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.

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”.

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.

 

Books for New Parents

Trusting in your parental instincts is the best thing that you can do when it comes to your child. However, it never hurts to learn from other people’s experience. Especially when it can save you from learning the hard way. When you become a parent for the first time, reading complicated literature can be quite daunting. Finding the time to read can be even more complicated. To help reduce the time spent searching for proper information here is a list of the 5 best books for any new parent.

Baby Love: This has been regarded as the number one baby book in Australia. This book gives you the insight into the practical approaches that you need to take when you are caring for your little one during the initial years of his or her life. These are the days when you may be extremely confused. Baby Love will break down all the most important details of this phase. The author of the book, Robin Barker, is a registered nurse, midwife and an early childhood specialist.

The Gift of Sleep: The Title of the book will instantly ring true with any new parent and can easily lead to an impulse purchase. The unique value proposition for this book is based around tips and tricks that can help turn your night owl baby into a normal evening sleeper within 3 days. This book is by Elizabeth Sloane who is also known as the baby whisperer of Australia. It is absolutely a must read.

The Five Love languages of Children: This book talks about the parent’s relationship with their child. It primarily focuses on how they adapt to words and actions and how these can impact their development. The book gets into granular detail on how micro expressions are interpreted and gives recommendations on how you should behave with your child during each stage of their development.

Breast, Bottle, Bowl: The Best Fed Baby Book: This book has been recommended by the Australian Ministry of Health and can help new mothers develop proper nutritional awareness. The primary focus is on helping the new mother understand the effect of food on child development. It is a great educational resource and can help parents learn how to ensure proper nutrient intake for their child.

What to Expect When You Are Expecting: This is a famous pregnancy book that has received rave reviews for years. There are multiple reasons why this has been a worldwide bestseller for years and has been referred to as the pregnancy bible. It uses an easy step by step method that covers every stage of the pregnancy cycle. It even has sections that are dedicated to the father of the child. This book comes highly recommended by many health care professionals and should be in every mother’s library.

Is there a book that you think should have made our top 5 list? Have you read one of your top 5 books? Please leave us a comment below.

A Season of Gratitude: Passing it On to Your Child

During the holidays, we are often reminded that it is the “Season of Gratitude”, a time when we reflect on what we have in our daily lives and be thankful for what surrounds us. Although gratitude should be and is practiced daily by people across the globe, some of us need reminders to take a break and really focus on what matters. Even more importantly, children should learn about gratitude; the earlier the better. As a role model, whether you are a parent, a relative, a caregiver, or an educator, it’s up to you to lead the way and teach a child about the importance of gratitude.

Gratitude is More than “Thanks”

 

Many parents start to encourage their young children to say “thanks” even before they become fully conversational. While saying thank you is important, sometimes it becomes too monotonous, a little mimicky, and even said without any meaning behind it. Parents want to have a polite child. Not only is it important to be a conscientious member of society, but it makes parents look a little better. Let’s face it, children are often a reflection of their parents and no one wants to be accused of having a rude child. If your child resists a simple “thank you”, it may not mean that he or she is rude, but it is important to teach gratitude and how to show it to others. Basically, “thank you” is not going to cut it in this world. If you want to have a grateful child, you’ll have to go a bit deeper.

Gratitude Costs Nothing

 

Teaching your child gratitude costs nothing, in fact, it may actually save you money in the long run. A grateful child is less likely to get everything that he or she wants and may actually start asking for less. Does this mean that you should say “no” to everything that your child wants? Of course not, but the more you say “not this time” may lead to less whining and hearing less of “life’s not fair”. It’s a hard thing to do, saying no, particularly if you grew up with little and what to provide more for your child. However, simply filling their lives with material items will not automatically create a grateful child. Gratitude is made for everyone and you don’t have to be affluent, academically minded, a believer of organized religion, or have lived a life of hardships to teach and practice the art of thanks. So, there’s really no excuses to not be thankful.

Going Beyond Material Rewards

 

When talking with your child about gratitude, remember that there is no right or wrong answer. You can guide him or her through the process of identifying what he or she is grateful for, but you shouldn’t decide for him. Let’s say a five-year old boy is thankful for his super hero toys, his bicycle, and chocolate ice cream. These items are essentially materialistic, but discuss how these things help him be a better person. For instance, you can discuss how super heroes are “good guys” that do nice things for others, a bicycle is a good way to be healthy and many people are thankful for good health, and the chocolate ice cream is a treat that many people do not have the chance to eat.

 

As they become older and gratitude discussions become more frequent, children begin to gain a better understanding on their sense of purpose and why helping others is important, as well as showing and practicing gratitude. Whether a child writes a thank you note to his or her grandparent or simply thinks of someone other than him or herself, he or she is slowly becoming a grateful individual.  Be patient and don’t forget to model gratitude year round.