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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Raising Children to Resist Violence

Has our society become more violent or is our perception that our society – or even our world – has become more violent? 

World War I, the Columbine shooting, domestic violence, and all kinds of other violent acts occur around us all the time. We read about them in the newspapers and we watch horrors unfold on our television sets. Our movies and games are saturated with blood, shooting, and inflicting pain.

If you are a parent who is trying to envelop your child in only a positive environment, unless you keep the child around you at all times, chances are he or she will be exposed to some sort of violence. How do you prepare your child for that inevitable day, whether the exposure is through a friend's video game, an unintentional look at a TV screen or computer monitor, or a photo in a magazine?

More importantly, how do you teach your child to resist violence if the occasion should arise where your child is confronted with a choice to fight back? What if your child is being bullied and comes to a point where he or she can no longer take it? Will the choice be that of the choice made by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the Columbine students who killed their classmates as a result of being bullied?

The American Psychological Association has put together a web site that helps parents teach their children how to respond to emotional issues without resorting to violence. It also teaches them what steps they can take to reduce or minimize violence. Some of their helpful advice, along with my commentary, follows.

First and foremost, make sure your child feels safe in his or her home. Encouraging, supportive, and loving parents can form the basis of a strong relationship between parent and child. Some children are difficult, and parents may need help themselves in dealing with special needs children and those with behavior problems. The American Psychological Association offers parents information to help them raise emotionally healthy children who will know how to resist violence.

Supervise your child. If your teenage slaps the laptop shut every time you enter the room, be suspicious, confront your child, and then examine the laptop by looking through the history. Invite friends into your home, so you can get a sense of the types of people your child chooses as friends. If you allow your child to spend the night at a friend's house, introduce yourself to the parents, get to know them, and ask questions to determine whether or not your child will be safe with them.

BE the kind of person you want your children to emulate. If you confront difficult issues with violence, they will mimic you. How you respond to trauma and problems will likely be the way they will respond to difficult situations.

Be consistent with your parenting. Allowing children to do something one day, and then punishing them for doing the same thing the next day confuses your children. When you make a rule, consistently enforce the rule, or don't make one at all. Better yet, include your children when making decisions that affect them, even for something as simple as bedtime.

For instance, if you are discussing bedtimes, find a reputable web site that lists the number of hours of sleep children need at a specific age. lists approximately how much sleep a child needs at a certain age. Pay attention to your child's regular sleep patterns during the summer. If 10 hours works during the summer, use that number of hours to help your child determine bedtime during school. Engaging children in the process of making their own decisions increases the likelihood of them enforcing their own rules. 

If you want to raise loving children, keep violence out of the home. Don't encourage children to watch violent movies or play violent games. When you consider the number of hours your child is awake and factor in the number of hours your child exposes him- or herself to violence, you can understand the percentage of hours your child is bombarded with violence. 

For more in-depth information on how to raise loving and responsible children who will know how to resist violence, visit the American Psychological Association by clicking the link.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Breakfast Smoothie For Kids Who Hate Breakfast

Most parents rush through mornings as if they are running some kind of marathon. With little time to get themselves and everyone else ready, the only perceived option is to throw a bowl of cereal at the kids. What doesn't help is that a lot of kids hate breakfast, and sometimes getting them to eat anything nutritious is difficult if not downright impossible. These same kids may also hate lunch and dinner. 
So how do you get nutrients into their bodies if all they do is hold a fork over their plates or a spoon over their bowls and stare at their food as if it is crawling with leaches? If you care about their health and you don't want to feed them a diet of cookies, cakes, candies, or sugar-laden cereals, even though their little eyes would light up and you might find yourself saying, "Well, at least they're eating SOMETHING," know that you do have other options.

Most kids love milkshakes. Call this smoothie a milkshake if you have to, but this one is filled with actual nutrients AND it tastes sensational (even for adults – it's what I have for breakfast most days). Small children might find this drink too large for their little tummies, so you might have to share it with them. It makes a great mid-afternoon snack in the summer too:

Yummy Breakfast Smoothie

1 cup yogurt (any flavor – I use Activia)
1 pkg. Carnation Instant Breakfast (chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla)
1 banana (or equivalent size of frozen fruit, such as frozen bananas and strawberries*)
1 cup milk or Silk
1 handful of ice (several ice cubes)
1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter**

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. You can add all kinds of boosters, too, like protein powder, flaxseed, wheat germ, or honey (do not use honey for babies). 

*If you use frozen fruit, you won't need ice cubes.

**This yummy breakfast smoothie tastes great without peanut butter so if your child is allergic to peanuts, add some protein powder instead.

Photo courtesy of

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tornado and the Tree – Miracle or Coincidence?

The wind was blowing, the sky was filled with clouds, the rain was about to fall, and the kids wanted to play in the back yard. OK, I told them, but when the wind became more fierce and the rain picked up, I told them to stand under the carport, which faced the front yard, while I ran inside the house to close the windows.

We lived in the middle of a cul-de-sac, with a back yard that stretched the length of four other back yards. A house sat on both sides of ours and a tall weeping willow stood in the northeast corner of our back yard lot where the kids had been playing until the wind picked up. 

With all of them stationed securely in the carport, I ran though the house closing one window after another until I saw a greenish cast in the sky that foretold the possibility of a tornado. In paralyzing fear, I stopped mid-shut as I watched objects float by one of the windows. 

My babies were outside and this looked like the outskirts of a tornado. I shook myself out of my shock and ran outside. But before I got there, a large THUMP made the house feel as if it had been lifted from its foundation.

I gathered my three youngest children, all of whom were in a state of shock. They felt the impact too. I pulled them inside while I finished closing the windows, my heart bouncing off the walls of my chest. 

The cause of the THUMP turned out to be the giant weeping willow. It had crash-landed in our back yard, falling across the lawn where the kids had been playing before I brought them to the carport. Its uppermost branches landed by our back door.

I will never know if a tornado caused the tree to fall, but something uprooted that tree and caused it to land flat on the ground covering the back yard all the way up to our back door. Thankfully, it hit no other home around us, nor did it ruin our home. It didn't even break the fence.

What I'm most grateful for, though, is that Some Thing or Some One saved my children from being in the back yard when that tree landed. Only minutes passed after I had moved them to a different spot. If I hadn't moved them, all three would have been crushed by that tree.

For information about Preparing for a Tornado, click the link. 

Visit the Tornado Facts web site to see more photos of tornadoes and their aftermath by clicking the link.

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