Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tips to Protect Your Child's Skin this Summer

Many thanks to Amy Williams for these terrific tips in her article for the Whole Hearted Parenting blog!


By Amy Williams
Our children are born with flawless skin, but with age and the elements, skin can become irritated and damaged. With the start of summer vacation only days away, parents need to stock up on skincare products to ensure happy and healthy summer skin. Because once Memorial weekend hits, our kids will be busy running outside, swimming, and playing sports.
According to Kidshealth.org, much of the sun exposure our skin receives happens before age 18.  Protecting skin at an early age helps ensure that skin receives the minimal amount of damage from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. And don’t be fooled by overcast summer skies, those sneaky UVA/UVB rays can break past the clouds.
But children’s skin is going to be prone beyond damage from the sun. Bug bites, poison ivy, eczema and even drying soaps can cause irritation and sensitivity. While parents can’t protect their child from every pesky mosquito or rash, there are products that help heal red, itchy, irritated or damaged skin. Make sure your medicine cabinets are stocked with these must-have summer skin remedies to keep your child’s skin healthy and happy!
OTC Anti-Itch Creams or Colloidal Oatmeal
The summer is the time when most kids will have a brush with Poison Ivy or Poison Oak. Parents will notice an itchy rash that might begin to ooze. To soothe itchy rashes, have a child soak in a lukewarm bath with colloidal oatmeal. Or you may also use an anti-itch cream like Cortizone to keep scratching at bay. However, always check with your child’s pediatrician before using any medication for your child. And if poison ivy rashes seem unmanageable—either in size or irritation—call the doctor!
Parents of older kids—especially preteens and teens—should stock up on products for shaving irritation. Summer is the prime shaving time, and ingrown hairs can be especially irritating…especially on the face or in areas where sweat accumulates.
Sunscreen
You cannot go through summer without sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology urges that consumers look for three things in a sunscreen: one that provides a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, is water resistant and that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Infants older than six months of age need to use sunscreen with “an SPF of at least 15,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Parents should not use sunscreen on babies under age six months and need to keep their skin protected in other ways. Parents also should keep infants from being out when the sun is at its most intense—typically, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
And, yes, sunscreen should be reapplied after getting wet, toweling off or sweating…or per the instructions on the bottle (no sunscreen lasts all day!).

Moisturizers and Essential Oils
Kid’s skin loses moisture just like ours does. Keep that delicate skin baby soft with a good moisturizer. Look for unscented products formulated for children or babies….but be sure to skip any moisturizers that contain a form of alcohol called ethanol which can dry out the skin.
Some parents love essential oils. Argan oil and coconut oils are great for keeping skin moisturized and soft. Be careful using coconut oil, however, as it may clog pores. With oils, a little goes a long way so don’t slather it on heavily. According to an article on Babble.com, coconut oil also may be used to treat diaper rash. Opt for organic unrefined cold-pressed oils. 
Be cautious when buying moisturizers or skin products like lotions and soaps that claim to be natural. According to an American Academy of Dermatology press release that addressed the misinformation of the safety of children’s skin products, labels like organic or natural don’t equate to better quality. The release included a Q&A format featuring Dermatologist Renee Howard, M.D. and associate clinical professor of dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, who addressed common concerns about children’s skincare.
“Natural products aren’t necessarily safer, and many have had very limited testing,” said Dr. Howard in the press release. “Some of these products may not be as effective as traditional skin care products.”
Antibiotic Ointment & Gauze

Kids will fall down and scrape their knees and elbows. Accidents happen, but parents need to treat cuts properly to prevent infection. If the cut is bleeding, apply pressure to the area. Once the bleeding stops, clean the wound, apply an antibiotic ointment and use a bandage. And don’t let kids pick their scabs! While parents can’t always prevent scarring, keeping cuts cared for will help skin heal faster. For serious injuries, dial 911!
Aloe
Sunburns happen even when parents are meticulous with sunscreen application. Keep burned skin cool by applying an aloe gel to the affected area. Parents also may invest in an aloe plant for the home. Break off a leaf and apply the healing gel inside to the burn.
A child’s unblemished skin should be properly protected during the hot summer months, when kids are at their most active. Cuts, sunburns and rashes are a part of childhood, but the right skincare products will help keep skin from grow up bearing the scars from summer mishaps.
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Being Aware of Your Child's Needs


Making the transition from the school year into summer can sometimes be a little shaky, especially for children who find transitions challenging.  One tip from our book Glide into Summer: Twenty Ways to Create an Amazing Summer is to be aware of your child's needs (and your own!).  

When we get our needs met, we feel in balance.  Our “love tanks” are full.  When we help our children get their needs met in positive ways, they feel encouraged and they misbehave less.  There is no need to act out to feel powerful if our child already feels powerful and influential.

When a child shifts from the comfortably familiar classroom to his new summer activities, he is searching for new ways to belong and to feel valuable, special, powerful, and loved.  He is looking for new ways to experiment and explore.  This search for new ways to get his needs met is stressful.  The more you are aware of those needs, the more you can help him transition smoothly.  Have empathy as he looks for ways to belong with the new group at camp.  Give him opportunities to lead (make choices, teach you something, make decisions for the family) at home.  His contributions to his "school family" are no longer happening, so search for ways for him to feel valuable through contribution at home.  Even when he misbehaves, let him know you love him.  You may not like the behavior AND you love him!   

Get your free copy of Glide into Summer here

Monday, May 15, 2017

Great Summer Vacation Ideas!


Many thanks to Amy Williams for another terrific article for the Whole Hearted Parenting Blog!
  
By Amy Williams
As the school year comes to a close, families are beginning to make their summer plans. According to Statisticbrain.com, 45 percent of Americans head off for a vacation during summertime and almost 20 percent of those trips will be destined for Florida.
While Orlando is an especially popular retreat for families, resorts and parks like Disney, SeaWorld and Universal Studios can be overwhelming with the summer crowds of tourists. Disney might be many children’s dream vacation, but it’s best to schedule a trip during off-season…and not the busy (and hot!) summer months! 
Kids and their families can discover exciting adventures this summer without getting caught in major tourist traps…and fighting through the crowds and long ride lines. If you’re still looking for the perfect family destination, check out these kid-friendly hotspots:
Holiday World (Santa Claus, Indiana)
Holiday World is the ideal family theme park; offering rides that range from extreme to toddler-friendly. Each area of the park—and the accompanying attractions--is themed for a different holiday, including Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. Kids can ride in giant turkeys, soar in an eagle, and take a ride on the Mayflower (it’s a giant swinging boat)! Parents will love the variety of attractions and the free sunscreen, soft drinks, Wi-Fi…and parking!
Wisconsin Dells (Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin)

Marketing itself as “The Waterpark Capital of the World, The Dells features both indoor and outdoor parks and a whole lot of family fun. While the Dells might be known for its water parks, the area also hosts multiple amusement parks, museums (including the Mid-Continent Railway Museum), and skiing. Parents can head out to enjoy wineries and breweries.
Grand Canyon National Park (Grand Canyon, Arizona)
Childhood isn’t complete without visiting the Grand Canyon. Go on a trek down the canyon, white water raft or just take in the view. There are many options for lodging, and families may also camp…just make sure to make reservations in advance!
Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park, Calif.)
Roller coasters, water rides and…Peanuts! The characters hanging around Knott’s Berry Farm come straight out of the imagination of Charles Schulz. Kids can snap a picture with Snoopy and Charlie Brown and other favorite characters. While you’re enjoying the park, don’t forget to check out the jams and preserves…it is, after all, Knott’s Berry Farm.
Road Trip!
Pack your bags and hit the road. Map out a route with fun destinations along the way. Make stops at fun roadside attractions, grab a bite at local restaurants or pay a visit to national landmarks. Get together as a family and talk about the sites you plan to visit and where the family will camp or stay. Or surprise kids with a top secret trip! It’s all about the destination!
There are so many places to visit this summer. Research the areas of the country your family wants to see and begin planning your trip now. Make sure to set a budget, so you don’t get overwhelmed with the costs. If a certain destination seems out of your price point, research similar areas or shop around for discount tickets and deals. You will find your family’s ideal summer vacation…Bon Voyage!
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The When, Why, and How of Getting Your Child Their First Pet


Many thanks to Amy Williams, our guest blogger, for another terrific article!


By Amy Williams

Many people grow up dreaming about finding their dream job, getting married, having children, living in a nice house, and perhaps buying a family pet. Of course, dreams don’t always work out the way they were supposed to, and that’s what makes life so interesting. If you do go on to have children who want a cat, dog, or any other animal, how do you decide what to do?

Many parents can testify to having purchased a pet for their children – only to see these same children lose interest and balk at cleaning after Sammy the dog, changing the litter box for Pretty Paws the cat, or filling up the water bowl for Hammy the hamster. So how do you figure out if your children are ready for their first pet?. Read on to learn the nitty-gritty on how to decide.

When
It goes without saying that owning a pet is a serious commitment and is best done following careful consideration.  Depending on the type of animal you choose, you may be taking care of it for perhaps 10 to 15 years or maybe even more in some cases.  If you've mulled it over and think that it is time to get your children their first pet, how do you decide when to do so?


Consider this: If your children are both old enough to and willing to shoulder some of the responsibility for taking care of a cat, dog, or other animal, they might be ready for their first pet. You might be interested in knowing that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says that children between the ages of five and 10 are usually old enough to get a pet that requires only a small amount of care like a gerbil or a goldfish. You, as the parent, will still need to help with cleaning the animal’s living environment, feeding it, and doing other things that may be outside of the scope of your children’s' capability. If you want to get a dog, for example, consider the size of the animal so that you choose a dog that your children can manage.

Why
There are various reasons why you might decide to give your children their first pet. For instance, you might observe that they are old enough and responsible enough to do their fair share in caring for the animal – providing that they truly want a pet. You might also see having a pet as a way to teach them to shoulder duties such as cleaning a fish tank, taking a dog for a walk, or feeding a pet rat. There are also health benefits to having a pet. Pet ownership can help people to safeguard their mental health, to remain asthma-free, and to get exercise.

How
In terms of how to go about it, you need to kick things off by first deciding what sort of pet should be your children’s first pet. Then you need to do some research to find out as much as you can about the type of animal you plan to bring welcome into your family. This is a good time to get the children involved. They’ll love learning more about their future pet in anticipation of the day you bring it home. You’ll also want to ensure that you have the necessary equipment and supplies to properly take care of their pet so that there is a smooth transition once you make the introductions!

Getting your children their first pet time will be an exciting experience for them and for you. Before making the final decision, consider when, why, and how to go about it. Once you’ve feel satisfied with answering these three questions, you’re good to go!

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Difference Accountability and Respect Can Make


A part of The Peaceful Project's Community in Unity Program centers on respect for self and others.  It means seeing yourself and others from their highest place, which could be higher than the vision the person has of themselves in that moment.  It means speaking respectfully to others as well as internally, having respectful self-talk. There is also accountability for behaving in a way that reflects one's highest self.  The best example of this in action was shared by a teacher at a school we had recently visited.  I love this story!

The fourth grade teacher was aware that a one of her students was coming to class with a shaved head. The student's mother had shaved her head because her daughter didn’t wash her hair. [The mother's reaction is an entirely different topic.]  The teacher made all of the students aware of what happened before the young girl got to school, and everyone in the class welcomed her warmly.  There was one student who didn't hear the teacher's explanation of what had happened to his classmate because he had arrived to class late. When he saw the girl with the shaved head, he began to mock her. Two students rose and stood between the girl and the boy who was mocking her.  The two students literally quoted the trust agreement that we had done in the workshop, holding the boy accountable for his agreement to respect his fellow classmates, reminding him that mocking her was not respectful.  The teacher was thrilled with their leadership and that they handled the classroom conflict without her intervention. 

That is the power of Community in Unity!  I invite you to support our work by making a contribution to The Peaceful Project on May 11th, GiveSTLDay.  Simply click here to reach our page with the St. Louis Community Foundation.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Benefits of Yoga for Children

Many thanks to our guest contributor, Amy Williams, for another great article!



by Amy Williams 

Being a child today is not the same as growing up when we were kids. Our children are faced with many more stressors at a much earlier age than any previous generation.  They engage in ‘school’ and social groups before they can walk and talk, begin playing sports earlier and with higher performance expectations, talk about college prep and SAT scores prior to hitting puberty, face temptation from every direction with unlimited access available at their fingertips, and every bit of their angst and typical preteen awkwardness is captured on social media for the world to witness. This doesn’t even include the historical difficulties children have always had to face.

In other words, being a kid today is tough. Fortunately, there are some simple remedies to help combat all the negative stressors in their young lives. One of the best is getting them involved in yoga. It is pretty commonly known that yoga builds muscle, improves posture, reduces stress, enhances mood, and increases focus in adults. These benefits are being found to be even more meaningful for children when taught correctly and practiced regularly. Yoga has been shown to help children mentally, physically, behaviorally, and socially.  It teaches skills that support them at home, in the classroom, on the playing field, and in their relationships. In turn, these are skills they will be able to carry into their adult lives.

One of the primary aspects of yoga is teaching mindfulness. This influences children by cultivating a peaceful mindset, enhancing concentration and focus, teaching tools for stress management, reducing anxiety, and encouraging kindness.  For example, yoga teaches children to utilize deep breathing, to clear their minds of negative thoughts, and to have patience with their poses. It teaches them to accept where their body will currently let them go, as well as how to cooperate with other children in the class who may be at different levels. It teaches acceptance and positivity without competitiveness.

Additionally, yoga is an excellent way to increase self-esteem and body awareness as young children learn what their bodies are capable of doing. By maintaining and increasing flexibility and strength as they grow, they become more confident and self-assured while also learning self-discipline.  Posture and muscular development improves, as well as their overall physical and mental health. Adding even more benefit, there are child specific yoga classes that encourage creativity as they are guided to imagine different settings and create their own poses.

The benefits of yoga for children are bountiful and very easy to implement. Whether you find a yoga class for your child or do it with them at home, start with the simplest poses such as cobra, mountain, tree, and downward dog.  Child’s pose is also appropriate, as the name itself proposes. These are easy for children to master and are packed with benefits. As your child becomes more involved and their skills increase, you can add more poses and create your own routines together. Ultimately, they will be able to continue with an independent yoga practice as they journey through the teenage years into adulthood, reaping the benefits along the way.

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Developing Motor Skills with Outdoor Spring Activities


By Amy Williams

Spring is in the air and that means green grass, fresh flowers, and sunny days are here at last. As the remnants of winter finally melt away, the warmer spring weather is a welcome reprieve from those long unending days of being cooped up inside. This change of seasons provides you with the perfect opportunity to get outside and explore fun activities to develop your children’s motor skills in a supportive and natural environment. 

Motor skills are broken into two main categories – gross and fine motor skills – each focusing on different muscle groups and movements. Gross motor skills focus on movements that are large in nature and require the larger body muscles to move. Running, jumping, skipping, and throwing are good examples of these skills. While these are important skills to develop balance and stability, fine motor skills are also needed. This skill set uses smaller muscle movements often found in the wrists and hands. Fine motions help kids write, tie their shoes, open doors, and zip their coats. 

Our child’s happiness and well-being makes it important for us to include plenty of opportunities to develop gross and fine motor skills by building them into their routines. It is recommended that we work on developing motor skills at least 3 times a week. Thankfully, Mother Nature has given us the perfect spring backdrop to make this a reality.

Here are some fun ideas for building motor skills:

Play a game of shadow tag. Use the sunlight to play a fun running game of tag. Take turns being “it” and try catching each other by stepping on the other person’s shadows. This is a fun way to spend a sunny afternoon and learn about shadows in the process.

Visit the park. Take advantage of the local playground and use these neighborhood gathering spots as a resource this spring. Encourage kids to learn how to swing, climb equipment, or run around the play areas to provide opportunities to use gross motor skills.

Hop to it! Encourage motor skills with a game of hopscotch. This game combines both groups of motor skills in a fun and entertaining game. Have children draw the classic ladder of boxes on the sidewalk with chalk to practice writing and controlling the smaller muscles in their hands. Then, take advantage of the throwing and hopping to strengthen gross motor skills. The beauty of this game is its adaptability for all levels and varieties of fine motor skills.

Have a ball. Today’s children might love their technology, but they still enjoy playing with balls. Play a game of catch or kick the ball back and forth. For more fun, branch out and teach the kids how to bounce or dribble the ball.

Blow up some fun. Nothing says spring like bubbles! Allow kids to blow, chase, or pop the soapy orbs to develop hand-eye coordination while encouraging the use of large muscles needed for running.

Create a backyard training course. Take direction from the popular American Ninja Warrior show and design a course for the kids. Most children love the challenge obstacle courses provide and they won’t even be aware of the fact that you are helping them work on gross motor skills. 

Fly a kite. Spring gusts can provide the perfect afternoon entertainment, and kite flying requires a combination of gross and fine motor skills. 

Grow something green. Grab some seeds and head outside to plant some veggies or flowers. You don’t need to commit to an entire garden.  A container of herbs or pot of flowers for the kids will suffice. Digging in the dirt, hauling water, planting, and pruning are wonderful ways to work small and large muscle groups.

Get artsy. Bring out the sidewalk chalk or paints to let children color the neighborhood. Unending sidewalks allow for unlimited creativity and provide chances to develop fine motor skills as they draw.

Play in the sand. Sand play is a wonderful way to encourage both sets of motor skills. Kids can dig and carry buckets to build strength, while manipulating sand helps develop finger dexterity.

How do you develop motor skills in your children?

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.