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Talking to Your Daughter about Her First Menstrual Period

A lot of parents these days rely in small or in large part on schools to supply their children with information about the changes that happen to the body during puberty, and about sex.

But it’s a very good idea to supplement the education that children may get in class — and even to  begin having those discussions, in age-appropriate ways, long before they’re brought up in the classroom.

For starters, it’s likely that as your child More »

New Guidelines to Fight Type 2 Diabetes in Children

The current childhood obesity epidemic has led to the American Academy of Pediatrics publishing new guidelines, for the first time ever, for doctors to follow in managing type 2 diabetes in patients between the ages of 10 and 18.

Type 2 diabetes affects 90 to 95 percent of the 26 million American adult diabetics, but it had been rare in children and adolescents. As childhood obesity rates have skyrocketed, one in three children younger than 18 diagnosed with diabetes is now diagnosed with type 2.

Few doctors have been trained to More »

Before You Give Your Child Stimulants for ADHD, Try Some Dietary Changes

The American Psychiatric Association estimates that between 3 and 7 percent of American children suffer from attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, though some studies show even higher rates. ADHD diagnoses have increased by an astounding 66 percent since 2000.

Many children now take prescription drugs, chiefly stimulants, to combat the symptoms of ADHD — hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.

Because it’s a growing problem, studies continue being done to try to determine if there are More »

Should Children Take Antidepressants?

While this decision is one that parents of minors should ultimately weigh carefully and decide upon, many of us are hesitant to put too many artificial chemicals inside our bodies. These chemicals often come with undesirable side effects, sometimes dangerous ones, and never is the case more so than with antidepressants.

The ongoing, tragic series of mass shootings by children and young adults that the United States has experienced recently, has brought the subject of youths and antidepressants to the forefront once again. Some of the children and young adults who committed these crimes are now known to More »

Are Your Children Needlessly Being Poisoned by Flame Retardants?

In the 1970’s, the United States government implemented fire safety standards that now have manufacturers of many types of furnishings and household goods using toxic flame-retardant chemicals, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs.

PBDEs are similar in chemical structure to PCBs, which were banned after they were found to be linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and impaired brain development in fetuses.

But PBDEs are now being used prevalently by manufacturers of many products, including polyurethane foams for furniture; mattresses; plastics for television cabinets, computers, electronics and small appliances; wire insulation; carpeting; as coatings for draperies and upholstery — and on baby More »

Important Things You Should Consider Before Bringing Home a Pet for Your Children

Around holiday time or birthdays, a lot of well-meaning parents cave in to their children’s pleas for a pet. But sometimes, things don’t go smoothly, especially with younger children, and the pets are soon after returned to the seller or shelter, or given away. Or worse, the child or the pet wind up getting seriously hurt.

There are stories of More »

Effective Ways to Handle Children’s Tantrums

We’ve all experienced it: we’re at the grocery store, or even a department store … when out of nowhere, a child starts letting out nerve-congealing screams that quickly direct our attention to the source — a toddler or slightly older child is upset that he or she can’t have some enticing-looking goody they’ve come across, and they’re letting the whole world know they’re upset.

Very often, the parent accompanying the child More »

5 Ways to Know if Your Child is too Busy

Today’s parenting culture is one of ambition and high expectation. In an age of increasing competition in all areas of the socioeconomic spectrum, we all want our kids not just to do well but to excel. In light of this, many parents forget to leave their children time for the simple things—playing outdoors, engaging in imaginative activities and such. We tend to think time that is not spent engaged in a productive activity is time wasted.

Having high expectations for one’s children is perfectly natural, and there are More »

How Important is Reading to your Toddler?

If you read many parenting books and articles, you have probably heard that reading to babies is useful for bonding and for exposing young children to a variety of words and sounds but is ultimately not that important for development. This is certainly true when it comes to children under a year old, but the story becomes much different for children aged two to three. During these years, reading More »

Sibling Rivalries in Children

Relatively few children are fortunate enough to be close friends with their siblings — in few cases, siblings can even be best friends.  But in the majority of cases, routine quabbles, and even drag-out fights, are a fact of life in the lives of brothers and sisters. Sibling rivalries can often More »

Nerves in Kids: The Brain-Gut Connection

We as parents try our best to buffer our children from stimuli or situations that could cause them undue psychological stress.  We keep an eye out on what they watch on TV, the Internet, what video games they play. We strive to prevent  them from witnessing situations that could emotionally traumatize them or make them fearful, which could lead to nightmares or generalized anxiety.  In short, we do the best we can to protect our children’s minds — their brains — from undue stressors.

But until recently, not a lot of attention was placed in More »

Does Entertainment Play a Role in the Increasing Gun Violence Among Youth?

The recent series of horrifying, unspeakably senseless mass shootings perpetrated by teenagers and young adults in different American states has all of us in this country searching for answers. What can be causing these increasingly common, genocidal outbursts of gun violence? And what can we as a society do to change things?

Most of us understand that it would be simplistic to try to More »

Raise Kids Who are Smart about Money

Most people are not born with a natural ability to make smart financial decisions. As a species we are not designed to think about the long-term consequences of our actions, and the allure of the short-term can be powerful. That is why More »

What to do With an Underachieving Child

Getting a child to live up to his or her full potential is one of the most challenging things about being a parent. On one hand, we do not want our children to feel that we are putting undue pressure on them to do things they may not necessarily want to do. On the other, practically every child needs at least a parental nudge every now and then, and this often means being the bad guy in your child’s eyes. It is yet another area of parenting where the parents More »

What to do About a Child Who Lies

Every child lies, just as every adult lies. These might be difficult truths to accept, but if you search your own past and examine your actions honestly, you will no doubt find that there have been many situations where you found it useful to lie. Children are no different, except that they are often poor liars and tend to do it even when there is little chance they will get away with it. There are many reasons that they do this, but the most important thing parents need to know is More »

The 5 Keys to Being a Great Parent

For anyone who has never raised a child, the idea of parenting might seem like a rather simple thing on a day-to-day basis. After all—how complicated can it be? Just try to be a good role model, attend to your child’s needs, and make sure your child learns the rules of acceptable behavior. But of course, as any parent knows, raising children is not so simple. On any given day, there is More »

Teaching Kids to Love Nature

In an age of growing disconnection between people and nature, many parents find it challenging to instill in their children a sense of appreciation for all that the earth has to offer. In many cases, nature is remote and not easily accessible, while electronics and media are immediately available, and many busy parents understandably go the easier route. But there are numerous benefits to helping your child appreciate the wonders of the great outdoors, and it is even More »

5 Things Teens Do Not Tell Their Parents

As kids grow, it can be difficult for parents to let go of the parent-child dynamic that was established during the early years. Teens might still be far from fully formed adults, but they are unique individuals with strong senses of themselves, and much of their behavior is oriented toward growing and becoming adults. For parents, the old closeness of the early years must sadly give way to something else. No longer will you More »

Teaching Your Kids a Good Work Ethic

Many children are not predisposed to working hard and carrying out their responsibilities with enthusiasm. In fact, most kids must be taught these things, often with great hardship and frustration for the parents. Kids want to play and enjoy their idle time—which is perfectly natural and even healthy to some degree—and typically do not take well to being More »

Homework Headaches? 6 Tips for Parents of Young Children

Few children are predisposed to diving into homework with enthusiasm. Most have to be taught the discipline and sense of duty required to stay on task and get the often boring work done on time. Teachers can only do so much. When it comes to instilling good school habits at home, parents must play an active, hands-on role. Some children take to it better than others, but in any case, good parents stay informed of their children’s homework activities and provide whatever pressure is needed to make sure it gets done. But how do you parents avoid the homework headaches?

1. Get organized: Create a system in your household for keeping track of all homework. There are a few ways to do this, but perhaps the best option is to have a homework notepad in a common area of your house such as the kitchen. When your child gets home from school, have him or her write all the day’s homework tasks. Later, cross them off when they’re completed. Or, if you think your child has the discipline, have him or her bring a special notepad to school to write down all homework assignments as they are given.
More »

The 5 Most Common Parenting Mistakes

Parenting is a process of continuous learning and adjustment, and no parent makes it through unscathed. Many mistakes parents make are easily recognizable and can be fixed right away, while others are only visible with the benefit of hindsight. But while no parent can be perfect, it is possible to More »

Helping Your Child Lose Weight

Because we love our children unconditionally, it is very easy for parents to become blind to any physical problems their kids may have. When a child becomes overweight, parents tend to think he or she is just a little plump or that it is just a passing phase that will end at the next growth spurt. Children do indeed go through phases and their bodies are constantly involving, so in many cases there is nothing to worry about when a child has a couple of extra pounds. But parents do need to watch closely, because weight problems can get out of hand faster than you may think.

There are countless reasons why parents need to keep an eye on their children’s weight. First, there are the basic reasons of health. Children who are overweight can develop health problems that may plague them for life. Second, children set many of their lifelong habits during these years, and teaching your kids to eat well and exercise turns into a great gift later on. Meanwhile, there are also social factors; kids who are obese or even just overweight often face teasing and bullying, which raise a whole additional set of issues.

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Child Speech Development: What’s Normal?

Most parents understand that children develop at different rates, and that this is as true for speech development as anything else. Yet if you are the parent of a two-year-old who has barely started to speak, a five-year-old who has trouble making himself understood, or a ten-year-old who is unusually quiet, it is only natural to worry that there is something wrong. In many cases, children with delayed speech More »

Encouraging Independence in Your Young Child

As much as we love our children, parents need to have lives of their own, and they cannot spend every waking hour supervising children. Of course, we do not begrudge infants and toddlers their need for constant attention, but growing children need to develop a sense of independence. Not only does it give parents More »

Kids and Sports: The Parents’ Role

The benefits of organized sports for children cannot be overestimated. Even when a child is not particularly sports-oriented or does not excel on the playing field, the experience itself is valuable. It teaches kids how to work with others and how to take instruction, it introduces them to teamwork, competition, and the importance of practice, and it encourages them to challenge themselves to do difficult things. Meanwhile, it also provides all-important physical activity, which is as important as ever in the age of the obesity epidemic.

But there are many things to consider when involving your child in sports. Most important, you have to think about whether your child is ready and which sports might be the best match for him or her. Every child is different, and some children thrive in some sports and flounder in others. You know your child best, so you will have to use your own judgment in making this decision.
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Childhood Fears and Anxiety: What Can Parents Do?

A certain amount of fear and anxiety is a natural part of life and childhood. It is what drives us to take precautions and to keep ourselves and our families safe. In children, while fear and anxiety are often illogical, they are in many respects an important part of growing up. But in some children these feelings can become excessive, and the effects may actually hinder learning and growth.

Where these feelings become problematic is where they are More »

Finding Safe Toys for Toddlers

For young children, toys come with numerous benefits. Not only are they fun, but they also stimulate the imagination and help with learning. But there is a serious side to toys; each year, millions of children are treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries, and tragedy can result from poor choices of toys or inadequate parental supervision.

As a parent of a young child, you are More »

What to do if Your Child is a Reluctant Reader

For young children, being able to read is an important foundation for all later education. But some children do not take to it as well as others. Some have difficulty learning how to read and hence cannot have fun doing it, while others simply do not enjoy books as much as their parents would like them to. In these situations, it is important for parents to play an active role so that the child does not fall behind.

Reading does not have to be your child’s favorite activity, but he or she should be capable of enjoying it. And even if that is not possible, a strong proficiency with written words, letters, and sounds will More »

Why Tears Are A Good Thing!

Crying is particular to human beings and is a socially adaptive skill. There are often lots of tears shed during the first few weeks of school because it is usually the first time your child experiences an extended separation from you. It is an important stage for your child when she begins to learn that she can be part of a group outside of her family. During those first days she is working out how to cope with separation, loss, anxiety and change. The skills and techniques she learns will be needed throughout her whole life. As a protective parent you may find it difficult to see your child crying but know that generally, children are resilient and can utilise coping skills remarkably well. Crying is one of a child’s best coping strategies so children should be allowed to cry. The benefits of crying include: More »

Why Is Autism On The Rise?

Here in the UK about one in one hundred people have an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) which could be conditions such as Asperger syndrome (AS) or autism. The reason the term ‘spectrum’ is used is because the symptoms of these disorders are very varied. Children with an ASD generally are similar in that they find it difficult relating to others because they do not develop their language and social skills in the same way that other children who are the same age do. Children who have autism are often diagnosed by the time they are two years old. They find it hard to communicate and interact. Autistic children sometimes have a learning difficulty like dyslexia and autism is more common in boys. Asperger syndrome is usually not as severe as autism although it is a similar condition. Children with AS do not usually have a learning difficulty and do not find it as difficult to communicate as autistic children. AS children often have an average or above average intelligence.

It is not completely understood at the moment as to what the causes are of ASDs. It is thought that the conditions run in families. There is a theory that autism is linked to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine but there is no scientific evidence that proves this to date.

More »

I want to Go Back to Work but I Have Lost My Confidence

It seems to be a common factor that when women are considering going back to work after taking time off to look after their children, a feeling of insecurity and lack of confidence overwhelms them and puts them off the idea. A long time out of the work place makes some women feel that simple tasks such as More »

Teenagers and Acne: What Parents Need to Know

Acne is a very common concern during adolescence, and virtually every teen deals with it to some degree. Even small acne breakouts can be cause for anxiety, and serious acne problems can lead to depression and social delays. So from the parental perspective, acne is not to be taken lightly just because it happens to almost everyone. There are good and bad ways to deal with the issue, and improper handling of the situation can More »

How To Conquer The Homework Battle

Threatening, bribing and punishing are futile methods to use when attempting to get your child to do her homework. Let us be clear, most children do not like to sit down to do their homework after being at school all day. You cannot make your child do her homework or make her enjoy it. You can use methods that assist her to do her work. You can be positive, motivational and consistent. Read on for tips that will help you at least reduce the More »

Playground Safety: Not Just for Overprotective Parents

For both parents and children, there is something magical about a playground. It gives the child an opportunity to play freely in a safe outdoor environment and to interact with other kids, and it gives parents the chance to sit back and relax in the fresh air while the child plays. But of course, while many children thrive when given the chance to play an area designated for them, no playground is completely safe. There are things to fall off of and things to bump into, and there can even be sharp edges. Parents do not have to hover over their children at the playground, but it is a good idea to More »

What to Do About a Child’s Nightmares and Night Terrors

Everyone, no matter how old, has nightmares from time to time. Some adults remember their dreams more clearly than others, but we all have at least a few memories of nights and mornings when we woke in sheer terror, then felt that sense of relief that comes from the realization that it was all just a nightmare. Dreams are a strange phenomenon that science has yet to fully explain, but nightmares are something we have all experienced and thus can identify with on a personal level.

But for young children, there is a special acuteness to the terror that More »

Keep Your Kids Learning Through the Summer

No student remembers every single thing she learns in school. Even over the course of a school day, many things will go in a child’s ear and out the other. And as any parent who is active in the educational process knows, kids are wildly inconsistent with their learning. They learn some things with little effort, while other things require endless repetition and instruction.

In any case, it is only natural for some of the things a child learns during the school year to be lost during those three to four summer months. Much that is lost will be More »

How to Keep Your Teen Out of Trouble: 10 Tips

Teens are naturally rebellious, and when you combine this with all the potentially destructive influences that today’s teens are exposed to, it is not surprising that the percentage of young people who have been arrested at least once has grown in recent years. And these incidents can have lifelong repercussions. Even a minor offense such as shoplifting or drug possession can set a young person back and shut opportunities to them. And of course, there are many much more serious crimes that can taint records permanently and even ruin lives.

Sadly, much of what teens do must be out of their parents’ hands. We cannot watch our children every second of the day, and the teenage years are a time when kids need an increasing amount of freedom in order to find themselves and become independent people. But while you cannot control your child’s actions, what you can do is More »

I Want To Be A Good Grandparent!

As a new grandparent you want to be the best you can be! Your new role is not as daunting as becoming a first time parent but many things have undoubtedly changed since your own children were little. With so many more mothers returning to work childcare is required more often and many grandparents find so much joy in helping to look after the new additions to the family.

In terms of setting off on the right foot with your child and his or her partner you can look at these helpful hints: More »

Should I Give My Child Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements?

If your child is not eating a meal of fatty fish like salmon or sardines at least once a week then it is a good idea to give him a daily fish oil supplement. Oily fish includes salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, eel, pilchards and fresh tuna and if your child eats a meal with one of these fish once or twice a week then he will probably receive the level of omega-3 fatty acids his body requires. Popular fishy meals that kids like are More »

Help! My Child Is So LAZY!

As a parent of a seemingly lazy child you may feel very frustrated with attempts to motivate him. Some parents are baffled by their children being so different in their levels of activity. Children are different and some are inherently more active than others but few are naturally lazy. Often a child’s energy is being used for growing and his body needs to rest, this can often be mistaken for laziness. Once he has rested and his body has caught up he More »

Help! My Child Is Sleepwalking!

If you are shocked to find your child sleepwalking rest assured that it is fairly common in childhood and not usually anything to worry about. It can be triggered by stress, illness or not enough sleep but with most sleepwalkers it is not a sign that they are psychologically disturbed. There are risks associated with a child wandering around the house whilst asleep as they could fall down the stairs or wander out of the front door. There are precautions that can be put in place which I will discuss later. Sleepwalking is most common in children aged between More »

What Parents Need to Know About Cutting

Cutting—or, as it is known in medical circles, self-injury—has gotten a lot of attention over the last few years, and there is a growing awareness that it is a serious issue among teens, not just due to the physical harm it causes but also because it is often a symptom of deeper emotional problems. Still, though the issue is more out in the open than it used to be (and it is not a new thing), many parents are still uncomfortable talking about it.

To put it simply, the phenomenon known as More »

Should Kids Be Allowed to Have Caffeine?

Many parents have strange approaches to giving their kids caffeine. On one hand, we do not think of coffee and even tea as being appropriate beverages for young children, yet on the other hand, many parents allow their children to drink soft drinks practically to their hearts’ content. And while soft drinks are lower in caffeine than coffee, they have a good amount of it, and they deliver all the caffeine-related effects that coffee does. So while caffeine More »

Had Enough of the Backchat?

Do you feel exasperated dealing with backchat and disrespectful behaviour from your children? It can be difficult to handle your children’s bad manners, rudeness, swearing, sarcasm or cheekiness and most parents complain about it at some point. Think about why your child might be behaving this way as there are More »

Early Childhood Teeth Care: The Basics

Much confusion surrounds the issue of how to help young children achieve good dental care. Because we know that those early teeth are going to fall out after a couple of years, many parents assume that early childhood dental care is not a priority and that kids do not need the kind of brushing routine that adults have. But on the contrary, there are some very good health-related reasons to pay close attention to your child’s dental care from a very early age, and it is never too early to begin instilling good habits.

Very early dental care
What many people do not realize is that babies More »

Alcohol and Your Teenager

Alcohol is considered socially acceptable as long as it is drunk moderately but it can cause mixed messages being communicated to our young people. We tell our children drinking is bad for them but they then see us consuming alcohol and sometimes too much at social occasions. What do you do if you discover your child is drinking excessively? What do you say without seeming hypocritical or risk your children losing their trust in you?

Many children have their first sip of an alcoholic drink at around More »

Discipline for a 4-Year-Old

My son is on the verge of turning 5, and we were having a small war in our home. Not over what kind of party he wanted, not over how many toys he needs, and not over what food to serve. In fact, it had nothing to do with his actual birthday at all. It was everything else. And I mean, practically – everything – else. I don’t know what was going on in his little mind, but my angel had turned into a wild man who liked to do such things as shout NO! and trip his sister on purpose. And me? I turned into a monster who felt like she was constantly shouting – screaming – really yelling – at the top of my lungs. No fun for anyone. More »

Packaged Fruit–Does it Count as a Serving?

fruit leather, smoooshed fruit, fruit for kids, kids lunches, nutrition, kids nutrition, healthy eating, packing kids lunches, packaged fruitI try to keep fresh fruit on hand at all times, but I’m lucky–my kids love it and they eat right through it. Here today, gone tomorrow–that’s our fruit bowl. So, on the days when there isn’t anything fresh to pack in the lunches, I reach into the cupboard for eating fresh fruit at all. Marketing by companies, and the way that the copy is written on the label makes parents think that these “fruit my stash of freeze dried fruit. The package says it’s a whole apple (or some other serving of fruit), so it must be a good substitute, right? Well, not necessarily.

A recent article in the Health section of the LA Times stated that parents are turning to the substitutes–instead of the real thing–so often that kids aren’t nuggets”, “fruit leathers”, or in my case, freeze dried fruit, is just as good. Mark Kantor, professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Maryland in College Park who was quoted in the article states that, “Fruit snacks, whether or not they claim to provide a serving of fruit, don’t offer all the nutritional benefits of whole fruit and often contain added sugars and sometimes fats.”

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Flavored Milk–Do You Use It?

I have a 21 month old daughter that isn’t milk’s biggest fan. She’ll drink a little bit, but not nearly enough to get her day’s worth of calcium in. So one morning, I thought I’d give her some chocolate milk to see what would happen. She didn’t drink it–she guzzled it! Ever since, it’s chocolate milk every morning–she’s underweight as well, so I figure the extra calories won’t hurt. This is why an article in yesterday’s LA Times Health section caught my eye. Entitled, Pro / Con: Should chocolate milk be allowed in schools?, it gives the debate on whether or not flavored milk should be offered at your child’s school.

Rachel Johnson, a dietitian at the University of Vermont in Burlington whose research has been funded by the National Dairy Council, says yes–it’s better than no milk at all. However, Marlene Schwartz  a psychologist and deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University says no–that we’re teaching milk is only good when it’s sugared up.

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Being Bilingual — Is it Right for Your Child?

I (right) was in a bilingual school from kindergarten until junior high. Here, I celebrate Cinco de Mayo in 6th grade.

When I was going through elementary school, my mom would always have me in a bilingual classroom. She’s bilingual (English and Spanish), and when I was a preschooler, so was I. (We lived in Chile then, and when we moved back to California, she wanted me to be able to maintain my Spanish). At the time, there were classes where the majority of students were English learners (ESL) with a handful of students, (such as me) that were Spanish learners (SSL). These days, more and more parents want to have their child learn a second language and as a result, we’re seeing the popularity of bilingual programs rise. Learning to speak a second language is a wonderful experience, but how can you tell if it’s right for your child? Breezy Mama turns to Corie De Anda, M.S., Bilingual Program Specialist for Carlsbad Unified, for the answers. –Alex

Part 1: Learning a second language before kindergarten
(For Part 2: Learning a second language in elementary school — click here)

What is the best age for beginning to teach my child a second language? More »

Adoption from Home and Afar–Two Moms Share their Stories

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The thought of adoption can be overwhelming–where do I start? What are the advantages of adopting from the United States? From abroad? In the following story, two mothers open up to Breezy Mama about how their families began through adoption. From financial costs to the emotional pay-offs, Mindy discusses her experience adopting (“I thought she was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen! I got to GillespieFamOne2008hold her right away and I just “knew” she was meant to be with us”) in the United States and Lisa, an Adoption Co-Coordinator for San Diego RESOLVE , gives the details (“We knew pretty instantly he was our son. Adoption has completed our family, and brought More »