10 Child Development Facts All Parents Should Know

developmentWhen it comes to parenting, there are almost as many incorrect myths and pieces of bad advice as there are scientifically sound facts passed around. From the moment you announce your impending addition to the family, you’ll be inundated with unsolicited advice of questionable veracity. These ten developmental facts, however, are among those that you should arm yourself with so that you are prepared and well informed about your little one’s growth.

  • Babies Are All Born Too Early – Because women’s bodies are built for both walking upright and carrying children, their pelvises are physiologically incapable of carrying an infant to what would be full term. That’s why many parenting experts use the term “fourth trimester” to describe the first weeks of a baby’s life. Your child is not quite fully formed at the time of her delivery, which is why she’s so needy and relatively aloof to social contact. Dr. Harvey Karp, renowned parenting expert, is a champion of the Fourth Trimester parenting style and covers it heavily in his Happiest Baby on the Block series of bestselling parenting books.
  • Development is Influenced By Both Genetics and Environment – The debate about “nature versus nurture” may still rage, but the unique interaction between genetic material and the environment in which your child grows has a very real impact on how she reaches maturity. Old wives’ tales may take either side of the debate, but the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
  • Physical Development Follows a Directional Pattern – The center of your child’s body will develop first, with large muscles developing before the smaller ones. The process then becomes something akin to a top-down one, as your child’s head develops before her arms and legs.
  • Baby Talk is Beneficial – While your mother-in-law may insist that baby talk is bad for your infant and that you should only speak to him in complete sentences from the moment of his birth, there is actually some indication that baby talk is critical to infant development, according to neuroscientist Lise Eliot. Exaggerated tones and slow structure emphasize the critical components of language and make it easier for your little one to absorb words.
  • The Developmental Timeline Can Vary From Child to Child – The developmental milestones in parenting books and websites provide a good basic outline for the timeline of development, but it’s important to understand that there is quite a bit of wiggle room in that prescribed timeline. Slight delays aren’t necessarily cause for concern.
  • Corporal Punishment Can Hinder Intellectual Development – A study presented by University of New Hampshire professor Murray Straus showed a marked correlation between spanking and a lowered IQ, with the average discrepancy being four points. That means that children who are disciplined with corporal punishment do seem to exhibit adverse reactions, in terms of development.
  • Even Educational Television Doesn’t Aid in Infant Development – No matter how well a DVD system is marketed, it will not help your child become a genius when she’s an infant. That’s because infants tend to respond only to things that respond to them. No matter how advanced a DVD is, it can’t respond to the cues provided by your infant and, as such, are largely useless. Playing with your baby and interacting with her has far more value than the most expensive system of videos because you will respond to her cues.
  • Babies and Older Children Respond to Sounds Differently – Your toddler or preschooler isn’t necessarily ignoring you when she doesn’t respond to your calls while she’s in a crowded room. Kids actually find it more difficult to differentiate between background noise and speaking voices, which could be the reason why she’s not responding to your calls.
  • Right and Wrong are Learned Concepts – Before she reaches at least one year of age, your child does not understand the difference between right and wrong. That’s why sharing and cooperative play can be challenging at such a young age. A study published by Dr. Heather Paradis at the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that most parents aren’t aware of that fact. Before you punish your little one for doing “wrong,” stop to realize that she can’t even process that concept yet.
  • It Really Does Take a Village – The old adage about it taking a village to raise a child actually does hold water, it seems. Research published in Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development shows that kids do best when they have at least three consistent, loving and supportive adult influences in their lives.

18 Blogs Explain Brain Breaks and Why they are Important

boredAs an adult, you’ve likely experienced a time when you’ve been in a training session or a meeting and felt like you were at a breaking point and couldn’t focus any longer. These information overloads don’t happen all the time, but when they do occur you know that you’re in desperate need of a break. The same thing happens to kids, but on a daily basis.  Kids sit through several hours of instruction every day, and it’s not unusual for them to ‘space out’ throughout the day, taking a mini-break without even meaning to.  In these 18 blog entries you’ll find out about what brain breaks are, why they are important and how you can implement them with your kids.

What are Brain Breaks?

Brain breaks are anything that can get your kids out of their seats and energized for a few minutes so that they can continue learning.  When you start teaching your kids about brain breaks, it needs to be understood that a brain break should only be about three minutes long.  This ensures that you don’t lose a ton of time away from the task at hand, but that you are able to take a mental breather and then come back fresher than you were before.  For more information on what a brain break is, read through these six blog articles.

  • I Need a Break… a Brain Break! This teacher explains when and why she uses brain breaks and gives an example of one that works in her classroom.
  • Brain Breaks II Find a clear explanation of what brain breaks are and why this teacher uses them.
  • Give the Kids a Brain-Break! During a difficult lesson this teacher uses brain breaks so the kids can refocus and continue to learn.
  • New: Brain Breaks for the Classroom This teacher explains how she uses brain breaks and how she came up with a way for her students to remember the breaks.
  • Activity Breaks in the Classroom Watch this nine-minute video that explains what brain breaks are and how to get your students to get in and out of a brain break quickly.
  • Brain Breaks Read through this teacher’s explanation of why she does brain breaks and how often she does them.

Importance of Brain Breaks

When kids get tired or bored, they tend to check out.  Once kids begin to check out they are no longer learning, and they mentally are removed from the situation despite being physically present.  It’s important to get their blood flowing and to reconnect those kids that have started day dreaming instead of listening to the lesson.  These six blog posts can explain more about the importance of brain breaks for kids and adults.

  • K Brain Breaks This kindergarten teacher explains the importance of brain breaks for her young students.
  • Fidgets, Brain Breaks, and Therapy Balls… Oh My! Everyone needs to fidget from time to time, and once they do they can refocus on the task at hand.
  • Teacher Tricks “Gimme a Break” Brain Break Jar This fourth grade teacher talks about how important brain breaks are to get kids to wake up and start listening again.
  • Brain Breaks It’s important to give kids a chance to get up and move around every so often, that way they can get their wiggles out and focus on what the teacher is saying.
  • Simon Says: Save Yourself This post has an informative article detailing why brain breaks are needed and how and when you should do them.
  • Brain Breaks Find out why, when and how to use brain breaks in this blog post.

Examples of Brain Breaks

Once you understand what a brain break is and why it’s so important, you can start compiling different brain break ideas to implement. You can make up your own brain breaks as well, but remember that the break should only last about three minutes and not require any supplies.  Check out these six blog entries to get some brain break ideas, then get started using them today.

10 Tips for Preventing Accidental Drowning in Your Backyard Pool

swimWhen the sun’s hot summer rays are beating down, a backyard swimming pool is a cool, inviting oasis. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most dangerous things on your property. Making sure that your pool is reasonably safeguarded to help prevent drowning is your responsibility as a parent and a pool owner, and it’s not always easy to know where to start. These ten tips can help you make your backyard swimming pool a little bit safer place.

  • Teach Your Children to Swim – While there’s no way to “drown-proof” a child, making sure that every child in your family knows how to swim is one of the most effective ways to help prevent accidental drowning. Make sure that your kids learn to swim at an early age so that they are reasonably equipped to protect themselves in the event of an accidental fall.
  • Install a Fence – A swimming pool is a beacon to every child in the neighborhood, which is why it’s important to install a fence with a self-latching gate around your pool area that’s at least four feet tall. Remember: kids that can’t access your swimming pool can’t inadvertently drown in it.
  • Put Alarms on Doors Leading to the Pool Area – If doors within your house lead directly to the pool area, it’s wise to consider the installation of alarms that will sound if those doors are opened. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that up to 46% of children that drowned in their family’s backyard pool were last seen inside the house before being found in the pool, and that 15% of them were believed to be sleeping when the incident occurred. Making sure that your kids can’t slip out of the house and into the pool area is one of the most effective things you can do in terms of preventing their accidental drowning.
  • Ban Drinking in the Pool Area – Most drowning deaths in the United States involve young children, but there’s a significant portion of the adult population that drowns after learning the hard way that water and alcohol don’t mix. Relaxing by the pool with an adult beverage or two might be a soothing way to wind down after a long day, but it’s dangerous and should be avoided.
  • Install Underwater Motion Alarms – There are commercially-available devices that will sound an alarm if the surface of the water is disturbed by objects or bodies falling into the water. Models that detect underwater motion are more highly recommended, but either is better than no alarm at all.
  • Never Let Kids Swim Unattended – It should go without saying, but kids should never be allowed to swim without the supervision of an adult who’s able to swim proficiently enough to retrieve them in the event of an accident and who can perform CPR if it’s needed.
  • Learn CPR – You may make every possible effort to secure your pool and safeguard against accidental drowning incidents, but will still not be able to completely rule out the possibility of an accident. That’s why it’s essential for kids and adults alike to know CPR and be well-versed in emergency management.
  • Invest in a High Quality Pool Cover – Summertime is the peak season for pool-related drownings, but plenty of incidents occur in the colder months and are not prevented by flimsy winter covers. Make sure that your seasonal cover is of a high-quality and has a strong safety rating.
  • Maintain Suction Covers and Drains – Improperly functioning suction covers and drains can pose a very real drowning risk, even for accomplished swimmers. As such, making sure that your pool is maintained and in good working order is the mark of a responsible and conscientious pool owner.
  • Keep Flotation Devices in Reach – Should someone fall into your pool and an onlooker is incapable of swimming well enough to pull them to safety, you should make sure that there are adequate flotation devices stocked within easy reach around the perimeter of the pool area.

Your swimming pool doesn’t have to be a dangerous place. With proper preparation and attention to detail, it can be the relaxing and refreshing oasis it was intended to be.

15 Blogs Informing You How to Improve Posture in You and Your Kids

slouchMaintaining good posture is beneficial for adults and children in many ways, but it’s also something that many people struggle with.  Regular slouching can cause you to have a misaligned spine, which can result in chronic pain. A strong posture, on the other hand, gives you more confidence and makes you appear slimmer. There are many ways you can improve your posture, and these 15 blog entries are full of tips, suggestions and explanations for doing so.

Adult Posture Exercises

Adults spend several hours a day hunched over a keyboard or slumped over a cell phone, which is detrimental to your posture. Sometimes it actually seems easier to slouch than it does to sit up straight. However, there are several exercises you can do to counteract these habits. To improve your posture and reduce back aches, try the exercises in these five blog articles.

Tips for Improving Kids’ Posture

This generation of kids spends more time hunched over a computer or crouched over a handheld electronic device than ever before, so it’s no wonder they are having back problems and suffering from poor posture. By correcting posture problems early on, kids can avoid forming lifelong bad habits. Take a look at these five blog posts to learn how you can help your child improve his posture.

Why Posture is Important

Poor posture will cause chronic back and shoulder problems, and could even cause organ problems. Improperly sitting at your desk can also be the cause of chronic headaches.  To learn more about why correct posture is so important, read through these five blog posts.

Age-Appropriate Ways Kids Can Show Support to a Sick Relative

cardAny time a member of your family is struggling with an extended illness that forces the adults to come together to offer their support, kids can feel a bit left out in the cold. When faced with the necessity of sharing some of your attention and what seems to be no real way to contribute, kids can be confused and scared about what will happen to someone they love. One of the most effective ways of helping a child to cope with the serious illness of someone close to her is to make her feel like an integral part of the support network. Before you attempt to shield your child from the realities of a serious illness, consider the ways that she can be a real help and learn to understand sickness at the same time.

Making Cards and Writing Letters

Few things brighten an adult’s day like a handmade card or a handwritten letter from a child whom they love. This especially holds true when they’re struggling with a serious illness. Encouraging kids to write letters is not only a great way to help them show support for their family members during a difficult time, but can also help them gain the skills necessary to write an actual, handwritten letter in a world that increasingly relies upon emails and text messaging. When a relative’s illness is so severe that visitors aren’t recommended, or their physical appearance has deteriorated as a result of their illness to the point of being scary or uncomfortable for kids to see, these little mementos serve as a powerful reminder of their love and affection.

Helping to Care for Pets

Pets need to be fed, watered, walked and looked after, even when their owner is struggling to overcome or manage a serious illness. Kids who aren’t quite comfortable getting actively involved in the sickroom or who aren’t old enough to properly manage the intricacies of medical assistance may be more than mature enough to assist with the care and feeding of family pets. Encourage your child to get involved with the pets living in a sick relative’s household, even if the family member is currently hospitalized or incapacitated.

Pitching in With Household Chores

Even kids that are reluctant to contribute to the running of their own household tend to be more than generous when it comes to pitching in to help a sick family member. While you may not want to trust your kindergartener with dusting the fine china or managing the laundry, she’s still perfectly capable of helping to dust, sweep and complete light household chores.

Visiting When Appropriate

When it comes to showing support, love and concern for an ailing loved one, few things make more of a difference than a good, old-fashioned, in-the-flesh visit. That being said, it’s not always wise to expose kids to a relative whose appearance has changed dramatically for the worse after battling with a long illness. You also won’t want to expose little ones to anyone who’s fighting an infectious disease. Use your own better judgment to determine whether or not a visit from your child would be appropriate.

While it’s one of the most unpleasant and upsetting aspects of life, illness and even death are inevitable and kids simply can’t be shielded from them forever. Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, you may find that a frank and honest conversation about her relative’s sickness, the severity of the illness and her loved one’s likelihood of survival is in order. Kids have a way of asking very blunt and direct questions, and don’t tend to shy away from wondering out loud whether or not someone is going to die. Rather than worrying that your child is callous or inconsiderate, realize that the concept of death is still quite vague and mysterious for many kids, especially if they’ve never experienced the passing of someone they knew. Taking the opportunity to explain your family’s belief system and faith regarding the cycle of life may force you to handle the matter earlier than you would have liked, but it’s important to remember that kids simply can’t be sheltered from such incontrovertible truths forever.

30 of the Best Blogs with Summer Looks for Busy Moms

fashionableAs summer rolls around once again, everyone is getting set to look their best. For busy moms, however, rocking the perfect summer look is not such an easy feat. With little spare time available for luxury tasks like applying makeup, clothes shopping and accessorizing, busy moms need to take advantage of any shortcuts they can find. It’s good to know then, that when time is against you, there are experts out there with the advice that you need to keep up with current fashions and trends.

Summer Makeup Tips for Busy Moms

Applying makeup is usually a time consuming task, and for busy moms, that’s just not always an option. A more fine-tuned regimen is needed so Mom can concentrate on looking after the kids while still looking great. Remember, too, that on those hazy summer days, the kids will be itching to get out to the beach, which means the clock is really ticking. For the quickest, most professional makeup tips, follow the advice of these five bloggers.

Hair and Skincare for Busy Moms

Hair and skincare is important, especially during the summer months when you are at the mercy of an unforgiving sun. Certain precautions are an absolute necessity, as you can’t take any chances with your health. That aside, you want to look your most fabulous while you stroll along the seafront. These five bloggers reveal the hair and skincare secrets you will need to get your summer underway, no matter how busy you are.

Summer Clothes for the Busy Mom

Mixing and matching your wardrobe may have once been a favorite pastime, but with kids biting at your heels, you’d better learn to change in 30 seconds flat. Organizing your wardrobe will afford you a little more time, but it won’t give you much in the way of variety. There are better ways to jazz-up your summer look, though. Take a look at these five blogs for some ideas on how you can quickly rotate your summer style without missing a step.

Busy Mom Workouts

While being a busy mom is a workout in itself, it’s just not the same as getting a structured workout in a gym. The problem, though, is finding the time to do so. Most parents would not happily leave their kids unattended at a gym, and rightfully so. The only alternative, then, is to fit your workout in wherever you can. It can be done, and these five bloggers can give you the motivation and techniques that you need to get summer fit.

General Styling Tips

For busy moms on the run, there are a number of general styling tips that will keep you looking good, even when you’re pressed for time. No matter how busy your day is, these tips will help you make the most of the summer months. The five blogs in this list are specifically aimed at busy moms, which will allow you to stay in style regardless of the challenges you face.

The Summer Baby Look

Let’s not forget your babies this summer; they deserve to look their best, too! Baby fashion is a big industry, but you won’t always have the time to make a truly informed purchase. If you’re struggling for ideas for your kids this summer, take your lead from the ideas in these five blogs.