Archive for December, 2009

PostHeaderIcon How to help kids with holiday stress

Of course you are thinking that the holidays are supposed to be all fun and games for the kids. For parents, we know that the holidays truly are the most stressful time of the year. However, the truth is that the holidays are often just as stressful for your kids as they are for you. During the holidays, we are running around trying to get everything done and we are stressed and of course our kids/teens can feel this stress in the house. As we change our regular routine, go see our relatives that we may or may not get along with, and often spend hours in the car, all of these contribute to our kids feeling stressed out. Not to mention their eating sugar and things that they normally would not eat and getting less sleep than usual. What can we do to reduce our kids stress over the holidays?
Here are a few tips to help:
1.) Try to not and change their routine too much. Most of us do not do well with change! Prepare for Christmas early and give them time to “chill out”. When you see that your kids may also be stressed, let them go to their rooms and listen to music, play video games, etc… In other words, let them do what they enjoy that relaxes them.
2.) Talk to your children about what the meaning of Christmas is. Don’t get caught in the hustle and bustle of cooking and gift buying. Have a discussion with them what the season actually means and this will probably calm the parents down as well.
3.) Eat at home as much as you can, most foods that we eat out are really not that nutritious. Remember that we still should exercise and keep some of our normal routine. Have them walk or ride their bike.
4.) If your family has conflict around the holidays with other family members, then make sure to prepare your kids for this and discuss it. For example, if you have a crazy uncle that is loud and obnoxious, then talk to your kids about this and let them express their thoughts/feelings. There is nothing worse than not being prepared for family conflicts and being blind-sided.
5.) If you see that you and your kids have too much on your schedule, then just say “No”. Doing too many things just stresses everyone out and nerves are stretched thin and everybody is exhausted. Exhaustion is not fun!!
6.) If you are planning a trip to family or friends house in the car or on a plane, make sure to have things for your kids/teens to do. Kids complaining that they are bored only stresses them out and you as well.
7.) Most importantly remember to relax and stay calm. If your child/teen is already stressed then have them read or practice guided imagery or play some Christmas music. Guided imagery is imagining a calming, relaxing environment. Sit with your child or teen for a few minutes and you both imagine a calm place where you are both relaxed.

Above all, keep a positive outlook on the holidays. If parents are complaining about all that they have to do and are negative, it will be really difficult for children to reduce their stress level. Don’t forget your sense of humor, if you have one then your kids will likely as well. Of course, their will probably be some whining and complaining, but let’s try to keep it at a minimum by implementing some of the strategies mentioned.

PostHeaderIcon Indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Parents often do not understand what to look for in determining whether or not their child may fall on the Autism Spectrum. All children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) demonstrate deficits in the following areas. 1.) delays in social interactions 2.) delays in their verbal and nonverbal communications and 3.) repetitive patterns of behaviors. In addition to those deficits, children with ASD usually have difficulty responding appropriately to different sensory experiences such as noises or interpreting how things look. These symptoms will be absolutely different in each child and some child will have mild symptoms and some children will have more severe symptoms. This is the reason that they are called Autism Spectrum Disorders. Each child falls some where on this spectrum.

Between the ages of 12 months to 36 months the symptoms of Autism will be displayed and the earlier it is caught the better.

What should parents look for exactly:

When their child does not babble, point, or make meaningful gestures by the age of 1 year of age
Does not speak on word by 16 months of age
Does not respond to their name being called
Loses language or social skills after they have learned it
Does not combine two words by the age of 2 years

Other indicators are:
Poor eye contact
Doesn’t know how to play with toys
Does not smile
Is attached to one particular toy or object and they play with it constantly
Excessively lines up toys or other objects that they have
At times they seem to be unable to hear what you are saying

(Adapted from The Public Health Training Network)

Socially, kids with ASD have tremendous difficulty learning to engage in the give and take in everyday relationships. They do not interact well with other children and typically avoid eye contact. They seem to be indifferent to other people and actually prefer to be alone. In addition, chidren with ASD have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling and seem to miss these simple social cues.

If your child displays many of these symptoms, then your child should be evaluated by their pediatrician, family physician, or a child psychologist. The earlier that a child is diagnosed with ASD the sooner they can begin receiving necessary treatment for ASD.

PostHeaderIcon Is giving our kids too many gifts healthy?

We as parents frequently want our children to have more than what we did and overindulge them. Especially at Christmas time, we are often guilty of wanting to over gift our children. What does giving children too many gifts do for our kids. Much research has been done in this particular area and giving our kids too many gifts is actually not of benefit to them. Giving too many gifts to our kids has the following effects:
1.) Our children are not appreciative of what they have received when they have a stack of gifts sitting next to them that is higher than they are. Children that have “too much” can become ungrateful and it truly is more important to give than to receive. However, if children receive and receive and receive, it is very difficult to teach this particular value.
2.) Giving bigger and bigger and more expensive gifts often leads to a competitition among family members to “out do” each other.
3.) It sends the message that love is truly measured by presents and “stuff”.
4.) Numerous studies have been completed that show that receiving too many gifts over stimulates children. When children receive so many things, it is hard to focus on the gifts that they do receive because there are simply too many. Children can only focus on one or two things at a time, not a pile of toys that are stacked to the ceiling.

Yes, I understand that it is hard as parents to not buy and buy for our kids because we want them to have everything, but truly it is not healthy. How can we prevent from buying our kids too much this year. Here is how:
Make a list of what you want to buy for your children and then stick to it.
Decide how much you want to spend and plan what you are going to buy.
Figure out how many gifts you want to buy for your kids.
Lastly, if everyone is in agreement in your family, then draw names of who you are going to buy for.

This year don’t go broke buying gifts for your kids and family and make this a more meaningful Christmas. Your kids will thank you for this later.

PostHeaderIcon How to improve your child’s brain power

A significant amount of research has been done in the area of whether or not a child’s IQ can be raised. Traditionally, researchers believed that the intellectual level that you were born with remains the same throughout a lifetime. However, research now shows that mental processes can be improved by a number of very simple tasks. One of the most effective ways to stimulate a child’s mental processes is by using a technique called controlled breathing. This is also an exercise that therapists use to help patients control anxiety. Research shows that school-aged children can increase their grades simply by doing breathing exercises prior to assignments or when they take tests. In essence what occurs is that controlled breathing increased oxygen flow going to the brain and a result memory and problem-solving abilities are increased.
A very simple breathing exercise goes as follows:

Teach your child to count to five when breathing in and five again when breathing out. Repeat this exercise about six times and the entire exercise usually takes less than a minute. Your child should complete this exercise before tests or any type of assignment that requires alot of brain power activity. This breathing exercise should be taught several times to your child to make sure they have it right. A very important key is to breathe in for the same amount of time that a child is breathing out.

Another important component to increase your child’s brain power is simply by playing games that improve brain power. Some of these games are checkers, soduku, crossword puzzles, chess, word jumples, and by solving different types of mathematical puzzles. Remember parents, television and video games do very little to improve a child’s brain power.

Lastly, having a conversation no matter what their age improves vocabulary and verbal skills. Studies are now showing that kids with talkative parents have a larger vocabulary and better overall language skills. Make conversations about their interests such as family, school, friends, clothes, etc… part of your everyday routine. The result will be a child/teen that feels valued and more intelligent.