Empowering Children Through Chores

Last updated on May 23rd, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Little boy working planting in the farm outdoorI am a woman who had three kids in three years and found myself at a crossroads one day. I was so used to doing so much for my children because they were so close in age but suddenly they were able to start doing some things for themselves. I knew I needed to take the time to show them how, which was a struggle for me. So many times it is easier to just do things yourself. We took baby steps of course, changing the toilet paper roll, making a sandwich, putting away laundry. It took patience and time (on my part and theirs) but I soon noticed how much it did for my children.

I found that giving them chores is not only rewarding, it really empowers them. It builds their self confidence and makes them appreciate things in a different way. Food tastes better when they make it, a clean bathroom stays clean longer when they are the one that has done the dirty work. Here are some other things I have found:

It Helps Them With Decision Making And Negotiation Since I have three kids and many chores that need to be done, I give them a list and let them decide who does what. Of course this sometimes backfires and when this happens they know that I will just tell them who does what and the freedom of them deciding amongst themselves is gone. For that reason they are able to decide and negotiate. If my daughter got a fun chore, like collecting the chicken eggs yesterday, she knows that it is fair to let someone else have that chore and she can tackle something else, like folding the laundry.

It Keeps Them From Being Bored I try really hard to teach my kids that if they are bored it is their own fault. Life is too beautiful and precious to find yourself bored. Besides, there is always windows that need to be washed and closets to be cleaned out. Knowing that keeps their imaginations and their bodies working.

It Changes Their Moods I have seen my kids go from being antsy and naughty to acting confident and capable after they have completed a chore. They seem so proud that they have accomplished something and perhaps learned a new skill. I especially remember a time when my youngest was helping me weed the garden. At first he was fussy, too hot and too tired to help but before long he started asking me several questions about the flowers and herbs that we had planted. He wanted to know how to take care of them, how you get the seeds, how long they take to grow. He now saved seeds from the fruits and vegetables that he eats, dries the seeds out and plants them himself the following spring.

It Makes Them Feel Good To Help Out It can be so rewarding for them to see how happy it makes me to have have help, but when they take charge and do something that contributes to the household they feel a sense of pride. I don’t want them growing up thinking that all the work has to be done by the parents. When they feel capable to do one thing, they are willing to try another. And eventually, they feel good enough to teach someone else. That is true empowerment right there. I have seen it spread to other areas in their life too. Helping others is an important life skill that I want my kids to embrace.

It Is Preparing Them For Their Future Most of life involves hard work. I don’t care if you are talking about relationships or trying to thread a needle. It also takes patience, kindness, prioritizing and concentration. Being responsible and held accountable for jobs around the house (no matter how small) has prepared them for some of that.

Of course, like all families, we have shed many tears and thrown tantrums when it comes to doing chores. Life is not always easy, and neither is vacuuming the floor on a Sunday morning when you would rather be outside playing with the neighbors. But it has been a constant in our home and not only is my life is easier because of it, my kids truly feel empowered because they know how to load and run the dishwasher, work the washing machine and take care of all of our animals. And I can only hope that that they will empower their children in the same way.

Can I Give My Baby Soya-Based Infant Formula?

Last updated on May 16th, 2016 at 11:02 am

soya-based formula for babyYou shouldn’t give your baby soya-based (*soy-based) infant formula unless your GP (*pediatrician) or health visitor advises you to. Breastfeeding or giving them another type of formula is nearly always a better choice.

For the first six months, it’s best to give your baby only breast milk or infant formula. Breastfeeding is recommended because breast milk provides all the nutrients that a baby needs for healthy development during this time.

There is no health benefit in giving soya-based infant formula to a healthy baby.

Soya-Based Infant Formula

Soya-based infant formula was originally developed for babies who can’t have infant formula based on cows’ milk because, for example, they have a milk allergy.

Other types of formula that are more suitable for these babies are now available. Your GP (*pediatrician) or health visitor can give you advice.

Occasionally your GP or health visitor might recommend soya-based infant formula, for example:

  • If your baby can’t or won’t drink other types of formula
  • If you want your baby to have a vegan diet and you’re not breastfeeding

Soya and Phytoestrogens

Some people are concerned that giving babies soya-based infant formula could affect the development of their reproductive organs. This is because soya (*soy) contains phytoestrogens, compounds that are found naturally in some plants.

As their name suggests, the chemical structure of phytoestrogens is similar to the female sex hormone oestrogen. It’s likely that they could affect babies’ reproductive development. This is of particular concern in babies who drink only soya-based infant formula. Babies’ lower body weight means that they take in much higher amounts of phytoestrogens than adults and older children who eat soya products as part of a mixed diet.

If you give your baby soya-based infant formula, talk to your GP (*pediatrician) or health visitor about changing to a different formula.

Soya-Based Infant Formula and Babies’ Teeth

Soya-based infant formula contains glucose, a type of sugar. Glucose is more harmful to babies’ and small children’s teeth than the lactose in infant formula made with cows’ milk.

Any food or drink containing sugars should not have contact with your baby’s teeth too often or for too long. Use a trainer cup for your baby’s drinks as soon as they can drink this way.

Read the answers to more questions about children’s health.

Further Information:

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 05-02-2016 to 05-08-2016

Last updated on May 17th, 2017 at 05:04 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: Facebook Drug Ring is a Warning to Parents https://t.co/JFJAB2Ww7t

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Worst Pre-Game Meals for Kids https://t.co/FaX8qbgxUi

Dropping the Rope: Letting My Special Needs Child Grow

Last updated on May 14th, 2016 at 12:53 am

Mother and Son Tug of WarMy child recently started behavioral therapy. I have written before about the fine line between helping and enabling and my desire for her to be more independent – even if she doesn’t want to be. I mean, who wouldn’t rather have someone else do their chores for them? What kid really wants to sit down and do homework? But whether she wants to do things or not, I know she CAN do things and I want her to know she can do things, too. And let’s face it, one day I may not be around to help her do things. I hope it’s because she is off living a fabulous life on her own, but for whatever reason there will probably be a day in the future when I am not there to do things for her. So to help with the tantrums, the resistance, the arguing, the avoidance, the rushing through tasks and all the rest of the many-layered issue, we called in experts.

At first it was great. My child was charming and cooperative. Then one day when she was really being pushed to do her chores she started screaming for me. Being a special needs parent has given me Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (special thank you to all the service men and women) and when she started screaming for me I flashed back to her early physical therapy sessions as a baby. Her amazing therapist would fold and twist her little body and she would complain in her baby way and reach out to me. The therapist would assure me that she was not being hurt, although the positions might feel uncomfortable but in the long run this was all going to benefit her. It was the same with all the doctor visits, tests and procedures – she would cry, complain, reach out for me and I was unable to help her or save her. I knew was doing what was best for her, but it didn’t make it any easier to live through. It still isn’t.

We all know that you can’t reason with a child mid-tantrum, and although her toddler days are long behind her these objections and stalling tactics are very tantrum-adjacent. I try to reason with her and explain why the chores, the homework and the therapy are all necessary, but my words bounce off of her and we just end up in an endless cycle of her whining and me trying to reason with her.. Finally one of the therapists told me to drop the rope.

What rope?

It’s a game of tug of war, and the only way to win is to drop the rope. It was (and is) a revelation.

Her therapist is much more even – doesn’t cave and doesn’t scream, unlike me. In the middle of these sessions, when she is wailing and complaining, she calls for me to help her….but I can’t! It is good for her in the long run, although it is torture in the moment. Her brothers put on headphones or head to the farthest corners of the house to escape the wailing, while I stay close enough to monitor but far enough away to avoid interfering. I have dropped the rope. It is making me look around for other places in my life I should drop the rope. What ropes should you drop?

Captain America: Civil War is Sensory Friendly Twice This Week

Last updated on May 14th, 2016 at 05:33 pm

New sensory friendly logoAMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other special needs “Sensory Friendly Films” every month – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fun new films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. Captain America movie posterBut on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 10th at 7pm, and Saturday, May 14th at 10am (local time), families affected by autism or other special needs have the opportunity to view a sensory friendly screening of Captain America: Civil War. Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming later in May: Neighbors 2:Sorority Rising (Tues, 5/24) and Alice Through the Looking Glass (Sat, 5/28)


Editor’s note: Although Captain America: Civil War has been chosen by the AMC and the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly Film, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

Squirmin’ Wormin’ Kids? …3 Ways You Can Help Them

Last updated on May 30th, 2017 at 11:18 pm

Kids-SwingsBrain development happens over time. As the brain matures, children often gain better control of their attention, motor inhibition and their emotional responses to social situations.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Here is a video along with three resources for YOUR CHILD’S BUSY BODY

  1. Kids who move a lot are often seeking brain stimulation. Creating days filled with a variety of calming and alerting activities is just the ticket. For calming activities, yoga, listening to music, drawing, crafts and art are body calmers. You can find an array of activities on Lynne’s community FB. For alerting activities consider 15 minutes outside several times a day for little ones and longer periods of time for older kids.
  2. Research tells us that children who exercise remain calm longer, think better and socialize with less impulsivity. So playing outside, jumping rope, playing tennis in the drive-way, walking to day camp, shooting hoops or kicking a soccer ball are all good movement morsels to sprinkle throughout the day. SPARKPE is a terrific resource for schools and families.
  3. Music can be both calming and alerting, so it’s pretty magical. Playing piano (even if you aren’t very good at it) for 10 minutes at a time can re-organize the brain and the body. For your kid’s listening pleasure visit Kiboomu or Stressfreekids.com.


bloom cover - 140x208Written for real parents with anxious, angry and over-the-top kids, Bloom is a brain-based approach to parenting all children. Taking its lead from neuroscience and best practices in early childhood mental health, it offers parents, teachers and care providers the words, thoughts and actions to raise calm, confident children, while reducing the need for consequences and punishment. The first book of its kind, it provides pages full of printable mantras you can carry with you, hang on your fridge or use in your classroom to raise emotionally competent kids. Stop second-guessing the way you handle misbehaviors, and learn why they occur in the first place. Bloom is available at amazon.com