When You Love A Child You Leave Your Needs Behind

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 11:47 am

When I talk about my husband and his beautiful young son with people, there is a question that is inevitably asked. Sometimes it is kind, sometimes it is disapproving and sometimes it is only curious, but it almost always comes up. Why doesn’t my husband have his son living with him? And subsequently, now that we are married, when are we going to have him come live with us instead of his grandparents. I have one very clear and succinct answer, my step-son lives with his grandparents because it is the best place for him to be. Let me elaborate.

I am a product of multiple families. My birth mother was 15 when she had me and she and my grandmother put me up for adoption immediately. I was raised by my adopted parents until I was 12, then a single mom until I was 17 after which I lived with my dad and my step-mom. As an adult I have met and become close to my birth family as well including two half brothers.

Now, I have a step-son who lives with his grandparents. My husband and I visit him regularly and are an active part of his life, however, we are not raising him. The truth is he has a better life with his grandparents than we could give him at this point in ours. The same was true when I moved in with my dad and my step-mom, they were in the position to give me a better life than my mother. I have a niece who was adopted by another family, we still see her and are part of her life, but she has a more stable family than she would have if my brother had kept her.

I grew up believing that the more people who loved a child the better off that child would be. In my case and in the case of my step-son I have absolutely found that to be true. When it comes to raising a child there is no room for judgement or shame whether self imposed or imposed by the society in which we live. It is okay for us to not be able to do something alone, even if that something is parenting. It does not make you a bad parent to ask for help.

The moralistic notion that giving up a child to someone who can and will raise them better makes you a bad person or means that you don’t love your child is dangerous for the child. If my birth mother had not given me up for adoption, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college. I would have been raised in a household that was unhappy and in the case of my grandfather, abusive. Instead I grew up safe and graduated college without debt and now have the love of four different families.

My step-son is being raised somewhere where he can play outside on acres of land. His cousins are with him almost everyday and his great grandmother lives right up the street. He is safe and happy and gets more attention than my husband and I could afford to give him with both of us working full-time jobs. Eventually, we would like to have him live with us, when he is older and we are more financially stable, but for now, the best option is to let him be where he is and not remove him from a beautiful life just because we have been told that we are supposed to raise him ourselves no matter what.

Ultimately it shouldn’t matter who is raising the child, so long as the child is loved, and sometimes the most difficult decisions are the ones that look like the easiest. I believe it is our responsibility as a society, not just as individuals, to keep children safe and to love them. This means not shaming one another for making decisions that we may not understand such as choosing to let a child go to another home. Accepting our limitations as individuals is one of the most important things we can do, for ourselves and for our children, and at the end of the day what is best for the child should not be decided by morals and ideals imposed upon individuals by society, but by what will be the best decision for the child. Period.

How to Reduce Your Baby’s Teething Pain

Last updated on November 17th, 2017 at 11:36 pm

Teething can be distressing for some babies, but there are ways to make it easier for them.

Every baby is different, and you may have to try a few different things until you find something that works for your baby.

Teething rings

Teething rings give your baby something to chew safely. This may ease their discomfort and distract them from any pain.

Some teething rings can be cooled first in the fridge, which may help to soothe your baby’s gums. The instructions that come with the ring should tell you how long to chill it for. Never put a teething ring in the freezer, as it could damage your baby’s gums if it gets frozen.

Also, never tie a teething ring around your baby’s neck, as it may be a choking hazard.

Teething gels

Teething gels often contain a mild local anaesthetic, which helps to numb any pain or discomfort caused by teething. The gels may also contain antiseptic ingredients, which help to prevent infection in any sore or broken skin in your baby’s mouth.

Make sure you use a teething gel that’s specially designed for young children and not a general oral pain relief gel, as these aren’t suitable for children. Your pharmacist can advise you.

It’s best to talk to your pharmacist or GP before using a teething gel for babies under two months old.

If your baby is chewing

One of the signs that your baby is teething is that they start to chew on their fingers, toys or other objects they get hold of.

If your baby is six months or older, you can give them healthy things to chew on, such as raw fruit and vegetables. Pieces of apple or carrot are ideal. You could also try giving your baby a crust of bread or a breadstick. Always stay close when your baby is eating in case they choke.

Find out what to do if your baby starts choking.

It’s best to avoid rusks, because nearly all brands contain some sugar. Avoid any foods that contain lots of sugar, as this can cause tooth decay, even if your child only has a few teeth.

Paracetamol (*acetaminophen) and ibuprofen for teething

If your baby is in pain or has a mild raised temperature (less than 38C), you may want to give them a sugar-free painkilling medicine that is specifically for babies and young children. These contain a small dose of paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Children under 16 years old shouldn’t have aspirin.

Always follow the instructions that come with the medicine. If you’re not sure, speak to your GP (*doctor or pediatrician) or pharmacist.

Comforting a teething baby

Comforting or playing with your baby can distract them from any pain in their gums.

Preventing teething rashes

If teething is making your baby dribble more than usual, gently wiping their face often may help to prevent a rash.

Caring for your baby’s new teeth

You’ll need to register your baby with a dentist when their teeth start coming through – find a dentist near you.

Start brushing your baby’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first milk tooth breaks through.

For more advice, read about looking after your baby’s teeth.

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

Additional note: Avoid benzocaine teething gels – there are plant-based natural teething gels that do not have the same drug safety concerns as noted by the US FDA:


NHS Choices logo

From www.nhs.uk

Child Health & Safety News 11/6: Strategies For Mentally Strong Kids

Last updated on November 17th, 2017 at 11:34 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Safety News: The health risks of young athletes controlling their weight for sports bit.ly/2iOdVMK

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 social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 20 events & stories.

  • Facebook Chat: Overseeing Your Child’s IEP or 504 Plan u.org/2h6iVbv Tues 11/7 at 2pm 2017-11-05
  • 3 Ways You Can Teach Your Child to Have a Good Attitude in School bit.ly/2hH4lI0 2017-11-05
  • New UK standards on sharing digital child health records launched bit.ly/2zbRqFx 2017-11-04
  • House to Vote on Child Health Care, but Funding Will Remain in Limbo nyti.ms/2zhhWQ2 2017-11-04
  • Photos: Pediatric patients celebrate Halloween bit.ly/2hzJTstHappy weekend all! 2017-11-03
  • 7 Brain-Boosting Healthy Breakfasts for the Whole Family bit.ly/2zoeYKx 2017-11-03

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
10 Parenting Strategies That Help Kids Become Mentally Strong bit.ly/2zjY8w6

  • Can Wealth Be as Big a Parenting Risk-Factor as Poverty? zpr.io/nHVrq 2017-11-03
  • My heart goes out to all of the first responders bit.ly/2zU8LCi Pls take a min to read and say a silent TKS for being there! 2017-11-02
  • Help! My Six-year-old Son is Lying to Avoid School -Thurs Time Capsule bit.ly/2zqUXmx 2017-11-02
  • Developing Healthy Eating Habits in Infancy – Medical News Bulletin bit.ly/2hokMJc 2017-11-01
  • How to Handle Your Child’s Learning Disabilities Diagnosis zpr.io/nHDK9 2017-11-01
  • The Business Of Feeding Health-Conscious Gen Z And Alpha Children bit.ly/2z6Kgo4 2017-10-31
  • Study published in Developmental Psychology finds moms who breastfed longer are more responsive to their kids’ needs bit.ly/2z29CRZ 2017-10-31
  • Great news for new mothers and fathers! Eligible U.S. employees get 8 additional weeks of paid time off after childbirth/adoption! jobs.exxonmobil.com 2017-10-30
  • Light Up Halloween bit.ly/2iH3NFA – Video from Safe Kids 2017-10-30
  • #MeToo in the Special Needs Community zpr.io/nHT4F 2017-10-30

How to Raise a Confident, Assertive Child

Last updated on November 17th, 2017 at 11:34 pm

Let’s face it. It’s a tougher time to be growing up, and the data confirms it. Bullying is fiercer. Peer pressure is tougher. Kids are also more aggressive at younger ages. Girls are meaner. Of course we can’t always be there to pick up the pieces or help our kids stand up for themselves, nor should we. After all, the more our children see us as their rescuers, the more they learn to rely on us to solve their problems.

The secret is help our kids learn how to be more assertive and speak up for themselves. Here are seven ways to help your child learn to be respectfully assertive especially in those more difficult situations when they need to hold their own!

1. Model assertiveness

Be the model you want your child to copy. Don’t be meek. Stand up for your views even if they may not be unpopular. Let your kids know that even though you might feel uncomfortable, you always feel it’s best to stand up for your rights or the rights of others. Your child is watching your behavior and will copy. So ask yourself if you are an example of assertiveness you want your child to copy? For instance, do you speak up to your girlfriend who is pushing you to do something you may not want to do? Or what about holding your own to that relative who wants you to allow your young kids to watch that PG movie you feel is inappropriate?

2. Be a democratic household

Hold debates. Use family meetings. Listen to each child (it doesn’t mean you agree with them). When kids know their opinions count they are more likely to speak out and feel comfortable doing it.

3. Acknowledge your child’s assertiveness

Let your child know you value people who speak their mind. Reinforce your child’s assertiveness. “I like how you spoke up!” Encourage those confident, assertive behaviors in your child. Let her know you honor her opinions.

4. Find less domineering friends

If your child is a bit more timid and always hangs around a bossy playmate, provide him the opportunity to find a less domineering pal so he will be more likely to speak up and gain confidence.

Watch out for domineering siblings as well. Make sure your child has the opportunity to practice his voice and not be squelched by a brother or sister (or even other parent).

5. Provide early leadership opportunities

Research from the Girl Scouts of America says kids say their confidence in speaking up and leading others dwindles by the fifth grade. Kids also tell us they gain that confidence is by entering into activities, clubs, team building, etc. and the earlier the better.

So provide opportunities for your child to be a member of a team, take charge of a project or lead others. You might enroll your child in public speaking or theatre to build confidence in speaking in front of others!

Find a platform that fits your child’s passions, talents, and comfort level!

6. Teach your child C.A.L.M. assertion

Here’s a skill that I’ve shared with hundreds of kids around the world-and I do mean that literally. I’ve taught C.A.L.M. to kids in Taipei, Colombia, Finland, Malaysia, Mexico, Canada as well as hundreds of schools from coast to coast in the US. It is a strategy that boosts assertiveness, but also helps the child learn to defend himself to others and hold his own. It’s the basic skill to stop teasing, negative peer pressure as well as bullying and victimization.

The photo image on the right is high school students who are teaching the skill to elementary students in a near by school as part of their service learning project. The “cross age tutoring” model is also a fabulous way for children to learn a new new skill.

There are four steps to learning the skill. Each part is essential. You may need to help your child practice each of the four steps separately until he or she can comfortably use all four parts on his or her own.

4 Steps to Being Assertive and Staying C.A.L.M.

C – Stay Cool

If you get upset, ticked off, cry, pout you don’t appear as confident.

A – Assert

Teach your child a few comeback lines to say in different situations. “No!” “Not cool.” “Because I said so!” “I don’t want to.”

L – Look Eye to Eye

The best way to appear more confident is by using eye contact. If your child is timid or eye contact is difficult, suggest he look between the persons’ eyes on the spot in the middle of their forehead. I’ve also taught children on the autism spectrum to look behind (or through the person). The trick is to “appear” confident.

M – Mean It!

Teach your child the difference between how a wimpy and a strong voice sound. Then encourage your child to assert himself using a strong and firm tone–but not yelling tone–to get his point across.

7. Role-play “assertive posture and voice tone”

Kids learn best from seeing and practicing skills. So help your child rehearse assertive phrases like: “Stop it!” “No, not this time, thanks!,” “Hey, cut it out!”

Practice using the skill so your child has a firm-sounding tone and until your child has the confidence to hold his own without you. And when he does, congratulate yourself. You will have taught your child a critical skill that he will need to use in every arena of his life but now and forever.


UnSelfie 140x210Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—along with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, it hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured. UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want activate our children’s hearts and shift their focus from I, me, and mine… to we, us, and ours. It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching! UnSelfie is AVAILABLE NOW at amazon.com.

Can Wealth Be as Big a Parenting Risk-Factor as Poverty?

Last updated on November 17th, 2017 at 11:35 pm

Many of us are now aware of the damaging long-term effects of growing up in poverty. The stress experienced by adults and kids who struggle to meet their basic needs can put kids at risk for lower academic achievement, health problems and emotional difficulties.

On the other side of the economic spectrum, however, we are finding that kids who grow up in an environment of affluence may also be at risk for negative outcomes. This may seem hard to believe—kids growing up in a prosperous home would seem to have all the advantages. A recent in-depth study into this issue helps us understand that affluence may go hand-in-hand with some parenting practices that may not promote the ideal development for adolescents.

Problematic Parenting

In both situations of poverty and affluence the issue of resources themselves are often not the sole contributor to developmental problems in children. Both poverty and affluence create situations in which parents’ behavior may be altered to the point that they are unable to adequately support their children. In the situation of poverty, the stress of lack of resources often makes it difficult for parents to be as patient, attentive and supportive as they might otherwise be.

In the case of affluence, parents’ behavior is also altered such that they might not be as emotional available or have enough time to spend with kids. The recent study points out two particular issues that seem to be the source of problems for kids.

  • High expectations with conditional love: having high expectations for kids’ behavior, academic performance or sports is not a problem, per se. When high expectations are combined with lack of emotional support and conditional love, they do become problematic.
    • Example: if a child is only valued or loved for what they can accomplish in the classroom or on the sports field, this actually undermines their development. Among affluent families, research finds that 25% of boys and 15% of girls describe themselves as “underachievers.” The obvious implications for children’s emotional development under these circumstances are worrisome.
  • Isolation from parents: both emotional and physical isolation are more common problems among affluent families. Due to kids’ expansive extracurricular activities, families may have little time together. This, coupled with increased physical distance due to larger houses, may create a situation in which adolescents feel increasingly distant from their parents.

The statistics we see among affluent families illustrate the effects of this isolation and conditional love scenarios among teens. Affluent teens have higher rates of clinical depression (25% higher) and substance abuse (15-35% higher) compared to non-affluent groups. Teen girls, in particular, are at risk for depression—20% of affluent teen girls have clinical levels of depression.

In both conditions of poverty and affluence, the types of parental factors that can mitigate the effects of each situation are similar. If parents can remain warm, emotionally responsive, supportive and provide some structure (without becoming a helicopter parent), then kids in both situations are much more likely to have positive futures.

How to Handle Your Child’s Learning Disabilities Diagnosis

Last updated on November 17th, 2017 at 11:35 pm

Having a learning disability diagnosed can be difficult, and in some cases it isn’t clear what the learning disability is or why it happened.

However, your child’s abilities and needs can be assessed to make sure they get the support they need.

Learning disability diagnosis

Some learning disabilities are discovered at birth, while others are not diagnosed until much later. If your child is diagnosed at or around birth – for example, with Down’s syndrome – their doctors probably won’t be able to tell you exactly how it will affect their development. The extent of your child’s disability will become clearer as they reach the ages when they should be talking, walking or reading.

For children who are not diagnosed at birth, finding out they have a learning disability can take time. “The main problem is that learning disabilities are quite hard to diagnose very early in life,” says Dr Martin Ward Platt, consultant paediatrician at Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

“There may be very little in the way of developmental signs. If a child hasn’t started talking by the age of two, that can be linked to learning problems later on, but this is not certain.”

Most learning disabilities are obvious by the age of five. “Intellectual function [also known as cognitive ability] can only be assessed by testing children from the age of five, so most children with these disabilities are only diagnosed when they start school,” says Dr Ward Platt.

Even after a diagnosis is made, it can be hard to tell how it will affect your child in the future. However, your child’s current needs can be assessed to work out what kind of support will help them, and they will be referred to a paediatrician (a specialist in child health). You can talk to parents of children with learning disabilities in your area to ask whether they can recommend a good one.

Find a local learning disabilities support group in the UK through Mencap**.

Getting a learning disability diagnosis

In the UK – under the Children and Families Act 2014, social services has a duty to assess children in need, including children with disabilities. The aim is to identify the child’s specific education and healthcare needs and draw up a plan of action for meeting these needs. (**see below for resources in the U.S.)

For more information on all aspects of being a carer in the UK, including practical support, financial matters and looking after your own wellbeing, see Care and support.

If you believe your child has an undiagnosed condition, your GP (*doctor) should be able to help you to get the advice you need. The UK charity Scope’s expert forum includes advice for families who can’t get a diagnosis**.

Your child may also benefit from an assessment of your care and support needs.** The assessment establishes the needs of a child with a disability and which services would be best for them. The purpose of the assessment is to draw up a plan of action for your child.

After diagnosis

If you’ve had concerns about your child, you might feel relieved to have a diagnosis. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions. Find out as much as you can about your child’s needs.

Most parents assume their children will be healthy and develop normally, so hearing that your child has a learning disability can come as a shock. It takes time to accept the diagnosis and to mourn the child you might feel you have lost.

Talking to your child’s doctors, nurses, support groups or friends and family can help, although friends and family might need their own time to accept what has happened. Many parents find it helpful to contact other UK families** who have been through the same thing, as talking to other parents can be a useful source of support.

Counselling can also help, so ask your health visitor or GP (*doctor) for recommendations.

Developmental delay

The term “developmental delay” is sometimes used to describe a child’s condition if they are not progressing as expected. “By itself, ‘developmental delay’ is not a diagnosis,” says Dr Ward Platt. The main issues when assessing a child for learning disability are:

  • By how much is the child delayed, and in which areas?
  • Are there areas in which the child is not delayed?
  • What explanation for any delay might lie in the child’s background (such as a long stay in hospital for an unrelated condition)?
  • What underlying medical condition might explain the delay?
  • Is the delay likely to be the product of a low level of care and inadequate stimulation in the home?

Delay is not always significant. “Some children are slow to walk, so may appear to be delayed. But if one of the parents was very slow to walk, then it’s likely the delay just runs in the family,” says Dr Ward Platt.

Check out our selection of apps to help people with learning disabilities in our Digital Apps Library.

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

** Resources in the United States

NHS Choices logo

From www.nhs.uk