When a woman first learns that she is blessed with a pregnancy, most often her biggest hope is that she will deliver a healthy baby. There is a saying, “If you have your health, you have everything.” So true. No one enjoys being sick. I look around and see so many young children who are already clinically obese. My heart breaks for them. I think of their already difficult lives and the life they will lead as an obese, unhealthy adult. Nothing good comes of childhood obesity. Although some children may have a medical condition which lends itself to weight gain, those cases are far and few between, and don’t apply to the general population. Overeating, or taking in more calories than are utilized through daily movement can take the joy and childhood out of a child’s life. Social stigma weaves its way into daily life, and obese children often become self-conscious, or a target for teasing. Medical remediations can be overwhelming, or at the very least frightening for a child when weight related problems arise due to obesity. Recently, one mother lost custody of her obese son until she learned about appropriate nutrition and he participated in a nutritional program. This mom was considered neglectful to allow her son to become so unhealthy. Much of childhood obesity is due to processed and fast foods which are consumed regularly without thought. Those foods are filled with Omega 6 fatty acids which can cause long term health risks including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression and cancer. Make the decision to scale back on junk foods, and get your kids invested in preparing fresh healthy meals with you. Children learn what they live. Let yours learn how to live a healthy, happy lifestyle. Read the entire article “Parents should serve up a healthy lifestyle”.
As we ring in the new year, hope, happiness and optimism fill our hearts. Every new year seems to be filled with opportunity for fresh starts and new beginnings. Fill yours with your presence when your child is present. Look for the wonderful things your child does and says throughout each of the 365 days this year. As a mom of three grown children, I have learned how so many special moments can be overlooked while dealing with the daily stresses of life. Look for those times when your child is Adventurous, Bright and Cooperative, or Delightful, Expressive, Funny and Grateful. Take close notice when your child is Happy-go-lucky, Innocent, Joyous and Kindhearted. Every child shows pieces of the Alphabet of Attributes throughout each day. Sadly, parents get caught up and tend to focus on all the negative behaviors each day, which can be many. However, there are so many more positive, creative and thoughtful things said and done by children throughout their day which go unnoticed. Read Diana Loomans’ beautiful poem, If I had my child to raise over again, and print out my Alphabet of Attributes to post on your fridge, giving each new day a fresh start filled with opportunity by reading the entire article “Fresh starts and bright new beginnings”. Have a Happy!
Christmas time is such an exciting time for children, but exhaustion and overstimulation can contribute to unexpected meltdowns. Try a new family tradition for Christmas morning which will keep your child in bed longer, rather than waking early to see what Santa brought. Help your child by setting a calm pace for the day, and be prepared with quiet activities such as frosting prepackaged gingerbread men cookies. Several quiet activities sprinkled throughout the day will help your child self -regulate and minimize meltdowns from overstimulation. We tend to assume that with all the new toys, children don’t need routine, direction or quiet time. Whether you are traveling, house-hopping to different relatives or staying home for the holidays, a little extra planning helps children stabilize, and makes the day a little merrier for everyone. Read the entire article “The stockings were hung with care“.
Organizing your child's play area will help him be able to explore and appreciate those items even more. Toy areas can become a dumping ground for unused, broken items which havn't been touched in years. Start now and work together to group items in colored bins. Designate special areas for artwork, supplies, building toys and dolls. Ignite interest evey month by rearranging items according to that season or holiday. In January, cut snowflakes together from folded paper circles. Hang them from ceiling lights and floor lamps. Rearrange furniture and toys for a new look. February marks Valentine's day to invite your child to place window cling decorations, and new rearrangements. March into St. Patty's day with a green theme, and remove to rotate toys which haven't been played with. Invite your child to wash and donate those toys which he has outgrown. April brings springtime and the opportunity to decorate with flowers or worms and bugs for your little guy. Bring out your creative side as you organize, rotate, repair and replace toys and play items. Remember, child's play is his work. Children learn from the toys they use. Make sure your child's learning area is organized so he can do his work by playing and learning. Read the full article "Help your child organize and appreciate".
Throughout the years parents have invested much time and thought into weaving a magical story of a jolly old elf sliding down the chimney with a bag filled with toys for good girls and boys. Those who don’t have chimneys may tell their children that Santa will come through the front door, or through a window. When my children were young, they used to ask that we let the fire burn down, or not light a fire at all on Christmas Eve, because Santa might get burned. Stories told by parents can become quite elaborate in the spirit of Christmas magic. If your child is questioning, but not really wanting to know the answer, give him one more year of magic and belief, and find new ways for him to become Santa’s helper. Read the full article “Keeping the magic of Santa Claus alive”.
Many families find ways to give to others during the holiday season. Including your own children in that mission is a gift to them, as they learn and grow while giving to others. Contact your local school or church, which are always connected with organizations in need of help. Design and send Christmas cards with your child to men and women in our armed forces. Suggest that your child do some act of kindness for an elderly neighbor, such as bring the trash can in from the curb or shovel a front porch. Gifts and acts of kindness don’t need to cost money, and they don’t need to be saved up for a special time of year. Acts of kindness are gifts which can be given and opened all year long. Read the complete article “The traditions of holiday giving“.
Years ago I lived as an intentional pessimist. I expected things to go wrong, promises to be broken, traffic to be heavy, and life to be difficult. I honestly felt well prepared by viewing life this way. I was never disappointed when things went wrong, because I expected it. However, shortly after making a life-changing decision for my family, I made another decision to leave my pessimism behind and view the glass as half full, rather than half empty. I intentionally enjoyed every day to the fullest, looked for the positive in every disappointment, and began to teach my children how to do the same. It took some practice to “act as if (things were great)” but within a few months, I was able to find and appreciate the silver lining in every cloud. I pointed out those silver linings, to ensure that my children would grow up searching for silver, no matter what struggle lay ahead of them. It was amazing to feel the change in attitude which resinated throughout the house. Look for things in every day that you appreciate, and say how grateful you are for those things, right out loud! Ask your child what he is grateful for throughout the day, so he begins to learn an attitude of gratitude at a young age. Don’t wait for New Year’s Eve to make a resolution to live happier. Brighten your spirit, and help your child grow with attitude. Read the entire article “We all should give thanks every day”.
Children thrive on rules, routine, consistency and a calm environment. Decide on House Rules, develop a daily routine, and include your child while completing household tasks to increase his feeling of self-worth through responsibility. Young children who are raised with structure and routine will be better prepared as they move into their teen years. Teens that are expected to pitch in, help out, and think of others develop wonderful qualities which prepare them for the work force, and for a happy future. Don’t do the job that belongs to your child, look the other way, or make excuses. Whether you have a toddler or teen, set your child up for success by providing an environment which nurtures those qualities you admire. Read the full article “Kids need rules and parents should stick by them“.
I just love the saying that raising a family is like baking a cake from scratch… it can get real messy! There are many important ingredients which help to develop a strong, thoughtful, resilient, confident child. Sometimes parents loose sight of what is important, or how just how powerful a word of encouragement can be. Sometimes parents forget that children are children, or that they need continuous guidance, not another friend. Parenting is tough. It’s challenging and exhausting. It’s a full time job which lasts for years. Parents need support, encouragement and guidance, just as their children do. That’s why I created a very special family recipe to share with you. Read my syndicated column, “Try these ingredients for a family recipe”.
Most children are experts in begging and negotiating.They can be relentless with their endurance to beg, tantrum or cry. Many times they ask or beg for something which is inappropriate for their age, so we respond with confidence. However, when the begging continued in this situation, one mom decided to give in to her daughter to teach her a lesson. Lessons are better learned by children when their parents know and do what is right. No matter how difficult, parents need to parent and protect their children. Even teenagers need strong parents who simply say “No.” Read about the history of Halloween, and how one mom wanted to scare her daughter to teach her a lesson in my syndicated article “Lessons for a happy or scary Halloween“.
Some parents hate to take their children to the grocery store, or, to any store! Meltdowns and embarrassing temper tantrums become the norm when children are bored or want to buy something that is not on the list. If shopping is difficult with your child, take time to develop a list which will engage him and help him to feel he is a needed member of your shopping crew. Build a child-friendly shopping board where pictures of foods to be purchased can be placed on and removed from the board when they are located and placed into the cart. Develop your grocery list with photos of items from your weekly flyer. The time you take now to build this shopping board with your child will be time well spent. Watch my video to learn how to develop your own shopping board.
Children hit for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons include being tired or hungry. Watch for that, and keep your child well rested and well fed. Sometimes children hit out of frustration because they can’t communicate what they want. Some children hit because hitting is what they are exposed to when others around them hit. When your child seems to hit for no reason, take note of the situation, the time of day, and the surroundings. Try to find a pattern which triggers your child’s hitting, and eliminate that trigger. In the meanwhile, how do you stop or correct a child from hitting? Yelling at a child will never change the behavior. It definitely does not help to hit your child as you say,”Don’t hit!” Spanking falls into the same category as hitting your child, so don’t spank your child after he has hit someone. Children are concrete thinkers, so think logically, and hold your child’s hand firmly as you say “You may not hit.” Read more in the complete article How does Mom stop her baby from hitting?
Are you embarassed by your child’s meltdowns or all-out temper tantrums in public? Do you ignore rude behavior or give in to those ugly tantrums, because you know that enforcing the rules will escillate the situation? You are not alone. Many parents feel it is easier to quiet their child in that difficult moment by giving him whatever he wants. Unfortunately, giving in to your child teaches him that he can have whatever he wants when he puts on a big public display. Children learn through repetition and patterning, so each time you give in, you reinforce his tantrums. Children gain power when they learn that their parent won’t discipline or follow through in public. Very young children learn how to read parental responses and take control at an early age. Don’t feel defeated, and don’t feel pressured to give in. Learn simple techniques to improve any behavior in the heat of the moment. ”Remove to remediate”, and eliminate your child’s audience. Be confident and consistent as you parent through difficult times. Watch the video Temper tantrums-TV Interview for a few quick tips at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgJJCT5wL8s&feature=plcp.
Every day every parent faces challenges which cause frustration and disappointment. The problem becomes a child’s habit when it is not addressed. Yelling about it doesn’t change it. Look at each problem and decide how you are going to teach a new behavior. Remember to teach outside of the event, which means give your child the information at a time when you are not angry, and you are able to explain exactly what you want. Soon you will be solving problems and enjoying your child all day long. Read the entire article “Follow through is one key to problem solving“.
Set your child up for a successful school year by making homework time a priority, with a positive attitude. Determine the best time of the afternoon or early evening for your child to complete his work, and be consistent with your schedule. Fill a special Homework Box with seasonal pencils, crayons, tape, glue and all the other items your child needs to complete any projects. When everything is gathered in one Homework Box, organizational skills are learned, and work is easier to complete. Always offer a healthy snack to fuel your child’s brain. Sweet, sugary snacks may make it more difficult for your child to sit still and complete work. Carb-filled snacks such as chips, which provide no nutritional value, will not fuel energy to sustain good work. Help to make learning fun by using different teaching materials. Get in a rhythm using multi-sensory teaching aids. For example, on Monday, match up Alphabet cereal letters with written letters, and follow-up by spelling weekly spelling words on with magnets on the refrigerator. Trace letters on Tuesday using sandpaper; write on a dry-erase board on Wednesday, etc. Think like a teacher and use fun materials to get great results! Read the full article “Turn homework time into something fun“.
There are several key components which help to pave a smooth pathway for learning and homework success. Homework can be viewed with reluctance by both students and parents. Generally, when we dread doing something, it takes longer, requires a bigger effort, and results in mediocrity. When we are excited and proceed with enthusiasm, the results are far superior. So, why not do an attitude adjustment and give you child the simple supports he needs to be successful. Review your parenting style to change your family dynamics. Communicate with enthusiasm when you talk about school and homework projects. Help to organize materials as well as schedules with due dates for tests and projects, as children aren’t naturally born with an organizational skill-set. Determine the best time for your child to do work, preferably when you are available to assist and encourage. School is your child’s life work. Set him up for success, and show him how far he can go. Read more in my column Building life-long helpful school habits.
Sometimes it seems that punishing a child is a whole lot easier than taking the time to think of a natural consequence to teach a lesson. It’s just so easy to say “Go up to your room and stay there until dinnertime!” Grounding is another favorite punishment, but what do those two particular punishments actually teach? Being sent to one’s room or being grounded both communicate parental dissatisfaction with a particular behavior. But, will either punishment actually give your child the opportunity to work through and fix his mistake the way that a natural consequence would? What is a natural consequence for a teen who stays out an hour after he is to be home? Perhaps he should not be allowed out the next time he is invited to be with friends, and the next time after that, he should have to come home one hour earlier than his usual curfew. Those are two natural consequences that will have meaning, impact, and teach a lesson. They allow that teen to earn back parental trust by coming home on time. What do you do with a ‘tween or teen who has stolen something? Natural consequences would be to return the item to its owner, apologize directly to that person, work to earn enough money to pay for the item, and do some sort of community service or act of kindness for the person from whom he stole. When you really think about it, natural consequences aren’t so difficult to come up with. Why then do some parents choose to punish or humiliate, knowing that it is not the most effective way to teach? The facts are in. Children can’t think clearly when they are angry or humiliated. Very few people can. There is a common saying that “A child who is mad or sad can’t add.” Simply put, when emotions run high, children are less able to learn. That is not to say that we need to keep our children happy, as that is not our job. Our job is to educate our children with healthy values, and provide natural consequences which are directly linked to the misbehavior in order to teach a lesson. Read more about natural and unnatural consequences in my column, What’s your parenting style?
Some parents tell me their kids fight all the time with each other, actually looking for ways to get each other in trouble. Others say the age difference in their children makes it difficult to build unity and enjoy the same activities. When you decide that a really close sibling relationship is your top priority, you will probably see a difference in your children’s behavior within days. Whether your children are toddlers, ‘tweens or teens, or if you have children in all of those stages, focus on each and every activity which older children can do and can teach to their younger siblings. Young children love to learn from older children, especially their own brother or sister. Self confidence, patience and teaching skills are developed by older children who are given the opportunity to include younger siblings in their activities. Set each child up for success by helping to plan small activities which they can easily do together. Keep expectations high and activity times limited to 15 or 20 minutes. Your time and effort will pay off as friendships are made among siblings. Read the full article, Effectively parent by building family unity. Read other articles regarding improving sibling bonds under the Sibling category found in Published Articles.
There are many forms of punishment. Punishment is an action which is taken in response to an inappropriate behavior. Discipline is designed to teach a new behavior, without punishment or humiliation. Many parents make the mistake of thinking that punishment and discipline are the same, and they are not. Marianne Daniels Garber, Ph.D., educational consultant at the Behavioral Institute of Atlanta and coauthor of Good Behavior (St. Martin’s Press) says “Discipline means teaching an appropriate behavior. Being firm lets children know what you expect. Being kind means that you don’t speak or act in a mean way that humiliates your child.” Do you discipline with natural consequences which teach your lesson, or do you believe that children who misbehave should be punished for their crime? Read about a mom who decided to teach her children a lesson through public humiliation in the article “Kids caught stealing, then punished publicly“.