Just Breathe: The Importance of Meditation Breaks for Kids

Our kids’ brains are tired, and children of all ages really need opportunities where they can take time out each day “unplugged” to relax and focus. Meditation offers this break and helps kids function more effectively and clearly.

Children today also have reportedly high stress levels. To help them take a break, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to share meditation with their children—and teachers to incorporate mindfulness training into their lesson plans.

The simple act of teaching children how to stop, focus, and just breathe could be one of the greatest gifts you give them.

Meditation Options for Children

Meditative practices have been used since ancient times to improve health and well-being. But, just as an athlete may do different exercises, people who practice meditation often use different types.

The most common types of meditation practice are concentration, mindfulness, movement based, cultivating positive emotions, and emptying. There are specific examples and ways to practice each type.

 

Many meditation practices use breathing techniques to promote a state of calm. Mindfulness meditation on breath, perhaps the most well-known type, involves sitting quietly, resting or closing your eyes and bringing your attention to your breath. When your attention drifts away, which it is likely to do, simply usher your attention back to your breath without judgment.  You don’t need years of meditative practice to benefit from this technique, nor do your children.

There’s no doubt, however, that sitting still for any length of time can be difficult for some kids. For this reason, a movement-based meditation, such as yoga, may serve as a good introduction.

Research on the Benefits of Meditation in Children

Meditation is used to rest the mind, body and spirit. This, in turn, has many mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. Mindfulness meditation, specifically, is gaining a foothold in disease prevention and treatment.

A number of studies in school settings also show improved attention and behavior. Some research has shown benefits for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, school performance, sleep, behavior problems, and eating disorders. For example, a trial of 300 low-income, minority urban middle-schoolers using school-based mindfulness instruction led to improved psychological functioning and lower levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

There are also physical benefits as it calms the nervous system and decreases stress hormones. Studies have shown benefits for gastrointestinal symptoms, obesity, headaches, high blood pressure, pain sensitivity, and immune function. For example, a trial looking at the effect of mindful breathing meditation at a summer camp of 166 teens at risk for cardiovascular disease found that breathing awareness produced a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate.

Meditation Tips

Meditation does not have a set of rules, but there are some tips that can help.

  • The length of time and frequency of meditating can vary for different people and different practices. But, pediatricians typically recommend the following time frames:
    • Preschool children: A few minutes per day.
    • Gradeschool children: 3-10 minutes twice a day.
    • Teens and adults: 5-45 minutes per day or more based on preference.
  • Try incorporating deep breathing into your children’s daily bedtime routine—it can help them wind down for the night and make meditation easier to do when other situations arise.
  • Remind gradeschoolers and teens to take a few deep breaths before answering a difficult question at school, taking a test, or before an athletic performance.
  • As young children learn to manage strong emotions, deep breathing can be part of the process—especially before and after time outs.
  • While meditation can be done on your own, it can also be done with the help of a trained professional. Some counselors and individuals with training in meditation can help others learn and practice meditation.
  • Meditation is not currently covered by most insurance plans unless given by a licensed counselor. It is always best to check with your individual plan. Flexible medical spending programs may count meditation training as a medical expense.
  • There are multiple ways to learn different practices of meditation. There are books, audio recordings, videos, online training, websites, and even smartphone apps to help children meditate. Choose and practice the one that works the best for you and your child, and enjoy a calmer body, mind and spirit.

Talk to Your Pediatrician

Since meditation practices are generally safe and have many possible benefits, they can be used without much risk. As with any lifestyle change, however, it is best to discuss it with your child’s pediatrician before adding meditative practices to your child’s wellness routine.


Source: Section on Integrative Medicine (Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Permission to Unplug: The Health Benefits of Yoga for Kids

Yoga offers a release from today’s fast-paced and tech-heavy world. It only demands that your child “unplug” and leave his or her phone (and shoes) behind—focusing solely on the action of connecting breath and movement. Yoga can help kids learn to live in the moment, focus on the task at hand, and handle problems peacefully. The more often your child practices yoga, the greater the benefits.

Yoga: More Than Exercise, More Than Sport

While any sport played well activates the mind in addition to the body, the practice of yoga is meant to bring the two together. Yoga is much more profound than merely the yoga postures we are familiar with from classes, videos, or movies. It involves a combination of certain postures (asanas), regulated breathing techniques (pranayamas), hand poses (mudras), and meditation (dhyanas).

Each particular body posture has been cultivated and fine-tuned over thousands of years to bring about specific effects in the mind and body. Whether a pose is done standing, sitting, or lying down, each one can challenge various muscle groups. At the same time, a child becomes more aware of his or her body and how it functions. Some yoga poses are harder than others, and even flexible kids in good shape should start slowly.

Yoga for cross-training

Many student-athletes, for example, practice yoga as a way to cross-train and prevent overuse injuries. Runners strengthen and stretch the hips, legs, and Achilles tendons. Baseball players strengthen the arms and upper body muscles. Gymnasts increase flexibility, balance, and concentration.

Health Benefits of Yoga

Children and teens are an ideal population to benefit from the therapeutic and health benefits of yoga.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends yoga as a safe and potentially effective therapy for children coping with emotional, mental, physical, and behavioral health conditions.

Children with special needs, for example, often have tension and rigid muscle tone—yoga can help with this. Stretching the body can relieve tension and holding yoga poses increases strength when practiced regularly. Yoga also has many bending and stretching poses that can help move and stimulate the digestive system and relieve constipation. Additional physical benefits from yoga include:

  • Regulated blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Regulated hormone levels
  • Decreased abdominal pain in children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Improved balance​

A study in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy found that daily yoga helps children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remain calm and lowered their levels of aggression, social withdrawal, and anxiety. Further, a study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics found that yoga during PE classes reduced teen mood problems and anxiety and also led to higher test scores. In numerous other studies, yoga has repeatedly been shown to improve:

  • Self-confidence
  • Mood
  • Stress reduction
  • Anxiety
  • Concentration
  • Hyperactivity
  • Classroom behaviors
  • Emotional balance

Parents: Calm Breathing Can Be Contagious!

It’s good for parents to put down their phones, too! Tantrums, sleepless nights, and morning rushing, for example, test our limits. In times like these, it can be very effective to take a few deep breaths instead of losing control of your own temper.

Basic yoga breathing and a simple pose or two can be important tools for managing a range of stresses and pain as well as everyday challenges. Lead by example. Get your child involved in yoga—or better yet—try a class yourself! Namaste.


Source Section on Integrative Medicine (Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Helping Children Handle Stress

​​​​As children reach their school-age years, they may experience pressure from a number of sources. These may be from within children themselves, as well as from parents, teachers, peers and the larger society.

This pressure can take many forms, to which children must respond and adapt. Whether these are events are lasting, like the divorce of their parents, or merely a minor hassle like losing their homework, these demands or stresses are a part of children’s daily lives.

There is a silver lining is that when children get the chance to practice setbacks at younger ages. They develop resilience and the tools needed to be an independent adult and handle future challenges.

​Dealing with stress in daily life

Children welcome some events and are able to adapt to them with relative ease. Other events may feel to them like threats to their own or the family’s daily routines or general sense of well-being. These stresses can be more troublesome.​ Most stress faced by children is somewhere in the middle: neither welcomed nor seriously harmful, but rather a part of accomplishing the tasks of childhood and learning about themselves.

Children may have to cope with a bully on the playground, a move to a new neighborhood, a parent’s serious illness or the disappointment of a poor sports performance. They might feel a constant, nagging pressure to dress the “right” way, or to achieve ​the high grades that can put them on rack toward the “right” college. Children may also worry about making friends, dealing with peer pressure, or overcoming a physical injury or disability.

Children are sensitive not only to the changes around them, but also to the feelings and reactions of their parents. This is true even if those feelings are not communicated directly in words. If a parent loses a job, children will have to adjust to their family’s financial crisis; they must deal not only with the obvious family budgetary changes but also with the changes in their parents’ emotional states.

Good and bad stress

Not all stress is a bad thing. Moderate amounts of pressure from a teacher or a coach, for example, can motivate a child to keep her grades up in school or to participate more fully in athletic activities. Successfully managing stressful situations or events enhances a child’s ability to cope in the future.

Children are future adults, and through these experiences, they develop resilience and learn how to deal with life’s inevitable bumps and hurdles. However, when the stress is continuous or particularly intense, it can take a toll on both the psyche and the body.

Major events, especially those that forever change a child’s family, such as the death of a parent, can have lasting effects on children’s psychological health and well-being. Minor daily stresses can also have consequences.

Sudden stressful events will accelerate your child’s breathing and heartbeat, constrict blood vessels, increase blood pressure and muscle tension, and perhaps cause stomach upset and headaches. As stress persists, it can make a child more susceptible to illness and experience fatigue, loss of sleep,  nightmares, teeth-grinding, poor appetite, tantrums, or depression. Children may become irritable or their school grades​ may suffer. Their behavior and their willingness to cooperate may change.

How stress can affect children

A child’s age and development will help determine how stressful a given situation may be. Changing teachers at midyear may be a major event for a child in the first grade and merely an annoyance for a sixth-grader. How a child perceives and responds to stress depends in part on development, in part on experience, and in part on a child’s individual temperament.

How different children cope with stress

Children’s temperaments vary, and so can their ability to cope with stress and daily hassles. Some are easygoing by nature and adjust easily to events and new situations. Others are thrown off balance by changes in their lives.

All children improve in their ability to handle stress if they:

  • previously succeeded in managing challenges and feel able to do so
  • have a strong sense of self-esteem.
  • have emotional support from family and friends.

Children who have a clear sense of personal competence, and who feel loved and supported, generally do well. Talk with your pediatrician about ways to help your child manage stress.


Source: Adapted from Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12, 3rd edition (Copyright © 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Taking a Mental Health Day Off from School

Taking a Mental Health Day Off from School: A Pediatrician-Mom’s Perspective by Hansa Bhargava, MD, FAAP

“I’m exhausted. Can I please have a day off from school?” My first instinct when one of my kids asks a question like this is to push them to get out of bed and get going. But when my daughter woke up last Friday and asked this question, I hesitated. My daughter has had a crazy month. Along with her usual load of 6th grade quizzes, tests, and homework, she’s had to stay at school until 7pm almost every day for rehearsals for the school play. After that, it’s a long drive home through traffic, and then dinner. She’s not able to sit down and start her load of homework until 8:30pm.

As a working mom and pediatrician, I’ve had weeks like these. The only difference is that I don’t have homework, studying, and projects to do when I get home after a very long day. And even without all of that, I will honestly admit, I have felt the need for a “mental health day.”

Kids and Stress

What I’m seeing as a pediatrician is that more and more kids are incredibly stressed. Not only have their academics been ramped up, but they are expected to do higher-level sports, high-level arts, and be on the go constantly. For many children, the lazy, after school, neighborhood playtime is long gone―as are the long summers of being bored.

What Parents Can Do

All kids are different and some can handle more than others. But as parents, we need to listen to our kids and know their limits. Studies have actually shown that boredom and long periods of unscheduled time can actually spur creativity and out of the box thinking, as well as reset the emotional needle. We ALL need this―and the kids do, too.

So, let’s all take time regularly to have that break. Reset and recharge by staying home, by being with family, or by just simply taking a walk and looking at the trees and the spring flowers. It will calm our soul and give us the “mental break” we need to recharge ourselves.

That day, I gave my daughter what she asked for. I did let her stay home and just be. And the next day, she was ready to go full force again.


Source: Copyright © 2018 Hansa Bhargava, MD, FAAP. The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Cuts, Scrapes & Scar Management: Parent FAQs

It is almost impossible for a curious and active child to avoid some scrapes and cuts. And…while a kiss from mom or dad and some TLC is often all that is needed, it sometimes takes a little more know-how to help wounds heal properly.

The following FAQs will help you prevent serious bleeding and other problems such as scarring when your child gets a cut.

What’s the best way to treat a small cut or scrape?

Almost all active bleeding can be stopped by applying direct pressure with clean gauze or cloth over the site for five or ten minutes. The most common mistake is interrupting the pressure too early in order to peek at the wound.

  • Once bleeding stops: Gently wash the wound with soap and water for five minutes. If your child persistently objects, try soaking the wound in the bathtub. Cleaning the wound will decrease the chance of infection and prevent dark spots caused by dirt trapped in the skin.
  • After cleaning: Apply a small amount of antibacterial ointment to keep the wound moist and cover it with a dry gauze or bandage until healed.

How do I know whether or not my child needs stitches?

Here are some guidelines to help you determine whether or not stitches are needed:

  • Cuts that go all of the way through the skin may benefit from stitches.
  • Any cut that is gaping open with visible dark red muscle or yellowish fat should probably be closed, even if it is small.
  • Any cut that is gaping and is more than ½ inch long should probably be closed. Get a ruler and measure it if you are not sure. Cuts smaller than this may not require closure, but if they are gaping, then it is best to have them checked out.
  • Small cuts that are not gaping may not require actual stitches but may still benefit from steri-strips.
  • If your child has a cut that is deep, gaping, or in a cosmetically sensitive area, call your pediatrician to determine if stitches are needed.

What are the options available nowadays for closing a small cut?

  • Skin glue was approved for use in 1998 and has become very popular. It is applied by rubbing it over the cut while the cut is being held closed. It is a good choice for straight cuts and is quick and painless. If done well, the cosmetic outcome is the same as stitches. However, it cannot be used to close a wound that has any tension on it from muscle usage. This is because skin glue is not as strong as stitches and, when used in areas of tension, the risk of the cut reopening is high.
  • Steri-strips (or “butterfly” bandage closures) are narrow adhesive strips placed over a cut, with a bit of tension to keep it closed. They are used for small cuts that are not very deep or over a joint or areas of tension. If they stay in place for at least three days, the outcome can be just as good as stitches. However, they are not as strong as stitches and do not stay in place well.
  • Stitches provide more strength and little to no risk of being pulled off too soon. However, they can be traumatic due to the time and pain involved in putting them in. Absorbable sutures are stitches that do NOT need to be removed. Non-absorbable sutures are stitches that need to be removed, usually 5-12 days later, depending on the location.
  • Staples are most often used for cuts in the scalp (within the hair). They are very fast and close the cut almost as well as stitches.

How soon after an injury does my child need to see a doctor for stitches?

Most cuts can generally be closed as long as 24 hours after the injury. Some cuts should be closed sooner, but it is very safe to wait at least 8 hours to have a cut closed.

If you do decide to wait: Wash your child’s cut under the faucet to get out any dirt. Do not let the cut dry out. Wet some gauze pads and tape them over the cut. Change the gauze every two hours to keep it moist.

My child’s cut is on his face. Should I be concerned about scarring from the stitches?

Facial cuts in children usually heal remarkably well and with very little scarring. Pediatric plastic surgeons recommend that most facial cuts be repaired using simple interrupted sutures. The suture size and needle type are specifically designed for the delicate skin of the face.

How can I make my child’s scar less visible?

There are some simple things you can do to help minimize your child’s scar appearance once the skin has fully healed.

Note: Scars cannot be completely erased, and no treatment can return your child’s skin to exactly the way it looked before the injury.

  • Sun protection. Damaged skin is very susceptible to becoming permanently discolored by the sun for up to 6 months after an injury. It is very important to minimize sun exposure to the healing cut. Keep it covered with a hat or clothing as much as possible or use a broad sunscreen to minimize darkening of the scar (called “hyperpigmentation”). Do not apply sunscreen until two weeks after the cut.
  • Scar massage. Scars may soften and flatten more quickly when they are massaged. To do this, use your fingers to apply moderate pressure and massage the scar in circles.
  • Silicone sheets or gels. Silicone products may help soften, flatten, and improve the coloration of a scar if used for at least 12 hours a day.

My child has a scar seems to be getting bigger. Should I be concerned?

Sometimes, no matter what you do, a scar might not look as good as you want it to. Most of the time, this is a cosmetic issue. Occasionally, there are medical problems that can arise.

  • Hypertrophic scar. These are prominent scars that form as a wound heals and may be pink, red, or purple. These are often thick and raised, but they do not extend beyond the initial injury.
  • Keloid. These scars have spontaneously enlarged to form a firm, smooth growth. They are typically raised above the surface of the skin, look shiny, rough, and irregular in shape. They can be pink, red, or purple. Some keloids can become quite large, much larger than the original injury and often extend beyond its original borders.

If you suspect a hypertrophic scar or keloid, talk to your child’s pediatrician. You may be referred to a pediatric plastic surgeon to see if treatment is needed.


Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2019). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Cell Phones: What’s the Right Age to Start?

There really is no “right” age to allow our kids to dip a toe into the digital pond, but if we pay attention to the issues, we’ll be able to decide what makes sense for our kids without getting in the way of a process that will occur whether we like it or not.

At the same time, there is no rush. We can keep the pace reasonable and developmentally appropriate and allow our kids to use technologies that make sense without granting them access to technologies that don’t make sense for their age.

Cell Phones for Safety

For example, cell phone use seems to be trickling to younger ages. Studies and reports show that middle school is the time that adoption for cell phones and technology really takes off. Before then, kids who have cell phones don’t use them as expected. Why do they have them? Families I know who give their elementary school kids cell phones do so mostly for safety issues.

  • Medical: Some children have emergency issues for which every second counts. For these kids, having access to a cell phone matters because landlines are not as easy to find as when we were kids, even in afterschool programs (although the adults supervising those programs usually carry cell phones, or should). Some families whose children have medical issues feel more secure knowing their child can reach them if symptoms start to flare. Assuming these kids are supervised, this may not be needed but does give families peace of mind.
  • Emergencies: With both parents often working out of the home, many feel more secure if kids of all ages have a way to reach them and vice versa. This is an issue every family needs to sort out independently, but if elementary schoolkids are supervised after school, a personal cell phone for the child may not be needed.

The New Normal Kids “Need”

For better or worse, we do have a new norm being established today which studies and reports are confirming. YouthBeat: The Syndicated Report by C&R Research reports on the use of digital devices by today’s kids and teens, YouthBeat confirms that today’s kids are starting very young, as young as first grade, and gravitate to:

  • TV
  • DVD
  • video
  • Computer
  • Cameras
  • Music
  • Cell phones

Use increases with age and parents provide the majority of purchasing power.

Despite views that kids “need” cell phones when they are young, cell phones use among younger kids is markedly lower than tweens and teens—22% of kids reported using cell phones, compared with 60% of tweens and 84% of teens. The percentages of use were not as wide for other digital technologies.

The Social Role of the Cell Phone

The reasons for this are likely developmental. Cell phones play a huge social role that doesn’t become interesting in a child’s life until the tween and teen years. Before that, show watching and gaming are the prominent interests and are reflected in the digital activities the younger kids gravitate toward.


Author: Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, MD, FAAP. Source: CyberSafe: Protecting and Empowering Kids in the Digital World of Texting, Gaming, and Social Media (Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics) The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Healthy & Effective Discipline Tips by Age/Stage

​Infants

  • ​Babies learn by watching what you do, so set examples of behavior you expect.
  • Use positive language to guide your baby. For example, say, “Time to sit,” rather than, “Don’t stand.”
  • Save the word, “no,” for the most important issues, like safety. Limit the need to say “no” by putting dangerous or tempting objects out of reach.
  • Distracting and replacing a dangerous or forbidden object with one that is okay to play with is a good strategy at this age.
  • All children, including babies, need consistent discipline, so talk with your partner, family members, and child care provider to set basic rules everyone follows.

​Toddlers

  • ​Your child is starting to recognize what’s allowed and what isn’t but may test some rules to see how you react. Pay attention to and praise behaviors you like and ignore those you want to discourage. Redirect to a different activity when needed.
  • Tantrums can become more common as your child struggles to master new skills and situations. Anticipate tantrum triggers, like being tired or hungry, and help head them off with well-timed naps and meals.
  • Teach your toddler not to hit, bite, or use other aggressive behaviors. Model nonviolent behavior by not spanking your toddler and by handling conflict with your partner in a constructive way.
  • Stay consistent in enforcing limits. Try short time-outs if needed.
  • Acknowledge conflicts between siblings but avoid taking sides. For example, if an argument arises about a toy, the toy can be put away.

Preschool Age

  • ​Preschool-age children are still trying to understand how and why things work and what effect their actions have. As they learn appropriate behavior, expect them to continue testing the limits of parents and siblings.
  • Begin assigning age-appropriate chores, like putting their toys away. Give simple, step-by-step directions. Reward them with praise.
  • Allow your child to make choices among acceptable alternatives, redirecting and setting sensible limits.
  • Teach your child to treat others as she wants to be treated.
  • Explain that it’s OK to feel mad sometimes, but not to hurt someone or break things. Teach them how to deal with angry feelings in positive ways, like talking about it.
  • To resolve conflicts, use time-outs or remove the source of conflict.

​Gradeschool-Age Children

  • ​Your child is beginning to get a sense of right and wrong. Talk about the choices they have in difficult situations, what are the good and bad options, and what might come next depending on how they decide to act.
  • Talk about family expectations and reasonable consequences for not following family rules.
  • Provide a balance of privileges and responsibility, giving children more privileges when they follow rules of good behavior.
  • Continue to teach and model patience, concern and respect for others.
  • Don’t let yourself or others use physical punishment. If you live in an area where corporal punishment is allowed in schools, you have the right to say that your child may not be spanked.

​Adolescents & Teens

  • ​As your teen develops more independent decision-making skills, you’ll need to balance your unconditional love and support with clear expectations, rules, and boundaries.
  • Continue to show plenty of affection and attention. Make time every day to talk. Young people are more likely to make healthy choices if they stay connected with family members.
  • Get to know your teen’s friends and talk about responsible and respectful relationships.
  • Acknowledge your teen’s efforts, achievements, and success in what they do―and don’t do. Praise the choice to avoid using tobacco, e-cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs. Set a good example through your own responsible use of alcohol and other substances.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

What’s the Best Way to Discipline My Child?

As a parent, one of your jobs to teach your child to behave. It’s a job that takes time and patience. But, it helps to learn the effective and healthy discipline strategies.

Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on the best ways to help your child learn acceptable behavior as they grow. 

10 Healthy Discipline Strategies That Work

The AAP recommends positive discipline strategies that effectively teach children to manage their behavior and keep them from harm while promoting healthy development. These include:

  1. Show and tell. Teach children right from wrong with calm words and actions. Model behaviors you would like to see in your children.
  2. Set limits. Have clear and consistent rules your children can follow. Be sure to explain these rules in age-appropriate terms they can understand.
  3. Give consequences. Calmly and firmly explain the consequences if they don’t behave. For example, tell her that if she does not pick up her toys, you will put them away for the rest of the day. Be prepared to follow through right away. Don’t give in by giving them back after a few minutes. But remember, never take away something your child truly needs, such as a meal.
  4. Hear them out. Listening is important. Let your child finish the story before helping solve the problem. Watch for times when misbehavior has a pattern, like if your child is feeling jealous. Talk with your child about this rather than just giving consequences.
  5. Give them your attention. The most powerful tool for effective discipline is attention—to reinforce good behaviors and discourage others. Remember, all children want their parent’s attention.
  6. Catch them being good. Children need to know when they do something bad–and when they do something good. Notice good behavior and point it out, praising success and good tries. Be specific (for example, “Wow, you did a good job putting that toy away!”).
  7. Know when not to respond. As long as your child isn’t doing something dangerous and gets plenty of attention for good behavior, ignoring bad behavior can be an effective way of stopping it. Ignoring bad behavior can also teach children natural consequences of their actions. For example, if your child keeps dropping her cookies on purpose, she will soon have no more cookies left to eat. If she throws and breaks her toy, she will not be able to play with it. It will not be long before she learns not to drop her cookies and to play carefully with her toys.
  8. Be prepared for trouble. Plan ahead for situations when your child might have trouble behaving. Prepare them for upcoming activities and how you want them to behave.
  9. Redirect bad behavior. Sometimes children misbehave because they are bored or don’t know any better. Find something else for your child to do.
  10. Call a time-out. A time-out can be especially useful when a specific rule is broken. This discipline tool works best by warning children they will get a time out if they don’t stop, reminding them what they did wrong in as few words―and with as little emotion―as possible, and removing them from the situation for a pre-set length of time (1 minute per year of age is a good rule of thumb). With children who are at least 3 years old, you can try letting their children lead their own time-out instead of setting a timer. You can just say, “Go to time out and come back when you feel ready and in control.” This strategy, which can help the child learn and practice self-management skills, also works well for older children and teens.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

April is National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture. Click here to learn more.

Curious? Check out 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month with your kids!

  1. Sign-up for Poem-a-Day and read a poem each morning.

  2. Download a free National Poetry Month poster and display it for the occasion.

  3. Read 2020’s most-read poem, Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Kindness.”

  4. Record yourself reading a poem, and share why you chose that work online using the hashtag #ShelterinPoems. Be sure to tag @poetsorg on twitter and instagram!

  5. Subscribe to the Poem-a-Day podcast.

  6. Check out an e-book of poetry from your local library.

  7. Begin your virtual meetings or classes by reading a poem.

  8. Talk to the teachers in your life about Teach This Poem.

  9. Learn more about poets and virtual poetry events nation-wide.

  10. Read about your state poet laureate.

  11. Browse Poems for Kids.

  12. Buy a book of poetry from your local bookstore or from Three Chairs Publishing.

  13. Make a poetry playlist.

  14. Browse the glossary of terms and try your hand at writing a formal poem.

  15. Create an online anthology of your favorite poems on Poets.org.

  16. Attend a poetry reading, open mic, or poetry slam via a video conferencing service.

  17. Sign up for an online poetry class or workshop.

  18. Donate books of poetry to little free libraries and mutual aid networks.

  19. Research and volunteer with poetry organizations in your area.

  20. Take a socially safe walk and write a poem outside.

  21. Start a virtual poetry reading group or potluck, inviting friends to share poems.

  22. Read and share poems about the environment in honor of Earth Day.

  23. Take on a socially safe guerrilla poetry project.

  24. Read essays about poetry like Edward Hirsch’s “How to Read a Poem,” Mary Ruefle’s “Poetry and the Moon,” Mark Doty’s “Tide of Voices: Why Poetry Matters Now,” and Muriel Rukeyser’s “The Life of Poetry.”

  25. Watch a movie, lecture, or video featuring a poet.

  26. Write an exquisite corpse or a renga with friends via email or text.

  27. Make a poetry chapbook.

  28. Make a poem to share on Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 29, 2020.

  29. Submit your poems to a literary magazine or poetry journal.

  30. Make a gift to support the Academy of American Poets free programs and publications and keep celebrating poetry year-round!

Choosing Healthy Snacks for Kids

MARCH IS NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH

​​While meals make up the majority of a child’s nutritional intake, most children eat at least one snack per day. While many of the most commonly offered kids’ snacks tend to be of lower nutritional value than meals, snacks still can support—or even enhance—your child’s overall healthy eating plan. Here’s how:

  • Use snack times as a way to increase fruits and vegetable intake. Most kids do not eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Snack times offer a great opportunity to increase access and exposure to these nutrient-dense foods. Consider pairing them up with dairy products or dairy substitutes (such as grapes and cheese) lean proteins (such as celery and peanut butter), or whole-grain cereals and bread (such as banana sandwich on whole grain bread).
  • Keep a range of healthy foods handy at home. It is much easier to make easy, healthy snacks when you keep a few key items stocked at home. Ideas include different types of raw vegetables and fruit, yogurt dip, hummus, and cheese sticks.
  • Avoid processed foods and added sugars. Processed foods (made in a factory and sold in bags and boxes) do not have many nutrients and often have a lot of added sugar and salt. In addition, children may become hungry faster after eating processed foods.
  • Teach your children to eat a rainbow of colors. Arrange your children’s foods to show the beauty of fresh, brightly colored foods. Talk about the farms where food comes from and the farmers who help grow it.

Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics. The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.