10 Simple Dos And Don’ts For Parents To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children

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By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC

groupkidswbgEveryone wants happy, successful children, but everyone parents in a way that increases the chance that this will happen. The reasons are simple: parenting great kids is a lot of work. It’s uninterrupted, consistent, hands-on dirty work at times, but if you delegate parent’s work to teachers, youth leaders, or someone other than yourself, then your kids don’t end up getting what they need. What do they need? Well, they don’t need more after school programs, computer classes, or the latest game.

They need discipline, chores, family dinners and engaged adults who are willing to be parents and not friends.

1. Do pay attention to your kids when they are talking and demand they do the same with you. Having your focus on your phone when your child is trying to talk to you tells them their feelings don’t matter. Minimizing or ignoring your kid’s feelings is a big no-no.

2, Do not be your child’s friend. Do be their parent.

3. Give your child chores and follow through with consequences when they don’t do them. Taking something away from your child means you take it away with a chance for them to earn it back.

4. Don’t bend rules or be inconsistent with rules. Whatever was a rule yesterday should remain a rule today, tomorrow and next week.

5. Don’t compare your child to you when you were a child, to their sibling or to a friend they have. This only leads to judgment, resentfulness and anger. Your child will show you with their behavior what your constant comparing has done to them, and you won’t like the way it looks.

6. Don’t ever talk badly about your child’s other parent. This makes children anxious and depressed and they end up with distorted views about what love is.

7. Encourage your child to take calculated risks, and don’t bail them out when they make a mistake. Your child is supposed to make mistakes. This is how they learn. Constantly hovering or making excuses for them turns them into enabled, entitled adults who cannot think for themselves without wanting help.

8. Do let your kids come to you for advice, but let them work out solutions for their own interpersonal and school-related relationships. The one exception is bullying, and this is an area you should get involved with taking your child’s side if they are the victim.

groupkids9. Do become part of your child’s team, but don’t baby them. If they have an assignment due in the morning and they must stay up late, make sure they have a well lit place to study, but don’t make yourself a martyr staying up late with them. Compliment their commitment, but go to bed. In real life, we all have to make sacrifices for our choices. School represents work for a child.

10. Whenever possible, no matter how old your child is, hug them as much as you can and tell them how happy you are they are yours.

Parenting will always be the toughest job any of us can take on, but if you decide to take it on, do it with the commitment and follow through you give your other jobs. You cannot parent part-time, nor can you take a sabbatical when times get tough with your kids. Signing your kid up for one more class can never fix what is broken at home.

– Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.

Dos And Don’ts Of Dating For Single Moms – Part 2

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By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC

Continued from part 1 of this article…..

womanpushup* Don’t panic if your kids treat your date badly the first time they meet him. They may feel threatened, or worried that they are losing you. The more you reassure them beforehand that you will always love them and be there for them, the better they will adjust.

* Make the first meeting with your children casual and easy.

* If your children do become attached to your new partner but you don’t, let him go. Children should never be placed in a situation where their feelings are what keep two people together. If that had worked the first time, you wouldn’t have an ex. Your children will adjust and do better the happier and more fulfilled you are.

With motherhood comes wisdom, but when you are head over heels infatuated with someone, you often don’t rely on the wisdom inherent in motherhood. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want helps you find what you do.

5 Types Single Moms Should Avoid:

* Deadbeat dad. If he doesn’t care for his own kids, he won’t care for yours….ever.

* He texts, but won’t talk face to face. If he doesn’t want to have a conversation with you, he is either having other relationships or he isn’t into communication. Neither is okay for you.

* He has issues and they are Big Issues, and he wants to talk about them…all the time. Women like vulnerability and they like sharing, but if your date shares too much and his issues are too big, he needs a therapist, not a date.

* He’s separated but not divorced yet. You will regret getting into a relationship with someone who hasn’t had time to get out on his own and heal.

* He wants to be the father of your children today. Although this may seem helpful and sweet, there is a reason, which isn’t as sweet underneath. This guy is desperate to connect.

The majority of single moms do get married to wonderful partners. Don’t let your lack of confidence or low self-esteem discourage you from dating or allow you to settle for just anyone to avoid being alone. If you’re a single mom, you are capable of running a home, raising a family, and achieving what you prioritize. Never lower your standards when you can inspire someone to respect and live up to yours.

– Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.

Dos And Don’ts Of Dating For Single Moms – Part 1

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By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC

womanarmupA divorce or end of a relationship leaves both partners feeling conflicted, guilty and upset. Having a new relationship is usually not the first thing most exes think about, especially when children are involved. Making sure the kids are okay–and trying to ease their pain with the changes in the family–is a full-time job. Like all changes, some days are good and others are a challenge.

As time goes by though, you realize you have a life too, and it can be lonely without an adult companion to share your life. Dating is a step that most single moms will consider. When they do, the first couple dates can be scary. Times have changed, and with the times, social media is becoming more and more a part of the dating scene. One of mom’s fears is how will her dating effect her children, and how can she avoid getting into the same type of relationship she left with her children’s dad?

There are no guarantees with dating someone new, but these ten tips can help.

* Let go of guilt. You don’t owe your children a lifetime of abstinence from having a new partner to share your life.

* Don’t rush into a commitment or trust your date with your kids. Your date should not meet your children for at least four months or until you are in a committed relationship.

* Never allow your date access to your children without you being there.

* Don’t lose yourself in the relationship. If you dislike football, then don’t go to football games every weekend just because he likes it. This makes you look too eager, and eager can be misconstrued as desperate or co-dependent.

* Don’t tell your kids all the details in the beginning of your relationship. This is a friend, not their new daddy.

* Put your kids first. Your child’s school performance is more important than a weekend away. If your date doesn’t honor this or deal with it maturely, he may not be right for you.

* Keep your boundaries strong. You’ve come a long way; prioritize what is most important for you. Don’t give into someone because you are afraid of being alone.

– Stay tuned for part 2 of this article shortly…..

– Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.

Do’s And Don’ts For Men’s Weight Loss

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By Michael Wald

DO…..

malepushupExercise

The fastest way to lose weight is by burning high volume calories. Men tend to burn more calories than women, thus adopting an aerobic routine that incorporates total body movement, such as plyometerics, swimming, cross country skiing –at a high intensity, ensures high caloric output. High intensity is defined as a level of exercise where the heart rate is at least 70% of the heart rate maximum. Investing in a heart rate monitor can help reduce wasted time and effort and help ensure that time spent exercising is idealized.

Cut starchy carbs

Grains including wheat provide a source of energy, but take its toll on blood sugar. The higher the dietary intake of starchy foods such as potatoes, white rice and white bread causes insulin resistance, which reduces fat burning and may slow metabolic rate. Reducing dietary refined starches, and simultaneously increasing dietary proteins from skinless chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, almonds and pumpkin seeds, reduces catabolism (breakdown of muscle) and enhances exercise stamina.

Ignite your metabolic rate

Consume real-whole foods and eliminate junk foods like French fries and processed unhealthy snacks. These foods are metabolic blockers that contain genetically modified ingredients and rancid oils that promote weight gain.

Set goals

Be realistic and set weekly goals. Establish an amount of weight you would like to lose per week and shoot for that goal. Keep record of what works and maximize every aspect of it, including diet, exercise and nutritional supplement routines.

DON’T…..

manhealthyStop eating

Fasting or reducing your amount of meals daily decreases metabolic rate. Thyroid hormone, T3 (the most active thyroid hormone) digresses and slows down protein synthesis, decreases glucose breakdown and ultimately slows down weight loss.

Cut out fat

Essential fatty acids such as, omega 3 and omega 6 fats from krill oil and flax seed oil are anti-inflammatory and block the absorption of bad fats.

Only do cardio

Aerobic exercise elevates heart rate and stimulates metabolic rate, however including strength exercise to the routine, such as weight training or resistance work increases lean muscle tissue and absorbs free floating sugar – sugar that may turn to fat.

Maintain a negative frame of mind

It’s essential to visualize your outcome and control your emotional state if you want to maximize weight loss.

– Dr. Michael Wald, aka The Blood Detective, is the director of nutritional services at Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco, located in Westchester New York. He has appeared on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer, Channel 11 PIX, Channel 12 News, CNN, The Food Network and other media outlets. Dr. Wald earned the name Blood Detective for his reputation to find problems that are often missed by other doctors. He earned an MD degree, is a doctor of chiropractic and a certified dietician-nutritionist. He is also double-board certified in nutrition. He has published over a dozen books with three additional titles due for release late 2013 including: Frankenfoods – Genetically Modified Foods: Controversies, Lies & Your Health and Gluten-A-Holic: How to Live Gluten Free and the Blood Detective’s Longevity Secrets. Dr. Wald can be reached at: www.intmedny.com or www.blooddetective.com or by calling: 914-242-8844.

Getting Kids To Eat Right: The Do’s And Don’ts

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By Jared Pennington

kidseatinghealthyProper nutrition is vitally important for children. It keeps them healthy, provides their growing bodies sustenance, and allows their minds to fully engage in their education. A study of children eating habits also suggests that the foods that parents feed them when they are young directly affect the foods they will crave and choose to eat when they are older. There are a few rare cases where children pave their own way to healthy diets, but many more children continue to unconsciously seek out food that their childhood has taught them to crave. Below I will provide some guidelines that will promote a lifetime of healthy eating.

The Do’s

Know how much your child should eat. You know the proper portion size for your child. Children are able to self-regulate their own food intake. Healthy children should be allowed to determine when they are full. Forcing a child to eat more than they can will teach children to ignore their body’s cues. This could lead to years overeating and obesity.

Model good eating habits. Children will feel better about trying new foods and even grow to like a food when they observe their parents eating the food. Healthy or unhealthy, whichever you choose, you are choosing for them as well. Due to the importance of modeling good eating habits, it is paramount that you sit down as a family to eat.

familytvModel good behavior with friends of the child. As the children grow their peers will affect their eating habits a lot more. Eventually they will observe and to like the foods they see their peers enjoying. While you can’t control the eating habits of other children, you could talk to the parent of one of your child’s friends. You can work together to teach healthy eating for both children.

Urge children to try new food multiple times. People tend to dislike foreign foods on the first try. We just can’t get paste the weird flavor, texture, or smell. Children like other adults can learn to like a food. You should urge a child to try a new food at least 10 times before accepting that they do not like the food.

The Don’ts

Bribe children into eating. Let them develop the taste for healthy foods naturally. While bribing a child to eat healthy fruits and vegetables with ice cream or a new videogame might provide the proper nutrients that night, it will not foster healthy eating habits. The problem is that the bribe teaches the children that ice cream is desirable and healthy fruits and vegetables are undesirable. Before the bribe they might have learned to like peas. After the bribe they have had their own belief that peas are bad reinforced. This belief could carry into adulthood.

Use food as a punishment or punish a child because of food. As I said above, you do not want to connect healthy eating with negative emotions or actions. Sending a child to their room because they won’t eat or forcing a child to eat vegetables because they were bad will not teach your child to eat healthy. Instead it will reinforce their belief that the food is bad. It could potentially lead to overeating, binging on unhealthy foods, and childhood and adult obesity.

junkfoodDo not restrict all unhealthy food. Balance is more important than restriction. Restricting food leads to the child preferring the restricted food. Once the child has access to unhealthy food they will overindulge which could lead to obesity. Humans crave fatty, sugary foods. Instead of starving this craving, you can teach children how to determine how much sugary foods they can eat daily and still be healthy.

Whether you like it or not, you are already affecting your children’s relationship to food. It is vitally important to know how your healthy food tactics affect your children. By incorporating these guidelines into your daily life, you and your children will be taking your first step towards a healthy lifestyle.

– Jared Pennington is a health and wellness writer who spent the majority of his youth sitting at a table staring at a plate of peas and dreaming of greasy fast food. He didn’t adopt a healthy lifestyle until a college class discussed the psychology behind eating habits. When he’s not working out or searching for new healthy recipes on the internet, he writes for Just Home Medical, a supplier of home aides such as grab bars to assist the injured and disabled.

Dos And Don’ts For Parents Of Summer Campers

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By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC

sunThe official start of Summer is almost here, and for many parents and kids that means summer camp. Many of us grew up with wonderful memories of summer-filled days at camp. Songs by the campfire, canoe races and a sundry of other events and new friends fill our minds with good memories. Today, sending your child to camp involves an understudy of camping knowledge and skill. There is an every expanding list of possible camps; general camps and ones that can help enhance any weakness your child may need help strengthening. It doesn’t matter if your child is going to a baseball camp, math camp, science camp or a basketball camp, they all have a long list of what kids should and shouldn’t bring. A shorter list is available of dos and don’ts for parents.

Most camps are meant for kids, not for their parents. However, if you are a first timer sending your child away to a summer camp, you will note a heightened sense of anxiety. How do you know if your child will be okay? Are you sure this camp will address their individual needs? What if there is an emergency? All sorts of possible crises run through your mind. There are always things that can happen, but most of them can also happen almost every day of your child’s life –with or without camp. Your heightened sense of anxiety may, however, affect you and turn you into a model parent for what NOT to do when your child is at camp.

Below are a few of the dos and don’ts for being the type of camp parent your child won’t be embarrassed to travel home with.

1. Let go and let your child learn new experiences with trained counselors. Your child has an opportunity to return from camp feeling accomplished and more self-assured. You can help facilitate this by reassuring your child before they leave for camp and reminding them of other times they felt unsure or insecure and did wonderfully. Also, reassure them you will be there if they need you. Parents who cannot let go and allow the camp counselors to teach their children new skills and offer them opportunities stifle their child’s emotional growth.

2. Communicate with them as appropriate. Camps have rules about ways and how much to communicate with the camper. Parents who follow these rules and make sure their child has the appropriate communication are sending their child the message that they trust them and have confidence in them. Parents who try to over communicate, or indulge their child with gifts throughout the week, send their child the message that they are not like the other kids and need more attention. This prevents the child from bonding with the other campers and learning to self soothe when they feel stress or homesick. Camp counselors are instructed on healthy ways to de-stress children. Allow your children the opportunity to learn these and more healthy tips.

3. Having your child away at camp can also be a relationship retreat for you and your spouse. Take advantage of being a couple again and enjoying late dinners or evenings spent out. When your child comes home full of new experiences to talk about, you will both be eager to listen. Your relationship will be stronger and closer. Don’t spend the camp week or month feeling anxious and alone without your child. A camp is an opportunity for both the child and the parents to grow.

My daughters both went to camp and would come home with stories to tell and memories they still smile and talk about. The experience has them humming a tune they learned long ago. It was also a wonderful week for their dad and me. We were able to be a couple again, which restored and helped our marriage. Summer camps are part of a child’s history and one they will pass on to their children. Ensuring your child has a wonderful experience begins with embracing the camp, following the rules and trusting your child’s ability–as well as yours–to let go and thrive.

– Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.

Blending Families: Stepparent Dos and Don’ts

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By by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, MEd, LPC

familysoccerMore than fifty percent of all children are raised in single parent families in the United States. But, many of these later become blended families. This is never easy. In fact, the joining of two distinct families is often a major cause of divorce among second marriages.

Blending families doesn’t have to be a nightmare; it can be an opportunity to show a child that love extends beyond problems between their mom and dad. Stepparents or loving partners that a child may encounter after a divorce, separation or death of a parent, can play an integral part in a child’s life and can provide insight into the depth of a healthy, loving relationship.

If you are a stepparent or entering a relationship where blending with the kids is important, there are many important things to remember.

The following suggestions may guide you to help the children you love establish a bridge of peace in your home:

1. Whoever has the children only occasionally should, as much as possible, follow the daily routines the child has from the home they live in most of the time. Kids draw stability from routines, and when their routine is not followed this may lead to increased anxiety and acting out.

2. Never force your stepchild or your partner’s child to bond with you. Bonding takes a long time, and it requires time, not money or gifts. You cannot buy a child’s love.

3. Never talk badly about your child’s biological parent or the stepparent’s ex.

familytv4. Don’t try to discipline your stepchild; this is the biological parent’s job. It is wise to talk to the child’s parent in privacy and come up with a plan together while the child is with you that will work for both of you. As a family, you should talk directly with your child the next day.

5. When you talk with your stepchild, be sure to listen to them, and encourage open, honest communication. Lecturing never works with biological or stepchildren.

6. Gift giving around holidays or birthdays should be discussed prior to the child joining your family. This is not a time to “win the child over.” This is a time to show grace and love, and demonstrate that small things matter most. Trying to outdo the other parent usually backfires and hurts the child.

In lots of little ways, you can create special memories that will last forever with any child.

In lots of little ways, you can create special memories that will last forever with any child. If you are a stepparent, your stepchild will love you most if they feel that you understand and accept where they came from. You establish this by listening, rather than trying to change them. Help bridge the gap of emotion they may feel, but be unable to express.

All children need is to feel loved unconditionally. That can happen in many different family arrangements.

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever.