The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: March 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

Read 2 Earn

This post is for busy teachers who want to earn extra credits to boost their pay scale.  Corwin Publishers, which has my Feng Shui for the Classroom and Helping Kids Help, has partnered with California Lutheran University, an NCATE-accredited institution, to offer teachers one unit of graduate course credit for reading any Corwin book and completing a series of three course assignments.

What great news!  Just for reading my books and completing associated assignments, you can earn one credit for each book.  It's not as easy as it sounds because each book costs $199 for this arrangement, and you must complete the assignments within three months of enrollment.  Still not a bad deal!

This is what you can expect for assignments when you enroll:
Synopsis (2‐3 pages)
Give a detailed description of the book, including the author’s thesis and intended purpose. Comment upon the structure of the book and if that structure helps or hinders the authors intentions. Share your perception concerning what the book does and does not do and evaluate its effectiveness in meeting its stated goals. How does this book support your professional learning goals and/or professional background?
Reflection (3‐5 pages)
Identify the author’s overarching themes and opine on the extent that the book adds new insights or knowledge to the professional development topic under study. What “take aways” can you glean from this book to impact your own professional practice? Which of the ideas of the author are open to challenge, underdeveloped, or too simplistic in your opinion?
Theory to Practice (3‐5 pages)
In what ways are the ideas of the author already embedded in professional practice? What ideas need systemic support before they can be implemented? Address the ways in which the ideas of the author are in competition with other and different ideas in terms of the impact on professional practice. What obstacles currently exist which could prevent the ideas of the author from taking root? How could such obstacles be addressed? What groups of professional educators would benefit from reading this book and why?

This arrangement gives busy educators who need graduate credit to take the next step in their careers the opportunity to earn credit at their own pace through independent study. Simply select a Corwin book (my books would be a great place to start!), register for credit at www.corwin.com/read2earn, read the book, and complete three writing assignments within three months.

If I were still in teaching and needed to boost my credits to the next payscale, I'd jump at this chance to earn the credits.  Corwin Press has some amazingly interesting books, in addition to my own :-)  Looks like summer reading to me!

Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What kids want from busy parents

All too often, parents become busy with work, carpools, housework, yard work, and any other activities that separate them from quality time with their children.  So, thanks to my friends at www.nannyjobs.org, they have identified ten things that kids really want from their busy parents. My additional comments are in red.

Juggling a hectic schedule with the demands of parenthood can be challenging in itself; deciphering the unspoken needs and desires of your children can be even more difficult. These ten things are the most commonly sought-after desires among children of busy parents.
  1. Affection – Children crave affection from all of the trusted adults in their lives, but they especially want to feel it from their parents. If you spend a significant portion of your child’s day away from home, try to make up for it with plenty of affection during the time you do have together. What kind of affection?  That could be a peck on the cheek, a pat on the head, or an arm around the shoulder.  Touch is a powerful indication of affection.
  2. Acknowledgment of Accomplishments – When you acknowledge the accomplishments and milestones in your child’s life, especially if you weren’t present for them, it shows that you’re thinking of them when you’re away and are proud of the things they’ve done. Consider making an album of accomplishments.  When a new milestone comes along, add a photograph, drawn picture, or verbal depiction of the event.  Then every so often, go back and review previous successes.  Many parents only go back to revisit previous failures.
  3. To Feel That Their Parents Are Interested in Their Lives – Missing out on the largest part of your child’s day-to-day life can lead them to believe that you aren’t interested in the things that are important to them. Even if you have to quiz the nanny (or babysitter!) about the big parts of the day, your child needs to know that you’re interested in their life. Try to use open-ended questions like, "What did you do when you went out for a walk?"  Those kinds of questions are better than the ones that require one-word answers.
  4. One-On-One Time – For working parents with more than one child, making time for some one-on-one time with each child can be an almost insurmountable task, but it’s one of the things that they need most. Finding a time when you can connect with each child individually should be a priority, even though it’s difficult to accomplish. Set a schedule and stick with it, so your child knows when his or her time will come for that special one-on-one activity.
  5. Whole-Family Interaction – While kids want to spend time alone with their parents, they also need to interact with their family unit as a whole. Spending time together will not only fulfill their needs and help to smooth the friction of sibling rivalry; it will also provide you all with invaluable memories. When my kids were little, I made sure we had Sunday dinner in the dining room.  To this day, my girls remember those special dinners :-)
  6. To Feel That They Are Important – Kids may understand intellectually that their parents work hard in order to provide for them, they can still feel like they’re consistently taking a backseat to the “more important” task of working. Letting your child know that you miss them, and that they’re the most important things in your life can soothe these pangs before they become full-blown resentment. This is easier said than done - literally!  Simply observe what your child is doing without judging, either positively or negatively:  "I see your teacher says you finished all your homework every day this month."  This is different from "I like that you did your homework every day this month."  The latter places the approval extrinsically from the parent; the former places it intrinsitically within the child.
  7. Attendance at Events – Over-scheduled kids can have more events than a stay-at-home parent could attend, but there are major events that children are devastated for their parents to miss. An annual recital or championship game might cause a scheduling snarl, but it will make your child’s day to see you there, cheering them on. You may not think this particularly important, but your kids watch to see if you're there with the other parents.  I remember one of  my daughters' friends express regret that his father never made it to any of his ball games or practices, as we sat there watching my girls play softball. :-(
  8. For You to Be Less Stressed – When a New York childcare worker polled children for an upcoming book, she asked them what they most wanted from their parents. Instead of the predicted “more time,” the majority of kids simply answered that they wished their parents were less stressed over work and money. Like dogs, children can sense a person's stress.  When parents are stressed, they yell more, rush around more, and generally make the home an uncomfortable place in which to live.  How do you avoid stress?  By rethinking your priorities, taking time for more sleep and relaxation activities, and remembering that your kids are more important than any schedule!
  9. To Be Listened To – Knowing your time with a child is limited for the day can create the temptation to force all of your parenting lessons in during the course of a conversation, but what most children truly need is to be listened to, without criticism or correction. Listening is a lost art.  Most parents hear their children, but they sometimes don't truly hear what they are saying or the message behind the words. 
  10. Your Presence – Even if they’re sleeping or playing in another room, it’s comforting for your children to know that you’re home and accessible, should they need you. Simply being present satisfies one of your child’s strongest emotional needs. That says it all!
No matter how busy you are, you can always make time for your kids. They don’t always need quantity, but they do need quality. Make sure the time you spend with them is enjoyable and productive for you both.

Happy Parenting!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Don't post your kids' names on a billboard!

While most people won't advertise their children's names with their pictures on a roadside billboard, you might be surprised at some of the places where you shouldn't yell your child's name for their safety.  The information below comes from my friends at www.nannybackgroundcheck.com.  But first, my own comment on writing your child's name on the outside of their clothing, backpack, etc.  Children usually know not to go anywhere with strangers, however, if a stranger calls your child by his or her first name, that stranger immediately becomes a friend.  So, if you're tempted to get the cute backpack with Amy on the front, resist the urge, get the plain vanilla backpack (after all, it's less expensive), and write her name on the inside. 

Statistics show that every 40 seconds a child goes missing. Think about that. In the time that it takes you to read this article several children will have gone missing. Fortunately many of these children are found within hours. However, 260,000 children fall victim to abductions each year. Only 1.4 % of all abductions are stranger abductions and 76% of those occur within a quarter mile from home. Those that do happen tend to occur outside the home are perpetrated by people that know the child’s name; that’s how they get them. Check out ten places we shouldn’t mention our kids’ names.
  1. Youth athletic events: Kids are involved in many different kinds of sporting activities now and as a family you probably spend many a weekend at tournaments and games. It’s only natural to yell out your child’s name during a game, but predators can be around and they will take note of your child’s name and jersey number. They will note what team they play for and may show up at practice. You don’t want to give them any information to use.
  2. Professional sporting events: Sporting events for professional or semi-professional teams are held at very large arenas or stadiums. There are tens of thousands of people there. If a predator hears you call your child by name or shout out to them if they are walking too far in front of you or behind you. Then they have personal information that they can use when they follow your child into the restroom. Things can happen.
  3. The mall: The mall is a kid magnet. They meet their friends there and hang out, but they tend to get into trouble there too. That’s why predators hang out at malls. Hoping to get a kid alone. If you call out to your child in the mall everyone now knows what your child’s name is and can use that information to get cozy with your child.
  4. Facebook: While different than a physical place, a lot of people are on Facebook and can put together your information and your child’s information. If you have pictures of where you hang out or events that your child has been in then it’s possible for a predator to put all of that information together and figure out where your child goes to school and how old they are and what their name is. It’s just as important for you to be safe with your child’s information online as it is for them to be.
  5. Amusement parks: Where do a lot of kids go? Amusement parks. If you call out for your child or yell your child’s name there may be undesirable people listening. Predators hang out where there are children. They will watch and listen for any advantage. Maybe you let your child ride a ride by themselves because you didn’t want to go. Now that predator can meet them at the end and call them by name. Give them some story about being a friend of their parents.
  6. Grocery store: Kids tend to misbehave in grocery stores for some reason. Maybe it’s because they want something that they aren’t going to get or maybe they are just bored. Whatever the reason is this is a really common place to hear a parent yelling at their child. Most times the child’s full name including middle name is often sternly expressed at the child. Now any stranger listening knows your child’s full name and where you grocery shop. Maybe they will go back there every day and watch to see when you shop there. They might be able to lure the kid away from you and then snatch them.
  7. Restaurants: Diners are another really common place for families to go. Kids get bored and mom and dad may call out their name. Now anyone within hearing distance knows your child’s name.
  8. Big Discount store: There’s something about big discount stores and the toy aisle that attracts kids. Adults may loiter in the toy aisle hoping to strike up a conversation with a child. Maybe they will ask them what toy they would suggest for the stranger’s niece. If the stranger knows their name because mom or dad has mentioned it earlier then they can get that much closer to them.
  9. Park: A large percentage of stranger abductions take place in parks or nearby wooded areas. Many parents will call their children by name to warn them about being careful or to stop throwing sand or whatever it is. Predators will hang out at parks in order to learn this information.
  10. Sports practice: Many parents will go to their child’s practice and call out to them to pay attention or try harder. If you use their name anyone standing around listening will now know a little information about your child. What team they play for, maybe what school they go to and now they know their name. Maybe a nickname would be better.
No matter what activities your child is involved in or where you go as a family, keep an eye out for predators and don’t let your children go anywhere without adequate supervision. You can even set up a code word so that kids can know if someone is really giving them a message from you. Finally, please do not put up window decals on your vehicle with the names of everyone in the family (even consider whether or not you should put up an elementary school, junior high school, or other school mascot or logo). All these things can help keep your children safe.

Finally, one more comment from me... When your children go on class tips, the natural tendency is to place a name tag on them so they can find their way back to the group if they get lost.  I think that's the WORST thing you can do.  Not only is the child in jeopardy because he became separated from the group, but now he has a neon sign hanging around his neck attracting the nearest predator to call him by name to "bring him back" to his leader.  What to do instead?  Simply give all the kids the same label that is only a color or a symbol.  Then, when he gets lost, have someone look for the little boy with the blue shirt and blond hair wearing a white pawprint sign.  So much safer. And remind your child to not discuss the meaning of the pawprint sign with anyone!

Happy Parenting!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to Photograph Children

I decided to combine something I know very little about (photography) with something I'm quite familiar with (children).  So I researched online to find out how to save pictures of your little ones and this is what I found....

Before you begin a photoshoot with children, make them as comfortable as possible with the situation.  Let them look at the camera, touch it, examine it, etc.  Show them what happens when the flash occurs so they won't be frightened by the bright light.  Explain how you will be able to show the picture to grandparents and other relatives who may live far away.

Choose your setting carefully. Consider interesting backgrounds - the aquarium, zoo, nature center, etc.  However, the background should be rather simple, rather than busy so you can focus on the child rather than the background.  Watch your child interact with his or her environment and snap many photos to get the best shot. Inside, look for a plain background, as well - a wall or curtains.  Place items around your child that will provide an interesting play item.  A stuffed bunny for an Easter picture or a Santa for a Christmas card.

Candids are better than poses. Watch for that "Kodak moment" when your children least expect you to take their pictures.  Unless you want a portrait-style picture, the best pictures usually involve a child chasing a bubble or tumbling with the puppy.  Let the wind blow their hair around.  The picture doesn't have to be perfect; in fact, the less than perfect picture is usually better.

Watch the sun.  Outside, the sun wreaks havoc with photographs.  It causes children to squint, offers funky shadowing effects, and sometimes too much light, which washes out the picture.  The long low light of late afternoon is great for photographing children, but it's also the time when kids are most likely to be testy!

Kneel down.  When you photograph kids from your height, the result is that the children look small and insignficant.  Alfred Hitchcock used this trick very effectively in his movies to make certain characters seem unimportant or looked down on by other characters.  Look at your children from their level for the best picture.

Add other people ... or parts of other people.  You don't need to see the whole adult as the child looks up.  Remember, focus on the child!

Get creative.  Experiment with different poses, hands under their chin, doing a cartwheel on the lawn, running through a sprinkler, or sleeping on the dog. Try printing the pictures in black and white to see high contrast pictures more dramatically. However through all that creativity, focus on your child's eyes and make them your center of attention.

For more information on photographing your children to preserve their youth, go to these resources:
Teachers, you can use this information, as well, to document your students from year to year.  How I wish I had started my own "yearbook" when I began teaching to document the hundreds of young people who walked into my classroom each year!

Happy Parenting and Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

10 Reasons Kids Prefer One Parent over the Other

This post comes to you from my friends at www.nationalnannies.com  I wholeheartedly endorse the premise that moms and dads are different!  They generally have different roles in the family, which is why children should have two parents instead of one.  However, in the absence of the second parent for whatever reason, the single parent needs to take on the role of both parents.  Given the information in the article below, that's a pretty tall order.  No wonder single parents seem overworked, underappreciated, and generally stressed.  So, if you think your kids prefer your spouse over you, remember that there will be other times when you become the preferred parent.  Balance in a relationship, whether it's with your kids, your children, or your own parents, is paramount.

As a parent you can’t have a favorite child, it just wouldn’t be right. You love both of your children equally, but there are days when I tell my kids that I don’t like how they are acting very much. When you’re a kid it’s probably similar in that they love both of their parents, but they may like the way one parent interacts with them more than the other. And in my personal experience that seems to change as the child gets older.
  1. Spends more time with mom: When kids are little and the mom stays home with them then they are more likely to favor mom over dad. Mom feeds them and changes them while dad is out working and is home for far less time than mom. Although my kids were always thrilled when my husband came home and would run to him with a big hug.
  2. Dad does sports with them: While mom can do sports too and mom often is the one who shuttles them to practices, when they get older it seems to be dad who is rough and tumble with them and not mom.
  3. Mom’s hugs and kisses are better: This depends on the dad, but more often than not the mom is very loving with lots of hugs and kisses and shows affection more to the kids. Then when the kids get older they will rebel against that and say they are too old for mom to do that and she’s treating them like a baby.
  4. Dad can play horsey with them: Dad is usually bigger and stronger and can give them pony rides on his shoulders and throw them around. Mom can do that when they are little, but as they get heavier it’s harder to do without hurting mom.
  5. Similar activities with mom: Mom takes her daughter shopping, to get her hair cut, and to get a pedicure. It’s mom who will show her daughter how to wear make-up and earrings. These special things will come as your daughter gets older and she’s less of a daddy’s girl.
  6. Dad is a better defender: If your child is being bullied at school it’s going to be dad who’s going to show the son how to defend himself and dad may show his daughter a few things too. Dad will always be there to protect them from the bad stuff.
  7. Mom is their biggest cheerleader: Who is it that is at almost every game cheering the loudest for them? Who comforts them when they lose a game? Who believes they are the best no matter what? Mom, that’s who. When a kid makes it to the big time and he’s saying his thank you’s who does he thank, mom. When they get the chance to get on television and they wave, who do they say hi to, mom.
  8. Dad treats them like they are more grown up: Sometimes it’s hard for mom to let her kids grow up. I tell my son that he will always be my baby no matter how old he gets. Instead of getting upset about it he has embraced that and will often throw my words back at me when I tell him to grow up. Dad on the other hand will let the kids have more freedom and not keep such a tight rein on them. Dads tend to feel like its okay if a kid gets hurt and that it’s all a part of growing up.
  9. Mom is calmer than dad: This will depend on the dad, but often dads are louder than moms and when they get angry they yell more than mom. When dad yells that could be scary for a child and they will run to the mom for comfort. This can be reversed if the mom is the yeller and the dad is really laid back.
  10. Dad lets them get away with everything: Mom is with them 24/7 and dad is at work. When dad gets home it’s time to have fun and go play. If mom is gone dad takes them out to eat instead of cooking them healthy food like mom does. They want to go to their friend’s house; dad lets them as he doesn’t know any reason why they can’t go. Sometimes dads aren’t in the loop on the day to day stuff the way moms are so they make up for it by doing fun things. 
Happy Parenting!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Parents Behaving Badly

Do you remember your life before children?  I'm probably older than most of my readers, so I definitely don't remember those carefree days when I didn't have to plan for sitters, kennels, and assorted other pet minders while we traveled.  I definitely don't remember looking at people who had children, wondering how they did it with three kids under the age of five.  However, this person who wrote an article for the Huffington Post recalls judging parental behavior before she had children: Apologies to the Parents I Judged Four Years Ago.

While her article is a tongue-in-cheek look at life BC (before children), it is definitely a treatise on how people judge others before they walk in their shoes, so to speak.  I can understand the mother who has a crying child dragging her feet on the lower rack of the grocery cart because she couldn't have what she wanted.  I may have been there myself once or twice!  But I certainly would not have judged the mother for her behavior before I even had children.  Given my child development education, I probably would have seen that mother as a strong, yet fair, disciplinarian, not buying into the tantrum.  That mother was actually doing everything right in the parenting book according to Renee!

So this blog looks at a bigger problem in our society.  Why do we judge others' behavior based on our own experiences and knowledge?  If my neighbor left his lawn go without mowing it for a whole month in the middle of the summer, I wouldn't judge him as lazy.  I might call and see how they're doing.  Maybe he's sick; maybe he wants to turn his lawn into a wildflower preserve.  Who knows?  Only he does and it's not my place to judge why his lawn has become overgrown.

But what about parents who are behaving badly - those parents who demean their children in public, who slap them and yank them? Should I judge them?  I still say no.  Why? Because obviously there's much more going on with that family than bad parenting.  They never learned how to effectively discipline children without violence; they may have severe financial problems overshadowing their ability to reason with their kids; they might be tired because they've worked two jobs just to pay the mortgage and food bills.  Again, I say, don't judge - find a way to help.  But that's not easy.  People don't want you interfering in their lives.  They think they're doing an okay job raising their kids even if they do yell, hit, embarrass, and otherwise discipline ineffectively.  I think everyone should carry a business card with the numbers of local parental help organizations.  Here's what my card might look like:

Wholesome Parenting Support Group
Bordentown Library
This program is for parents of infants and toddlers. Come to discuss your challenges and share your strengths in regard to (but not limited to) feeding, sleeping, disciplining, and socializing your children. Children are welcome! Please bring quiet toys for them to play with and share while we chat! Registration is not required. Questions? Contact Bryana Adornetto at (609) 458-6959 or bryanafogarty@gmail.com. WE WILL MEET THE FIRST MONDAY OF EACH MONTH!

Plus a list of online resources:
Parents Anonymous of NJ: http://www.pa-of-nj.org/
Parents Support Group of NJ: http://www.psgnjhomestead.com/

Then, when I see parents behaving badly, I can simply say, "It doesn't have to be like this," and quitely hand them the business card.  Later, when the kids are in bed, they might look at the card and see what it has to offer.  Now that I've said this, I think I'll go to www.vistaprint.com and print out some of their free cards with this information!

Happy Parenting!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why boys and girls have "different parts"

This blog comes to you from my friends at www.nanny.net.  It's a sensitive topic that many parents find embarrassing.  But the truth is that the more open you are with your children about sex, the more likely they will be to turn to you when they have questions, concerns, and (gulp!) problems.

Even the most progressive parents quail a bit at the idea of tackling anatomy lessons for their young children. Plans to be enlightened and open about reproductive issues and differences between gender are easy to make before those questions start; however, nothing truly prepares for the first time a child asks about their body. If your little one is showing signs of curiosity, here are ten tips to handle the situation with as much grace as possible.
  1. Beat Them to the Punch – One way of making sure that you’re never get caught off-guard by the question of anatomy is to explain it to them when they begin to show signs of curiosity. Demystifying the subject is almost always enough for very young children.
  2. Use Specially Designed Books – There are several books for children that take on this complicated subject, with different levels of age-appropriate material. These books can often serve as a starting point for the conversation, which is the biggest hurdle for some parents.
  3. Don’t Panic – People say strange things when they’re confronted with an unexpected and awkward question; parents are no exception. Try to stay calm and resist the urge to avoid the topic or change it altogether. Even if a child is momentarily distracted, they’ll still be left with unanswered questions.
  4. Answer Questions Honestly – It’s tempting to chalk new babies up to the stork to get out of the conversation, but this only puts off the conversation temporarily. When they realize that they answers you gave weren’t true, kids can also feel like the subject is forbidden or that they were wrong to be curious.
  5. Don’t Use Cutesy Names – Teaching your child the correct name for his or her genitals while they’re learning the names for all of the other parts of their anatomy does half of the job of this conversation for you. Very young children who ask about the differences between genders will often be satisfied with just the terminology and the knowledge that there are physical differences.
  6. Take the Opportunity to Talk About Boundaries – When your child starts asking questions about their body, they’re also presenting you with the perfect chance explain about physical boundaries. Teaching concepts like good touch/bad touch are vitally important during early childhood.
  7. Keep Information Simple – In an attempt to be progressive, some parents can overload little minds with concepts they aren’t ready to grasp. Instead of giving an in-depth lecture on sexual anatomy, try to keep the language clear and simple.
  8. Don’t Confuse Them – Using phrases like, “We’ll talk about it when you’re older,” only serve to confuse a child, shrouding the subject in mystery and causing school-aged kids to discuss the subject with friends that are likely to be just as clueless. In the interest of avoiding confusion, answer directly.
  9. Don’t Close the Subject – The conversation about the difference between boys’ and girls’ bodies is the precursor to the ones about where babies come from and later, safe sex. Instead of creating the impression that subject can never be broached again, assure your kids that they can always ask you about things that confuse them. Because these conversations can be difficult and unnerving, many parents only want to have them once; however, keeping the dialogue open will make it easier to approach related subjects as they get older.
  10. It’s Okay to Be Uncomfortable – While you should stay as calm as possible, it’s okay to admit to your kids that you’re surprised or a bit uncomfortable discussing the subject, but will always listen to what they have to say and answer them truthfully.
Happy Parenting!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

10 regrets you shouldn't say thirty years from now!

When you look back in 30 years to when your children were little, make sure you don't say, "I wish I had..."
  1. "...spent more time playing."  Think about what you do with your kids. You eat, ride in the car, do homework, perhaps lecture them, and get them ready for bed.  How often do you simply throw a ball around the yard with them, play Candyland, or color the picture on the opposite page?  Those activities are sometimes more memorable than any in the previous list of things you do with your kids. 
  2. "...listened to them more."  Yes, parents hear their kids when they talk.  They hear them ask for  money, for rides to a friend's house, and for a later bed time.  But when parents truly listen, they'll hear the request for money as a need for independence, the ride to a friend's house as the need for companionship, and the later bed time as a cry for more time with Mom or Dad.  Think about your child's motivation when they talk to you.
  3. "...let them make their own decisions."  When children reach their twenties, you'll realize the fruits of this regret.  So often, I've seen young adults make very bad choices in jobs, mates, and other life-threatening decisions because they weren't allowed to think for themselves as children.  Yep, that will cause them to make a few mistakes, but with those mistakes come lessons they will remember long after your hour-long lecture.
  4. "...hugged my kids more."  It's a fact - when kids grow up, they don't sit on your laps anymore.  They don't call as often as you would like.  And they are so busy with their own lives that you may see each other once a month, or maybe even less frequently.  Enjoy the daily affection while you can!
  5. "...taught my children to manage money."  I don't mean you should give a child an allowance, because that's the last advice you'd get from me - free money for doing nothing.  I mean that you should help your children to value the money they get through hard work.  If they earn $5 for raking your leaves, or the neighbor's leaves, your son will be more likely to spend the money wisely than if you had handed him the money as an allowance.
  6. "...helped my children appreciate those less fortunate."  I think one of the best things we can do for our children is to help them appreciate how good they have it.  That doesn't mean lecturing about how their lives are better than yours when you were a kid.  It means volunteering with them for a variety of causes: homeless people, senior citizens, wounded veterans, neighborhood cleanliness, homeless animals, etc. etc. etc. What are you doing right now to help your kids understand this important life lesson?
  7. "...shown my children that not all toys need batteries."  Send your kids outside to "find" fun!  The more creative they become with their play, the more creative they'll become with their problem solving. 
  8. "...read to my children more."  When children associate books with parental care, they learn that reading is fun.  When the only time they read is when you order them to finish their book reports, they won't consider reading to be fun. 
  9. "...helped my children to try new and nutritious food."  If you're in a food rut, your children will also turn their noses up at new food.  Later in life with a strong nutritional basis, they'll be more likely to try sushi or Thai food, and experiment with thier own new cooking expriences. Remember, McDonald's is not a food group!
  10. "...taught my children to respect a higher being."  You don't need to be Christian, Jewish, or Muslim to understand that we were created by a higher power who deserves our love and respect.  Children need to learn the power of prayer in their lives for those times when they think that everyone else has abandonded them.  Religion is a powerful anchor.
Thankfully, I have none of those regrets!  How are you doing so far?

Happy Parenting!

Friday, March 2, 2012

10 Ways Babies Cause Back Pain

This one comes to you from my friends at www.newborncare.com:

Toward the end of your pregnancy you may notice increasing back pain. Welcome to motherhood! There are various causes for the pain you may experience and the good news is that most symptoms can be handled through exercise, rest or making some minor changes in how you do things. Listed below are some ways in which your baby may cause you to experience back pain.
  1. Hormonal changes – As you near the end of pregnancy your hormones begin to change to prepare your body for birth. In the pelvic area, your ligaments begin to soften and your joints become looser. This causes you to lose some of the core support you once had in your back and the result is lower back pain.
  2. The growing baby – As the baby gets larger, you experience a change in posture due to a shifting of your center of gravity. The larger you become the more shifting takes place.
  3. Weight gain – Most women gain several pounds during pregnancy. Between the baby growing and your own weight gain the stress on back muscles is building. All the extra weight you are carrying can cause chronic back pain.
  4. Poor posture – One of the main culprits causing back pain is poor posture. If you have poor posture to begin with, you will likely experience more back pain as the size of your baby increases.
  5. Excessive standing – Women who must stand for long periods of time may find that they experience back pain more often in the last month or so of pregnancy. If possible stand for shorter periods of time.
  6. Stress – You may not be aware of the fact that stress tends to migrate toward the weakest part of your body and cause problems. In this case, any stress you may have can settle in your back area as your body prepares for birth. Find ways to relax and ease any stress you may be feeling.
  7. Pregnancy-associated osteoporosis – This is a rare but painful condition that some women may experience. If you have severe chronic back pain consult your doctor about your symptoms.
  8. Poor posture while feeding – Once the baby gets here, some mothers have a tendency to hunch over as they breast feed. The strain put on your neck and upper back when you are looking down at the baby in a bent position can cause some back problems
  9. Carrying the baby on the hip – Many people have a tendency to carry little ones on their hip. While this may be a comfortable way to carry baby, it throws your spine out of alignment and after a while can cause serious back pain. Try using a baby sling or carrying your baby in front.
  10. Bending over to lift baby – If you are in the wrong position when you lift your baby, you can do harm to you back over time. Extending your arms away from your body to lift baby or bending over to pick the baby up can put stress on back muscles and cause pain. It is better to move in close and bend your knees if possible before you pick up the baby.
Knowing that some of the back pain you may experience is normal and going to go away is a relief. Good posture and exercise will do a lot to alleviate a great deal of pain both before and after baby arrives. Take the time to learn how to pick up your baby correctly so that you can avoid injuries. If you experience severe chronic back pain, be sure to have a talk with your doctor.

Happy, Healthy Parenting!
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