Strategies Parents Can Use To Keep Their Children’s Mouths Healthy

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By Dr. Kenyon Glor

brushteethAs a parent, you can help your child improve their chance at having a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime. Here’s how:

Early Dental Check-ups

Pediatric medical and dental experts recommend that all children have their first dental check-up by their first birthday. Early visits help us to pinpoint concerns that can be prevented from evolving into more serious problems later on. It also helps your child become more familiar with the dental office – so that his or her first visit isn’t due to an uncomfortable emergency.

Stick to Tap Water

“Healthy” beverages like fruit juices and sports drinks still contain hidden acids and sugars – which can create extensive amounts of tooth decay. Give your child fluoridated tap water to drink. Tap water rinses the teeth and provides essential minerals that help support healthy enamel. You might be surprised to learn that most bottled waters have a lower pH and no fluoride, so save a few cents and bottle your own!

Wait Until Your Child Can Tie His or Her Own Shoes

Help your child brush and floss their teeth twice a day. Once your child has the dexterity that he or she needs to tie their own shoes, then you can start allowing them to brush and floss on their own. Just be sure to check their teeth before bedtime, to make sure everything is clean! Brush for at least two minutes each time, taking care to clean along the gumlines. Don’t skip the flossing, as even the best brushing possible can’t clean between the teeth.

Look Into Xylitol

kidsSeveral chewing gums contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can actually help your child’s teeth repel plaque buildup. Studies show that xylitol use can improve oral health and reduce the risk of tooth decay. Be sure to read the label, as not all “sugar free” gums contain this key ingredient.

If you follow these simple strategies, your children will maintain healthy teeth and gums as well as a bright smile!

Dr. Glor is a dentist in Wellington, Ohio and has been practicing there for 27 years. He is passionate about dentistry and dedicated to providing you with unsurpassed skills and a dental experience that allows you to enjoy a beautiful, healthy smile for a lifetime.

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.

Seven Responsibilities Parents Have Today (That Our Parents Didn’t)

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By Katherine Smith

familywalk2Parenting doesn’t just seem harder these days; it is harder. If you’re a new parent now, chances are you grew up in the 1980s, when “latchkey kid” was still a common term and nobody had yet heard of “cyberbullying.” Now, us parents have a whole host of new responsibilities that our own parents never had to contemplate!

Do any of these sound familiar?

Here are seven big responsibilities we have to our kids, that our own parents never had to think about.

1. Paying for college. This is the big one, right? Our parents didn’t have to take out student loans, we’re still paying off our own loans, and we’re going to make sure our kids have as few loans as possible. That means, for some of us, starting 529 plans before our kids are even born.

2. Preschool and elementary school admissions You know what else we do before our kids are even born? Start putting them on waiting lists for preschools. Our parents just sent us to the preschool down the block; we have to figure out which neighborhood public, private, or charter school is best for our families, and how to negotiate the admissions process to make sure our children get one of the limited slots.

3. Playdates. The word “playdate” was first coined in 1984, but it wasn’t until the next decade or so that it became the predominant form of entertaining young children. Now it is our responsibility as parents to organize, chauffeur, and entertain our kids during one-on-one “playdates” with other families — a far cry from sending a group of kids out into the backyard and telling them not to come in until dinner.

familywalk24. Making sure our kids aren’t left alone — ever. In the last 20 years, kids who walked to school or met friends at the local park were practicing independence. Now, if you let your kids play in the park alone, you might get a police officer knocking on your door. I support “free range” kids, but my local ordinances make it very hard for me to give them the independence I think they need. It makes sense that we’re no longer hanging keys around kids’ necks and teaching them to microwave their own after-school snacks, but I don’t like that I’m not allowed to let my two kids walk to school by themselves. Of course, I could have it worse off — some schools don’t even allow children to walk from the school building to their parent’s car un-escorted!

5. Using the internet. Here’s a challenge: Teaching kids how to behave on social media without bullying each other or posting information they may later regret. Teaching kids how to use the internet responsibly, without falling prey to scammers or malware pushers. Luckily, parents get a bit of help in this area. For their Titanium product, Trend Micro internet security notes that multiple device protection is the best way to detect phishing threats.

6. Protecting the environment. The first Earth Day was in 1970, right before a lot of us new parents were born. I don’t remember my parents ever talking to me about recycling or composting. Now, recycling is the law in many states, and it is our job as parents to prepare our children to treat the earth as a non-renewable resource.

7. Preparing for our own retirement. Many of us, including my family, are part of the “sandwich generation.” Now, I’m thinking about my own kids. As life expectancies grow, I want to make sure I’m not a burden on my children after I retire, and I want to set aside enough money for my own medical care in old age.

What about you? What responsibilities do you have to your children, that your own parents did not have?

Teens And Their Parents Money

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By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC

teens‘Tis the Holiday Season, the beginning of the New Year and a new beginning for some is right around the corner. Budget discussions in Congress, as well as in the common home, seems to be the topic most likely to stimulate some thought as people everywhere gather during this festive season and look forward to what financially might be ahead for them next year.

Although everyone is concerned with the national debt and their own finances, in a recent poll, teens reported feeling very optimistic about theirs. It appears the reason they are so happy-go-lucky about their finances is because they are expecting mom and dad to take care of them until they are twenty-seven years old. What a change this is compared to twenty years ago when most kids couldn’t wait to leave home and get out from under mom and dad’s watchful eye.

The president of Junior Achievement USA, in a recent statement, said that teens expect to live with their parents longer because many of them are unsure about their ability to budget or use credit cards. Interesting too was the finding that 33% of the teens surveyed in the Junior Achievement USA said they do not use a budget, and even worse, 42% of that group were not interested in learning to budget. Although the majority of the kids polled thought students were borrowing too much to pay for college, only 9% of them were currently saving for college. One third of them hadn’t even talked to their parents about higher education.

schoolbusSchools do not have time to teach kids about saving money, budgeting, or opening a savings account or any of the other issues related to finances. This has to come from parents because parents are still the number one influence on how their children save money, budget and pay for expenses. College costs and debt has reached an astronomically high number, and the average kids finish college now with at least a $20,000 debt. No age is too young to begin teaching your child the importance of money and saving. It all begins with a piggy bank, and expands with savings accounts, bonds and other types of investments.

Below are some suggestions of ways to help your child understand the value of a dollar, so they will be more realistic about their future and their money instead of depending on yours.

1. Begin when they are a baby. Saving money for college or higher education should begin with the first day of your child’s life.

2. Kids learn best when chores are rewarded with money, and teaching them that some of that money should go into savings. Parents who talk to their kids about saving some money raise kids who automatically have money saved.

3. No chores, no allowance. An allowance is sort of like paying someone for vacation or existing. Who does that in the real world? Why would you teach your child that lesson?

4. Set an example: You cannot have everything you want. Explain to your child that you have to earn enough to buy things you want.

5. Many parents parent with guilt instead of discipline when teaching their children about money. If you give your child what they want, you are telling them that you don’t think they can earn it. Confidence is built when we work toward a goal or desire and our hard work pays off.

collegekids6. Teach your children to price shop and also look for bargains. This can be taught by clipping coupons and checking prices from one store to another. It also helps your child re-evaluate how much they want something. Sometimes this alone will deter them from spending money on a frill they didn’t really want or need.

College debt is a huge problem in our country. Kids take out huge loans yet are never really prepared for what to expect in regards to their financial debt after college. Living within your means and teaching your children to do the same is part of parenting.

Lessons taught young correlate highly with adults who understand the importance of saving and budgeting. Your kids don’t need the “stuff” money can buy half as much as they need the time you give teaching them about how long it takes to save for that “stuff.”

– 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.

The Parent’s Role In Child Development Programs

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kidsIt’s no secret that a child’s education plays a significant role in her development during early childhood and is a determining factor in her success as an adult. Helping young children to acquire the skills they need to progress and develop along the prescribed timeline is one of a parent’s most important jobs. Understanding the role that parents play in the development and expansion of new skill sets in early childhood allows you to work more closely with the preschool or child development center program you’ve chosen, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the curriculum and reinforcing lessons learned on a daily basis.

Communicating with Teachers and Administrators

As the parents of a little one who’s enrolled in a child development program, you are essentially the liaison between your child and her teachers or center administrators. Your preschooler may not have the vocabulary or the inclination to explain to you that there are areas in which she is struggling, or subjects in which she needs additional attention. The teachers and instructors who work with her every day, however, will be both able and eager to give you progress reports and relevant information about your child’s development. In addition to having a more accurate view of her academic, cognitive and physical development, you’ll also be able to learn more about her conduct and areas within the scope of social interaction and skill where she may be in need of extra help.

Maintaining Progress at Home

cutekidsWorking closely with the teachers and aides at your child’s preschool or early childhood development center allows you to get an accurate view of not only what’s expected of her there, but what she’s capable of at home. Your child will live up, or down, to the expectations you’ve set for her. If she’s responsible for clearing away her own place after meals, hanging up her own jacket and putting away art supplies after a lesson at her preschool, that means that she’s clearly able to perform those tasks with some degree of accuracy. Operating under the misapprehension that your child isn’t capable of doing some things for herself can have detrimental effects on her development, simply because she’s not exercising the skills she’s learning at preschool at home. Building a functional relationship with your child’s teachers and program administrators allows you to form a more accurate view of her capabilities, and helps you adjust her routine at home accordingly. Parents who wish to take an active role in their child’s progress through a developmental program should also take the time to learn what’s being covered under the lesson plan and what’s up next on the curricular agenda. Make a point of working on those skills at home, too. If your little one is learning how to write her name in preschool, she should be practicing at home to hone her motor skills and boost the muscle memory and letter recognition that will fuel her progress. Remember, education and learning don’t stop the minute your child walks out the door of her preschool or child development center.

Choosing the Right Childhood Development Program

Working with your child’s teachers and taking an interest in her progress through a child development program is essential, but it’s even more important that you make the correct initial investment by choosing the right program and center. Priscilla Williams, who holds a degree in Child Psychology and Early Childhood Development and is the President of the Especially for Children network of nationally accredited child development centers in Minnesota, states that “selecting a childcare center that has national accreditation will provide parents assurance that the center has programs that properly address all the important developmental goals for your preschooler.” By making sure that you’ve chosen an accredited center with a strong curriculum, you’ll be actively investing in the first step of your child’s long and illustrious academic career. Remember that this is just the beginning of your child’s journey along the essential path of education, and take steps to ensure that the program introducing her to the concept of school and learning is one that will make a positive impact on her. The ASCD, formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, asserts that preschool is “the most important grade,” and that their research confirms the long-term benefits of participation in such programs. By choosing one that is both accredited and of a high quality, you’re actively fulfilling the important goal of providing your child with the tools she needs to succeed throughout elementary school, high school and beyond.

– Submitted by Sarah Tucker of 4 Nannies.

10 Reasons Why Parents And Kids Should Exercise Together

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obese childWith childhood obesity rates on the rise and more kids than ever experiencing what were once considered adult health problems, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the sedentary lifestyle promoted by a glut of video games, television and electronic entertainment that is frequently paired with a fast food-centric diet is taking its toll on even the youngest members of the population. In addition to instilling good dietary habits in kids, however, one of the most important things a parent can do for their children is encourage a healthy level of physical activity. Here are 10 of the reasons why parents and kids should make a point of exercising together, both for fun and for fitness.

* Modeling Healthy Behavior – In order to truly show kids how important exercise is, you must be willing to put in the same amount of effort that you’re expecting. This is one area in which taking a “do as I say, not as I do” approach simply won’t work, so be sure that you’re willing to practice what you’re so eagerly preaching.

* Making Sure That You Get Enough Exercise – Between juggling the demands of work and home, it’s not always easy to fit in a fitness routine. Exercising with your kids not only allows you to spend a bit of quality time with them while doing something you both enjoy, but also helps you to stay on schedule with your workout.

* To Ensure Safe Exercise Habits – Kids haven’t yet developed proper impulse control, and may be less capable of fully understanding the possible outcomes of risky behavior. As a result, it’s not uncommon for kids to attempt daredevil feats of strength or agility during active play. When you’re making a point of exercising together, however, you’ll be there to supervise and prevent some of their riskier impulses.

* Turning Family Fun Time into Family Fit Time – Everyone knows that spending time together as a family strengthens emotional bonds, which is why structured family game nights and family dinners are recommended. Instead of sitting down to a board game, why not try out one of the new group video games that promotes fitness? You’ll all be spending time together and enjoying a bit of activity that gets you out of your seat and onto your feet.

* Cutting the Competition Out of Fitness – When kids’ main source of physical activity is competitive sports participation, it’s not uncommon for them to equate working out with competition. When you exercise together, you can stress the importance of activity for fun and enjoyment, rather than an exclusive end goal of winning.

* Defining “Normal” For Young Children – Making a point of engaging in physically active play with your children from the time they’re very young is a way to effectively define “normal” for them and for your family. When exercising is simply part of the daily routine, kids are more likely to stick to their active habits as they get older.

* Forging Bonds With Older Kids – It’s not always easy to find common ground with a tween or teen, which is where a shared love of a particular sport or activity can come in handy. Spending time with your older child doesn’t have to be a struggle, especially when you’re sweating it out together.

* Building Discipline and Dedication – Kids need to learn the value of dedication and discipline from a young age in order to become successful, independent adults. Setting fitness goals and working together to achieve them helps kids understand the importance of hard work and making a concerted effort to reach the goals they’ve set for themselves.

* Providing Kids With Incentive and Direction to Exercise – While kids do need plenty of unstructured active play, working out as a family can provide kids with a bit of much-needed direction and an incentive to get moving. When you’ve established a routine of exercising together, you’ll also have an incentive to continue along your own path to fitness.

* Achieving Goals as a Family – It’s often said that the family who plays together stays together, but there’s also something to be said for working towards a shared goal and making that goal a reality. Working out with your kids is a great way to not only help them understand the importance of making an effort to achieve your dreams, but also the sweetness of a shared victory.

– Submitted by Emma Roberts of Summer Nanny

Back To School Resolutions – For Parents

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By Adelle Cadieux, PsyD

kidsunningtogetherSummer can be a very enjoyable time for families. With all the fun to be had, it also tends to be a time when families fall out of habit with some of the basics that help kids be healthy and successful during the rest of the year. As school sets to resume soon, this is a great time to begin re-establishing, or establishing for the first time, healthy habits. New Year’s is not the only time to resolve to life improvements. Parents can make resolutions timed with the start of a new school year that will bring about healthier, more balanced lives for the entire family.
Consider some of the following new school year resolutions or create your own.

• Establish a consistent sleep schedule — This will help kids get adequate sleep, which improves concentration, memory and promotes learning. It also helps kids feel better, behave better and not be so irritable. Going back to school also means being around more kids which can equal more germs. Sleep helps the immune system and can be one of the many actions your child can take to staying healthy.

• Make breakfast a priority — Getting kids out the door in time can be challenging, but skipping breakfast to save time or sending them out with an easy-to-take food like a cereal bar, is not adequate to help them be healthy. Breakfast helps kids to have better energy, endurance and focus. Breakfast can also help keep kids from overeating later in the day, which can lead to weight issues. Sitting down to a healthy breakfast that includes protein is preferable, but if your child needs to have a take-with-you breakfast, plan ahead. Make yogurt smoothies or an egg and try low fat cheese on whole grain.

kidseatinghealthy• Don’t stop with breakfast. Lunch and after school snacks are important too—Skipping meals can lead to irritability, decreased concentration, and overeating later in the day. Plan for healthy lunches to keep kids feeling good during the school day and to replenishing their strength so that they can keep up the hard work of learning. Most kids are hungry after school. To keep kids from overeating, either after school or at dinner time, plan ahead for a healthy snacks. Great snacks combine a little protein with a carbohydrate. Try a snack of fruit and veggies with piece of string cheese or pretzels and dried fruit dipped in peanut butter. But, don’t snack if you’re not hungry.

• Structure the evening — when kids have a consistent schedule, they are better prepared and understand expectations. Set a specific time and place for completing homework. Build in physical activity. Even if the weather isn’t good, you can be active inside too. Being active with your child is a great way to have family time, but also models healthy behaviors for your child. Set a consistent time for dinner and sit down to enjoy the time together as a family.
By getting kids on track with their sleep, eating, physical activity and evening structure, parents can help keep their kids healthy and ready to learn. And, they can create a balanced home in the process.

– Dr. Cadieux, pediatric psychologist, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI, is a member of The American Psychological Association (APA), APA’s Division 54: Society of Pediatric Psychology, and Division 54 Pediatric Obesity Special Interest Group. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is Spectrum Health hospital.

Preparing For A Family Walking Holiday

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By Danielle Steele

familyGetting out and about with your loved ones is certainly a fantastic experience. This is even more so when you plan on trekking through the wilderness for days on end, enjoying some of the finest sights that nature can provide. As well as experiencing some amazing vistas, you’ll also keep fit and active, bonding with your loved ones in a manner that brings everyone together. Of course, you’ll need to plan your journey in the right way, especially since you’ll have to take care of your family in remote locations away from standard facilities. Here, we’ll look at a few of the most important aspects to consider when preparing for your next walking holiday.

Is the Route Suitable?

Since you’ll want to make the upcoming trekking adventure as enjoyable as possible, you’ll also need to think about your family’s physical capabilities as well as the type of outdoor gear you own. In this regard, you’ll need to choose a route that matches their exercise level. When researching nearby trails, keep an eye on the following characteristics:

• Amount of incline
• Change in altitude
• Type of walking surface
• Surrounding scenery

If you’re going on your first walking holiday, choose a path that’s relatively flat and that has a well-marked path. This will help remove most of the hurdles, giving you a simple holiday itinerary that each member of your family can enjoy regardless of their fitness ability.

Do You Have the Right Gear?

Now, you’ll need to prepare your loved ones for the forthcoming journey by supplying them with the necessary gear. If you’re spending a few nights in the wilderness, you’ll need a decent tent, some cooking supplies, and the right bathing necessities to make a comfortable journey in which everyone can enjoy themselves significantly. You’ll also need to think about the clothing that you bring along. Avoid purchasing anything too cheap as this won’t be durable enough for the expedition.

Is Your Family Prepared?

Now that you’ve got the right equipment, you’ll have to hone your loved one’s physical capabilities to get through the upcoming walking holiday with ease. After all, if you just spend your time in front of the television, going on a three-day trek with no fitness preparation is a recipe for disaster. This means that you should plan an exercise routine before you depart to build up your loved ones’ fitness levels. You can do this by putting on your walking gear and heading to the park every weekend. Start by trekking to the maximum limit possible and then build up the duration slowly each time that you and your family practise your walking after that.

What Belongings Do You Need?

Now, you’ll need to think about what you should take along with you on your next wilderness adventure. You’ve bought your clothing and accessories, but you should also think about other items as well. Some of the most important include:

• Food and beverages
• Toiletries and bathing products
• First aid and medication
• Maps, compasses and guidebooks
• Cameras, GPS trackers, etc.

Depending on where you’re going, you’ll need different items for your adventure. For example, those walking through villages might be able to stay in a local motel instead of a tent. Likewise, if you’re passing a river, lake or waterfall, you should bring along some swimming gear, towels and sunscreen so you and the family can cool down along the way.

– Danielle Steele represents Trekwear, a company based in the United Kingdom that offers clothing and merchandise for skiing, running, and cycling. Find out more of the products such as walking sandals available from Trekwear on their website.

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.

5 Powerful Discipline Tools For Parents

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By Deborah Serani, Psy.D.

kidsDiscipline comes from the word disciple, which, in Latin, means to teach. Parenting with discipline teaches children to feel good about themselves, develop self-control and become accountable for their actions. Punishment, on the other hand, focuses on what’s being done wrong instead of what’s being done right – and places the responsibility for behavioral management on the parent instead of encouraging the child to be responsible.

Here are 5 powerful tools every parent should know how to use. Take a look and see how you can incorporate them into your parenting repertoire.

1. Catch your child being good: Giving attention to bad behavior reinforces bad behavior. Resist nagging, reminding, commenting on what your child ISN’T doing. When you focus on good and desirable behavior, however small it might be, you reinforce that positive behavior. Adding the technique where you let others know about your child’s positive behaviors is called The Pony Express – and offers another round of positive reinforcement for your child to experience. You can use The Pony Express in person with others or on the phone. The idea here is for your child to hear you praising her to others. “You know, Jane worked all weekend on her project. All her hard work paid off because the teacher gave her an A.”

Avoid power plays with your child because Tug-of-War will give your rope burn.

2. Drop the rope. Avoid power plays with your child because Tug-of-War will give your rope burn. Remember that your child’s arguing with you or resisting limits is all about control. So if you want this, and he wants that consider dropping the rope . If you don’t and keep this game going, you’ll be pulling and tugging till you’re both overwhelmed. Instead, give your child two choices – leaving the decision to him to make. Remember it takes two to tug the rope. If you drop your end and place the responsibility onto your child, you make him accountable. If he fails, it’s by his own hand. “Listen, before bed, either put all your laundry in the hamper or clean up the dishes in your room.” The implication here is that one of these will be done.

3. Use positive direction. Telling your child what you want, instead of what you don’t want is called positive direction. “Hang your coat up” is different than “Don’t throw your coat on the floor.” Listen to how you’re communicating with your child. Change negative directions to positive ones. You’ll be amazed how differently your child will react. Your child will hear Hang- Coat-Up. Instead of Coat-On-Floor. Using positive direction is like the force in Star Wars. When you make use of it like Ben Kenobi, you direct others to do what you want.

4. Grounding is the technique of restricting freedom of movement, use of technology or social connection for a period of time from your child. Make sure, however, the time fits the crime. Making a time period too long for misbehavior can backfire. And never ground your child on a special occasion. Make sure your words are constructive and not demeaning. “I’m disappointed that you went over the text time limits on the phone bill. You need to get better tracking that. Think about that this weekend while you’re grounded from using your cell phone.” Remember, we want the discipline to teach your child what she needs to learn.

friend5. Understand the benefit of failure. It’s going to be hard, but allowing your child to fail will make him a success. Failure brings discomfort, regret, fear and disappointment – and these can be tremendous tools to teach your child how to self-regulate. Parents often come from a place of good intentions when they micromanage their child’s life, but doing so often prevents children from learning the necessary coping skills to function independently. Instead of nagging about bedtime, allow your child to learn the lesson of being tired the next day. Worried about the upcoming test and your child hasn’t cracked the book open? Let the shame of a poor grade do the talking, not you. Don’t rub the failure in with a snarky comment or an “I told you so.” The point here is not to make you the focus of your child’s anger. Instead, we want him to be angry at his own failure.

Deborah Serani, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist in practice twenty five years. An award-winning author, her newest book “Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers” comes out in September 2013.