5 Ways Practicing Yoga Can Help Your Child

Practicing yoga is a fantastic way for anyone to find balance emotionally, mentally and physically. If it can do these things for anyone, think of how beneficial it can be in the life of your kids. Practicing yoga can be particularly helpful for kids who have lots of extra energy or intense emotional fluctuations.

Yoga can be used in the rehabilitation process, as a form of therapy or simply to help a person relax. Consider these 5 ways that practicing yoga can be beneficial to your child.

It’s a Great Way for Them to Exert Extra Energy

Can your kids be on the wild side at times? Maybe they have a lot of extra energy that they just can’t seem to get out during the school day. It’s important that kids get the physical activity that their bodies need, and practicing yoga can be an awesome way for them to achieve that.

Enhances Strength, Flexibility and Balance

One of the great things about yoga is that even if your child is already pretty active, it can help them learn to use their muscles in new ways. The constant focus on balance helps create strength in muscles that your kids may not usually use, all the while increasing their flexibility as well.

The balance and coordination found through yoga can also help improve their skills with other sports as well. The action of falling then calmly getting up and trying again can be useful in more than one area of life.

Helps Develop Focus and Concentration

Practicing yoga is beneficial for improving concentration and mental focus. In many situations, kids diagnosed with ADD and ADHD benefit greatly from daily yoga. It allows them to exert pent up energy while also practicing quieting their mind.

It’s a Fantastic Calming Technique and Stress Reliever

Kids who experience different levels of anxiety can often times benefit from practicing yoga. The physical postures allow those practicing to focus on the body as opposed to the chatter of the mind. The breathing techniques are also incredible methods for overall calming and stress relief.

Some schools are even beginning to offer after-school yoga programs that help kids with aggressive tendencies or behaviors. This can also lead to a better understanding of what mindfulness and compassion really mean.

Boosts Confidence and Self-Esteem

Perseverance and patience are among some of the incredible lessons practicing yoga can teach. As your kids begin to reach certain goals in their yoga practice, their confidence and self-esteem are boosted.

 

Winter Hibernation: How to Help Your Child Stay Active in the Cold Weather

Warm weather is perfect for keeping your kids outside and staying active, but what happens when winter comes? The days are getting shorter and it’s starting to get much colder outside. When the winter season approaches, it’s common that kids (and maybe you, too) start to go into hibernation mode. While curling up on the couch with a good book or movie is ideal at times, it’s also important to keep your kids getting fresh air and physical activity. What are some ways you can help your child stay active this winter?

  1. Make the Most of It When It Snows

It might be cold, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! Whether you live in a place that usually gets feet of snow or somewhere that makes a big deal out of 2 inches, take advantage of it! Get the entire family bundled up nice and tight and head out on an adventure through the yard or neighborhood. Have snowball fights, build igloos and go sledding. There is so much you can do in the snow to stay active. Just make sure everyone is wearing enough layers.

  1. Go Camping Indoors

One thing that’s great about cold weather is that since your child will likely be spending more time in the house, more quality time can be spent as a family. Being stuck indoors is a great time to pretend you’re outdoors. Try moving furniture aside and pitching a tent. Put the kids’ sleeping bags inside and let them go all out with camping activities. This is a great opportunity for them to use their imaginations.

  1. Play Active Video Games

Video games don’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. There can be really great video games that also involve physical activity and brain exercises. Check out games on the Wii for options that can engage your whole body.

  1. Cut to the Chase

When it’s too cold to go outside, it might be time to allow a little running in the house. Hide and seek or games of chase can be really fun for your kids, especially when you pretend to be the monster. When they’re a bit older, turning it into a game of tag can be exciting.

  1. Jump Around

Now is a better time than ever to go wild with your kids! Throw on some fun music and get the whole family’s blood pumping. Dancing is a great way to stay active without purposely “exercising,” and it’s always fun to get silly every once in awhile. If your kids are small enough, they’ll most likely love being twirled around, dipped and tossed in the air.

Keep an open mind when it comes to indoor activities. Let your creativity run wild, and let your kids help come up with awesome ideas for staying active.

How To Cultivate Healthy Communication And Structure In The Age of Technology

The saying “Home is where the heart is” is a very true statement. Our home is what we make of it. It should be a place of safety and nurture for our families. Sometimes busy schedules and adult responsibilities can get in the way of cultivating a healthy and consistent environment at home. You may not always have the time to have family dinners together. Yet providing a positive environment for your children is essential to their personal growth and development. Home life sets the tone for their lives. That’s big responsibility!

Be present and purposeful

The truth is that there’s no rule book for parenting. Yet if you want to learn how to be good at something, then you learn from someone who’s already successful. Don’t be afraid to read books, articles and even seek out counseling that will help you provide a productive homelife. Make sure that you make time for your kids and make communication a priority. Be an active participant in your child’s life. What you teach and instill in their lives will stay with them forever.

Encourage Manners At Home

Teaching our children respect is one of the most important aspects of parenting. You have the wonderful opportunity to instill in your children morals and values that will help guide them for the rest of their lives. Your children are a reflection of what they learn at home, and as a parent, you set the tone and standard for them. There are awesome ways that you can help your children cultivate empathy and tolerance in and out of the house. It all begins with you!

As a parent, you model the behavior that you want in your home. Children need consistency and structure. Have family dinners together. Talk about your day and keep communication open. If you and your spouse raise your voices, you are showing your children that yelling is acceptable behavior. Children are like sponges. They take in everything that you do and say, so be conscious of how you communicate in front of them. Show your children the value of listening and communicating in positive ways. Model empathy and understanding.

Be Intentional

Being a parent is a daily job and responsibility. You would never say, “I fed my kids last week,” or “I already cooked yesterday.” Create structure in your life as much as possible. Have each member carry out a job and work as a team. Caring for your family is an everyday task. Be intentional. Create a to-do list if you must to keep track of your daily responsibilities. Structure adds security to your children.

Turn Off The Distractions

As much entertainment that the television offers us, watching too much can invade our time, distract us, and even steal quality time from us. Ever been to a restaurant and watched each family member on their cellphone or tablet not having conversations. Give technology a timeout every now and then. You can’t ever get a day back once it’s gone. If you enjoy watching movies together as a family, try to designate one day of the week, preferably the weekend for television and movie-watching. Give your children specific times to play on the tablet or to play their favorite games. Maintain healthy boundaries and structure.

Have a plan for the weekend and make the most of family time together. Create an instagram account and make happy memories as a family! Enjoy your loved ones!

ADHD, Medication or Mediation

A diagnosis of ADD or ADHD by a medical professional, usually results in a child or adolescent getting a hefty dose of medication.

According to the United Mission Coalition for Children and Family, or UMUCCF, that could be the worst thing to happen.

What is ADD/ADHD

The terms ADD and ADHD refer to Attention Deficit Disorder, or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – both defined as brain disorders marked by “an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development”.

This pattern, defined by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), describes a fairly recognizable set of sometimes escalating behaviors which may alternate between lack of attention, or seeming indifference, and periods of manic activity during which victims are unable to control their impulses.

How Common Is It?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, 5 percent of America’s children have ADHD. This figure can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, which defines and calibrates every mental aberration from toxoplasmosis/schizophrenia to Alzheimer’s.

Other studies put the rate even higher, and indicate that it might also be increasing. For example, a 1997-2006 study from the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, put the rate at 3 percent, as opposed to the above 5 percent, measured from 2003 to 2011.

The rate also varies widely from state to state, suggesting an underlying diagnostic/reporting or environmental impetus. For example, the all-time rate for ADHD diagnosis during 2011-2012 was more than 13 percent in a swath from the Gulf States to North and South Virginia, and including Iowa.

The same states recur on a map of recently diagnosed cases of ADHD, reinforcing the idea that the cause may be environmental, but data is lacking for a definitive conclusion.

Is It ADHD or Just Immaturity

Kids will be kids. Since time immemorial, these youngest members of the human species have shared several traits, usually outgrown by the age of 25 or perhaps 30.

These include an inability to sit still when bored –which may persist into old age; a tendency to forget coats, books, appointments and chores (another potential post-65 habit); and an inability to resist the temptation to pet someone else’s dog (or cat, or rabbit, or lizard, or even tarantula). This can also persist past 65, but none of these behaviors is an indication of a brain disorder.

When children consistently forget, can’t focus on the task at hand, or fidget even during interesting moments in life, the problem may be ADHD.

Mediation or Medication

Doctors are busy people, and a fidgety 7-year-old may prompt a hasty (and sometimes inaccurate) diagnosis of attention deficit.

The next step, in the minds of many pharmaceutically-focused doctors, is to prescribe a pill. This runs contrary to American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines, which suggest behavior therapy first. But there is a certain intuitive logic in prescribing a pill for a pill, and the medications currently available work well.

More relevant, busy parents may not always have the option of delivering their child for behavioral therapy weekly, or participating in some portion of that therapy to reinforce behavior-response recommendations.

Finally, therapy is expensive – certainly more expensive than even the priciest pharmaceutical. Also, therapists may vary in their ability to change ADHD behaviors for the better.

Medications may also vary in their effectiveness, of course, but it’s easier to change a prescription than it is a therapist, and this is no doubt one of the best reasons why behavioral therapy runs a distant second to chemically mediated behavioral modification.

The Best ADHD Medications

One of the most reputable online medical resources recommends starting youngsters on a regimen of lowdose of stimulants like Concerta, Metadate, or Ritalin.

Here again, a stimulant may seem counter-intuitive, but in fact stimulants act like “brakes” in the ADHD brain. Parents who allow their children to sip coffee have often noticed this unexpected effect.

For youngsters who don’t react well to stimulants, doctors may prescribe such “second generation” behavioral modification drugs as Atomoxetine (a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, or SNRI), Kapvay, or Intuniv, both alpha-2A-adrenoceptor agonists.

Finally, antidepressants may help children who have ADHD and symptoms like anxiety or insomnia, though caution is urged.

How To Help Your Child Deal With Bullying At School

Being a parent comes with many adventures and responsibilities. Raising children is the toughest job in the world. You as a parent know it well. Aside from sickness, our kids can experience challenges along the way. A health issue, a broken bone, and physical or emotional disabilities.It is important that you carve time out of your schedule for open dialogue with your children. Creating an environment of safety and respect is important for the development of your children. Helping them deal with challenges like bullying at school in a healthy manner is important.

You can’t always control what happens outside your home, and for parents that can be difficult, especially when your child is being bullied. What do you do then if your child is being bullied at school? Where do you turn? Let’s explore some healthy ways to approach the situation.

Some practical and healthy ways to cope

Reach out for help. If your child is dealing with a bully at school, it is imperative that you reach out to their teacher or another authority figure at school to have them know the situation. Your child needs to know that they are safe and taken care of. You may want to set up a meeting with the family of the bully to speak openly about the situation and seek problem-solving methods.

Family counseling. If your child is experiencing a bullying situation at school, they need the space to talk about their feelings. Being picked on can be harmful to young children. Some have hurt themselves, taken other’s lives, or their own because of the trauma of incessant bullying. Having someone abuse them verbally and even physically can be traumatic. Allow your child to express himself in his own way and time. Children need to know that they are heard and that their feelings are valued and matter.

Invite healthy and open dialogue Never underestimate the importance of conversation. Your children aren’t born knowing what they should or shouldn’t do during conflict, it’s your job as a parent to create a safe environment that leaves room for healthy dialogue. If your child is the bully at school, help them understand the importance of respect every day. Children learn by example so set a good one. Speak to them at their level and explain the consequences of negative behavior.

Find a mentor. Kids need positive role models that they can look up to. They sometimes find it easier to open up with a stranger than their parents. You may want to consider signing your child up for music lessons or even karate. Children need space and activities to explore, learn the importance of discipline, and extracurricular activities open the doorway to socialization. It’s also a confidence booster!

Take it seriously

Bullying is no laughing matter, and children are scarred when told hurtful words. Help build their self-esteem by validating them in positive ways at home. You may even want to find a peer group and support system that assists bullied children and parents. The worst thing to ever do is ignore the situation or dismiss it as something small. Bullying can be detrimental to a child’s self-esteem and sense of safety. Be sensitive to your children’s emotional responses and needs. Become involved!

Benefits of Summer Sports

summer sports

Now that summer break is officially underway, you may already hear the complaints from your children, saying, “We’re bored!” or you’ve started to struggle with a chore chart or have become tired of arguing with your child about how much screen time he or she is having. Summer can be a wonderful change of pace from a busy schedule, it can be a difficult and often times frustrating season. If your child is not already enrolled in a summer sport, here are a few reasons you may want to encourage him or her to participate in a sport:

Exercise

During the school year, your child may be active during the day thanks to physical education classes and time on the playground, however, when summer rolls around it may be more difficult to keep the momentum going when it comes to getting exercise. During the first few weeks of summer, it may be easy to get your kid to the local pool or to take a bike ride, but after awhile he or she may grow bored. If you child is enrolled in a summer sport that he or she enjoys, he or she will get exercise on a regular basis and may be more eager to do more activities outside of practice and games.

Creating a Routine

Although you may want to slow things down in the summer and be a little more spontaneous, creating some kind of a routine is good and will lessen the likelihood of hearing, “What should I do now?” Not only will it provide some structure for your child, but it will make the transition back to the school year much easier.

Socialization and Healthy Competition

Getting involved in any activity provides the perfect opportunity for your child to socialize with peers and extend his or her social circle. During summer break, many children end of spending their free time with the same kids, creating potential boredom and drama, but interacting with new kids is always good for developing and improving social skills.

In addition to socializing, becoming involved in a sport can allow your child to experience healthy competition. Competition, in general, has a bad reputation and many parents are hesitant to place their child in a competitive situation, but when done right it can be beneficial. When a child is engaged in healthy competition, he or she learns how to make a decision quickly, have self-control, maturity and discipline. Additionally, he or she will learn his or her limits, set goals, learn how to handle loss and how to work with others (even during conflict).

A Few Tips for Parents

While there are many benefits to participating in a summer sport, don’t pressure or force your child to join a sport he or she has no interest in. As a parent, it’s important to be involved and present at your child’s sporting event (you can help coach, volunteer, etc.), but be a good role model and be a “good sport”. Far too many parents get too into the game, exhibit a poor attitude, and forget that “it’s just a game”.

Help Your Kids Have a Fun and Meaningful Summer

fun summer for kids

Summer vacation can be a blessing and a curse for many parents. Although there’s plenty of time to spend time with your children, you may also get tired of hearing your kids say, “I’m bored”. Although you may feel like you have a lot of time to plan activities for your child during his or her summer break, three months flies by much quicker than you think. Here are some tips to help your child have a fun, meaningful, and memorable summer:

Create a Routine

During the school year, your children have a daily routine. Why not stick to one in the summertime? Does that mean that your kids should go to bed at the same time every night? Not necessarily, but you should make sure that your children get the recommended amount of sleep each night (school aged children between the ages of 6 to 13 years old need 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night). Not only is a good night’s sleep important for their mood and health, but sticking to a sleep schedule will make your transition to the school year much easier.

Other ways to stick to a routine is by creating a “chore chart” or something that makes your child an active participant in the household. Summer vacation doesn’t need to mean that your child takes a break from his or her responsibilities from caring for the family pet to cleaning his or her room to helping with dinner preparation or dishes.

Limit Screen Time

Most parents will resort to using “screen time” (tv, video games, computer) as bargaining tool at some point. If the day is chaotic, the kids are getting on your nerves, and you just need some quiet time, you may be tempted to offer screen time to create a little peace and quiet. As a parent, the choice is yours, there’s no right or wrong answer. However, be careful how much screen time you offer to your child. On average, children spend about seven hours a day on entertainment devices (phones, tvs, computers, and video games). Consider limiting screen time to a couple hours a day and encourage your child to do other things such as read, crafts, or spend time outdoors.

Encourage and Create Quality Time

Once you have created schedules and set boundaries, it’s time to encourage and create some quality time with your children. Even if you are unable to take time off from your regular work schedule, you can still have quality time with your kids and help them have a meaningful summer. Here are some ideas:

  • Enjoy the outdoors together. Whether you go on a family bike ride, plant a garden, or set up a tent in the backyard, enjoy the summer weather and remember it goes by quickly.
  • Encourage your kids to do something they’ve never done. Attending a camp or a class is a great way for your kids to learn new skills and create new friendships.
  • Set aside a little time every day to spend time with your kids and celebrate the “kid” in you.
  • Don’t forget to have fun and reduce your stress. Although a routine is important, don’t forget to have a little fun and let your kids be kids.

Your Child’s Schedule

schedule for kids

When Lucy was 10 years old she loved swimming, dancing, and being a Girl Scout. Upon her daughter’s request, Lucy’s mother signed her up for the swim team, ballet, church youth group, and Girl Scouts. Within weeks, Lucy’s parents discussed how busy their lives were becoming due to Lucy’s schedule, but Lucy insisted that she wanted to keep participating in every extracurricular activity.

Three mornings a week, before school started, Lucy had swim practice. One evening a week she had youth group and Girl Scouts and two evenings a week she attended ballet classes. Most evenings, Lucy didn’t get home until 7 pm and she often did homework and ate dinner in the car. On the weekends, Lucy often had swim meets or activities at church. After six months of a full schedule, Lucy began to complain that she felt tired and she started to worry about things she never worried about before. Additionally, she started to complain that her stomach hurt in the mornings and she didn’t want to be on the swim team anymore. After visiting her pediatrician, Lucy’s parents decided that Lucy needed to pick at least one activity to give up. After she chose to stop swimming and only do ballet one night a week, she returned to her “old self”.

Is Your Child’s Schedule Too Full?

As a parent there’s lots of pressure to make sure that your child is involved in extracurricular activities. Not only will his or her participation in sports, art, and volunteering look good on a college application, but extra curricular activities are supposed to help children stay active, learn to be social, and stay away from trouble or boredom.

However a good question to ask is, can there be too much of a seemingly good thing? Before you answer that, think about your child’s extracurricular activities. Is he or she signed up for various activities because he or she wants to or because you want him or her to have a busy and “enriching” schedule? If your child is busy because of you, you may want to reexamine the purpose or intentions and see how your child really feels.

If your child has a busy schedule full of after school activities, there’s a good chance that he or she could end up feeling burned out. Here are some signs that your child may be too busy:

Feeling Tired, Anxious, or Unhappy

If your child is physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy, he or she should not be tired, anxious, or unhappy on a regular basis. While every kid has a bad day every now and again or he or she complains of being tired a few times a month, it’s important to monitor these complaints or signs to see if they become more frequent and if they are, it’s time to consider some changes in your child’s schedule.

No Schedule for Free Time

If you begin to notice that your child rarely has time to do absolutely nothing, then it’s time to rearrange his or her schedule. Keep in mind, it’s okay for kids to be kids and do fun things without a goal or a purpose. Has he or she stopped having playdates? Does he or she have no time to care for the family pet or keep up on household chores or homework? Are his or her grades dropping or does he or she show general disinterest in things that he or she used to love? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to free up your child’s schedule and let him or her enjoy childhood a little bit more.

Two’s Company: Preparing Your Preschooler For A Baby Brother Or Sister

baby sister

When you have your first baby, you’re completely wrapped up in protecting and caring for them. All eyes are on them – 100% focus on making sure they have exactly what they need at all times. The second time around can be a little bit different. You still have this new, tiny child to care for, and you’re so excited for everything that’s in store with this new chapter of your life. But it might have a slightly different feeling than that to your firstborn.

Your now preschooler has spent almost five years getting all of the attention – having everything revolve around them. This definitely doesn’t mean your preschooler is spoiled – it just means things are about to change for them, when they’ve never known any different. So what can you do to prepare them for this next step? How can you make sure both children’s needs are being met?

Talk To Your Older Child

First and foremost, talk to your child before they hear other family members discussing the news in front of them. You might want to show your firstborn your growing stomach to help explain what’s happening.

This is also a great time to go ahead and provide them with a role in the process. Ask them to help you decorate the nursery in preparation for the baby. Explain to your child that the baby will be eating, sleeping and crying, and that they won’t be able to play right away.

Answer Questions

Get ready to answer any questions your child might throw your way. They might ask where the baby comes from – don’t be afraid to explain, but keep the conversation at a level they can understand. Explain when the baby will finally come by using a frame of a reference they’ll be familiar with, like in the summer when it’s hot out or near Christmastime or another holiday they recognize.

Bring them to doctor’s appointments, let them feel your belly when the baby kicks, read books to them about childbirth and being a big brother or sister.

Your child will also be aware of any changes you may be going through physically, emotionally and energetically. Sometimes a child can start to resent the baby for “making you” feel this way, so take care of yourself. It’s much more difficult to properly care for others when you’re not feeling great yourself!

Stick To Their Routine

Try to stick with their usual routine as much as possible, and try to make few drastic changes. If they’ll be moving into a new room, try to do that as quickly as possible so they have lots of time to get used to it before the new baby comes.

Help them understand the things that won’t change after the baby is born – they’ll still go to school, they’ll still have the same toys, and you’ll still read their favorite books with them.

Encourage Involvement

This is crucial. Most of the issues will arise in the fact that your firstborn might feel ignored or as though they aren’t receiving as much attention as they once were. Let them be involved in the preparation of the baby as much as possible; and after the baby is born, keep them involved.

Make sure they know how important their role is as a big sibling, and remind them of the benefits of being the older child, like staying up later, reading books and playing fun games. Though there may be a period of adjustment, ultimately as long as you explain to your child how important their role is and reassure them of how much you love them, they’ll get excited to be an older brother or sister.

 

Family Pets & Teaching Children About Responsibility

family pet

If you don’t already have a family pet, your child has most likely expressed interest in having one. While an animal companion can be a perfect addition to any family, you must make sure the timing is right. Additionally, many parents allow a child to select a pet, with hopes of teaching responsibility, yet it’s still important to add a pet to your home only if you have the time and resources.

When is it the Right Time to Introduce a Pet?

 

Although the look on your child’s face, when he or she sees a cat or dog, may be priceless, you shouldn’t base a major family decision on “wants” alone. If you are a busy family, like many families, and aren’t home for the majority of the day, you should be careful about the type of animal you choose. While many families have a desire for dogs and cats, they need more attention throughout the day than animals like goldfish or hamsters.

 

While it’s not fair to call any animal a “starter” pet, there are some animals that may be easier to care for and are more suitable for younger children. Although some experts argue that no child, under the age of five, should be responsible for a pet, others agree that small animals like goldfish are perfect animal companions to start teaching responsibility.

 

If you already have dogs or cats in your home, it’s never too early to teach your child how to care for an animal. If you have younger children, never leave your child unattended with your beloved car or dog as a biting incident may occur. Younger children may not always know what’s appropriate or respectful behavior and it’s natural, for even the nicest of pets, to react negatively to pulling of fur or tails.

What Pets Can Teach Your Child

 

Whether your family has an aquarium full of fish, a parakeet, a guinea pig or a dog, your child can learn how to be respectful and responsible. By allowing your child to be part of the daily routine of feeding, watering, exercising, and cleaning up after the pet, he or she will understand that caring for a pet is more work than just having some fun when he or she wants.

 

In addition to teaching about being responsible for “life essentials” like food, family pets may also teach your child:

 

  • Compassion: Children of all ages should learn about and be reminded of compassion. Caring for a family pet allows children to look beyond themselves and focusing on the needs and well-being of the pet.
  • Self-Esteem: When children have responsibilities, their self-esteem can blossom. Knowing that they are excelling at feeding the cat, walking the dog, or cleaning out the gerbil’s cage, can encourage them to continue to take pride in what they do.

 

  • Get Active: Living and caring for an animal is a perfect way to get active. Encourage children to spend more time with the family pet than watching tv or engaging in “screen time”. Whether they’re walking the dog around the block or tossing a cat toy around the living room, your child is getting active.

 

 

  • Learning About Loss: Anyone who has ever had a pet knows how difficult it is to lose a beloved animal. While it’s never easy to see your child in pain, but he or she will also learn how to remember the good memories and how to cope with a significant loss.

 

 

Choose a family pet that everyone can enjoy and engage in responsibility. If your child really wants a snake, but you are terrified, wait until you know they are old enough to take for all responsibilities.