Thursday, August 30, 2012

Creating a Simple Book to Help Kids Cope with Tough Situations

Are there situations that are especially stressful for your children? It might be when one parent goes away for a few days for work, going to the doctor, the first day of school or moving to a new home.

One way to help your children better understand the situation and cope with it is to create a simple book about it. For example, if your child finds it difficult when one parent is away from home for a few days for work, you could help your child create a book about it.

Begin by finding or taking pictures that tell the story –

  • The parent waving good-bye
  • A car arriving at the airport
  • A plane flying in the sky
  • The parent working in an office
  • Your child talking to the parent on the phone
  • The parent flying back home
  • A big welcome home hug

Next attach these pictures to paper and write a sentence or two about what’s going on and how the child feels. Staple the book together and be prepared to read it many times!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Toddlers mesmerized for hours by software - serious impact on developing brain

Why does the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend no screen time for babies and toddlers under age 2? Are they just trying to drive parents crazy? No!

They actually have research behind their recommendations. In their article titled “Media Education” they state, "research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers (eg, child care providers) for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills."

Recently a press release for a new app for toddlers was emailed to me. It explains "Inspiration for the endeavor started when Brisky’s infant son Paul became enamored with his father’s iPad and would delight in tapping images on the screen. Seeing his son’s obvious joy, Brisky created “Bonk! Bonk!” – an interactive app where every time Paul would tap the screen a sound and colorful image would suddenly appear mesmerizing him for hours."

Having a toddler mesmerized for hours by an iPad application is obviously seen as a very positive thing by this dad. In fact he’s packaged it into an app so other toddlers can enjoy it. Likely he is a loving dad who just doesn’t see any problem with babies and toddlers spending time on screens.

While you may choose to let your baby or toddler have some screen time, it's important to consider the impact of that screen time on your child’s developing brain.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Violence is Declining - Including Violence Against Children

The latest news often brings stories of violence or tragedy. There always seems to be somebody randomly shooting and killing other people. It's downright depressing.

That's why reading Steven Pinker's book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined has been so refreshing. He carefully documents the decline in violence through the centuries. After being reminded of just how acceptable torturing and killing people has been in the past, it's clear we've come a long way.

He explores how violence against children has declined as part of the human rights movement. No longer is it acceptable to kill a baby or child that isn't wanted for some reason. Beating misbehaving children is now against the law in most developed countries.

If you'd like to understand how far we've come in reducing violence, you'll enjoy this book.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Warning Your Kids Multiple Times Escalates Everyone's Emotions

When your kids are misbehaving, do you ever find yourself giving them multiple warnings to stop? One mom told the story of how she was planning to go out to lunch with a couple other moms after picking their kids up from preschool. She was looking forward to enjoying pizza and visiting with her friends.

However, her son wasn’t behaving well – he was pushing the other kids, running ahead and not listening. She warned him that if he didn’t hold her hand while walking and start behaving that they would go home instead of out for pizza. She proceeded to give this warning a dozen times before she decided to take him home kicking and screaming.

As she carried him home, his behavior got worse as he started hitting her on the head. All she could think of was getting home so she kept walking despite being hit. Later on she realized she could have put him down and waited for him to calm down enough for him to walk himself. They were both upset by the time they got home.

When your kids ignore your first warning, you know they’ve decided not to comply and they know it. With each warning the stakes go up as to who is going to cave in. Emotions naturally rise.

A better approach is to tell your child once and then follow through. In this case it would have meant this mom telling her son that he needed to stop pushing the other kids or they would have to go home. After he did it again, she would have left with him. He still wouldn’t have gone happily, however, the situation would not have escalated as far as it did.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Mom's Difficult Journey through Her Young Daughter's Cancer Treatment

When Judith and John Hannan learn that their sweet, 8-year-old daughter, Nadia, has cancer their whole world is turned upside down. After cracking her jaw while eating a piece of candy, Nadia is diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer which is in her jaw. As Nadia enters the painful world of tests, chemotherapy and operations to save her life, her Mom is by her side every step of the way.

While John and Nadia’s brother and sister, other family members and friends help out, the majority of Nadia’s daily care falls onto Judith. In her book, Motherhood Exaggerated, Judith recounts the painful journey from Nadia’s initial diagnosis through her treatment and ultimate recovery.

After the surgery which took bone from Nadia’s leg to replace the cancerous bone removed from her jaw, Judith describes her daily routine. “Since leaving the hospital post-surgery, I was busier than ever. In addition to the routine care of the Broviac, dispensing pills to make Nadia more comfortable, and administering the G-shots to help stimulate white-blood-cell production, I had to change the dressing on her leg, give her iron supplements and shots of Epogen to increase her red-blood-cell count, wean her off pain killers, and make sure she did her jaw and neck exercises.”

Taking care of a child who is undergoing cancer treatment is one of the most challenging experiences any parent can go through. This book provides an intimate look at one family’s story through this heartbreaking process.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Developing Habits to Succeed in School

Can developing good habits help your kids succeed in school? Yes! Habits are powerful patterns of behavior that automatically unfold in certain situations. By establishing helpful habits, your kids will have routines that help them succeed in school.

The brain loves to establish habits because it takes less thinking and energy. For example, when your children are learning something like how to tie their shoes, it will take all their focus to accomplish the task. Once they master it, their brains will use far less energy as the process becomes automatic.

The problem is that your child's brain is just as happy to establish healthy habits as unhealthy ones. Establishing the habit of either reaching for a pastry for breakfast or having a bowl of cereal with fruit is equally appealing to your child's brain. waitress

Given how powerful habits are, it is worth figuring out which ones will help your kids succeed in school.

Looking at How Habits Form

In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg describes a three step process he calls the habit loop:

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Biggest Positive Influence on Your Parenting

Someone recently asked me what was the biggest positive influence on my parenting. The answer that quickly jumped out was the parenting classes my husband and I took when our daughter was 3-years-old and our son was a baby. The classes were taught by a mother who had kids a couple years older than ours and she was a wealth of wonderful ideas.

Parenting classes allowed us to discuss different approaches to parenting and come up with an approach we both agreed on. We figured out how we would respond to misbehavior in ways that allowed our children to learn from their mistakes. Being able to take a little time away from our kids to sharpen our skills was the best thing we could have done.

What has been the biggest positive influence on your parenting?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Why did you do that?!

When your children misbehave, it can be tempting to ask why they did it. The question itself leads the child to thinking about an excuse for their behavior.
  • “Why did you hit him?”
  • “Why did you push her?”
  • “Why did you grab that shovel out of his hands?”
However, an unacceptable behavior is always unacceptable regardless of the reason. Good explanations do not provide a free ticket for poor behavior.

Rather than asking children why they behaved in a certain way, describe the results of the behavior and discuss how to make amends. In the example where the shovel was grabbed, you might say “You grabbed the shovel out of his hands and now he’s crying. What do you think you can do to make him feel better?”

Younger children will need more guidance in figuring out how to share or express their feelings without hitting or pushing. Teaching them these skills will serve them better than asking them why they did it.