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Archive for April, 2010

Keeping Children Safe at Home

April 29th, 2010 - Category: General Parenting

Kids can get into the most precarious places and do the most outrageous things. Cabinets you never thought could be climbed even by Sir Edmund Hillary himself (first person to climb Mt. Everst ;), somehow get surmounted by your 2 year old. It boggles your mind as a parent, but it is very real and if you have a toddler you know what I’m talking about.

Because of this perplexing ability of younger children, it is super important to make sure that your house is well equipped with safety features and  what I like to call “pain preventatives.” These are things like baby outlet covers, high door handles, and child-safety cabinets. These are basically the essentials for any home with younger kids. Listed below, however, are some ways of keeping your children safe at home that you may not have thought of before but are definitely important.

1. Planned Emergency Escape Routes

Some may think this is silly but having a predetermined escape route that the whole family clearly and completely understands can reduce chaos and confusion during emergency situations. You should always have 2 escape routes in case one is blocked. Also remember to have properly working smoke detectors. These should be checked once per month and the batteries should be swapped out every year.

2. Locks on the Medicine Cabinet

I can’t stress enough the importance of this. A friend of mine was in a situation where she almost lost her daughter because her Father-in-law had left a bottle of digoxin (decreases heart rate) on what he THOUGHT was a high shelf. Her daughter was able to climb on top of the shelf that was close to 10 feet tall and had stuffed the whole bottle in her mouth before anyone had noticed. It is only a matter of prayer and faith that she is still alive today. Don’t ever think your kids can’t get somewhere. Make sure all medications are securely locked in a cabinet.

3. Prevent Burns from Hot Water

If your water heater is set too high, a baby could accidentally turn on the hot water valve on the faucet and end up scalding his sensitive skin. Check your water heater and make sure it is set to no more than 120°F.

4. Take Proper Precautions Around Water

If you have a pool, most cities require that you have a fence and gate that meets certain guidelines in order to prevent younger children from entering the pool area unattended.  If you have a pool and children, you should always have this regardless of city requirements. In 2009 there were over 600 pool drownings. Let’s bring that number down this year and make sure we are not a victim of that statistic.

5. Check the Width of Your Crib Bars and Bannister Posts

I just bought a home. Of course, we had a home inspector go through the house before purchasing. He brought to my attention that the posts supporting the railing along the stairs were too far apart. I was confused and then he told me that the reason is because if you have a small child, he may be able to fit his head between the posts. If they happen to fall or stumble and get their head caught between the bars… well you get the idea. I was taken back but nodded in agreement. Home safety guidelines say that bars should be less than 4 inches apart. If yours are further apart than this you can purchase banister guards to solve the problem (much cheaper than putting in new railing).

So there you go. A few tips on keeping children safe at home. Hopefully these were helpful. Of course there are many more things you can do to keep your home safe for children. Please feel free to share your comments and suggestion below. Happy parenting! Also, if you owe your kids a reward for completing their chore chart… pay up!!

Teaching Good Behavior Without Harsh Discipline

April 22nd, 2010 - Category: Behavior Advice

Have you ever felt sometimes like you just want to give up on being patient with your kids? Believe me you’re not alone. It can be very frustrating when the little guys mess up and don’t do exactly what you would like them to do. Of course it is for their own benefit, you feel, that they DO do what you want them to do. You want them to be happy by making good choices.

Oftentimes, as a parent, you feel like you can see the consequences of certain actions a little better than your children because of your age and experience. Though it can be difficult, the truth is that harsh discipline only seems to make things worse. I have had the chance to see both sides of the spectrum as I’m sure most of you have. They are vastly different and I really do feel like one is better than the other.
Teach Good Behavior Without Harsh Discipline

Effects of Harsh Discipline

Consistent harsh discipline seems to bring out the worst in children. If they hear “you’re stupid,” “you little brat,” or “you’re gonna get it” too often they eventually will begin to believe what they hear and it can completely ruin their confidence and/or self-esteem.

In a research article by Dr. Bahr Weiss (Vanderbilt University) and colleagues, Dr. Weiss states that, “Structural equation modeling indicated a consistent relation between harsh discipline and aggression in 2 separate cohorts of children.” Further, Dr. Weiss suggests  that, “our analyses suggested that the effect of harsh discipline on child aggression may be mediated at least in part by maladaptive social information processing patterns that develop in response to the harsh discipline.”

So harsh discipline doesn’t seem to be a positive method of teaching the kids to behave. But, what do we do when they really push it too far? How do you control your urge to get mad, yell and criticize when things get out of control? We’ve listed some things below that may be able to help. You can read more into these suggestions by visiting

Some Alternatives

1. Plan ahead (Pick 3 things that tip you off and set goals to do better when those events happen)

2. Write in a journal (keep it handy so you can jot down behaviors that make you upset when they occur. It gives you time to think and not react suddenly/harshly)

3. Express yourself (Instead of going off, tell them exactly how you feel when they do something.)

4. Mommy timeout (…sometimes even grownups need to take a few and relax to think about what’s going on and how to make it better)

5. Use 1 word (This is for repetitive misbehavior. Pick a word that the child will recognize is associated with the incidence. Instead of going off when they forget to make their bed just say, “BED!”)

6. Laugh (find a way to make the situation funny)

7. Learn what to expect from your children (different age levels bring different behaviors and it is unrealistic to expect too difficult of behaviors from children at certain ages.)

Hope you enjoyed this post and got some ideas. Please feel free to share you thoughts and ideas with us and the community. Happy parenting… and don’t forget to assign those chores!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Curfew Hours

April 16th, 2010 - Category: Teenagers

As your children reach their teenage years, perhaps even sooner, you may begin to wonder what are the advantages and disadvantages of having set curfew hours. As a child, my parents never set a strict curfew as to when we should be home. It seemed fairly implied that we were to be home at a reasonable hour and if we weren’t, the consequences that followed would remind you in the future that being home in a more timely fashion would be to your benefit.

I never questioned my parent’s style of not setting a strict curfew, probably because I was a teenager and didn’t want to HAVE  a strict curfew. However, as a parent, your thoughts about curfews for your kids begin to sink in a little deeper and you really start to wonder what is the most effective way to teach children responsibility. What are the advantages and disadvantages of curfew hours? Let’s look at a few of these and then let you decide.

First, let’s look at some advantages.

Parent’s Peace of Mind

Knowing that your teenager is home safe and sound at a specific time definitely beats waiting up every weekend until the wee hours of the night wondering if he/she is okay. So we start here with a benefit to the parent. :)

Safer Drive Home

If your teenager is of driving age, by setting a curfew, you know that they will be less tired during the drive home meaning they are less likely to be involved in an accident due to fatigue. Also, many states have laws and restricted licenses for teens regarding how late they are permitted to drive. Setting a curfew can help your child abide these laws and is a good way of justifying your having a curfew for them.


Keep in mind that curfews do not have to be the same every single night of the week. Many parents may choose to have a set curfew for school nights (weeknights) and another for weekends that may permit a bit of extra time with friends on the weekends. This way, you can promote more homework and family time during the week, and allow for rewarding your children with more friend time on the weekends.

Now let’s look at some of the disadvantages that may be present with curfews

Could Promote Rebellion/Disobedience

Whenever a law is put in place that someone doesn’t necessarily like, there is that much more incentive to transgress that law. It is the same with a curfew. Your teenager may not understand the rule even when you clearly explain the reasoning to him. By not understanding and not agreeing, there is a great risk that your child will end up sneaking out behind your back. This could potentially be worse than not having a curfew at all because then you don’t know where they are or when they are gone. If something bad were to happen, how are you to ever know?

Trust Issues

Setting an unreasonable curfew may cause your children to think that you do not trust them and they may use this as one of their key arguments against having a curfew. Though you shouldn’t give in just to show your child you trust them, it is a valid issue. Sometimes a little trust can go a long way in building your child’s confidence  and it may open up doorways of communication that weren’t there before between you and your child.

These are some of the advantages and disadvantages of having set curfew hours for your children. We invite you to consider them and share with us your thoughts on curfews and whether or not they have been effective in your family.

Also, if you have not subscribed to the Parenting Tips Blog yet, please do so by clicking here or on the RSS button at the top of the page.

The Dangers of Huffing and Its Effect on Teenagers and Parents

April 9th, 2010 - Category: Uncategorized

This short clip from ABC News aired yesterday morning on the rise in popularity of huffing amongst young teenagers. Huffing is a method of getting high by means of inhaling toxic fumes such as can be found in most aerosols, gasoline, rubber cement, and even markers. Because of the accessibility of such products to children both at school and at home, huffing has become one of the most popular forms of drug abuse amongst young teens.

The report states that huffing is the most frequently used drug by 12 year olds and that there is higher use amongst 6th graders than seniors. This harmful, even deadly, form of drug abuse is currently used by over 1 million teens. This in mind, it is important that, as parents, we recognize the signs and the physical effects of huffing as it could be the difference in a child’s life

Signs of Huffing (What to Look For)

  • sudden disinterest in friends
  • sudden interest in new group of friends
  • slurred speech
  • disorientation
  • solvent residues near mouth or nose area
  • smell of aerosols on the individual
  • redness around eyes nose or mouth
  • household aerosol products are being used up abnormally fast

Physical Effects of Huffing

  • kills brain cells
  • negatively affects the heart (cardiac arrest can occur even with first time users)
  • dizziness
  • nausea/vomiting
  • choking
  • muscle damage
  • suffocation
  • cancer
  • bone marrow damage – reduces formation of blood cells
  • death

Please be aware of these signs and effects and make sure your children are informed of the negative effects of huffing. Pass this message on to your friends so that we all can take a stand against this devastatingly addictive habit.

Parent Communication | Teen Parent Communication

April 6th, 2010 - Category: Communication

Good parent communication with teens continues to diminish. Oftentimes, one of the most difficult and stressful stages in life as a parent is during your child’s teen years. Hormones run wild, preference for spending time with friends over family is almost always the case, bad influences from peers are ever present, and a host of other realities make it difficult to establish a sound level of communication with your teen.

Let’s see if you can relate to this scenario. Your teenage boy walks in the house. He’s just getting home from school. You ask, “Hey Jeff, how was school today?” He replies, “fine.” Jeff, without pausing for a second, heads straight upstairs to his room and locks the door. Has this ever happened to you in any way shape or form? If it has, congratulations, your family may be normal!

What Can We Do?

Though communication between teens and their parents is not as effective as it should be in many homes throughout the world, this doesn’t mean there is not hope and it definitely does not mean that you should give up as a parent and simply say, “It’s normal. He’ll get over it. There’s nothing I can do.” In fact, there are a number of things you can do as a parent to more effectively communicate with your teen and, more importantly, it is essential that you continue to try. By establishing and maintaining a good relationship with your teen, you may be able to notice behaviors and receive information from him/her that will enable you to protect them from potentially dangerous situations that always present themselves during these critical years of important decisions.

Don’t Overreact

As a teenager, your child will inevitably want to become more independent. This is a normal stage of development and with it may come a decrease in the amount of information your child will want to share with you. You can help yourself during this stage by changing the way you think about your relationship with your child. Instead of being the “rule maker/enforcer” or “opposing force,” take a more friendly approach.

Show Genuine Interest

Make an effort to be sincerely interested in whatever your child wants to be involved in. Whether it by extracurricular activities, friends, homework, future career plans, or hobbies, make sure your teenager knows that you care about him and that your are ALSO interested in those things (even if you really aren’t). You ARE interested in your child so you, by default, need to be interested in what they are doing. For example, if Jeff likes to work on cars and loves mechanics, do some researching and find out about mechanics and cars so that when Jeff is ready to talk to you about what he’s doing, you’ll be able to respond and hold a meaningful conversation with him rather than just saying, “I wish you’d spend less time on that old clunker and more time on your homework.” This is not effective communication.

Avoid Power Struggles

If you are your teenagers friend, you will not engage in arguments where both sides are trying to gain control. Avoid these situations at all costs. Instead, talk to them as you would your best friend when you were their age.

Catch Your Teenager Doing Something Right

Instead of always looking for negative things that you can bug your teen about and tell him/her to get better at, look for things they are doing that are good and make sure they know that you notice it and are proud of them. Pessimism will never lead to good attitudes or happy lifestyles. By being optimistic and looking for the good in your child, you will help them increase their confidence and their likelihood of wanting to share their accomplishments with you in the future.

Look, Listen, and Don’t Talk Too Much

We’ve emphasized the importance of listening in previous posts regarding communication, and it is no different with teenagers. Listening is vital to establishing a relationship of trust between you and your teen. Look them in the eye, confirm that you understand what they are saying, and don’t respond with long drawn-out answers. Try not to solve all the problems. Sometimes just saying, “I’m sorry. That sounds horrible. I can see why that would make you upset.” is more effective than, “What!? Why were doing that in the first place.”

The bottom line is this: be their friend, don’t judge, make eye contact, don’t force, stay calm, and genuinely love your teenager. They are facing a tough world and are in an important time of transition in their life from childhood to adulthood. This can be a very exciting time and it can also be very scary. If you are their friend, you can enjoy the good times with them and help them through the hard times.

Please leave you thoughts on communicating with teenagers in the comment section below. I’d like to hear some success stories. Til next time… Happy parenting!

Parent Communication | Speaking With Your Toddler

April 3rd, 2010 - Category: Communication

We’ve discussed some basics about how to effectively communicate with our children in the previous post. Now, we would like to dive in a little deeper and look at how communication works between parent and children and different stages of life.

We communicate differently depending on the stage of life or current circumstances we’re placed under. Likewise, children of different age groups communicate differently. In order to understand how we as parents can effectively communicate with our children we need to understand how communication works at the different stages of life. In this post, we will talk about toddler-parent communication. How can we effectively talk with and listen to our 2-5 year old.

Read to Your Toddler

Whether or not your child has learned to speak, it is never a bad idea to take 10 minutes before bedtime to read with them. By reading to them, they get used to hearing spoken language in complete and grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs. They are able to hear words and phrases repeatedly the way they are supposed to sound and in the right context. This will not only do wonders in helping your child learn to speak faster, but it will also create a relationship between you and your young child. He/she will become familiar with your voice and it will be of comfort to them. This can aid in helping the child be more comfortable speaking with you once he/she does finally learn to speak.

Talk With Your Toddler

From birth, it is essential that you talk to your child. Talk with them about everything. Share your day with them, tell them your plans for tomorrow and how they fit in to your plans. Tell them what they will be doing and where they will be going. Play games with them and have imaginary outings with them. Have a tea party or play house with them and tell them what their roles are. You can even speak for them when you ask them questions. This helps the child be engaged in two-way conversations early on and will aid them in effectively communicating with you vocally in the future.

Recognize Non-Verbal Signals

Before children can speak, they will try to communicate with you in order to get your attention about something they need or want. Their are a number of non-verbal signs or signals that you can look for when trying to understand what your child is trying to communicate to you. Some of these might include: crying, grimacing, somber or blank facial expressions, stiffening muscles, a tightfisted grasp that doesn’t release, an arched back that pulls away, averting eyes, and turning away. Some babies give clear signals that are easy to read. Others require a closer look. A subtle shift in facial expressions or turning away of the head may signal anxiety that will soon build to a cry.

It’s important for parents to pay attention to each of these expressions and what they mean to the child. In this way, you will know how to respond to them when the expression comes out again.

Encouraging and Correcting Your Toddler

Children usually begin to start saying words from ages 1.5 to 2 years old. However, most often, they will begin by saying words that might slightly resemble the word they are trying to say but couldn’t be made out by someone that wasn’t around them everyday. Words like “wa wa,” “da da” and “mum” may come out of your child’s mouth often. When you hear a word come out that is wrong but you understand what the toddler is trying to say, say, “yes, that’s right, WATER.” You encourage your child for trying to speak and then restate the correct way to say the word.

Make Eye Contact With Your Toddler

Just as eye contact is important with grown up conversations, it is equally important with parent-toddler communication. Look your child in the eye when you are speaking with them. This lets them know they have your undivided attention and they feel like they are of importance to you.

What are other ways in which you communicate with your toddler. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, if you have not, please subscribe to the Parenting Tips Blog for frequent articles on parenting.