a small "sleep treat" from a grab bag in the morning or leave one under his pillow. I admit it: I lured my younger daughter, Flora, back to her bed with prizes. Borrowing an idea from Janie Peterson, author of The Sleep Fairy, I told Flora that the Sleep Fairy (sort of like the Tooth Fairy) leaves stickers, small toys, and other goodies under sleeping children's pillows. It worked like a dream. Within a week, she was in the habit of staying in bed, and the prizes weren't even a big issue.

It may take more than one tactic to entice your child into his bed. But whatever you do, be consistent and have faith! Colleen and Rob, the parents of bed-hog Jenna, stuck it out and report that now their problem is getting her up in the morning. Well, at least everyone's getting some rest.

Help Kids Have Fun Reading and Writing with Interactive Books

Parents who help children develop a love of reading when they are young are putting kids on a path to school success and lifelong achievement. Figuring out how to motivate young children to read is important. The Reading Is Fundamental program encourages parents to keep books and reading materials in the home and to try “hands-on” activities to stimulate reading.

Children’s book author K.A. (Kathy) Bye says, “The more a child is engaged in a book, the better chance the child will become a reader.” She has created four interactive books that let children be a part of the thinking, writing and illustrating process.

The books let parents and children have fun together while capturing special childhood moments and reliving them by reading the keepsake books again and again.

The books help children, ages 3 to 8, practice reading, writing and concepts such as colors, sizes, numbers, calendar days and social skills they need to learn in kindergarten and early elementary grades. For younger children, the books are a prereading exercise allowing them to color while an adult fills in the sentences; older children enjoy writing the story themselves.

“Working on the books together can give parents unique insights into their child, as well as bringing them together,” says Bye.

The books are available from the Boys Town Press 1-800-282-6657, www.boystownpress.org, and at bookstores.

Making Your Morning Routines Manageable

Getting out of the house on time with children dressed, teeth brushed, tummies filled and backpacks in hand can be challenging. Getting out the door without nagging, yelling and racing may seem impossible. You can create an environment that teaches your child to take responsibility for his/her morning routine. And, have more pleasant interactions with your child each morning. Doing so will help your child feel more successful and better about him/herself. And your relationship with your child will also likely benefit from a smoother morning routine.

Getting through the morning routine can become relatively stress free if you follow some simple steps on a daily basis. I didn’t say it would be easy. Old patterns are hard to break. You and your child have a history with morning routines that will need to be overcome. With time, effort and patience smoother, happier mornings are possible.

A key is to allow the strategy described below to work. That is, the child is responsible for doing his/her morning tasks. If you take responsibility by reminding, doing for, helping (when help isn’t required) your child will likely let you keep reminding, doing and helping him/her. Such a pattern actually teaches your child he/she doesn’t have to keep track or do his/her morning routine on his/her own. This plan is about teaching your child to take care of his/her morning routine as independently as possible. Here is one way to make your mornings more manageable and enjoyable.

  1. Decide what time you need to walk out the door to be to school on time.

  2. Think about all the things your child needs to do from the time he/she awakes until it is time to walk out the door. Think carefully about how much time is needed to complete the tasks and ensure you and your child have enough time to get everything done.

  3. Make a list of the things that need to be done in the order they are to be completed. For young children drawings or pictures maybe helpful on the list.
    • Get dressed
    • Brush hair
    • Eat breakfast
    • Take medicine
    • Brush teeth
    • Put coat and backpack next to the door

  4. Identify with your child a preferred activity he/she would enjoy doing after the rest of the list is completed when he/she has at least 5 minutes of time to spare before it is time to leave. This activity must be approved by you. Some ideas include: watch TV, play a video game, play with the dog, read, listen to music, play piano, get on the computer, etc. Place this activity at the bottom of the list.

  5. Hang the list in a location the child can monitor. You may chose to hang a second or third copy in additional locations to help you also monitor task completion.

  6. Inform your child he/she is to do each task on the list and check them off as they are completed. When everything is done before _________ (fill in the time that is at least 5 minutes before it is time to walk out the door) he/she gets to do the last thing on the list. For young children check them off together and read what’s next.

  7. As your child engages in and/or completes a task provide specific praise for doing so (e.g., good job getting dressed, your hair looks good). You may say things like “Just 2 more tasks and you get to watch TV.” “Wow, you are doing great, I be you will have time for piano this morning.”

  8. When your child gets everything done with time to spare, make sure he/she gets to do the fun thing. Be equally diligent in making sure he/she does not get to do the fun activity if everything is not done on time.

  9. Walk out the door on time! If your child only gets part of the list done, walk out the door on time! He/she may end up dressing in the car or going to school without breakfast or with messy hair. The key is not to give in to the temptation to nag or scold or do the task for the child. Rather, talk with his/her teachers and let them know you are working on improving your child’s independence and being responsible so he/she may come to school hungry or with messy hair a few mornings. Chances are this won’t happen very many times before the child figures out how to get through his/her routine successfully. It is easy to eat breakfast on the go and I wouldn’t encourage this if you want breakfast eaten at home. Otherwise, chances are, breakfast will continue to be eaten in the car.

Planning and patience are key. If you give this strategy a try and it doesn’t seem to be working, make sure enough time is allowed for everything to be done, praise is readily being given and access to the fun activity is available after everything else is done. And remember, change takes ti

Prevent Swine Flu - Good Advice

Prevent Swine Flu - Good Advice

The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/throat. In a
global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible to avoid coming
into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. 
 
While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1
infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms
and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps can be
practiced 
 
1. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water or Listerine. *H1N1 takes
2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to
proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents
proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on
a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't
underestimate this simple, inexpensive, and powerful preventative
method. 
 
2. Blow the nose hard once a day and swab both nostrils with cotton buds
dipped in warm salt water. This is very effective in bringing down viral
population. 
 
3. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamins C
and D. If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that
it also has Zinc to boost absorption. 

4. Drink as much of warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can. Drinking
warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse
direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the
stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

5/5/09

Top ten powerful parenting practices

©2004 by Dr. Tom Olson

     1. They are leaders as well as parents. They don't rely on the schools, the government, television, the movies or music to teach their children values and the difference between right and wrong. They do it themselves.

     2. They have a vision for their family and its future, one that is discussed and shared often. And they support the vision with clearly articulated, clarified and communicated values and beliefs. Every action, behaviour, and decision is taken with those values and beliefs firmly in mind. They constantly emphasize the relationship between family successes and acting in accordance with the values and beliefs. They make a clear distinction between right and wrong. Everybody is clear on how things are to be done and
why. 

     3. They are behavioural models for their children. Their behaviours reflect those that they want the kids to emulate. They are honest because they value honesty; open because they value openness; forgiving because they value forgiveness. They make tough decisions when necessary and they take responsibility for the results. They don't just tell their children what to value and believe; they show them through words and deeds. 

     4. They enable their children. They communicate high, but achievable behavioural and performance expectations and provide the spiritual, emotional, physical, intellectual and financial resources the children need to successfully achieve them. They know that self-esteem is a function of achievement.

     5. They talk with their kids, not at them. They develop feedback loops so the children can come to understand the impact of their behaviour on others. They make sure the kids understand the relationship behaviour and consequences. And they distinguish between the child and his or her behaviour so, when there are problems, they unconditionally love the child while looking for a solution to the problem. 

     6. They take pains to understand how children develop. As the children are finding their way in the world these parents use a combination of maturity and skill to firmly direct when direction is needed; discuss when the circumstances merit; push the kids away when they are ready to make provisional tries when they are ready to and, finally; they set them free altogether. Through it all, the door is left open for the kids to come back if they needed to. 

     7. They take an active role in their children's education, both formal and informal. They are active contributors to both the schools and communities. They enrich the home environment in every way they can. They go to concerts, games, on camping trips and, unfailingly, to the ceremonies that mark the graduations from one stage to the next.

     8. Although their children are outstanding in any number of ways, these parents freely admit their kids were anything but perfect. They accept and openly talk about the fact that, while good kids, their children are just as prone as others to the vicissitudes of growing up and, on occasion, their behaviour reflects that fact.

     9. When the time comes, they discuss the future and provide appropriate advice and guidance regarding career and other life choices that children must eventually make. 

   10. Through it all they encourage independent, critical thinking so, in the final analysis, each child becomes his or her own person.

3/5/09

Everyday Reading Opportunities

Whether your child is a baby, a preschooler, or old enough to read independently, finding time to read is important to developing literacy skills. And there are many easy and convenient ways to make reading a part of every day — even when it's tough to find time to sit down with a book.

Finding the Reading Moments

Car trips, errands, and waits in checkout lines and the doctor's office are all opportunities for reading. Keep books or magazines in your car, diaper bag, or backpack to pull out whenever you're going to be in one place for a while. Even if you can't finish a book, read a few pages or discuss some of the pictures. Encourage older kids to bring favorite books and magazines along wherever you go.

Other reading moments to take advantage of throughout the day:

  • in the morning, before breakfast or getting dressed
  • after dinner, when kids are relaxed
  • bath time (with plastic, waterproof books)
  • bedtime

Reading opportunities are everywhere you go. Read signs aloud to your baby while you're driving. Ask your preschooler to "read" pictures on boxes at the store and tell you about them. And have older kids tell you what's on the shopping list.

Even routine tasks around the house, like cooking, can provide reading moments. With younger kids, read recipes aloud; ask older kids to help by telling you how much flour to measure. Give your child a catalog to read while you look at the mail. Ask relatives to send your child letters or e-mail and read them together.

Even when you're trying to get things done, you can encourage reading. If your child complains of boredom when you're cleaning, for instance, ask him or her to read aloud from a favorite book to you while you work. Younger kids can tell you about the pictures in their favorite books.

And make sure kids get some time to spend quietly with books, even if it means bypassing or cutting back on other activities, like time in front of the TV or playing video games.

Most important, be a reader yourself. Kids who see their parents reading are likely to join them and become readers, too!

3/2/09

Social Skills 101 - Learn the Steps to 16 Basic Skills

The following information is excerpted from the Boys Town book Common Sense Parenting by Ray Burke, Ph.D., Ron Herron and Bridget Barnes

http://www.parenting.org/behavior/socialskills/

Social skills are sets of specific behaviors linked together in a certain order. When social skills are used correctly and at the right time, they help us get along with other people and make appropriate decisions in social situations. Think a minute about what you do when you meet someone for the first time. You probably stand up straight, look at the person, smile, give a firm handshake, and say your name and something like “It’s nice to meet you.” That’s an example of how specific behaviors are strung together to make up the social skill of introducing yourself.

We use social skills every day – greeting co-workers, asking a clerk for help, telephoning a friend, talking to a salesperson about a product, giving someone a compliment. The list goes on and on. Using these skills appropriately greatly influences how other people treat us and how we get along in the world. If we have learned a wide variety of social skills, we can effectively handle more situations and get along better with more people.

Obviously, it is essential for children to learn social skills, too. Social skills define for them what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior to other people and to society in general. For parents, they provide a framework for teaching children how to behave.

You can teach your children social skills by using Preventive Teaching and Corrective Teaching. When your kids use skills appropriately or make an attempt to use them, you can reward and reinforce their efforts through Effective Praise. In other words, you pick the teaching technique that best fits the situation you’re in with your kids. This enables you to teach children how, why, and where they should use these skills.

When your kids can use social skills appropriately, they are more likely to know what to do or say when they deal with other people and be more successful in their interactions. Parents who actively teach social skills to their children are equipping them with “survival skills” for getting along with others, for learning self-control, and generally, for having a successful life.

Helpful Hints

  • Teach each of the skills step by step.
  • Try to include a brief pause following each step that gives your child time to process the information. Take time to explain to your children when they can use these skills and give positive child-oriented reasons for how and why these skills will help them. Let them see how one skill overlaps into other areas. For example, knowing how to accept criticism from parents is very similar to accepting criticism from other adult authority figures such as a teacher or coach.
  • Make learning social skills fun.
  • Praise your children or reward them with something special for taking the time to learn. They might not realize the benefits of learning social skills right away. But the more they use these skills and see the positive way other people respond to them, the more the skills will “sink in.”
  • Finally, be patient.

After your children learn a new skill, it may take awhile before they are comfortable using it and before it really becomes a part of them. Learning new skills is an ongoing process. It’s not a “done deal” just because skills have been practiced once or twice. Comparisons can be drawn to almost any other skill we learn. You don’t learn how to dribble a basketball in one try; you don’t learn how to drive a car the first time you climb behind the wheel. We don’t become good at anything without practice, practice, practice.

Review the 16 basic social skills all children should learn and master. Remember that when you teach these skills, you must use wording and explanations that fit your child’s age, developmental level, and abilities.

2/2/09

Money Matters

Yes, money does matter, but most preschoolers only beg for it when they think it’s necessary, grade schoolers will hoard it but don’t know the price of groceries—even the ice cream they like—and most teenage mall-shoppers cannot come close to guessing the balance on the card they are handing to yet another sales person.

With so little education, it is not surprising so many get money matters all wrong when they become adults.

Larry Winget teaches tough lessons on Big Spenders, a TV program about young adults who have gone off the deep end of debt. Spending hundreds more a month than they earn and shopping impulsively, they regularly beg their parents and friends to bail them out.

One big spender had talked Mom and Dad into a new equity loan on their house to pay off her credit card only to charge the balance right back up and leave her parents with another mortgage to pay.

Our children receive few school lessons about money management, yet they deal with more money than we ever saw. Chicago’s Teenage Research Unlimited estimates that today’s teenagers spend $175 billion each year without much thought.

My first parenting lesson on this topic came when my 7-year-old asked for candy at our local convenience store. I knew my “yes” was wrong when she picked up the candy and started to walk out, leaving me to clean up the details. I stopped her and asked her to figure out how much her candy was. Then I gave her the money, asked her to pay for it and count the change. She might as well start learning how all of this happens.

I was prepared for this little lesson because I heard a mother at the food store ask her 12-year-old son, “Is the $3.39 cereal box size really a saving over the $2 size?” I could almost see smoke rising from his ears as he wrote numbers on the back of Mom’s shopping list to divide the quantities written on the packages by the prices. Great question.

Share financial information with your children as you can and teach the basics of a checking account and debit and credit cards – including the reports and bills they produce.

When one mom asked her son to sit down with her on bill-paying day he said, “Mom, I don’t want to know about that, it’ll just stress me out.” Yes, but it is a stress we all need to learn to endure.

Having the kids watch and do arithmetic while you pay monthly bills is a good dose of reality. After high school, they will be bombarded with pre-approved credit card offers. They need to know more about the bills and the possible debt problems that easy plastic spending can produce.

I asked my teenage grandson, now driving, about his embarrassing traffic ticket. “How much does it cost?” I asked.

“I don’t know, about $50, I think.”

That adds two parts to his driving problem, he doesn’t know and he doesn’t pay. Don’t ride with anyone who doesn’t pay for his mistakes and at least part of his car expenses and insurance.

How about matching any amount your teen deposits in a savings account? Give her or him a chance to see savings grow instead of taking up bad habits and bad debts with plastic cards.

1/27/09

Grandparenting in the 21st Century

 

Problems such as substance abuse, catastrophic illness, teen pregnancy, incarceration, unemployment, family violence, and divorce have caused more grandparents to assume fulltime

parenting responsibilities for their grandchildren.  Grandparents often must make numerous changes in their daily routines and lifestyles when raising their grandchildren.

 

Take Care of Yourself

 

As the primary caregiver, you need to feel confident and be healthy. There will be new stressors relating to demands on your time, energy, and family. How will you manage these? Try to give

yourself time alone or with a friend. Get physical exercise.  Cultivate interests outside your family responsibilities to keep you feeling emotionally balanced.  One way to get stress relief is to meet with other grandparents who are parenting again. Offer and accept support from others when needed. Help organize a support group in which you each share your concerns and solutions to problems with each other.

 

Parenting

 

  • Set Goals: Have a sense of purpose in setting child-rearing goals. Talk about what you think is important. Help your grandchildren grow in self-responsibility and in their feelingsof significance in the family.

 

  • Guide: Guide your grandchild by modeling appropriate behavior. Children will learn more from what you do than from what you say. Praise and encourage their good behavior, and, as much as possible, ignore their bad behavior. Use more "yes" than "no."

 

  • Discipline and Teach: Set limits that fit the age of the child.  A two year-old cannot be expected to stay in an unfenced yard unsupervised, but a well-trained five year-old probably can. Work with the child to agree on reasonable limits (protections). Children need limits to help them feel secure. An important part of discipline is teaching. Providing children with ways to learn responsibility that is right for their age. Teach and show fundamental values (honesty, respect) that you want your grandchildren to practice. Talk with them about why you feel these values are important.

 

  • Determine and Monitor: TV can teach your grandchildren many good things. But, you must also consider the risks.  Many shows are more violent and show more sex than when you were rearing your children. Even the news and commercials may speak of things you don't want your grandchildren to hear.

 

  • Nurture: Express affection and compassion. Hug and kiss your grandchildren. If they don't like hugging, they will let you know. Don't force it upon them - there may be reasons they don't like hugging.

 

  • Listen and Speak: Attend to your grandchildren's feelings and ideas. Children need to feel that it's okay to express their feelings, no matter if they are feelings of anger, resentment, hate or hurt. Tell them that you understand.  Talk through their feelings and why they may be having them.

 

  • Provide: You will now be the person who offers shelter, food, clothing, health and safety needs. Plan to celebrate special events. As much as possible, maintain important routines that the children are used to having before they came to live with you. Help the children feel connected to your family history and cultural heritage.

1/7/08

Quick Tips for Parents
  • No matter how old your children are, know where they are, whom they are with, and what they are doing. This helps prevent problems and shows your kids that you care about them.
  • Never use spanking or other forms of physical punishment with your child. An occasional swat on the rear end is okay as an attention-getter, but it should never be the punishment.
  • You can criticize a child’s behavior, but never criticize the child.
  • Never verbally put down your child. There’s a difference between correcting your child and attacking your child.
  • Be a “5-to-1” parent. Every time you give your child a consequence for misbehavior, provide five opportunities for him or her to earn your praise or a reward.

1/2/09

I love my children, but being a parent can be so hard!

Being a parent can be a joy, but it's also a tough job. No parent is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Even loving parents sometimes do things they don't mean to do, such as yell at a child or call a child a bad name. But if you think you're having trouble controlling yourself, get help so a pattern of abuse doesn't start.

I get so frustrated sometimes. Is this normal?

Yes, all parents get frustrated. Children take a lot of time and energy. Parenting is even harder when you have problems in your own life, such as worries about your job, your bills or your relationships, or problems with alcohol or drugs. To be a good parent, you have to first take care of yourself. That means getting help for your problems.

What can I do when I feel frustrated?

Take a break. Everyone needs a break from being a parent once in a while. If you have another adult in your family, take turns getting away. For example, have your partner stay with the children so you can visit friends. Take turns sleeping late on the weekends. If you're a single parent, ask friends and relatives to help by running some errands for you or watching your child while you go out.

I sometimes lose my temper. Does that mean I'm a bad parent?

No, many parents lose their temper with their children. It's okay to feel angry, but it's not okay to take it out on your children. When you're really angry, take a break. For example, take your children for a walk or call a friend to come help you. If you feel angry with your child almost every day or have trouble controlling your temper, get some help by talking to your family doctor. He or she can offer advice and provide resources to help you. There are groups that can help parents, also.

Is it okay to spank my child?

Spanking isn't the best way to discipline children. The goal of discipline is to teach children self-control. Spanking may teach children to stop doing something out of fear. There are better ways to discipline children.

One good way for infants and toddlers is called "redirecting." When you redirect a child, you replace an unwanted (bad) behavior with an acceptable (good) behavior. For example, if throwing a ball inside the house isn't allowed, take your child outside to throw the ball.

With older children, try to get them to see the consequences of their actions and to take responsibility for them. For example, you can explain to your child that everyone had to wait for dinner because he or she didn't set the table when asked. Explain that your child has to wash the dishes after dinner because he or she didn't set the table before dinner.

How can I be a good parent?

There's not just one right way to raise children. And there's no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. But here are some guidelines to help your children grow up healthy and happy:

Show your love. Every day, tell your children: "I love you. You're special to me." Give lots of hugs and kisses.

Listen when your children talk. Listening to your children tells them that you think they're important and that you're interested in what they have to say.

Make your children feel safe. Comfort them when they're scared. Show them you've taken steps to protect them.

Provide order in their lives. Keep a regular schedule of meals, naps and bedtimes. If you have to change the schedule, tell them about the changes ahead of time.

Praise your children. When your children learn something new or behave well, tell them you're proud of them.

Criticize the behavior, not the child. When your child makes a mistake, don't say, "You were bad." Instead, explain what the child did wrong. For example, say: "Running into the street without looking isn't safe." Then tell the child what to do instead: "First, look both ways for cars."

Be consistent. Your rules don't have to be the same ones other parents have, but they do need to be clear and consistent. (Consistent means the rules are the same all the time.) If two parents are raising a child, both need to use the same rules. Also, make sure baby-sitters and relatives know (and follow) your family rules.

Spend time with your children. Do things together, such as reading, walking, playing and cleaning house. What children want most is your attention. Bad behavior is usually an attempt to get your attention.

Who can I ask when I need help raising my child?

There are many ways to get good parenting advice. Sign up for parenting classes offered by hospitals, community centers or schools. Read parenting books or magazines. Talk to your family doctor, a minister, a priest or a counselor.

You can also ask your family doctor for parenting help. Don't be embarrassed to ask. Raising children is hard, and no one can do it alone. Your doctor can help you with issues like discipline, potty training, eating problems and bedtime. Your doctor can also help you find local groups that can help you learn better parenting skills.

12/31/08

Cooking With Child

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

Children of all ages and gender, benefit from spending time in the kitchen. Cooking teaches children the spirit of cooperation, a little bit of math, and a bit of chemistry. But best of all is that it teaches them to appreciate the effort and artistry that goes into the preparation of food. Besides, they're far more likely to eat something if they've helped make it. Cooking also provides children with a sense of personal achievement by giving them a peek into the adult world they so often imitate in their play.

Children have a natural fascination with cooking and baking. It has to do with their general need to touch, explore and fiddle with whatever gadget is put in front of them. This is not a bad thing, and can be rather educational when adult supervision is present. With easy to understand recipes, kids are introduced to basic math skills, reading and comprehension. The ability to follow directions is one of the most important skills a child needs for a successful school experience.

Children can learn a lot from cooking. In fact, from an early age, they can see how separate ingredients are mixed together and then transformed into something else. For Kindergartners and First Graders, measuring solids and liquids turns into a teachable moment. They can also see how ingredients are divided into various parts. The idea of heat and degrees of hotness also invites interesting discussion. Older children can delve deeper into this concept.

Cooking with children can be great fun, but do keep in mind the following suggestions:

  • Cooking activities require time and energy spent gathering materials and ingredients. No matter how much preplanning is done, adult facilitation is necessary.
  • Keep an eye on your child when he/she is in the kitchen. Even though the child is not helping you in kitchen work and is just watching or playing with pots and pans, it is advisable that you supervise the child for any possible mishaps.
  • Teach your children to wash hands before handling any food product or cooking.
  • Do not hold the child while you are handling hot equipments.
    Make sure that hot foods and liquids are kept away from kitchen countertops and table edges so that the child does not topple it over.
  • Kids under 10 should not handle electronic gadgets, stoves, sharp kitchen appliances such as knives and scissors or hot dishes. Instead give them simpler tasks such as wiping the table or washing the vegetables.
  • Tell children to wait until the dish is done to ensure that it is fully cooked before sampling it. This will help prevent illness.
  • Don't get flustered by the mess. Encourage the kids to help you clean up after the cooking sessions.
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby and emergency phone numbers posted in a conspicuous place so you can make calls quickly.

12/19/08

Santa Tracker

Let the anticipation of Santa's arrival build by tracking his whereabouts around the globe. NORAD Tracks Santa is an ingenious website that shows a satellite view of Santa's progress on Christmas Eve. Notable people and celebrities narrate the "live" video of Santa's flight on a world map, with regular updates throughout the night.

Cookies, Milk, and Carrots!

Getting the house Santa-ready with the kids is a tradition they won't soon forget. Cookies and milk are obvious for Santa, but don't forget those eight reindeer!

  • Whether your baking your own from scratch, or starting with pre-made cookie dough, you'll need enough cookies for Santa and the kids.
  • Baking and decorating cookies for Santa is a wonderful Christmas Eve activity. You can buy ready-to-bake cookies in the refrigerator section of the grocery store, and then embellish them with decorations.
  • Offer your cookies on a special snowman cookie platter with a warm mug of milk. Set the cookies on a table near the Christmas tree and don't forget a carrot for the reindeers to munch on!
  • Set the cookies on a table near the Christmas tree.
  • Don't forget a carrot for the reindeer to munch on!

Candy Cane Fun & Games

The simple design of a candy cane allows for playful party game options

Candy Cane Fishing

  • Cut out 3-inch long fish shapes from foam craft sheets.

  • Make holes near the fishes' mouth large enough for a candy cane to fit through.

  • Fill a big red plastic tub with water.

  • Float fish on water. Fish should lay flat on the water's surface.

  • Give each player a candy cane to try and hook the fish with the candy cane. Consider keeping the plastic wrap on the candy cane for this game.

Candy Cane Relay

  • Have teams line up behind a starting point.

  • Determine a "run to" point that is a straight shot from the starting point.

  • Give each team a candy cane as a relay baton.

  • Each racer must hold the candy cane by its hook using his or her finger.

  • On "go" the first player on each team races to the "run to" point, then back to the starting point.

  • The candy cane is passed to the next player on the team who must hook it on his or her finger, race to the "run to" point and back, passing off the candy cane to the next runner and so on.

  • The team who completes the relay first wins.

Christmas Movie Trivia Game

Challenge your neighbors and spruce up on your Holiday Movies.

 
Preparation
  • Series of movie trivia questions.

Steps
  • Create a series of Christmas movie trivia questions (examples of good movies: Miracle on 34th Street, The Santa Clause, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, etc) on 4x6 index cards.

  • Pass them to guests as they enter the house, and collect them mid-party to tally up scores and give the winner a special Christmas prize.

Who Am I?

classic guessing game that involves everyone.

Preparation
  • Write down names of famous Christmas characters on postcards.

Steps
  • Tape names of different famous Christmas characters (i.e.: Santa Claus, Jack Frost, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, The Grinch, etc.) to each guest's back.

  • Each guest should try to find out who they are by asking other guests yes or no questions (for example, "am I a creature that helps Santa fly at night?", "Am I made of snow?") about their identity. Winner gets another special Christmas prize.

Family Tree

Don't limit your tree-trimming traditions to your evergreen. Transform Dad into a decorated Christmas tree in this hilarious after-dinner activity. Supply your kids with green and red crepe paper, aluminum foil, and masking tape. When they're done, gather 'round the tree and take a photo to add to your family album or send as next year's holiday card. 

 

12/7/08

Mom's-Eye View: Help (Not) Wanted

Why sometimes the best advice you can give may be none at all

During my first pregnancy, I was a magnet for unsolicited advice. "Make sure you don't change the kitty litter," I heard over and over, even from people who knew we didn't have a cat. "You're not drinking too much coffee, are you?" asked others, who soon learned that the mere mention of coffee could make me sick.

It didn't get any better after my baby was born. "What, no sweater?!" a neighbor gasped over my 7-month-old on an 80-degree July day. By my daughter's first birthday, I had heard at least a dozen ways to get her to sleep through the night, cure her gas, and teach her to walk. It didn't seem to matter that I hadn't asked.

I hated all the advice. They mean well, I reminded myself, but it didn't do any good. Although most of the tips I received were either outdated or something I already knew, it made me feel as though everyone thought I was either a bad mom or just plain stupid. "I'll never tell someone what she should and shouldn't do," I vowed.

And I didn't... until my firstborn was 4 and I was pregnant with my second (and, annoyingly, still on the receiving end of advice on how to quell my daughter's whining, ease my indigestion, and prepare for life with two kids). That's when my sister-in-law announced her first pregnancy.

As soon as I finished congratulating Terri and her husband, the first thing out of my mouth was, "If you eat crackers or something in the morning but still feel nauseous, try waiting an hour after you get up and then eating."

"I haven't had any morning sickness--" Terri began, but I cut her off.

"Oh, and ask for chewable prenatal vitamins. I gagged trying to swallow those other ones."

"I'm swallowing the vitamins fine," she said. "Everything's going well."

"That's great," I said with a big smile. But I couldn't help thinking, Sure, everything's going well now; just wait for the leg cramps, heartburn, and colic. I'd been through all of it; I knew. And I was suddenly determined to share my knowledge.

As Terri's pregnancy progressed, I found myself spewing theories, statistics, and advice every time I talked to her -- from the amount of water she should drink each day, to what baby gear she wouldn't be able to live without, to how to function on two hours of sleep. Each time, she smiled and told me not to worry.

Then one day I was yammering on about car-seat installation when I glanced over at Terri and saw it: the eye roll. It looked familiar. Wait a minute, I thought. That's what I do when I'm sick of listening! I decided to stop giving her advice.

But I couldn't. I've put in all these years as a mom, I rationalized. It's different when it comes from me -- I actually know what I'm talking about.

To avoid getting on her nerves, I started passing my advice through a third party. When I wanted to tell Terri that The Partridge Family's Greatest Hits CD was a surefire crying soother, I simply mentioned it to her big brother -- my husband. Then I'd pretend I didn't hear him dialing the phone.

This went on for a while. But one day, I was talking to Terri when she started to complain about Jack's advice. "I know he means well," she sighed.

He means well, I thought to myself. I mean well. Everyone who gives me advice means well.

I remembered how I used to cross the street to avoid running into all those well-meaning people. I remembered how I felt like they thought I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't want Terri to feel the same way -- like she wasn't a good mom. It's not bad enough that I've turned into one of those people, I scolded myself, but I've turned my husband into one, too. This time, when I promised not to give any more unsolicited advice, I stuck with it, even though it meant biting my tongue until it hurt.

The funny thing is that after I stopped giving advice, Terri started asking for it. During her first months of motherhood, she asked me about diaper rashes and runny noses, solid foods and bedtime routines. I loved being the one she called and I loved even more that I wasn't forcing my advice on her.

And then it happened: Almost a year after her daughter was born, Terri was telling me about a friend of hers who had a sleepless 4-month-old baby... and all the advice she had given as an experienced mom. As I listened to her theories, I smiled and sent her friend a subliminal message: It's okay. She means well.

Carol Sjostrom Miller is a mom of two in New Jersey.

12/5/08

Child Development - Infants (0-1 year old)

Developmental Milestones

Cognitive development for your baby means the learning process of memory, language, thinking and reasoning. Your baby is learning to recognize the sound of your voice. She is also learning to focus her vision from the periphery or the corner of her eyes to the center. Language development is more than uttering sounds (“babble”), or mama/dada.

Listening, understanding, and knowing the names of people and things are all components of language development. During this stage, your baby is also developing bonds of love and trust with you. The way you cuddle, hold, and play with your baby will set the basis for how he will interact with you and others.

Positive Parenting

  • Talk to your baby. It is soothing to hear your voice.

  • When your baby makes sounds, answer him by repeating and adding words. This will help him learn to use language.

  • Read to your baby. This helps her develop and understand language and sounds.

  • Sing to your baby.

  • Play music. This helps your baby develop a love for music and math.

  • Praise your baby and give him lots of loving attention.

  • Spend time cuddling and holding your baby. This helps her feel cared for and secure.

  • The best time to play with your baby is when he’s alert and relaxed. Watch your baby closely for signs of being tired or fussy so that you can take a break.

  • Parenting can be hard work! Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is easier to enjoy your new baby and be a positive, loving parent when you are feeling good yourself.

Child Safety First
Now that your newborn is at home, it is time to make sure that your home is a safe place. Look around your home for household items that might present a possible danger to your baby. As a parent, it is your responsibility to ensure that you create a safe environment for your baby. It is also important that you take the necessary steps to make sure that you are mentally and emotionally ready for your new baby. Here are a few tips to keep your baby safe during her first year of life.

  • It is important that you never shake your newborn baby. Newborn babies have very weak neck muscles that are not yet able to support their heads. If you shake your baby you can damage his brain and delay normal development.

  • To prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), it is recommended that you always put your baby to sleep on her back. For more information on SIDS, visit National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

  • Place your baby in a car safety seat every time he rides in the car. The safest place for his safety seat is in the back seat of the car. Children who are less than one year OR are less than 20 pounds should be placed in a rear-facing care seat.

  • To prevent your baby from choking, cut her food into small bites. Don’t allow your baby to play with anything that may cover her face or is easy for her to swallow.

  • Never carry hot liquids or food near your baby or while holding him.

  • Immunizations (shots) are important to protect your child’s health and safety. Because children are susceptible to many potentially serious diseases, it is important that your child receive the proper immunizations. Please consult your local health care provider to ensure that your child is up-to-date on her childhood immunizations. You may visit the CDC immunization website, to obtain a copy of the recommended immunization schedule for U.S. children

12/4/08

Virus versus Bacteria: Is an antibiotic necessary?

By: Heather L. Zimmerman, M.D.
Boys Town Pediatrics

When your child is sick, the only thing on your mind is making him feel better. Sore throats, tummy aches, and the sniffles all need TLC, and sometimes your child may need a prescribed antibiotic. Boys Town Pediatrics offers tips to parents on understanding when antibiotics can help the healing process and when they can do more harm than good.

Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections.  Antibiotics will not work against viral infections, which are much more common in children.  Bacterial infections which may require treatment with an antibiotic include ear and sinus infections, Strep throat, and whooping cough.  Viral infections which will not be treated by antibiotics include colds, croup, many cases of bronchitis, and 99% of illnesses with vomiting and diarrhea.

Antibiotics can prevent serious complications of bacterial infections and even save lives.  However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unnecessary use of antibiotics is a large factor in the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.  Even new antibiotics recently introduced to the market may not work for dangerous bacterial infections as a result of continued overuse.  For these reasons, you should not expect or demand that your child’s doctor will automatically prescribe an antibiotic when he or she is sick.  Instead, let the physician examine your child and make a determination whether an antibiotic is truly necessary.  By using antibiotics appropriately, it is more likely that an antibiotic will be helpful when needed.

If your child does have a bacterial infection and is prescribed an antibiotic, it is important to know the following:

  • Always complete the entire prescription.  Discontinuing use before all doses have been taken may result in re-emergence of the bacteria.
  • Do not save any of the antibiotic for future use.  Do not share it with others.  Taking a partial dose of an antibiotic could make the remaining bacteria resistant.
  • If your child develops upset stomach and/or diarrhea while on an antibiotic, talk with your doctor about measures to deal with this.  If a rash develops during a course of antibiotics, your child should be examined by a physician to determine whether he or she is allergic to the drug.  If your child is allergic to a drug, remember to mention it to the physician when future bacterial infections strike.

Remember that even if an antibiotic is not prescribed for your child’s illness, there are still plenty of things you can do to help him or her feel better.  With a cold, provide humidification using a cool mist vaporizer.  Ensuring that your child is taking in plenty of fluids is important with any illness to avoid dehydration.  Helping your child get enough rest may require creative solutions like propping him or her upright for sleep.  As over-the-counter medications can have dangerous side effects, use of these should be discussed with your child’s physician. 

Q&A

How are viral and bacterial infections spread?
Both viral and bacterial infections are spread the same way:

  • Sneezing/coughing
  • Shaking hands
  • Touching food with dirty hands
  • Contact with body fluids such as blood and saliva

There is really no way to prevent your child from coming in contact with germs, but there are steps you can take to help prevent them from spreading. Encourage your child to wash his or her hands after meals and snacks and playing with toys. Hand sanitizers are just as effective as soap and water. If your child is sick, keep him or her home from daycare, school, grocery stores and other public places.

What is the difference between viruses and bacteria?
Viruses are not alive and must invade living cells to grow. The body’s own immune system must fight off the virus or let it run its course. Viral infections are usually accompanied by multiple symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose, congestion, vomiting and diarrhea.

Bacteria are living organisms and can be found everywhere. There are times when the body’s immune system may not be able to fight off a bacterial infection.  Antibiotics work to kill the bacteria by stopping its growth. Bacterial infections often go together with pain, aches, or sore areas of the body.

A thorough examination by your child’s doctor will be helpful in distinguishing between these infections.

12/3/08

Childrens Birthday Party Ideas

Children's Birthday Parties can be fun, but exausting for you. The following ideas apply for children ages 2-12 (more birthday party ideas at Idea Queen).

The most important part of any children's party is to keep it simple. Kids have a way of amazing us with how entertained they can keep eachother with even the simplest of activities. (If you are ever in doubt, give your child a box and watch them for a few hours). Here are some ideas to make a smooth and flexible birthday party.

Planning the Party
Before you buy anything, you'll want to first plan the party. What's the theme? How many kids will there be? Do you need games? This isn't always necessary for younger children, but as they get older becomes important. You'll also want to pick the place where the party will be. There's nothing wrong with having it at home, but you could also have a party at the park, a kid-friendly restuarant (Chucky Cheese for example), or another fun place.

The Checklist
With any party you are going to need supplies. This is a given, but make sure you have everything on your list a few days before your party. Don't forget the cake, party favors (if you need them), ice cream, etc. Depending on where the party is you may not need much, but make sure you have it all.

Invitations
If the child is school age, there's going to be a guest list. Be sure to send the invitations out at least a week ahead of time so other parents have enough time to buy gifts. I know I've had problems with rushing to get gifts in time because I didn't get the invitation until the day before the party. Keep the other parent in mind, and offer an RSVP so you know how many extra children you'll have on that day.

Games, Favors, & Activities
This is going to depend on the age of the children invited to the party. While a schedule isn't recomended, you'll still need to do a bit of planning if you are having a long party. Older children can help in planning their party and making their own list of things they want to do with their guests. Younger children might need some help, and you may need to have some activities to do to keep them occupied especially if you hold the party in your own home. Coloring books, bubbles, and other activities can work for younger children. Keep some back up ideas in hand for those that just don't want to do anything.

Now that you have some ideas, you should have a fun and happy birthday party for your child!

About the Author: Kara Kelso is the mother of 2 and owner of several online businesses. For more birthday ideas for kids, visit: http://www.idea-queen.com/childrens-birthday-parties.html

Article Source: Wahm-Articles