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Good to know: Sleep Myths Debunked

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 Sleep Myths Debunked

Myth #1: Newborns don’t need a sleep schedule. “Even very young babies benefit from scheduling and consistency at nighttime and nap time,” says Kim West, a sleep consultant and author of Good Night, Sleep Tight. “It lays the groundwork for learning how to sleep through the night once they’re older.”

Myth #2: Infants can sleep through the night. Just like adults, children wake up four to five times a night. The catch is that adults know how to get themselves back to sleep and infants don’t. Mary Ann LoFrumento, author of Simply Parenting: Understanding Your Newborn and Infant, says that while many babies are capable of consistently soothing themselves to sleep after two or three months, others don’t do that until age 6 months or beyond.

Myth #3: You can get a child to sleep through the night by starting solids early (before 4 to 6 months). Many parents mistakenly think this technique will work by keeping their baby full longer, but it’s a bad idea, says Claire Lerner, director of parent education at Zero to Three, a nonprofit that promotes the health of infants and toddlers. She notes that young infants lack the mature digestion and oral-motor skills to handle solid foods, and introducing solids too early may trigger some food allergies.

Myth #4: It’s okay to let your baby sleep in a moving seat or swing. A few minutes in a moving swing or bouncy seat can soothe a fussy baby, but don’t let it become a crutch. Sleeping in a moving swing or seat for a prolonged period of time keeps your baby in a light sleep, meaning he won’t get the deep, restful sleep he needs, says Lerner. Sleeping babies should spend 50 percent of their time in non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the deepest sleep stage, during which the brain sends out growth and developmental hormones.

Myth #5: Children who don’t nap during the day sleep longer at night. Not so, says West. Skipping daytime naps only leads to sleep sabotage. Kids who are overtired will often miss their sleep window at night, she explains. Miss the window and the body secretes cortisol, a form of adrenaline. As a result, kids will sleep more fitfully and wake up earlier (not later) the next morning.

“You have to fill your child’s sleep tank during the day to get him to sleep well at night,” she says. Of course, children will naturally need fewer naps as they get older. The transition from two naps to a single afternoon nap usually occurs between 15 and 18 months, says West. Expect naps to be a thing of the past by age 5.

Myth #6: A child who can climb out of a crib is ready for a big-kid bed. Not necessarily. “Moving to a bed before age 2 doesn’t solve sleep problems, it only makes them worse,” says West. “At this age, children are too young to understand why they need to stay in bed.” She recommends keeping toddlers in the crib and using a crib tent, if necessary, to prevent them from pulling a Houdini.

Myth #7: Some children are bad sleepers. All children can be taught to be good sleepers, says LoFrumento. “If a child is older, it may take longer, it might take more effort, but every child is able to learn how to fall asleep well on his own.”

Very Important to know:Your drinking water: Is it safe?

sharing from baby center:

Your drinking water: Is it safe?

How can I tell whether the water in my house is safe to drink?
It’s not easy. You can rely on your senses to alert you to a few of the more unappetizing things that spill into your drinking glass — like sulfur, with its distinctive rotten-egg smell, or too much chlorine.

The Water Quality Association offers an interactive Diagnose Your Drinking Water tool on its Web site, which can help you figure out why your tap water smells like rotten eggs, tastes like salt, or spots your glasses. Advice is also available on how to treat a problem once you’ve identified it. But some of the most serious — and most common — contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses, lead, and other chemicals, can’t be tasted or smelled.

The water from most municipal systems in the United States is safe, because any system that serves 25 people or more is required to comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Your water comes from a municipal system unless you have a private well on your property or live in a rural area where a number of families share a well. The water system must test regularly for potentially harmful contaminants and alert the public if any are above acceptable limits.

Unless you’ve heard otherwise, you can be reasonably confident that your water meets federal standards. Still, there’s only one way to know for sure what’s in your water, and that’s to have it tested.

How can I test my tap water?
If you’re on a public or municipal water line in the United States, call your local water supplier (the number’s on your water bill). By law, the supplier must test its processed water regularly and provide you with a copy of the results, called a Consumer Confidence Report, annually as well as on demand.

Many water agencies across the country now make their annual water quality reports available online. You can access these reports on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site.

If you contact your local agency by phone, ask for a test of the water from your own faucets to find out whether any contaminants are getting into the water between the treatment plant and your drinking glass. Some suppliers will do this test free of charge.

If your water supplier won’t test your water, you’ll need to have the test done by a state-certified lab. To find one in your area, call the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water hotline at (800) 426-4791, go to the EPA’s Web site for a list of state certification offices, or look in the Yellow Pages under “Laboratories — Testing.”

Alternatively, you can use a nationwide testing service: Underwriters Laboratories will test your water for a variety of contaminants, from fecal bacteria to industrial pollutants, and get the results to you in about a week. The price depends on how many contaminants you want to test for: It can range from $30 for a simple mercury screen, to $500 for a 94-contaminant screen.

You can also test your water yourself, using a home test kit. These kits can’t test for everything, but they detect lead, arsenic, pesticides, and bacteria. Two reputable ones are PurTest and Discover testing. The kits sell for $10 to $30.

In any case, be sure to test what’s called first-draw water — the stuff that comes out of your faucet when you first turn on the tap in the morning. If contaminants are leaching from the plumbing pipes into your water, the level of contamination will be highest after the water has sat in the pipes overnight.

Although the EPA says that more than 90 percent of water systems in this country meet its water quality standards, several contaminants can make their way into the water supply. These include arsenic, viruses and other disease-causing organisms, chlorine by-products, industrial and agricultural pollutants, and lead.

In concentrations of more than 15 parts per billion (ppb), lead can be very dangerous to infants and children, leading to delays in physical and mental development, neurological disorders, kidney disease, and learning disabilities. (Contaminants are measured by how many particles of the substance are present in a billion particles of water — 15 ppb means 15 particles of lead in a billion particles of water.)

Have your water tested for lead if you have lead pipes or brass faucets (which may contain lead), and for copper if you have copper pipes. Lead solder could legally be used to join plumbing pipes until 1986, but lead is a concern even if you live in a brand-new home. Faucets and pipes are still allowed to contain as much as 8 percent lead and have been shown to leach the metal in significant amounts, particularly when they’re new.

Should I test my well water?
Federal drinking water standards don’t apply to private wells, so it’s up to you to have your water tested (and to pay for the test). To find a certified testing lab, call the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water hot line at (800) 426-4791, look in the Yellow Pages under “Laboratories — Testing,” or use a national testing agency such as Underwriters Laboratories.

Your local health department or public water system can advise you about possible well-water contamination in your area. However, even if no advisory’s in place, you should still test your water regularly.

At least once a year, have your well water tested for nitrates, coliform bacteria (bacteria found in the intestines), total dissolved solids, and pH (acidity or alkalinity), especially if your well is new or you’ve recently replaced or repaired pipes. Test every three years for chloride, iron, sulfate, manganese, hardness, and corrosion. Depending on the area in which you live, you may also need to consider annual checks of lead, copper, arsenic, radon, pesticides, or other substances.

If you’re pregnant, test your water for nitrate before your baby is born, just after your baby is born, and sometime during the first six months of your baby’s life. Babies are especially vulnerable to nitrate poisoning.

Exposure to high levels of nitrate can cause methemoglobinemia, a blood disorder known as “blue baby” syndrome, which affects the hemoglobin in a young baby’s blood, causing the oxygen supply to drop dangerously low. If your baby’s skin starts to turn blue, seek medical attention immediately. Nitrate poisoning can be treated, but prompt medical attention is crucial.

A water test can run anywhere from $30 to screen for one or two particular contaminants, to $500 to screen for the full range of detectable contaminants.

Am I better off just drinking bottled water?
Not necessarily. Bottled water is not only more expensive than tap water, but in some cases it’s no healthier — and may even be less healthy — than your local tap water. (Of course, that depends on the quality of your local water supply.) In fact, about one-quarter of bottled water is simply tap water that has been processed and repackaged, according to a 2000 report by Consumer Reports.

The quality of bottled water can vary, depending upon the manufacturer, where it originated (whether it’s spring water or well water, for example), and how it was treated. The Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water together with state agencies and trade organizations such as the International Bottled Water Association, which lists bottled water companies that adhere to the organization’s Model Code.

Some bottled water is certified by NSF International, a nonprofit independent, third-party monitor. NSF’s consumer Web site contains a great deal of useful information about the different types of bottled water available and where the water comes from. Look for the NSF mark on the bottled water you buy, to ensure that it’s been carefully tested.

Bottled water is regulated differently than tap water, with stricter standards for some contaminants and looser standards for others. For example, bottled water is not required to be tested for asbestos or for parasites such as Cryptosporidium or Giardia, because the FDA doesn’t consider the sources to be at risk for these contaminants. But the standards for lead and fluoride are stricter for bottled water than for tap water.

A less expensive alternative to using bottled water is to install a filter on your kitchen sink or refrigerator. Certain filters can remove lead and other contaminants from your water, but not every type of filter removes all contaminants.

Before you purchase a water treatment unit, have your water tested so that you know exactly which contaminants you’re trying to remove. NSF International maintains a database of certified drinking water treatment units, which you can search by the contaminants they remove.

One thing to be aware of, though, is that two types of home filters — reverse osmosis systems and distillation systems — can remove fluoride from the water. If you’re using one of these systems, talk to your dentist or doctor: You’ll want to make sure your child’s getting adequate fluoride through other means since fluoride builds tooth enamel and prevents decay.

If you purchase a water filter, follow the manufacturer’s directions and change the filter regularly to prevent contaminants from building up.

Winning Foods For A New Year

Sugary cakes. Glazed hams. Egg nog. That’s all behind you now! Wipe the slate clean and start the new year on a healthy note by focusing on vitamin-rich foods that you can incorporate into every meal going forward. Thankfully, these picks are delicious and easy to find. From spicy veggies to protein powerhouses to sweet treats, see which foods make the top five!

The best way to reset your eating habits after the holidays is to stock your fridge with fresh, nutrient-rich foods that give you energy and improve your mood. Here’s Joy’s list of the top five:

LENTILS
These beans are filled with high-quality vegetarian protein and fiber, which boost energy and mood. They’re inexpensive and they cook up in 30 minutes or less. SUGGESTION: making large pots of lentil soup or lentil chili so you can freeze the leftovers.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Toss some Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet, add olive oil and salt, and then bake until they’re crispy. We have no doubt they will become your favorite veggie. Added bonus: They’re only 55 calories per cup and they help fight cancer and boost memory.

EGG WHITES
One egg white has only 17 calories and is 100% pure protein, which helps to slightly rev up our metabolism. Make an omelet or a frittata— use two to three egg whites for each whole egg. Hard boil an egg, pop out the yolk and replace it with a scoop of hummus for a power snack.

FROZEN BERRIES
Keeping bags of frozen raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries on hand is a perfect way to make sure you still get antioxidants, especially during the winter months when fresh fruit is hard to come by. Eat them right out of the bag, add them to cereal, or make delicious smoothies.

HOT PEPPERS
Hot peppers can suppress your appetite and rev up your metabolism. If you like spicy food, add them liberally to your scrambled eggs, stews, ore even tuna or chicken salad.

Do you have any healthy eating suggestions to start the New Year off right? Let me know! 🙂

Did I mention…kids will LOVE these, too? They are hit with my five-year-old! Trash the pizza, and get healthy!

What are we feeding our kids (and ourselves)

It’s that time again, as my close friends (Toni, Cassie & Teresa) will tell you I’m a bit of a food nut. granola with a side of green juice. I refer to myself as a flexetarian , straight but not narrow. Do I eat at Johnny rockets with my friends? Absolutely. Stop at McDonalds and say it’s a meal? No way in…..well you get the idea. All you need to do is look around and you see the results of poor diet in America, we are a first world country so why don’t we eat and feed our children that way? Why do we continue to cling to urban myths, old wives tales, excellent marketing, strategic consumerism and changing food from something that nourishes our minds and bodies to something we use as comfort, to shut our kids up and dumb ourselves down. It’s amazing, a mother will take her autistic child to doctor after doctor looking for a cure while feeding him white bread, white flour & sugar & milk! If you have not seen “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” & “Food Inc.” I suggest you que up your Netflix and prepare to relearn everything you thought you knew about food.

I’ll give you a few interesting facts. in the 19th century milk was referred to as ‘White Poison’. Approximately 49 out of 100 milk feed infants died from polluted milk, which begs the question, if people knew milk was killing their children why were they still using it? The short answer is marketing, presidential campaigns, and full bellies. If you are really interested read the book listed below. (1)  

Now to the real post:

Every culture has its own mythology. In Western culture, much of ours surrounds food and drink. While many of these ideas are considered “conventional” wisdom, the truth is they are making us fat and sick. It’s not that “diet experts” are trying to intentionally harm you when they suggest common dietary advice. It’s just that they, like the rest of the American public, have been very misinformed about what constitutes a healthy diet. We have moved away from our natural intuition as to what to feed our bodies, and are sucked into an ever-complicating “diet” world.

The unambiguous proof lies in the statistics. The prevalence of obesity in the United States over a single generation has grown substantially. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of obesity in America went from less than 14 percent in every single state in 1985 to higher than 20 percent in nine states, greater than 25 percent in 25 states, and higher than 30 percent in the remaining states. At the same time, the incidence2 of type 2 diabetes (an illness typically found in people over 40) is rising in children and adults! Autoimmune disorders are on the rise, as well.

Clearly, something is wrong here. Many experts are pointing their finger straight at the contemporary Western diet, and I concur that the very poor diet that most people have is indeed at the root of an overwhelming amount of health problems.

I always find it strange that many health experts blame these problems on a lack of willpower. After all, the diet industry in this country is booming. Americans spend billions on an array of products that promise to facilitate weight loss, including low-fat foods, diet books, diet programs, and more. Yet, America as a country continues to grow fatter in spite her citizens’ best efforts to count calories, cut out fats, eat “diet” microwave or packaged foods and lead healthier lives. I’ve always believed that the biggest issue isn’t about willpower. Instead, I think America’s health problems lie in all of the myths that have become conventional wisdom.

Myth 2: Milk – It Does a Body Good.

The dairy industry has spent a lot of money convincing you that milk is essential for good health. Over the years I’ve seen multiple claims about the healthfulness of milk including:

  • Eating two servings of low-fat dairy every day can help you lose weight.
  • Dairy products help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Dairy products help build strong bones and teeth.
  • Milk and other dairy is the best source of calcium and vitamin D available.
  • Yogurt can help build healthy intestinal flora and is good for dieting.

In fact, we’ve bought so deeply into the dairy mythology that our food pyramid even has a special section just for low-fat dairy products.

Nature creates a way for mammal mothers to nurture their young. After giving birth, mothers produce milk in order to nurse their young through the first few months or years of their life. Human babies are intended to drink breast milk for the first few years of life, not cow’s milk. That is intended for baby cows. In nature, cows stop producing milk after the calves are weaned. Dairy farmers continually breed the cattle in order to maintain ongoing lactation.

Milk contains two ingredients that are very difficult for humans to process: lactose and casein. Additionally, the milk contains hormones that may lead to sensitivity in humans, and many dairy cattle are injected with rbGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), a hormone genetically engineered by the Monsanto Corporation to artificially increase milk production.

Human health problems associated with dairy consumption include:

Lactose leads to gas, bloating and discomfort rbGH in dairy increases the incidence in IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1) in humans. This can decrease insulin sensitivity and may be a precursor to type 2 diabetes. IGF-1 may also increase risk of developing heart disease or cancer. Casein is the protein in dairy products. In the China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell concluded that casein ingestion promotes cancer in all stages of development.

Dairy is extremely acid-forming.

Dairy is extremely mucus-forming, which means it is slow to digest in the digestive tract, which may lead to more toxicity being compounded in the digestive tract and throughout the body.

Avoid dairy products including milk, cheese, yogurt and kefir. Instead, eat a plant-based diet, and get your probiotics from Probiotic & Enzyme Salad and probiotic supplements. if you need milk, then try unsweetened almond, hemp, coconut or hazelnut milk. Goat’s cheese is a good transition cheese that digests better than cow’s milk cheese.

Breakfast most IMPORTANT meal of the day……ah not.

There’s probably not a mom alive that hasn’t repeated this myth at some point. Breakfast is entrenched in our belief system, and many people feel this means they should eat a heavy, protein-laden breakfast in order to get the day started right.

In fact, a heavy breakfast will start your day off just wrong! Every morning is a new opportunity to cleanse your body, since it has fasted all night and your food has digested. Eating a heavy meal in the morning can plug up the plumbing and decrease your energy stores as your body focuses on digesting all of that food you just ate. If you eat a huge breakfast, you will need more snacks and caffeine by mid-morning.

What should you do instead? Don’t force yourself to eat until your natural hunger kicks in, and then start yourself off with a Glowing Green Smoothie. Eat heavier meals later in the day when your body will have a long time available to digest them. Try it for yourself for 2 weeks, and notice how much better you feel than from having huge daily breakfasts! You will feel lighter, more energetic, and will be able to perform all functions more efficiently.

(1) America’s drink By Erna Melanie DuPuis

Pass The Safe Chemicals Act!

Thursday is a big — and long overdue — day. And American moms, like me, will be tuned in and watching.

Usually, hearings in Congress get little attention from the general public, let alone busy moms. But this Thursday is a big day for those of us who care about protecting American families from toxic chemicals.

The U.S. Senate will be holding a hearing on “The Safe Chemicals Act,” a bill sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). The bill, a much-needed overhaul of our antiquated laws, will help us all protect our families from toxic chemicals.

There is no stronger instinct for a mom then wanting to protect her kids and keep them safe. My child has changed my life in wonderful ways. He’s brought me tremendous joy. He’s also made me conscious of every product I buy, from toys to mattresses to cleaning products. I hope that the decisions I make will shield my child from harm. Yet today, it’s impossible to be sure. As parents, we just don’t have the information we need to keep our kids safe from toxic chemicals in many household products.

Many moms and dads believe that our government is making sure there aren’t toxic chemicals in our products. And for a long time, I thought the same thing.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. It is still legal to use lead, mercury, asbestos and formaldehyde in many common household products. Even worse, there are thousands of other chemicals in use that have never been tested for safety at all!

We require all kinds of companies to make sure that their products are safe before they’re sold, from food to pharmaceuticals to pickup trucks. And yet there is no requirement that the chemicals used in consumer products be tested for safety, even if they’re used in products made for children.

Would you give your child medicine that hadn’t been tested to make sure it was safe?

Parents are often shocked to find out that there are dangerous chemicals in their child’s plastic baby bottles, toys, baby soap, shower curtains, and even in their crib mattresses. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

That’s why parents are demanding action from Congress now. That’s why we need the Safe Chemicals Act.

I am hopeful that members of both parties will see this as an issue of basic common sense — for the health of their kids and grandkids and those of their constituents. I believe they will do the right thing. And I am encouraged by bipartisan efforts to make progress on this issue. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the lead Republican on the committee hearing this bill, has joined with Senator Lautenberg to seek common ground on this issue.

I hope the companies that make chemicals and household products will step up, too, and become partners in passing this important legislation. The Safe Chemicals Act will enhance their brands and their businesses, and, most importantly, serve their customers well — especially their tiniest ones.

Moms (and dads!) across the country are busy people. They are trying to raise their kids and support their families. But on Thursday, lots of us moms will be watching online on behalf of parents across the country.

Every kid has the right to be safe in her home. Every mom has the right to know that the products she buys for her child are free of toxic chemicals.

We have hope and faith in our political system to fix this problem, and we are counting on our U.S. Senators to get it done. For the sake of our kids, do not let us down.

 

Hooked On Praise

Hang out at a playground, visit a school, or show up at a child’s birthday party, and there’s one phrase you can count on hearing repeatedly: “Good job!” Even tiny infants are praised for smacking their hands together (“Good clapping!”). Many of us blurt out these judgments of our children to the point that it has become almost a verbal tic.

Plenty of books and articles advise us against relying on punishment, from spanking to forcible isolation (“time out”). Occasionally someone will even ask us to rethink the practice of bribing children with stickers or food. But you’ll have to look awfully hard to find a discouraging word about what is euphemistically called positive reinforcement.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, the point here is not to call into question the importance of supporting and encouraging children, the need to love them and hug them and help them feel good about themselves. Praise, however, is a different story entirely. Here’s why.

1. Manipulating children. Suppose you offer a verbal reward to reinforce the behavior of a two-year-old who eats without spilling, or a five-year-old who cleans up her art supplies. Who benefits from this? Is it possible that telling kids they’ve done a good job may have less to do with their emotional needs than with our convenience?

Rheta DeVries, a professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, refers to this as “sugar-coated control.” Very much like tangible rewards – or, for that matter, punishments – it’s a way of doing something to children to get them to comply with our wishes. It may be effective at producing this result (at least for a while), but it’s very different from working with kids – for example, by engaging them in conversation about what makes a classroom (or family) function smoothly, or how other people are affected by what we have done — or failed to do. The latter approach is not only more respectful but more likely to help kids become thoughtful people.

The reason praise can work in the short run is that young children are hungry for our approval. But we have a responsibility not to exploit that dependence for our own convenience. A “Good job!” to reinforce something that makes our lives a little easier can be an example of taking advantage of children’s dependence. Kids may also come to feel manipulated by this, even if they can’t quite explain why.

2. Creating praise junkies. To be sure, not every use of praise is a calculated tactic to control children’s behavior. Sometimes we compliment kids just because we’re genuinely pleased by what they’ve done. Even then, however, it’s worth looking more closely. Rather than bolstering a child’s self-esteem, praise may increase kids’ dependence on us. The more we say, “I like the way you….” or “Good ______ing,” the more kids come to rely on our evaluations, our decisions about what’s good and bad, rather than learning to form their own judgments. It leads them to measure their worth in terms of what will lead us to smile and dole out some more approval.

Mary Budd Rowe, a researcher at the University of Florida, discovered that students who were praised lavishly by their teachers were more tentative in their responses, more apt to answer in a questioning tone of voice (“Um, seven?”). They tended to back off from an idea they had proposed as soon as an adult disagreed with them. And they were less likely to persist with difficult tasks or share their ideas with other students.

In short, “Good job!” doesn’t reassure children; ultimately, it makes them feel less secure. It may even create a vicious circle such that the more we slather on the praise, the more kids seem to need it, so we praise them some more. Sadly, some of these kids will grow into adults who continue to need someone else to pat them on the head and tell them whether what they did was OK. Surely this is not what we want for our daughters and sons.

3. Stealing a child’s pleasure. Apart from the issue of dependence, a child deserves to take delight in her accomplishments, to feel pride in what she’s learned how to do. She also deserves to decide when to feel that way. Every time we say, “Good job!”, though, we’re telling a child how to feel.

To be sure, there are times when our evaluations are appropriate and our guidance is necessary — especially with toddlers and preschoolers. But a constant stream of value judgments is neither necessary nor useful for children’s development. Unfortunately, we may not have realized that “Good job!” is just as much an evaluation as “Bad job!” The most notable feature of a positive judgment isn’t that it’s positive, but that it’s a judgment. And people, including kids, don’t like being judged.

I cherish the occasions when my daughter manages to do something for the first time, or does something better than she’s ever done it before. But I try to resist the knee-jerk tendency to say, “Good job!” because I don’t want to dilute her joy. I want her to share her pleasure with me, not look to me for a verdict. I want her to exclaim, “I did it!” (which she often does) instead of asking me uncertainly, “Was that good?”

4. Losing interest. “Good painting!” may get children to keep painting for as long as we keep watching and praising. But, warns Lilian Katz, one of the country’s leading authorities on early childhood education, “once attention is withdrawn, many kids won’t touch the activity again.” Indeed, an impressive body of scientific research has shown that the more we reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. Now the point isn’t to draw, to read, to think, to create – the point is to get the goody, whether it’s an ice cream, a sticker, or a “Good job!”

In a troubling study conducted by Joan Grusec at the University of Toronto, young children who were frequently praised for displays of generosity tended to be slightlyless generous on an everyday basis than other children were. Every time they had heard “Good sharing!” or “I’m so proud of you for helping,” they became a little less interested in sharing or helping. Those actions came to be seen not as something valuable in their own right but as something they had to do to get that reaction again from an adult. Generosity became a means to an end.

Does praise motivate kids? Sure. It motivates kids to get praise. Alas, that’s often at the expense of commitment to whatever they were doing that prompted the praise.

5. Reducing achievement. As if it weren’t bad enough that “Good job!” can undermine independence, pleasure, and interest, it can also interfere with how good a job children actually do. Researchers keep finding that kids who are praised for doing well at a creative task tend to stumble at the next task – and they don’t do as well as children who weren’t praised to begin with.

Why does this happen? Partly because the praise creates pressure to “keep up the good work” that gets in the way of doing so. Partly because their interest in what they’re doing may have declined. Partly because they become less likely to take risks – a prerequisite for creativity – once they start thinking about how to keep those positive comments coming.

More generally, “Good job!” is a remnant of an approach to psychology that reduces all of human life to behaviors that can be seen and measured. Unfortunately, this ignores the thoughts, feelings, and values that lie behind behaviors. For example, a child may share a snack with a friend as a way of attracting praise, or as a way of making sure the other child has enough to eat. Praise for sharing ignores these different motives. Worse, it actually promotes the less desirable motive by making children more likely to fish for praise in the future.

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Once you start to see praise for what it is – and what it does – these constant little evaluative eruptions from adults start to produce the same effect as fingernails being dragged down a blackboard. You begin to root for a child to give his teachers or parents a taste of their own treacle by turning around to them and saying (in the same saccharine tone of voice), “Good praising!”

Still, it’s not an easy habit to break. It can seem strange, at least at first, to stop praising; it can feel as though you’re being chilly or withholding something. But that, it soon becomes clear, suggests that we praise more because we need to say it than because children need to hear it. Whenever that’s true, it’s time to rethink what we’re doing.

What kids do need is unconditional support, love with no strings attached. That’s not just different from praise – it’s the opposite of praise. “Good job!” is conditional. It means we’re offering attention and acknowledgement and approval for jumping through our hoops, for doing things that please us.

This point, you’ll notice, is very different from a criticism that some people offer to the effect that we give kids too much approval, or give it too easily. They recommend that we become more miserly with our praise and demand that kids “earn” it. But the real problem isn’t that children expect to be praised for everything they do these days. It’s that we’re tempted to take shortcuts, to manipulate kids with rewards instead of explaining and helping them to develop needed skills and good values.

So what’s the alternative? That depends on the situation, but whatever we decide to say instead has to be offered in the context of genuine affection and love for who kids are rather than for what they’ve done. When unconditional support is present, “Good job!” isn’t necessary; when it’s absent, “Good job!” won’t help.

If we’re praising positive actions as a way of discouraging misbehavior, this is unlikely to be effective for long. Even when it works, we can’t really say the child is now “behaving himself”; it would be more accurate to say the praise is behaving him. The alternative is to work with the child, to figure out the reasons he’s acting that way. We may have to reconsider our own requests rather than just looking for a way to get kids to obey. (Instead of using “Good job!” to get a four-year-old to sit quietly through a long class meeting or family dinner, perhaps we should ask whether it’s reasonable to expect a child to do so.)

We also need to bring kids in on the process of making decisions. If a child is doing something that disturbs others, then sitting down with her later and asking, “What do you think we can do to solve this problem?” will likely be more effective than bribes or threats. It also helps a child learn how to solve problems and teaches that her ideas and feelings are important. Of course, this process takes time and talent, care and courage. Tossing off a “Good job!” when the child acts in the way we deem appropriate takes none of those things, which helps to explain why “doing to” strategies are a lot more popular than “working with” strategies.

And what can we say when kids just do something impressive? Consider three possible responses:

* Say nothing. Some people insist a helpful act must be “reinforced” because, secretly or unconsciously, they believe it was a fluke. If children are basically evil, then they have to be given an artificial reason for being nice (namely, to get a verbal reward). But if that cynicism is unfounded – and a lot of research suggests that it is – then praise may not be necessary.

* Say what you saw. A simple, evaluation-free statement (“You put your shoes on by yourself” or even just “You did it”) tells your child that you noticed. It also lets her take pride in what she did. In other cases, a more elaborate description may make sense. If your child draws a picture, you might provide feedback – not judgment – about what you noticed: “This mountain is huge!” “Boy, you sure used a lot of purple today!”

If a child does something caring or generous, you might gently draw his attention to the effect of his action on the other person: “Look at Abigail’s face! She seems pretty happy now that you gave her some of your snack.” This is completely different from praise, where the emphasis is on how you feel about her sharing

* Talk less, ask more. Even better than descriptions are questions. Why tell him what part of his drawing impressed you when you can ask him what he likes best about it? Asking “What was the hardest part to draw?” or “How did you figure out how to make the feet the right size?” is likely to nourish his interest in drawing. Saying “Good job!”, as we’ve seen, may have exactly the opposite effect.

This doesn’t mean that all compliments, all thank-you’s, all expressions of delight are harmful. We need to consider our motives for what we say (a genuine expression of enthusiasm is better than a desire to manipulate the child’s future behavior) as well as the actual effects of doing so. Are our reactions helping the child to feel a sense of control over her life — or to constantly look to us for approval? Are they helping her to become more excited about what she’s doing in its own right – or turning it into something she just wants to get through in order to receive a pat on the head

It’s not a matter of memorizing a new script, but of keeping in mind our long-term goals for our children and watching for the effects of what we say. The bad news is that the use of positive reinforcement really isn’t so positive. The good news is that you don’t have to evaluate in order to encourage.

 

Dr. Mom: 11 SAFE Home Remedies

Many parents used to head straight to the drug aisle of their local pharmacy when their child would get the sniffles. But the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that over-the-counter medications to treat coughs and colds aren’t safe for children under 2 and may not work or could seriously harm children under 6.

Whether your child has a cough, a cold, or the flu, you can try these gentle, effective, and safe home remedies. A cold or flu usually takes about ten days to run its course. While none of these home remedies will shorten your child’s illness, they may help him feel a lot better.

1) Lots of rest (all ages) 


How it helps

It takes energy to fight an infection, and that can wear a child (or an adult) out. When your child’s resting, he’s healing, which is exactly what he needs to do.

Studies show that stress plays a role in illness, too. If your child is under pressure – because of school or friends, or something happening at home – giving him a break may be just what he needs to fight off his symptoms.

What you need

A comfortable place for your child to rest and things to occupy him.

How to do it

Now’s the time to let your child watch that favorite video or television program one more time. Or bring him a new set of crayons and paper or coloring book. Even a puzzle can be manageable in bed.

Of course, a bed isn’t necessarily the best place to rest. Sometimes a change of scenery is helpful. If the weather is good, set up a comfortable place in the yard or on the porch for your child to rest. Indoors, fashion something more fun than his bed – like a tent in the living room or a snug, pillow-filled area near you.

If your child finds it hard to rest, help him by cuddling up with some books. Teach him some finger rhymes (like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”) or tell stories together. Or bring him the phone so he can chat with Grandma or a friend.

2) Steamy air (all ages)

How it helps

Breathing moist air helps loosen the mucus in the nasal passages. A warm bath has the added benefit of relaxing your child.

What you need

A humidifier, cool-mist vaporizer, or steamy bathroom.

Be sure to clean humidifiers often and according to the manufacturer’s directions. Humidifiers accumulate mold, which they then spray into the air if they’re not kept scrupulously clean.

How to use it

Have a humidifier or a cool-mist vaporizer going in your child’s bedroom when she’s sleeping, resting, or playing in the room.

Give your child a warm bath in a steamy bathroom. Let a hot shower run for a few minutes before getting the tub ready for your child. If she’s old enough, let her play in the bath as long as she likes – supervised, of course, unless she’s old enough to hang out on her own. 

For children over the age of 2, adding a few drops of menthol to the bath water (or vaporizer) may also help her feel less congested. Menthol oil is available at most natural food stores.

If it’s not a convenient time for a bath, simply turn on the hot water in the tub or shower, close the bathroom door, block any gap under the door with a towel, and sit in the steamy room with your child for about 15 minutes. (Bring a couple of books.)

3) Saline drops and bulb syringes (all ages)

 How it helps

Drops clear the nose when kids are too young to blow their nose. For babies, a bulb syringe really comes in handy if a stuffy nose interferes with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Try using it about 15 minutes beforehand.

Clearing a stuffy nose with a bulb syringe works best for young babies, but if your older baby or child doesn’t mind the procedure, there’s no reason not to do it. 

 

What you need

  • A rubber bulb syringe
  • Saline (salt water) solution. You can buy bottles of saline nose drops at a drugstore or make your own.

Saline nose drops – or spray for children 2 and older – are available at pharmacies without a prescription. You also can prepare saline drops at home.

Recipe for homemade saline drops: Dissolve about 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Make a fresh batch each day and store it in a clean, covered glass jar. Bacteria can grow in the solution, so don’t keep it for more than 24 hours.

How to use it

  1. Tip your child’s head back or lay her on her back with a rolled-up towel supporting her head. Squeeze two or three drops of saline solution into each nostril to thin and loosen the mucus. Try to keep her head still afterward for about 30 seconds (or less for a baby).
  2. Squeeze the bulb of the syringe, then gently insert the rubber tip into her nostril. Some doctors recommend also gently closing off the other nostril with your finger to get better suction from the bulb syringe.
  3. Slowly release the bulb to collect mucus and saline solution.
  4. Remove the syringe and squeeze the bulb to expel the mucus into a tissue.
  5. Wipe the syringe and repeat with the other nostril.
  6. Repeat procedure if necessary.

Don’t suction your child’s nose more than a few times a day or you might irritate its lining. Don’t use the saline drops for more than four days in a row, because they can dry out her nose over time, making things worse.

You can also use the bulb syringe without saline to help remove mucus. Squeeze the bulb to force out air, gently insert the tip in her nostril, and slowly let the air out of the bulb to draw in mucus. Remove the bulb and squeeze any mucus onto a tissue.

If your baby is really upset by the syringe, use the saline drops and then gently swipe the lower part of her nostrils with a cotton swab. Be careful not to insert the swab inside her nostrils. This method doesn’t have the suction of the syringe, but it’s better than nothing!

Cautions

Don’t use nasal decongestant sprays on your baby.  Doctors don’t recommend them for young children and usually don’t advise them for older kids. Nasal sprays aren’t effective and can cause a rebound effect, making congestion worse in the long run.

4) Vapor rubs (3 months and up)

How it helps

Vapor rubs may help kids sleep better at night. Many of us remember being rubbed with a potent eucalyptus, camphor, and menthol vapor rub when we were sick as children. Research suggests that these ingredients actually have no effect on nasal congestion, but they make the cold sufferer feel as though she’s breathing better by producing a cooling sensation in the nose.

What you need

You can now find vapor rub products made specifically for babies 3 months and older. This baby-safe version of the familiar commercial rub contains petrolatum, oils, and eucalyptus. It doesn’t have camphor or menthol, which shouldn’t be used with children younger than 2.

Natural vapor balms are available, too, if you’d prefer not to use products that contain petroleum or paraben. These are typically made with aloe, herbs, oils, beeswax, and essential oils. Search online for “baby rub,” “baby vapor rub,” or similar words.

You can also find recipes to make your own rub. Try searching for “vapor rub recipe natural” or something similar.

How to do it

Massage the vapor rub into your child’s chest, neck, and back. 

Cautions

Don’t put vapor rub on broken or sensitive skin or apply it to your child’s mouth or nose, around her eyes, or anywhere on her face.

5) Extra fluids (6 months and up)

How it helps

Drinking plenty of fluids helps prevent dehydration and flushes and thins your child’s nasal secretions. 

What you need

Fluids that your child enjoys drinking.

How to use it

Plain water is great, but your child might not find it very appealing. Try fruit smoothies and other favorite healthful beverages and ice pops made from 100 percent juice.

Cautions

Stick to breast milk or formula for babies younger than 6 months old unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Babies that young don’t need water, and too much could even be harmful.

6) Chicken soup and other warm liquids (6 months and up)

How it helps

Warm liquids can be very soothing and help relieve congestion. Studies have shown that chicken soup actually relieves cold symptoms like aches, fatigue, congestion, and fever.

What you need

Soup, tea, apple juice, water, or other liquids that your child likes served warm.

How to use it

Serve soup warm (not hot). Canned soup works as well as homemade, according to researchers at the University of Nebraska.

If your child is at least 6 months old, he may enjoy some weak, lukewarm chamomile tea. 

Cautions

There are other herbal teas that are safe for children, but consult your healthcare provider before trying herbal teas other than chamomile, as not all “natural” products are safe.

Stick to breast milk or formula for babies younger than 6 months old unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Babies that young don’t need water, and too much could even be harmful.

7) Elevating the head (12 months and up)

How it helps

Elevating your child’s head while she rests can help her breathe more comfortably.

What you need

Towels or pillows to raise the head of the mattress, or pillows to raise your toddler or older child’s head.

How to do it

If your child sleeps in a crib, place a couple of towels or a slim pillow underneath the head of the mattress on the crib springs. Don’t try to raise the legs of the crib. It could make the crib unstable.

If your child sleeps in a big bed, an extra pillow under her head might do the trick. But if she’s at all squirmy while she sleeps, it’s safer to raise the head of the bed by sliding towels or a pillow underneath the mattress. This also creates a more gradual, comfortable slope than extra pillows under her head.

Another option: Let your child sleep in her car seat. Like many adults who sleep in a favorite recliner when they’re ill, she may rest better in a semi-upright position. In fact, if your grade-schooler needs propping while she sleeps, she may slumber more comfortably in a recliner.

Cautions

Whether it’s a crib or a bed, don’t overdo it. If your child’s a restless sleeper, she might flip around so that her feet are higher than her head, defeating the purpose.

 

 

8) Honey (12 months and up)

How it helps

Honey coats and soothes the throat and helps tame a cough.

In a study conducted by Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine, parents of 105 children ages 2 to 18 rated honey helpful and better than cough syrup for treating children’s nighttime coughs.

What you need

Honey, available at any grocery store.

Honey often gets hard at room temperature. To soften it, spoon some into a heat-proof container and warm it briefly in a microwave or boil some water and then set the container in the very hot water for five or ten minutes.

Your child must be at least a year old to try this remedy. 

How to use it

Give her 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey.

Some people mix their honey with hot water and add a squeeze of lemon, which provides a little vitamin C along with the soothing honey.

Because honey is a sticky sweet, it’s important for you or your child to brush her teeth after she takes it, especially if you give it to her at bedtime.

Cautions

Don’t give honey to a child before her first birthday. It can cause a rare and sometimes fatal illness called infant botulism. 

9) Nose blowing (2 years and up)

How it helps

Clearing the nose of mucus helps your child breathe and sleep more easily and generally makes him feel more comfortable. And he’ll be nicer to look at, too!

What you need

A container of soft tissues.

How to do it

Many kids don’t master this skill until after age 4, but some are game by age 2.

Tips for teaching nose blowing:

  • Let your child copy you. For some kids, that’s all it takes.
  • Explain that blowing his nose is “backward smelling.”
  • Have your child hold one nostril shut and practice gently blowing air out one side. A mirror or a little piece of tissue under the nose will help him see his breath, too.
  • Teach him to blow gently. Blowing too hard can hurt his ears. Give your child his own little package of fun tissues.
  • Teach him to discard used tissues in the trash can and to wash his hands after blowing his nose.
  • Be sure he knows not to rub his eyes after blowing his nose so he doesn’t end up with an eye infection.
  • Teach him good hygiene by having him wash his hands or use a hand sanitizer gel so he doesn’t spread germs.

If your child’s nose is sore from all the sniffling and blowing, you can rub a little petroleum jelly or other child-safe ointment around his nostrils.

 

10) Neti pot (4 years and up)

How it helps

A neti pot flushes a mild saline solution through the nasal passages, moisturizing the area and thinning, loosening, and rinsing away mucus. Think of it as nasal irrigation. 

According to one European report, researchers studied nearly 400 children ages 6 to 10 and found that a nasal spray made from seawater relieved cold symptoms faster than standard cold medications.

It’s not certain whether the salt water simply helps clear the mucus or if trace elements in the water are beneficial. But other scientists who studied the effectiveness of saline nasal wash solutions also found benefits.

What you need

A neti pot, which looks like a very small watering can or teapot and is typically ceramic or metal. You can buy neti pots at drugstores, natural food stores, and online.

Saline solution: To make your own, mix 1/2 teaspoon salt into 1 cup of lukewarm water.

You’ll also need a cooperative child. Your child must be old enough and willing to go along with the procedure, which isn’t painful but does feel strange at first. It’s definitely not for babies or young toddlers, and older children (and adults) might not go for it. Some people think it’s neat, while others are grossed out.

How to do it

By tilting your child’s head sideways over the sink and placing the spout of the pot in the top nostril, you can run water through the nasal passages to clean and moisturize them. This takes a little trial and error, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it.

Try practicing on yourself before teaching your child to use a neti pot. Then let your child watch you use it. And finally, help him if he’s up for it.

Here’s the basic method:

  1. Fill the pot with the warm saline solution.
  2. Bending over a sink, tilt your head to one side and place the spout of the pot deep in the top nostril. The water will flow gently through the nasal cavity and out the other nostril. (Breath through your mouth while rinsing.)
  3. Repeat on the other side.

It may be easiest to practice with your child in the tub or shower.

Cautions

Don’t force a child who’s not interested. This needs to be a very gentle procedure to prevent traumatizing him and damaging his nasal passages if he struggles.

11) Gargling with salt water (4 years and up)

How it helps

Gargling with salt water is a time-honored way to soothe a sore throat. It also helps clear mucus from the throat. While scientists haven’t determined exactly why it works, studies have shown that the remedy is effective.

What you need

Warm salt water.

Simply combine 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and stir. If your child doesn’t mind the taste, a squirt or two of fresh lemon juice can be a soothing addition.

Your child must be old enough to learn to gargle. For many kids, that means school age or older. But some children can manage it sooner.

How to do it

Aim for gargling three or four times a day while your child is sick. Only have a younger child gargle if he’s willing and it makes him feel better.

A few tips for teaching your child to gargle:

  • Practice with plain water.
  • Tell your child to tilt his head up and try to hold the water in the back of his throat without swallowing it.
  • Once he’s comfortable doing that, have him try to make sounds with his throat. Show him what that looks and sounds like.
  • Teach him to spit out the water rather than swallow it.

 

 

And remember, HUGS AND KISSES AND MOMMY LOVE HEALS ALL!! 🙂

 

Congress Says NO To Healthy School Lunch!

Who needs leafy greens and carrots when pizza and french fries will do?

In an effort many 9-year-olds will cheer, Congress wants pizza and french fries to stay on school lunch lines and is fighting the Obama administration’s efforts to take unhealthy foods out of schools.

The final version of a spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards the Agriculture Department proposed earlier this year. These include limiting the use of potatoes on the lunch line, putting new restrictions on sodium and boosting the use of whole grains. The legislation would block or delay all of those efforts.

The bill also would allow tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now. USDA had wanted to only count a half-cup of tomato paste or more as a vegetable, and a serving of pizza has less than that.

Nutritionists say the whole effort is reminiscent of the Reagan administration’s much-ridiculed attempt 30 years ago to classify ketchup as a vegetable to cut costs. This time around, food companies that produce frozen pizzas for schools, the salt industry and potato growers requested the changes and lobbied Congress.

School meals that are subsidized by the federal government must include a certain amount of vegetables, and USDA’s proposal could have pushed pizza-makers and potato growers out of the school lunch business.

Piling on to the companies’ opposition, some conservatives argue that the federal government shouldn’t tell children what to eat. In a summary of the bill, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee said the changes would “prevent overly burdensome and costly regulations and …provide greater flexibility for local school districts to improve the nutritional quality of meals.”

School districts have said some of the USDA proposals go too far and cost too much when budgets are extremely tight. Schools have long taken broad instructions from the government on what they can serve in the federally subsidized meals that are given free or at reduced price to low-income children. But some schools have balked at government attempts to tell them exactly what foods they can’t serve.

Reacting to that criticism, House Republicans had urged USDA to rewrite the standards in a bill passed in June. The Senate last month voted to block the potato limits in its version, with opposition to the restrictions led by potato-growing states. Neither version of the bill included the latest provisions on tomato paste, sodium or whole grains; House and Senate negotiators added those in the last two weeks as they put finishing touches on the legislation.

The school lunch proposal is based on 2009 recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said they are necessary to reduce childhood obesity and future health care costs.

USDA spokeswoman Courtney Rowe said Tuesday that the department will continue its efforts to make lunches healthier.

“While it’s unfortunate that some members of Congress continue to put special interests ahead of the health of America’s children, USDA remains committed to practical, science-based standards for school meals,” she said in a statement.

Nutrition advocate Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said Congress’s proposed changes will keep schools from serving a wider array of vegetables. Children already get enough pizza and potatoes, she says. It also would slow efforts to make pizzas — a longtime standby on school lunch lines — healthier, with whole grain crusts and lower sodium levels.

“They are making sure that two of the biggest problems in the school lunch program, pizza and french fries, are untouched,” she said.

A group of retired generals advocating for healthier school lunches also criticized the spending bill. The group, called Mission: Readiness, has called poor nutrition in school lunches a national security issue because obesity is the leading medical disqualifier for military service.

“We are outraged that Congress is seriously considering language that would effectively categorize pizza as a vegetable in the school lunch program,” Amy Dawson Taggart, the director of the group, said in a letter to lawmakers before the final bill was released. “It doesn’t take an advanced degree in nutrition to call this a national disgrace.”

Specifically, the bill would:

— Block the Agriculture Department from limiting starchy vegetables, including corn and peas, to two servings a week. The rule was intended to cut down on french fries, which many schools serve daily.

— Allow USDA to count two tablespoons of tomato paste as a vegetable, as it does now. The department had attempted to require that only a half-cup of tomato paste could be considered a vegetable. Federally subsidized lunches must have a certain number of vegetables to be served.

— Require further study on long-term sodium reduction requirements set forth by the USDA guidelines.

— Require USDA to define “whole grains” before they regulate them. The USDA rules require schools to use more whole grains.

Food companies who have fought the USDA standards say they were too strict and neglected the nutrients that potatoes, other starchy vegetables and tomato paste do offer.

“This agreement ensures that nutrient-rich vegetables such as potatoes, corn and peas will remain part of a balanced, healthy diet in federally funded school meals and recognizes the significant amounts of potassium, fiber and vitamins A and C provided by tomato paste, ensuring that students may continue to enjoy healthy meals such as pizza and pasta,” said Kraig Naasz, president of the American Frozen Food Institute.

The school lunch provisions are part of a final House-Senate compromise on a $182 billion measure that would fund the day-to-day operations of the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Both the House and the Senate are expected to vote on the bill this week and send it to President Barack Obama.

___

Find Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MCJalonick

 

Discipline your kid – Bottom-line rules

From baby-center:

 

To set the stage for discipline success, here are the bottom-line rules many experts agree on:

1. We’re all in this together. Right from the start, teach your kids that your family is a mutual support system, meaning that everyone pitches in. Even a baby can learn to “help” you lift her by reaching out her arms, says Madelyn Swift, founder and director of Childright and author of Discipline for Life, Getting It Right With Children.

2. Respect is mutual. One of the most common complaints parents and kids have about each other is “You’re not listening.” Set a good example early on: When your child tries to tell you something, stop what you’re doing, focus your attention, and listen. Later you can require the same courtesy from her.

3. Consistency is king. One good way to raise a child with emotional strength? Be consistent and unwavering about rules and chores, says Harvard professor Dan Kindlon, author of Too Much of a Good Thing. Even if you pick just one chore to insist on, your child will be better off, Kindlon says. “Being firm and consistent teaches your child that you care enough about him to expect responsible behavior.”

4. Life’s not always fair. We’re so afraid of disappointing or upsetting our kids — too afraid, say some discipline pros. “If a child never experiences the pain of frustration — of having to share a toy or wait their turn in line — or if they’re never sad or disappointed, they won’t develop psychological skills that are crucial for their future happiness,” says Kindlon.