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Parenting

Is Your Child Becoming an Emotional Eater?

2:00

You may be tempted to appease your child with food after a fall or tears for short-term relief, but this could actually set your child up for long-term unhealthy eating patterns.

What happens is that children begin to identify eating with self-comforting or relieving boredom instead of nutrition or eating when they’re actually hungry.

Almost all children, teens, and adults may engage in emotional eating at one time or another.

Hunger associated with emotional eating comes on quickly and feels urgent. It's often triggered by a specific event or mood. It's not like typical physical hunger, which gradually builds and is a result of an empty stomach. Physical hunger can be satisfied by a number of different foods, but cravings usually involve particular foods. Examples might be ice cream or candy after a fight with a friend or a tough day at school.

Why is emotional eating unhealthy? Emotional eating isn’t really about hunger or nutrition; it’s about filling an emotional need. It can lead to overeating and over time, lead to extra weight gain or obesity. It also sets up a pattern of handling uncomfortable situations by eating instead of by learning how to solve social and psychological problems.

There are lots of reasons kids may seek out food for comfort such as:

  • Anger
  • Boredom
  • Change
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Loneliness
  • Loss
  • Resentment
  • Stress

Even positive emotions such as excitement and happiness can result in emotional eating once it becomes a go-to as a reward. 

If you notice signs of emotional eating in your child, talk to him or her about your concerns. Be gentle. Stay positive. Helping your child might be as simple as having a warm and loving conversation.

Help your child develop a healthy response to his or her problems, such as focusing on solutions. Encourage your child to talk about the emotions that trigger his or her emotional eating. Brainstorm other ways to deal with those emotions. For example, your child could exercise or become involved in sports when he or she feels stressed out, or call a friend when he or she is bored.

Emotional eating can be learned, so your influence as a parent or primary caregiver is one key to prevention. Be sure to model healthy eating habits for your child. Also, avoid using food to celebrate occasions or to reward your child for good behavior. Instead, use verbal praise and give other types of rewards (for example, stickers for a young child or a fun activity with an older child).

There are signs you can look for in children to let you know if your child is an emotional eater. They are:

  • Eating in response to emotions or situations, not to satisfy hunger
  • Feeling an urgent need to eat
  • Craving a specific food or type of food
  • Eating a larger amount of food than usual
  • Eating at unusual times of day (for example, late at night)
  • Gaining excess weight
  • Feeling embarrassed or guilty about eating
  • "Sneaking" food during high-stress times
  • Hiding empty containers of food

A recent study from Norway found that kids offered food for comfort at ages 4 and 6 displayed more emotional eating at ages 8 and 10.

Also, the researchers found signs that kids who felt more easily comforted by food were fed more by parents for that purpose.

Emotional eating typically starts early in life but can really begin at any age; it seems like an easy fix for anxiety at the time, but can lead to health problems if not brought under control.

Story source: https://familydoctor.org/emotional-eating-in-children-and-teens/

Parenting

HPV Vaccine: Fewer Doses Recommended for Preteens

1:30

Based on recent studies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is recommending that children 11 to 14 years old receive only two doses of the HPV vaccine instead of three.

The vaccine protects against cervical and other cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

However, the CDC says that teenagers and young adults who start the vaccinations later, between at ages 15 to 26, should continue with the three doses.

The new advice is based on a review of studies showing that two doses in the younger group “produced an immune response similar or higher than the response in young adults (aged 16 to 26 years) who received three doses,” the C.D.C. said in a statement. The two doses should be given at least six months apart, the agency said.

The government agency noted that the two-dose schedule should make the process easier for families and hopefully will increase the number of preteens getting the vaccine.  So far, despite the vaccine’s proven effectiveness, immunization rates have remained low.

HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses, according to the disease centers. They are spread by intimate, skin-to-skin contact, and by vaginal, oral and anal intercourse. HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active people become infected at some point. In most people, the immune system destroys the virus. But in some, the infection lingers. Some viral strains cause genital warts, and others can cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis and back of the throat.

The vaccine is recommended for preteens and young teenagers, ideally before they become sexually active, because it works best if given before a person is exposed to HPV.

The CDC still recommends vaccination for young people who have already had sex, saying that it should provide “at least some protection.”

HPV vaccination rates are slowly rising for boys and girls as parents begin to understand the health benefits for their children. Many pediatricians are now recommending the vaccine as a regular part of a child’s inoculation routine.

Story source: Denise Grady, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/health/children-14-or-under-need-fewer-hpv-vaccine-doses.html

Parenting

Teaching Your Child Healthy Hair Care Habits

1:45

Teaching your child good hair care practices can help him or her maintain healthy and shiny locks throughout their life. It can also help prevent hair damage and skin conditions such as dandruff.

You’ve probably been washing your hair more years than you can remember by now, but there was a time when you had to learn what to do with shampoo and water.

If your child has reached the age where he or she can start washing their own hair, here are some tips to help them develop good hair care habits.

You’d be surprised how many kids think that washing their hair means just that – washing only their hair. Healthy skin and hair requires washing the scalp and the hair.

How often should your child wash his or her hair? The answer to that question depends on several factors. For example, during the summer, when kids are more likely to be playing outdoors or involved in sports, they may need to wash their hair as often as every other day. In the drier winter months when kids typically spend more time indoors, the schedule may be pushed back a day or two.

You also have to consider your child’s hair type. Does it tend to be dry or oily? Is it fine, curly, thick, thin or coarse? Different hair types require different care programs.

On an average, kids around 12 years old or who have started puberty and have fine, straight or thin hair, might need to shampoo as often as every other day. At this age, many kids are beginning to experience hormonal changes, causing their hair and scalp to be a little oilier.

For younger children, once or twice a week is sufficient – again, if they haven’t been doing something that would cause their hair to be excessively dirty.

For children with dry, curly or very coarse hair, washing their hair too often can be drying to the scalp and the hair. African American children often have at least a couple of these hair types. Washing their hair once a week or once every two weeks is sufficient if their hair isn’t too dirty. They may also benefit from using a moisturizing shampoo made especially for their hair type as well as a conditioner.

Healthy hair care begins with learning how to wash the hair without damaging it. When your child is ready to start shampooing, follow these steps to help your child develop healthy hair-care habits.

•       Wet hair and scalp with warm water. Shampoo works best on wet heads and hair.

•       Pour a quarter-size drop of shampoo in the palm of your child’s hand. Putting the shampoo in the hand first makes it easier to apply.

•       Tell your child to massage the shampoo gently into the scalp. When shampooing, it’s important to wash the scalp rather than the entire length of the hair. Washing only the hair often leads to flyaway hair that is dull and coarse. Rubbing shampoo into the hair can break hairs, leading to unhealthy looking hair.

•       Rinse well with warm water until the hair is suds-free. Rinsing well washes away shampoo and dirt.

•       Cover hair with a towel. Help your child wrap a towel around the wet hair. This helps to absorb the water. Rubbing hair dry with a towel can damage the hair, causing it to break.

•       Comb out damp hair gently. Use a wide-tooth comb, especially on curly hair. Don’t yank or pull the comb through the hair because that can pull out hair or break the hair.

•       Sometimes a de-tangling spray can help smooth out the hair and keep it from forming little tight knots.

To help kids develop good hair-care habits that help prevent hair damage, dermatologists give parents the following tips:

•       Make braids and ponytails loose and use covered rubber bands.

•       Consider styles that don’t require heat and chemical treatments.

•       When using heat on the hair, lower the heat.

•       Understand that chemicals in relaxers, dyes, and other hairstyling products often damage the hair. The longer the time between treatments, the better it is for your hair. 

•       After your child swims, make sure to wash away pool chemicals. If your child’s hair is normal to oily, shampooing works best. Children who have very dry or African American hair should rinse well and apply conditioner. Pool chemicals that are not washed away can damage hair.

•       Use a wide-tooth comb more often than a brush.

•       When outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect the scalp and hair from the sun.

All hair needs to be treated gently, especially when it’s wet. Brushing or combing hair too frequently or in the wrong way (such as using a fine-toothed comb on very thick, curly hair or teasing hair) can lead to breakage. Hair extensions and braids can also cause breakage. Leaving them in too long or pulling them out without professional help can cause hair and scalp damage or even hair loss.

The condition of our hair can also tell us about our general health. Sometimes hair breakage and dry, brittle hair are signs of a medical problem, such as hypothyroidism or an eating disorder. If your child’s hair is breaking or falling out, even though he or she doesn’t treat it with chemicals or other styling products, tell your pediatrician.

Healthy hair doesn’t just happen; it’s the result of proper care and maintenance. Starting your child on healthy hair care habits early will most likely be how they think about and care for their scalp and hair the rest of their lives.

Story sources: https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/hair-care/healthy-hair-habits-for-kids

http://naturalhairkids.com/basic-regimen/

 

Parenting

Your Child: Multitasking and Homework

2:00

Does your child multitask with media while doing his or her homework? If so, they’re not alone and most likely they are spending a lot more time trying to finish an assignment.

What might at first glance seem harmless, doing homework or studying while watching TV, texting or checking social media can actually impair learning the material as well as lower test scores. Research has shown that it's one of the worst study habits a student can develop.

Why is that?  Our brains are wired to focus on one activity at a time. It’s how we’ve survived over the centuries.

Doing two things at once actually comprises the brain, shifting its processing from one neural network to another. Each shift comes with a cost of consuming time, mental effort, and brain fuel. Microseconds are wasted as the brain turns off the active network and turns on the next. This not only costs time (which adds up) but also depletes the brain’s critical resources of glucose and oxygen. The result – less gets done and less is remembered. While the brain is switching gears – trying to focus on the next thing required- it’s retaining less and less.

Oftentimes, this lack of retention shows up as poorer grades, less intercommunication skills and generally being more distracted.

In a study of 8-18 year old students done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one third of the students surveyed confessed that when they were doing homework, they were also watching TV, texting, or listening to music. Victoria Rideout, the lead author of the study, warns parents about the dangers of media multitasking. This concern is distinct from worrying about how much kids are online or how much kids are media multitasking overall. “It’s multitasking while learning that has the biggest potential downside,” she says.

Dr. David Meyer, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan observed that “under most conditions, the brain simply cannot do two complex tasks at the same time. Listening to a lecture while texting, or doing homework and being on Facebook—each of these tasks is very demanding, and each of them uses the same area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex." Most students incorrectly believe that they can perform two challenging tasks at the same time, according to Meyer. They may like to do it, they may even be addicted to it, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s far better to focus on one task from start to finish.”

Multitasking takes up a lot more time than focusing on one activity. Finishing homework can last much later into the evening causing kids to get less sleep than they need. 

Parents of students have to take an active role in their children’s study habits. During homework time, your child’s phone and the TV need to be turned off.  You may even have to put the phone in a different location in the house until homework is completed. A quick lesson refresher with your child after homework is finished can help you see how much your child is retaining and whether all the assignments have been completed.

The Internet can be a helpful tool when researching certain school topics; the trick is to stay on point without falling into the trap of checking out other tempting sites such as social media. Once on the computer, it takes a lot of self-control to stay focused on a singular subject. You may need to help your child stay the course during this time.

Be sure and praise your child for their accomplishments instead of making homework a battleground. The more they are able to develop good study habits, the less time it will take to complete their assignments and the sooner they’ll be able to check back in with their friends and find out what’s been going on.

Story sources: Michael Howard, http://www.beyondbooksmart.com/executive-functioning-strategies-blog/distracted-by-technology-focusing-attention-on-homework

Judy Willis M.D., M.Ed, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/radical-teaching/201611/the-high-costs-multitasking-you-and-your-kids

 

Parenting

Tips for a Fun and Safe Easter!

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Easter is right around the corner and many parents and grandparents will be hosting or attending the traditional egg hunt. Little ones will scramble to fill their baskets and sacks with chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks and decorated Easter eggs.

If you’re one of the lucky hosts, here are 7 tips to help create not only make great memories, but also a safer and healthier day!

1. Egg Safety: Always cook eggs thoroughly and refrigerate them before and after dying. If you’re blowing out the raw eggs and dying the shells, use a straw or choose pasteurized eggs to avoid salmonella exposure. Wait to hide your eggs until just before the hunt is scheduled to start: you should consume boiled eggs within two hours of removing them from the refrigerator. If you’re worried about using hard-boiled eggs, consider replacing them with plastic eggs and hiding toys and treats inside instead.

One tip to avoid cracked egg shells while cooking comes from L.A. Times Test Kitchen and Food Editor, Russ Parson. "Place the eggs in a pan just big enough to hold them in a single layer," Parsons said. "Cover them with cold water and bring them to a rolling boil. Cook for one minute, and then remove them from the heat. When the water has cooled enough that you can put your hand in (about 20 minutes), the eggs will be perfectly cooked."

2. Coloring Easter Eggs: A favorite Easter tradition is creating unique egg designs. To dye Easter eggs safely, make sure everyone washes their hands before and after handling the eggs. Eggs that have cracked during cooking are an easy target for bacteria, so avoid coloring or eating those. Use only food-grade dyes, or make your own from grape juice, tea, beets, blueberries, turmeric, or other natural products.

Instructions for making naturally dyed Easter eggs can be found here.

3. Avoid Choking Hazards: Many families hide plastic Easter eggs, typically filled with a small toy.  For toddlers and crawlers (who will put everything in their mouths), it’s best to use larger plastic eggs that have nothing in them. Small toys are easy for little throats to choke on. If you’re giving your toddler candy, avoid jellybeans and hard candies. Hotdogs are the number one choking hazard for children!

4. Food Allergies: Ask parents if any kids with food allergies will be attending your Easter egg hunt. If so, it’s easier than ever to accommodate them. Peanut-, dairy-, and gluten-free candies are readily available

5. Outdoor Dangers: Take a walk through your lawn or pasture to make sure that all tools and chemicals are removed. Check to see that poison ivy or oak is not present. And don’t forget about anthills – these stinging pests can pop up overnight, particularly after a rain. Any pets that can get over-excited by running and yelling children should be kept inside or in a pen.

6. Speaking of Pets: If your four-legged friends are allowed to join in on the fun, be sure to keep chocolate, Easter grass, and plastic off the ground and out of their reach. Remind the kids (and parents!) not to feed any candy to the dog.

Baby bunnies and chicks are often given to kids at Easter. Many experts agree that these pets do not do well in the hands of small children. They also require consistent care and the proper environment to thrive. Stuffed animals are a much better choice for most children. 

7. Easter Hunt Alternatives: If you’re concerned about certain Easter hunt safety issues; consider an alternative plan. Games can be a huge hit with kids as well as a petting zoo or children’s entertainer. Some Easter game suggestions are: Guessing the number of jelly beans in jar, playing hide and seek, competing in an Easter egg spoon race, playing pin the tail on the Easter Bunny, or you may even want to make up your own games!

Easter celebrations are a favorite family event. Make this Easter a memorable and safe one for your family!

Story sources: Alyssa Baker, http://www.safewise.com/blog/7-tips-for-hosting-safe-easter-egg-hunt/

Maria Vultaggio, http://www.ibtimes.com/how-boil-easter-eggs-without-cracking-them-tips-perfect-hard-boiled-egg-1571632

Photo: http://www.govtedu.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/colorful-eggs-basket-e...

 

 

Parenting

Parents, Encourage Your Child to Stand Up to Bullying!

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We’ve all read the stories about how a crowd of bystanders have not intervened or called the police for help, as someone was being bullied, attacked or beaten. It’s a horrible thought that if you need assistance, no one will respond.

When children grow up in a home that encourages standing up to bullying, they are more likely to step up to the challenge than kids who’ve been taught to stay out of it, according to a recent U.S. study.

About one in 10 children are victims of bullying, and many anti-bullying programs are focused on getting bystanders to intervene, researchers note in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. While previous research has linked certain parenting practices to higher odds that kids will be victims or perpetrators of bullying, less is known about how parents impact what children do as bystanders.

Researchers surveyed more than 1,400 fourth and fifth graders about how their classmates responded in a bullying situation. On average, the kids participating in the study were 11 years old.

They also interviewed parents at home and gave them hypothetical bullying scenarios, asking them how they would advise their children to respond.

In school, kids whose classmates said they might intervene to stop bullies and to comfort victims were more likely to have parents at home who told them getting involved was the right thing to do, the study found. At the same time, kids whose parents told them to stay out of it were both less likely to help victims and more likely to become perpetrators. 

“We were surprised to find that when parents told children not to get involved, children were actually more likely to join in the bullying,” said lead study author Stevie Grassetti, a psychology researcher at the University of Delaware. 

Based on the study results, it makes sense for school anti-bullying efforts to involve parents and endeavor to give children consistent messages about prevention in both settings, the authors conclude.

One limitation of the study is that during school visits; researchers didn’t define what constitutes bullying the authors noted. With home visits, researchers assumed parents gave kids the same advice about the hypothetical incidents that they would offer in real life, which might not always be the case, the researchers also point out.

Parents are role models for how children learn to respond to life’s unpredictable situations. They see and absorb everything their parents say and do. To teach your child compassion and courage, start by being a good example of both and letting them know that standing by and doing nothing to remedy the situation is not an option.

Story source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-children-bullying-parents-idUSK...

Parenting

Happy July 4th!

1:30

This July Fourth marks 240 years since the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and a new nation was formed. It’s one of the biggest and most commemorative holidays of the year. For many American families, the day will be celebrated with friends, flags, good food, parades, music, reunions, water play, fireworks displays and numerous other festive activities.

It’s a great day for patriotic fun with family and friends, but don’t forget about safety and the pets.

Food preparation, sun exposure, water activity, fireworks and our precious pets all require extra attention on this very special holiday!

Drink plenty of water and limit alcohol consumption- especially if children need looking after.

Protect against food poisoning by following these simple rules:

•       Clean: Make sure you clean all surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water.

•       Separate: When grilling, use separate plates and utensils for raw meat and cooked meat and ready-to-eat foods (like raw vegetables) to avoid cross-contamination.

•       Cook: Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer. That’s the only way to know it’s a safe temperature. Remember, burgers should be cooked to 160°F.

•        Chill: Chill raw and prepared foods promptly if not consuming after cooking. You shouldn’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours (or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90° F), so if you’re away from home, make sure you bring a cooler to store those leftovers.

Lots of families will be enjoying water activities at the beach or lake on July Fourth. Make sure your family plays it safe by:

•       Making sure the children – and even adults – always have a life jacket on when in the water or on a motorized water vehicle (boat, jet ski, etc.)

•       Never letting your children swim alone. An adult should always be present and paying attention.

•       Always stepping feet first into shallow water and never try to dive.

•       Reviewing safe boating practices.

•       Always having a phone handy should an emergency arise.

•       Knowing your limits when it comes to water.

Daylight hours are longer during the summer and the sun’s rays can be intense. If possible, limit your exposure to the sun between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn, so make sure they have plenty of sunscreen on. And once again, make sure you and the kids are drinking plenty of water! Watch for signs of heat stroke – rapid, weak pulse, fast, slow breathing, and hot, red skin.

Fireworks and the Fourth of July go hand-in-hand. The best way to protect the family from fireworks injuries is by attending a sponsored and controlled city or community fireworks event. Leave the explosions to the experts and enjoy the nighttime display!

If your city or county allows personal fireworks and you plan on having a few at the house, make sure safety is your first priority.

Fireworks can be dangerous, so in order to prevent injuries and deaths that are related to fireworks, here are a few firework safety tips to follow this Fourth of July:

·      Children should never be allowed to ignite or play with fireworks.

·      An adult should always be supervising firework activity.

·     A fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket of water should always be on hand in the event of a mishap or fire.

·     No one should ever try to pick up or re-ignite a firework that did not ignite properly or fully the first time around.

·     Fireworks should only be lit one at a time and the person lighting them should immediately move away from the firework after lighting it.

And don’t forget about the four-legged family members! Pets don’t associate fireworks with celebrations and most are terrified of the loud explosions and whistles they produce.  Board or keep your pets indoors.

Make sure that lighter fluid and matches are out of your pet’s reach. While it’s tempting to feed your pets left over scraps, keep them on their regular diet. Keep citronella candles, insect coils and tiki torch oil products out of reach. These products can be poisonous to pets. And make sure that your pets have identification tags on them in case they escape. Having your pet chipped is inexpensive and provides a good way for owners to be tracked down in the event that a pet does run away.

July Fourth is a true American tradition. Here’s to having a fun and safe celebration!

Story sources: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/fourth-july-safety-tips

http://www.armymwr.com/july4th-safety.aspx

http://blogs.usda.gov/2012/07/02/four-food-safety-tips-for-the-fourth-how-to-protect-your-family-from-a-surprising-july-4th-danger/

 

 

Parenting

Kids Benefit With Older Moms

2:00

Many women are waiting till they are older to have their first child, but their offspring may be the one that reaps the most benefit, according to a new study from Denmark.

Older mothers are less likely to scold or punish their young children, and those children tend to have fewer behavioral, social and emotional problems, the study suggests.

According to researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark, older moms tend to have more stable relationships, are more educated, and have more wealth and resources.

"We know that people become more mentally flexible with age, are more tolerant of other people and thrive better emotionally themselves," researcher Dion Sommer said in a university news release.

One theory as to why older mothers may make better parents is that they tend to be more psychologically mature.

Sommer noted, “that may explain why older mothers do not scold and physically discipline their children as much."

This type of upbringing may contribute to a more positive environment to grow up in.

In the study, the investigators looked at data from a random sample of just over 4,700 Danish mothers.

Among their findings: older moms generally resorted less to verbal and physical punishment than younger moms did — though those findings did get a little wobbly at the 15-year point.

The children of older mothers also had fewer behavioral, social and emotional problems than kids of younger mothers, at least at the 7- and 11-year-old points, while adolescence again seemed to muddy things up. The study controlled for factors like income and education, and attributed the results mostly to the greater patience and steadiness that comes to adults as they age.

Other studies, pointed out in a TIME Health article, have shown benefits for older moms, including:

Older moms live longer: react-text: 234 According to a 2016 study, of 28,000 U.S. women, those who had their first child after age 25 were 11% likelier to live to age 90 than those who became mothers younger. A 2014 study took this even further, finding that women who gave birth after age 33 were 50% likelier to live to age 95 than women who had their last child when they were 29 or younger. One caveat — and it’s a big one: the cause-and-effect still has not been determined, so it’s possible the older moms were simply healthier to begin with.

Their kids are taller and smarter. According to a 2016 study published in Population and Development Review. The investigators surveyed 1.5 million men and women in Sweden and found that those born to older mothers were more physically fit, had better grades when they were in school and had at least a small height advantage over people born to younger mothers. Again, causation was uncertain, allowing for the possibility that mothers who started off healthier and were able to have kids later may have simply passed those robust genes onto their children. Demographics — especially regarding income and education — may have also been at work. Wealthier moms with higher power jobs are likelier to have the financial flexibility to delay childbearing, bringing them into the cohort of older moms. More money can also mean better nutrition. Still, 1.5 million is an impressive sample group.

Older moms have more energy than you’d think: A study of mothers who had babies via egg donation after age 50 — well and truly beyond the point at which most women consider conceiving — found that they had levels of energy and physical function similar to women who had babies in their 30s and 40s.

So there you have it, women who are considering waiting a little while to start a family can do as well or better than younger women raising children, depending on their general health and outlook.

Many experts advise women not to wait too long to have children, due to declining fertility and increased risk of problems such as miscarriage, preterm birth and birth defects.

"However, when estimating the consequences of the rising maternal age, it's important to consider both the physical and psychosocial pros and cons," Sommer said.

The Denmark study was published recently in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, HealthDay reporter, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20170323/older-mothers-may-raise-better-behaved-kids-study-suggests

Jeffrey Kluger, http://time.com/4709403/older-mother-benefits/

 

Parenting

Spring-Cleaning Kid’s Stuff!

2:00

Traditionally, spring is when we review what is needed and what needs to go. Clutter that has been growing throughout the years is viewed with fresh eyes once the season of renewal begins.

Along with typical household items, all the extraneous, broken and outgrown kid’s stuff can begin to take a toll. It takes up a lot of space and requires constant picking up. Clothes are beginning to look like a small mountain made of material, buttons and zippers.

Organization and prioritizing are the keys to making the job of spring-cleaning work.

When you’re ready to tackle the kid’s stuff- make them a part of the process. From arts and crafts to toys and clothing – get their input and give them choices. You, however, make the final decision on what stays or goes.

Here are a list of items to start with and how kids can have input:

1. Artwork. Kids love to create things, but not everything is a masterpiece. Encourage your child to pick out a few drawings, paintings or pottery works that are their favorites. Consider framing those pieces and putting them up in their rooms. For the other works of art that you like or they are having trouble letting go- take photos and store them on your computer, so you have a record of their creations! If your child is old enough, ask them to be the photographer.

2. Clothing. Sometimes getting rid of clothing is harder (for sentimental reasons) on the parents than the kids. I admit to being guilty of this. I still have several pieces of clothing from when my adult daughter was a toddler or baby. They are stored in a chest of memories. For all the rest, sort clothing that is likely to be passed on to either family members or friends, and ones that are ready for donation. Torn and stained clothing needs to be tossed out. Family homeless shelters always need good, clean children’s clothes.

3. Collections. Many kids are collectors, everything from bugs to superhero gadgets to valuable sports cards. Whatever your child chooses to collect is a symbol of their unique personality and interests. Managing collections provide early lessons on personal responsibility and organizing. Take an interest in what your child is collecting and find a way to honor the collection while respecting the space available to store it. It’s enriching for children to learn about limits and become comfortable making decisions to live within them. It’s also a time to learn about boundaries for collecting stuff. Many a hoarder began with a specific collection and moved on to collecting everything – unable to let go of anything. Have your child pick one collection to focus on and explain what they like about it.

4. Stuffed animals. Because they are so darn cute, stuffed animals seem to multiply like rabbits (particularly stuffed rabbits!) Culling these furry creatures can be difficult for parents and kids. Lots of children receive many more stuffed animals than they can play with or use. Overtime, they outgrow the attraction they once felt towards certain ones. Give your child a number that they can keep and let them make the decision of what stays and goes. Again, this is an area where other children can benefit from and enjoy the gifts donated by your child.

5. Arts and Crafts. If you have a child, then you’ve also got crayons, coloring books, paper, dried up markers and pens that don’t work. Grab a doodle pad and bring all the supplies to a table. Have fun sorting with your kids while making quick decisions about what’s worth keeping and what’s not. If you haven’t got one, consider creating a travel pack of supplies for use in transit. Extras in great shape can be donated. Use for birthday party decorations and activities.

6. Sports equipment. This is an area a lot of parents don’t think too much about but these things can fill a closet or garage in a few short years. Equipment that will be used next year should be cleaned and stored in a bin. Some sports items in good condition can be sold, put on consignment, passed on or donated to leagues.

7. Toys. Ah yes, toys… the biggest space eater of all. Kids these days have a tremendous amount of toy options. Between marketing, fads, peers and commercials there is an endless push for the latest, greatest new toy. How many of these once “gotta-haves” are now just filling up space and providing objects to trip over? Most of the same rules from above apply here. If it’s broken- it’s gone. If it’s not played with any longer- it’s gone. If it’s become a pet chew-toy- it’s gone. Organization is particularly important for toy collections. Bins can provide a good storage option if they used, but they can also become trash cans where all toys go even if they are just pieces. Its time clean them out.

Have your child pick out their favorite toys and decide which ones he or she would like to donate or throw out.

Sort and assign a bin by type. Good toys that your child has simply outgrown can be gifted to nieces and nephews and friends of your child. Intact toys that can still be played with can be donated. Broken toys should be trashed. For certain types of materials, you might want to check on finding a recycling bin.

During this cleaning expedition, you may need to gently point out a toy’s condition to your little one, “I know that play oven was one of your favorite toys, but it doesn’t stand anymore and the front door is missing. Maybe it’s time to let it go.”

And then there’s always Ebay, might as well make a little back on the thousands you’ve spent, especially on video games!

Spring-cleaning is a good time to re-evaluate what needs to stay and what needs to go. I think we’re all aware that it’s time-consuming, but clearing out the clutter not only gives you more space and organization, but also feels great when it’s done!

Story source: Clare Kumar, http://www.todaysparent.com/family/activities/spring-cleaning-with-kids/

 

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