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Examining the life of a Woman and her journey in S.T.E.M, you will find that almost everything she ever did from the stone age till date has had some elements of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, which in today’s world is referred to as S.T.E.M.

Now, when we think about S.T.E.M and related jobs, we envision Physicists, Aeronautic Engineers, Software Developers, Biotechnologist, Medical Doctors and the likes. We tend to see more men in these fields and it is only natural to assume that men have always dominated these fields. This is not completely true, women have always been in the S.T.E.M field from the beginning of time, however, their contributions have not been adequately recognized or commended. Some may argue that this lack of appreciation may have contributed to the decline in the number of girls interested in S.T.E.M fields.

In this edition, we are looking at certain factors that make up the S.T.E.M disciplines and how much women have contributed to them over the years.

Let’s take a closer look at the genesis of machinery, which we identify as “technology” today, and the invention of some household products; we would find that long before we had modern-day science to create new and easier methods of performing household chores and activities, women had always performed all these activities without the use of technology.  Women washed, cooked, cared for the daily health needs of their family, devised means to preserve foods etc.

Women changed the world through S.T.E.M in areas like:

Research: Many simple things that have been modified today for daily use, were as a result of women’s discoveries, for example, researchers from the ACI, while describing the origin of soaps, state that women found that a slippery mixture of melted animal fat (or tallow), washed down from Mount Sapo (sapo: the name from which the name soap is derived), the mountain where animals were sacrificed, made their wash much cleaner without much effort, this led to the discovery and manufacture of soap. Maybe we owe the amazing feel of clean fresh washed clothes to women.

Technology: Have you ever wondered whom to thank when you’re getting your coffeemaker ready for your first cup of the day? Melitta Bentz was a German Housewife and entrepreneur who invented the coffee filter in 1908. Bentz modified the old tedious method of coffee brewing to a new method. She received a patent for her coffee filter system in 1908 and founded a business that still exists today.

Looking further into how certain tasks were achieved in the past, you would see that there was quite a very strong influence of the women community in how things were done.

Women such as Ellen Eglin an African-American who during the 1800’s invented a clothes wringer, which started the mechanization of the uncomfortable but predominant method of hand washing. Her invention would be further modified as washing machines today.

Eglin sold her patent to a “white person interested in manufacturing the product” for $18. The buyer went on to reap considerable financial awards, while Eglin, disadvantaged in colour and gender, spent her life making a living as a housekeeper and a government clerk.

Going back to the past, and women’s’ contributions to the S.T.E.M field, let’s take a look at the subject of water purification. A scientific process, pioneered by a woman Hypatia.

Chemistry: Hypatia lived in Alexandria Egypt from 350–370 died 415 AD; she was a Hellenistic Neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician. She taught philosophy and astronomy and is recorded as the first female mathematician whose life is reasonably well documented. Hypatia was one of the scientific pioneers that introduced the distillation of water which has now become a common activity in every household. Easy as it now seems, it was considered a scientific exploit meant to make a substance purer than its original state. A process made possible by the contributions of a woman, and not many people have heard of her.

In tackling this issue of how much influence or participation women had in S.T.E.M in the past, it can also be viewed be from a very unconventional point of view. Take Alchemy, (defined by the urban dictionary as a form of chemistry before the periodic table, and speculative philosophy practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance which was aimed at transmutation of the base metals into gold) – some called it magic.  During the time of the alchemist, women had far more reputable standing especially in the depth of their research when compared to men in the field of alchemy. Something their male colleagues did not particularly like.

A good example of such a woman is Marie le Jars de Gournay, who was not allowed to receive the same education in science as her brothers. Blessed with an inquisitive mind, she was able to teach herself Latin and later went on to edit academic manuscripts. As a fully-grown woman and with all the knowledge she had acquired, she became the first female mineralogist and mining engineer.

She later moved to Paris, where she tried her hands at alchemy and published books expressing her views on how women were very much capable of creating a career for themselves in science-related fields like men. During her practice of alchemy, in a time when people still believed in magical creatures and witchcraft. Marie who was very proud of her work ignored the advice of people who cautioned her to stay away from mining. Her bold refusal to give up her practice had her accused of witchcraft and imprisoned, she died in jail at age eighty (80). How dare she thrive in a ‘Man’s’ field, poor Marie.

Isabelle Cortese is another remarkable Alchemist who lived during the sixteenth century in Italy. She chronicled her discoveries in her book titled “The Secrets of Signora Isabella Cortese”. Among her discoveries include; practical methods of perfume production; the production of essential oils and methods of melting metals to make durable jewellery. Most of her works are still in use today.

Innovation: In the area of manufacturing, we have Margaret E. Knight, she was born February 1838, in York, Maine. Armed with only a basic education, she started as a mill worker at age 12. Witnessing an accident at the mill, where a worker was stabbed by a steel-tipped shuttle from a loom, Knight was prompted to invent a safety device for the loom – Her first invention. A device which was later adopted by other mills in Manchester. Several years later, Knight moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, where she was hired by the Columbia Paper Bag Company; here she invented a machine that folds and glues paper to form the flat-bottomed brown paper bags familiar to shoppers today.

While Knight was still working to perfect the processing machinery, Charles F Annan, a would-be-inventor of dubious morality, tried to bully her out of her hard work, stealing her design, and patenting the device. Knight filed a successful patent interference lawsuit and in 1871, and she was awarded the patent. Before her death, Knight held over 20 patents and a decoration by Queen Victoria.  At the time of her death in 1914, an obituary described her as a “Woman Edison” A name which many people will come to remember her by. Somewhat dispiriting, to think that she needed a reference to male inventor for the value of her work to be understood?

Katharine Burr Blodgett is another remarkable woman, an American physicist, and chemist known for her work on surface chemistry. Blodgett contributed important research to military needs. Her work in chemistry resulted in her most influential invention: non-reflective glass. Her non-reflective glass is today, an essential for eyeglasses, car windshields, and computer screens. She was a pioneer in several respects, but how many know about her?

The list of women that have made remarkable contributions to various branches of S.T.E.M remain unending, however, the questions remain “What happened?”, “Where did it all change?”. Women had always been in the S.T.E.M field, what held them back to create the gap?

We can see that there was quite a large number of women who were genuinely interested in this field of study, but over time the number began to dwindle. Taking into consideration, the environmental, societal and mental factors that have come into play between then and now, we can begin to understand why women and girls are slowly losing interest in the S.T.E.M. community.

Some of the reasons include: They were not encouraged; they were held back by pressures; their efforts were sabotaged, and they are oftentimes not acknowledged for their contributions.

The most common is lack of Encouragement. Most cultures in the world have given a high level of dominance to the male-folks when it comes to studying S.T.E.M related courses. It is no new issue that some countries see the place of the woman solely in a domestic light. Little wonder girls who study in all girl’s schools tend to be more interested in the S.T.E.M field, and oftentimes outperform their co-ed counterparts. Psychologists found they have less discouragement and little or no negative comparison which their co-ed counterparts are regularly faced with.

What do we do?

Create an “I Can Do It” Atmosphere. In order to excite the minds young girls into studying S.T.E.M related courses, they need to be exposed to the right atmosphere. Vanessa Vakharia who runs The Math Guru science and math studio noted that one of the reasons for the low number of girls in science, is simple; many girls have come to believe that they do not have what it takes to be in S.T.E.M. She advises that incorporating a more psychological and critical means of approach would benefit the girls, especially while they are still trying to figure out who they are.  

Mentors and Role Models for Girls in S.T.E.M. The place of role models cannot be overemphasized when it comes to the girl child development, this cuts across all areas, education, workforce etc. Increasing access to S.T.E.M Mentors (women who have excelled in these fields) for the young girls, would go a long way toward building their self-confidence. Interaction with S.T.E.M mentors would serve as a confidence booster, and as a driving force towards achieving their goals.

Condition their minds. It’s quite common knowledge parents and guardians play an important role in preparing their children psychologically towards their career path. They can do this in various ways; for instance, introducing a variety of television programs that can help them identify what their kids are interested in – e.g. kids may show interest in S.T.E.M inclined programs like Doc McStuffins or Dexter’s Laboratory, which gives you an idea of where best to channel their energy

Other areas include; S.T.E.M inclined books, toys, fun activities like visiting the aquarium; that way you will awaken the marine biologist in them. You can also encourage your girls to participate in their school’s science exhibitions e.t.c.

While early school years can contribute to developing an interest in S.T.E.M in girls, parents can also work towards encouraging their kids with the littlest things in their surroundings. A little nudge once in a while can help create that enthusiasm to study.

S.T.E.M is a very broad and interesting study area and having more women interested in it will definitely be better for the world.

“Too many people spend money they have not earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like”.  This wise saying by Will Rogers kept resounding in my subconscious as I walked towards the grade 1 class of Deepens Elementary school to teach the pupils on this very important but neglected topic “Financial Management”. 

It is not wrong to say that one of the challenges people face nowadays is the inability to secure resources for pressing future demands and needs, and the source of this problem can be traced to improper financial management. In a society where being in debt has become a norm and an unavoidable means for survival, the importance of educating the upcoming generation about financial management cannot be overemphasized. Children who have learnt how to navigate the world of debt and credit will grow into adults who have more money for savings, which can help them pay for large expenses without relying on credit, and they can set aside money for retirement accounts.

Most times Parents find it easier and more comfortable to talk to their little kids about Time Management, keeping the right company, Table etiquettes and so on but they often don’t see the need to talk about financial management. Since the kids are young and do not earn a living, they consider talking about Financial Management as a topic for when they are grown into adulthood – but adulthood creeps in fast; because they tend to forget that financial management is not a skill that is built overnight, but a habit that is cultivated through constant practice.  

As parents, one of the great ways to lay the foundation of a strong financial background for your kids is starting right on time to teach them about financial management.  Kids can only become money smart when they have the right coaching.  Since Money has become one of the vital yet scarce resources on earth, a smart parent must make effort to produce money smart kids who can keep them rest assured that this scarce resource will be used optimally. Here are some tips:

Give them an allowance. In order to teach your kids financial management, you should be willing to give them an allowance.  You might decide to give money every week to the youngest children, at two-week intervals for preteens and monthly for teenagers. Gradually spreading out the timing will help your children understand the need to manage their spending. Since they know they have to spread a small number of resources around their countless wants; they will have to learn how to prioritize their wants and sieve out the needs from the countless list of wants. Giving allowance to your child gives her a chance to control her own money; also remind her that she would not receive any other cash until the next allowance date.

Make use of Piggy Banks. A piggy bank is a money box where people save money for a certain period of time until they are ready for use. Introducing your kids to a piggy bank is another easy way to teach them financial management. Piggy banks can help your children imbibe a habit of saving money for bigger projects. You can help your kids increase the money in their piggy banks by insisting they save something out of every money they get as gifts or allowance.

Children love to be rewarded for their good works, while building in your kids a lifestyle of proper financial management, tell them that although the goal is to fill up the piggy bank with dollars and coins, until there is no room, but the main intention is to use the money to purchase the gift they have long desired. 

Teach them to earn a little extra. Another great way to raise money-smart kids is by teaching your children how to earn a little extra.  This goes a long way to prove to kids that money is not just plucked on trees but it is earned through timely smart work. You probably expect your kids to clean their room, help with the dishes and do other daily chores but consider offering them a financial reward for going the extra mile to take on other jobs that go beyond their normal routine.

Getting paid for extra work will help instill good habits and give children more control over saving and spending since they realize how hard they had to work for the money. This will also help them build the habit of going the extra mile when assigned a task since they know each extra mile attracts a cash reward.

Help them understand the true value of money. In order to raise money-smart kids, you must help your children understand that the impact and the true value of money is recognized when it is used to help others. A great way to raise money-smart kids is by letting kids know that the money they get is not just for them alone but that is also needed to help other lives. This will motivate them to save more since a part of their money will also be used to assist the less privileged children around them.

You raise money-smart kids when you help your children earmark part of their allowance to donations for the less privilege.

Mirror a Proper Financial Management Lifestyle. Children see their parents as their first models if you do not showcase the right financial management skills; your children will definitely follow suit. If kids see you spending wisely, they’ll be more likely to follow your example. As a parent, when you stick to a budget during shopping it becomes easier to train your teenager to stick to a budget while spending her allowance.

While educating your child on financial management, you must not forget that children learn by example. Have your own jar of money that you put funds in regularly and let your kids know that you practice what you preach, this means you must save also. Reiterate the message that every time you get paid, you save a portion of your check to help prepare for the future. Let your kids know that you have priorities which you save for and that this includes their education. They should know about why and how you are saving for their college education. 

As parents, you should be willing to let your children know when you have a financial crisis. This is not to frighten them or to be used as an excuse to deny them of their basic needs, but it should show a sought of financial openness to your children. Let them know that money does have a constant flow always. You must help your kids realize that most times “mum does not get all her needs met as planned”.  Let them understand that there are days you squeeze through scarce resources in order to meet vital needs in the home.  This will teach them how to use their little resources to meet their endless needs and also how to forgo some wants for other needs to be met.

In Conclusion, teaching kids to save money will not be an easy task; of course, it demands discipline not just from the child but also from you as a parent but the benefit and comfort enjoyed from exhibiting proper financial management skills are limitless. In this modern society, it is not difficult to see adults who are poor money managers who find it difficult and stressful to make vital financial decisions. This often happens because they did not learn at the right time, how to be proper financial managers. Some parents try to avoid money conversations with their kids; this is very wrong. Parents need to realize that money conversations from childhood help children grow into adults that have a healthy relationship with money and therefore face little or no financial crisis.

By
Eloke-Young Splendor

 

 

We have all come across the generally accepted phrase “Information is power” which is used quite often in different contexts. When explaining the unique qualities of information, one could say its potential to transmit to power is virtually inexhaustible. Possessing information can improve your business, career, marriage, health and has the potentials to change almost all aspects of your life.

Let’s talk about health; I recently read about a mental disorder known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD) on WebMD, which is said to be the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children. Prior to this, I had absolutely no knowledge of its existence.

Experts say that children diagnosed with ADHD are often found to be hyperactive and unable to control their impulses. They may have trouble paying attention, and these behaviors interfere with their school and home life.

ADHD is found to be more common in boys than in girls and with the right attention is usually discovered during the early school years, when a child begins to have problems paying attention. Adults with ADHD may have trouble managing time, being organized, setting goals, and holding down a job. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addiction.

According to specialists ADHD is often characterized by the following symptoms:

The child is easily distracted; doesn’t follow directions or finish tasks; doesn’t appear to be listening; doesn’t pay attention and makes careless mistakes; forgets about daily activities; has problems organizing daily tasks, doesn’t like to do things that require sitting still, often loses things and Tends to daydream.

While many children with ADHD are, in fact, very energetic, high energy alone is not enough to warrant a diagnosis. In fact, children with some forms of ADHD are not high energy at all. ADD, may manifest itself in low energy combined with inattentiveness and other symptoms. So, when might a child with lots of energy be diagnosed with ADHD?

Keath Low, MA, a psychotherapist with the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina, says:

In order to qualify for the diagnosis, a child must have a chronic, pervasive problem with his or her ability to regulate activity level, as well as impairment in their ability to inhibit and control impulses. The impairment of functioning or learning is the key to differentiating ADHD from normal activity.

Do you have a kid who shows a few of these symptoms? Maybe it’s time to visit a specialist. Here’s a story by Larry Silver, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He says:

“I recently diagnosed eight-year-old Aidan with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). When I met with his parents to explain the disorder, each time I described a symptom, his mother exclaimed, “That’s me!” or “I’ve been like that all my life, too.” At the end of the appointment, she asked me if she should be evaluated, as well”.

As an adult, Aidan’s mother had jumped from job to job and had difficulty meeting household demands. As a child, she had struggled through school, often getting into trouble and getting poor grades. After a thorough evaluation of her chronic and pervasive history of hyperactivity, distractibility, and other symptoms of ADHD, she was diagnosed by a psychiatrist who works with adults.

Can ADHD Be ‘Cured or Outgrown?

Aidan and his mother both started on ADHD medication. Aidan’s grades and behavior improved. His mom reported being more relaxed and efficient at work and at home. On a follow-up visit, she remarked, “If only I had been on medication as a child. I could have finished college, I could….” Then she paused: “Oh, my gosh, does this mean that Aidan will never outgrow ADHD, and that he’ll take medication for the rest of his life?”

Good question. The best answer I could give was, “Possibly.” Why can’t I be more specific? Didn’t she deserve a clearer answer? Until the early 1990s, the medical community considered the condition a “childhood disorder.” Believing that children outgrew ADHD, physicians routinely took them off medication before high school. In many cases, however, the teens struggled socially and academically, making it clear that ADHD symptoms had not gone away. And, as greater efforts were made to educate parents about ADHD, more and more of them, like Aidan’s mother, began to recognize their own ADHD symptoms.

Clinically, we have seen that some individuals do show enough improvement after puberty that they no longer need medication. But the American Academy of Family Physicians reports that two-thirds of children with ADHD continue to grapple with the condition throughout adulthood.

Is ADHD Medication for Life?

How do I determine whether a particular child still needs medication? I advise taking children and adolescents off medication once a year. If the symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, and/or impulsivity are no longer noticeable, they stay off. Should these behaviors return, medication should be restarted. This process teaches adolescents about the challenges ADHD presents in their lives, and how to determine themselves whether medication is needed in school, at home, with friends, and so on. Medication should be used whenever symptoms interfere with the demands and expectations of a specific task or activity. It is not necessarily needed all day, every day.

For example, a college student may learn that she benefits from an eight-hour capsule to cover morning and afternoon classes, but can be off medication while she relaxes, exercises, or socializes later in the day. On evenings when she needs to study, she can take a four-hour tablet at about 6 p.m. An adult may find that he needs medication at work but not at home, or for some social functions, but not others.

Does this mean that my child will need medication for the rest of his life? Possibly. You can find out one year at a time. And, if medication is needed, you can teach him to use it for specific times and situations. In the future, I hope that fewer adults will tell me, “If only I had been on medication as a child….”

ADHD in the Family

As Aidan’s mother found, ADHD has a genetic component.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often appears to run in families, and research studies have suggested that there may be a genetic component to this disorder. Individuals diagnosed with ADHD may have close blood relatives with the disorder. Scientists believe that ADHD is a complex disorder that probably involves at least two genes. Non-genetic causes such as abnormal brain development, brain injury or environmental factors are also believed to play a role in the disorder.

After reading from Larry Silver, M.D, I can better understand some of the kids I have come across and adults I have to deal with who probably just like Aidan’s mother, have lived their lives unaware of this condition. In her words; “If only I had been on medication as a child. I could have finished college”.

ADHD may not have a permanent cure, but it can be controlled through proper care, and even though it may have a genetic component, armed with the right information, people with this condition can live and develop differently. Here are five tips from the ADD Resource Centre that can help better management of a child with ADD.

  1. Ensure your child’s bedroom creates a soothing atmosphere. Paint the walls a calming, serene color and eliminate distractions like too many posters and/or toys.
  2. Provide structure, but don’t be overbearing. Reward charts and chore wheels are a great way to keep younger kids on top of their responsibilities while still keeping it positive, and as they get older, this can evolve into keeping a planner or calendar.
  3. Take time to point out your child’s “wins” each day. Set a goal to acknowledge at least three positive behaviors your child has exhibited every single day. Tell him or her specifically what was done well and why it’s important. It becomes habitual to spot and correct negative behaviors but avoid making those moments a focus. Celebrate behavioral wins as they happen so that your child knows that not only do you recognize their progress, you also appreciate it.
  4. Make homework time fun. Try to make your child’s time at home as fun as possible, especially the time he’s meant to be doing homework.
  5. Get active. Exercise helps children with ADHD expend excess energy or simply burn off the stress of the day. The result is that they’re able to concentrate and control impulses better. Find something your child loves to do; swimming, karate, basketball, etc. and make sure they’re able to take part in that physical exercise as often as possible.

Watching little Lily, drag her mom round the toy store in search of a pink plush Unicorn, left me with the question – “what is it with Kids and colors?” I remember having a conversation with a colleague who told me that her sister helps her little children identify colors by purchasing a blue item for her son and pink for her daughter. It’s amazing how parents help their kids to identify colors by surrounding them with a lot of colorful items.

It has been observed that lots of colors are associated with children even though we live in a world totally surrounded by a wide range of colors. Imagining the setting of a typical pre-school or an early –grade – school one could wonder if some particular colors possess innate ability to speak to children or could it just be an arbitrary coincidence which occurs around the globe?  The love kids have for colors cannot be underrated seeing that it improves their learning process and makes learning fun. It has been discovered that children tend to remember colors faster than verbal cues or writing this signifies that having a colorful learning environment for children can promote retention in the learning process.

The learning process and ability of children will greatly improve when parents become fully aware of the impact of colors on a child’s learning process. The behavior of children towards a colorful environment especially when learning reveals that colors have the ability to inspire, soothe, excite, heal and even agitate. This is probably why most knowledgeable parents consider colors when making some vital choices for their children like purchasing of educational items, re-painting the children’s room, baking a child’s birthday cake, preparing a meal for a child who is a picky eater and so on. 

 Dr. Robert Gerard suggests that every color has a specific wavelength, and each of these wavelengths affect our body and brain in a different way. This means that using the right color, and the correct selection and placement can seriously affect the feelings, attention, and behavior of children when learning, recognizing this can help parents or teachers leverage on the advantage of colors for a child’s mental development and learning in general.

The behavior of children towards a colorful environment especially when learning reveals that colors have the ability to inspire, soothe, excite, heal and even agitate. This is probably why most parents consider colors when making some vital choices for their children like purchasing of educational items, re-painting the children’s room, baking a child’s birthday cake, preparing a meal for a child who is a picky eater and so on. 

Colors give children words to interpret the world around them, as it boosts their ability to compare and contrast experiences and things around them. I can vividly recall little Lily telling her mom that the doll at the toy shop was as black as night time.

The answer to the question “what is it with kids and colors?” can only be found on the lips of the three years old girl who cries over a friend’s pink dress even though she is adorned with a more gorgeous black dress or the little boy who picks a tasteless but colorful cup of ice-cream at the expense of a delicious white vanilla ice-cream.

One of the first ability to compare things was said to have been brought about by colors. During one of my visits to a grocery store I overheard this cute kid calling the storekeeper “Santa”, everyone present at the store laughed out loudly but no doubt, I think the innocent child was right; of course the storekeeper what fully adorned in a red and white outfit with a cone-shaped cap on his head. The color of his attire could only remind this little child of Santa Clause. It is obvious that colors have its way of setting a reminder of the names of the object in the mind of children. A 3-year-old child who sees the shape of a semi-circle colored yellow might not associate the picture with any other thing than a banana, and this is as a result of its color.

In conclusion, it is of great importance to note that color psychologists have linked color with brain development, decreased absenteeism, enhanced productivity and even a productive transition from childhood to adulthood. Recognizing these tremendous effects of colors on a child’s learning ability, it is advisable that one needs to take a more academic and research-oriented approach in considering a perfect colorful environment for a child. In order to improve your child’s learning ability, be sure to incorporate the right element of colors as you homeschool and paint the perfect picture for your child’s educational future.

Eloke-Young Splendor

As parents or guardians, we must work within the consciousness that children also have the tendency to get hurt by our actions or inactions. The fear of losing authority and respect has made most parents abandon the phrase “I am sorry” when relating with their children. Learning to say “I am sorry” to your child when you know you have made a mistake, will go a long way in building and maintaining a great parental relationship between you and the child, as well as showing mutual respect which we all should strive to teach and imbibe.  There is a popular phrase that says; respect is reciprocal, and a great way to show you respect your child is by rendering an apology to him or her when you realize you are in the wrong. Parents who desire to groom children with a healthy self–esteem and high personal value have learnt how to apologize to their kids when they go wrong. Offering gifts or making your child’s best meal as a form of appeasement for your wrongdoings cannot override the importance of a sincere apology.

Every great parent must realize that apologizing is nurturing. Nurturing a child involves prioritizing his emotions above the frustrations you face. Even when you lose control, acknowledging a misstep and apologizing for it proves a great deal, that you have great value for the child.  As a parent you are a guardian to your child and not a control freak or a dictator, therefore; mistakes are sometimes permissible. Rendering apologies prove that you nurture more and control less.  Since children are meant to be nurtured and not driven by the horn, then real parents who intend to nurture confident children must learn to apologize for their wrong acts. 

True Apologies solidify bonds amongst parents and their children.  Saying “I am sorry” to a child when you are wrong helps the child to realize that you are not without mistakes too. Apologies repair mistakes, and repairing mistakes can take a relationship to a totally new level.  In addition, true apologies help adults build an authentic relationship with their children—one in which both people will sometimes make mistakes. Repairing mistakes (apologizing) can and often does take a relationship to a new level.

Teaching a child how to take responsibilities for his actions can be very frustrating most times, but never forget that children learn from example, as a mother you are the perfect mirror and example your child beholds each day. Offering a true apology teaches children—even toddlers—how to take responsibility for their actions and how to forgive. Taking this responsibility as a mother also gives the child boldness to as well stand up to his responsibilities.  

Here are a few ways to easily apologize to young children:

Explain without giving excuses. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Some parents start to apologize and then veer into excusing themselves because the child was in the wrong. A good way to apologize is doing it without apportioning blames or giving excuses for your actions.

In addition, follow up with action. It’s a great deal to note that actions are what make asking for forgiveness effective. Children listen to your actions than words. When apologizing to a child, do not make promises you cannot keep.  If you have said “I am sorry’ let your actions really show that you mean every word. If we desire to build a cordial and transparent relationship with our children then, our actions and attitudes need to speak as loudly as our words. If we keep making the same mistake over and over again, our apologies will start to ring hollow. Apologies can become a normalized courtesy when you do not mean what you say so mean it before you utter it; learn that actions show that you truly mean it.

Be age appropriate. You could also decide to be age appropriate in rendering your apology to your child. If they’re little, physically get down on their level. You’re a lot bigger than a young child, so make yourself as physically approachable as you can. Squat, stoop or sit down. Make good eye contact. Hug your child. Your body communicates as well as your words, and a posture of humility communicates vast amounts to a young child that they’re not likely to verbally comprehend. If they’re bigger kids, you can use more words—just make sure they’re designed to show that mums screw up, and mums love their kids.

In conclusion, every parent knows that pride is the middleman that comes in-between being wrong and rendering an apology but your ability to say “I am sorry” to that little child you have hurt, shows that you love your children more than your pride. Learn to apologize and let the pride slide as this can save not just the day but life-long relationship.

By – Splendor Eloke Young

Recently at the cinema, I had an unfortunate encounter with a parent and her special needs child, and it got me wondering; are there ways of disciplining special needs children? I bet many others have wondered same thing too.

It’s definitely not easy on the parent of the child with special needs, because they’ve got a lot to deal with. From the moment they heard the diagnosis, they probably felt that life would be more challenging for their child than it is for other children, and they are often not far from the truth. So they make excuses for their child; excuses like – does he really need me to point out his limitations by trying to correct him? And when you ask him to do something and it’s not done, they let it go. Slowly and gradually you let go of discipline, forgetting that Discipline — correcting kids’ actions, showing them what’s right and wrong, what’s acceptable and what’s not — is one of the most important ways that ALL parents can show their kids that they love and care about them.

Granted, disciplining a child with special needs is usually more challenging than disciplining a typically developing child. However, it is just as important, to discipline a special needs child if not more so, to encourage appropriate behavior for your child. It is essential to hold special needs children to the same expectations as their typically developing peers as often as possible.

Discipline is not a punishment. It is a tool to be used to promote positive behaviors and decrease negative behaviors. It should be used as a means to encourage progress of the child across all aspects of their development. And while all children are different and demonstrate different behaviors as they grow, there are a few discipline techniques that are applicable for all special needs children.

I would not go into the details of my encounter with the parent at the cinema, but I would share a few tips that I found on Northshore Pediatric Therapy about Discipline Strategies for Special Needs Children: Here they are –

  1. Praise good behaviors; ignore bad behaviors (if possible). Cause and effect is one of the earliest concepts a child learns. If he learns that you give attention (even if it is to reprimand or physically stop him) when he reacts inappropriately, he will continue the poor behavior seeking the negative attention. Rather, it is beneficial to teach him that the good behaviors will result in the attention and praise he seeks.
  2. If possible, determine the underlying cause for the behaviors and address it. It can be extremely frustrating to not be able to effectively communicate to meet wants and needs. Before you react, assess the situation and give as much assistance as you can to help him communicate with you. Then, validate his emotions and give your command. For example, “I can see that Kyle taking your toys is making you mad, but it is not okay to hit him. Hands are not for hitting.”
  3. Avoid punishments. Research supports that positive discipline and behavior management are more effective than corporal punishment.
  4. Model appropriate behaviors yourself. Children with special needs will not understand, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Children will imitate what they observe in their environments. Pay attention to when and how you raise your voice or when you demonstrate listening skills for your child.
  5. Give countdowns. It can be hard to suddenly stop a fun activity. Give warnings like, “5 more minutes before it’s time to clean up…2 more minutes…10 more seconds…” For some children with special needs, a visual or auditory aid may be more useful. For example, “You can play until the timer goes off.” or, “When the red is gone from the clock, we’ll be all done with bath time.”
  6. If you’re having trouble, give choices. If you tell your child to do something, he must complete the requested action; however, you can give him choices on how he completes the activity. If it is time to clean up and put on pajamas, he can chose where the trains can sleep for the night, whether he hops like a bunny or craws like a bear down the hall, and which pajamas he wants to wear to bed. This is a great strategy for giving some control back to the child without backing down.
  7. Consequences should be related to the behavior. Timeouts, while great for calming down, may not be effective to decrease the behavior if the child does not understand that the consequence is related to the behavior. If your child throws a toy, he must stop his activity and go retrieve the toy (with your help if necessary). If he refuses to complete an activity, he cannot complete any other activity until the original request is completed (with your help if necessary).
  8. Consistency, consistency, consistency. For many children with special needs, learning new things can be a slower, more difficult process. Remember…if you give a command, it must be followed through, with or without help from you. Having consistent expectations across environments and across caregivers is critical to ensuring effectiveness of the discipline on the behavior.

Some defiant behaviors and limit testing is a normal part of development for all children. It is a way of learning more about their roles and a way of exerting independence. It can be embarrassing and hard to deal with public meltdowns and screaming unhappy children, but remember, ALL parents have been there.

I spent some part of my last holiday visiting the home of my childhood friend – Aijay, who is a pediatrician and a mother of three. We relived old memories, remembering the “good old – stress-free days”, and our crazy childhood.

While catching up on old times, I mentioned bumping into a mutual friend, Kelly; who had attended the same schools we did. Kelly had always been on the big side, and as we progressed, she got even bigger, by the time we were graduating from the university, she was visibly obese, she, however, never failed to educate anyone who cared enough to listen, that the big set look, runs in her family. Fast forward twenty years on, here she was in a supermarket, with her 7-year old daughter that looks just like she did back in the day. Seeing them reminded me of her mum’s visit, during our boarding school days. Her mum back then, had looked just like our Kelly now does, and I had to ask Aijay; could it really be hereditary?

Aijay in her usual manner smiled and said to me, Bee; read it up. And that’s exactly what I did.

Did you know that Pediatric obesity has been viewed as a growing epidemic of the past few decades that requires intervention, similar to tobacco use? Over the last decade, there have been predictions from medical and health researchers that obesity will surpass tobacco as the biggest threat to overall well-being. A 2016 report by Alaska Department of Health and Social Services stated that obesity already surpasses tobacco in estimates of annual medical costs in Alaska at $459 vs. $318 million. And this is just one of many similar statistics. In a more recent article by Kelly Heyworth the creator of Happy Healthy Kids, she cited a discussion with Dr. Ludwig the director of Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he stated that Obesity has now surpassed tobacco as the biggest threat to overall well-being.

Why I’m I so worried? A January 2018 report, published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that in the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. Data from 2015-2016 show that nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States is obese. This report comes from a region with statistics; now think about regions with much less informatics.

As parents, we often find ourselves trying to manage our kids eating habits without making them feel less beautiful. We also find ourselves on the tricky path of identifying the difference between a child who is at risk for obesity and one who is naturally big boned or muscular. Studies have shown that parents are oftentimes poor judges of their child’s weight even when the problem is seemingly obvious. More so, being overweight has become so common that parents have come to view children having excessive weight as ‘normal’. A recent study published in Childhood Obesity stated that researchers found that more than 96 percent of parents of overweight preschoolers thought that their child was the ‘right’ size. Weight remains an incredibly touchy topic; so it’s little wonder you find a popular retort “Find a new doctor!” among parents who are advised by a pediatrician that their child’s BMI is too high.

Whether a child is overweight, obese, or at the risk of becoming so, it’s key to find a balance between encouraging healthier habits and not making them anxious about their size, because despite how common it is, studies have also shown that it “being fat” is the primary reason most kids are bullied. This may also be one reason why childhood obesity is strongly linked to low self-esteem and depression in adulthood. Oftentimes parents while trying to help their child’s with self-esteem, find themselves using phrases like, “you come from a line of heavy set people – your weight is just right – you are not overweight” etc. This will usually make the kid feel better, but will not tackle the budding weight problem. Fast forward 20 years on, and you have a Kelly, looking like her mum, holding a 7-year-old, who looks just like she did 20 years back. What I’m I saying? Build the child’s self-esteem, but do something about the budding weight issue.

While a few extra pounds do not necessarily suggest obesity, they may indicate a tendency to gain weight easily, and a call for a change in diet/exercise routine may be required. A child is not usually considered obese until the weight is at least 10 percent higher than what is recommended for their height and body type. (Read up BMI) Obesity oftentimes begins between the ages of 5 and 6, or during adolescence. Studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult. Remember, it’s never too early or too late to make a healthy change.

Experts say that the already slippery slope of managing an overweight child becomes even steeper when they approach adolescence, as research has it, 8 out of 10 overweight children will remain so as grown-ups. It is a lot easier to fix a budding weight issue than an established one, so intervening before these kids slide into a long-term problem is crucial is important. Children have a unique advantage over adults: They’re still growing, so they don’t have to lose weight to grow out of a minor problem; they just need to slow their rate of weight gain.

To answer the question, is it really hereditary? There’s no doubt that genetics comes in the list of causes of obesity, however, research shows that Obesity in childhood and adolescence can also be related to: poor eating habits, overeating or binging, lack of exercise (i.e., couch potato kids), family history of obesity, medical illnesses (endocrine, neurological problems), medications (steroids, some psychiatric medications), stressful life events or changes (separations, divorce, moves, deaths, abuse), family and peer problems, low self-esteem, depression or other emotional problems. This invariably means we cannot put the blame entirely on genetics, and even if there are genetic factors involved, there are ways to manage your kid’s weight. Now here are some tips from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention about what you can do as a parent or Guardian to help prevent childhood overweight and obesity.

Balance the Calories: Help your children develop healthy eating habits – One part of balancing calories is to eat foods that provide adequate nutrition and an appropriate number of calories. You can help children learn to be aware of what they eat by developing healthy eating habits and reducing calorie-rich temptations. Remember, small changes every day can lead to a recipe for success, and look for ways to make their favorite dishes healthier. The recipes that you may prepare regularly, that your family enjoys, with just a few changes can be healthier and just as satisfying.

Remove calorie-rich temptations: Although everything can be enjoyed in moderation, reducing the calorie-rich temptations of high-fat and high-sugar, or salty snacks can also help your children develop healthy eating habits. Instead only allow your children to eat them sometimes so that they truly will be treats!

Help them Stay Active: Another part of balancing calories is to engage in an appropriate amount of physical activity and avoid too much sedentary time. In addition to being fun for children, regular physical activity has many health benefits, including Strengthening bones, decreasing blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-esteem, and helping with weight management.

Children should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. Remember that children imitate adults. Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you.

Some examples of moderate-intensity physical activity include: Brisk walking, Playing tag, jumping rope, Playing soccer, Swimming, Dancing

Reduce sedentary time:  In addition to encouraging physical activity, help children avoid too much sedentary time. Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, limit the time your children watch television, play video games, or surf the web for no more than 2 hours per day. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television viewing for children age 2 or younger. Instead, encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity.

Set time limits for video games, net surfing etc. do what you must but by all means, get your kids off the couch! They’ll thank you for it.

Boma Benjy Iwuoha