Friday, January 27, 2012

Your kid’s a wimp and it’s your fault

By Afifah Darke

Did you hear about the mother who purposely left her 9 year old son alone at a department store? Nope, she didn’t leave him with a cell phone. Nope, she didn’t play private investigator to track his every move. And nope, she is not crazy. Lenore Skenazy’s son pleaded to her; leave him anywhere and let him figure out the way back home. Armed with a subway map, MetroCard, $20 note, and several quarters, this little boy was thrilled with his new found independence. Needless to say, he reached home extremely safe and sound.
Mothering Vs. Smothering
Helicopter parents (parents who ‘hover’ over their children’s lives) would have fainted in horror reading Skenazy’s ‘abuse’ tale. If you are the sort to plan every little detail of your child’s life and jump to the rescue at every little problem… then you can royally honor yourself as a helicopter. Pretty sure that’s dubbed as smothering though, not mothering.
Skenazy speaks out in her tongue-in-cheek article: “We become so bent out of shape over something as simple as letting your children out of sight on the playground that it starts seeming on par with letting them play on the railroad tracks at night. In the rain. In dark non-reflective coats.”  Jokes aside though, would you have the guts and confidence to throw this kind of challenge to your children? If you answered with a tearful ‘no’, you might want to think twice.
Free Range Kids Vs. Helicopter Kids
Turns out that a parent’s obsessive ‘Sweetie, I’m doing everything for your own good’ attitude can actually cause more harm than good to the child’s intellectual and social development. A study carried out in US suggested that university students whose parents closely monitor them since young have turned out to be lacking of self-confidence, anxious and unwilling to take in new responsibilities.
The study was carried out by Neil Montgomery, a psychologist at Keene State College. 300 freshmen who participated in the study were asked to rate how strongly they felt about statements such as: “If two days go by without contact my parents would contact me,” and “My parents have contacted a school official on my behalf to solve problems for me.” 10% of the students who agreed were considered to have over protective parents. These students tended to be more anxious, self- conscious and vulnerable. However, the ‘free-range kids’ who disagreed to the statements appeared to be more relaxed, open and well-adjusted.
The Free Range Philosophy
The idea of free- range kids is for kids to live safely (seatbelts, helmets, car seats etc.), but without restricting their actions due to fear. It goes without saying that we have to keep our child’s age in mind when adapting the free-range philosophy. Skenazy writes in her ‘Free- Range Kids’ book: “Not all kids are ready to go Free Range at the same age. You know your sweet one’s unique abilities (and quirks), and you know your own comfort level, too.”
Hara Estroff Marano, author of ‘Nation of Wimps’ lists 5 ways to stop hovering:
  1. Let other people care for your children — don’t be his or her only source of comfort.
  2. Help children get motivated by not rescuing them at every turn. If an older child forgets homework, don’t rush to drive it to school.  Let him or her experience the natural consequences of that forgetfulness.
  3. Rather than scolding and shaming, ask if the child got the outcome she desiredby the particular behaviour.
  4. Let the kids play on the playground without interfering and micromanaging.
  5. Ease up on the sanitizing gels, the special shopping cart inserts, and every little thing to create a barrier between your child and the world.
Your Fears Vs. Your Kid’s Fears
Throughout my entire school-life, never once did my mum do a ‘mummy- rescue’ rush to school. When I forgot my English project at home, I dare not dial my Mum’s mobile (even though Ms. Neo was the strictest English teacher in school!). Mum constantly warned me to ‘never ever call me from school if you are in trouble’. She reasoned that any trouble I received could only be blamed upon me, so why should she be involved? From this (and a very painful experience with a meter wooden ruler), I learned that I had to be more responsible, organized and aware. This, I am now very thankful for.
If you are still thinking, “I just want to protect my poor little baby from the dangerous big world!” you should consider what Dr. Katherine Ramsland, a professor of forensic psychology, has to say. “An overemphasis of things that might happen encourages children to become timid and restricted in their awareness. They withdraw from the richness of life and fail to develop self- confidence from testing their personal resources.”
Therefore, unless you are still attached to your child with the umbilical cord, it’s most probably a healthier choice to let your child roam a bit more freely.
Helicopter parents out there: You need to land, ASAP.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Do Toddlers Get the Hiccups?

Hiccups are very common and normally not any cause for concern in your toddler. However, they can be distressing to your child, so it's good to know ways to prevent and in some cases stop the hiccups. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure for the hiccups that will always work, but certain things will make hiccups less likely and shorten the duration of them when hiccups do occur.
What Hiccups Are
    • Hiccups are involuntary and are caused by repeated spasmodic contractions of the child's diaphragm, followed by the glottis quickly closing. The glottis is the part that allows the inflow of air. This is what makes the sound that is thought of as "the hiccups."

    Why Toddlers Get Them

    • There are several causes of hiccups, but the most common cause of hiccups in children is swallowing too much air, especially for toddlers who are still drinking from a bottle. Hiccups can also result in toddlers from drinking soda or other carbonated beverages or from eating large amounts of food quickly, reports

    Home Remedies

    • There are several things you can try to get rid of your child's hiccups. Give your toddler a swallow of water and have him or her lie down for a bit. If that doesn't help, try giving the child a teaspoon of corn syrup.

    Prevention of Hiccups

    • To avoid hiccups in the future, avoid giving your toddler carbonated beverages, such as soda. Also, the Mayo Clinic recommends cutting back on large meals and avoiding sudden, dramatic changes in temperature to reduce the chances of getting hiccups. For toddlers that are still being breastfed, consider pumping and feeding the toddler from a bottle, as in some cases less air is swallowed from a bottle than while nursing.


    • Although hiccups are common and normally nothing to worry about, there are some cases where special attention should be paid. Call your child's pediatrician if the hiccups last longer than three hours, he is spitting up blood or if the hiccups are accompanied by bad pains in the stomach. A doctor should also be consulted if the hiccups start after beginning a new prescription medication.

Read more: Why Do Toddlers Get the Hiccups? |

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Parenting Tips (That Really Work) from an Imperfect Parent

The following is a guest post from Kelly the Kitchen Kop.
This post was born out of a phone call. I was on the phone with Kelly one morning, whining that I couldn’t get Kate to sleep in her own bed. The only way I could get her to sleep was if I would lie down with her. Since I work late so many nights, she was staying up until 10 or 11 pm every night. I was also complaining that I hated taking baths and playing Barbies with Kate. Kelly set me straight. (UPDATE: I take that back. I DID get an argument last night. But after I explained that if she didn’t get in bed, there would be NO sourdough waffles and NO TV today, she fell asleep within 15 minutes in her own bed.)
Her advice worked great for us. In less than a week, 4-year-old Kate is now sleeping in her own bed and she goes to sleep easily without an argument. And no more bathtub Barbies for me!
Thanks so much, Kelly, I couldn’t have done it without you!

Parenting Tips (That Really Work) from an Imperfect Parent

When Ann Marie asked me to write this guest post, at first I said, “These parenting tips aren’t exactly health or nutrition related…” But then it hit me that they are mental health related! They help preserve your sanity and just as important, they help you to enjoy your kids.
Before we go further, let’s be clear: My husband, Kent and I don’t have this parenting thing down by any means. For one thing, we’re both yellers, even though we know it’s not exactly productive. As a matter of fact I just yelled at our almost 10 year old daughter 30 seconds ago because she wants her Nintendo DS back (I made it disappear yesterday when she wasn’t cleaning her room like I asked and instead was playing her video game) and she was throwing a little fit in front of me. I told her, loudly, “I’m trying to get some work done!” and sent her to Kent so he could deal with her fit. (He loves it when I do that, as you can imagine.)
So even though perfection is nowhere in sight, when you have four kids (and do day care for over 20 years) you do learn a few things here and there. Those of you with more than four kids, I’m sure you’ve learned even more tricks. I hope you’ll share your favorite tips for preserving your mental health as you go down this parenting road. (I’m especially interested in how those of you with really big families stay sane.)
Both of the tips I’ll share came out of a conversation between Ann Marie and I last week regarding her 4 year old daughter, Kate…

Do I Have to Play with My Kids?

My short answer is this: play something with them, but only play what you personally enjoy.
Here’s the long answer…
Ann Marie said Kate begs her to get in the bath with her so they can play Barbies.
I told her, “Wow, there’s no way I’d ever do that, what torture!”
She said in complete shock, “Really?!”
“No way. At bath time my kids get measuring cups, turkey basters and maybe a sibling if there’s one available, but not me. If I’m going to take a bath, it’ll be alone or with a good book. And as far as playing Barbies, that’s what they have friends for. I’d rather be shot in the foot than sit and play Barbies. The rare times I’ve done it to be ‘nice’, they always said I wasn’t ‘playing right’ anyway.”
I remember a similar conversation a few years ago with my friend, Sonia. Her boys always had her down on the floor playing GI Joe. Of course she never ‘played right’ either. I couldn’t believe there were parents out there who could do this without going insane.
One day it came up and when I told her I didn’t do that, she couldn’t believe that this wasn’t some sort of ‘required’ parental duty, even though she hated it.
I told them both: “I love reading books with the kids, playing outside, playing games, watching movies, or taking them to various fun places now and then, so those are the types of things we do together. But pretend play on the floor? No way. I’m happy to invite their little friends over for that, since I know how important pretend play is to their growing brains, but I’m not doing it.”
Both Ann Marie and Sonia had this sound of freedom in their voice when they said, “Wow! I always thought I had to do that with them, but I really can’t stand it!”
So for all you parents out there who need permission not to play that way with your kids, here it is. Now if you do enjoy pretend playing with your kids, great. Maybe it’s board games that makeyour skin crawl. Whatever it is that you enjoy with your kids, do that. Do something fun with them as often as possible, but don’t suffer through the stuff you hate.

Bedtime Issues

It’s kind of ironic that I was giving Ann Marie bedtime advice recently, when we don’t exactly have blissful bedtimes around here either. It’s a constant work in progress, wouldn’t you all agree? But apparently my advice helped her and Seth get their evenings back, so I’m glad I could help.
She told me that she’s been lying down with Kate every night in order to get her to settle down and go to sleep. I said, “Doesn’t that drive you crazy, and make you resentful toward her, when you know you have stuff you could be doing?!” I told her about when our now 12 year old was a toddler and we went through nighttime torture for months with him. There was nothing that worked to help him fall asleep, and now I know it was because of what we were feeding him!
When he finally got through that horrendous stage, and we’d have all the kids sleeping by 9:00 with a quiet house, we’d look at each other and say, “Wow, so this is what it’s like to have peace in the evenings.”

Here’s What I Suggested

Before bedtime, sit her down for a little chat. She’s 4 and plenty old enough to understand what you’ll be saying to her. They’re so much smarter than we give them credit for. Your conversation can go something like this, and it all has to be in a calm, matter-of-fact voice, like it’s no big deal. Use an upbeat, but clearly non-negotiable tone…
“Kate, you’re 4, so you’re going to start going to bed like a big girl from now on. Mommy isn’t going to lie down with you at bedtime anymore because I’m going to be out here doing my work. Before bedtime we’ll get a snack and a drink of water and go potty, so once you’re in bed you won’t need to get up for anything.
We’ll read a story together and then I’ll tuck you in. You can look at books in your bed if you’d like, but you may not get out of your bed. If you’re quiet, we’ll leave the door open, but if you fuss, Mommy will shut the door because I’ll be working.
Now here’s the deal… (use your excited voice here) If you’re a good girl and stay in your bed, then the next day we’ll get to (insert reward here — go to the park, get ice cream, make a craft, whatever) together! But here’s the thing, (use a matter-of-fact, what-a-bummer voice here), if you decide not to stay in your bed or Mommy ends up having to lie down with you again, that will be a bummer, and we won’t get to (whatever your reward was), and you know what else? Not only will we NOT get to (reward), you also will (insert consequence here, like not get to watch ANY TV the next day or play video games or have a friend over or whatever they love that you can take away). (Insert excited voice here again…)
But I think you’ll make a good choice and make Mommy & Daddy so proud! Because you will love (reward), won’t you?!”

Warning: They will Test You

So that’s basically it, but here are the extra warnings I gave Ann Marie…
1. Plan on them testing you, maybe every night for a month, maybe only one or two nights, but they’ll test you, because that’s what kids do. If you want this to work, you MUST follow through on your rewards and consequences. And THAT will be the hard work for you as a parent. I don’t know about you, but I’m lazy. I don’t LIKE following through with punishment because I get sick of the whining and the fits, but if you don’t follow through, just plan on your kids having you wrapped around their finger forever.
2. When they test you, keep that matter-of-fact voice going and say things like, “Oh bummer, it’s too bad that you made that choice. Oh well, now we can’t (go get ice cream) tomorrow and you (won’t get to watch TV, not even one show), oh well, maybe tomorrow at bedtime you’ll make a better choice.” All day long when they whine to you, repeat that same phrase over and over like a broken record. It will drive them crazy and you’ll enjoy this, trust me!
3. Remember, if you don’t keep a nice calm voice and instead get all emotional or yell, then it makes them feel like you aren’t in control and can’t handle the situation; but if you keep your cool and let them see how their choices can change things one way or the other, for better or for worse, they will come around. (I need to remind myself often of that part about not yelling…)
4. What happens around here is that we’ll get things under control, and slowly we get lazy. Then we’ll realize they’re “playing us” again, so we reign them back in, and become all hard-core on the discipline for a while until they see that they’re not in charge, and then we can level off ’til the whole cycle starts over. If we didn’t get lazy that wouldn’t happen over and over, but we just do.
5. Remember, kids crave the security that discipline gives them. They act like they want to be in charge because testing is what they naturally do, but what they really need is the security of knowing that their parents are in control. Disciplining our kids and teaching them healthy boundaries in life is important for so many reasons. It’s what is necessary for healthy brain connections to be built so they can grow up to be respectful and productive human beings. It also builds the groundwork for learning to respect authority in the future (having a boss, etc.), and lastly, if we can help our kids learn about self-discipline early on, imagine the implications for their future. Or conversely, look at the problems in our world, how many of them stem from a lack of self-discipline? Instead of letting their every desire control them (eating crap vs. eating well, sitting on the couch vs. going for a walk, staying in bed vs. going to work, closing their mouth vs. spouting venom at their spouse, wow, we could go on and on), if they can learn self-control, it will preserve their health, jobs, relationships, and more! Even as adults, for myself anyway, I still need to get better and learn more about self-discipline!

Where I Learned These Tips

I’d have to say that there were 4 main ways that Kent and I developed our parenting arsenal:
1. From our own families – the way our parents raised us and how we watched our siblings raise their kids, these obviously had an impact.
2. My girlfriends have given me great tips through the years as they’ve learned and read things and used trial and error — we need each other!
3. For years I listened to and read all the Dr. James Dobson resources that I could get my hands on.
4. Good ol’ experience. And remember, imperfection only means you’re human, not that you stink as a parent, although I do feel that way often!
Recently I bought this Kevin Leman book, Have a New Kid by Friday but haven’t picked it up yet. Kent read the whole thing and said it basically reinforces what we already know: you can’t be lazy, you have to follow through, etc.
Parenting is much more difficult than I expected. More wonderful and rewarding, too. But wow, kids really do know how to push your buttons if you let them.

More Parenting Advice From Kelly

Friday, January 20, 2012

Is it true that dark circles under the eyes can be a sign of allergies?

From the BabyCenter Editorial Team

Yes. While dark bluish circles under the eyes can be hereditary, they can also have other causes, including allergies. In fact, they’re often referred to as "allergic shiners."

That's because when the nose is congested – which commonly happens with allergies – the surrounding veins become restricted, slowing the blood flow. As a result, the veins under the eyes can swell and look darker, particularly among people with light skin. Chronic sinus infections and colds – in fact, anything that causes nasal inflammation – can also cause these dark circles.

Other telltale signs of an allergy include dry, red, itchy skin; wheezing; coughing; red or watery eyes; sniffling; rubbing the nose; and sneezing. Learn more about allergies in children.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

mamaRoo by 4moms

We've never seen a parent vibrate their child like a bouncy seat and hardly seen one swing a baby around like a swing. BUT, we've seen thousands of parents scoop their little ones up in their arms and bounce and sway. And that's what the mamaRoo does. It moves like you do. 5 different motions to soothe and entertain your little one. 5 built-in nature sounds plus hook up your MP3 player.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Putting an End to Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking by a baby or young child is a source of comfort and gratification, and it's generally considered a sign of emotional health. But habitual thumb sucking beyond age 4 can cause an overbite and other dental misalignments that may require costly visits to the orthodontist down the road. Also, the skin on the thumb can crack, bleed, and become infected. And an older child will more than likely be teased by other kids about still being a baby.
To help her nix the habit:

Don't nag.
Doing so may make your child rebel and suck her thumb even more.

Keep her hands busy.
As soon as you see her thumb on its way toward her mouth, distract her. For instance, pull out crayons and a favorite coloring book or encourage her to help you set the table.

Show her that thumb sucking isn't pretty.
If she doesn't already have an overbite, imitate a bucked-tooth appearance, such as Bugs Bunny's, so she can see what could happen later on. If she does have an overbite, have her run her finger over the protruding upper teeth so she understands that she's doing herself harm.

Track what triggers the habit.
Is it hunger, boredom, tiredness, or stress? Once you've figured it out, do what you can to sidestep the situation. For example, if your child sucks her thumb in the late afternoon when she's hungry, make sure she gets a snack earlier in the day. Or if it happens when she's bored, keep toys or books on hand for times when she has to, say, wait in line.

As a last resort, get a dental appliance.
Your dentist can provide one that will help discourage your child from putting her thumb in her mouth and will prevent further damage to her teeth.
Thumb sucking among young kids is a very common habit  -- one that is considerably easier to break the sooner you try to do so.

By William Sears, M.d.