Monthly Archives: March 2014

Monday “Think About It”

Last week was Twain now I give you Bertrand Russell to ponder for your Monday:


“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.”
– Ch. 5: Christian Ethics – Marriage and Morals (1929) .


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Sunday Morning Shout Out

Sometimes you come across something and it’s like a gift.  There are the days that I believe all of us have as parents where we feel like we have fallen short.  At the end of the day, have you ever asked yourself if you’ve connected with your child?  Have you regretted that you did not play with them for even a few minutes?  Do you feel like there is a continental divide between you and your teen, tween, or even littler one?  Do you feel like there is a galactic divide between your two children and each other or that each person is an island in your home?  Enter Dr. Laura Marhkam, Clinical Psychologist, and some wonderful tips/”games” she suggests for connecting and reconnecting with your child and family in her article titled Playing with Your Child: Games for Connection and Emotional Intelligence.”

First of all though, Dr. Markham reminds parents that play is children’s work. Children work through and process their different feelings from the day through play. Markham states that in particular, children need physical play to work out all their pent up feelings. When their bodies are charged up emotionally, they need a healthy release for it.  Physical play with children and all the giggling, sweating, and screaming that come with it, help them release negative stress hormones.  Otherwise, this is where tantrums come into play or other negative activities. As children also learn through play, the lesson or message of these games that will soon be discussed, are learned.  Lastly, when parents and children play everyone feels closer and more connected for it.  So while at the end of the day, the last thing you might feel like doing is playing a game, Markham offers a variety of games that can be played in 10 minutes or less.  Rather than feeling more exhausted by them, her experience has found more parents energized by them.

Dr. Markham has ideas for a variety of situations.  For the child who is being very “in your face” with her parent or plain annoying, she states that the parents could grab her child and ask them if they are out of hugs and state they need to do something about it.  Hug them and hug them more!  Tell them you never want to let go and that you love hugging them.  Tell them how much you needed that. Bring on the hug fest and the attention fest for this attention and affection craving child and see the annoying behavior disappear.  She offers a suggestion for the parent who is experiencing a child who is excessively whining.  While some experts state that parents should tell their child they do not hear her until she uses her proper voice, Markham states that this will just make the child feel more powerless.

She reminds parents that this is what whining is all about for the child. Instead, she has a game in which the parent and child look for the child’s strong voice throughout the house. With an engaged child, who by now should be talking in their normal, strong voice, compliment them on their strong voice as you look through the house. Say to them, I love your strong voice! Then ask them again what they initially wanted in the first place. Another great game idea she had was to encourage two squabbling siblings to come to the center of the stage. In your best announcer voice, ask them to fight in the ring. Give the play-by-play commentary about your prizefighters, hopefully illuminating the ridiculousness of the situation and providing levity.  There are many other great ideas in the article that she has to address typical familial issues between parents and children.  May I close with the quote she used at the top of this feature?

Play can be the long-sought bridge back to that deep emotional bond between parent and child. Play, with all its exuberance and delighted togetherness, can ease the stress of parenting. Playful Parenting is a way to enter a child’s world, on the child’s terms, in order to foster closeness, confidence, and connection.” — Lawrence Cohen, Playful Parenting*

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Create Your Family Emergency Plan Today

With all the recent natural disasters it seemed like a good time to look at emergency preparedness in the home.  Whether it’s a fire, bad storms or personal injury, every family experiences an emergency at one time or another. When your immediate and extended family members know what to do, you can increase the likelihood of getting the help you need when you need it and making it safely through any situation.

Make a phone tree: Each and every member of your family must have easy access to emergency phone numbers and know who to phone next on the phone tree. This should include emergency services as well as the numbers of friends and family members who can help in a pinch.

Program these numbers into your phones so that they are on speed dial and store a hard copy of the phone list in an easy-to-reach place like on the fridge. If you have smaller children, practice dialing emergency numbers and make sure they know their address. Share emergency numbers with teachers, schools and other care givers.

Evacuation plan: Discuss how to exit the home in the event of a fire. Make sure they know how to get out of every room in the house (including basement and attic). Practice climbing out of windows or getting down safely from second floor windows. If you live in an apartment block, ensure that they know where all the fire exits are.

Meeting point: Have a meeting point which is a safe distance from your home where all family members go if get separated. It can be a school, a sports field or a favorite restaurant. Ensure that your child knows how to get to the meeting point from your home, their school and other locations.

Emergency bag and first aid kit: Pack a bag which is easy to grab in an emergency. This should include a basic first aid kit and any other medications vital to the health of your family members. You should also pack blankets, food, flashlights, extra batteries, water for three or four days, rain gear, pet food if you have pets and photocopies of all your vital documents. Make sure everyone knows where the emergency bag is. Consider getting a bag with wheels which would be easier for younger children to carry.

Shelters: Do you know where the dedicated emergency shelters are in your neighborhood? Look these up online and visit them with your children so that they know where they are too. Many shelters do not take pets, so if you have a family pet make sure you know the location of nearby pet-friendly hotels and motels.

First aid: Make sure that everyone in your family knows basic first aid. Do refresher courses every year and practice often so you will know what to do in an emergency.

Regularly discuss what you would do in an emergency situation and practice dialing emergency services or exiting buildings in the event of a fire. Ensure that you reinforce these practices each year so that all your family members are prepared. You should also check your emergency bag once a year to see that none of the medication or food has expired. Being prepared won’t prevent accidents from happening, but it may make all the difference in your family’s ability to deal with adverse situations.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 3/28/2013 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Why Handheld Devices are Dangerous for Children Under 12 – A Perspective

Baby EinsteinBelow is an entry that was recently posted to the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog.  I believe there is more to the story and the points put forward that suggest a handheld device is dangerous.  Most things in life can be dangerous if used improperly.  For instance, how many children have been stabbed by pencils or pens?  I could not find that number but I did find a study done in 2011 titled ‘Pencils and pens: an under-recognized source of penetrating injuries in children.‘ that states “Injuries from pens and pencils can be severe or even fatal. Appropriate parent and teacher education regarding the potential risks may help to prevent such injuries.”

Pencils and pens are one of the few sharp objects children have ready access to and yet the educational benefit of these ‘tool’ outweighs the personal risk. A study reported in 2010 by Reuters of the Baby Einstein DVD with 88 children showed that while the DVD fails to boost language skills in toddlers it didn’t hamper it.  The study did report that: “The researcher also asked parents about their kids’ television viewing before entering the study.  The earlier a child started watching Baby Einstein DVDs, it turned out, the smaller his or her vocabulary was.”

All in all, I think for many of the points put forward below there can be counterpoint and potential benefits gained from the use of technology IF it is used wisely and with GUIDANCE.  Here is the original post:

France has banned TV programs aimed at children under three and says babies and toddlers should not be exposed to screen time at all. “Television viewing hurts the development of children under 3 years old and poses a certain number of risks, encouraging passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitedness, troubles with sleep and concentration as well as dependence on screens,” the ruling said.

This was followed by a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics that children under two should not be exposed to any technology whatsoever.

These organizations go on to recommend that toddlers from 3-5 should only get an hour a day and children aged 6-18 should only get 2 hours of screen time a day. While TV has always been a popular way to occupy children, new handheld devices such as laptops, tablets and smart phones have dramatically increased the amount of time children spend in front of screens.

The consequences of this increased screen time are serious for developing minds and bodies.

Brain Growth

In their first two-year, babies’ brains triple in size and the brain continues to develop until the child is 21. Brain growth is determined by environmental stimuli and when that is limited by technology, the child can suffer reduced executive functionality, attention deficit, learning disorders, delayed cognitive development, inability to self-regulate and behavioral disorders.

Developmental Delays

Movement learning theory shows that movement enhances learning and memory. Now, one in three children are entering school with delayed physical development and an associated lack of attention and ability to learn which affects academic achievement and literacy.

Childhood Obesity

Studies have found a correlation between obesity and too much screen time. A study by Feng (2011) found that children with a device in their bedrooms who were under 12 were 30% more likely to be obese.

Sleep Deprivation

A study by the Kaiser Foundation found that 75% of children between the ages of 9 and 10 are sleep deprived to the point where it affects their academic performance. This sleep deprivation is a direct consequence of too much screen time and TV.

Attention Deficits

A pruning of the neuronal tracks to the frontal cortex caused by too much exposure to technology can lead to attention deficits, reduced ability to concentrate and reduced memory in a phenomena known as digital dementia.

The radiation from technological devices (especially smart phones) has been shown to pose a health risk for all users.

It’s vitally important that you pay careful attention to the amount of screen time your children are exposed to in a day. You can set alarms on tablets, smartphones, computers and TVs which will turn these devices off once screen time limits have been reached. That way you don’t always have to be the bad guy and you can control screen time even when you are not there.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 3/21/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Overcoming Test Anxiety

Many students suffer from anxiety when they have to prepare for and write tests and exams. Some get nervous because they are ill-prepared, while others get bogged down in stress regardless of how well-prepared they may be. When students are anxious, they are unhappy and their stress can negatively impact their ability to prepare for a test and their performance on the day. You can help your students to overcome their exam anxiety for a happier, healthier learning experience.

Symptoms Of Test Anxiety

Anxiety may be accompanied by physical symptoms like head and stomach aches, nausea, fatigue, sleeplessness, loss of appetite and vomiting. There can emotional symptoms too like irritability, anger and fear. When students have to operate under this kind of duress for extended periods, they lose focus.

Anxiety can inhibit their ability to concentrate and affect their memory. Higher cognitive functioning also suffers, making it harder for them to solve problems and comprehend complex data. Anxiety also impacts their ability to sleep and reduces appetite. Not getting enough rest or healthy nutrition affects memory and overall academic performance.

Stress Busters

Start from the very beginning by setting realistic academic goals for your students. Help them to get organized by scheduling sufficient study time to prepare adequately for upcoming exams. Don’t do all the organization for them, rather teach them how to record all their upcoming papers and tests and how to organize their time.

Ascertain whether their anxiety stems from a genuine feeling of being overwhelmed. Are they struggling with a subject? If they just aren’t coping, help them to catch up and keep up by getting them an in-home tutor. One-on-one tutors can discover the missing building blocks in your student’s knowledge and skill set and can remedy this so that your student has a solid academic foundation to build on.

Tutors are also able to teach study skills and time management while showing your student how to organize information in a way that suits their learning style. They can help them to build confidence and provide the skills your student needs to work independently.

Happy Thoughts

A positive attitude and confidence are two of the most vital arrows in your student’s academic quiver. If they have an inner dialogue that says they are dumb, just can’t do it or that they are bad at math or science, then that has to change.

Help them to recognize these negative thought patterns and to catch themselves when they fall into bad attitude traps. When they have a negative thought, they need to stop, take a deep breath and replace it with a positive one. You can help by focusing on positive reinforcement when they are on the right track.

Sweet Dreams & Healthy Meals

Getting enough sleep is essential to a stellar academic performance. Ensure that your student doesn’t stay up too late studying, limit sugar intake and make sure they get enough sleep.

While most students like to live on sugar and junk food while they hit the books, opt for healthy, nutritious meals. The brain only takes up 2% of your body mass, but it uses 20% of the energy. So give your rocket the right fuel to function.


For More Information you might explore:

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 3/24/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Title IX Mom

Reading the paper today I came across by Stout and Harris of the New York Times reprinted in the Buffalo News on March 23rd titled “New Weapons Keeping Toy Companies In The Pink.”  The article focuses on how tow makers are focusing in on the ability of girls and women to express their aggressive side more readily and equal opportunities to play with what they choose. These toys (also books and movies) are fast becoming the best sellers for companies such as Disney, Hasbro and Mattel.  Leading the wave are movies like Hunger Games, Brave and Ice.  These have then spawned the array of toy weaponry including bows and arrows in shades of pink marketed exclusively at young girls.

In my own life I can see this come to play out with my six-year old daughter.  On the ice rink she wants to play hockey and is already packing a good check that currently makes me laugh but in a few years it will probably hurt!  Skiing she loves the danger and thrill of going through the woods and needless to say I have kissed and hugged a few trees this year.  Her one ski instructor calls her “the pretzel girl” because of the massive tumble she took last year and the position her body was in once she came to rest.  Slightly dazzed she spent a bit of time in the Red Cross shack but after a bit of time she was wanting to ski again that evening…we thought it best to call it quits that night.  She loves shooting the BB gun, playing basketball and as one of four girls in a class with ten rough boys she is holding her own.

Does all this make her any less of a girl?  My answer is NO.  To me it is helping her find her identity, maintain a healthy life style and makes her confident in her abilities.  Sure there are times we have to say no when it is too dangerous for her because of her size or ability but the nice thing is that she knows it is best for her and that as she grows and develops she will be able to do those things.  So far it is a great ‘working’ relationship!

In the article John A. Frascotti, Hasbro Toys Chief Marketing Officer states “It’s the coming of age of the Title IX mom, who grew up as an athlete in her own right, and men, who have grown up in that environment who have daughters, want their children, both boys and girls, to have equal opportunities to play.  Sure some may see it as sexist marketing on the part of the toy and media market but I think it was actually a trend that was developing socially and they have actually been a bit late to jump onto the bandwagon. It is also part of the reason I predict that Soccer will become the number one sport over American Football in this country within ten years since both men and women can play it and enjoy watching it…yep my daughter loves playing goal.

Thanks goodness for Title IX…it as helped keep this 50+ year old dad active, bruised and banged up as he is pushed to explore new activities and experiences.  Not quite sure she’ll get me on those roller coasters this summer though!

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Monday “Think About It”

I hope you had a good day without a “Monday”Think About It'”.  I got wrapped up thinking about too many other things and getting bills paid and paper shredded. Plus, I needed to keep the fire burning since those lovely snow flakes keep dancing down upon us!

I did come across a great quote from Mark Twain for you to noodle on this Tuesday morning:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).”
– Notebook, 1904 .


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