Tag Archives: Children

Preparing a Food Allergic Child for School

As the mother of a food allergic child, you already know the constant fear that comes any time your son or daughter places something in his mouth. When you send them to school where you cannot control every piece of food, that fear can escalate. One way to help is to prepare your student and his teacher ahead of time for the challenges at hand.

Meet with your student’s teacher before the school year starts, explain the allergy and the reaction it causes, and talk about steps the two of you could take to make the classroom safe. If your child’s allergy is severe enough that even the presence of the food in the classroom could cause a reaction, the teacher needs to understand this. There are few teachers who want to put their students at risk, but some do so unknowingly because they are not familiar with how to prevent a food allergic child from being exposed to risks.

Sometimes, reactions are going to occur no matter how careful your student’s teacher is. Make sure she knows exactly what needs to happen. If your son or daughter needs an emergency shot from an EpiPen, then make sure the teacher has access to one. The teacher needs to have a complete understanding of what needs to happen to ensure he gets through a reaction without complications.

For your child, make sure he understands clearly what he can and cannot eat. If possible, pack lunches rather than relying on the school lunch program. You cannot be certain if a particular “safe” food was somehow contaminated by an allergen unless you prepare it yourself. If that is not possible, discuss the allergy with the school lunch program administrator.

Birthday treats are a source of concern for kids with allergies. Talk to the teacher about the possibility of providing an alternative treat. You may even be able to keep a bin of “safe” treats in the classroom that your child can use when a birthday treat comes in.

Parenting a food allergic child is always challenging. You have to be proactive all of the time, and this is even more true when your student enters the halls of your local school.

Questions About Money and How to Answer Them

For many single moms, money is a daily struggle. Without the support of another adult in the home, they are forced to live on just one income, and that can make life challenging at times. Sometimes kids pick up on this and will ask difficult questions, like “are we poor?” or “why can Johnny have that and we can’t?” If money is an emotionally difficult topic for you, answering these questions about money can be challenging. Here are some tips.

First, make sure your child knows that you are going to be sure his needs are met. Questions about being “poor” often stem from a fear that they will not have a place to live or food on the table. By reassuring them, you can take this fear away.

Next, be honest with your child about money. Explain that some families have two grown ups who can work, and they have more money than you do. That means they can afford some things that you cannot afford, but that does not mean that they are “better” than you in any way. This can also be a good opportunity to talk to your child about career choices and the different incomes that come with various careers. While you do not want your child to think less of the career you have, you do want to help him make wise choices about his future career.

Finally, when questions about money come up, make sure you do not promote your own financial insecurities. The answer may be as simple as, “Their family does things differently than we do,” and leaving it at that. Your child will quickly figure out how things are not always the same in this life, and he simply wants your reassurance that your family is OK and will have its needs met.

Pets Don’t Live Forever

A family pet can mean companionship and love. A home with both children and pets can be a rewarding experience for the single mom as she sees the bonds grow between her child and the animal. The child learns responsibility while caring for the well chosen pet, and it seems to be a winning proposition for all.

We don’t tend to enter relationships thinking about death, but in some cases discussing the eventuality just makes sense. Some types of pets have longer life spans than others. While many dogs and cats may be around for over a decade, pets like goldfish and hamsters have a shorter life expectancy. If the child does not understand and accept death, the loss of a beloved pet may be devastating and confusing.

During the process of choosing the ideal pet to bring into the home, the life expectancy of the potential additions should be discussed at some point. It should be done in a matter of fact manner. The short life expectancy of a goldfish doesn’t mean that it is not the best fit with your family. There is no guarantee on the duration of the life of any living thing, after all.

If and when a pet dies, break the news to your family gently, as you would break any other bad news. Be understanding of the child’s grief, and try to answer questions in a way the child understands. Don’t minimize the child’s sense of loss by playing down the importance of the loss of the life. The pet wasn’t “just a hamster”; it was an important part of the home. Bonds are made with pets, no matter if the pet lives in a cage, a bowl of water, or has the run of the house.

Don’t lie to the child. Sooner or later, he will come to realize that his beloved dog or cat didn’t move to the farm. Telling the child that the pet ran away is not a good option, either, as the child may think that it means that the pet was unhappy living in your home. The child may also hold onto the hope that the pet will somehow find his way back home.

If your child has never experienced death of a loved one before, he may become frightened that others that he loves will be taken away from him. Let him voice his fears and respond to his questions with patience. Let the child share his own feelings of grief so that he knows that what he is feeling is normal.

If there are other pets in the home, keep in mind that animals, too, can recognize a loss. Watch out for any changes in behavior from them as well.


How World News Can Cause Anxiety For Children

Unsettling world news can make the single mom agitated, at the very least. Imagine what a child is thinking as they see the same explosion, earthquake or tsunami footage played over and over again on the TV as mom leaves the 24 hour cable news on to catch any updates as they may happen.

If your child comes to you with questions about tragic events, consider yourself lucky. You can address his fears and anxiety in a positive way and take it as a sign that perhaps the channel should be changed.

If you know that your child has seen the graphic images on the TV but hasn’t discussed it with you, look for signs that he may be keeping his fears or questions to himself. The child may be getting information on the playground, or his imagination may be bringing the catastrophe closer to home, and for some reason he is reluctant to bring his fears into the open.

Kids from 5 to 9 years of age can easily pick up the fact that a major event has happened, but unless they are able to understand the implications, they have no way of knowing if it is a threat to themselves and their loved ones. If the adults are upset by the unfolding news reports, the child may also become anxious.

We all want our kids to feel secure in the innocence of childhood, but that can’t always happen. We have to remember that all kids respond to traumatic events in different ways. The event doesn’t have to be witnessed first hand for the child to develop an anxiety.

If the television is showing graphic images, you may want to consider turning it off or changing the channel. The images in magazines and newspapers are better visuals for the child. Perhaps you can capture a still photograph on the internet if your child is demanding information about the event.

Let the child know that you are monitoring the events and that the family is safe.  In this way you are letting him understand that you feel that his concerns are justified, but that there is nothing to fear. If the child’s attention cannot be diverted from the world event, try to redirect attention to a positive involvement.  Letters can be written to children in the area. A care package can be prepared. Even a picture to send along with any donations can help the child feel that he is doing something to help.

Watch out for any signs that the event is causing anxiety in your child. Any changes in behavior should be discussed with a professional.

Build Self Assurance Through Memories

As your child makes his way out into the world, attending school classes and visiting the homes of friends, it is important that he builds his feeling of belonging. Deportment and self assurance acquired during these early years needs to be encouraged so that as he emerges from this slow and steady time of his life he is confident when trying new experiences and meeting new challenges.

It is also important that the child know how important he is within his own family. These are the people who know him best. These are also the people who have seen him at his worst. There may be days in life when he feels like mom only remembers the times in his life when things weren’t going well. He needs reassurance from you that you pay attention to the good things that he does and that you remember them.

As the single mom watches her maturing child struggle with the consequences of bad behavior and wondering at the impressions he may have left behind in school or other places when he wasn’t always his best, it is important that she take the opportunity to show him how successful she thinks he is.

A child between five and nine doesn’t have a huge store of memories. Make the most of the limited life experiences by asking questions. What was the favorite movie you saw as a family? Talk about the trip to and from the cinema. Did you go for ice cream afterward? Ask questions to see if a memory about the day can be brought up that made the experience special.

What was the best present ever received? Why? What was the best thing that ever happened using or playing with the present? Give praise when possible.

Don’t turn your conversation into an interrogation. Talk about your own memories when they can be worked into your little talks. If similarities can be made, point them out to the child. Kids admire their parents and knowing that they share comparable memories and skills make them feel even more a valued part of the family.

Even an event that the child perceived as a failure at the time can be turned into a pleasant memory and boosts the child’s confidence. Time can soften even bad memories, and if mom can pull out a lesson learned from the experience and let the child discover that it did, indeed help him become skilled with a bit of practice, the bad memory can be turned into a successful accomplishment to remembered and instill poise.


A Bump on the Head or a Concussion?

As any single mom knows, kids fall, run into things and have things run into them. How is the single mom to know if their child has a simple boo-boo or a concussion when their heads are bumped?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signs of a concussion should be looked for with any forceful bump or jolt to the child that causes a rapid movement of the head. If the child appears to be behaving differently or exhibits a change in the way they are processing information or if physical functions are abnormal, it’s possible that they have been injured without you even knowing.

If your child complains that they have a headache or feel pressure in their head, check for evidence that they may have been in a mishap that may have caused a concussion. Nausea or vomiting, dizziness and balance problems are also symptoms. If the child shows sensitivity to light or noise, or complains that their vision is blurry or shows confusion, a concussion may be to blame. Sometimes, after an injury, the child may complain that they just don’t feel right.

Symptoms of a concussion don’t always show up immediately following an injury – the child may not complain or show the effects for several days.

If a child shows any of the above symptoms, call the doctor immediately and describe not only the symptoms but the mishap that caused the symptoms. If your child has a bump on the head and you can not console him or stop him from crying or if he refuses to eat or nurse, take him to the emergency room right away.

Most concussion recoveries are quick, but sometimes it can take weeks for a person who has suffered a concussion to fully recover. It’s also important for the single mom to remember that a person who has suffered a concussion in the past is more likely to suffer another one. Each occurrence of concussion makes it likelier that it will take more time to recover from the injury completely.


Little Known Ways to Communicate With Your Tween

Today’s pre-teens are no longer kids. They have earned a new name: “Tween.” This is the age when your child is tottering between being a full-blown teenager and still having the needs and desires of a child. It is also a time when connecting with your child can become incredibly challenging. Here are some less traditional ideas to help you make that connection.

One of the easiest ways to stay connected with your Tween and the rest of your family is to plan a family game night. Do this regularly, at least twice a month, and have it set in “stone” on the calendar. Of course, things will come up, but you need to make this a habit. You will be surprised how much you will learn about your middle-school child during these activities.

Find out what your tween likes, and get involved. This does not mean you need to spend hours playing X-box, but if your son loves cooking, then take them to a local restaurant to tour the kitchen or meet the chef, if this is allowed. If you have a reader, spend an afternoon at a bookstore browsing together, and ask questions about the books they are reading. If your girl loves horses, buy tickets to an upcoming horse show to have a mom and daughter date. For a young man, consider a monster truck show or major league sporting event. Simply showing that you understand their likes and dislikes and are taking the time to accommodate them will help them open up.

Remember, sitting down and saying “let’s talk” rarely works with kids this age. Instead, you have to get them involved and let them open up on their own. If you keep making the opportunity possible and are actively listening, they will start talking.

React Calmly When Your Child Lashes Out at You

Young children have different ways of displaying their anger at different stages of their emotional development. After the tantrum stage, where displeasure can only be shown with cries of distress or hitting out, they often come out with verbal attacks as a way to express their anger and frustration.

Most single moms have been told at one time or another by their child that they are the meanest mommy in the world. Often, a young child may come out with the dreaded statement “I hate you”.

The first time mom hears this it could stop her in her tracks is she hasn’t been prepared for the possibility in advance. Don’t let the child know that they have thrown you by their expression of displeasure. Calmly keep your mind focused on the situation at hand and stay in control of the situation.

The worst response for a single mom to make is to try to convince the child that they really don’t mean it. The child knows how they feel and if this is the only way they know of to express their feeling, telling them they are wrong won’t work. In fact, this could show the young child that they have found a way to push moms’ buttons. The child could also interpret it to mean that mom isn’t taking their frustration or anger seriously and the frustration and anger level could quickly escalate.

Young kids have a hard time expressing their frustrations verbally. When they lash out because they are angry and frustrated because you are enforcing a rule that they don’t want to follow, stay calm. Don’t back down or put off the task or disciplinary action while you try to convince your child that you’re not the meanest mom in the world or that the child really doesn’t hate you.

Let the child know that you have heard the complaint and understand that they are trying to express anger or frustration. Continue to enforce the rule or the discipline. But, do it calmly so that child doesn’t get the idea that using these tactics will get a reaction from mom that could work to his benefit at a later time.

If the child is frustrated and lashing out because of a game of other circumstance, offer options to the child. Acknowledge that the task at hand is difficult. Suggest that they ask for help instead of showing anger. Let the child know that you are available to offer guidance before the frustration sets in.

A single mom should remember that even adults have times of frustration when they have to struggle to make their feeling known without lashing out. Adults often use words like hate to describe their own frustrations. For instance, how many times do you comment “I hate it when they do that” when someone leaves a shopping cart in the ideal parking space at the supermarket?

Tips For A Single Mom Raising Bi-Racial Children

Being a single mom is tough, no matter what the circumstances. It can be rough to make it alone financially, and it can be even more daunting if you are in a situation where you and the father of your child don’t get along well. But some single moms find themselves in an even more unique situation — as single parents to a bi-racial child.

At first blush, parenting a bi-racial child seems like the same as parenting any other child, but look a bit closer, and you will see many differences, all of which are very important. The bi-racial child might have questions about their heritage, or wonder why they don’t look exactly like you. For some, skin color doesn’t phase them, but for others, they will have questions about every aspect of it. This can become even more pronounced when they start school, because they are dealing with questions from their peers, and perhaps even teasing and taunting.

That’s why it is so important as a single mom to raise a bi-racial child in an atmosphere of acceptance. Here are a few tips to help make that happen:

  • Demonstrate all kinds of beauty. Make a point of having all kinds of beauty represented in your home. Have white dolls as well as black dolls, Latino dolls, and fair Irish maidens. Purchase books that have a healthy balance and feature more than one race. Make a point of praising all types of beauty, and not just the differences in skin color. Point out different hair styles, body art, and even fashions.
  • Offer diverse worlds for them to explore. Invite people into your lives from many diverse backgrounds. Study different cultures and explore different languages. Take trips to other countries if you can. Show your child that who they are inside is what matters, and that in the end, everyone is different on the outside.
  • Study the world map. The world is not just black and white, so to speak. Make sure your child is well-educated in every kind of culture you can fathom. Share little tidbits of interesting things throughout their day that keeps their mind thinking in positive directions when it comes to race and diversity. Talk about history, and the struggles that race has sometimes brought to various countries throughout the world. Make it clear to them that their corner of the globe is just that — one small corner. There are so many different nationalities, races, languages, and customs out there ready to be explored!
  • Embrace it all. The differences are what make your child unique. The blending of cultures is what makes them shine. Tell them how proud you are of them, and don’t let them be hurt by the narrow-minded people they will come across from time to time. The whole world is their oyster — make certain they never forget that.