21 Blogs with Inspirational Ways to Teach Your Kids to Pay it Forward

payitforwardThe phrase “pay it forward” is one that is used when a person does something nice for another person after they themselves have received a random act of kindness. When you are the recipient of a random act of kindness and want to pay it forward you don’t repay the person who did something nice for you, but instead do something nice for someone else. As more parents become concerned over a growing sense of entitlement in children, the desire to teach children to pay it forward becomes greater. With the help of these 21 blog entries, you can find several ways to encourage your kids to pay it forward to others.

Everyday Kindness

Paying it forward doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Small everyday acts of kindness teach kids to open their eyes to the needs of the world and lend a helping hand if they can.  Simply carrying groceries for someone who has too many bags or holding the door for someone can go a long ways in brightening someone’s day.  For more examples showing acts of everyday kindness, take a look at these seven blog posts.

Local Needs

Teaching kids to look around their community for ways that they can help out will teach them the delight that comes from helping others. Volunteering can help open a child’s eyes to those in need and experience the joy that comes from helping them. Check out these seven blog entries to learn where your kids can go to pay forward all of the many blessings that they have been given.

Ways Kids are Paying It Forward

To get you and your kids inspired to pay it forward, take a look at the stories in these seven blog articles that feature kids who have done acts of kindness of all kinds all over the country.

10 Peanut Free School Lunch Ideas

lunchchildWhether your child suffers from a peanut allergy or attends a peanut free school, finding alternatives for school lunches that contain no peanut products can, at first blush, be a challenge. With a bit of forethought, however, you will find that skipping the peanuts is easier than you may have initially thought. These ten ideas will help you to consistently pack a safe, allergy-conscious lunch for your little one.

  • Personal Pizza – Slather a bagel or English muffin with pizza sauce, sprinkle with cheese and add your child’s favorite toppings before packaging it for a peanut-free lunch that’s sure to be a hit. If you want to simulate pre-packaged mini pizzas, put the toppings and sauces in separate containers so kids can assemble their own lunch.
  • Pita Pockets – Sandwiches are a classic brown bag lunch fixture, but they can also be a bit boring. Instead of sending a sandwich, why not stuff a pita pocket with your child’s favorite peanut-free fixings? She’ll love the novelty of a self-contained meal, and the pocket can cut down on dribbles, spills and accidents.
  • Sunbutter and Jelly Sandwiches – Some peanut-free schools don’t allow kids to bring anything resembling peanut butter in, so it’s wise to make sure that sunbutter and soy nut butter are allowed before packing a lunch containing these peanut butter alternatives. If it’s allowed, however, these delicious substitutes are sure to be a hit.
  • Deli Wrap Pinwheels – Assemble a sandwich wrap made in a peanut-free facility with meats and cheeses that your child loves, then slice the whole thing into fun, finger food spirals. The smaller the portions are, the more easily kids can gauge when they’re full and the more fun they are to eat.
  • Pasta Salads – There’s an endless combination of dressings, veggies and add-ins for pasta salads, just be sure that everything is manufactured in a peanut-free facility before assembling your child’s lunch. Beware that premade pasta salads, especially those with Asian flavors, may contain peanuts or peanut oil, so check the label carefully.
  • Traditional Bento Box – Rice, protein and fresh produce are the staples of a Japanese bento lunch, so it’s easy to omit peanuts from the mix. Not all bento lunches are the ornate, time-consuming affair that cute-food bloggers espouse, either. Don’t allow these elaborate offerings to scare you away, because there are quick and easy bento recipes out there.
  • Quesadillas – Tortillas made in a peanut-free facility and grilled with cheese, beans and meat are just as good when they’re cold, and they don’t contain peanut products that could potentially spur a reaction in allergic kids.
  • DIY Mini Lunches – Those prepackaged lunch kits with crackers, cheese slices and deli meats are expensive, full of chemical additives and often contain a dessert of candy or baked goods manufactured in facilities that process peanuts. Pack your own version to not only save money and include healthier fare, but also to eliminate the possibility of peanut contaminated ingredients.
  • Kabobs – Whether you opt for fruits, veggies or a deconstructed sandwich made of bread cubes, deli meat pinwheels and cheese cubes, kabobs are a fun way for older kids to enjoy a wholesome, peanut-free lunch. As with all processed foods, just be sure that the bread is baked in a peanut-free manufacturing facility. Given the sensitivity of schools towards anything that can be used as a weapon, be sure to check with your child’s teacher before serving lunch on a stick.
  • Popcorn – Potato chips are full of grease and empty calories, but the air-popped popcorn that you make at home is sure to be free of peanuts if the label contains no warnings regarding shared manufacturing facilities. Include this healthy, fun snack as a side.

If your child does not suffer from a peanut allergy but attends a peanut-free school, it can be tempting to “cheat” every once in a while. It’s imperative to understand that peanut allergies are potentially lethal for the kids who suffer from them, and that even skin contact with a peanut-contaminated surface can have serious repercussions. Your child’s allergic classmate deserves to attend school without fear of contact with a substance to which he is deathly allergic, so adhere to peanut-free guidelines and save the PB&J for an after-school snack.

5 Tips for Preventing Head Lice in Kids

liceThe news of a head lice outbreak at school is one of the most common, albeit most upsetting, aspects of raising children. Some schools seem to have an outbreak every year, and transmission is common among kids who come into close contact with one another through play and socialization. While there’s little you can do to limit kids’ exposure to head lice, there are a few things you can do to reduce their chances of bringing an infestation home.

  • Talk About Appropriate Versus Inappropriate Sharing – After spending your kids’ early years impressing upon them the importance of sharing, the last thing that you probably want to do is start talking about times when they shouldn’t share. This is, however, one of your most effective lines of defense when an outbreak of head lice is ravaging the population of your child’s school. Make a point of talking about appropriate sharing versus inappropriate sharing with your child before messages come home about reported cases of head lice to minimize her chance of bringing these little critters home.
  • Check Kids’ Hair Regularly – You should regularly check your kids’ hair for lice, even if there have been no reported outbreaks of lice in their school. It’s especially wise to do so after sleepovers and overnight play dates to reduce the chances of your kids’ bedclothes and the rest of the house becoming invested by any nits or lice they may have picked up at a slumber party.
  • Buy Hair Products That Do Double-Duty – There are shampoos, conditioners and detangling products on the market designed to prevent or lessen the likelihood of a head lice infestation, and many are made from all-natural substances. Look for these products when your kids start attending school, and just make the switch a permanent one while they’re still young and unclear about how lice are spread.
  • Maintain an Open Line of Communication With Teachers and School Administrators – Your child may have a letter sent home from school detailing a recent reported case of head lice or an ongoing outbreak, but that letter may also never make it to your hands since it probably won’t need to be signed and returned. Making sure that you’re maintaining an open line of communication with your child’s teachers and school administrators can help you get the message about possible infestations when the news breaks, helping you to contain the situation if your child has been exposed and prompting you to check for signs of lice.
  • Help Older Kids Understand How Lice Spread – Small children may become terrified at the idea of tiny bugs living on their head, and may not yet be able to grasp just where they come from or how kids spread them to one another. Older kids, however, can understand that head-to-head contact, sharing hats and hair products and other behavior of this kind can help one person transmit head lice to another. Make sure that, when they’re old enough to process the information without panicking, your kids know how head lice spread and what they can do to minimize their exposure whenever possible.

Should all of your efforts prove to be in vain, there is a wider selection of treatment options available now than in years past. All-natural treatments are even gaining ground in many circles, though some products may require more than one application to be truly effective. Be sure that you’re not only treating kids’ heads, but also their beds, clothing and personal items to stamp out an infestation, should one take root.

10 Reasons Your Child Should See a Specialist

visiontestAlthough you might love your child’s pediatrician, sometimes you may wonder if you need to see a specialist who has a deeper understanding of a particular issue. Unless your doctor refers you elsewhere, it’s difficult to discern whether or not you need a specialist to examine a particular area in greater depth. There is never any reason to fear asking for a referral to see a specialist. It will not insult your pediatrician if you do so. Pediatricians are general doctors, and they do not have the extensive knowledge that specialists do in their particular fields. You should also not worry about being overly cautious or paranoid when it comes to your child, because it’s always better to err on the side of caution when the concern in question relates to your child’s emotional or physical well-being. That being said, there are many times that a good pediatrician or family doctor will be all you need. Here are ten times you definitely should seek out a pediatric specialist.

  • You Suspect a Developmental Delay – If you suspect attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities or if your child is very behind in meeting the developmental milestones, seeing a developmental pediatrician is a good idea. Recently, many general doctors have begun to shy away from making these kinds of diagnoses and prescribing medication for them. Because this is all the developmental pediatrician does, they are often more up-to-date on the latest information and treatments. A developmental pediatrician can also help guide you through what other professionals your child should see and what other tests you should have performed.
  • Your Child has a Severe Asthma Attack – If your child has had a severe asthma attack that required hospitalization or his asthma is not well controlled even when following the doctor’s guidelines, you should consider seeing a pediatric pulmonologist. Additionally, if your child has a cough or congestion that never goes away, he coughs when exercising or he seems to stop breathing in his sleep, you should seek out this specialist.
  • Behavior or Mood Issues – As a parent, it is up to you to decide whether your child is “going through a phase” or could use some help, but generally speaking if your child seems depressed, withdrawn, aggressive or is having a tough time adjusting to a big change or tragedy, taking her to a therapist or child psychologist is a good idea. Many counselors use play therapy so that the children enjoy going. Therapy can help kids develop coping skills that they can utilize for the rest of their lives.
  • Your Child is Not Listening to You – If your child is unresponsive when you call her in for dinner or tell her it’s homework time, she may not be ignoring you. Many kids have auditory processing disorders, and taking them to an audiologist can help determine if this is the case. Not all kids with hearing issues have difficulty hearing, which can be confusing for some parents. For example, if you take a child with an auditory processing disorder into a quiet room and ask if she can hear you, she will usually say, “Yes.” However, if you turn on the television or take her into a loud room with lots of distractions, she may not be able to filter out the background noise and will no longer be able to process what you are saying. Some kids with auditory processing disorders hear the beginning of a sentence but not the end. They sometimes then fill in the parts they did not hear with what they assume was said. These kids may appear to not be following directions and just doing things their own way when, in fact, they just did not hear the instructions in their entirety. Seeing an audiologist can help to diagnosis this issue and learn to cope with it.
  • Vision Problems – If your child is telling you that his vision is blurry or he has frequent headaches, you should take him to an ophthalmologist. Often, vision issues do not get diagnosed until a child is in school and is having trouble reading, but some younger children will report vision issues to their parents prior to this. If your child tells you they are having issues seeing, it’s good to take heed because many vision problems can be corrected.
  • Chronic Ear Infections – When a child gets chronic ear infections, usually more than three in a season or five in a year, it’s time to see an ENT or otolaryngologist. These doctors can make sure there is nothing more serious going on and can treat for these chronic infections, often by putting tubes in the ears for drainage.
  • Delayed Speech or Trouble Articulating – If your child’s speech seems well behind that of his peers and people do not understand him, it may well be time to take him to a speech and language pathologist for treatment. Whether your child is non-verbal or has articulation issues, a speech therapist can work with him to correct it.
  • Headaches, Weakness or Seizures – If your child has frequent headaches, experiences what you think is a seizure or has extreme weakness, a neurologist would be the specialist to see. Neurologists are also helpful for children who have been diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities.
  • Bedwetting and Incontinence – If a child is over the age of seven and wets the bed more than two or three times per week, it is recommended that they see a pediatric urologist. This doctor can rule out infections, kidney problems and other health issues that may be causing the enuresis. The urologist can then offer treatment options.
  • Digestive Issues – When a child is suffering from any ongoing digestive issue, such as constipation, acid reflux or nutritional problems, she should see a pediatric gastroenterologist. Pediatric gastroenterologists are specially trained to run tests and treat children specifically, and to ensure their comfort when they do so.

Helping Your Child Take Safe Risks

safeThe first instinct of most parents when confronted with the idea of allowing, let alone encouraging, kids to take risks typically involves preventing any risky behavior at all. While you certainly don’t want to encourage your child to jump from the top of a tree or take off across the street without looking both ways first, it’s important to understand just how integral taking safe risks is to the development of your child. Taking risks and making mistakes are essential learning experiences, and are key to your child’s development into a healthy, independent and functioning adult. What’s important is having an understanding of what’s safe in terms of risk-taking, and what risky behavior can constitute a lack of safety.

Understanding Safe Risks

In order to learn new things through experiences, a child must try new things and take the chance of making a mistake. That means that she needs an adult who’s willing to help her through safe risks and redirect her attention from those that aren’t so safe. A small child doesn’t always foresee the natural consequences of a choice, which means that she may not be able to understand the inherent danger in a particular activity. If your child could seriously injure herself or someone else with a decision, it’s almost certainly not a safe risk. If she can safely make a mistake without causing real damage, it may be a risk that is okay for her to take.

Talk About Risks

Talk to your child about the possible consequences of her actions, both positive and negative. Help her to understand the difference between a safe risk and an unsafe one, and what she could potentially gain if her risk pays off in the long run. Don’t encourage or discourage a safe risk, just help her to identify the possible drawbacks and benefits that could stem from making the decision on her own. Work on identifying the consequences of not acting, as well as the result of taking a leap of faith.

Let Kids Solve Their Own Problems

When hardship inevitably rears its ugly head, it’s important that you allow your child to manage her problems on her own. That doesn’t mean that you can’t offer advice if she asks for it, but that you shouldn’t swoop in to solve the issue for her. Your child needs to feel the consequences of the risks she takes in order to learn from them. Be there for your child when she’s disappointed or things don’t turn out the way she hoped, make yourself available to talk about the situation and empathize accordingly, but make sure that you’re not stifling her or robbing her of the chance to learn from the situation.

Start a Journal

Start a journal with your child that chronicles the risks she has taken, or those she is considering. Not only will the action of committing these situations to paper and documenting the benefits and repercussions of acting help her to understand them more, but she’ll also have a reference to look back on when she’s contemplating future endeavors. This journal will eventually serve as a chronicle of her growth and development as an independent person as she gets older.

Understand the Problems With Helicopter Parenting

Hovering over your child and dictating her every move, otherwise known as “helicopter parenting,” will probably keep her safe and sound throughout her childhood. She may never know disappointment, pain or sadness. She will also be woefully unequipped to deal with these inevitable feelings when they begin to manifest as she gets older. Rather than hovering over your child, understand that it is your job to help her take safe risks, identify them and to understand the difference between taking a safe risk and engaging in dangerously risky behavior.