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Parenting

The Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Your Child’s Ears

2:00

True story. When I was a child, my mother was somewhat obsessed about earwax; specifically, she did not like to see earwax in my ears. Ever.

In order to make sure that my ears were clear of any nasty wax, she would use a bobby pin (remember those?) and gently insert it down into my ear and scape out any brownish gooey stuff. That would be followed up with a Q-Tip to make sure all substances were gone. It didn’t take many accidental pokes to get me to sit as still as possible.

I don’t know if there is any connection, but I have tinnitus and have had it for years.

Don’t ever stick anything into your child’s ear. That’s not just my opinion; it’s a warning from The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. The ear, nose and throat organization recently released new guidelines for the public.

It’s perfectly all right to wipe the outside of the ear with a washcloth. But it's important to not use a cotton swab, a finger, or anything else (such as a bobby pin!) to poke inside the ear because of the risk of damaging the delicate ear canal and eardrum, or packing the wax in even further, which could cause infection.

What is earwax and why do we have it? Earwax is made in the outer ear canal, the area between the fleshy part of the ear on the outside of the head and the middle ear. The medical term for earwax is Cerumen.

Earwax has many important functions. It helps protect the eardrum and ear canal by providing a waterproof lining for the ear canal, helping to keep it dry and preventing germs from causing infection. It also traps dirt, dust, and other particles, keeping them from injuring or irritating the eardrum.

In most cases, nothing needs to be done to remove earwax from kids' ears; regular bathing is enough to keep it at healthy levels.

If earwax ever does need to be removed, let a doctor do it. There are only a few reasons earwax should be removed; it’s causing pain or discomfort, or hearing loss. That’s about it.

The academy’s updated list consists of what to do and what to avoid when it comes to dealing with earwax:

DON’T over-clean your ears. It may irritate the ear canal, cause infection, and even increase impacted wax.

DON’T put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Cotton swabs, hair pins, car keys, toothpicks — all can cause injury to the delicate ear canal, including a cut, perforation of the eardrum, or a dislocation of the tiny bones in the ear that enable hearing. Injury can lead to hearing loss, dizziness, ringing in the ear and other problems.

DON’T use ear candles. “Candling” is an alternative health fad purported to help with everything from earwax to cancer, but doctors say there is no evidence to back up any of those claims. Candling does not remove impacted earwax, and it can cause serious damage to the ear canal and eardrum.

DO seek medical help if you have symptoms of hearing loss, ear fullness and ear pain.

DO ask your doctor about home remedies for treating earwax impaction. But first, be sure you don’t have a medical or ear condition that could make some options unsafe.

DO seek medical attention if you experience ear pain, drainage, bleeding, hearing changes, an odor coming from the ear or other noticeable change.

There are safe home remedies to use that will clean earwax out, but talk with your pediatrician first to make sure the remedy is appropriate for your little one.

When a physician removes earwax, it’s typically done in the exam room. There might be a little discomfort but it isn't painful, though some kids may be uncomfortable with the sensation of someone handling their ears.

In rare cases where a child can't sit still or cooperate with the doctor, the procedure will be done in an operating room with the child given general anesthesia.

Doctors use a variety of different tools to remove earwax, including a tiny device with a curve at the end (called a curette), graspers, and suction, as well as an otoscope (a handheld tool with a light, used in regular checkups to see far into the ear canal). Removal takes just a few minutes and usually doesn't require any further treatment.

If there's a sign of infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic eardrops. But further home treatment usually isn't needed after most removals.

Dr. Seth Schwartz, chair of the guideline update group, said the strangest thing he’s seen someone stick in a waxy ear: a Barbie doll shoe. That definitely tops my mother’s bobby pins.

Remember, kids watch everything you do. If they see a parent or guardian putting something in their ear, they are more likely to put something in theirs too. That something could cause permanent damage. 

Story sources: Mary Brophy Marcus, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/earwax-removal-dos-and-donts/

Patrick Barth, MD, http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/earwhttp://kidshealth.org/en/parents/earwax.html#

Parenting

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

2:00

This is the time of year when accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning happens the most. For families in cold climates or dealing with disasters such as flooding, tornados or loss of electricity for long periods of time, gasoline powered generators or heaters can be a godsend. But they also require special care to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas that is a product of the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels. Unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings accounted for approximately 400 to 500 deaths (all ages) and more than 15,000 emergency department visits in the United States annually according to the AAP Council on Environmental Health.

Proper installation and maintenance for the use of combustion appliances can help to reduce excessive carbon monoxide emissions along with carbon monoxide detectors.

Many non-fires related CO poisonings come from automobiles left running in a closed garage- sending toxic fumes into the house.

Other ways carbon monoxide poisoning occurs may surprise you. Improperly maintained chimneys and flues can crack and leave a buildup that causes problems with venting CO fumes. Wood stoves that are not fitted correctly can leak CO into living rooms and bedrooms. Kerosene heaters reduce oxygen in rooms. They require good ventilation to operate safely. Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide can be emitted from improper use of kerosene heaters. These fumes become toxic in large quantities and put vulnerable individuals at risk, such as pregnant women, asthmatics, people with cardiovascular disease, the elderly, and young children. Charcoal grills put off an enormous amount of CO; they should never be used indoors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers guidance for protecting families from CO poisoning with these tips:

Fuel-Burning Appliances

•       Forced-air furnaces should be checked by a professional once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer. Pilot lights can produce carbon monoxide and should be kept in good working order.

•       All fuel-burning appliances (eg, gas water heaters, gas stoves, gas clothes dryers) should be checked professionally once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.

•       Gas cooking stove tops and ovens should not be used for supplemental heat.

Fireplaces and Woodstoves

•       Fireplaces and woodstoves should be checked professionally once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer. Check to ensure the flue is open during operation. Proper use, inspection, and maintenance of vent-free fireplaces (and space heaters) are recommended.

Space Heaters

•       Fuel-burning space heaters should be checked professionally once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.

•       Space heaters should be properly vented during use, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Barbecue Grills/Hibachis

•       Barbecue grills and hibachis should never be used indoors.

•       Barbecue grills and hibachis should never be used in poorly ventilated spaces such as garages, campers, and tents.

Automobiles/Other Motor Vehicles

•       Regular inspection and maintenance of the vehicle exhaust system are recommended. Many states have vehicle inspection programs to ensure this practice.

•       Never leave an automobile running in the garage or other enclosed space; Carbon monoxide can accumulate even when a garage door is open.

Generators/Other Fuel-Powered Equipment

•       Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when operating generators and other fuel-powered equipment.

•       Never operate a generator indoors or near an open window when the generator is outdoors.

Boats

•       Be aware that carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic symptoms of seasickness.

•       Schedule regular engine and exhaust system maintenance.

•       Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector in the accommodation space on the boat.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic other illnesses – so it’s good to be aware of the symptoms, especially if you have any of the heating sources or gasoline powered motors mentioned above.

Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

The symptoms may be subtle, but the condition is life threatening. If you suspect CO poisoning, seek emergency medical care immediately and make sure your child is getting fresh air as soon as possible.

Story sources: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Children-and-Disasters/Pages/Protecting-Children-from-Carbon-Monoxide-Poisoning.aspx

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/carbon-monoxide/basics/definition/con-20025444

 

Parenting

Bedwetting Accidents

1:45

I’ll admit it; I was a bed-wetter on and off until I was about 6 years of age. The biggest hurdle I faced in getting past leaving a little puddle of urine in the bed during the night, was visually realistic dreams. I would actually see myself get out of bed, walk to the bathroom and sit on the toilet. Unfortunately, I was only dreaming and would awaken after feeling a wet spot in the bed. It was quite embarrassing.

An accident in a friend’s bed during a sleepover was the last straw.

It took several pre-bedtime experiments to finally help me make it through the night dry; but eventually I was able to tell reality from dreams.

How common is bedwetting? Nocturnal enuresis (the medical name for bedwetting) is involuntary urination that happens at night during sleep after the age when a child should be able to control his or her bladder.

About 13 percent of 6 year olds wet the bed, while about 5 percent of 10 year olds.

Bedwetting sometimes runs in families – if one or both parents wet the bed when they were children, odds are that their children will too.

Most of the time, bedwetting goes away on its’ own. Until that time, it can test a parent’s patience and cause a child plenty of anxiety.

To help a child cope with this uncomfortable time, reassure your child that bedwetting is a normal part of growing up for many kids, and that it will not last forever. If you have stories of your own experiences, this would be the time to share them with your little one.

My child also wet the bed and one sure way to stop her tears of embarrassment was to tell her one of my own personal experiences.  It didn’t take long to switch from sobbing to laughing over our shared nighttime horror.

Kidhealth.org offers these tips for breaking the bedwetting spell:

- Try to have your child drink more fluids during the daytime hours and less at night (and avoid caffeine-containing drinks). Then remind your child to go to the bathroom one final time before bedtime. Many parents find that using a motivational system, such as stickers for dry nights with a small reward (such as a book) after a certain number of stickers, can work well. Bedwetting alarms also can be helpful.

- When your child wakes with wet sheets, don't yell or punish. Have your child help you change the sheets. Explain that this isn't punishment, but it is part of the process. It may even help your child feel better knowing that he or she helped out. Offer praise when your child has a dry night.

Sometimes, bedwetting can be a signal that there is a medical condition that should be checked out. If it begins suddenly or is accompanied by other symptoms, talk to your pediatrician.

The doctor may check for signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI), constipation, bladder problems, diabetes, or severe stress.

Call the doctor if your child:

•       Suddenly starts wetting the bed after being consistently dry for at least 6 months

•       Begins to wet his or her pants during the day

•       Snores at night

•       Complains of a burning sensation or pain when urinating

•       Has to pee frequently

•       Is drinking or eating much more than usual

•       Has swelling of the feet or ankles

•       Is 7 years of age or older and still wetting the bed

Bedwetting can be a sign that a child is under a lot of stress. Often, when a child loses a family member or pet, is doing poorly in school or is frightened about something, they will suddenly start wetting the bed – even if they’ve never done it before or have mastered the art of getting through the night dry.

Your support and patience can go a long way in helping your child feel better about and overcome the bedwetting.

Remember, the long-term outlook is excellent and in almost all cases, dry days are just ahead.

As for me, I had to find a touchstone to let me know the difference between dreaming and actually getting up to go the bathroom. It was the bathroom light switch. If I actually touched the light switch and turned it on, then counted to five before moving, I was really awake. If the light was already on and I walked to the toilet and sat down- I was dreaming.

Story source: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/enuresis.html#

 

 

Parenting

New Year Family Resolutions!

1:45

It’s the start of a brand new year and many of us will be evaluating our physical and mental health, goals and habits to see where we can make improvements. New Year’s resolutions always start off hopeful, but for many of us, fade away as day to day activities send us back on the treadmill of life.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way and when you share resolutions with someone else, there’s always that personal reminder that goals were set for a reason.

That’s why making resolutions, not as individuals, but as a family can keep hope alive.  Begin by making family resolutions a tradition that starts at the beginning of the year and has checks and balances throughout the year.  At the end of the year, see how everyone did and what could be done to make the next year even better.

Resolution: a decision to do or not do something. That’s about the clearest definition I’ve seen. Decisions are important – one decision may not always be the complete journey, but it’s a beginning. Without beginnings, nothing changes.

The best way to teach your children the importance of New Year’s resolutions is by making it a family tradition.

Dr. Benjamin Siegel, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, suggests saying, “Each one of us is going to state a few things that we want to continue to do and things we’d like to change that would make us feel better about ourselves and how our family works.”

Each family member gets a chance to share something they are proud of and something they would like to change. Depending on the age of your children, it may help if one or both parents go first. If your child is old enough to write, have he or she write down their accomplishments and goals. If they cannot write yet, you can write for them. Copy down exactly what they are saying without trying to “improve” the grammar or goal.

Ideas for families can include group activities as well as individual undertakings. Resolutions for the entire family might include taking a monthly hike, playing board games twice a month or committing to more volunteering activities. Try to limit the number so they are more doable and more meaningful. “A list of 100 things is impossible,” Siegel says. “It should be based on things that are doable without economic hardship.”

Post your list in a place where the family will see it on an ongoing basis such as on the refrigerator or a bulletin board in the kitchen. Dr. Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, suggests making a resolution box, in which each family member can drop in his or her resolutions, and then pull them out at a later date to review them.

What your child needs to work on depends on your child. If you are concerned about his diet, then encourage healthier eating habits for him as well as the whole family. If your daughter’s room is a mess, try to help her commit 10 minutes a day to cleaning it. As your child ages, he can be more active in coming up with goals, which will mean more to him when he achieves them.

For preschool-aged children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends resolutions that focus on cleaning up toys, brushing teeth and washing hands and being kind to pets. However, parents who consider these behaviors part of their regular expectations may want to provide resolutions that focus on higher goals.

Older children can begin to understand the relationship between a resolution and an improved outcome. Younger kids may view the whole exercise as a game. It doesn’t matter; whatever helps each family member accomplish his or her goal is the more important issue.

When your child gets into adolescence, the AAP recommendations focus more on the child taking more responsibility for his actions, including taking care of his body, dealing with stress in a healthy way, talking through conflict, resisting drugs and alcohol and helping others through community service.

Parents are the role models in this dynamic. Just as with everything else you do, your child is watching. “Parents should be reflective about how they wish to be in the coming year,” Siegel says. “It’s a good opportunity to promote good mental and physical health.”

Just like adults, kids know the thrill of accomplishing something, especially when their parents acknowledge them. As you go over the family list of resolutions each month or quarter, take time to acknowledge the successes, along with reinforcing the resolutions that need more attention. “Children will benefit by having the parent praise them, which will improve their self-esteem,” Siegel says. “This will help them with self-regulatory behaviors that they can integrate into being a healthy adult.”

Review time is not punish time for unmet resolutions. That may seem obvious, but emotions can get the best of us when things don’t go the way we planned. It’s important to be flexible but also understanding. The resolution is a guide for betterment, not written in stone. Understanding, compassion and dealing with issues head-on can help keep everyone on track.  Learning to take responsibility for our decisions, being able to change our mind and find a better solution and discussing new options, all help in making resolutions a reality.

However your family arrives at resolutions, the best part is that you’re doing it together and learning how to manage your role not only in the family but also in the larger world.

Story source: Laura Lewis Brown, http://www.pbs.org/parents/holidays/making-new-years-resolutions-child/

 

Parenting

Recall: 8 million Cuisinart Food Processors

1:30

Food processors are used in millions of American homes to prepare family meals. One popular brand, Cuisinart, is recalling about 8 million of its food processors due to mouth lacerations and tooth breakage.

The food processor’s riveted blade can crack over time and small metal pieces of the blade can break off into the processed food.

This recall involves the riveted blades in Cuisinart food processors with model numbers that begin with the following:  CFP-9, CFP-11, DFP-7, DFP-11, DFP-14,  DLC-5, DLC-7, DLC-8, DLC-10, DLC-XP, DLC-2007, DLC-2009, DLC-2011, DLC-2014, DLC-3011, DLC-3014, EV-7, EV-10, EV-11, EV-14, KFP-7 and MP-14.

The model number is located on the bottom of the food processor. The blades have four rivets and are silver-colored stainless steel and have a beige plastic center hub. Only food processors with four rivets in the blades are included in this recall. Cuisinart is printed on the front and on the bottom of the food processors.

Conair, the management group for Cuisinart, has received 69 reports of consumers finding broken pieces of the blade in processed food, including 30 reports of mouth lacerations or tooth injuries.

Consumers should immediately stop using the food processor’s riveted blade and contact Cuisinart for a free replacement blade.

The food processors were sold at department, gourmet and specialty stores nationwide and on various websites from July 1996 through December 2015 for between $100 and $350.

Consumers can contact Cuisinart toll-free at 877-339-2534 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday or online at  www.cuisinart.com and click on Product Recalls at the bottom of the page for more information on the voluntary recall.

Story source: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/Cuisinart-Food-Processors-Recalled-by-Conair

 

Parenting

Pregnancy May Actually Modify a Mom’s Brain

Baby, motherhood, health

Moms often feel like they have a “sixth sense” when it comes to their newborn’s needs and survival. What they may really be experiencing are the physical changes that pregnancy can have on the brain.

Researchers in Spain wanted to know if pregnancy could actually change the structure of a woman’s brain, impacting how she reacts to her newborn. What they found was that long-term changes to the brain do occur and that they may have evolved over time to improve a mother’s ability to protect and nurture her child.

The researchers used information gathered from MRI scans that compared the brain structures of 25 women before and after their first pregnancies.

After giving birth, the women had significant reductions of gray matter in areas of the brain associated with social interactions, the findings showed. Those brain regions overlapped with ones that activated when mothers watched images of their own babies.

“The changes concern brain areas associated with functions necessary to manage the challenges of motherhood," study co-lead author Erika Barba said in a news release from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Some women feel like they have trouble remembering things during and after their pregnancy, sometimes referred to as having “baby brain.” The good news is that researchers reported the participants had no changes in memory or other thinking functions during pregnancy. That means the loss of gray matter does not lead to problems in those areas. The brain changes, which lasted for at least two years after the women gave birth, probably help them adapt to motherhood, the study authors suggested.

According to study co-director Oscar Vilarroya: "The findings point to an adaptive process related to the benefits of better detecting the needs of the child, such as identifying the newborn's emotional state. Moreover, they provide primary clues regarding the neural basis of motherhood, perinatal mental health and brain plasticity in general."

Researchers also found that they were able to use the brain changes to predict a mother’s attachment to her baby. The changes were similar whether women got pregnant naturally or through fertility treatments.

This is the first research to show that pregnancy involves long-lasting changes -- at least for two years postpartum.

The term “mama bear” has often been used to describe the fierceness that some mothers’ exhibit when they feel their child is in danger or has been wronged. Now science may have found out why that is.

The study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Story source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20161219/pregnancy-may-spur-mothering-changes-in-a-womans-brain

Parenting

Tips for Family Thanksgiving Travel

2:00

Whether you’re traveling through the woods or over the highways and skyways to grandma’s house, Thanksgiving travel can be a challenge for families.

Here are a few tips to make the trip a little less stressful.

·      Don’t forget to pack your patience! With over 47.8 million Americans expected to travel at least 50 miles this Thanksgiving, the highways and airports are going to be overflowing with folks trying to make it to their destinations. If you’re one of the many families transporting children from one point to the next, your patience will be tested! Don’t forget to take deep breaths when plans don’t go quite as expected. Make the journey as important as the destination.

·      Be prepared. Fill the car with gas before your travel day. If you’re flying, get to the airport with plenty of time to check in and get the kids settled before your flight leaves. Rushing at the last minute is guaranteed to add more stress and short tempers.

·      Don’t forget the toys and car chargers. Whether you’re traveling by air, train or car – at some point your children are going to be bored and in need of a distraction. Tablets, phones or DVD players can keep them entertained for hours. For toddlers and young children, their favorite blankie or toy can ease the discomfort of being strapped in a seat for long periods of time.  Bring along a never before opened game or book. Discovering something new can be a great amusement!

·      Travel light. The fewer suitcases you have to keep track of, the better. Over-packing can also compete with precious space in the car or cost you a bundle of money at the airport.

·      Bring snacks and water. Everyone is likely to get a little hungry and grouchy during a road trip. If stopping along the way isn’t an option, pack some healthy snacks and water to fill the belly between destinations.

·      If traveling by car, expect delays and find pit stops ahead of time. Is there any road in the United States that isn’t under construction at some point? Expect road delays and know where you can pull off for a quick pit stop. Trying to find a place on-the-fly might not work when someone has to go the bathroom! You know your family best, planning ahead for breaks could prevent some unwanted “accidents.” There are travel websites that can help you plan your route. On Thanksgiving Day, options may be more limited. Check ahead for locations that will be open and are family friendly.

·      Check the weather. One of the biggest causes of travel interruptions is weather delay on the roads and at the airports. Wherever your destination, know what weather to expect when you get there and on the way. It may be sunny and warm where you live but snowy and cold where you are going. If an anticipated trip looks too dangerous because of icy roads or snowstorms, consider cancelling and planning on getting together with the extended family at some other time.

Visiting with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day to acknowledge all of our blessings and even our challenges, is a wonderful tradition. But there are times it’s simply not possible to make the celebration. That’s ok. Real life doesn’t always accommodate plans for a certain date designated as a holiday. New family traditions are often created when something stands in the way of fulfilling old traditions.

Here’s to you and your family – however you choose to spend the holiday- Happy Thanksgiving!

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

Helping Shy Children Find Their Way

2:00

With school back in session, many shy kids are facing a difficult time. As a parent, you’re already familiar with your child’s personality and can tell when he or she is experiencing anxiety in a social situation.  Once your child enters school, there are going to be times when your little one is immersed in surroundings that may make them very uncomfortable, but along with challenges comes solutions.

As parents of a shy child, there are two traps to avoid: overprotectiveness and pressure. Trying to get your child to be more outgoing will only make him or her retreat. And sheltering denies them the chance to enjoy group activities or become comfortable in social circumstances. You have to walk a tightrope, promoting social behavior with compassion.

Some children are shy from birth and have a genetic predisposition to be that way. Other kids are shy only during certain situations that make them uncomfortable or afraid. These might include:

·      Meeting new people

·      Entering new situations

·      Being singled out or being the center of attention

·      Not knowing how they're expected to act or what they're expected to say

·      Being laughed at, embarrassed, or teased

Quite frankly, the last situation makes just about everyone uncomfortable, but for children that are naturally shy, it can be quite traumatic.

One tip for parents is to try and use the word “shy” less often when describing their child. Being labeled can make your child feel less confident. Being labeled anything presents a certain amount of pressure to live up to its definition. 

Instead, put a positive spin on his or her shyness. Maybe a more accurate characterization is "slow to warm up"; rather than withdrawing from or avoiding new situations, he or she just takes their time and sizes up the scene. This can be translated into a compliment: "You like to think things through," or "You like to get started slowly." As time goes on, your child can adopt this more positive view of him or her self and use it as a rebuttal if someone challenges their behavior.

Kids are often fearful when they don't have the social skills necessary to feel comfortable during a particular scenario. A child who hasn't spent much time around large groups of people, for instance, is more likely to want to avoid them. A child with low self-esteem or one who's been pushed hard academically may be afraid to fail, leading to shyness. Watch your child closely to see what triggers his or her shyness. Once you understand their anxieties better, you can talk them through and work together on ways to overcome them.

School is going to be a place where kids experience a tremendous amount of socialization- whether they want it or not. So why not practice difficult situations at home? This way, children have an idea of how to respond either before an event happens or before it happens again.

In an uncomfortable situation, a shy kid experiences the same physiological reactions that adults do. Your child may feel shaky, get sweaty, or turn red. His heart may race, or she may get a frog in her throat. If his reaction is visible to those around him, he may get even more embarrassed, setting up a cycle of awkwardness each time he has to step up to the plate.

With practice and reassurance, though, your child can prepare for those moments that throw him or her for a loop. You and your child can talk through the situations that make them nervous or, if your child is willing, even act them out together. He may giggle and think it's silly to practice saying hello at a birthday party or introducing himself to the soccer team, but he'll also begin to feel more confident in his ability to be friendly and relaxed.

You might also remind your child that it's normal to be nervous when meeting someone new, starting a new class, or being called upon by a teacher to speak. Describe one of your own flustered moments to show that most people have the same feelings.

In a child’s mind, one of the most important aspects of school is fitting in. This is a time when parents can make helpful suggestions. You might encourage him or her to get involved in activities by discussing the value of participation and then helping them discover a sport or activity they like to do. The key is to find something that suits them -- perhaps where they can be part of a team but still function as an individual, such as running cross-country or singing in the chorus. When a child realizes he or she is good at something, their confidence will rise, and so will their enthusiasm. However, if your child really resists, don't turn it into a power struggle. In a low-key way, keep making suggestions and trust that they’ll be drawn into an activity eventually.

Shyness should be a bump in the road, not a roadblock. With some anguish and a certain number of false steps, even very shy children can learn to forge relationships and cope when the spotlight is on them. They may have fewer friends than other kids, but those friendships will be just as close.

In rare cases, a child is so shy that he or she begins to avoid all interactions. If you are concerned that your child's shyness is isolating them or undermining their ability to function, seek help from a school counselor or your family pediatrician. Either may have valuable advice and can refer you to a specialist if necessary.

Yes, it can be like walking a tightrope trying to help a shy child learn how to handle uncomfortable situations. You don’t want to pressure too much or protect too much and it can be emotionally challenging figuring out the next step.  

By accepting your child as he or she is, you can help them accept who they are. It may help to remind yourself that your child's temperament isn't a reflection of your parenting skills. As long as he or she has some friends, is reasonably happy with his or her self, and can function as a student and family member, all is well. Praise your kid for their efforts to be social, provide advice when asked, keep an eye on their progress and challenges and know that they will find their way in the world.

Story source: Anne Krueger, https://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/children-s-health-10/child-development-news-124/shyness-ages-6-to-12-645930.html

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