Monday, February 28, 2011

Toilet Training while out with Children

Living with toddlers is no doubt an adventure. As these little humans begin to develop skills that make them more independent, such as speech, mobility, dressing themselves and going to the toilet on their own, they are also developing new challenges for their parents. Working through potty training can be one of the most difficult challenges... but it doesn't have to be. It takes patience and persistence. To help your toddler make the transition from diapers to the toilet, helping them get there when they're not at home is also important.

Work with other caregivers, including your daycare provider or babysitter, to be consistent in your approach to toilet training. When you are out, be especially patient. You will soon learn where the closest restroom is in every grocery store, restaurant, and mall.

It is important to know that for every child there will be accidents. This is just a normal part of toilet training. Punishing or spanking the child for an accident can only make things worse! (Children who are punished for mistakes may end up resisting the toilet altogether.) Instead, stay calm and encourage the child; remind her or him to let you know when he or she has to go. Be sure to praise your child when she or he uses the potty, and tell her or him that you are proud. Celebrate with your child when you make it through the first "dry" day and congratulate yourself on your patience.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Letting natural consequences teach a lesson

A natural consequence is something that may happen naturally if your child does or does not do something. If parents allow them to work, natural consequences can be the best teachers for our children. Meaning – parents must be willing to not interfere with the consequence their child has “earned” as a result of his or her behavior. Of course, if a natural consequence puts your child in an un-safe position or can result in a life-long consequence, you must intervene.

However, many children are “rescued” by parents instead of being given the opportunity to safely experience the consequences of their actions. And for this, many children simply do not learn to be responsible. For example, a household rule may be the put dirty clothes in the hamper every day. That’s a bare-minimum request, right?

A natural consequence to a child not putting their dirty clothes in the hamper means that clothes don’t get washed. Period! However, if a (loudly complaining) adult always goes into the child’s room to pick clothes up off the floor on laundry day, the child isn’t learning to be responsible for his or her clothing.

Parents have a choice; continue to ignore the child’s refusal to follow the rule and pick the clothes up - which is only teaching the child that someone will take up the slack for his or her irresponsibility - or leave the clothing where it is and let the child suffer the consequence of having no clean clothes.

After a couple of weeks of this, I’m betting most children will “get with the program” and follow the rule. I’d be willing to push for his or her independence a little more by TEACHING the child how to sort clothes and run the washer and dryer himself. End result is a responsible, independent child and a happier, quieter household.

Likewise, a natural consequence for forgetting to study for a test may is that the child may do poorly on the test. Parents, you are not doing your children any favors by letting them stay home “sick” on test day because they were irresponsible. In fact, you may be encouraging the irresponsibility!

The world is full of natural consequences. See how many lessons your child can learn this week by allowing natural consequences to do the job.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Forgiveness in marrige: Is it always a good thing?

When a couple gets married, more than one friend or family member passes on the time-honored advice to “never go to bed angry.” Indeed, relationship experts have long emphasized the importance of forgiveness in marriage, a teaching that can seem hard to argue with.

But how does forgiving one’s spouse for minor transgressions, like nagging, arguing, or moodiness, affect the likelihood that he or she will do it again?

Researchers writing in the Journal of Family Psychology recently asked 135 newly married couples to keep a diary for a week. Each day, participants recorded whether their spouse did anything negative and whether they forgave him or her. Results revealed that spouses who forgave their partners were twice as likely to report poor spousal behavior again the next day. In fact, when partners reported both forgiven transgressions and un-forgiven transgressions, their spouses were six times more likely to transgress the next day if they had been forgiven.

Although the study did not explore whether the forgiving spouse had actually told their partner they had forgiven them, these results indicate that forgiveness alone may not be enough. In fact, forgiveness may actually encourage further transgressions among partners who often behave poorly. These negative behaviors may be a symptom of other relationship difficulties that require more direct intervention. While “never going to bed angry” continues to be wise advice, partners should recognize that truly resolving their conflicts may require more than just forgiveness.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Single mothers are teaching boys to do housework

In many families, children help out with chores, from washing dishes to mowing the lawn. However, boys and girls often have different jobs, with girls doing more cooking and cleaning and boys more household repairs and lawn care, reflecting our culture’s beliefs about gender and housework. Girls also spent more time overall on chores --about an hour more a week, according to some estimates.

On the other hand, a small study published in the Journal of Family Issues finds that in some single-mother families, these traditions are being challenged. Researchers looked at what prompted low- and moderate-income unmarried mothers to ask their sons to do housework, and how sons reacted.

Most boys helped out with a variety of chores, including ones typically considered “female,” such as ironing and laundry. Many also watched younger siblings, and a few also babysat for neighbors or other relatives.

Pressed for time and money, mothers relied on sons, and boys did a “significant amount” of work. But mothers’ motivations went deeper: They believed that boys should learn to do housework because it teaches “practical life skills and responsibility”. Also, a key motivation was to raise a son to be a good partner and “pull his own weight” once in a family of his own.

Although some boys resisted these responsibilities, most felt competent and satisfied with their work, while recognizing the importance of helping their mothers. Meanwhile, the mothers took pride in their sons as their families challenged long-held traditions about household work.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Single Parenting and the Time Crunch

If there is one thing single parents can get stressed about, it is lack of time to meet all their responsibilities. Most say they have too little time and too much to do. Learning to manage time is a problem for most people--not just single parents. Everyone has 24 hours a day; no one can get more. However, to have enough time to do the things that are important to us, we need to learn to control and manage our use of time. Start by making a list of your priorities and another list of things you spend time on that are not very important.

We can make a promise to ourselves to take control of our time. We can learn to cut out less important activities in order to free up time for more important ones. Sometimes events, other people, and our feelings keep us from accomplishing what we want. Everybody has a few of these barriers--barriers that take up time that we could be using to reach our goals. Typical time wasters include spending too much time on the telephone, spending too much time watching TV, not using short blocks of time constructively, "breaks" that turn into "vacations," and being impatient. Another example of a time waster is anything “high maintenance,” which can include morning routines, hair styles/make up, household clutter and simply having too much stuff, such as toys and clothes. A time waster and distraction for children is often television – so you may want a “no TV rule” on school mornings so they can stay focused.

Many people also have unrealistic time expectations and underestimate the amount of time it takes to accomplish a task, get the children up and ready for their day, time needed for homework, or to drive somewhere.

The next step is to decide if we can delegate tasks to others in the household. Even young children can help if we teach them how. Make a list of chores that your children are capable of doing and remember to add more responsibilities as they get older. For more information on time management for single parents, so to:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Adults with Kids at Home Eat More Fat

When my children were young, and as a working mom, I often sought the foods that I could put on the table quickly and without hearing the dreaded, “Ewwww… do I have to eat THAT?!” I also loaded my pantry with those easy-to-distribute and “fun” to eat pre-packaged snacks that were easy to throw in a backpack, lunch box, or that my children could grab when they got home from school.

Unfortunately, many of those foods are loaded with fat. Like so many other parents who make these same food choices for their children, that fat also ended up in my diet.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, adults who have young children at home are eating significantly more fat than those who live without children. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that included a national sample of almost 7,000 adults, researchers from the University of Iowa found that adults with children in their home consumed nearly 5 more grams of fat and 1.7 more grams of saturated fat every day – about the same as a slice of pepperoni pizza! Figure that amounts to eating a pizza a week!

They reported that “time pressures and constraints, children’s preferences for high fat, high sugar foods and parents’ perceptions of what children are likely to eat” lead parents to purchase more restaurant, ready-to-eat, or snack foods that are typically higher in fat content. And, when they are available, parents are more likely to eat these foods as well.

The researchers point out that while parents should be guiding what their children eat, instead the kids are influencing their parents’ diets. They recommend that parents seek healthier meal and snack options that will improve the diet of the entire family!

Monday, February 14, 2011

What Every Child Needs for Good Mental Health

To grow healthy and strong, children need good food, plenty of sleep, exercise and fresh air. Children have emotional needs too. To have good health - and to be both healthy and happy, all children require…
Every child needs to feel:
• That his parents like him for himself, just the way he is.
• That they like her all the time, and not only when she acts how they think she should act.
• That they always accept him, even though often they may not approve of the things he does.
• That they will let her grow and develop in her own way.

Every child needs to know:
• That his home is a good safe place and he can feel sure about it.
• That her parents will always be on hand, especially in times of crisis when she needs them most.
• That he belongs to a family or group; that there is a place where he fits in.

Every child needs to feel:
• That his parents will keep him safe from harm.
• That they will help her when she must face strange, unknown and frightening situations.

Every child needs to have:
• A set of moral standards to live by.
• A belief in the human values - kindness, courage, honesty, generosity and justice.

Every child needs to know:
• That her parents want her to grow up and that they encourage her to try new things.
• That they have confidence in him and in his ability to do things for himself and by himself.

Every child needs to have:
• Grown-ups around him who show him by example how to get along with others.
• Friendly help in learning how to behave toward persons and things.

Every child needs to know
• That here are limits to what she is permitted to do and that her parents will hold her to those limits.
• That though it is all right to feel jealous or angry, he will not be allowed to hurt himself or others when he has these feelings.

Children whose basic needs are satisfied have a better chance to grow up in good mental health and to become mentally healthy adults – people who are good parents, good mates, good workers, good neighbors, and good citizens.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Baby's Intellectual Development

A few years back, thanks to the advent of computer animation, filmmakers found audiences were entertained by the notion of understanding what babies might actually be communicating in the “Look Who’s Talking” movie series. Were it so easy. While babies appear to have “dialogue” with one another and can get quite a conversation rolling with baby babble, experts say that babies are still working on “mamma,” “dada,” and “no” until they’re between 8 and 15 months old.

Still, at around nine months, babies are steadily increasing their ability to communicate. At this point they can probably respond to a few words such as their “name,” “bottle,” “no,” or “ball.” That babble they offer in return is their way of developing their first words so it’s important to play dialogue games with babies. As far as they know, they ARE talking with you. Talking back to them will encourage babies to develop their vocabulary.

Babies will begin to explore their environments at this stage as well. They are curious and will spend a lot of time investigating things. They now understand cause and effect and the concept of object permanence. Before now, if a baby cannot see an object, the object does not seem to exist for him or her. This is the time to start playing peek-a-boo, to bring out the pop-up toys and to read books with big pictures. These activities will further stimulate their intellectual development.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Healthy Snacking for Children

Every kid loves a good snack. Unfortunately, many parents think that all snacking is bad and leads to weight gain. Although this might be the case with snacking on cookies, chips, and candy all day, healthy snacking is an important component of a child's nutrition. Childhood is a time of rapid growth, and meeting the nutritional needs associated with normal development is critical to a child's well-being. Since children have much smaller stomachs than adults, healthy snacking helps to provide nutrients between meals in order to help them meet their daily nutritional needs. The key is learning how to make healthy snack choices and avoid consuming too many snacks that are high in added sugars and low in nutrients.

Healthy snack choices can provide children with some of the vitamins, minerals, proteins, and calories they need for growth, energy, and overall good health. In fact, healthy snacks can satisfy nutrient gaps and provide up to one quarter of a child's daily energy needs. Healthy snacking satisfies hunger between meals, improves concentration, and prevents overeating at mealtime.

Try to keep snack portions small and less than 250 calories. Small portions are especially important for those occasional snacks that contain lots of added sugars and are low in nutritional value.

Serve regular meals and snacks every three to four hours. Allowing adequate time between meals and snacks will ensure that children are not too full to eat their meals. Structured meals and snacks also will keep kids from eating out of boredom. Avoid using food as a reward or as way to calm an upset child to prevent emotional eating later on.

Buying snacks from a vending machine or grabbing a bag of chips or cookies is usually an unhealthy temptation for families on the go. Be prepared by having healthy snacks on hand to make it easier for your child to make smart snack choices.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Impact of Divorce on Teens

With more than one million divorces in the U.S. annually, many teens are experiencing dramatic changes in their lives.

University of Florida researchers say that some teenaged children react to their parents' divorce in unhealthy ways. They may act out or rebel, feel angry or hurt, refuse to accept the divorce, and might become highly critical of others.

Dr. Millie Ferrer with University of Florida IFAS Extension recommends telling your teen about the divorce as soon as the decision is made. Let them know what changes may be occurring in the future, such as moving to a new house or school. Although changes will most likely happen, UF experts recommend that you try to follow your normal family routines as much as possible to help your teen cope.

If possible, both parents should participate in this conversation, so sit down ahead of time and discuss what you are going to calmly tell your teen. Do not go into the details of your marital problems, but have a brief explanation ready for them when they ask. Encourage your teen to ask questions about the divorce and share their feelings with you.

Most importantly, tell your teen that they are in no way responsible for the divorce and should not blame themselves. Honest and open communication will help your family cope with changes in the family structure.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Immigrant Family Strengths

According to the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau, about one in five children was an immigrant or had at least one immigrant parent. While these newcomer children and their families face numerous challenges, they also have many strengths. In fact, in some ways, children of immigrant parents are better off than U.S.-born children.

In some ways, immigrant children tend to be healthier than U.S.-born children. Babies born to immigrant mothers are less likely to be born with a low birth-weight and less likely to die in the first year of life than babies born to native.

Immigrant children are also more likely to live with two parents, and they are twice as likely to live with other relatives. Living with two parents or an extended family group can also provide a child with needed income, housing, and other support.

Finally, immigrant children have high educational goals. They tend to spend more time doing homework and do better in school, at least through middle school. They are also less likely to be involved in substance abuse, early sexual intercourse, delinquency, and violence .

Researchers caution that some immigrant families face more hardships than others. Children and families from parts of Latin America, Indochina, and the non-English speaking Caribbean often face tremendous difficulties. Poverty, language barriers, parents' lower educational levels, refugee status, and discrimination put children at risk. However, researchers suggest that policies and programs that assist these children can help them reach their potential as productive adults and nurturing parents.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Caregiving and Legal Issues

When care for an elderly or sick relative begins, discussions on financial and legal topics can be uncomfortable for both the caregiver and their relative. As hard as this may be, UF researchers say talking about legal matters is important.

As a caregiver, you should know the location of your relative's important legal documents. This includes their birth certificate, Social Security card, insurance papers and property deeds. Are these kept at home or in a bank box? Where would your relative prefer them to be kept? If something should happen to your relative, will you have access to these items?

If your relative has a Will, or other such documentation, find out where they keep it and who helped them to create it. You might want to meet with a lawyer to review what the Will says and to make sure it is up to date. If your relative does not have a Will, ask if they would like to create one and help them find a professional who can help them do so.

Also discuss with your relative who will have power of attorney to make legal and medical decisions if something were to happen to them. If they have made this decision, speak with their lawyer to review the paperwork.

Asking your relative these simple questions now can prevent potentially catastrophic problems down the road. There are too many sad stories of families caught off-guard and dealing with picking up the pieces at an already difficult time.