Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Three Areas You Can Focus on When Teaching Your Kids About Keeping Their Teeth Clean

By: Jeffery Williams, Guest Blogger from Oradyne

We tend to have a one-track mind when it comes to oral health: keep those teeth clean. The reality is that oral health can be about far more than combating cavities.

And I’m not even talking about gum health, bad breath or braces. I’m talking about bigger issues. Dental care is one of the earliest consistent routines that we teach our kids and often times that goes unnoticed. If you take a step back, you’ll realize that encouraging your kids to regularly brush, floss and rinse will set them up for success in the future. Below are three major areas you can focus on when teaching your kids about keeping their teeth clean.


The idea of working on something little by little every day is something that’s difficult for kids to grasp. Studies show that almost 95% of college kids procrastinate on homework and studying for exams. These issues can be crushed early on if handled properly.

Take the opportunity after your child’s next dentist appointment (whether it’s good or bad) and talk about what the dentist had to say. Reinforce the idea of regularly working toward a goal every day and help your child understand how living a consistent lifestyle can be beneficial.

Long Term Results

Understanding the benefit of long-term commitment is another area that many kids struggle with, regardless of age. When most school projects have a timeline of days or weeks, it can be difficult for a growing child to get experience working toward a goal over a longer period of time.

Sit down with your child and create one, three and six month goals for their teeth and oral health. Make sure they continue to work toward them and give them proper credit when they complete. Completing a goal they’ve been working toward for half a year can be pretty a powerful and impactful experience for your child.

Realistic Expectations

With movie stars and super models across the news, magazines and Internet, it can be difficult for kids to understand what normal human bodies are supposed to look like. This can spiral into a myriad of self-confidence issues in later years which can take an eternity for them to deal with.

While everyone on TV seems to have blisteringly white teeth, the fact of the matter is that healthy teeth can be many different shades of color, including yellow. It’s perfectly acceptable if their teeth aren’t perfectly white, and it’s important they know that. Sit down with your child and use their oral care to help them understand what’s realistic and what isn’t.

Wrap Up

Whether it’s consistency, understanding long-term results or figuring out what’s normal in our world, your child’s oral health is a fantastic tool to teach them about more than toothbrushes and toothpaste. Make sure to sit down with your child and discuss some of these issues early-on. They’ll thank you for it later.

Since October is National Dental Hygiene Month, download this poster and start the conversation with your family.

About the Author: Purveyor of clean teeth, healthy gums and super smiles, Jeffery Williams is a tried and true oral health expert. When he’s not researching and writing articles for his website, Oradyne.net, he’s out conquering the northern forests of Washington State with his wife Violet.  Download his free Oral Health e-book to change the way you care for your teeth and improve your smile for life. Follow Oradyne on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Be Nice! October is Bully Prevention Month

By: Melissa K. Burkhardt, M.S. Ed, BCBA
Certified Early Start Denver Model Therapist and Autism Specialist 

Did you know that October is Bully Prevention month and Disability Awareness month? Sadly, children with an exceptionality are 2 to 3 times more likely to be bullied than their typical peers.


So, what can you do to help ensure that your child is not a victim of bullying or does not become a bully themselves? To put it simply---EMPATHY! Parents who show empathy for their child when upset, without ignoring their child’s feelings or trying to change their child’s emotional state, help them to develop empathy. 

How to Spot Empathy in a Child

Let’s look at a couple of examples of how to develop empathy in your child.
  • Your young child wants to go outside, but it is raining and your child is crying and frustrated. Empathy is reflecting how your child feels. Describe to your child what you see, “Your face is going like this” (get on your child’s level and mirror your child’s face). “You look like you feel sad because you can’t go outside right now. I know this is hard for you but you can handle this.”  Dr. Becky Bailey, creator of Conscious Discipline, wrote the Schubert and Sophie series. These books help teach children crucial social skills, such as regulating their own emotional states and how to be assertive with others who do not respect their boundaries, such as bullies. This series walks the child and parent through the steps on how to handle upsets, as in the scenario described above.
  • Another example of teaching your child empathy is by expressing respect, care, and concern for everyone your child sees and hears you interact with. Yes, even the driver who cuts you off in traffic! Showing empathy in this situation could be by saying out loud, "Boy, that really scared me and I need to take a deep breath to help me feel calm! That driver must have an emergency to be driving so fast! I hope that everything works out well for her!” Not only will you be modeling empathy, but you will be modeling self-regulation for your child.
  • A further effective way to teach empathy is to teach children to value one another’s differences. I authored the book Exceptionally Good Friends: Building Relationships with Autism (EGF), winner of the Autism Society’s, “2015 Dr. Temple Grandin Outstanding Literary Work of the Year.” One of the reasons I wrote the book is specifically to help children develop empathy, tolerance, and understanding of one another’s differences. The story is told from the point of view of a neuro-typical child about her friend with autism. The book can then be flipped over for another story told from the point-of-view of the child with autism, experiencing the same events. The two stories lend themselves very well to the discussion of these differences. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “Next time I see someone who looks or acts differently, I will remember to be kind to them.” To learn more about this insightful resource, visit http://www.exceptionallygoodfriends.com/.

Compassion, Empathy and Character Development

The Creating Compassionate Children™ (CCC) campaign is a curriculum for schools that is centered around EGF. “Get caught Being Kind™” is the campaign’s slogan. The curriculum provides teachers and schools with discussion questions to be used along with my book and extension activities and materials to help students develop compassion and empathy for peers who look or act differently. The CCC campaign meets federal guidelines for the requirement for Character Development. To donate a kit to a classroom or to find out about implementing the program in your county, visit http://getcaughtbeingkind.org/.

Avoid Bullying

Equipping your child with strong self-advocacy skills can help your child to avoid becoming a victim of bullying.  A common home situation that is ideal to teach self-advocacy skills is when your child takes their sibling’s toy. Attend to the “victim” first, offering empathy and empowerment. Ask the victim, “Did you like it when your brother/sister took your toy?” The child will likely say, “No!” emphatically. Help the “victim” use this energy to approach the “aggressor” to say, “I don’t like it when you take my toy, give it back, please!” Next, attend to the “aggressor” saying, “Look at your brother/sister’s face. His/her face shows that he/she feels mad and doesn’t like it when you take his/her toy. You wanted your sibling’s toy but did not have the words to tell him/her. Instead of grabbing, next time say, ’May I have a turn please.’ Try it with me now.” You have now taught your child a new skill to use in a similar situation in addition to reinforcing empathy.

Children are much less likely to become bullies themselves when their caregivers are responsive to their emotional and physical needs, connected to their child, treat others with respect, and utilize positive discipline.

About the Author: Melissa K. Burkhardt, M.S. Ed., BCBA, is Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) specializing in the earliest of intervention in autism. As of 2016, Melissa is one of 265 certified Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) providers worldwide, trained in a therapy specifically designed for 12-48 month old children diagnosed with autism. She is the author of the award-winning book, Exceptionally Good Friends: Building Relationships with Autism recipient of the Autism Society’s, “2015 Dr. Temple Grandin Outstanding Literary Work of the Year” and the Mom’s Choice Award. As a certified Special Education Early Intervention Teacher, she taught in the public school system for 20 years where she helped to pioneer a fully inclusive pre-k program in her school district.

Melissa specializes in private therapy providing very early intervention for children with autism and parental coaching to achieve best outcomes in a child’s life. She shares her extensive knowledge about autism through public speaking, coaching, program development, and preparing specialized presentations for individuals, groups, and corporations.

Melissa has learned from experience that early intervention takes advantage of the brain’s neural plasticity and is essential in helping a child with autism spectrum disorder to achieve success in developing to their full capacity.

Melissa can be reached at Melissa@earlystartautism.com.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Let’s Make Our Children Rich and Fit for Life

By: Dr. Linda Carson, CEO, Choosy Kids

A friend of mine recently bought a Powerball ticket after being reminded of the popular saying, “You can’t win if you don’t play.” The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot that day was about 1 in 292 million, and there were nearly 700 million tickets sold! Human nature is ambitious that way. We’re willing to fantasize and sometimes even invest in pipedreams that we wish we could have—even when the odds of achieving them are overwhelmingly stacked against us. Maybe we could use our human nature for “aspiring for more” to our advantage. If we invest in something that we will receive a huge return on and keeps accumulating positive benefits for life, wouldn’t that be worthwhile? I think yes!

Let’s Invest in Health

Your body is your bank and health deposits of physical activity and nutrition can accrue great dividends. In actuality, health is the only true wealth and investing in it often in small increments can improve it and enhance it. And of course investing in children’s health has life long benefits. Let’s make our children rich and fit for life by investing in them too.

National Children’s Health Month and Day

October is National Children’s Health Month and the first Monday of each October is Child Health Day. October is a great time of year for transition and change in weather. It’s also a wonderful month for getting outside and enjoying the beauty and adventure of nature, our outdoor classroom. Let’s embrace October for its emphasis on making children as healthy as we can.

Since 1929, Child Health Day has been a United States Federal Observance Day on the first Monday in October. On Child Health Day the President invites "all agencies and organizations interested in child welfare to unite on Child Health Day in observing exercises that will make the people of the United States aware of the fundamental necessity of a year-round program to protect and develop the health of the children of the United States."

The Environmental Protection Agency celebrates Children’s Health Month. Download this poster and see how many tips you can fit into the month of October. This year’s EPA theme, Healthy Communities, Healthy Children, highlights EPA’s commitment to work with communities to ensure every child has a safe place to live, learn and play.

The Environment Affects Your Child’s Health and Wellbeing

Check out some information and resources from the EPA:
Outside: Studies show that spending time in green, natural environments can have positive impacts on children’s mental and physical health.

  • Researchers from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign found that a 20-minute nature walk helped boost concentration levels in children who had been diagnosed with ADHD.
  • A study of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in New York suggested that having nature in close proximity reduces the impacts of stressful life events such as bullying or family relocation.
  • Australian 10-12-year-old children who spent more time outdoors were 27-41% less likely to be overweight than their peers who spent less time outdoors.

Want to Learn More about the Health Benefits of Nature?

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) established in 1990, implements broad public awareness and engagement campaigns, which showcase how simple everyday actions based on sound environmental knowledge can lead to huge impacts. Check out this infographic from NEEF about children and nature by clicking on link under the image. 

Be sure to also check out Get Into Nature for Better Health, a resource on free apps to help get you and your family out to the park.

More from the EPA

Inside: The “environment” also includes indoors. The “inside” environment, where Americans spend up to 90% of their time, such as at home, work, school, or daycare, can also have a significant impact on a child’s health.
  • About one out of every 10 school-aged children in the United States have asthma, and every year, more than 10.5 million missed school days are attributed to this disease. Indoor air quality can be compromised with environmental asthma triggers such as mold, second hand smoke, or pet dander.
  • Because children are not miniature adults, they are often more likely to be at risk from environmental hazards than adults. Learn to spot situations that may pose a risk to your child, such as exposure to pesticides, radon, and lead, with this guide from EPA on children’senvironmental risks.  
  • Interesting but slightly dated facts about environmental health hazards and children can be found here.

AAP And Head Start National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Head Start National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness has resources for building healthy, active lives for everyone in the family. Especially helpful is the Growing Healthy Family Goal Setting resource.

The 5-2-1-0 message campaign adopted by the AAP provides suggestions for families to help meet or exceed these recommendations for living a healthy active life:
  • Eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day.
  • Keep screen time (like TV, video games, computer) down to 2 hours or less per day.
  • Get 1 hour or more of physical activity every day.
  • Drink 0 sugar-sweetened drinks. Replace soda pop, sports drinks and even 100% fruit juice with milk or water.
You can read more about this in a past Choosy Kid's blog!

And Finally...

One final resource to recommend for families looking for ways to invest in the health of their children might be the website, www.KidsHealth.org, managed by the Nemours Foundation. It is a site devoted to children's health and parenting. There is a specific link just for kids and one for parents as well. Nemours is a leading pediatric health system and highly regarded for its research, and educational outreach.
It’s Children’s Health Month! So, let’s hit the jackpot! Let’s invest in the body banks of our children to reap dividends for a lifetime. 

Are there other resources that you have used and can share with our blog community?

About the Author: Linda Carson, Ed. D, is the founder and CEO of Choosy Kids, LLC, and the Ware Distinguished Professor Emerita at West Virginia University. An award winning, nationally recognized expert, Dr. Carson has devoted her career to promoting healthy preferences for young children and the adults who make decisions on their behalf. Click here to learn more about Linda.

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