Category Archives: Parenting

What Is Mum-Shaming?

Mum-shaming

by Dr. Shanthi Thomas

Are you a mother who has been criticized for the way you bring up your children? If yes, you have been a victim of mum-shaming. The phenomenon called mum-shaming is the public judgement and criticism of mothers for the way they are raising their children. Though mum-shaming is not an exclusively modern phenomenon, it is more apparent and public now because of the ubiquitous presence of social media. Let us see some examples of mum-shaming.

1. Mum-shaming for choosing career overstaying at home

A lot of mothers who decide to go back to work after having a baby are victims of mum-shaming for supposedly ‘putting career ahead of family’.  Critics of such mothers talk about how some children have suffered in the hands of cruel baby-sitters or maids. They might also warn such mothers that they will not be looked after in their old age by their grown children, just because as babies they had left them to go for work.

2. Mum-shaming for choosing formula milk over breastmilk

Another oft-heard criticism against some mothers is that they feed formula milk to their babies, not breast milk. The critics will go on to enumerate the many benefits of breastmilk over formula milk and often portray such mothers as monsters who care more about their body shape than about their babies. Many mothers have problems with the breast milk production, and criticisms for using formula milk make them feel very guilty.

3. Mum-shaming for kids not behaving well

It is every mother’s nightmare when their kids misbehave in public or use bad four-letter words. Often the accusing finger is pointed at the mother when kids misbehave, for apparently ‘not raising kids the right way’.  The truth is that kids may misbehave for a variety of reasons, and not necessarily because of poor bringing up.

4. Mum-shaming for poor academic grades

In the playgrounds or school waiting rooms, often the mothers of children who do poorly in studies get the blame for not helping the kid enough in studies. Sometimes, it is the teachers at school who would call the parent, usually the mother, and complain about the poor performance of the child at school. Not every mother is a ‘helicopter parent’ or would like to be so.

Reasons for mum-shaming

If you yourself are a mother who engages in mum-shaming, what are your reasons for doing so? Let us see.

1. You are jealous

In many cases of mum-shaming, when the victim is seemingly enjoying herself, the motivation to accuse her is often jealousy. You are not able to be that mother who is able to leave her toddler at home and go for a glorious swim in trendy bikinis. You are not able to be the mother who has financial freedom because she chose to resume her career after the baby was born. Your jealousy manifests itself as mum-shaming.

2. You feel inadequate

Oftentimes, mothers have no compass to follow regarding bringing up children. She does not know whether she is doing the right thing, but would hate to admit it. When you grapple with such inadequacies, the only way to feel good about oneself is to find fault with others’ parenting. In fact, a lot of mum-shaming individuals have deep-seated insecurities that are not resolved.

3. You are not open-minded

If you are a person who believes that life has to be lived according to certain set laws and rules, it is easy to find fault with people who deviate from such laws and rules.  Besides, parenting is one topic on which all mothers since the beginning of time have opinions about. When some mothers swim against the flow of widely held views on parenting, they easily get shamed for their choices.

4. You are not sensitive or empathetic

If you are a person who cares little for how another person feels or are incapable of imagining yourself in another person’s shoes, you will easily criticize others. The same holds true for mothers. Many mothers bring up children the way they do because of their own reasons, of which the rest of us do not know anything about. Until and unless we know their stories, and are able to empathize with them, we will not understand why they do what they do.

Whatever be the reason, it should be said that mum-shaming is an unnecessary and negative cause of heart break for many mothers, especially those who are new parents and those who may have the burden of  post-partum blues. It is time for mothers to be kind to each other.

How To Calm Down An Anxious Child?

Anxious Child

by Dr. Shanthi Thomas

It is the end of term holidays and tomorrow is school reopening. Your 10 year old is in tears, in bed, and says ‘I don’t want to go to school tomorrow’. Or if tomorrow there is a test, he says ‘I feel there is a lump in my chest, I have a stomach ache and I cannot breathe’. Most mothers are familiar with these and similar scenarios. In all these difficult situations, the culprit is the same. It is anxiety. When children are anxious, they experience the same sensation of fear and panic that our ancestors had when they faced a tiger or lion in the wild. They experience a ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response, as the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated, and adrenaline and noradrenaline are released, increasing the heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure.

Here are a few science-based tips to help parents calm down anxious children:

1. Use a Before/After/During Ritual

Rituals in daily life are often called “stability anchors” that help kids relieve anxiety. Parents can consider introducing a ritual before, after or during an anxiety-provoking situation. If exam anxiety is troubling your child, try letting him have a ritual before and after. For example, he may chew gum before every exam, and have an ice cream after successfully completing the exam. Some children are anxious for no reason at times. So you may have a ritual during the period of anxiety such as hugging a pet every time anxiety strikes.

2. Stimulate the Vagus Nerve

The Vagus nerve runs from the brain through the thorax to the abdomen. Stimulating the Vagus nerve can interrupt the anxiety attack by lowering the heart rate and sending the message to the brain that the person is ‘not under attack’. There are many ways to stimulate the Vagus nerve, such as chewing gum or eating a piece of dark chocolate.

3. Cross the Midline

Moving one’s feet, hand and eyes across and to the other side of the body, ie, across the midline, can help reset and ground the brain.  There are many concrete ways of doing this such as

  1. Windmills: Have your child pretend that he is a windmill, by moving his arms in a circle, crossing across the middle of the body.
  2. Cross Marches: The child marches in place while touching the opposite knee.
  3. Wiping motion: Wipe the table with one hand.

4. Deep Breathing

This is the classic remedy for anxiety, but one that is very difficult for kids to do. The key is to take slower, deeper breaths from the abdomen instead of rapid, shallow breaths directly from the chest. To get kids to do this, you could make them blow bubbles, or make it a game by inhaling and exhaling in 5 seconds each. Other strategies for getting kids to breathe deeply are as follows:

Balloon breathing: Ask your child to close her eyes and imagine the balloon that she is going to blow. Let her name the colour. Now, explain to her that she cannot blow too fast or too slow. She has to inhale for a count of 5, hold her breath for a count of 5 and exhale for a count of 5. This can be done with a real balloon also. Once the balloon is blown, ask her to write her worry on the balloon, and let it fly off.

Rainbow breathing: The same technique of 5-5-5 seconds breathing. But this time, ask your child to imagine that she is going to breathe out a colour of the rainbow. Let her say which colour it is, and also the things that come in that colour. For example, if she says red, she might say strawberry, apple etc. Complete this activity for the entire rainbow.

Stop, Breathe and think app (MyLife app): This app teaches how to do deep breathing in a guided incremental way. This could be used every night before sleep as a mindfulness exercise.

5. Get moving

All children who are anxious should play a game for an hour in the evening, do yoga or exercise every day, to a point that they sweat profusely. It is best if this is done in a group, but a yoga session with a parent alone could work. Research shows that children who engage in regular physical activity from a young age have lower rates of anxiety than their less active peers. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain that boost a person’s mood along with energy levels.

Entertain Kids in Creative Way

Kids Activities

As lockdown has entered into four months of crippling the usual day-to-day activities, people are finding it exceedingly difficult to bring forth ways for making themselves entertained. Whereas keeping the little ones busy and entertained at the same time with their endless supply of directionless energy is an exponentially tricky task.

If your job is of that kind that enables you to work from home, you need to figure things out to complete the assigned tasks and keep the kids out of the way at the same time, which in any household is anything but easy.  

If you have already found out ways to entertain the kids in creative ways – my heartiest congratulation to you, you can stop reading right now and go back to what you have been doing. Or you can keep reading if you want to compare notes or want to strengthen your arsenal for future applications.

The rest of us, I am afraid, might not be so lucky as you are. That’s why I did a little research and found a few ways to entertain the kids in ways that are creative, not destructive for the house, require a short time to set up, and need little or sometimes no money.

So, before going into full-on panic mode because your kids are running hysterically around the house and destroying everything in their wake, calm yourself by taking a deep breath and thinking about putting the following creative ideas together in your household to entertain the kids in creative ways:

Coloring Pages:

The most obvious, most comfortable, and cheapest way to entertain kids is the use of coloring pages. With the fear of sounding too much of an accountant, let me tell you this – as far as the costs are concerned, you would incur only the fee of printing-papers.

The point is, you only need to download the pages, and you are all set. There is a sea of available ideas on the internet to print, but for my two kids – I always prefer Peppa Coloring Pages. Their collection of Peppa the Pig comprises more than 40 pages of every kid’s favorite pig Peppa and every one of her friends and all her family members. Just give the kids a set of crayons, and you are set for long hours. You can be a little innovative and pursue your kid to choose one pig for a day and color it with different colors. And let them know that the best one will get a prize at the end of each coloring session. You just need a few copies of the same pig.

But if your kids are not interested in the rest of the world’s favorite pigs, you can go for their favorite characters from TV, cartoons or computer games. And you also can get all the superheroes with minions, star wars, paw patrol, Winnie the Pooh, etc. All of those and with many more items like animals, birds, fruits, insects, and everyone’s favorite animal dinosaurs, etc., all are available in Printable coloring pages.

Not only kids love most of them; some of them consist of extraordinary educational value. And they are free.

Re-Cycle What You Are about Throw Out:

Here I am only giving you an idea about how to re-use just one item – the tubes of cardboard that holds the toilet papers. Believe it or not, it is a fantastic thing if you know how to use them. Think about the things that have a resemblance with a tube of cardboard. The list is endless, but to get the kids started, point them out to the trunk of an elephant. My kid’s favorite thing is the binoculars, though, a rather long one without the attachment of any sort with each other.

But if you consider yourself a perfectionist, visit the web. It is full of ideas for spending a substantial amount of time. I would suggest letting the kids decide for themselves. Provide some kids-friendly items like specially-made scissors for the kids, highlighting markers, glue, etc., and take a step back. Take my word for it – your kids will spring up something that nobody has ever thought before, and ‘nobody’ includes the internet as well.

So, find some other objects that pose no harm to the kids and watch them lose themselves in blissful fun.

Let Your Kid Be A Creator Of Beautiful Things:

You just need to spend a few dollars to get a set of pipe cleaners of various colors. But they are safe, reusable, easy to be stored and easy to clean up.

What to make with them? Well, your kids only are limited by their imagination. But if you want some organization, YouTube can be your best pal. Once you learn something and show it to your kids, you are pretty much done. Your kid will take it from there, and you are sure to be amazed in the end. Sometimes there won’t be anything to show off, but please remember, getting entertained through trying is the goal here, not the end product.

Creating Murals Aren’t That Hard:

Don’t let the heading make you confused. Creating a mural may be a bit hard, but not the ones which your kids are going to make.

What do you need to make your kid a Muralist – a mere wall that can be reached by your kids and crayons or pencil crayons? Yes, that’s all you need. Before starting all the artistic things, a silly preparation you need to complete – cover that wall with papers.

You are all set now. Watch the inner Donatello break out and be the witness of breathtaking arts. Or you might attend that zoom meeting with the clients for which you prepared yourself the night before.

A Party for the Fancy-Dressers:

You don’t need fancy dresses to be a part of a fancy-dressed party. Get some old clothes from the back of the wardrobe, which May or may not is waiting to get thrown out. Hand them over to your kids and tell them about the party you are going to have. That’s pretty much everything you need to do.

Let me enrich your ‘kid-knowledge’ with a secret – pretty much every kid loves to pretend to be mommy or daddy. So, when you give them your old clothing, the first thing they would do is to try them on and enact your mannerisms so weirdly you can’t stop laughing. And if you have more than one child, you might be in for an impromptu fashion event in your own home.

Mold with Creativity:

To make playdough, you need flour, salt, water, oil, and other sticky things that you can get your hands on. Or you can spend 15-20 dollars and get it from the stores. It is more fun to involve your kids in making the dough at home but be prepared to clean up the mess afterward.

When you have the finished product – homemade or bought from the store – let your kid deal with it. Before you know it, the day will be finished.

The above are my favorite methods to entertain my three kids. The internet is full of ideas to entertain your kids in creative ways. Some of them are easily applicable, safe, cheap, educational, and creative, all at the same time. Some might not be so much worth applying, for different reasons like health and safety issues, personal preferences, cost, difficulty in application, etc. Have a look at the following list I’ve complied:

  • Plant Flowers
  • Create A Racetrack
  • Indoor Camping
  • Build a Fort
  • Paper-Chain People
  • Paper Airplane Contest
  • Cleaning Competition
  • Chalk It Up
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Make Wooden Spoon Puppets
  • Stage A Historical Re-Enactment
  • Create Plastic Bottle-Rockets
  • Toy Wash
  • Bean Bag Target Toss
  • Rubbing Art
  • Magic Carpet Ride

Parenting is decidedly harsh, so you should get all the help you can get. I can only hope that the above ideas can entertain your kids in creative ways.  

Choosing the Right Furniture for the Kids’ Room

Kids room on a roof

When adults choose furniture for their own rooms, everything is pretty simple: they want high-quality and pretty stuff. For some of us, sole high quality is completely enough. But when it comes to picking kids’ furniture, some parents feel lost and frustrated, especially if they are first-time parents. They have to look beyond cuteness, playfulness, and consider tens of factors. We all understand that the home environment, as well as furniture, is vital for children’s safety and development.

Is choosing kids’ furniture sets challenging for you as well? Then you are in the right place! Our team has prepared this post to provide parents with well-tried ideas on choosing cozy kids’ furniture. Scroll down!

TIP 1: Safety Is Your Priority

When parents think about the child’s safety, one of the first things that come to mind is the best nanny cam. However, safe kids’ furniture is vital as well. There are numerous children traumas annually involving cribs, playpens, cots, etc. in the USA according to Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Therefore, safety goes first!

So, what factors to consider to make a kid-friendly home?

  • Kids’ bedroom furniture must be made of appropriate, high-quality, safe materials. Anything breakable or fragile is potentially dangerous and has no place in the child’s bedroom. Similarly, metal beds, chairs, tables are a no-no, they are too hard and unyielding. It’s a good idea to pick polished wood or durable, smooth plastic. Also, make sure kids’ furniture is certified and third-party approved. 
  • No sharp corners or edges! Kids playroom furniture with sharp corners or edges is a hazard for little ones since they run around and can bump into it. However, if you are a happy possessor of something with killer corners, you can, at least, pad them with special “bumpers”.
  • Kids’ furniture must be non-slip. Slippery furniture is an accident waiting to happen. For instance, a table that is easily moved or pushed over isn’t the right choice to place a hot drink or food on it. Besides, it’s dangerous to leave a little one in or on the kids living room furniture that can fall over.
  • Ensure that painted furniture is not toxic. All modern kids’ furniture must conform to present-day safety standards. So, you, as a caring parent, should require quality certificates.
  • Pick lower and wider furniture for kids’ stuff & toys storage. This way you’ll prevent your child from falling when he/she tries to reach toys or other belongings. Additionally, you should anchor kids’ furniture such as wardrobe, bookcase, drawer, dresser, etc., so that your kid can’t pull them down.

TIP 2: Go for Multifunctional Kids’ Furniture

Growing children need lots of storage space! You can’t go wrong with multiple shelves, commodes, drawers, wardrobes, and under-bed drawers. Kids usually have piles of toys, clothes, books, games, art projects, etc., and extra storage space will encourage them to be more organized and regularly tidy away their stuff. Plus, they’ll have enough room to play and learn.

Kids room for a girl

TIP 3: Get Ready for a Mess

First-time parents may be surprised by kids’ creativeness! They love playing with paint, chalk, pencils, and felt-tips, but it can translate into a headache for you since you’ll have to clean off all their masterpieces from the furniture. Therefore, choose varnished and easy to clean tables and chairs, so that your little one can release his/her creative spirit.  

Furthermore, a large chalkboard or wall-mounted easel can work wonders for you and your kid. You’ll just wipe the surface clean when he/she needs new canvas and your child won’t run out of space to express creativity. 

TIP 4: Invest in Long-lasting, Durable Kids’ Furniture

Children grow so fast, they’ll outgrow their fun furniture in just a couple of years. Thus, if you don’t want to buy a replacement so soon, invest in larger, durable, classic pieces that can stay for longer. As it’s expected, such furniture will cost more; however, it can lead your kid from the crib up to the teen period. It’s totally worth every penny!  

TIP 5: Personalize Your Kid’s Room

If you decorate the room for a toddler, do ask him/her about favorite cartoon heroes, colors, shapes. Let your kid participate in choosing and buying furniture. Even if you pick classic pieces of furniture, add some fun elements or childish decor, this way your little one will feel safe and cozy in his/her room. It’s particularly important to create such a safety zone when you help your toddler to transit from a crib to a big bed.

Final Thoughts

Before you decide where to buy kids’ furniture, think about the balance between personalized appearance, functionality, safety, and reasonable price. Your child must like it, so do consider his/her taste, unless you choose for an infant.

We do hope our ideas will make your final choice easier!  

Author’s Bio: Alex Green is a copywriter with 3 years of experience. He is fond of healthy living and knows everything about home improvement. In his spare time, Alex likes walking with his golden retriever, meeting with friends, and attending the gym.

Cute Birthday Present Ideas for Babies In 2020

Cute baby playing with toys

If it is your baby’s first birthday coming on, you have my hearty congratulations for a full year with such an adorable baby. The first birthday is traditionally a well-celebrated one – and for the right reasons. This means that you have to get a beautiful first birthday gift for your baby, and you are probably reading this article now because you need ideas. The good thing is that there is a wide range of gifts for your little one, with many of them helping the growth of the kid and ensuring their continued development both mentally and physically.

With numerous colorful and cute baby gifts all around you, it might be a fun task for you to find that one of those two that you think is the most suited for you and your baby. The peculiarity of buying a cute birthday present for babies is the right motivation for us to create a selection of gifts that might appeal to your kids.

Toys are a common baby gift, and many babies love their toys. But as well as the different types of toys you can get them, there are many other gift options that you can buy for them.

Here are some of the birthday present ideas for babies in 2020.

AquaDoodle Large Water Doodle Mat

If you have started to see signs of an artistic gift or personality in your baby, you might want to help bring it out of them from a tender age. You can help your baby harness their creative capacity quickly by providing them with something as colorful as the AquaDoodle Large Water Doodle Mat, to help them learn and practice some art basics such as drawing, painting, stamping, etc.

With the AquaDoodle Large Water Doodle Mat, they have the necessary and fundamental instruments to set them on the right part and help them achieve their dreams and potentials. All you need to do is to fill up their pen with some water and watch them have fun while painting. The large size of this mat also means that your kid would enjoy these benefits, but a couple of other babies can join in and play with it.

The colors of this may have a magical appearance that is likely to fascinate them. To add to the fun, you wet the baby’s hands and feet so that they can make out their handprint and footprint with much more ease than having to paint with their hand. It also appears cleaner than whatever they are capable of doing at their tender age.

Boppi 4 in 1 tricycle push along with trike stroller

Every kid will love this one. Perhaps, one of the most exciting features of this tricycle is that it is going to continue growing with the baby as they grow older until they outgrow it. So, it is not something that you buy for a short while.

Some of the features of this tricycle include the child safety seat, EVA puncture-proof tires, fold-away footrests, and an adjustable seat. It also has some detachable accessories such as the bottle holder, bell, and toy box.

A significant characteristic of this trike is that it has different stages, and the most fundamental step has safety features with full parental control of the trike. It is very much like a buggy, and your child will be more willing than ever to get into it.

This trike has been mentioned in some essays reviews that involved baby gifts and items. It is said to be of excellent quality, colorful, lovely, easy to assemble, and really sturdy.

It also has a strap that is placed on the safety bar and around the child as well. It also has a small bell that is easy to operate, and the baby will certainly love it.

Angelove Ball Pit

The Angelove ball pit is more than a birthday present for your baby. This ball pit is about 90cm x 30cm pit that they developed gorgeously so that your baby gets both style and fun without sacrificing them in the end.

They created the balls in this ball pit from eco-friendly microfiber, which makes this choice of gift a brilliant once, especially for very active babies. The baby can go diving or throw balls and start and finish a party of their right there in the living room with the Angelove Ball pit. When you have these, what do you then need soft play centers for? 

I can assure you that your baby – whether male or female – would love plenty of fun with this and fall in love with it. This ball pit is so tall that the kids will have to hold the sides while they walk around it, and it is also big enough for two kids to get in there and have the fun of their lives. The ball pit also comes with plenty of balls and is much recommended.

Ancaixin Baby Balance Bike

This baby balance bike is a full four wheels bike with wide seats. This baby-balance bike is perfect and appropriate for babies that are already a pro in the act of walking, but it is also suitable for those who are only just starting slowly. The limit of the steering is given at 135 degrees, and this secures that baby and ensures that they do not fall over while cruising around town in their new ride.

Another good thing about this bike is that it is lightweight. At just 5 pounds of weight, you can easily maneuver it. This is sure to make the parent have some sweet sleep knowing that their baby is safe on their bike. Although the bike has a maximum age range of 2 years old, it is sturdy enough to withstand a weight of 100 pounds.

This balance bike helps the smooth transition for the users from this to a free bicycle with the training wheel as they grow older while also encouraging them to be able to balance things while also having fun at the same time.

Hape Pound and Tap Bench

This one is a multi-use toy that can help babies develop excellent motor skills and have musical ears. The baby can roll, toss, or pound on the ball. They can also play the xylophone that is pulled out, which helps develop their dexterity and hand-eye coordination. From a tender age, they start to learn about the effect and cause of music and enjoy the joy in it. This is an award-winning toy (got the Crisbie awards in the category for the best first musical toy). It also does not require much space as it only takes up 9 x 6 inches.

Conclusion

There are numerous birthday present ideas for babies in 2020. But these are some of the few ones that I found to be very good and very effective in aiding the physical and mental development of your child while ensuring that they have fun.

Author’s Bio

Ashley Simmons is a professional essay writer, journalist, and editor. She has been working in a newspaper in Salt Lake City for 4 years. She is also a content writing expert in such topics as psychology, modern education, business, and marketing innovations. She is a master in her craft.

How Does Environment Impact a Child’s Physical Development?

Happy Children - Smiling Girl and Boy

Nature vs. nurture. It’s a continuing discussion. We know that certain physical features are inherited; and most scientists agree that some emotional/psychological characteristics are inherited too – or at least a susceptibility for them (e.g., addiction, schizophrenia, etc.).

Nurture, of course, refers to all that occurs in a child’s life from the time of conception throughout his growing years. While most don’t think of the prenatal environment as a part of nurture, it certainly is. A healthy diet and lifestyle certainly promote healthier newborns. In some cultures, in fact, such activities as playing certain types of music are believed to have a positive effect on prenatal life of babies.

Postnatal Environments

There are two large categories of environments – psychological/emotional and physical. Both can certainly impact a child’s physical development, but the physical environment is more impactful. So, for purposes of this article, the physical environment will be the focus.

Here are all of the physical environmental factors that impact a child’s physical development.

  1. Interior Space: Children who grow up in homes with more interior space than those who do not may have more of an advantage in terms of movement and full freedom for crawling, standing, walking, even climbing at a rather normal rate of development.
  2. The Surrounding Neighborhood: Children who have plenty of outdoor space, parks nearby (or transportation to those parks) and safe places for such things as riding toys will have normal muscle tone and development. Children who do not have these opportunities on a regular basis may not have normal development. Unstructured free play, the kind that can occur in large open spaces, on the other hand, will help build the healthy bodies we want our kids to have.
  3. School/Daycare Situations. The same things can be said about school and daycare situations. Daycare facilities that have indoor and outdoor play areas are preferred, of course – physical features that promote physical development. Children who may have daycare at grandma’s tiny apartment may not have those same opportunities for physical activity.
  4. Food and Nutrition. So much of food and nutrition is based upon parent knowledge and commitment to proper meal planning.  Unfortunately, too many families rely on fast and frozen foods, given the busy lifestyles of two working parents. Processed foods which tend to be cheaper also have lots of sugar and fats. Fresh fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are pricier than canned, and many require preparation before eating. Proper amounts of calcium and vitamins result in stronger bones, teeth, healthier skin, etc. Without them, the opposite is obviously true.

    Marie Fincher, a writer and editor for TrustMyPaper, speaks to this issue on a personal level: “growing up with two working parents meant lots of eating on the run. I became one of the overweight kids pretty quickly. And on those occasions when we had a healthy meal at home, I balked at the fruits and veggies. My wake-up call didn’t come until after college, but it did come – higher blood pressure than normal, struggling to do the fun things that my friends were doing, etc. Reversing the impact of poor diet as a youngster has taken a lot of work and commitment, but I did it.”

    And poor nutrition is not limited to financially strapped families. Poor diets, heavy on starches, fats, and sugars, along with more sedentary lifestyles of video games and computer screens, are key factors in childhood obesity. Obesity, in turn, leads to a number of other health conditions, some of which become chronic.
  1. Medical and Dental Care are also key factors. Families with good health insurance plans tend to take their children for those key checkups, immunizations, and during illness. Many employers, though, no longer provide comprehensive health, dental and vision plans, or they are quite costly. The lack of regular medical and dental care can mean that conditions may not be diagnosed early and may damage growth and development.
  1. Sleep: Sleep is a key factor in growth and development. This is a time when the body releases growth hormones that boost muscle mass, repair damaged cells, and promote brain development. And sleep also boosts immune systems. Recommended sleep amounts are as follows:
    • Newborns – 14-17 hours
    • Infants – 12-15 hours
    • Toddlers – 11-14 hours
    • Preschoolers – 10-13hours
    • School-age children (up to 13 years of age) – 9-11 hours
  2. Air Quality: This is a both interior and exterior factor. What small children breathe in over prolonged periods of time impact their lungs. Highly polluted air is dangerous. No one should be smoking inside a home with small children; it is important to keep air flowing, especially in the winter when germs “mingle.” Outside air pollution contributes to chronic respiratory conditions too.
  1. Noise: Continued exposure to loud noise can result in hearing loss at any age, including young children. Any noise above 85 decibels can damage hearing. 85 decibels are equivalent to normal street traffic. Loud toys, prolonged exposure to loud music and TV, indoor “playgrounds,” etc. will result in hearing loss, and it is permanent.

In the End…

It is up to parents to provide the right physical environments for their children. These eight factors are key to normal and healthy child growth and development. Look at them carefully, and be certain that you are providing the environment that promotes healthy growth and development. We all want our children to grow into healthy, happy adults – let’s see that we do this through the best physical environments.

Author Bio: Nicole D. Garrison is a content writer and strategist for a number of venues, including Supreme Dissertations and LiveInspiredMagazine, as well as numerous forums and blogs on a myriad of topics. She is a solid researcher with an interest in almost any topic that impacts people, the environment, and societal health. You will also find her blog, Live Inspired Magazine, filled with important and current topics. In her free time, Nicole is an avid runner and curious beekeeper.

Is Laziness Curable?

Lazy boy child lying on the bed

by Dr. Shanthi Thomas

At some point or the other, many of us can be caught lazing around, not doing anything particular and wasting time. Laziness is the disinclination to engage in any activity, despite having the ability to do it. There are fancy names for a person who is lazy, such as ‘slacker’, ‘bludger’ and ‘couch potato’. Is there a cure for laziness? Let us see.

1. Find your ‘ikigai’

If an individual wants to feel alive, there should be a purpose for life, and a reason to live. ‘Ikigai’ is a Japanese concept that means precisely this: the purpose of life and the reason to live. For some people, the purpose of life is to bring up their children in the best possible way. They devote every moment of their life to the fulfillment of this purpose. For some other people, the reason to live may be to leave a lasting legacy in terms of a successful career. They work day and night for the fulfilment of that dream. For certain other people, it may be something they love so passionately that all their waking moments are filled by that activity. Many artists belong to this category. For all these people, life has a purpose. There is a reason to live. Since they have something to work forward to which they believe in, they are not lazy.  Their purpose will not allow them to be lazy.

2. Increase your energy levels

There are certain habits that drain your energy and cause inertia. One such habit is watching TV or being on social media for very long periods of time, lying on a couch or bed. The more you lie down during the day, the more tired you feel. In fact, it is not tiredness that you feel; it is inertia. A cure for this is to assign a time and space for TV watching and social media, and use all your will power to stick to that time and place. The bed should only be used for sleeping, not for anything else. Another habit that reinforces laziness is the unwillingness to engage in any kind of exercise. A third habit would be the consumption of fast food or ready-made food, instead of home-cooked food. Getting rid of these habits will definitely raise your energy levels, and help you to combat laziness.

3. Seek help for underlying problems

Sometimes, you are lazy because you actually do feel tired, even exhausted. You feel that even getting up from bed is a herculean task. You are not interested in activities that people of your age group normally enjoy, and perhaps you yourself used to enjoy in the past. If this is the case, you have to suspect a psychological illness such as depression. Nowadays there is excellent treatment for depression, consisting of medication and psychotherapy. Stress, anxiety, and certain eating disorders also can cause tiredness in affected people. Another culprit is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in which controlling the mind and body to stay still or stay in a position conducive for an activity takes tremendous energy and will power. Since so much of energy is spent in doing even ordinary activities, affected individuals often feel tired. If you suspect any of these problems, a visit to the psychologist is warranted.

4. Join a group of motivating individuals

In these days of WhatsApp and Facebook it is easy to find people who have similar interests as you. On Facebook there are groups that come together for any number of reasons. If you are a person who likes gardening, there are lots of groups on Facebook for different types of gardening, be it vegetable gardening or indoor plants and so on.  With WhatsApp, you can create your own group of friends who will do healthy activities such as daily walking or trekking together. Another such platform where you can get a group of likeminded people is reddit. By joining the right kind of group, you will be motivated to be active in whatever interests you the most.

5. Use appropriate technology

There are very helpful applications that you can download on the phone and use that will encourage you to keep a tab on how you are spending your time. There are applications that help you grow healthy habits such as apps for drinking more water, limiting the time spent on your phone, or being inspired every morning by giving you daily quotes. There are even apps named ‘How to overcome laziness’ and ‘Procrastination Killer’. Armed with the right kind of apps for you, overcoming laziness should be easy.

How To Communicate With Your Teenager?

Communicate With Teenager

by Dr. Shanthi Thomas

The typical teenager talks very little with her parents. She is in her room most or all the time, and get closer to her friends than to the family. Sometimes these behaviors get so out of hand that parents have to resort to learning life hacks for parenting rebellious teens. However, all of these behaviors are nature’s ways of preparing her for adulthood. During this time, it is quite possible for a parent not to know how to talk to the teenager so that she will not withdraw further into her shell. Let us see some tips to help you out.

1. Don’t lecture

Lectures do not work. Research on parenting has conclusively shown that lecturing, scolding or nagging teenagers do not yield good results. One of the reasons is that no one feels good when they hear how displeased your parent is with something you have done, for a long time and too often. After a while, your typical teenager will feel resentful or defensive, and they stop listening.

2. Listen

Listening is the single most important thing a parent can do to establish a positive relationship with a teenager. When your teenager wants to say something to you, keep away your phone and all other distractions, and pay attention. You don’t have to agree or disagree or offer solutions to problems immediately. Very often, it is just validation for emotions that they seek. You can show that you are interested and paying attention by repeating something she said in different words or asking genuine questions. Never interrupt; let her finish her thoughts.

3. Be non-judgmental

Be understanding, not judgmental. Even when it is impossible to agree with what your teen is saying, it is possible to understand why she is saying it and what the feeling behind it is. Questions that help you understand are ‘tell me what happened’, ‘what did you feel at that time’, ‘how do you feel about that?’, ‘that sounds interesting’ etc. You are being judgmental and discouraging if you say things such as ‘I don’t think I am going to like what you have to say’, or ‘Why are you asking me?’

4. Talk in specifics

When you want to point out something that is undesirable, talk about the specific behaviour in concrete terms, not in abstract or general terms. For example, if your daughter has not done chores assigned to her, better say, ‘I see that you have not cleaned the table today’, rather than ‘You are always forgetting your chores’ or’ You are so irresponsible’.

5. Take a break when arguments get heated

It is inevitable that there will be arguments between parents and their teenage children. However, sometimes, these arguments can get out of hand, and the people involved may say or do things that they might regret later. This is the time you should stop and withdraw by saying something like ‘I would like to some time to myself to think this over.’ You can get back to the discussion when things have settled down.

6. When you are angry, be silent

There used to be a time when people were advised to ‘take their anger out’. However, this has been proven to be a misleading advice. When people ‘take their anger out’ by screaming, yelling, throwing things at others or breaking things, it can harm the relationship so seriously that it may be difficult to mend it. So, it is ok to feel angry, but keep silent and go for a run instead of screaming!

7. Hug and loving words

There is a part of the teen mind that craves love and acceptance by the parent. Hug her and say that she is looking good in the new outfit. Or that the hairstyle suits her very well. Make her feel loved and appreciated. This should be done irrespective of her grades at school or how messy her room is. The most important times for a hug and an ‘I love you’ are early in the morning as the child wakes up and at night when she is off to sleep.

8. Share your news

One of the ways to draw out your teenager is to share news from your own life that may be of interest to her. It could be how you dealt with a difficult customer at work, or how you met with some trouble and overcame it or how you did something you are not proud of and regret to this day. Communication always lessens the distance between you and your teenager. Also, it gives her invaluable lessons on how to navigate the adult life.

How to Survive Plane Rides With Kids

Plane Rides With Kids

Taking children on planes can be incredibly anxiety-provoking for parents. Hoping that your children will be on their best behavior, that they won’t make too much noise and that they won’t be scared are just a few of the potential concerns that can cause parents anxiety. Worrying endlessly about these factors could drive you crazy, and as parents, we all know that in the end, our kids will do what they are going to do. While worrying won’t help you prepare for your trip, some of these tips may.

Screen Time

While in recent history, many parents are cracking down on screen time in their kids’ lives. Understanding that playtime, learning and exploration are far more valuable for your child’s development can be useful and beneficial for your child’s life, but you can also make some concessions while you are on your way to your vacation on 2021 cruises. Because you are on vacation, you can indicate to your little one that this is a vacation treat. Don’t forget to bring headphones and download videos, music and anything they will be using ahead of time to avoid major meltdowns and the disturbance of other passengers.

New and Favorite Toys

If you are looking for something to distract your child, consider a new toy and a favorite. The new toy can offer a level of enticing excitement to keep them distracted throughout your trip. Not only can the favorite provide comfort, but it is the perfect fallback in the case your child is craving something familiar in their new setting. This combination can help provide the perfect level of distraction.

Window Clings

If window clings are a decorative holiday staple, consider how these could be the perfect accessory for your plane ride. Consider wiping down the window with a wipe and then letting your child hang window clings from the plane window. These items can quickly turn from decoration to toys in a matter of moments. Even better for the flight attendants, these will not leave any sort of residue behind. Not only will your child be able to take in the beauty of the sky, but they can also enjoy the fun of creating a collage on the window.

Magnetic Games

If you have games that involve magnets, these can be the perfect option for a plane ride. It is inevitable for children to drop or lose components of their game, especially when the vehicle is in motion. Luckily with a magnetic game, everything sticks, reducing the chance of losing small parts. Not to say that you won’t spend a good amount of the plane ride picking up bits from the game, but you are less likely to do so with magnetic games.

Plenty of Snacks

When you travel, there are often small snacks available, but with kids, you are never sure when the hunger pangs will hit. Make sure that you are prepared with some of their favorite treats and be sure to pack plenty of them. You never know when there will be delays in travel plans, and it does not hurt to be prepared. For flights, you may also want to add water and small treats like mints or if they are able to chew gum, sugar-free chewing gum. These can help keep everyone hydrated, but also alleviate the pressure that builds up in your head during flights and avoid painful ear popping.

Potty Plan

For little ones who are still wearing diapers, you may be well situated to avoid accidents; however, it is important to also consider a plan for children out of diapers. Keep in mind that certain times during flights you cannot get up due to safety protocols, and this can be difficult if you just finished potty training. If you need to, consider safety measures like pull-ups, which can be available in case of emergencies.

Traveling with kiddos can be a stressful activity for even the most prepared parents. While there are worries, you can also make contingency plans for if and when issues arise. At the end of the day, all we can do is be prepared and take a deep breath. Traveling is temporary and you will all be fine.

Top Techniques For Effective Memorization

Boy thinking - Memorization Techniques

by Dr. Shanthi Thomas

Very few of us are lucky to have photographic memories. For the rest of us mere mortals, information has to be actively memorized and recalled. The degree of ease with which this process of memorization and recall happens is different for each of us, but the good news is that we can all use certain techniques to improve it at any stage of our lives. Let us look at the top memorization techniques that science suggests:

1. The protégé effect

Many of us have experienced the protégé effect, which is the term for the psychological phenomenon where teaching something to another person helps you learn it and remember it better. This happens because when you teach something, there is increased metacognitive processing, which makes you more actively aware of the learning process. Secondly, when you teach, you automatically organize material and seek out key pieces of information. Thirdly, you tend to have greater motivation to learn when you have to teach the same thing later. Finally, when you have to teach what you have learnt, you experience feelings of competence and autonomy.

2. Sleep on it

After learning something new, get a good night’s sleep or a power nap. Sleep improves the consolidation of memory for information that has been recently encoded. It protects our brains from forgetting memories, and helps to retrieve memories better. There are two ways how this happens: first, sleep protects recent memories from being disrupted by experiences and second, during sleep, stored information is arranged in order of their relative importance and expectations for remembering. When one is sleep-deprived, brain’s neurons get over-connected with too much electrical activity and so new memories cannot be saved.

2. Bathe your brain in oxygen

Our brains work optimally only with an adequate supply of oxygen, and one needs to move a lot to ensure healthy flow of oxygen-rich blood to our brains. Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain, bathing it in oxygen. Research has found aerobic exercise such as running to be linked with improved memory. Exercise activates high levels of a protein called cathpsin B, which stimulates neuron growth and new connections in an area in the brain believed to be critical for memory, called the hippocampus.

3. Eat healthier to remember more

There is food that helps you remember, and then there is food that makes you forget things! Saturated and trans fats – what you get from butter and red meet – are linked to a poorer memory. They can clog blood vessels in the brain, depriving it of oxygen. Diets consisting of mostly vegetables, fruits, seafood, olive oil and nuts which are rich in healthy unsaturated fats improve memory and lower memory decline rates.

4. Mnemonics to remember more

Mnemonics” is the term used to refer to any system or device designed to help remember information. Usually it is patterns of letters or words or phrases. For example, the colours of the rainbow can be remembered by VIBGYOR – Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red. Similarly, to remember the seven coordinating conjunctions you can use the mnemonic FANBOY (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet). Music mnemonics is a type of mnemonics in which you create a song to remember the information. The simple ABC song to remember the English alphabet is an example.

5. Create a Memory Palace

A Memory Palace is a tried-and-tested memorization technique. When you have a list of things to remember, you create an imaginary location in which you store these images. In the most common type of memory palace, you imagine a place you are familiar with, like your house, and imagine a journey through the various rooms. In different locations along your route, you have placed the things you need to remember. When you need to remember the list, you simple undertake the journey, and see what is in each location.

6. Chunking

Chunking is the grouping of information according to commonalities and connections, and classifying them. Human brains are primed to find connections and patterns, so chunking works with even large amount of information.  For example, if you have to remember the names of the countries of the world, it helps to organize them into different continents.

7. Spaced repetition

It is common knowledge that what you learn once will be forgotten, unless you revisit it after a while. This is called spaced repetition. This technique is very well utilized in elementary and kindergarten classrooms when children learn new letters or words. Teachers use a certain amount of time every day, to go through a set of flash cards containing the letters or words they want children to learn. They may repeat it one whole year.

Challenges Involved In Raising A Child With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Child With Autism

by Dr. Shanthi Thomas

Raising a disabled child is challenging to say the least. Raising a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) radically transforms the lives the parents and the other members of the family. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurological and developmental disorder that begins in early childhood and lasts lifelong. It affects social interaction and communication significantly, and involves restricted and repetitive behaviour patterns, interests and activities.  Let us have a look at the challenges involved in raising a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

1. Lack of understanding from family, friends and society

Our society has not yet gained an understanding of autism and its manifestations. Often, even close family members and friends tend to blame the parents of the affected child or find fault with their parenting styles. This lack of understanding about what such parents go through makes it difficult for them to get support from friends and family. This lack of understanding on the part of society manifests mostly in school, if the autistic child is attending a mainstream school. When the autistic child behaves in a manner that is alarming to other kids, and disturbing to the class, both teachers and the parents of other children are likely to accuse the parents of not being strict disciplinarians, and advise them to take the kid out of school.

2. Negative emotions

It is common for parents of children with ASD to feel guilty, anxious, angry, depressed, confused and overwhelmed. They also feel frustrated when the child does not respond to their best efforts. If they lose their temper because of their frustration, soon they feel guilty. They also feel guilty if they think it is their fault that the child has the illness. Disappointment, grief and a sense of sadness are also common. The biggest anxiety they feel however, is about the future of the affected child and who can provide care once they themselves are unable to do that.

3. Strain on the marital relationship

It is also common for the parents of an autistic child to find it difficult to make their marriage work. Very often this is because of the sheer difficulty of looking after the child, and how it gives them little energy or leisure time to spend quality time with each other. In some cases, the partners blame each other for the child having the disorder. Typically mothers undergo more sacrifices than fathers, and this may give rise to bitterness. All of these negative emotions may embitter the relationship.

4. Difficulty in getting help

With advanced medical care facilities, there are ways in which autism can be managed, but it is not always easy to find the right fit of therapy for a child with the disorder. This is all the more difficult in developing and underdeveloped countries. Very often there is considerable delay in getting expert help, and in getting specialist treatment. In many countries, awareness about autism is low. In low and middle income countries, there is limited expertise and resources for diagnosis and treatment.

5. Parental sacrifices

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder need to be constantly attended to. This means that one of the parents or caregivers has to be constantly at home, giving up his/her career or whatever other pursuits they may have. They also may have to forego social occasions such as birthday parties and wedding receptions because it is impossible to leave the child behind alone or to take him along. Thus, raising a child with ASD places a strain on all facets of life of the parents.

6. Financial difficulties

A diagnosis of ASD for one of the children in the family places a huge financial burden on the parents. Standard autism management regimen can be very expensive. Some of the costs include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), speech and language therapy, specialized child care, other special interventions, and costly food or drug supplements.  It does not help that one of the parents need to stay home with the child, unable to work and earn an income.

7. Effects on siblings

Siblings of an autistic child also go through several challenges. They may feel embarrassed in front of their peers and friends about having a sibling with a disorder, a ‘freak’. They may also have to adjust in several other ways, for example, not being able to celebrate a birthday party at home, or having to leave a social event earlier than necessary. They may also have to bend to their sick sibling’s wishes and needs. Very often, they may not receive the care and attention needed, because parents are too busy caring for their sibling with ASD.

7 Ways Parents Can Survive The Summer

Children playing

Summer vacation? It might be great for the kids… but what about the parents? With a house full of kids, it can be hard to keep the peace for the whole summer. While it’s a good idea to take your kids to the park, beach, or any other fun place, some families may not have the luxury to do those things. And, when you and the kids are stuck at home, they might resort to staying glued to the television or any other mobile device to watch shows or play games.

So, what can parents do to survive the summer with their children? More importantly, how can they make the best out of the summer with their kids without having to resort to TV and mobile devices to babysit them all the time?

In this article, we’ll show you the seven ways that you can survive the summer with your kids.

Routines

While routines are essential during the school year, they shouldn’t be forgotten during the summer. Although your kids won’t have to wake up early during the summer to go to school, you’ll still need to establish a routine that won’t mess up their sleep patterns.

Flexibility

Although it’s impossible to plan for everything, you should still be ready for any changes that might happen to your schedule. For example, you might be planning a trip to the park, but can’t go, because it’s raining. Instead, you would opt for playing games with your kids at home, right?

It’s also important to teach your children that things will be okay, even when plans change.

Stand Firm On Expectations

It’s easy to fall back on expectations for your kids. However, you shouldn’t stop them from doing important things like helping you with chores or taking responsibility for things. So, be sure to talk to them ahead of time about any changes to chores, curfew, allowance, etc.

Brainstorming

Sometimes, planning activities isn’t just something that parents can do. In other words, you don’t have to be the activity coordinator or problem-solver all the time. Instead, you can sit down with your kids, and ask them what activities they like doing. And while you’re at it, you can create a list of fun activities that you can do with the kids, and then plan for them.

Let Kids Have Their Space

Sometimes, kids can get emotionally drained, especially after social activities. Or, they might feel down from not having anything to do at home. Therefore, give them some time to recharge. You can set aside time for them to read, nap, or let them play by themselves.

Help Others

Everybody can use a little help at times, especially other parents. And sometimes, you can’t always dish out money for a babysitter. So, what better way to look after the kids by either letting your family watch them occasionally, or watching their kids for a while. It’s a win-win, especially if your family is huge.

Best of all, you can arrange play dates with friends or family members. For example, if you’re long-time friends with someone who also has kids, then ask them if they want to do a play date.

Also, don’t be afraid to seek advice from other parents, especially those whom you are friends with. The wisdom that you’ll get from other parents is priceless.

Stop And Breathe

Sometimes, we all need a break from life’s ups and downs; and it’s okay. It’s okay to get stressed out from having to plan things to do, or make sure that your kids are entertained during the summer.

First, take a moment to reflect on the situation. Then, take a deep breath and exhale. Then, reflect again on the situation, and see what you can do to make things easier. You may want to consider the fact that every moment with your kids is precious. Laugh every once in a while. Have fun.

And as always, don’t be hard on yourself. Remember to take the time to stop and breathe.

Conclusion

Summer may bring imbalance, when it comes to transitioning from school to vacation. However, it’s still good to have a routine, despite the changes in season. Keep it simple, stay on track, and reconnect with your kids, because like all seasons, summer will come and go before you know it.

Author Bio: Katrina Hatchett is a blogger at OriginWritings.com, and she has managed many business projects. As a writer, she enjoys identifying project problems and finding solutions for them. Her long-term goal is to improve the effectiveness of our communication.