August 30, 2009

Happy, Healthy, Well-Adjusted Children

Now that your children are back in school how has your family adjusted to their new routine? After a restful summer where schedules are often not as rigid as they are during the school year, it can be challenging to get everyone back on track. I'd like to suggest some things you can do to make your family routine less stressful.

Have a family calendar posted in a prominent place where everyone, even the youngest members of the family, can see it. Use a different colored pen to mark each person's schedule so you can tell at a glance who has a dentist appointment or picture day at school tomorrow. It's helpful to take a few minutes on Sunday evening to remind everyone of the upcoming events for the next week. That way when someone forgets it doesn't fall on mom or dad's shoulders. It teaches children to be responsible for their own schedule and hopefully they have a planner in their backpacks or in their rooms where they too can keep track of their activities.

Plan healthy meals and snacks. Children function better when they have a well-balanced diet. Include them in meal planning and preparation. Children are much more likely to eat foods they've helped prepare. You might even make an adventure of trying one new fruit or vegetable each week. There are so many varieties available that you can pick up a new one on your weekly grocery shopping trip. Don't forget to clip and use coupons to help control the cost of your food budget. Have your family clip the coupons from the Sunday paper and put them in charge of them when you shop.

Make sure your children are getting enough sleep. Many parents are not aware of how much sleep children require. Children who are irritable, overreact, have difficulty concentrating and wake often during the night may be sleep deprived. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following number of hours of sleep in a 24 hour period (naps are included):

Between Birth-Six Months, children need 16-20 hours
Between Six-Twelve Months, children need 14-15 hours
Between Ages 1-3, children need 10-13 hours
Between Ages 3-10, children need 10-12 hours
Between Ages 11-12, children need about 10 hours
Teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep per night

Getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and having a home with a predictable routine is a good foundation for raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted children.

August 2, 2009

Ways To Connect With Your Teenager

When your child becomes a teenager it can sometimes feel that you are no longer communicating with him or her. You try to engage them in conversations but they don't always respond. There are some little things you can do that might encourage your child to communicate with you.

Touch your teen gently on the shoulder when you say "good morning."

Slide a "thinking of you" note under their pillow.

Begin a "Positive Thoughts" notebook. Each evening jot down a few positive sentences into a notebook or journal. The sentences could be about something positive you saw your teen say or do, an encouraging word about an upcoming test they have at school, etc. Leave the notebook out in a general area, such as the kitchen counter or table, where your teen can find it the next morning. Encourage your teen to write a response to your comment. Even if your teen doesn't write a response don't give up. Continue writing on a daily basis. This will send your teen the message that this is important to you. Your teen will probably be reading your thoughts even if she doesn't respond.

Put your teens baby photos back out on the mantle. Reminisce out loud or smile without saying a word while thumbing through your teens baby photo album. Make sure your son can see and hear you. He just might come and sit beside you and begin reminiscing with you.

These simple ideas can result in a dialogue between you and your teen which in turn contributes to a much needed closeness between parent and child.