Pamper Your Children the Right Way

Thursday, May 25, 2017 No comments
Guest post by Amy Williams

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Being a parent requires a tough and constant balance between disciplining your children enough and pampering them the way they need in order to feel loved, confident, and secure. It goes without saying that in a world where it’s easy to spoil your children rotten, maintaining that balance is difficult to do. We are here to help decipher the best ways to pamper your children without going overboard. Keep reading to learn more.

Pamper them the right way!

You don’t need to go crazy to make your kids feel loved and adored. Here are some simple, everyday ways to make them feel extra special:

Read with them every night - most times, what our kids crave most is our time and attention. And amidst the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day, it can certainly be difficult to carve out that time. However, creating a nightly routine that includes reading together - whether that be a couple favorite picture books or a chapter each night from a longer story - guarantees some togetherness time where you focus your attention solely on your kiddo. Plus, encouraging your kids to read has a myriad of other benefits, which is a huge plus!


Take them for ‘happy hour’ - this may not be the type of happy hour you’re accustomed to, but it’s kid friendly and bound to show your little one how much you love them! Take them for a milkshake one night and spend the time chatting and catching up. Your child will love the one-on-one attention as well as the delicious drink!

Take trips down memory lane - keep a photo album or scrapbook of special memories throughout your child’s life and them relive them together! They will love hearing stories about themselves and it’s always fun to look through old pictures. This is a great way to make them feel important and very, very loved.

Treat them to something sweet - subscribe to a monthly treat to show your love and affection. This can be something they are permitted to indulge in for dessert a couple times each week or as a reward, and the best part is that it’ll be automatically restocked for you each month. Talk about convenient!


How to make sure you’re not spoiling them

Every parent worries that their kids are becoming spoiled. Here are a few tips to help you maintain a healthy balance:

Give them an allowance - providing your child with a weekly or monthly allowance and holding them accountable to doing their chores to actually earn that pay will teach them the value of a dollar. This is a tough one to keep up with, but is definitely a habit that will deter children from becoming spoiled.

Set limits and don’t give in - be firm in the limits you set with your children, whether they be surrounding monetary limits, time designated for playtime, or anything in between. Showing your children that you are in control and that you are the one to set boundaries is a meaningful way to work against them feeling entitled.

Teach them gratitude - teaching your child to always say “thank you” and to truly be thankful for all that they have is a great way to ensure that they appreciate everything in their life. Keep them humble by instilling manners from an early age.


While it’s a tough line to straddle, pampering children and ensuring they do not become spoiled is indeed feasible. Follow the tips above to ensure that you’re raising grateful, well disciplined, and happy children!



Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. 



Bedwetting is Not Behavioral: A Doctor Explains

Thursday, May 18, 2017 No comments


By Steve Hodges, M.D.

When a child develops type 1 diabetes or a urinary tract infection, nobody says the child is “lazy” or has anxiety or is “seeking attention.” Nobody sends the child to a therapist.
Yet when a child well past potty-training age has daytime accidents or wets the bed — conditions also outside a child’s control — adults often assume the root cause is psychological.
I hear this daily. Parents will tell me, “He’s too lazy to get up in the night” or “I think it’s because he’s being bullied.” A school will issue an ultimatum to one of my patients: See a behavioral therapist or find a new school. A parenting expert will write that accidents are “a reaction to heartache.” A child will quit soccer because his coach thinks his constant toilet trips are an excuse to avoid practicing.
Just last week a bedwetting teenager emailed me: “I cannot feel any urine going out, but I wake up wet every day. My mom thinks I'm stubborn and I don't want to wake up at night.”
I’d like to set the record straight: Bedwetting and daytime accidents are almost always caused by chronic constipation — not behavioral or psychological issues (and not “deep sleep,” an “underdeveloped bladder,” or “hormonal imbalance,” the other common explanations I debunk in It’s No Accident).
When children delay pooping, as they often do, stool piles up in the rectum, forming a large, hard mass. I mean, large! On X-rays I routinely see stool the size of a softball. The mass may stretch the rectum to triple its diameter — I take measurements. The stretched rectum presses on and aggravates the bladder, which in turn hiccups without warning, before the child can wake up or sprint to the toilet.


Eventually, the stretched rectum may also lose tone and sensation, becoming floppy like a stretched-out sock. The child can’t feel the urge to poop, and stool just drops out, sometimes on the floor of the school gym.


No amount of behavioral therapy will change these facts.
 
Medicine has advanced in so many ways over the last half century, but in my specialty — bedwetting and accidents — we’re stuck in the dark ages.
The constipation-bedwetting link was first documented back in the 1980s, in a series of studies by pediatric kidney specialist Sean O’Regan, M.D., practicing at Hôpital Sainte-Justine in Montreal.
At the time, bedwetting children were blamed by their parents and shrugged off by their doctors. “These kids were told that it was all in their heads, that they were psychologically disturbed,” Dr. O’Regan told me.
Dr. O’Regan, searching to explain his own son’s bedwetting, knew that was not the case. Ultimately he tested several hundred children with a procedure called anal manometry, whereby a balloon is inserted into the child’s anus and inflated.
A child with normal rectal tone will notice a balloon inflated with just 5 to 10 ml of air, whereas a constipated child might not even detect the balloon until it’s inflated with 40 ml of air. Dr. O'Regan's bedwetting patients could withstand an astonishing 80 to 110 milliliters of air without discomfort.


Dr. O’Regan’s studies also showed that when his patients’ rectums were cleared out with daily enemas, the accidents resolved. My own published research shows the same thing.


And yet, psychological explanations for bedwetting and accidents persist — not just among parents and school administrators but also among many in the medical community.


Many of my patients have been referred to behavioral therapists by their own pediatricians. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) states, “Enuresis [bedwetting] can be triggered by separation from a parent, the birth of a sibling or family conflict.”


The evidence? The DSM-V cites exactly one study, published in an Indian medical journal, which itself cites no evidence.


A number of studies claim to have found a link between “difficult temperament,” “behaviour problems in early childhood” and bedwetting, but almost none of them considered whether the children were constipated. The omission alone renders these studies useless. And even the rare studies that have considered (and dismissed) constipation as a cause are of no value because their methods of detecting constipation are highly unreliable.


How do they check children for constipation? They have parents fill out a questionnaire asking whether their children a) poop fewer than three times a week and b) strain to poop.


I cannot emphasize how unhelpful these questions are. First of all, pooping frequency is a poor gauge of constipation. MANY chronically constipated children poop every day — even two or three times a day — because they never fully empty. Though these kids appear to be "regular," X-rays prove their rectums are chock full of poop.


Second, how many parents know whether their school-age kids are "straining" to poop? I don't know many moms who hang out in the bathroom while their 5th graders have a bowel movement. I was severely constipated throughout childhood and strained plenty to poop. I never mentioned this to my parents.


Dr. O’Regan conducted anal manometry on his patients because he knew parent reports were unreliable. I X-ray my patients for the same reason. Well over 90% of my bedwetting patients prove to be severely constipated, yet only about 5% of the parents had any idea.


Most of their pediatricians missed the constipation because they did nothing more than ask the parents how often the child poops and feel the child’s belly. But even small, wiry children can harbor massive amounts of poop in their rectum without anyone noticing.


To some extent, I can understand why adults seek psychological explanations for accidents. It’s just hard to believe a perfectly healthy 8-year-old could poop in his pants and not notice. Or that a 10th grader could fail to outgrow bedwetting, like most of his friends, or suddenly start wetting the bed.


But when you perform the right tests and ask the right questions, you can see why.


When I have a patient with "secondary enuresis" (bedwetting that starts after a long period of dryness), I don't assume the bedwetting actually came out of the blue. And I don't simply ask how often the child poops. In addition to doing an X-ray, I ask more relevant questions, such as whether the child has any history of daytime urgency, or frequency or extra-large poops, and whether the child has recently been in an environment, such as school, where he or she won't use the bathroom.


In talking with these families, I usually find the child has shown signs of constipation over the years — signs that went unrecognized — and that some relatively recent event has caused the child to use the bathroom less often.


A typical scenario: A kindergartener suddenly starts wetting the bed or having accidents after being dry since age 2 or 3. The parents attribute the accidents to the “stress” of starting a new school. In reality, the child was too intimidated to use the school bathroom (or was restricted by school rules) and started withholding pee and poop.


Something similar often happens in high school, because students encounter stricter bathroom policies, are grossed out by bathroom conditions, or fear being bullied in the bathroom. Many of my patients never use the restroom between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. In kids with a history of moderate constipation, that change is enough to trigger bedwetting.


Of course, I always rule out medical causes for bedwetting, such as an anatomic or neurological condition or diabetes. On very rare occasions, the cause turns out to be something other than constipation.
But virtually all the time, constipation is the culprit, and aggressively treating the rectal clog resolves the accidents. They key is to keep the rectum clear on a daily basis so it has time to shrink back to size and stop bothering the bladder. A one-time clean-out will not do the trick.


While it is clear that stress and behavioral issues do not cause bedwetting, it’s also clear that bedwetting can cause children tremendous stress. These kids get teased by peers and blamed and shamed by adults. They avoid sleepovers and camping trips and feel crummy about themselves. They sit in my office and hang their hands.


But when they get properly treated and their accidents resolve, their entire demeanor changes. They brighten up, become more social, regain their confidence, and start participating in activities they’d avoided for years.

About the Author
Steve Hodges, M.D., is an associate professor of pediatric urology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and co-author, with Suzanne Schlosberg, of Bedwetting and Accidents Aren’t Your Fault, Jane and the Giant Poop, It’s No Accident, and The M.O.P. Book. http://bedwettingandaccidents.com/ 



How to Explain Cyberbullying to Young Kids

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 No comments


Today, it is believed that 87 percent of teens have encountered cyberbullying in some form. This number is up dramatically from just a few years ago, when only 27 percent of our kids acknowledged witnessing these cruel online behaviors. That means that all of our school assemblies, news programs, and campaigns to delete cyberbullying aren’t working and the rates have now tripled!

This is disheartening, because we often hear about cyberbullying and the impact it is having on tweens and teenagers. Victims of cyberbullying often experience depression, loneliness, anxiety, and thoughts of self harm. If those effects aren’t frightening enough, kids who are cyberbullied tend to remove themselves from their friends and favorite activities while their grades often decline.

To make matters worse, cyberbullying happens in a variety of ways and is always changing with new technologies. Regardless of how the cyberbullying takes place, this is a dangerous threat facing all of our sons and daughters as they grow. However, there is hope. Childhood is the perfect time to begin dealing with cyberbullying so we can stop it from occurring or spiraling out of control before it even begins.

Building Empathy Early to Prevent Bullying Later

One of the best ways we can combat cyberbullying is to help our small kids develop empathy. We need to help our sons and daughters understand what other people feel or more importantly, how they would feel if they were in the same situation. Thankfully, empathy is a learned trait that can be taught.

We can teach our boys and girls how to “walk in another person’s shoes” and develop this skill as they grow. This is good news, because research shows that children who are empathetic tend to perform better in school, social groups, and even as adults in the workforce. Small kids learn this skill at different rates, because we all know a 3 year old won’t be able to understand the power of words like a 6 year old.

Trying to describe or explain cyberbullying to small children can be difficult, because typically young kids are very concrete, literal thinkers. As a child ages, they will develop abstract thinking skills so they can comprehend objects, principles, morals, and ideas that aren’t actually present or visible. However, this higher level of comprehension typically doesn’t develop until between the ages of 11 and 16.




Explaining Cyberbullying to Small Children

We can help small children build on their natural empathy to comprehend the true scope of cyberbullying and overcome their lack of abstract thinking by implementing the following suggestions:

     Lead by example by modeling kindness and respect. Avoid name calling, yelling obscenities, and being respectful when you talk about others.
     Clearly define bullying and empower them with coping skills in case they encounter these behaviors in real life or online. Let them know they should seek an adult, avoid arguing, and stand up for themselves safely.
     Keep the definition simple for young children. They will not comprehend the true scope of cyberbullying until they get older and too much information can confuse them or lead to some very grown up discussions a child isn’t prepared to handle. However, they can understand how someone feels if they are getting picked on or called names.
     Start early when it comes to discussing bullying and gradually build on this basic foundation as a child ages. Make sure to include cyberbullying when a child begins using technology.
     Use stories and movies to help children process the topic of bullying and show how words can hurt.
     Role play scenarios that involve bullying and teach one or two methods to diffuse the situation. You don’t have to go out of your way, just bring it up while playing dolls or Legos and use playtime to build empathy.
     Communicate, communicate, and communicate. It sounds cliche, but we need to keep the dialogue lines open. This process starts when our boys and girls are young. As they grow, we need to encourage them to talk to us about everything and anything so they know we are there to support them or help them solve problems they face.

What tips do you have for explaining cyberbullying or developing empathy when it comes to small children?

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. 


Don't Spit-Smudge My Face: Respecting Children's Personal Space

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 No comments


My son had food crumbs on his face. Absent-mindedly, I began wiping them off in the presence of others who were just feet away. Apparently, this was quite embarrassing for him. Of course, I didn’t mean to embarrass my child. In fact, I thought it would be more embarrassing for him to walk around school with crumbs on his face, but his look of disdain caused me to take pause and think of my actions. How would I like it if someone started wiping my face in front of my friends? My honest answer was, I wouldn’t.

I think of myself as a respectful parent. I honor my children as valuable human beings and do my best to treat their minds, bodies, and spirits with respect, and yet I realize that there have been many times when I have unintentionally disrespected their personal space. Let’s look at some of the common practices most parents do that we generally don’t think twice about.

Wiping Hands and Faces Without Warning


It would feel bazaar to say to a baby “I’m going to wipe the milk off your chin now” or to a toddler, “Your hands are sticky. I’m going to clean them with this wet wipe.” We usually wipe them clean without permission or often warning, but isn’t this rather rude? When I consider how I would feel if perhaps a waiter came up to me at a restaurant and wiped my face abruptly, I cringe. We wouldn’t dream of disrespecting an adult in such a way, but it is common practice in how we relate to children.

Scooping Them Up and Away


There have been countless times I have swooped in and scooped up my children without so much as a whisper of caution. Come to think it of it now, it probably gave them quite a fright! I can no longer do this because they’re half grown, but when they were little and light, I would scoop them up and away from undesirable objects and predicaments or just casually pick them up for a snuggle, and they never saw it coming.

Smacks, Slaps and Spankings


Still very common practices, many parents smack little hands away from outlets or hot stoves. They slap legs and spank bottoms to deter unwanted behavior, but these common methods disrespect a child’s body and dignity. While many still argue that the occasional smack or spanking is a necessary tool in child-rearing, I believe all humans have the right to protect their own bodies and that we send a dangerous message by violating this right with our young ones.

Tickles, Hugs and Kisses


I believe strongly in showing affection to our children, and I’m not going to assert that we must ask permission every time we want to hug them. What I am suggesting is that we be aware of the cues our children give us and know when to ask and when to back off. One of my children loves hugs but not kisses. Another despises tickling. I think it shows our children respect when we honor their wishes regarding tickling and affection and allow them to have a voice. Relatedly, it is quite common to expect children to hug and kiss family members they may not know well or feel comfortable with, and I think it is good idea to give children the option of a handshake or high-five in those situations.

Honoring Children by Giving Them a Voice
 

We can honor our children and show respect by starting when they are babies. Though it may feel silly at first, voice what you are doing as you change a diaper or wipe them down. I know they will not understand your words early on, but your gentle, respectful demeanor will be communicated nonetheless. As they grow, give warning before you pick them up, and explain why they mustn’t touch the outlet or get so near the stove. Point out the smudges on their faces and hand them a wipe, allowing them to take charge of keeping their bodies clean. Offer hugs and kisses often but never force them, and allow them the opportunity to say “no” to tickling and affection. Give them a voice by teaching them to say “Please don’t do that to me” or “I’d prefer a high-five, Uncle Jim.” Children are valuable, whole human beings from the beginning. Giving them the message “you are worthy of respect” from day one tells them they are safe with us and that we value them as people.

This article was originally published by Boston Parents Paper.