Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Daily Transitions – Time for a Change

Transitions take place throughout the day and every day. During transitions, we are asking our children to stop one activity (or thought) and move to a different one. Typical transitions for young children include:
·         Getting dressed
·         Cleaning up after play
·         Getting ready for bath time
·         Getting into and out of the car
·         Moving to the table for a meal
·         Bedtime
·         Leaving the park or play area
·         Going into or leaving day care

Some children might feel confused, frustrated, or overwhelmed by transitions. They may have become very involved in what they are doing and not want to stop, or may not understand why they have to stop.

Children’s temperaments vary and their abilities differ. Understanding and following directions, exercising self-control, having language skills to express needs, physically moving from one place to another and/or handling noise or confusion all impact a child’s transition success.

To make transitions a little easier for your child, review your daily schedules and make a list of your child’s transition times in a typical day. Plan and prepare your child ahead of time. Talk with your child about the reason for the transition and ways to make the process easier for him or her.

It help children if they are given a little bit of power, too. Offering your child choices during a transition can help, too. For example, “It’s time to go to leave the park and go home. Do you want to walk backwards to the car or do you want to skip?” or “We need to pick up the toys before we watch our movie. If you pick up the blocks, I can pick up the book, deal?”

Be creative!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A crash-course for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Ages and Stages of Child Development

Understanding and guiding your grandchildren's behavior will be easier if you consider the various ages and stages of their development.  Although you have raised your own children, it is easy to forget what children are like. Children face different challenges at every stage of life. As their parent, you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes. Keep in mind, many times a child's behavior is a characteristic of his stage of development. Following are some age-related characteristics:
Infants: birth–12 months
·         Require physical touch like cuddling, stroking, and rocking for physical and emotional growth
·         Communicate through crying, smiling, cooing, and babbling
·         Explore by putting objects in mouth
·         Need stimulation through touch, sounds, and textures
·         Soothe themselves by sucking hands and fingers
Toddlers: 1–3 years old
·         Like to explore and are very curious
·         Seek independence
·         Are impatient
·         Do not understand sharing
·         Have a hard time expressing their emotions and, therefore, have temper tantrums
Preschoolers: 3–5 years old
·         Ask lots of questions
·         Enjoy pretend games and have imaginary friends
·         Are learning to be more cooperative with other children
·         Have extreme mood changes
·         Are proud of their ability to complete more tasks on their own
School-age children: 6–12 years old
·         Begin to question rules of parents
·         Enjoy being with their friends
·         Have an increased interest in out-of-school activities
·         Find it hard to deal with criticism and failure
·         May like to tease and criticize each other
Teens/Adolescents: 12–18 years
·         Experiencing puberty—hormonal and physical changes
·         Are overly self-conscious; self-critical
·         Are developing a sense of identity and discovering "Who am I?"
·         Are more idealistic and hopeful…
·         …yet, at the same time, can be anxious or sad
·         Beginning to spend more time with friends
·         Experience increased peer pressure to conform
·         Question authority and challenge rules, which creates conflict
Source: University of Florida Extension

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Building a Strong and Resilient Family

Recently there has been a great deal of concern expressed about the breakdown of the American family. Another point of view is that American families are diverse, complex, alive, and changing with the times. All families, including single parents, blended families, working couples, and older families, can survive stress and grow closer. One way to do this is to develop their strengths and learn to meet daily pressures and manage life's changes.

Characteristics of Strong Families

Strong families share common characteristics:
·         Commitment to each other
·         Physical, spiritual, and emotional wellness
·         Effective family communication
·         Appreciation of all family members
·         Meaningful and sufficient time together
·         Effective strategies to deal with stress
These family strengths create a sense of togetherness and belonging. At the same time, individual family members develop their own personality, self-esteem, and potential. These strengths help families solve problems and adapt to change. It is more important for families to move toward these strengths than to try to achieve all strengths simultaneously. This process is often called building family strengths.
For details on each characteristic, download the entire publication:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Childhood Poisoning by Medication on the Rise

Childhood poisonings by medication are up dramatically, despite repeated messages to adults to keep prescription and over-the-counter medicines out of reach and locked up. Visits to the emergency department for poisoning by medication in children age 5 and younger are up. From 2001 to 2008, these types of poisonings increased by 30%. The number of children age 5 years and under in the U.S. went up only 8% during this time.

In a study conducted by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the majority of the accidents involved a child getting into medicines, not a parent or other caretaking giving a child an incorrect dose. The study evaluated a total of 453,559 records, accounting for more than 248,000 emergency room visits, nearly 42,000 hospital admissions, and more than 18,000 injuries. In 95% of the cases, the child got into the medicines. Over the eight years, 66 deaths occurred.

Most often, the drug ingestions that caused the most serious illnesses involved opioid painkillers, sedatives and heart medicines. 

This reinforces the importance of keeping all medications locked up so that children cannot get to them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pick Your Portion Sizes

Is it tricky to visualize the recommended amounts of foods from the five MyPlate food groups or determine how much food from each food group you should eat? To help you determine the appropriate amount of food specifically for you, allows you to personalize your eating plan based on your age, sex, and daily level of physical activity. The recommended amounts are given in cups or ounces according to each food group. Unfortunately, there is not always time or resources for using measuring cups or food scales to help you accurately measure your food. To help you picture these amounts, you can use common household objects for comparison. This process can help you learn to recognize what the right amounts of foods for a healthier you really are—and before you know it, picking sensible portion sizes will have become second nature.

Picture your portion sizes as specific objects:
1 cup of dry cereal, fruit, pasta, chopped vegetables = a baseball.
1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta, cereal, chopped fruit or vegetables - a small computer mouse.
1 1/2 ounces hard cheese = 4 stacked dice.
3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry - a deck of cards.
1 teaspoon of margarine = one die.
2 Tablespoons of peanut butter - a golf ball.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Early Learning of Self-Confidence and Self-Control

Your baby or toddler is learning from the moment he or she enters the world. During the first 3 years, your child is beginning to develop self-control. Although it may not be obvious during the “terrible twos” he is beginning to manage his feelings and actions. He is also learning to wait, share, and work out problems with his friends.

Your child’s self-confidence is also being developed. She is learning that she is a very special person; that she is loved, smart, fun and capable. When children feel good about themselves, they are more confident and willing to take on new challenges. Here are some helpful things you can do to assist your young child in developing self-control and self-confidence:

·         Use words to help your child understand his feelings. “You are really mad because we have to leave the park now.”
·         Give choices to older toddlers. “Would you like to read books before or after we brush teeth?”
·         Stay calm when your child is upset. This helps him feel safe and get back in control.
·         Comment on what your child does well. “You found the button that makes the bear pop up!”
·         Help your child be a good problem-solver. Give her the support she needs to be successful without completely solving the problem for her.
·         Give your child to chance to do things for himself, like pouring milk from a small plastic pitcher.
·         Encourage your child to keep trying. “You are working so hard to get the ball in the basket. Sometimes it takes lots of tries?”

For more information from the National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a diagnosis given to children who display a pattern of negative and defiant behavior to parents, teachers and others who have authority over them.
Many children disobey their parents or teachers from time to time. In fact, oppositional behavior is very common in pre-school children and teenagers. It's important that we don't mislabel these normal "phases" of childhood as signs of a behavioral disorder. Children with ODD have frequent run-ins with authority figures and are oppositional far more often than other children their age.
Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ODD than girls, especially before puberty. Children typically begin to show signs of ODD before age 8 and no later than 13-15. While mental health professionals are very cautious with diagnosing ODD before the school-aged years, many children with ODD had "difficult" temperaments as toddlers. They were often fussy, argumentative, and likely to throw temper tantrums even as very young children.
The following is a list of signs that may suggest that a child has ODD. Be careful; as mentioned earlier, many children are oppositional from time to time. Children with ODD really stand out from other kids due to their poor behavior. Also, this pattern of behavior must have been going on for at least 6 months before the diagnosis of ODD can be considered.
Signs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  1. Temper-tantrums, even over small disagreements, very upset when they don't get their own way.
  2. Argues with adults, especially with those in authority.
  3. Defies or deliberately refuses to follow rules or directions given by adults.
  4. Deliberately annoys people, continues a behavior after being asked to stop several times (e.g., touching things, saying something, making sounds, etc.).
  5. Blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior.
  6. Seems touchy or easily annoyed by others.
  7. Seems angry and resentful much of the time, walks around with a "sour-puss" much of the time.
  8. Often wants to "even the score" with others, is spiteful toward others.
These children often need special attention while growing up to overcome their behavior problems. Unfortunately, the "special attention" they receive often comes in the form of almost non-stop punishment, teasing by siblings and peers, and being singled-out as the "problem child" at home and school.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Getting today’s sedentary, overweight kids off the couch can be a challenge for many parents. When the Nintendo Wii game was introduced in the U.S., we thought it would offer the chance for children to exercise while having fun. Seemed like a good idea, especially in Florida in the summertime.

However, a study by the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and published in the American Academy of Pediatrics, indicates that “active” video games do not produce the increase in physical activity that parents expected. While earlier studies show that adults and children who play video games in a laboratory setting did exercise, the Baylor team wanted to determine what happened when the games were used in actual homes, not a laboratory.

The children studied were 9 to 12 years old, had an above-average body mass index and did not already have a video game console. One group was given physically demanding (active) games and one group was given the most popular games that were played passively. Each were given a Wii and agreed to wear accelerometers to measure physical activity over the 13-week experiment.

The Baylor study found no evidence that children receiving the active games were more active than the children receiving the inactive video games. 

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research also published a small-scale study of use of the Wii Fit by adults and children in homes over three months and its impact on physical activity and fitness.

There was actually a dramatic drop in daily use of the active games after the first six weeks. The Wii Fit was used an average of 22 minutes a day by everyone in the household in the first six weeks, but only four minutes a day in the second six weeks. At the end, health-related fitness measures were essentially unchanged.
Active video games might increase movement for some children, but for physical activity that brings measurable health benefits, kids still need things like real balls, real rackets and real parks.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Getting your child ready for kindergarten

A generation ago most children entered kindergarten directly from the home – with little experience outside their immediate family. Needless to say, the situation is quite different today. Most children have had some experience spending the day in a preschool or child care setting.

By the time a child today is ready for kindergarten, most have mastered these important tasks:
·         They know how to depend on peers and other adults in addition to their own parents.
·         They can manage the anxiety that sometimes accompanies being away from their parents.
·         They can accept the authority of the teacher, another family member, or other adult.
A happy preschool experience usually helps to promote a comfortable transition into kindergarten. However, once in kindergarten, they are faced with a new set of responsibilities. Here are some things parents can to do help their child with the kindergarten transition.
·         Encourage the child to want to do things for him or herself. This builds his or her confidence. When faced with a new situation or experience, confident children are willing to try.
·         Help make your child’s world a language-rich environment. Words are the tools your child will be using for thinking and communicating with others and it is very important that skills in using language be as highly developed as possible.
·         Give your child responsibilities such as setting the table or putting away clothes. He or she is a valued member of the family and because of this, he or she has some family responsibilities. This is preparation for group living in the classroom.
·         Be consistent in discipline. Mean what you say and follow through with it. Consistency eliminates a lot of “testing” that children may engage in with the teacher.
·         Try to avoid comparing your child to others. Each child is unique and develops at a different rate from a sibling, a cousin or a neighbor.
·         Encourage your child to ask questions. That “Why?Why?Why?” may be annoying, but a child’s natural curiosity should be nurtured and questions are an excellent foundation for language interaction.
·         Be a good role model. When your child sees you reading and writing in a variety of situations for pleasure and work, he will recognize the value of reading and writing.