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Consider These 3 Factors When Disciplining Your Child

April 7, 2015

By Nely Bergsma

Consider These 3 Factors When Disciplining Your Child | Some forms of physical discipline are considered child abuse. To avoid harming your child, follow these three guidelines. | The logo of the National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which resembles stained glass.

Image courtesy of National Child Abuse Prevention Month and ChildWelfare.gov.

Some of us parents come from homes where we were physically disciplined, and that level of physical discipline would now be considered child abuse (we’re not just talking spanking, here). In honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we all should evaluate our physical disciplinary methods toward our children.

First, we need to acknowledge that at one point or another (and likely on many occasions), your child will push your buttons. But it’s important to remember that he or she is not causing your response. An issue that makes you feel like physically lashing out at your child may be a deep-rooted issue from your very own early years or an anger management problem that you can work on.

Some forms of physical discipline are considered child abuse, and there is a difference between the two. To ensure your methods of discipline are unquestionably not abusive, consider these options for non-physical ways to discipline your kids and for keeping your anger in check around them.

  1. Set parameters with your child. Begin at an early age to create behavioral expectations and establish a mutual respect between you and your child.
  2. Give yourself a time out. If your child is old enough to be left alone, walk just a fair distance away from them in an angry moment and slowly count to 30. If your child is younger, place him or her in a crib, playpen, or stroller and then walk just a fair distance away and count to 30. Take an additional minute or two to calm down if you need. You can then return to your child and calmly emphasize the expectations you have set between the two of you.
  3. Self Check. Remind yourself of those things that make you angry. Try to pinpoint the origin of these feelings. You might discover that they come from your childhood. Quickly remind yourself that you are no longer a child. Let go of any feelings of helplessness you may have felt as a child and embrace the fact that you are now an adult and are in control.

All of us enter the world of parenting affected in some way from our own childhoods, and our kids will remind us of those memories, both good and bad. We can expect our children to act out in ways that may drive us crazy at times. However, it is our responsibility as the grownup in the situation to stay as sane and in control of our emotions as possible. You are free to make choices and there is “no right way to do the wrong thing.”

You don’t want to hurt your child in any way, and the best way to avoid doing that in a difficult situation is to take a breather, follow these guidelines, and seek outside help if you feel your emotions have gotten the best of you and are at risk of hurting your child.

Learn more about appropriate child discipline in our YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books, which help parents from birth through high school graduation and beyond. Now available on Amazon

Tags :  parentinghealthsafetyphysical
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What to Know About National Women + Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 10, 2015

By Nely Bergsma

What to Know About National Women + Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day | Use these talking points to start your conversation about HIV/AIDS with your daughter.

Image courtesy of WomensHealth.gov.

Today is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This is an annual, nationwide observance that reminds us all of the impact HIV and AIDS continue to have on women and girls.

If you are feeling uncomfortable and have not engaged your daughter in a conversation about sex or drugs, this may be a great month to do so. As parents and mentors, we are faced with how to best approach the subject and begin the conversation. First and foremost, we need to educate ourselves on the virus and syndrome so that we remain current and available to offer any support our girls may need.

For example, did you know that about one in four Americans living with HIV are women 13 or older? In addition to this statistic, about 50 percent of women living with HIV are getting care and only four in 10 of them are managing the virus with the help of effective medication and treatment. Talk with your daughter not only about the decision she will make as to whether or not to be sexually active, but also about HIV and AIDS in particular. They are not just acquired through sexual activities, but also through use of intravenous drugs, so your conversation should also address drug use.

HIV and AIDS can be confusing, but an ongoing conversation is necessary so that she can learn how to stay safe and healthy. Perhaps you and your daughter can research the subject together and make it a mother-daughter project. Either separately or together gather information from credible sources, like AIDS.gov. Come together with your findings and launch a social media campaign this month to encourage the conversation between your parent and her friend communities. Make it an annual event and continue the discussion throughout the year.

This year marks the 10th observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is key that all women, young and older, learn and share this information with one another both in advocacy and support. Creating an open environment—and one that is free of judgment—for an honest and informative exchange of experiences is critical to preventing future generations from contracting HIV and AIDS.

Join the conversation today on social media by searching and using #NWGHAAD.

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5 Ways to Avoid Unsafe Toys

July 31, 2014

By Noralba Martinez

5 Tips to Avoid Unsafe Toys | Photo of a toy with a close up of the warning label that reads: Warning: Choking hazard. Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Buying toys is so much fun. I love to buy toys for children’s birthdays and usually stay away from gift cards or cash. While it’s fun to buy gifts, I am very careful when purchasing toys for children. There are many things to look out for when purchasing a toy. Here are five tips to avoid buying unsafe toys.

  1. Consider Age. Always look for the recommended age on the toy’s packaging. Remember that a child under three years old continues to have a tendency of putting objects in his or her mouth. Make sure that you purchase a toy that is intended for your child’s age.
  2. Look for Small Parts. Inspect the toy and see if it contains parts that can easily come off. If they are off the toy, can these parts fit through a toilet paper roll? The diameter of a toilet paper roll is similar to the mouth and esophagus of your child. The loose part is a choking hazard if it goes through the roll.
  3. Buy BPA-Free Plastic. BPA, also known as bisphenol A, is a chemical that has been used in the production of certain plastics since the 1960s. Some research experts found that exposure to BPA may cause health effects on brain development, behavior, and the prostate gland of a child, even in infants and fetuses. Look for BPA-free labels on toys you plan to buy.
  4. Avoid Batteries. Battery-operated toys are fun, but there is always a risk of shock, battery acid leakage, or choking. Make sure you inspect the toy and ensure that your child cannot get to the battery (these toys should have a safety door that requires a screwdriver to access the battery). Button batteries are smaller, more powerful (most are made of lithium), and therefore dangerous. If swallowed, they can send an electric current through the body that can cause a severe burn if not treated quickly. Try to especially avoid these batteries.
  5. Natural is Best. Look for labels that indicate organic or natural base dyes/coloring. Stay away from heavy-painted toys, toys containing glass, and fragile toys. Simple wooden blocks are still fun—kids use their imaginations and build amazing structures and stories to go with them.

Remember to consider these and other tips for finding safe toys. There are different concerns depending on the age range of the toy, so do some research before you buy.

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How can I keep my daughter healthy at school?

July 25, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can I keep my daughter healthy at school? | A parent measures cough syrup for a young child, who lays in bed.

Question: My daughter will be starting preschool in the fall as I go back to work. I’m really worried that she’s going to get sick from all the germs that other kids carry around. How can I keep her healthy?

Answer: You have a right to worry about your daughter getting sick from other kids. Some contagious illnesses and conditions are more common in larger groups than in small groups. But with a few precautionary measures, you can help prevent some of the more serious conditions.

First, make sure you vaccinate your child in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) schedule. Children under six years old are the most vulnerable for potentially life-threatening diseases, but by ensuring your daughter has the recommended vaccines for her age, you can help prevent her from catching those diseases and spreading them to others.

Less serious conditions are more difficult to avoid. For example, lice or the common cold may spread throughout the preschool. For these situations, your best defense is a good offense.

  • Wash your and your daughter’s hands frequently, especially after touching doorknobs or light switches.
  • Teach your child not to put her hands in her mouth, nose, or eyes, especially while at preschool. This practice can prevent common viruses from getting into her body.
  • Give her tissues when she coughs or sneezes to avoid spreading germs.
  • Make sure the preschool has separate bedding for nap times to avoid contracting or spreading lice.
  • If your daughter isn’t feeling well, keep her home from school until she feels better and ask her doctor for advice on proper treatment.

As your daughter grows up and goes to school with more kids, she will be exposed to more germs and viruses. While it’s okay to be concerned, take the above actions to prevent contracting and spreading illnesses. Remember, she is building her immune system, which is important for her overall health.

For more information on preventing illnesses and keeping your child healthy, see the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-book set.

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Too Hot To Play Outside: Fun Indoor Activities

July 17, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

Too Hot To Play Outside: Fun Indoor Activities | Fruity freeze pops and blueberries sit in a bowl.

I always recommend playing outside as much as you can when summertime rolls around. There are countless benefits to playing outside, including fresh air and space for exercise. But when the summer heats up, it’s crucial to know when it’s too hot for your child and to have some fun indoor activities ready to go.

Did you know that children heat up faster than adults do? Not only do they have faster metabolic rates, but also they don’t sweat as much as adults. So even if you’re not uncomfortable in the heat yet, your child could be at risk for heat-related illness.

According to these weather guidelines for children, 80°F or below is considered safe and comfortable for children. Anything above 90°F is considered uncomfortable and can be hazardous to your child’s health. Humidity also plays a factor, so use your best judgment based on where you live and continually check in with your child.

Look at the weather forecast every day. If the temperature is expected to rise above 90°F, it is safer to keep children indoors than to risk playing outside. Playing indoors can be just as much fun with these easy and entertaining activities:

Twister. Any type of board game would do, but Twister can be a lot of fun! It’s not messy, doesn’t require a lot of space, and children love attempting to be as flexible as possible to reach all the colored circles.

Fruity freeze pops. These are so simple and refreshing that I wish I knew about them when I was a kid! There are many ways to make these. In an ice cube tray, add cut up fruits and fill the rest of each cube with yogurt. Wait until frozen and enjoy! You can also blend fruits in a smoothie maker and pour the liquids in an ice cube tray with a wooden stick.

Scavenger hunt. Anything that involves frantically running through the house without getting in trouble is exciting for children. Hide some objects and make a list of what you hid. Give the list to your child and allow him or her a certain amount of time to find these objects. If you have a bigger family, you can add points to the objects found and whoever has the most points wins!

Video Games. No, I do not mean place your child in front of a TV for hours. There are many fun and active family games that you can all play on the Wii and PlayStation. My kids and I love Just Dance and Wii Fit. My favorite game on Wii Fit is the Hula Hoop®. I look ridiculous and everyone gets a good laugh!

Even if it’s too hot to play outside, your family can still have fun with these indoor activities. Remember that it’s sometimes safer to keep the kids indoors during hot days.

What are some of your family’s favorite indoor activities? Tell me in the comments below.

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