Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Learning Together

Learning to Be Responsible

by Dr. Susan Canizares | January 10, 2017 | Child Development
shutterstock_346981454Your friend has a young daughter who makes her own snack and packs most of her lunch. Your sister’s 2-year-old son cleans up his dishes after dinner. How did these parents get so lucky? It isn’t luck—they’ve raised their children to make responsible choices. Teaching children how to take responsibility is not easy and takes a lot of practice, but if you work on this, your child is more likely to develop into a responsible adult.
The earlier in life that you give children responsibilities, the earlier these responsibilities will become routine and habitual. There are tasks that even toddlers can perform, such as picking up toys, helping to feed pets, and taking care of their own dishes after meals.
One of the easiest ways to introduce recurring responsibilities is to invite your children to help when it is time to do housework. (But be prepared! The job may take longer than normal and may not be done to your expectations.) Chores around the house are widely varied so there is usually some chore or part of a chore where children can pitch in.
While many parents like to give money for chores, most child development experts believe household responsibilities are not the place for monetary rewards. Young children are happy just spending time with you and hearing how much you appreciate their efforts. This helps boost their confidence level. Save the rewards for duties that go above and beyond daily household chores.
There are many effective ways to encourage your child to take on household responsibilities:
  • Introduce a routine so your child is performing a task that ends with something positive. For example, your child needs to put his pajamas on, brush his teeth, and put his clothes in the hamper before he can pick out a bedtime book to read.
  • Make it fun. Put a timer on and have a race to see if they can pick up their toys before the timer goes off.
  • Introduce natural consequences. For example, if your daughter does not want to clean up her blocks, explain calmly that it’s her responsibility and if she won’t clean up, she won’t be able to play with them the next day. If she still will not clean up, make sure to follow through on your plan. Explain again why she cannot play with them today, but that she can try again tomorrow. The more consistent you are with natural consequences and explaining the rules, the more likely she is to understand and accept responsibility.
  • Remember that the long-term goal is to help your children develop into responsible adults who are willing to help others. As your children grow and mature, increase their level of responsibility. Create a list of chores for the entire family. It is often a good idea to rotate the chores so that they can experience all the household duties.
The following website contains an age-appropriate list of chores most children can accomplish:

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Kindess Matters

by Dr. Susan Canizares | December 8, 2016 | Uncategorized

shutterstock_514760386Feeling tired? Stressed out? Tired of all the negativity in the world? Try doing something nice for a stranger. Scientific studies have revealed that there is a strong link between appreciation and random acts of kindness and overall good health. Never underestimate the impact of a single act of kindness. You may change just their day, or you may change their entire way of thinking.
In schools where kindness and empathy are part of the curriculum, teachers report that teaching kindness supports a healthy learning environment, positive social emotional development, and academic achievement. Kindness also increases a child’s serotonin level, which plays an important part in memory, learning, digestion, and health.
Performing acts of kindness is a great way to bond with your children and teaches them about compassion and empathy. Modeling kindness for your children ensures that the next generation will understand the importance of being kind. While this time of year presents many chances for kindness—such as opportunities to volunteer and donate goods and services—performing these small acts all year long will benefit both the recipient and the giver.
An act of kindness does not need to cost money, or take a lot of time. In fact, you may be doing some already while trying to teach manners to your child. Some ideas for children to spread some happiness:
  • Write a friendly note on the sidewalk in chalk to make a passerby smile.
  • Pick up trash at the park.
  • Make cards for a senior citizen home.
  • Leave a friendly note in a library book.
  • Donate a toy to charity.
  • Hold the door open for a stranger.
There are also many ideas that you can participate in as a family:
  • Make dinner for another family or elderly neighbor.
  • Volunteer at a local animal or homeless shelter.
  • Adopt a family.
  • Give hot chocolate to someone working outside on a cold day.
  • Take cookies to the local fire station.
Check out this website for more ideas:

Friday, March 18, 2016

Three Little Words to Diffuse Your Next Power Struggle

In fact, “I hear ya” is a phrase I encourage you to try the next time your child complains about doing homework, washing the dishes, taking a bath, or – whatever the complaint department problem is at the moment. “I hear ya” is a great way to respond when your child is itching for an argument.
Instead of launching into a traditional parenting lecture like, “it’s part of being a family”, or “your job is to go to school and get good grades”, or “you’ll thank me when you’re older” – just say, “I hear ya. I didn’t like doing spelling homework either” or “I hear ya, emptying the dishwasher isn’t my favorite thing to do either.”
Sometimes kids just need to know they are being heard. That you get them. That there is an empathetic ear. Does it make the undesirable task any more desirable? No, but it gives you a moment of emotional connection and usually diffuses the power struggle more quickly. At the same time, it reinforces that you are on their team.
Getting your kids on board without the fuss and grumpiness, now that’s a win-win most parents love to score.
Next time you’re faced with a complaining kid, look them right in the eye with a sincere and knowing sigh and say, “I hear ya.” It works!
Amy Mccready

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How Would You Parent Your Friend’s Child?

Would you like a break from the emotions of parenting? Here’s a little trick: Parent your friend’s child instead.
Parenting is emotional. Our strong emotional connection to our children is a powerful and challenging part of parenting. Sometimes these emotions can blur our vision. Or just wear us down. When you need some perspective about your child’s behavior, try asking yourself a simple question:
How would I parent my friend’s child in this situation?
When it’s our own child acting out, we often feel worse about bad behavior. A good way to lessen emotional intensity is to imagine that you are managing a friend or neighbor’s child. Does it seem less stressful? We think sometimes it might.
Think about listening to your infant cry. The sound of that cry affects you more than the sound of another baby crying. Our own children tap deeply into our emotions, and rightfully so.
That’s why this question can be a quick way to switch from your emotional to logical brain. We don’t have strong emotions attached to our friends’ children the way we do with our own. If they misbehave, it’s much easier to see the whole view and make a decision based on logic, not emotion.
If you would like more advice around emotional parenting, this article is very helpful: 4 Tools To Help You Stay Calm With Your Difficult Child.
By Rebecca Staples

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Importance of Brain Injury Prevention

Brain injury is a common problem with young children, but a problem that can be avoided with a few preventative measures from parents. Brain injuries can be caused by trampoline accidents when children land on their head or neck, sports injuries are another common area that can result in brain injury and brain injuries among the skateboarding community are also very common.

Many of these injuries can be prevented if parents to make sure their child wears a helmet anytime they are riding their bicycle, a skateboard or scooter and when skiing – water or snow. Avoiding pediatric brain injury can be done by making sure your baby or toddler is in the right car seat, booster seat or other appropriate child restraints for your child’s age, height and weight.

Getting your child or teenager to wear a helmet when it just isn’t “cool” can be a real challenge. One way to make it work is to show them the professional athletes who are wearing helmets doing the same activities your child loves to do – cycling, skateboarding and even skiing.

Even the smallest accident that involves a head injury can cause irreparable brain damage. Be sure to follow the same safety measures on a daily basis – no bicycling or skateboarding without a helmet and never go on a car ride without buckling up. Place infant seats, booster seats and other small child restraints in the back seat where they are safe from the air bags should they be deployed. Finally, lead by example.

If you are on a family bike ride, be sure to wear your helmet and ever ride in the car without your seatbelts properly buckled. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

How to Deal with Picky Eaters

One of the most common struggles parents have is dealing with picky eaters. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

  • Your toddler takes a few bites of food and announces he’s “done”
  • You can stock your fridge and shelves full but your little one will only eat the same 5 things over and over.
  • Your child asks for one thing, you make it, then she asks for something else then decides she wants something completely different altogether.

Coaxing your children to just take “one more bite” is a constant battle in your home
First things first – meal times are supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable so you want to avoid these battles every time you sit down at the table. Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 typically have smaller appetites, so if they only eat a little at a time, that’s ok. However, also realize that their appetites can change on a daily basis and even from meal to meal. If they like carrots, don’t be afraid to throw some in at breakfast. Do they prefer eggs? Who says you can’t have eggs for dinner?

Dinner time is typically going to be the meal that your child feels like eating the least. It’s the end of the day and they are tired and unless they have been doing a physical activity like swimming or playing outside or at daycare, chances are they aren’t going to be as hungry as they are at other times of the day.

If you are dealing with older children who are picky eaters, you may be able to reason more with them and enforce the “one bite rule” – meaning they have to take at least one bite of every food on their plate and if they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat it again.

Here are just a few ideas for dealing with picky eaters:

  • Don’t nag or coax smaller children. Pick and choose your battles – plain and simply put, your child WILL eat when he is hungry.
  • Have realistic portions: Many parents set unrealistic goals for their children when it comes to mealtime. A good rule of thumb to follow: If your child is under the age of 5-6, use a tablespoon per year of age. If they ask for more when they’ve finished that then you can always give more.
  • Keep trying to introduce new foods – even if they haven’t liked them before. Tastes change and you never know when you find something new they like.
  • Avoid too much milk, juice and soda in place of food. Many kids will fill up on sugary drinks and have no room for food.

Remember, pick your battles and don’t make meal time miserable for everyone! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ideas For Busy Parents For Creative And Healthy School Lunches

There is a wealth of information available about the importance of good nutrition in brain functioning. Growing kids, in particular, need to have a balance of complex carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats and of course, all the vitamins and minerals their little body needs.
The good news is that kids that bring their own lunches and snacks to school don’t have to end up with the same old thing every day. There are a lot of simple, quick, and easy ways to make really interesting, tasty and healthy foods your kids will love.

Go Insulated
One of the best things to invest in is an insulated lunch bag. These will be very helpful in keeping cold foods cool, especially when paired with an ice-pack. By placing the ice-pack in a zip-lock bag, you can prevent any problems with leaks and still keep fresh fruits, vegetables, dips, cheeses and meats at the right temperature.

Healthy Lunches and Snacks

For some healthy yet simple to make lunch options besides traditional sandwiches consider the following:

  • Turkey or chicken or cheese wraps using lettuce, thin strips of red or yellow peppers, and a bit of salsa rather than mayonnaise.
  • Pasta salad with mixed vegetables, cheese, diced hard boiled eggs or even diced ham. Use an Italian dressing for something different or a ranch dressing for a more traditional taste.
  • Whole grain crackers with cheese, meat and your kid’s favorite pickles. Each can be packaged separately, and the child can make his or her own “stackers” for some fun finger food.
  • Fresh cut vegetables with a dip made of ranch dressing or plain yogurt with fresh or dried herbs. Try some unique vegetable options such as colored bell peppers, purple or orange cauliflower, fennel and sugar peas for variety.
  • Cube up fresh fruit and provide a creamy dip. This can be made with vanilla yogurt or any other flavor your child enjoys. Remember, fruit and vegetables should be paired with a protein for energy.
  • Homemade trail mix can include dried fruits, berries and nuts depending on your child’s preferences and what the school allows.
  • Mini-pretzels with a side of salsa for dipping are a great snack and healthier that chips or sugary treats.

Be sure to check with the school regarding any issues with children having peanuts or other types of nuts or foods in the school. Providing a good selection of different items for the child in the lunch is always a good option, as is having your child help you in choosing what they would like to have.