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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

 

Parents often wonder if getting their kids a tablet or a phone is a bad idea; do you find yourself thinking along those lines when your kid seems to lose interest in all other forms of family engagement?

Many digital age parents can relate with this; it could be that little girl that never looks up from her computer or the boy that just can’t wait to dash off the dinner table and back to his play station, let’s not forget the preteen who only communicates through texts. Yes! We’ve seen it all and it gets you wondering; are these tech gadgets building or bridging the communication gap? And if it is, what do we do; or is it back to the analog days?

In a world where children are “growing up digital,” it becomes necessary to ensure that they learn healthy concepts of digital use, and parents play an important role in teaching these skills.

 A 2013 report by daily mail revealed that nearly a third of children now learn to use a mobile phone or a tablet computer before they can talk. About 29 percent started using the gadgets as toddlers, with 70 percent mastering them completely by primary school age. This simply says we cannot go back in time, but there are ways of bridging the communication gap.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, highlights a few tips to help parents better manage their kids’ tech time.

  • Make your own family media use plan. Media should work for you and within your family values and parenting style. When used thoughtfully and appropriately, media can enhance daily life. But when used inappropriately or without thought, media can displace many important activities such as face-to-face interaction, family-time, outdoor-play, exercise, unplugged downtime, and sleep.
  • Treat media as you would any other environment in your child’s life. The same parenting guidelines apply in both real and virtual environments. Set limits; kids need and expect them. Know your children’s friends, both online and off. Know what platforms, software, and apps your children are using, what sites they are visiting on the web, and what they are doing online.
  • Set limits and encourage playtime. Media use, like all other activities, should have reasonable limits. Unstructured and offline play stimulates creativity. Make unplugged playtime a daily priority, especially for very young children. And don’t forget to join your children in unplugged play whenever possible.
  • Families who play together, learn together. Family participation is also great for media activities it encourages social interactions, bonding, and learning. Play a video game with your kids. It’s a good way to demonstrate good sportsmanship and gaming etiquette. You will have the opportunity to introduce and share your own life experiences and perspective and guidance as you play the game.
  • Be a good role model. Teach and model kindness and good manners online. Because children are great mimics, limit your own media use. In fact, you’ll be more available for and connected with your children if you’re interacting, hugging and playing with them rather than simply staring at a screen.
  • Know the value of face-to-face communication. Very young children learn best through two-way communication. Engaging in back-and-forth “talk time” is critical for language development. Conversations can be face-to-face or, if necessary, by video chat with a traveling parent or far-away grandparent. Research has shown that it’s that “back-and-forth conversation” that improves language skills much more so than “passive” listening or one-way interaction with a screen.
  • Limit digital media for your youngest family members. Avoid digital media for toddlers younger than 18 to 24 months other than video chatting. For children 18 to 24 months, watch digital media with them because they learn from watching and talking with you. Limit screen use for preschool children, ages 2 to 5, to just 1 hour a day of high-quality programming, and watch it with them so you can help them learn from what they’re seeing.
  • Create tech-free zones. Keep family mealtimes, other family and social gatherings, and children’s bedrooms screen free. Turn off televisions that you aren’t watching, because background TV can get in the way of face-to-face time with kids. Recharge devices overnight outside your child’s bedroom to help children avoid the temptation to use them when they should be sleeping. These changes encourage more family time, healthier eating habits, and better sleep, all critical for children’s wellness.
  • Don’t use technology as an emotional pacifier. Media can be very effective in keeping kids calm and quiet, but it should not be the only way they learn to calm down. Children need to be taught how to identify and handle strong emotions, come up with activities to manage boredom, or calm down through breathing, talking about ways to solve the problem, and finding other strategies for channeling emotions.
  • Apps for kids – do your homework. More than 80,000 apps are labeled as educational, but little research has demonstrated their actual quality. Products pitched as “interactive” should require more than “pushing and swiping.” Look to organizations like Common Sense Media for reviews about age-appropriate apps, games and programs to guide you in making the best choices for your children.
  • It’s OK for your teen to be online. Online relationships are part of typical adolescent development. Social media can support teens as they explore and discover more about themselves and their place in the grown-up world. Just be sure your teen is behaving appropriately in both the real and online worlds. Many teens need to be reminded that a platform’s privacy settings do not make things actually “private” and that images, thoughts, and behaviors teens share online will instantly become a part of their digital footprint indefinitely. Keep lines of communication open and let them know you’re there if they have questions or concerns.

Media and digital devices are an integral part of our world today. The benefits of these devices, if used moderately and appropriately, can be great. But, research has shown that face-to-face time with family, friends, and teachers plays a pivotal and even more important role in promoting children’s learning and healthy development. Keep the face-to-face up front, and don’t let it get lost in a stream of media and tech.

We want our children to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them. So the natural thinking is to send them to the “time out” corner or up to their room to “think about what they’ve done.” Except they don’t. And they’re likely to keep up the same behaviors despite the punishment. So, how do you know how to discipline your child?

Often, we equate the term “discipline” with punishment. But the word “discipline” comes from the Latin word “disciplina,” which means “teaching, learning.” That’s the key to correcting our kids’ behaviors – giving them the tools they need to learn a better behavior. When we discipline in a way meant only to punish and have the child “pay” for their mistake, it doesn’t help our child learn how to make the right choice next time. No one likes being ordered around – punishment can lead to power struggles, and because our kids know this poor behavior gets them attention, they’ll keep doing it.

When it comes to knowing how to discipline your child, we can focus on three key areas: giving them the positive attention they need and crave, taking time to train, and setting limits and sticking to them.

  1. Fill the Attention Basket

Kids need attention, plain and simple. If we don’t keep that “attention basket” full of positive attention, kids will seek out any attention they can get – even negative attention. They’ll push our buttons with negative behaviors because to a kid, even negative attention is better that no attention at all. This doesn’t mean you have to be at your child’s side 24-7 – just taking a few minutes a day to spend one-on-one with your child, distraction-free and doing something they want to do, will reap immense rewards in their behavior.

Take 10 minutes once or twice a day with each child playing a game they’ve picked or reading their favorite book. Let the phone ring. Stick the cell phone in the closet. When you fill your children’s attention baskets positively and proactively, your kids will become more cooperative and less likely to seek out attention in negative ways. Life is busy for everyone, and finding extra time in the day may be daunting at first, but think of this as an investment in your relationship with your children and in improving their behavior. When it comes to knowing how to discipline your child, giving them what they need to avoid poor behaviors in the first place can have a great impact.

  1. Take Time to Train

As you think about how to discipline your child, it’s important to remember that the word discipline is rooted in meanings of learning and teaching. The best way to discipline your child is to help her make better choices. You can role play the behaviors, using a calm voice. “I’d really like to play with that tractor when you’re done.” “I’d like a snack, please.” Switch roles and pretend you’re the child, and let your little one direct you through making better choices. Be encouraging when they do make the right choices. “I see you worked hard to clean up the playroom all on your own! That’s such a big help. I really appreciate it.” “Thank you for sharing the book with your brother. How kind!”

  1. Set Limits and Stick to Them

Kids thrive when they have structure and know their boundaries. Don’t go overboard with hundreds of rules, but focus on what’s most important for your family. Be clear about the ground rules and what happens when someone breaks the rules – make sure that everyone understands the consequences ahead of time and that the discipline is related to the misbehavior. If they forget to put away their dishes after dinner, they have to load and unload the dishwasher. Cleaning their room because they didn’t do their homework isn’t related. Most importantly, be consistent. Follow through every time with the agreed-upon consequence when kids push the rules.

Overall, remember that knowing how to discipline your child is rooted in helping them learn how to make the right choice, not punishment. Be firm and give them the attention, rules, and boundaries they need.

Source: positiveparentingsolutions.com