Thursday, July 22, 2010

Terrified Toddlers

Did you know that 5 out of every 100 people in the United States suffer from one or more phobia? Often times people think that phobias are something only affects adults, but phobias can start when children are as young as toddlers. Understanding a phobia can help parents understand their child a little better and possibly get professional help for their children.

What is a phobia?
A phobia is more than just a fear; it is a psychological and at times physical problem that doesn’t just “go away”. When a person experiences a scary situation a tiny brain structure called the amygdale registers this experiences and logs down that strong emotion felt during that particular moment. When certain things or situations trigger an emotion, the amygdale warns the person by triggering a fear reaction every time he/she encounters that particular situation. A phobia is a response the brain has learned to attempt to protect the person. Having a phobia is something a person cannot help, but they  can get help for it.

What are the signs?
Often times children (and adults) can experience things like shaking, sweating, chest pains, feeling dizzy, heart pounding, or the inability to breath when they have a panic attack or when they have a phobia of something. It is completely normal for all children to be afraid of things, but phobias are different that just being afraid. Phobias do not go away like a normal fear. “Kids who have a phobia will be afraid of something every time they see or experience it.” 

Different kinds of phobias?
Below is a list of the most common phobias kids suffer from.

Social Phobia- This is when a child is too afraid of talking to a teacher, coach, peers, etc. Sometimes people can mistake the child for being shy, but this is not the same thing. A child might even be too afraid of walking in front of a class room or even talking to a teacher when he/she needs to use the restroom. A phobia such as a social phobia can be very limiting and could make it nearly impossible for a child to socialize with other individuals. Some people may think the child is just shy, but if you watch for signs of a panic attack and this problem persists, please be sure to contact a specialist.  

Agoraphobia- This causes someone to worry about having a panic attack in a place where leaving would be hard or embarrassing. Often times the fear of the panic is so strong that these people will avoid places like crowds, highways, or a busy store.

Claustrophobia- the fear of being in an enclosed space (eg: elevators, tunnels, or airplanes)

Arachnophobia- fear of spiders

Ablutophobia-  fear of washing oneself.

Is there help?
A phobia is something a person has very little control over. They can’t help it but then can get help for themselves. Kids who have phobias should go and see a doctor. Many times the doctor will refer them to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist. Some people take medication for help them with their phobias, other people learn ways of dealing with their phobia, like performing relaxation exercises. No matter what you decided to do, remember that everyone is different and it is best to try and find out what works for that specific person.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Playing Games with Toddlers

Toddlers learn by playing and they learn a lot between ages 1 and 3. At 1, a child may be working on a wobbly walk and just starting to use words. But by 3, most can balance briefly on one foot and speak in short sentences.

During these important years, toddlers will enjoy playing simple games with their parents and other caregivers. But they also can start enjoying group games with other young children, though they'll need adult assistance.

Group games offer a chance for kids to be social, though toddlers will more often play alongside their friends rather than with them. They enjoy being around other kids, but will focus more on the leader or parent.

Later, kids progress from side-by-side play (parallel play) to a kind of play that allows more give and take between them. Along the way, toddlers will enjoy group games and can begin learning important lessons from them, such as how to take turns.

Expect a little chaos at first. In other words, when toddlers play a game, you have to define "game" very loosely! They're full of energy and want to explore, so don't be surprised if they can't focus for long or follow rules to the letter.

With that in mind, try the group game below if you're having a party or hosting a playgroup.

Game: The Hokey-Pokey

Number of kids: Any.
How the game is played: An oldie but goodie. Everybody stands in a circle and does the motions to the corresponding words of the song. Toddlers won't know right from left at this point, but they'll understand the body part and can follow your lead.
  • You put your left foot in,
  • You put your left foot out,
  • You put your left foot in, and you shake it all about!
  • You do the Hokey Pokey
    (Raise hands in the air and wiggle fingers.)
  • And you turn yourself around
    (Turn around in a full circle.)
  • That's what it's all about!
    (Clap with each syllable.)
Other body parts: other foot, hands, head, backside, whole self.

Tips for adults: Choose body parts that toddlers know, and throw in a new one now and then. Make sure to sing slowly enough that the kids can follow along.
What the game teaches: Names of body parts, following directions.

For more information please visit: http://kidshealth.org/parent/fitness/general/toddler_games.html#

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Limiting T.V. Time

A recent report found on kidshealth.org shows that "high-schoolers who watch too much TV are more likely to have bad eating habits 5 years down the road." If we are trying to nip childhood obesity in the bud, cutting back television time might be a huge help.

Here are some ways you can get your kids out of the family room and off of the couch. To take control of the TV in your house, you can:
  • Limit the number of TV-watching hours.
  • Stock the room in which you have your TV with plenty of other non-screen entertainment (books, kids' magazines, toys, puzzles, board games, etc.) to encourage kids to do something other than watch the tube.
  • Keep TVs out of kids' bedrooms.
  • Turn off the TV during meals.
  • Don't allow kids to watch TV while doing homework.
  • Treat TV as a privilege that kids need to earn — not a right that they're entitled to. Tell them that TV viewing is allowed only after chores and homework are completed.
  • Try a weekday ban. Schoolwork, sports activities, and job responsibilities make it tough to find extra family time during the week. Record weekday shows or save TV time for weekends, and you'll have more family togetherness time to spend on meals, games, physical activity, and reading during the week.
It is Summertime! There are lots of activities going on that can get your kids out of the house, and get you some quiet time. Take advantage of it before the snow come backs around!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Presents" for Parents- Wash your Hands!

Whether it be a hand full of feathers from a bird you know nothing about, a prince disguised as a frog, or a pile of rocks- what you are really getting as your special gift is a handful of hidden germs. Not only do you risk disease and sickness by accepting these lovely offerings (which of course you will accept), but your kiddies are at risk for all the searching they did to find you the perfect gift. Washing your hands can be the first line of defense in protecting yourself from these little critters.

Germs can be spread through touching dirty hands, changing dirty diapers, through contaminated water and food, through droplets released during a cough or sneeze, via contaminated surfaces, or through contact with a sick persons body fluids. Usually, these germs are transmitted unknowingly, and kids proceed to rub their eyes, nose or mouth- and infect themselves- and more often than not, infecting the whole household.

Through frequent, good hand washing, you and your children can fight basic to serious illnesses such as the common cold, meningitis, bronchiolitis, influenza, hepatitis A, and most types of infectious diarrhea. Use lots of soap and water and scrub hands for at least 10- 15 seconds. Make sure to get under nails and around wrists. Do this whenever you or your child may begin eating and cooking, after using the bathroom, after cleaning the house, after touching animals (including family pets), after visiting friends and family, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and after being outside.

This is a simple precaution that can be fun and easy if a good and healthy habit is started early in a child's life.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Toddler Tantrums

We all have our good days and we all have our bad times. Sometimes those bad times seem like they are going to last forever, or at least for the next year. Here are some ways to help you deal with your toddlers temper tantrums. Hopefully these suggestions will help you get through those terrible twos.

  • Make sure your child isn't acting up simply because he or she isn't getting enough attention. To a child, negative attention (a parent's response to a tantrum) is better than no attention at all. Try to establish a habit of catching your child being good ("time in"), which means rewarding your little one with attention for positive behavior.
  • Try to give toddlers some control over little things. This may fulfill the need for independence and ward off tantrums. Offer minor choices such as "Do you want orange juice or apple juice?" or "Do you want to brush your teeth before or after taking a bath?" This way, you aren't asking "Do you want to brush your teeth now?" — which inevitably will be answered "no."
  • Keep off-limits objects out of sight and out of reach to make struggles less likely to develop over them. Obviously, this isn't always possible, especially outside of the home where the environment can't be controlled.
  • Distract your child. Take advantage of your little one's short attention span by offering a replacement for the coveted object or beginning a new activity to replace the frustrating or forbidden one. Or simply change the environment. Take your toddler outside or inside or move to a different room.
  • Set the stage for success when kids are playing or trying to master a new task. Offer age-appropriate toys and games. Also, start with something simple before moving on to more challenging tasks.
  • Consider the request carefully when your child wants something. Is it outrageous? Maybe it isn't. Choose your battles; accommodate when you can.
  • Know your child's limits. If you know your toddler is tired, it's not the best time to go grocery shopping or try to squeeze in one more errand.
For more information please visit: http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/tantrums.html#

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fourth of July!!

This is a fun, exciting, hectic, colorful and certainly can be a dangerous holiday. Take precautions on the roads, and at your various activities. There are many things to keep in mind before lighting your own fireworks if legal in your state. You may even choose to take the safer route and attend a firework display and let the pyromaniacs and professionals deal with the fire and flames. For more information follow this link and read the article from kidshealth.org all about Firework Safety.

Happy 4th!! Enjoy it and take extra caution with your little ones!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Toddler Tummies

 Often times dinner time for toddlers can be difficult for parents. Here are some tips from Kids Health that can help with meal time.
Offering Healthy Choices
Toddlers are learning to navigate their world, communicate, and exert control over aspects of their lives. They don't actually have control over much, but eating is one of the first areas they will master. Parents can help them enjoy their limited power by giving them appropriate amounts of freedom when it comes to choosing foods and eating them.
That's not to say toddlers are deciding what to have for dinner. Parents have the important job of providing the kinds of foods that an active toddler needs. A parent's role is to present healthy foods and let the child decide which ones to eat — or whether to eat at all. Savvy parents can steer a toddler toward healthy eating, but they may have to do it in a crafty way.
By anticipating problems and offering choices, parents teach kids which behaviors will yield positive results and which ones won't. Here's how you can turn common concerns into opportunities to teach healthy eating habits.
Most Toddlers Are Picky Eaters
Many toddlers express their budding independence through eating — or not eating, as the case may be. So nearly all toddlers could be described as picky eaters. If kids don't like a food, they won't eat it — no rocket science there.
Does your toddler want to eat only macaroni and cheese? When a child is stuck on one food, a parent might feel forced to serve that food every day so the child eats something. But eventually the child may tire of that food — and then what?
You choose the foods on your toddler's plate — and you don't have to serve macaroni and cheese daily. If you do, you miss an opportunity to introduce new foods and increase the number of those your child is willing to eat. Most "food jags," as they're sometimes called, won't last long if parents don't accommodate them.
Kids won't starve and they will learn to be more flexible rather than go hungry. Present a variety of healthy foods — including established favorites and some new foods — to make up the menu. Your toddler may surprise you one day by eating all of them.
Your toddler doesn't like green beans the first time around? Don't stop serving them. Kids are naturally slow to accept new tastes and textures, so keep reintroducing the beans. Serve a small portion and encourage your child to try a bite without nagging or forcing.
And be sure you're setting a good example! Serve nutritious foods that you like or eat something new so your kids see you enjoying what you're asking them to eat.
Don't Bargain for Bites
You want your child to eat the spinach you serve; your child drops it onto the floor. Your well-meaning impulse may be to start talking up nutritious foods, saying how big and strong spinach will make your child. Or you might start bargaining: "Well, if you eat three more bites, I'll give you a cookie." The problem is that these tactics don't work in the long run.
Who hasn't used the line about spinach making you strong? But this cajoling approach may build dislike for the healthy food rather than increase acceptance. This doesn't mean you shouldn't teach kids about the benefits of healthy foods, but don't push too much by celebrating every bite of spinach your toddler eats or disapproving when he or she refuses.
For some kids, dinner becomes a negotiation session from the very start, and parents have been using dessert as an incentive for decades. But this doesn't encourage healthy eating. Instead it creates the impression that "treats" are more valuable than mealtime food. Foods like candy and cookies are not essential to your child's diet and it is not a deprivation to avoid serving them during the toddler years.
Threatening a punishment, much like bribing a child with dessert, ultimately isn't effective either. It creates a power struggle. To encourage healthy eating, continue offering your child an array of nutritious choices — and keep the mealtime mood upbeat.
Also try these strategies:
  • Serve right-sized portions. Parents often overestimate how much food a child should eat. Especially with foods that aren't yet favorites, a couple of tablespoons is plenty to start with. Small portions are less overwhelming, while bigger portions may encourage overeating.
  • Don't negotiate. It's fine to encourage kids to "try one bite" but don't fall into the negotiating trap. Prepare and serve healthy meals and let them decide what to eat.
  • Have family meals together. Set your toddler's place at the family table — it's good for kids of this age to see their parents and siblings eating together and eating healthy foods. Kids eat a more nutritious diet, with more fruits and vegetables, when they regularly have family meals.
  • Create positive peer pressure. Toddlers are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they see their peers eating them, so look for opportunities where they can eat healthy with friends.
·         Let Kids Feed Themselves
·         Kids should start finger feeding around 9 months of age and try using utensils by 15-18 months. Provide many opportunities for this, but make sure your toddler eats enough so that the experience doesn't lead to frustration. Jump in to help when necessary, but pay attention to hunger cues and signs that your child is full. You can always offer more if your child still seems hungry, but you can't take the food back if you overfeed. When you're controlling the fork or spoon, resist the urge to slip in one more bite. And as your toddler gets the hang of eating, step back and let your child take over.
·         Some parents think that not letting kids feed themselves is for the best, but it takes away control that rightfully belongs to kids at this age. They need to decide whether to eat, what they will eat, and how much to eat — this is how they learn to recognize the internal cues that tell them when they're hungry and when they're full. Just as important, toddlers need to learn and practice the mechanics of feeding themselves.
·         Listen to Your Child
·         Be alert to what toddlers say through their actions. A child who is building a tower of crackers or dropping carrots on the floor may be telling you he or she is full. Pushing food on a child who's not hungry may dull the internal cues that help kids know when they've eaten enough.
·         But this doesn't mean that it's practical or advisable for kids to eat on demand all day long. Those who eat all day may not learn what it is like to be hungry or full. That's why structured meals and snack times are important.
·         Kids can manage their hunger when they come to expect that food will be available during certain times of the day. If a child chooses not to eat anything at all, simply offer food again at the next meal or snack time.

What If Kids Skip a Meal?

Many toddlers need to eat often — as much as six times a day, including three meals and two or three snacks. Keep this in mind as you establish a pattern of meal and snacks. But realize that a food schedule only sets the times that you will present food to your toddler. Your child may not take every opportunity to eat.
Allowing a child to skip a meal is a difficult concept because many of us were raised to clean our plates and not waste food. But kids should be allowed to respond to their own hunger cues, a vital skill when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. That means eating when hungry — and sometimes not eating, even if it's time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Establish times for meals and snacks and try to stick to them. A child who skips a meal finds it reassuring to know when to expect the next one. Avoid offering snacks or pacifying hungry kids with cups of milk or juice right before a meal — this can diminish the appetite and decrease their willingness to try a new food being offered.

Avoid the Junk Food Trap

Toddlers need to eat healthy to get the nutrients their growing bodies need. Candy, potato chips, and other low-nutrient "junk foods" shouldn't be part of their diet because they can crowd out the healthy foods needed. Also, food preferences are established early in life, so don't miss opportunities to help your toddler develop a taste for nutritious foods.
Even if your child likes candy or chips, don't feel like you must give in. Kids can't run to the store to buy them, so just don't keep them in the house.
If your toddler asks for candy, simply say, "We don't have any candy." Then present two healthy snack alternatives to choose from. Even a child who mourns the lack of candy will still enjoy the sense of control from deciding which healthy snack to eat.

This article can be found at http://kidshealth.org/parent/food/general/toddler_meals.html#