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.

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.

 

Family Pets : What To Consider

Family Pets

Family Pets can bring a tremendous jolt of joy to a family. Animals are fun, cute, and endlessly entertaining. Most children will be thrilled at the opportunity to share their home with a furry living creature.

 

A pet can provide many benefits for your family, but a pet can also become a burden in many ways. Families that thinking about pet ownership should weigh their option carefully; if you don’t think you can handle the responsibilities, you shouldn’t get a pet. Here are some of the things every family should know about the joys and troubles that a pet can bring into the living room.

Family Pets Bring Energy and Love

The best thing a pet brings to your home is love and happiness. Pretty much any family will benefit from having a cat or dog to share their space with. Kids, especially, will be constantly entertained by your pet; it’s like a living toy that moves and plays on its own. And kids will be fascinated watching a cat stalk around the house and solve puzzles. A pet will energize your family for sure. People who grow up with animals in the home are frequently joyful and fulfilled.  

Family Pets Teach Valuable Lessons

Having a pet can be a great teaching tool for kids. Pets need to be washed, walked, played with, and generally taken care of, even if you aren’t in the mood to do so. This sense of owing something back to another being can instill a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility in children. And of course, pets pass away, which can teach your kids about the inevitability of death. A dog will give your kids work to do, teach them about life’s mysteries, and make them realize that they’re not always the center of the world.  

Family Pets are a Lot of Work

Pets aren’t all fun and games. You will need to walk a dog and clean up after it every day, and sometimes even more often than that. Pets need food, and they need to be entertained. Sometimes they want to play when you’d rather be doing something else, and sometimes they’d prefer to sleep when you’d like to play. You won’t want to take a walk when it’s cold out and you’ve had a long day at work or school, but you’ll have to. Before getting a pet, make sure you and your family have strong communication skills and is going to be willing to give the animal the care it needs.

Family Pets Can Be Expensive

Pets need tons of care, and that care can cost a bundle. Vet visits are really not so different from medical visits, and your health insurance probably doesn’t extend to the family hamster. You have a responsibility to give your animal the best care they can get, so think twice about potential surprise veterinary costs that could pop up after you bring your animal home. Additionally, food and other daily living expenses can added up and leave a big mark in your pocketbook.

Tragedy: Tips for Talking to Your Children

When tragedy strikes, we keep the television and radio on for all the up-to-date coverage. We  become immersed in our smartphones and tablets, browsing through photos and watching videos. While this may be the only way to stay informed and get answers when we feel helpless and hopeless, children may be in the background absorbing the same information. If the information that we absorb is difficult to process, imagine how confusing it can be for a child.

 

As parents and caregivers, sharing information with children is a hard decision. Ideally, we’d love to present the world to our children in a soft and loving light, but the reality makes it feel like a lie. Although it’s important to keep our children informed, as it’s likely they will hear or see snippets of news, how much is too much and how should it be presented?

 

You have the right to deliver news to your child the way you see fit, but if you’re struggling to find the ways to have an age appropriate discussion, here are some tips and ideas:

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk to Your Child

 

Just because your child hasn’t talked about the latest natural disaster or mass shooting, it doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t have questions. Chances are, he or she may be scared, confused, and anxious, yet unable to ask or find the right questions. Many parents are afraid to bring up a sensitive subject like tragedy because they don’t want to bring up negative news just in case the child hasn’t heard anything about the recent tragedies.

 

While he or she may have no idea what’s going on in the world, it’s only a matter of time before he or she sees a graphic picture of violence, hears a snippet from other adults, or even hears a confusing version from a friend. Make the move to have a conversation, it’s always better to hear it from you first.

Answer Questions, Don’t Overload Child with Information

 

When talking with your child about a tragic event, answer any and all questions that come up. Don’t ignore a question, but rather try to answer it with an age appropriate response. For example, if trying to explain a school shooting to your school aged child don’t go in detail about how many children or parents were killed. Instead, you can explain something like, “Someone went into a school and hurt a lot of people. It’s very sad news, but you are safe in your school and at home.”

 

You can also show your child a map or globe and point out the distance of the tragedy from where you live. Avoid letting your child watch the news as much of the information is repeated often and a younger child may have a hard time understanding that it’s a “recap” of information.

Take Your Child’s Anxiety Seriously

 

Even if you’ve told your child that he or she is safe, he or she may still feel anxious or have feelings that are difficult to explain; this is natural. Don’t get upset or frustrated with your child for feeling scared. Tragedy affects everyone differently, how does it make you feel? In efforts to keep life “normal” do just that. Maintaining a routine schedule can help children get past some anxiety. Maybe your son or daughter is terrified to go to school and you let him or her stay home for a day or two. If you continue to allow days off, you’re actually enabling the anxiety and your child may continue to perceive that school is an unsafe environment.
If concerns or issues continue, contact your child’s doctor or a psychologist for further tips on talking with your child.