January 30, 2013

Do You Have a Spoiled Child?

It’s safe to say that we all know, or have seen someone, who spoils their child. You may not know the person personally, but chances are you’ve at least seen a child in a store throw a temper tantrum until he/she got the wanted item. The problem for many of us is that we look at other children and quickly label them as “spoiled,” but we fail to notice the tell-tell signs that our own children may be on the verge of being spoiled themselves. So, how do you know if you have a spoiled child? Below are a few indicators.
·         A toy is expected anytime you go to the store. Most parents don’t set out to spoil their children, but it can easily happen when parents feel guilty about something. A lot of parents buy their children toys or other wanted items when they want to make up to their child for something. For instance, when mom goes back to work and the little one has to start going to daycare…a toy can make it all better when mom comes to pick her up. Or, one parent feels bad about the divorce, so every time he picks the child up, the little one gets to go pick out a toy. Buying toys occasionally for your little one isn’t a problem, but when it’s done on a consistent basis it can give the child a false sense of entitlement which will cause them to expect something every time they go to the store or someone comes to visit them.

·         Help is demanded when it’s not needed. This is a trap that I’m constantly trying to avoid. I’m always a little too eager to” help” my five year old out. It started when he was a baby…of course, I had to do everything for him at that age and help was usually needed when he was a toddler too. However, now that he’s five, I shouldn’t have to help him put on his entire suit…he should be able to handle the jacket and the pants on his own. As a result to my consistent help over the years (and failure to let my son learn on his own), my son is constantly demanding help with the simplest tasks. While he isn’t spoiled with material items, I have spoiled him a little in regards to his dependence on me. Now I’m trying to undo this by forcing him to do things on his own. It would have been a lot easier if I would have started doing this when he first started walking!

·         You’re afraid to say “no.” Finally, if you are afraid to tell your child “no” because you’re afraid it will spark a temper tantrum, your child may be a little spoiled. Children need to hear the word “no” and learn to respect it from an early age. After all, life is full of disappointments and “no’s.” If you have a hard time telling your kids “no” now, it’s going to be nearly impossible when they reach grade school and the pre-teen years.

January 28, 2013

Bullying: Is Your Child a Victim?

One of the most talked about issues in the media today, regarding children, is bullying. We all grew up with “bullies” and had to deal with our fair share of teasing, but today the kids are taking bullying to a whole new level. Sadly, a lot of kids aren’t asking for help, leaving it up to the parents to catch the problem while there is still time. So, the question you should be asking yourself is (if you have school-age children) is whether or not your child is a victim of bullying.
This is actually a question you should ask yourself on a regular basis because bullying can start at any time. Below are a few signs to look for that may indicate that your child is a victim of bullying.
1.      Claims to be sick a lot. If your child is consistently complaining about not feeling well and trying to stay home from school, then there may some bullying going on at school. A lot of kids will find ways to stay home from school if they are being picked on by someone because they can’t be bullied when they are at home. Also keep in mind that if your child is under a lot of stress, which can be caused by bullying, he/she may be experiencing an increased number of headaches – so watch for that too.

2.      Missing or damaged personal items. While all kids lose things from time to time, children who are being bullied will lose or damage items on a regular basis. At first you may think your child is just being irresponsible, but if it continues to happen consistently, there may be more to it than carelessness.

3.      A change in eating habits. We all know that as kids grow, their eating habits change. However, when a child is being bullied, his/her eating habits will probably change suddenly. Your child may suddenly start eating a lot more than normal, but may also start skipping meals and claiming not to be hungry.

4.      Change in behavior/attitude. Kids who are being bullied often have a marked change in their behavior and/or attitude. It may be that your child is beginning to let his grades slip lower than normal or maybe your child is starting to spend more time alone and disengaged from the rest of the family. Any noticeable change in your child’s behavior and/or attitude should be monitored and if it doesn’t improve within a short amount of time, you should be concerned.
You may have young children in school (preK, Kindergarten, 1st grade, etc.) and think that bullying isn’t anything you have to worry about until your kids are older, but the fact is that bullying can start at any age. If you notice any of the signs listed above, or a combination of these signs, go to the school and talk to your child’s teachers. The earlier you can catch bullying, the better off your child will be!

January 26, 2013

Tips for Handling Sibling Arguments

If you have followed our blog for long, you know that I’ve just recently became the mother of two little boys. My oldest is five and my youngest is three months. While they aren’t old enough to have“arguments” between one another, my oldest is starting to have a few issues with his little brother…mainly because his brother cries and he can’t hear his cartoons. I have friends who have two or more children and therefore I know that this is just the beginning of sibling “arguments.”

As a result, I figured that today would be a good day to do a little research on how to handle these arguments so I’m prepared once they are in “full force.” After all, when kids are little, these brotherly/sisterly fights can stem over anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s a toy, a favorite Easter dress (or shirt for boys) or the thought that one might touch the other one. I’m sure I’m not the only parent out there anticipating these arguments. In fact, there may be some of you experiencing them first hand who would like a few tips for handling them. Below are some of the suggestions I found during my research.
1. Send arguing kids to a room together until they work out the problem. I thought this idea was genius, especially if you have kids of the same gender. One of my friends actually does this one. When her daughters are arguing, she will make them both go into a room together and tell them they are not allowed to come out until the issue is resolved and they are both okay. This forces both children to deal with their feelings and each other and also teaches them a little about conflict-resolution.

2. Take away the item in question. A lot of siblings fight over a favorite toy, article of clothing or another “favorite” item. One way to quickly nip the argument “in the bud” is to give the kids an ultimatum: “You have 2 minutes to decide who gets to play/wear it and if you don’t make a decision, I’ll take the item and neither of you will get to enjoy it.” You will probably have to follow through with your threat a few times, but eventually your kids will get tired of losing their favorite things and will learn how to work out their disagreements among themselves.

3. Help your kids work through the disagreement. For those of you with young children who fight a lot, it may be necessary for your to intercede and play “judge.” The important thing when taking on this role is that you listen to both sides (make sure neither child is able to interrupt the other while speaking) before you determine who is in the wrong. When your decision has been made, explain why you feel the way you do to both children. This can help children in the future when they’re involved in conflict because, believe it or not, they do remember what you say. It is also a good idea to make the child in the wrong apologize to the other, if he/she has committed an action that warrants an apology.

January 23, 2013

Additional Tips for Keeping Children Healthy During Winter

The winter months are generally filled with fun and laughter for families as there are a number of holidays celebrated during this time of year. However, all of those smiles quickly vanish when a member of the family becomes ill, especially if that member is a child. I’m not sure about you, but I personally dread the winter months for the fact of dealing with all the flus, stomach bugs and other viruses that float around this time of year.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t look forward to the holidays, because I do. All it means is that I dread winter because of the sickness that can easily be caught. I didn’t used to pay much attention to the “stuff” floating around during the winter months, but now that I’m a mom, I’m much more alert. I have put together a small list of additional, not so common, tips that I use during the cold months to help keep my kids healthy.
1.      Cook more from home. My family enjoys going out to eat every now and then. Why? Well, I don’t have to cook at home on those nights, but also because it’s nice to get out as a family and eat at a restaurant. With a five year old, going to a restaurant also helps us work with him in regards to his table manners as well. However, when winter comes along and the cold weather is finally here, we don’t take the kids out to eat as much. I choose to cook more from home, because I can control the environment my kids are subjected to when they are at home whereas I can’t at a restaurant.  

2.      Opt to hire in-home babysitter more often. When there is something that I want to go do, whether it’s go to the gym and workout for an hour, get my hair done or go out on a date with my husband, I try to get an in-home babysitter before other options are considered. For instance, at the gym, they have daycare. However, if I my babysitter is available, I will call her to come watch the little ones while I go work out because then my kids aren’t subjected to all the germs the other kids at the gym bring with them.

3.      Carry wet wipes and hand sanitizer with me at all times. Obviously, there are times when I can’t leave my kids at home. This is why I carry wet wipes and hand sanitizer with me at all times. If we go to Wal-Mart or some other store, I wipe the cart down with a wet wipe before I let my five year old touch it. I also give him hand sanitizer several times when we’re out and about to kill any germs he may have gotten during our excursion. Hand sanitizer and wet wipes are great when you attend a special occasion, such as a wedding. Believe it or not, hand sanitizer can be used to get stains out of various fabrics and wet wipes can be used to quickly clean up sticky messes…like jelly dropping on a flower girl dress or something similar.

January 21, 2013

Tips for Starting Off the New Year Right

Here we are at the beginning of another New Year…2013. I’m not sure if you were ready for it or not, but I felt like 2012 just kind of rushed its way through. It just seemed like it was over before it really had a chance to get started. However, that’s probably just because I’m a mom. It seems like every year goes by a little quicker than the last now that I have kids. (If you’re a mom, then I’m sure you agree!)

Since we are at the beginning of another New Year, I thought this was an appropriate time to give a few tips for how you can get the year started off right (for you and your family).
1.      Organize holiday decorations as you put them away. If you haven’t packed up all of your holiday decorations yet, then take the time to organize them while you pack them away in the attic for next year. Spend a little money on a few nice totes to store various holiday d├ęcor in. Don’t forget to label everything! You’ll be amazed how much better you will feel once you’ve got your holiday decorations stored away, knowing they are organized!

2.      Have the house cleaned. For me, one of the most irritating things about the holidays is how disorderly my house gets during those two hectic months. If you feel the same way, then do yourself a big favor and hire someone to come and clean your house once the kids go back to school. Even if you don’t want a housecleaner to come on a regular basis, hiring one to come at the beginning of the New Year is a great way to get off on the right foot. This is especially true if you are like me and function better when the house is in order and everything is nice and tidy.

3.      Go through the closets. A lot of people choose to only go through their closets once or twice a year. If you ask me, this is not enough…especially if you have kids! Don’t misunderstand me, I do the normal spring and fall closet cleanings, but I also like to go through them again at the beginning of January too. I mean, think about it. If your children received clothes as Christmas gifts, then it just makes sense to take out some of the clothing that they’ve outgrown or don’t wear anymore, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re removing old t-shirts, pageant dresses, slacks or pajamas. All of these things take up room in the closet, so get rid of what isn’t needed.

4.      Get back to family dinners. Finally, if you aren’t doing this already or it isn’t a regular routine, then start eating dinner together as a family again. At least three nights a week. Sitting down together and enjoying dinner, as a family, actually brings family members closer together. If you’re children are young, then this is something you should start doing now so when they are teenagers, you’ll still find it easy to talk to them and vice versa.

January 19, 2013

How to Get Kids Back into the School Routine

I’m sure many of you have already sent your children back to school after the holidays, but today was my son’s first day back to school. I have to say that I was pretty nervous when I picked him up. You know how routines go out-the-window when the holidays roll around and school is out. Well, we had no routine for those two weeks and it was very probable that my son would get in trouble today due our lack of routine.

Luckily, he had a great day and his first day back went just fine. That doesn’t necessarily mean we are “out of the woods” because it’s only the first day! I know that if I want his school days to go by without incident that it’s going to take work on my part. So, I did a little research looking for tips to help me get my son back into the school routine and thought I would share what I found with you.

• Plan out the week. The first thing you should do is sit down and plan out the first week back to school. Write down everything that has to be done (for each member of the family) then combine all the “to-dos” on a master calendar and go over it with the family. If you can have a plan in place when the kids go back to school…and they’re familiar with it, it will help the week go more smoothly. You just have to stick to the plan.

• Prepare wholesome meals. If your Christmas Break was like ours, you had several family holiday gatherings to attend, which meant lots of food…and lots of “grazing.” While this is fine during the holidays, it isn’t good when the kids go back to school. When school starts back up, so should the regular well-rounded meals. Your kids should be getting adequate portions of fruit, vegetables and meat (or some other form of protein) at meal times. If you can eat at the same time every night, that’s also good.

• Implement the “old” bed and bath schedule. Most of us with kids had a routine for when baths occurred and when the kids went to bed on school nights, before the holiday break. It’s time to get that back on track now that school is back in session. It’s important for kids to go to bed at roughly the same time every night to ensure they get enough rest before school the next day. Taking a bath or shower before bed (at the same time each night) helps the kids wind down and mentally prepares them for bed.

• Don’t do a lot outside the home for the first week. If you truly want to get your children back into the school routine after Christmas Break, don’t do a lot of extracurricular activities (unless required) outside of the home the first week back. Do everything you can to stay organized and on schedule. The first week will be rough, but if you can stay on schedule, the kids should be back into the school routine by the end of the week!

January 6, 2013

How to Find Time for Your Spouse in 2013

In one of my earlier posts, I stated that it seems like every year (since I’ve had children) goes by faster and faster! While I enjoy watching the months go by, my children grown and the seasons change…I don’t like the fact that I get so busy with life in general that I lose precious time with my spouse.

My husband and I went and saw Parental Guidance last weekend and the adult daughter was having a hard time leaving her kids with her parents so she could go with her husband on a business trip. Her mother (Bette Midler) pulled her off to the side and told her that she needs to go be with her husband because her children are all going to grow up and then she will be left with her husband.

Take a minute to think about that statement. It’s true. Our children are going to grow up, go to college, get married and start their own lives, leaving us with our spouse. Therefore, while it is important to spend time with our children, if we spend all of our time and energy focusing on them and not our spouse, when they leave, we will essentially be left living with a stranger. So, this year, why not make a promise to yourself to spend more time with your spouse. Here are a few suggestions for how you can do it.

1. Rent a movie. I understand it’s hard to get out when you’ve got kids, especially little children. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little time alone with your spouse. Rent a movie and make plans to have a “movie” night after the kids have went to bed. Go all out and pop popcorn and drink your favorite soda too. Just spending two hours curled up on the couch together once or twice a month (without the kids) will do a lot for your relationship.

2. Hire a babysitter and plan a date night. Spending time with your spouse does take a conscience effort from both of you. Sit down and look at your schedules and plan a night out. If you plan your date night a few nights or even a week or so in advance, finding a babysitter shouldn’t be any problem. Treat the date like a real date. Take the time to shower, fix your hair, put a fresh batch makeup on and wear something special. After all, a night out on the town with your love without the kids is something to celebrate!

3. Take a mini-vacation. I’m not quite why so many people believe that parents shouldn’t go on a vacation without their kids. My parents feel this way, and I think it just may be a more traditional way of thinking. While I do think it’s important to get away together as a family, I don’t believe that every vacation should include the kids. Therefore, schedule a romantic getaway for you and your spouse sometime this year. You don’t have to go far, maybe just a bed and breakfast a few hours away…wherever you go, make sure it’s just you and your spouse. Leave the kids with the grandparents for a few days and get away. Even if you can only have one three-day getaway once a year, those three days can breathe new life into your marriage…and in years to come, when the kids are grown and gone, you’ll be glad you spent time away from the kids with your spouse.