Tag Archives: Parenting

Is School Curriculum Beyond Your Child’s Maturity Level?

Parents all have different ideas on the best ways to raise their children. The single mom knows that there are many parenting styles and she has to find the best approach for her children. The chosen parenting style may have a lot to do with maturity development and how they react to some of the subject matter in the classroom.

Some kids are raised in a home that is safe and happy, with every effort made to protect the innocence of the children. The kids probably know about evil step-parents from fairy tales, but have no idea that real children are being abused.

Other homes have a 24 hour news channel on in the background during dinner so that mom can catch up on world events, and often discussions about the stories are a big part of the quality family time.

It’s often true that kids in the same classroom as your child may be hurting, physically or emotionally, but no one will know until they speak of it.

Each parent wants to decide what the appropriate time and maturity level is to allow their children knowledge of the reality of the outside world. In many cases, the timing is forced because of major world events, discussions on the playground, and even classroom curriculum.

Parents can discourage their kids from becoming friends with other kids who are at a higher maturity level and use foul language while discussing vulgar topics, and instead steer them toward befriending children whose parents have similar family values.

What do you do when the child is shown graphic images and assigned reading materials about the tragic events like the Holocaust in their world history class at school? The parent that perceives their child as still being too young to be introduced to such horrors will be shocked..

News is being made all over the world on a constant basis, and technology has made it possible to seek out the events and report them. History is full of unjust and unhappy, if not tragic, events that are documented in textbooks.

A well rounded education demands that both history and current events be studied. Take steps so that your kids can take these lessons in stride. Communicate openly with the school and the teachers. Ask about the curriculum so that you can discuss controversial issues with your child before he is exposed to them in the classroom.

Sometimes kids develop maturity and intellect faster than mom realizes. Be willing to listen to what the teacher is proposing to teach and, if needed, ask for help in broaching unpleasant subjects to your child.

High Blood Pressure Problems Linked to TV and Computer Use

Your kids might be healthy and thriving right now, but their lifestyle, even as young children may be laying the groundwork for health problems later in life. As technology allows more children to be involved in health studies without using invasive testing measures, a clearer picture is becoming obvious. An active child is usually a healthier adult. Simple changes that can contribute to the chances that your child grows up without health problems can be as simple as reducing TV and computer use.

If your kids spend too much time using the computer or watching TV, they run a higher risk to develop high blood pressure.  This can lead to heart problems in the future. As the arteries narrow, the vessels are less able to respond to the changes in the blood flows that people experience. This causes an increased blood pressure.

A recent study was released in the Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association that indicates that the arteries behind the eyes narrow as the child watches the screen. An average of 1.9 hours per day was spent by the children in front of the screen. The arteries behind the eyes were chosen to be studied because the researchers didn’t need to use invasive tests to study the children.

As moms know, this is not an excessive amount of time for the TV and computer screen combined as kids use the electronic devices for both educational and entertainment purposes.

The children in the Australian study were ages 6 and 7. Of the 1,492 kids tested, the average screen time was 1.9 hours a day, and the time the kids spent on physical activity averaged about 36 minutes a day.

Children who spent at least an hour a day being physically active had wider arteries, according to results of the study. This could lead to a blood pressure difference of 10 points, which could be significant in people who are on the borderline of the blood pressure scale.

Watching TV and sitting in front of the computer aren’t the only contributing factors toward narrowing of the arteries and other high blood pressure problems. Weight and high cholesterol contribute to the same medical concerns.

Physical activity can help maintain healthy weight and cholesterol levels, but the kids aren’t getting that beneficial exercise if they are parked in front of the screen.

Household Chores Prove that Four Hands are Better than Two

It’s a good thing we like to be needed. As single moms, we sure seem to be needed a lot. Besides being needed to bring in the money needed to run the household, we’re needed to purchase and prepare the food, pay the bills, do the upkeep on the home and never take our eyes off of our parenting duties.

Did you ever stop to think that your kids would benefit from feeling like they’re needed? What better way to show your young child how valued they are in your family than letting them contribute in the way of chores.

Even at the young ages between 5 and 9 years, there are many tasks that mom can assign to the child that will not only relieve the single mom of simple yet time consuming tasks, but let the child build self competence and understanding of how the family works together to make a happy home.

When assigning the tasks to the child, make sure that it’s a task that he’s mature enough and physically capable of managing. If mom has to redo the task, it is no help to her and can also be seen as failing through the child’s eyes. If the child isn’t tall enough to properly lay out the dinnerware on the table, change the scope of the task to just bringing the silverware or plates to the table.

Tasks that young kids should be able to manage include:

  • Bringing in the newspaper
  • Clearing their own dishes, or even the table
  • Weeding the garden
  • Straightening up the bedroom
  • Helping to unload the dishwasher
  • Placing dirty clothes in the hamper
  • Making their own bed
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Feeding the pet
  • Emptying waste baskets
  • Helping with meal preparation
  • Making their own snacks

Mom doesn’t want to assign too many chores, or the child will start to rebel. Once a chore is given to a child, it’s important that the child does it regularly. Being inconsistent in requiring the job is completed will only give the youngster the idea that if they put off doing the job long enough they can completely escape the duty.

Get a double reward when the child is helping you by doing chores by chatting as you both go about your tasks. This is valuable one on one time with your child. Remember to acknowledge how much help the child is giving you and hand out praise for a job well done.

Quick Behavior Tips for Calming Tantrums

Kids throw tantrums, and it is your job as a mom to become an expert at calming tantrums. That said, there are times where there is nothing you or anyone else can do to stop the screaming and fit throwing. But, these are tips that usually work at calming the tantrum thrower and helping them calm down enough to see past whatever it is they are upset about.

The first and most important thing to do is to stay calm. If you get angry and start yelling, the behavior is going to escalate. If you have to count, remove yourself from the room, or employ some other behavioral technique, do it.

Next, resolve that you will not give in to the tantrum. Giving in may make this tantrum stop, but it will only make the next one bigger and better. Your “no” needs to mean “no.”

Do not attempt to reason with the tantrum thrower. She cannot understand you anyway. Instead, make sure there is nothing around that can harm the child, and, if possible, allow her to have her tantrum in a safe place. If you are in public, physically remove the child from the location to the car so the tantrum is not a public display.

Use emotional cues to help your child put words with his emotions. Phrases like, “You must feel really frustrated that you cannot play longer” can help your child understand the emotions he is feeling and learn how to verbalize them in the future without the fit.

Sometimes children can be distracted out of their fits, if you can bring out the distraction before the fit escalates too badly. Try to ask a question to get your child’s attention and require a calm answer. Remember, however, that this might not always work.

When all else fails, ignore the behavior. Ignoring behavior is one of the best ways to stop it in its tracks, because kids are not going to want to continue throwing a fit if they are not getting a response. Remember, this too shall pass, and your child is only acting normal for a child. It is not a personal attack. Calming tantrums is a skill you will learn with time, if you can remain patient and calm when they are thrown at you.

Bedtime Battles and What to Do About Them

Let’s face it, life as a single mom is tiring. Not only do you have to work full time, but you also have to perform all of the care and emotional support tasks for your children. The last thing you are ready to face at the end of the day are bedtime battles, yet it seems like they occur no matter how much you try to avoid them. Here are some tips to help you deal with them.

First, never reward the behavior. Make it a rule that you do not give your child something she is crying for. If there is a legitimate need, she needs to ask nicely.

Next, establish a bedtime routine that is predictable, but keep it from being too long. Sometimes drawing out the process can lead to more battles simply because the child has time to prepare his strategy. You might want to use a night-light or leave the bedroom door open to ward off fears of the dark or being alone.

You may feel like you have to insist that your child sleeps. After all, you know how important sleep is. This is not true. As long as your child stays in his or her bed, allowing some quiet play or looking at books is fine. When they are tired, if the atmosphere is quiet and dark, they will go to sleep. Once you tuck them in, your job is done.

Remember, bedtime battles often begin as a power struggle. Make sure your child knows what is expected at bedtime, then tuck them in and leave the room. By doing this, you may be able to prevent the fight, but remember that it will take a while to unlearn behavior that has been in place for a while. If your child is used to throwing a fit at bedtime, then you might have a few rough nights, but soon you will both fall into a routine that works for your family.

Are Your Radiation Fears Unfounded?

When it comes to the health of our kids, single moms need to be armed with as much factual information as possible. H1N1, avian flu, meningitis, measles outbreaks, and now radiation exposure can cause momentary fears as the media hypes danger to increase their readership. With a little common sense and proactive research to get the facts, parents can make responsible decisions about the health risks the family is exposed to and not waste money on fraudulent protection claims.

The recent natural disasters in Japan caused problems at nuclear reactor sites, and conflicting reports of radiation exposure dangers made parents world wide wonder what future impact the releases of radiation would have on their families. Iodine pills and even iodized salt vanished from the shelves as people panicked and bought up supplies, mistakenly thinking these supplements would protect their families from the dangers of radiation. Arm yourself with the facts of the dangers by checking the CDC  updates on radiation emergencies as the situation warrants.

There is no global consensus on safe measures of radiation exposure. Guidelines for the US are made to err on the side of caution, so you can see that warnings would be issued for US citizens in Japan while other countries are insisting that there are no dangers.

The best thing the single mom can do to protect her family is not to buy in to all the hype from people who look to benefit from your fears.

The Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov//, has timely information on food products coming into the US from other countries. If in doubt, check their website for up to date information.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/)  has regularly updated information not only on disease, but on other topics that the single mom needs to stay up to date with to keep her family healthy.

The World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/), or WHO, also keeps it’s website up to date on emerging health problems world wide.

All agree that giving iodine supplements can protect the thyroid from absorbing radiated iodine and protects from thyroid cancers down the road, but it is by no means a miracle protective measure for your children. In fact, a dose only lasts for 24 hours. In the event of an emergency, the emergency management or local public health officials will give information and advise you what to do to protect your family.

There are many other health information resource sites on the web, and it’s important for the single mom to bookmark the sites she trusts for guidance. With the safeguards in place, you can get on with taking care of your family needs without the need to chase down baseless rumors.

Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s Syndrome is a mild form of Autism. In fact, many people call it High Functioning Autism, and it is considered to be part of autism spectrum disorder.

Any warning signs that the single mom picks up on should be discussed with the child’s doctor so that her child can be evaluated. The symptoms can be reduced when treatment interventions are begun early, but some parents dismiss many of the symptoms and only half of children with Asperger’s Syndrome are diagnosed before they start kindergarten.

Newborns can exhibit warning signs that are easily ignored. They can become fixated on a single item for an extended period of time. On the other hand, they could be completely unresponsive.

Toddlers between one and three years old can suddenly change behaviors, losing skills in communication and even social skills and they start to reject people. Sometimes this happens suddenly, with the child becoming self-abusive, withdrawn or indifferent. If you notice these changes in behavior speak to your medical professional immediately to make arrangements to have the child evaluated.

The warning signs of autism are different with each child, but the single mom who suspects that her child may be exhibiting symptoms of ASD should look for the following:

  • An occasional period of seeming to not hear
  • An over attachment to a single toy or object
  • Avoidance of proper eye contact
  • Refusal to smile
  • Excessive behaviors like the lining up of toys and other objects

In addition, there are milestones in a child’s life that could indicate a problem if they are not reached. An infant should be pointing and making other meaningful gestures and be babbling by his first birthday, have a few words in his vocabulary at 16 months and be combining at least 2 words by the age of two. If these milestones have not been achieved, discuss them with the doctor who may refer you and your child to a specialist after a developmental screening test.

A team of specialists made up of a speech therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist and neurologist will do cognitive and language testing as well as neurological and genetics assessments and interview the parents and caregivers.

Methods for treatment will focus on the individual child and family. Parental involvement is necessary for the success of any treatment program that is suggested for the child. As the single mom networks with other parents of children with ASD, she may find that other kids are having success with other treatment methods. It’s important to remember that each child and family are different. The symptoms of ASD are different with each child as well as the response of each child to the treatment method.

While it’s important for the single mom to be an advocate for her child, before trying to adopt a new treatment method, it’s important that it is discussed with professionals.



Do You Really Know Your Teenager?

Single moms who have diligently worked at keeping the lines of communication open and honest with their child since they learned how to talk often feel that they really know their child by the time they reach the finishing line, or those teenage years between 15 and 18. This provides mom with a relative feeling of security as the teenager grows to pursue activities outside of the home without the parenting tagging along as a chaperon.

The savvy single mom knows that they only know as much about the teenager’s life as the child is willing to share with her.

Teenagers can talk about their friends and even bring them home so that you can meet them. These are the friends and acquaintances that are ‘mom proof’. They are classmates, coworkers or other neighborhood peers that your child feels that you will approve of.

The teenager might also talk at length about their daily activities. But the smart single mom knows that all of this talk is only about the things their young adult is willing to share. As long as their day didn’t involve activities that required teachers, other parents, or law enforcement to contact you, you really have no way to know for sure what activities your child has become involved in.

Take heart. At least your teenager is still communicating with you. Many teenagers avoid having real conversations with mom at all.

So, how do you get a glimpse into your teenager’s real life if they are not willing to share?

A bit of detective work can help the mom know what’s going on in the world of a typical young adult by thumbing through magazines that are targeted to the ages and activities of their child. Take some extra time at the library or at the magazine rack of the grocery or department store on your next visit to see what’s trending. Become familiar with the popular music and pay attention to the lyrics. Watch the movies you child wants to see for themes and identify why that type of movie is so attractive to your teenager.

Know the local pitfalls that could cause a possible danger for your child. Is there a drug problem at the mall or on the school campus? What about gang activity? Know the signs that might give a hint that your child could be exposed to peer pressures that could be dangerous and take the steps necessary to protect your child.

Parents in the area with children in the same age group can also provide information on the realities of teenage life. Seek out these parents in the neighborhood, at work, church and other social functions. Your networking skills will pay off by the information you can glean from parents who are facing the same search.

Never forget that you are the parent. Teenagers want privacy and the single mom wants to respect that. Just make sure the teenager is aware that it’s your job to keep them safe, and you take any measures you deem appropriate to insure that you succeed.

Daycare Assistance And How To Make It Affordable

Daycare assistance can eat your finances alive if you’re not careful. You’ve heard the horror stories of the mother who went back to work after her child was born, only to find that the cost of daycare was eating away the majority of her paycheck. It’s a sad fact of life that most daycare facilities charge so much for watching the children that there isn’t enough money left at the end of the month to do much else – sometimes it seems you are simply working to let someone else watch your kids!

But there are ways to make daycare affordable. These tips will help you find a way to juggle work, kids, and finances without breaking the bank.

Talk to DHS. The Department of Human Services has programs in place for mothers who want to go back to work. Single moms can contact DHS concerning their new job and see if they qualify for free or low-cost daycare. Many mothers wind up paying only a fraction of the total bill while the government helps pay the rest.

Choose the Barter Method. If you have a friend who stays home with her children, you might be able to work out something on barter. Perhaps you are great at lawn work and she doesn’t know how to start up the mower? You can exchange yard work for daycare services. If it’s a special occasion and your friend babysits for you, you could offer to cook dinner for her and her kids one day that week. The whole point of barter is exchanging services to save money, and it’s great news for daycare savings.

Take Advantage of Company Daycare. If your company offers daycare of any kind, take advantage of it. You work for the paycheck and benefits, so use them to their fullest extent! On-site daycare is even better, because you can see your children during your lunch and breaks. Look at the cost of it and ask your employer if there are any discounts that could be worked out.

Try Private Babysitters or Family. If you can’t find a daycare that is affordable, talk with your community outreach centers or search for a private babysitter who charges less. Family members might be willing to watch the kids for a fraction of the cost, or even for free – and if they do, it’s a godsend for the single mother. A private babysitter will often take the children into her own home and watch over them in order to make a bit of extra cash…and often they are retired grandparents who have a lot of time on their hands and want some laughter in their house!

Work vs. Finances. Finally, consider if daycare is costing you more than it is helping. Some mothers who work part time have found that daycare eats into their finances so badly that there is nothing left over for food or utilities. There is no point in working so hard only to give all your money to a daycare facility at the end of the day. If the work you do isn’t making enough money to cover the daycare expense, cut your losses now and look for a new job.