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Parenting

The Magic of Music

2:00

“Where words fail, music speaks,” wrote Danish author, Hans Christian Anderson and he was so right. Music is the universe’s official language where old and young share its beauty and complexity.

Alzheimer’s patients have been known to respond with joy and excitement when played their favorite music after being non-responsive to other stimulus.

Children jump in rhythm and clap their hands when they hear the sounds of instruments playing. Hundreds of YouTube videos show how quickly tears can turn to smiles and giggles as the first notes of Disney’s  “Let It Go” spring forth. 

Is there really anyone who isn’t deeply affected by music?

Research has shown that particpating in music benefits children when learning other subjects and offers kids a variety of skills they can use throughout their life. 

“A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music.

Can particpation in music make a child smarter? There’s a difference of opinion about that. However, it’s safe to say that it takes an assortment of specific skills to sing or play an instrument or do both simultaneously.

For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, says Kenneth Guilmartin, cofounder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through kindergarteners that involves parents or caregivers in the classes.

“Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity,” Guilmartin says.

Children have learned how to sing and speak in other languages by listening to cross-culture songs. I even picked up a little French from the Beatles’ “Michelle” when I was a child. “Michelle, ma belle, Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble,Tres bien ensemble.”(These are words which go together well, together well.)

According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.

Research indicates the brain of a musician, even a young one, works differently than that of a non-musician. “There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain,” says Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches a specialized music curriculum for children aged two months to nine years.

Playing music makes your brain work harder, but what about just listening to music? While some studies have noted that learning to play music can enhance your brain, listening to music just makes you feel good. But really, isn’t that wonderful too?

Music enriches your life. It’s captivating and has the power to make you smile or cry. Most of all, it’s universal.

Introducing children to music at a young age opens the door to new adventures. Whether it’s classical or hip-hop, country or rock, bluegrass or blues, jazz or Dixieland, African rhythms or Mongolian throat-singing; borders and politics may separate people, but nations and communities will share their music.

“There is a massive benefit from being musical that we don’t understand, but it’s individual. Music is for music’s sake,” Rasmussen says. “The benefit of music education for me is about being musical. It gives you have a better understanding of yourself. The horizons are higher when you are involved in music,” he adds. “Your understanding of art and the world, and how you can think and express yourself, are enhanced.”

Yes, music is the official language of the universe and a beautiful gift to share with our children.

Source: Laura Lewis Brown, http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-benefits-of-music-education

Parenting

What Do Kids Need to Succeed in School?

2:00

Does poverty impact a child’s ability to do well in school? Possibly says a new study, but parenting skills play a more important role.

Child development experts say that there are lots of things parents can do to help their young child grow into a successful adult. This study examines the importance of parents, especially those in the low-income bracket, having high educational expectations for their child as well as reading to them and providing computer access and training.

The path to success begins before your child heads off to kindergarten. These findings point to the importance of doing more to prepare children for kindergarten, said study co-author Dr. Neal Halfon, director of the Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"The good news is that there are some kids doing really well," he said. "And there are a lot of seemingly disadvantaged kids who achieve much beyond what might be predicted for them because they have parents who are managing to provide them what they need."

The researchers wanted to examine what it takes to help a child succeed in school. The team began by examining statistics to better understand the role of factors like poverty. "We didn't want to just look at poor kids versus rich kids, or poor versus all others," Halfon said.

Conventional thought is that "you'll do better if you get read to more, you go to preschool more, you have more regular routines and you have more-educated parents," Halfon added.

Researchers examined results of a study of 6,000 U.S. English and Spanish- speaking children who were born in 2001. The kids took math and reading tests when they entered kindergarten, and their parents answered survey questions. The investigators then adjusted the results so they wouldn't be thrown off by high or low numbers of certain types of kids.

Parental expectations played a role in how the children’s future scholastic goals were perceived. For example, only 57 percent of parents of kids who scored the worst expected their child to attend college, compared to 96 percent of parents of children who scored the highest.

The results showed that children who attended preschool scored higher on the tests than children who didn’t. Computer use at home was also more common for the higher scorers -- 84 percent compared to 27 percent. Parents also read more to the kids who scored the best, the findings showed.

Halfon noted that the parent’s own attitude about preschool had a big impact on whether their child attended or not.

Karen Smith, a pediatric psychologist with the University of Texas Medical Branch, praised the study and said it points to the importance of helping poorer parents develop parenting skills and start believing they can really support their children.

"Parents from more affluent families know what to do when it comes to reading to their kids, probably because they've been read to," Smith said. Poorer parents "may not even have the money for books, and maybe they weren't read to themselves."

The study points out that preschool attendance is crucial for helping children develop better learning skills, however, it’s not the only factor that plays an important role.

Smith and Halfon agreed that it's crucial to teach poorer parents how to be better at parenting. Still, Halfon said, "there's no single one magic bullet that's going to solve the problem," not even widening access to preschool. "That's necessary," he said, "but it's probably not sufficient."

Parents that make their child’s education an important part of their childrearing help their children succeed most. Reading to children is a key part of developing a child’s attitude towards studying and expression.  A child that is excited to learn new words and is able to understand the flow of a story learns how to express their own ideas better with less frustration. New challenges aren’t as daunting.

Computer use is essential in this day and age. Libraries can provide access to computers for families that cannot afford to buy one. It takes time and commitment and when money is scarce it’s often twice as difficult, but it can make an enormous difference in a child’s ability to keep up with changing technology as well opening up a new world of opportunities.

Children rely solely on their parent’s guidance and this study points out how much that guidance can change the course of their little one’s lives.

The study is online and comes out in print in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Randy Dotinga, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/child-development-news-124/family-income-expectations-key-to-kindergarten-performance-695515.html

 

Parenting

Laughing Gas to Ease Labor Pains?

2:00

Like many Americans, you may think laughing gas (Nitrous Oxide) is something that is only used in a dentist’s office to ease the fear of dental work.  But if you live outside the U.S., you’re more likely to associate the pain reducing gas with childbirth.

A recent U.S. survey based on interviews with a representative sample of nearly 1,600 women who gave birth in American hospitals in 2005, showed that only about 1% of American women used nitrous oxide for pain relief during labor, as compared to 69 % of British women and 70% of New Zealanders.

However, U.S. doctors say that these figures may already be starting to shift in favor of using laughing gas in the delivery room.

Laughing gas used to be given to women during delivery quite often - but was replaced in the 1930s by the epidural for controlling pain. Today in the delivery room, epidurals are used almost exclusively for medically- induced pain relief.

In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration approved new laughing gas equipment to be used in American delivery rooms, and this resulted in a resurgence of use in America.

"Maybe 10 years ago, less than five or 10 hospitals used it [for women in labor]," Dr. William Camann, director of obstetric anesthetics at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told ABC News. "Now, probably several hundred. It’s really exploded. Many more hospitals are expressing interest."

Why should a woman consider using laughing gas during labor?  There are actually quite a few pros.

Laughing gas is regarded as a less extreme pain relief option during labor, when compared to the traditional epidural. It’s recommended for women who opt for a natural delivery but simply need a bit of help along the way.

"It's a relatively mild pain reliever that causes immediate feelings of relaxation and helps relieve anxiety," Camman explained. "It makes you better able to cope with whatever pain you’re having."

According to an article published in the journal Birth, “Although nitrous oxide provides much less complete pain relief than an epidural, it is enough for many women. It is eliminated through the lungs rather than the liver, and so does not accumulate in the mother’s or baby’s body. Unlike opioids, it does not depress respiration.”  

Another advantage is the cost. Nitrous oxide is a lot less expensive than an epidural. The average cost for a woman choosing laughing gas during labor may be less than a $100, compared to an epidural, which may run as high as $3,000 according to some experts.

One of the biggest complaints for women who undergo an epidural is the numbness they experience far after labor. It can take sometimes hours for women to regain complete sensation in the lower half of their body, but with laughing gas the effects wear off nearly as soon as inhalation ceases.

There are cons associated with laughing gas as well. It doesn’t completely alleviate the pain and many women feel it just isn’t strong enough. It can also cause some disorientation and a change in awareness.

Laughing gas is also known to have side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness. Although these are not experienced by all women who use the gas for pain relief, for those that do, it can blemish the birthing experience.

Ultimately, the choice whether or not to use laughing gas is completely up to the mom’s comfort level. She can also opt to have an epidural if she finds she does not like the effects of the gas or feels that it is not providing enough relief from the pain. Unfortunately, at this point many hospitals in America do not even offer laughing gas as an option, but perhaps due to this recent surge in popularity more delivery rooms will become stocked with the pain relief option in time. 

Having gone through the birthing experience myself, I vote for as many safe pain-relieving options as possible!

Sources: Dana Dovey, http://www.medicaldaily.com/laughing-gas-pain-relief-when-giving-birth-becoming-popular-option-among-new-moms-319180

Judith P. Rooks, CNM, MPH, MS http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1523-536X.2006.00150.x/full

Parenting

An Apple A Day Could Make You Sick

2:00

While having an apple a day is normally considered a healthy food choice, federal investigators have confirmed that there is a correlation between a California apple processing plant and a strain of listeria bacteria responsible for killing seven people and making more than 30 others very sick.

An earlier warning by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked consumers not to eat any pre-packaged, commercially produced caramel apples, including those with other toppings such as nuts, chocolate or sprinkles, until the source of the outbreak was pinpointed. Most of the people infected by listeria fell ill after eating pre-packaged apples.

Reuters reports that tests performed by Food and Drug Administration investigators on samples from the Bidart Bros. processing plant and apples the company supplied to retailers found a connection between the produce and two strains of Listeria monocytogenes responsible for the deadly listeria outbreak.

Bidart Bros., the company supplying the Granny Smith and Gala apples, has issued a voluntary recall of all shipments of the apples – caramel coated or not- still available in the marketplace. The last shipment was made on December 2.

The company advises that consumers should not eat the Granny Smith and Gala apples.  Affected apples can be sold under the brand names “Big B” and “Granny’s Best,” but could also be sold under other brand names or with no brand at all.

Consumers who are buying or have recently purchased Granny Smith or Gala apples should ask their retailers if Bidart Bros. supplied the apples, the company says.

Three other companies – Happy Apples, California Snack Foods and Merb’s Candies – have each announced recalls of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples since news of the contamination began in late December.

Listeria is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems.

According to the Mayo clinic website, symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea.  If listeria spreads into the nervous system, symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, confusion or change on alertness, loss of balance and convulsions.

During pregnancy, a listeria infection is likely to cause only mild signs and symptoms in the mother. The consequences for the baby, however, may be devastating. The baby may die unexpectedly before birth or experience a life-threatening infection within the first few days after birth.

If you have consumed any food that has been recalled or connected with listeria, pay close attention to any possible signs or symptoms. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above – contact your doctor.

Sources: Victoria Cavaliere, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/12/usa-california-listeria-idUSL1N0UR0P120150112

Ashlee Kieler, http://consumerist.com/2015/01/12/california-apple-plant-issues-recall-after-tests-find-link-to-deadly-listeria-contamination/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/listeria-infection/basics/symptoms/con-20031039

Parenting

Health Official: Zika Outbreaks Likely in U.S.

2:00

The United States can expect to see outbreaks of the Zika virus says Dr.Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

While the U.S. has already seen more than 350 cases of people who were infected abroad and returned to the country, there haven’t been any recorded cases of someone infected within its borders. But those days may be limited, said Fauci.

"It is likely we will have what is called a local outbreak," he said on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.

Since being detected in Brazil last year, the virus has spread through the Americas. It has been linked to thousands of cases of microcephaly, a typically rare birth defect marked by unusually small head size, which often indicates poor brain development. The World Health Organization declared a global health emergency in February.

Zika, which is spread by mosquitoes and through sexual contact, can give adults the paralyzing Guillain-Barre syndrome. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which primarily transmits disease, is already present in about 30 U.S. states.

While Fauci does expect someone to be bitten by the mosquito here in the States, he does not expect a large number of people to become ill.

"It would not be surprising at all - if not likely - that we're going to see a bit of that," he said. "We're talking about scores of cases, dozens of cases, at most."

He also raised the prospect that other neurological ailments could be eventually linked to Zika, which he called "disturbing."

"There are only individual case reports of significant neurological damage to people not just the fetuses but an adult that would get infected. Things that they call meningoencephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain and the covering around the brain, spinal cord damage due to what we call myelitis," he said. "So far they look unusual, but at least we've seen them and that's concerning."

Fauci has pressed the administration’s case for budgeting $1.9 billion dollars in emergency funds to fight the virus.

"We have to act now," he said. "I can't wait to start developing a vaccine."

Still, Fauci refrained from recommending that U.S. women avoid becoming pregnant because of fear of giving birth to a baby with microcephaly.

"Right now in the United States they should not be that concerned. We do not have local outbreaks," he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no vaccine currently exists to prevent Zika virus disease. The mosquito that carries the Zika virus mostly bites in the daytime.

The CDC recommends following typical mosquito bite preventions such as:

•       Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

•       Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

•       Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

•       Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.

◦       Always follow the product label instructions.

◦       Reapply insect repellent as directed.

◦       Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.

◦       If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.

•       To protect your child from mosquito bites:

◦       Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.

◦       Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.

◦       Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.

◦       Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.

◦       Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.

◦       Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.

•       Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.

◦       Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.

◦       If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.

◦        Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.

Story sources: Diane Bartz, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-zika-usa-idUSKCN0XE0UV

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/

Parenting

Family Road Trip!

1:45

With gasoline prices at a reasonable level, many families may choose to skip the hassles of flying and opt for a road trip this summer.

While it may be true, “The best made plans of mice and men often go awry”, it’s still necessary to prepare as best you can for a family road trip; whether it’s to the Grand Canyon, the beach, the grandparents or all of the above.

Before the trip, make sure that the car is in good condition. Have it checked out by a mechanic and any trouble spots fixed. The tires should have plenty of tread and the recommended amount of air for highway travel.

Once you’re ready for the big trip, here are some suggestions to help make it a little less stressful and more fun.

Packing the car:

·      Pack an easily accessible small bag that contains clothes for the next day, an extra change of clothes (for spills), PJs, a toothbrush, and anything else you need for that day and night. It will be much easier to grab than trying to rummage through the big suitcase.

·      Take your toddler or young child’s blanket and pillow. This is extra important if your road trip includes an overnight stay. Kids like their own stuff, particularly at bedtime in a strange place.

·      Babies and toddlers drop, spill, and spit up. Keep a roll of paper towels and a box of wipes in the front seat for easy cleanups. Keep a garbage bag handy too.

The Ride:

Boredom is probably the biggest instigator of trouble for kids packed into a tight space. Prepare to fight boredom with a few tricks of your own.

·      Snacks. Although it only provides a short respite, any quiet time is appreciated. Go light on the sugar – too much can backfire. Choose fresh or dried fruit, whole grain muffins, popcorn, cheese sticks, milk etc. In other words, something healthy and age appropriate.

·      Portable DVD players. These can be a lifesaver. Load up on your children’s favorite movies and don’t forget the headsets if you have different aged kids. Eleven year-olds and three year-olds don’t typically share the same taste in movies and video games. New DVDs they haven’t already seen are a bonus. Let the kids pick out what they want to watch ahead of time. And, make sure you have an extra set of headsets; you know someone is either going to lose a pair or break a pair. That’s a given.

·      If there is more than one adult traveling – one of you can get in the backseat for a while. A little face-to-face contact, some patty-cake, and a few tickling games go a long way toward distracting a cranky baby or a bored toddler.

·      Make sure some favorite toys are within easy reach. You might add a new toy or two your little one hasn’t seen before. Remember etch-a-sketch? Tech savvy youngsters are coming up with some amazing etchings these days!

·      Don’t forget to plan for stops. You'll have to stop for feedings, diaper changes, and stretching breaks. You'll be much less stressed if you accept that it may take twice as long to get there as it did in your pre-kid days and plan accordingly. Pre-teens and teens are going to need to move around too. Besides, sitting for an extended length of time isn’t good for anyone.

Oh, and someone is going to need a potty break soon after the pre-arranged stop has happened. Be patient and pull over, it’s really a lot easier and less taxing than a yelling match about “why didn’t you go when we stopped 30 minutes ago?”

·      If your trip requires an overnight stay somewhere, think about booking a motel that has an indoor pool. It may cost a little more, but it's something to look forward to, and it will help your children sleep better. If they sleep better, you’ll probably sleep better too.

·      Don’t forget about books (or e-books) for the kids that like to read. Coloring books for the younger ones, and brush up on some travel games the whole family can join in on. Here are a few tried and true suggestions. I Spy (I spy with my little eye, something red.) The License Plate Game. Keep a list of all the different state license plates you see. The goal is to list as many states as possible- although Hawaii might be a real challenge anywhere but in Hawaii. The Memory Game. Start a story with one sentence. The next person has to say that sentence then add his or her own sentence to the story. The story can change pretty quickly as everyone tries to remember all the previous sentences and then come up with a new one.

While road trips can be a challenge, they are always an adventure and often become fond memories, as kids grow older.

Have fun this summer and don’t forget to take lots of pictures!

Story source: http://www.parents.com/fun/vacation/ideas/traveling-with-kids-ultimite-guide/

 

Parenting

“Live Long and Prosper”

2:00

Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the iconic character Spock in the Star Trek television series and films, passed away last week from chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, also known as COPD.  He was 83.

Spock’s Vulcan salute, accompanied with the phrase “live long and prosper”(LLAP), was recognized around the world as a symbol of friendship and good wishes.

So what does the passing of an elderly movie star have to do with kid’s health?  Kids, teens and adults were fans of Nimoy’s beloved character, Mr. Spock. In his final months, he reached out to his fans with a farewell warning. 

Nimoy attributed his COPD to years of smoking, even though he quit three decades ago around the age of 50.  A few months ago he tweeted a simple but cautionary warning to young adults and teens, “Don’t smoke. I did. Wish I never had. LLAP.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, chronic lower respiratory disease, most of it COPD, killed 149,205 Americans in 2013, making it the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Chronic respiratory disease killed more people than accidents, stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

I personally know how COPD can slip into your life and kill you, even years after you’ve crushed out your last cigarette butt. My mother died of COPD 20 years after she quit smoking. She smoked from the time she was in her teens till her 60s. While she did live to be in her 80s, many of those years were spent gasping for air and hooked to an oxygen tank. She also warned her kids and grandkids not to smoke. Like so many other teens, they didn’t listen.  Now, they wish they had.

An online article by Forbes’ Matthew Herper, eloquently states the difference in the fictional character of Spock and the man, Leonard Nimoy, and how we can honor both.

“It’s ironic — bitterly so — that a man who became famous playing a character who was the epitome of logic and clear thinking died because of one of humanity’s most illogical flaws: our propensity toward addiction and for risking our health for momentary pleasure. It would be a fitting way to honor him if we could approach the problem of smoking with the kind of logic that Spock would have. As we deal with a whole lot of tobacco-related issues, including how to deal with e-cigarettes which are putatively safer than traditional cigarettes but whose manufacturers seem intent on proving no such thing, we could use some Vulcan clarity.”

As much as the phrase “ this is a teaching moment” has been misused and over used, I think it applies in this case. Many pre-teens, teens and young adults know and appreciate the Spock character and the man who played him all these years. What they probably don’t know much about is what killed him.

As they say, the door is open and this might be an excellent time to talk about smoking with your child. Whether it’s cigarettes, e-cigarettes or chewing tobacco. They are all highly addictive and each holds it’s own serious health issues.  E-cigarettes are still being studied for health complications. More in-depth research is beginning to expose the chemicals used to vaporize the nicotine that is inhaled into a user’s lungs.  The findings are not good.

It’s hard for many kids to care about the possible long-term health effects of something that feels so good at the moment. But irritating symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and loss of stamina will start adding up. If you smoke, you will experience all of these symptoms at some time.

COPD is incurable. There is nothing that can reverse it. Typically it occurs in people 65 and older, however, 2 percent of COPD cases involve men aged 18 to 24 and 3 percent involve women in the same age group. The numbers increase slightly for people aged 25 to 44 with 2 percent of cases in men and 4.1 percent of cases in women.

My niece-in-law died from COPD at the age of 48. She first showed symptoms at age 22 – she started smoking at age 12.

People who have never smoked can develop COPD from second-hand smoke, air pollution, chemicals or dust. However, smoking accounts for 9 out of 10 COPD –related deaths.

Now is a good time to use some of Spock’s clarity of details to talk with your child about smoking, whether it’s with cigarettes, e-cigarettes, paperless tobacco, hookahs or anything else that is inhaled into the lungs.

Nimoy’s last tweet reminds us that life is bittersweet, “"A life is like a garden," he wrote. "Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP"

Not smoking doesn’t guarantee a long life, but it certainly helps one live a healthier life and that’s a blessing every child deserves. 

Sources: Matthew Herper, http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2015/02/27/want-to-live-long-and-prosper-dont-smoke/

Kristeen Cherney, http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/age-of-onset#Overview1

 

Parenting

When Are Kids Ready For Chores?

2:30

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word “chore” is: A small job done regularly, or a dull, unpleasant, or difficult job or experience. I’d have to agree that household chores are oftentimes both. Whether we like them or not – someone has to do them.

Many parents end up doing all the chores around the house because it’s easier than trying to get their children to pitch in and help. By the time you explain to a child what needs to be done and how to do it- you could be finished with all the chores instead of just one.

While that may be appealing from a time management perspective, it doesn’t prepare children to be responsible adults. Self-reliance becomes more of a realistic goal for children when parents are willing to put the work into teaching them simple chores when they are young and expecting more when they are older.

Speaking of realistic, let’s not get all dreamy-eyed with visions of our little ones cheerfully picking up their toys and putting them away or making their beds before rushing off to school (at first.) But don’t despair; there are a few “tricks” that can make this experience a little easier.

Parenting expert Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic website, says we all need to feel needed and to know that we're making a contribution -- even kids. "But they can't feel that way if they don't have chores and make contributions to the family," Fay says.

Roger W. McIntire, University of Maryland psychology professor and author of Raising Good Kids in Tough Times, says, "A child has to have some responsibilities."

That’s all well and good – but how do you get your kids onboard?

Let’s start at the beginning with traps that can sabotage your progress:

Perfection: It’s not attainable – don’t expect it. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. What looks perfect to me may look like a mess to you.  If you want your children committed to doing their chores, a much more relaxed attitude will win them over. Parents that expect perfection typically give up on the teaching aspect, jump in and do the chore themselves. It’s really more of a reflection of the parent than the child’s ability to learn. So breathe, relax and know that it’s going to take time.

Criticism: Criticizing your child’s accomplishment goes hand in hand with expecting perfection. Too often parents focus on what wasn’t done instead of what was done. Don’t be stingy with praise for trying. Encourage your child while the chore is in progress. You want to build positive momentum, especially with young kids.

Inconsistency: You can’t expect your child to learn and want to participate if you’re not dedicated to and enthusiastic about the outcome. Being consistent in what you expect and when you expect it completed helps your child understand their responsibilities in the household. When parents give up, so do their kids. And guess who ends up doing all the chores?

So, we’ve established some pitfalls to avoid… what next?

The “Chores Chart” makes organization easier and tasks clear. 

"Create a list of every job it takes to keep a family going," Fay says. Have kids pick out the chores they'd most like to do. Then create a chart.

First, check that everyone has an age-appropriate chore. Then divide the chart into three columns. One is for the list of chores and whose chore it is; another is for deadlines; the last one is for making a check mark when the chore is done. Put the chart where everyone can see it and let everyone follow through on their own assignments.

Weekends may provide a bit more time to get some of the extra chores done such as laundry, mowing the grass, cleaning the car etc. You can create a “Weekend” chart separate from the daily chores. It may change from weekend to weekend depending on what needs to be done and who is available.

Should you pay your kids to do their chores? Ah, the age old question. There are lots of opinions on this one. You’ll have to decide whether a financial incentive pays off in your family. Some things to consider are, do you believe chores should be more about responsibility and learning household tasks without a monetary reward? Or is learning how to manage money considered a “household task” that needs to be accomplished?

Small children may be less motivated by an allowance and more motivated by positive attention. Older kids may like the idea of earning money that they can spend however they want. You might want to have a list of “extras” that are offered for an allowance.

At what age are children ready to start doing chores? It’s probably younger than you think.

In general, Pantley says, preschoolers can handle one or two simple one-step or two-step jobs. Older children can manage more. Here are her pointers on kids' chores by age:

Chores for children ages 2 to 3:

·      Put toys away

·      Fill pet's food dish

·      Put clothes in hamper

·      Wipe up spills

·      Dust

·      Pile books and magazines

Chores for children ages 4 to 5:

Any of the above chores, plus:

·      Make their bed

·      Empty wastebaskets

·      Bring in mail or newspaper

·      Clear table

·      Pull weeds, if you have a garden

·      Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs

·      Water flowers

·      Unload utensils from dishwasher

·      Wash plastic dishes at sink

·      Fix bowl of cereal

Chores for children ages 6 to 7:

Any of the above chores, plus:

·      Sort laundry

·      Sweep floors

·      Set and clear table

·      Help make and pack lunch

·      Weed and rake leaves

·      Keep bedroom tidy

Chores for children ages 8 to 9:

Any of the above chores, plus:

·      Load dishwasher

·      Put away groceries

·      Vacuum

·      Help make dinner

·      Make own snacks

·      Wash table after meals

·      Put away own laundry

·      Sew buttons

·      Make own breakfast

·      Peel vegetables

·      Cook simple foods, such as toast

·      Mop floor

·      Take pet for a walk

Chores for children ages 10 and older:

Any of the above chores, plus:

·      Unload dishwasher

·      Fold laundry

·      Clean bathroom

·      Wash windows

·      Wash car

·      Cook simple meal with supervision

·      Iron clothes

·      Do laundry

·      Baby-sit younger siblings (with adult in the home)

·      Clean kitchen

·      Change their bed sheets

From this list, you can see there are a variety of chores that a child can help with or learn to do.  As I go through each one, I think about how many of these tasks I could do when I was ready to head off into the world as a young adult. Who knew you could actually do your own laundry?

Source: Annie Stuart, Roy Benaroch, MD, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guest-expert-10/chores-for-children?print=true

Parenting

Recall: Window Shades Due to Strangulation Risk

1:30

Window shades can help make a nursery darker when baby needs to sleep and filter the sun when it’s time to brighten the room. But if the shade is too close to the crib, it can also pose a real risk of strangulation.

Blinds To Go is recalling about 200,000 window shades because the shade’s chain or cord loop can slip out of the hold-down device, posing a strangulation hazard for small children.

The recalled custom-made shades have a hold-down device for the cord that is a clear, P-shaped plastic hook. The cord or chain loop of the window shades clips into the device. The hook is screwed to the side of the wall or window during installation. It was shipped with the Blinds To Go custom-made roller shades with Sidewinders; Smartlift pleated and cellular shades; Panel Tracks shades and Serenity shades.

So far, no injuries have been reported.

Consumers can contact the company to order a free retrofit kit that includes a new hold down device and instructions on how to replace the recalled part. Customers also can bring the window shades to a local showroom to have the new device fitted on the shades.

The shades were sold exclusively at Blinds To Go showrooms and online at their website from January 2009 to November 2014 for between $60 and $770.

Consumers can call Blinds To Go customer service at (800) 254-6377 from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, or visit www.blindstogo.com and click on “Child Safety Update” under Customer Service at the bottom of the page for more information.

Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Blinds-To-Go-Recalls-Window-Shades/

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