Archives for February 2011

Respect: Will you Kids Know What This Word Means?

When I was little, my  grandfather used to sing a song from an old musical that went something like this: “Kids, what’s the matter with kids today? La da dee da… Kids, disrespectful, disobedient oafs!” Well, if that’s how kids were in his day, how do we even begin on the subject of respect today? I’m trying hard to instill it into own darling five year old, but she’s still has her moments– issuing ultimatums, disregarding “pleases” and “thank you’s,” and being rude to neighbors– kids and parents alike.  Don’t get me wrong, she can be sweet and polite when she wants to be, but how do we change that to being polite and respectful all the time?

Nicole Caccavo Kear (Parents.com: The Return of Respect) writes:  “Respect. Thanks to Aretha, we all know how to spell it. But sadly, in today’s world (where rudeness is so pervasive that even our president gets heckled while making a speech), we no longer expect that everyone will show respect for others. The good news is that we can teach our kids this critical value — and in doing so, we’ll end up imparting crucial lessons in kindness, consideration, honesty, open-mindedness, and gratitude as well.”

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Victoria Kindle Hodson, coauthor of Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids, says that the most effective way to teach kids respectful behavior is to model it yourself. This means that as tired and frustrated as we are, we cannot resort to shouting, name-calling, sarcasm, or rudeness with our kids. Stay calm, explain why their behavior is unacceptable, and issue consequences when necessary.

In addition to being a role model, here are some other guidelines for teaching respect and good manners.

Demand Good Manners

Even if young kids are just going through the motions of acting polite (saying “please” and “thank you” on cue, etc) they will grow up to learn that acting polite isn’t merely a formality. Teach them when to say “excuse me” and “I’m sorry,” greeting others properly with a “hello” or “goodbye,” and how to act in special situations (ie: library, restaurant, toy store). With time, this type of proper behavior will become second nature. Reinforce good manners with praise and note why their acts of consideration matter: “Thank you for including Sam in your game. It makes him happy to be included.”

Don’t Tolerate Rudeness

Back talk and other bratty behavior are so common these days that it’s easier to just ignore it than deal with it.  But a child who’s allowed to speak rudely to his family will also think it’s okay to sass others; therefore you must respond immediately.  When your child is upset, help him express himself by making “I” statements (as in “I feel frustrated!”) rather than ones that start with “You” (as in “You are stupid!”). Encourage your kids to talk about their feelings (“You seem very angry. Do you want to tell me what happened?”) Giving your child a positive way to express his emotions, while letting him know that it’s not OK to insult others or scream at them. You may find that it takes a lot of work to help your young child get a handle on her temper, but keep on reminding and instructing.

Don’t forget to lead the way by being a good example: You too should apologizige when it’s appropriate, and urge your kids to do the same.

Teach Listening Skills

Showing respect means giving others your time and attention. Important rules your kids should learn about being a good listener are: Removing distractions and making eye contact, waiting their turn to speak and not interrupting, and of course being courteous. So teach your child to look up from their games and focus on you when you’re talking. Practice role-playing different types of conversations. They’ll catch on!

Establishing Rules

House rules teach kids that the world doesn’t revolve around them and that they’ve got to be considerate of others. It also helps them adjust to school and beyond, where they must follow certain rules. Instilling a regard for authority in your little ones starts at home.

First off, sit down and explain the house rules to them. Write them up (or draw pictures) and post them on the fridge. Explain why these rules matter. (“It’s important to go to bed on time because your body needs enough sleep to be happy and healthy the next day!”) Then let them know what will happen if the rules are broken, and be prepared to follow through with those consequences if necessary.

Encourage Open-mindedness; Embrace Diversity

We all know kids who will make fun of those who are different than they. Teaching kids to be open-minded means understanding that everyone is differerent but still worthy of our respect. Even if we don’t hit it off with someone immediate, we should taking the time to get to know them and see where they’re coming from. People who may seem totally different at first may turn out to have many things in common with us! (“Rhonda wears a headscarf, but she loves to draw just like you! David prays in a synagogue on Saturdays, but he enjoys rollerblading too!”)  And, even if they don’t like someone else, it’s not OK to be rude or unkind. This will open up their futures in terms of meeting exciting people, experiencing interesting things, and learning new things.  It also shows them that sometimes it’s OK to “agree to disagree” and go on with our own lives peaceably.

Respect Stuff, Too!

Kids to who learn to treat belongings with respect are also developing the values of consideration and responsibility. Some ways to drive the point home:

Explain value. Let kids understand why things are worth what they are. If he tramples the neighbor’s flower garden, don’t just scold or punish, explain how much time and effort she put into planing, watering, and tending her plants, and how they beautify our surroundings.

Less is more. Kids don’t need tons of toys. The more they have, the less they will appreciate when they get something new. Instead, let them work towards earning something they like (for example, making a point chart) or find new ways of playing with things they already have.

Make it clear. If you let them play with something valuable, spell out the rules first. My daughter loves to snap pictures with our camera, but I tell her she must hold it with two hands, stand in one place, etc…

Adapted from Parents.com. Original article published in the November 2010 issue of Parents magazine. Read the complete article here.

7 Tips to Beautify Baby’s Room

It doesn’t take a fat wallet or a team or interior designers to create a lovely baby nursery! Dive into your creative side head first– now is your chance to do something different and have fun! Here are some tips to help achieve big style for your little one, on any budget.

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1. Start with the Walls

Paint or wallpaper is a great way to set an ambiance.  There’s no need to follow the pink-or-blue trend; try something unique. If you stick to gender-neutral, timeless colors and prints, it will last you way past the baby years. (This is also handy when you don’t know the baby’s gender!) You can also use stencils or decals to create designs on the walls. White walls are  sweet too, you have plenty of other areas for adding color and contrast.

2. Keep it simple

“Less is more” is a good rule of thumb when decorating children’s rooms. We think a baby’s room can be fun, colorful, and interesting, but should maintain a peaceful and serene vibe. You only need one or two focal pieces, so conserve your money to splurge on something that you really love, like an antique mirror or beautiful bedding.

3. Search for Treasures

It’s nice if your children’s room contains a few objects that didn’t come straight from the store. Antique finds at the second hand shop, old family photographs, dolls from when you were a child… many things can be incorporated that you might not have thought about at first. Look for heirlooms in your parent’s attic or local thrift shop. You’ll be sweetly surprised at how much meaning these type of decorative elements give your nursery.

4. Keep Crib Bedding to a Minimum

This is more for safety than style. An overabundance of stuffed pillows, fluffy blankets, and crib bumpers can pose suffocation hazards for small babies. The crib is NOT a good place to focus your creative juices; wait til your child is older to make up a dream bed full of throw pillows and flouncy covers.

5. Fancy Floors

Because your little one will spend lots of time on the floor, it’s a great place to focus attention. Bright colors, stripes, and patterned rugs are great if you have wood or tiled flooring. Soft wall-to-wall carpets are a nice touch and keep little explorers comfy. Look for materials that are easily cleaned!

6. A Corner for You

We know you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time with your baby. Even if baby sleeps with you at night, the nursery may be the place you go to change diapers, snuggle, and play during the day. Stick in a comfy arm chair or rocker, an end table to hold some books and a glass of water while you’re feeding.

7. Fill it with Love

Even if you don’t have the means to go all-out decorating, the physical trappings of your baby’s room are not what’s most important. I like the way it’s said here: “While decorating your baby’s room is personal and fun, remember that the heart of your child’s room is not what is physically held within the four walls. Rather it is the relationship of the parents and child. So if your baby is born into a room of stark white walls, with boxes crammed in a corner, so be it. It won’t change how you love him or her, nor will they grow up decoratively challenged.”

6 Pregnancy Super Foods

Before you reach for the cookie jar, think of your growing baby and take a peek at these nutritious and delicious food ideas!

Pregnancy is an important time to think more carefully about what you’re eating, since these foods will be the main source of nutrients for your growing baby. Get off to a good start with these pregnancy super foods.

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photo credit: Doesn’t this make you hungry?!

1. Whole grains: Enriched, whole-grain breads and cereals are fortified with folic acid and iron and contain more fiber than white bread and rice. Some good ways to incorporate whole grains: Oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich on whole-grain bread at lunch, and whole-wheat pasta or brown rice for dinner. Add barley to soups for thickness and flavor. If you like to bake, use whole wheat, oat, rye, or spelt flour.

2. Beans: Legumes are a good source of protein, fiber, and key nutrients such as iron, folate, calcium, and zinc. There are lots to choose from: black beans, white beans, pinto beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, and kidney, garbanzo, or soy beans! Try them in chili and soups, salads, pasta and rice dishes.

3. Salmon: A great source of protein, B vitamins, and Omega-3 fatty acids, which promote brain development and vision in babies.  Try it grilled, broiled, or on a salad. Although salmon is relatively low in mercury compared to other fish, experts advise no more than 12 ounces of salmon per week.

4. Eggs: Eggs a good source of protein that provides amino acids you and your baby need, and contain more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, including choline and lutein. They’re versatile too: Hard or soft boiled, sunny side up, omelets filled with veges and cheese, on a sandwich…  Just be sure not to eat undercooked or raw eggs.

5. Berries: Berries are bursting with vitamin C, potassium, folate, and fiber. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries… they are a delicious snacks and taste great in pancakes, on top of cereal, in your yogurt. If you can’t get them fresh, look in the freezer section.

6. Low-fat yogurt: One cup of plain, low-fat yogurt contains more calcium than milk, and is high in protein. Avoid flavored yogurts for their high sugar content. Improve the taste with fruit, nuts, granola, or my personal favorite: date honey!

Vitamin D Levels for Pregnant Women: Experts Recommend 8 Times Higher than FNB Levels

Thousands of studies over the last 10 years have shown that high doses of vitamin D are crucial to maintaining health in many areas. The Vitamin D Council, a highly regarded non-profit organization states: “Higher doses of Vitamin D help in many areas of health, among them: heart health, brain health, pancreatic health, muscle health, nerve health, eye health, immune health, colon health, liver health, mood health, skin health, and especially fetal health.” (emphasis added)

For this reason, the Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) has created a tumult for stating that the high levels of vitamin D currently being recommended by many health professionals are unnecessary and may even be toxic (November 2010). The FNB only slightly increased its recommended daily intake of vitamin D from 200 IU to 600 IU. In contrast, Harvard newsletter (December 2010) recommends 1,000-2,000 IU of vitamin D per day, while the Vitamin D Council recommends up to 5,000 IU a day.

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image credit: Mother Earth News

The fact that there is no difference between the amounts of D a 15 pound baby and a 300 pound man should take is deemed “absurd” by experts. When it comes to pregnant women, the FNB also makes no differentiation.  But respected vitamin D experts recommend at least 4,000 IU a day, and 6,000 for nursing mothers.

In response to the conclusions of the FNB panel, the Vitamin D Council statement responds:

“Disturbingly, this FNB committee focused on bone health… and ignored the thousands of studies from the last ten years… Tens of millions of pregnant women and their breast-feeding infants are severely vitamin D deficient, resulting in a great increase in the medieval disease, rickets. The FNB report seems to reason that if so many pregnant women have low vitamin D blood levels then it must be OK because such low levels are so common…

“Pregnant women taking 400 IU/day have the same blood levels as pregnant women not taking vitamin D; that is, 400 IU is a meaninglessly small dose for pregnant women. Even taking 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D will only increase the vitamin D levels of most pregnant women by about 10 points, depending mainly on their weight. Professor Bruce Hollis has shown that 2,000 IU/day does not raise vitamin D to healthy or natural levels in either pregnant or lactating women. Therefore supplementing with higher amounts — like 5000 IU/day — is crucial for those women who want their fetus to enjoy optimal vitamin D levels, and the future health benefits that go along with it.

“My advice, especially for pregnant women: continue taking 5,000 IU/day until your 25(OH)D is between 50–80 ng/mL (the vitamin D blood levels obtained by humans who live and work in the sun and the mid-point of the current reference ranges at all American laboratories).

“Gestational vitamin D deficiency is not only associated with rickets, but a significantly increased risk of neonatal pneumonia, a doubled risk for preeclampsia, a tripled risk for gestational diabetes, and a quadrupled risk for primary cesarean section.

“Today, the FNB has failed millions of pregnant women whose as yet unborn babies will pay the price. Let us hope the FNB will comply with the spirit of “transparency” by quickly responding to our Freedom of Information requests.”

How To Get Enough Vitamin D

There are 3 ways for adults to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D: (Vitamin D Council recommendations)

  • regularly receive midday sun exposure in the late spring, summer, and early fall, exposing as much of the skin as possible for 20–30 minutes (being careful to never burn). (Those with dark skin will need longer exposure time — up to six times longer.)
  • regularly use a sun bed (avoiding sunburn) during the colder months.
  • take 5,000 IU per day for 2–3 months, then obtain a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. Adjust your dosage so that blood levels are between 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year-round.

Training Children to Eat Well

What to feed an infant is pretty straightforward, and toddlers tend to eat whatever you give them, but as they grow up you may discover the frustrating phenomenon of picky eating. Nancy Piho, author of “My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything, warns: “It’s not always pretty!”

No, it’s not. Sometimes, it gets quite ugly.

As the proud (and somewhat harried) mother of a 3 year old and a 5 year old, it seems the only acceptable food choices are the Familiar and the Full-of-Sugar. Definitely not seeing any octopus in my future.

What is the secret to turning out the “good eaters?” Nancy Piho says that the key is to put firm and healthful eating habits in place from the beginning, and then stick to them, even when the going gets tough. Easier said than done? I don’t know, I’ll have to try it out on child number three.

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photo: Dr. Ann Wigmore

But it’s never too late to try instilling good habits. Ms. Piho presents 8 good eating tips to implement in your home:

1. Sit down! Now is the time to teach your kids that meals play an important role in their day. Make breakfast, lunch and dinner a definite sit-down-to-eat occasion, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

2. Doesn’t this look good? Talk it up! Comment on the yummy smells from the oven, or how pretty and juicy the steak looks. Young children “eat with their eyes” just like adults do.

3. It’s a dinner, not a diner! That means, no short order cooking! From their earliest eating days, children can and should eat what everyone else at the table is eating.

4. Focus on the whole meal. If you’re serving chicken, peas and rice for dinner, then your child should have chicken, peas and rice on their plate, too. What if they scarf down the rice and want more? Make them wait until they have a bite or two of the rest of the items in the meal.

5. Spice it up. Don’t be afraid to let your child sample spicier dishes, like those found in Indian or Mexican cuisines. If it’s really too hot, stir a little milk or sour cream into their portion, so that they still get the flavor of the dish without the full effect of the heat.

6. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If at first they dislike spinach or Brussels sprouts or broccoli, try, try again. Researchers have found that up to 15 separate introductions of a food may be required before a child will be accepting of it. Wait several days or weeks, but don’t drop the offending item out of the menu entirely.

7. Pour out the juice. Kiddie beverages all have one thing in common: they are sweet to the taste. Don’t start your little one off believing that drinks have to be sweet to taste good. Stick to plain milk and water.

8. And nix the other kiddie products. If it’s a food product made for and marketed to kids, chances are it’s going to be inferior in taste and flavor to comparable adult products. Avoid these and you will be way ahead in the game of preventing picky eating.

In-law problems? Teenagers in the house? Annoyed with your spouse? Sex life need a pick-up? Find more good family advice on  Hitched.com.

“Are They Real Contractions?” Drink a Glass of Wine!

Toward the end of your pregnancy, you may experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which feel like real labor pains but do not signify the onset of labor. There are various ways to tell if they are the real deal or not, but if you call your doctor or midwife in a panic, they make this suggestion: Relax, and have a glass of wine. If the contractions are real, they’ll intensify, but if they are Braxton Hicks, they will likely go away very soon after.

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But is it safe for the baby?

Drinking an occasional glass of wine during pregnancy has been a controversial topic. Obviously, frequent or heavy drinking is dangerous for your baby, but a glass of wine here and there is where opinions differ. Some maintain that the effects of alcohol on a fetus are still unknown and it’s better to avoid alcoholic beverages altogether. Others (like most Europeans!) believe that there’s nothing wrong with an occasional drink and indulge themselves without giving it a second thought.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, one glass of wine toward the end of your pregnancy probably doesn’t pose any hazard to your baby’s health. And if it stops the Braxton Hicks and puts your mind at ease, it’s an added bonus! L’Chayim!

Drink some water too…

Being dehydrated can bring on false labor pains as well. So in addition to your glass of wine, be sure to drink plenty of water, which may help ease Braxton Hicks as well!

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