Posts Tagged ‘behavior’

Research shows a consistent bedtime routine helps children

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

parents reading to child“Dinner, bath, books, bed.” That was my mantra when my kids were little. They knew the routine once I started getting dinner ready. The moment the dishes were in the dishwasher I would bring them straight upstairs to get ready for bath time, and to pick out a book. Once the story was read, it was time to hop into bed.

It helped ME to keep them in this routine. (After all, a mom needs to be off-duty, too!) And now, new research has shown that it helps KIDS to have a consistent bedtime routine, as well.

In a multinational study, mothers of 10,085 children (from infants to age 5) in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States were surveyed about their children’s sleep habits – both daytime naps and nighttime. They completed a questionnaire which was then analyzed by the researchers.

The results?

The children who had a consistent bedtime routine slept better, longer, and woke up less during the night. They also fell asleep sooner than those who did not have a consistent routine.

Parents reported fewer behavior problems the next day in the kids that had a consistent bedtime routine. (I know that if I have not had a decent night’s sleep, I can be grouchy and irritable the next day. It seems reasonable that the same would be true for our kids.)

It is interesting that the results were consistent across many different countries. Kids are kids, no matter where they live. They all need good, solid, restorative sleep. These data suggest that a bedtime routine can be key in helping your child sleep well every night.

More good news

It is never too late to establish a routine. Also, this study suggests that the younger your child is when you start, and the more consistent you are with keeping up with the routine, the better the outcome will be. Plus, reading to your child has many known benefits for language development.

Do you have a bedtime routine for your child? How is it working?

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org

See other topics on how to help your child, here.

 

 

Getting back in the swing

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

unhappy childThe Thanksgiving holiday is behind us. Be honest now…how many of you are still having a bit of trouble trying to get back to your old routine? I know I loved having a few unstructured days of sleeping late, eating rich foods (mashed potatoes, gravy, yams and stuffing to name a few), and of course eating desserts. At my house we had apple pie with vanilla ice cream, and a double chocolate layer cake for anyone who was not an apple pie fan. OR, for most of us…we ate both (and loved every morsel)!

Now is the time when settling back to your old routine seems incredibly hard. Have you had trouble falling asleep, or worse- getting up, this week? Are you craving sweets during the day? Do you just seem to be feeling out of sync? Sluggish? (I think I have described myself pretty well, I’m afraid to say. How about you?)

Returning to your prior routine after a holiday is hard for most people. But it is especially hard for a child with special needs. Straying too far off from the usual foods, bedtimes, and daily routine can wreak havoc on your child’s system causing him to feel lost or a bit out of control. Due to his special needs, it may take longer to get back on track again, too. So, if YOU are feeling a bit out of sync this week, your little one is feeling worse, and will probably take longer to return to his prior usual routine.

Have patience and look for the bright side

I call getting back to your prior routine “re-entry” because it can really feel like a jolt to your system. In one of my prior posts, I wrote about the post-holidays adjustment period, and how the change in routine can cause a temporary step backward for your child. You need to be aware that this can happen, and gently try to get your child back on track.

For other children, the holidays can bring about a surge in new connections, making your little one gain language skills or venture to do new things. So, be on the lookout for new behaviors or positive gains.

Remember, if you are having trouble getting back to your prior “normal,” your child is probably experiencing the same feelings. Lots of praise and positive reinforcement for little steps, along with a boat-load of patience will soon get you all rolling again.

Check out these blog posts to find other coping strategies, such as creating your child’s personal “memory” or “transition” booklets, or re-adjusting to life after a vacation. If you have a technique of your own that works for your child, please share it!

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – How to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view a Table of Contents of prior posts.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Understanding preemie cues

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

preemie handFor parents, seeing your little one in the hospital, hooked up to tubes and machines can be scary and overwhelming. We want the best for our children, and it can be unbearable to wonder if your baby is in pain or uncomfortable. Worrying comes naturally, especially when your baby can’t talk and tell you how she is doing. But did you know that babies have certain expressions and behaviors or “cues” that can tell you a lot about how she is feeling? By observing your preemie, she will give you signals that tell you if she is happy, sleepy, in pain, or ready to interact with you.

Learn your baby’s behaviors

Here are a few cues that may help you understand your baby better:

• Happy and content – A calm baby will have relaxed arms, legs and face, stable breathing, an even skin color, and may look around.

• Stressed – Her fingers may splay out wide, she will frown or grimace. Her breathing may increase and her skin become blotchy or pale. She may arch her back or neck, cry and even suddenly become limp or fall asleep.

• Self-soothing – Your baby will try to soothe herself by sucking on her fingers, grasping something (like your finger or a blanket), put her hands on her face or clasp her hands together.

Your preemie’s cues will tell you what she needs. For example, if your baby is stressed, she may be getting too much stimulation. The stimulation can come from too much sound, light or even the combination of being touched AND spoken to at the same time. According to authors Linden, Paroli and Doron in Preemies – the Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, 2nd Edition, “a premature baby is less able to shut out stimuli and to calm herself down after being disturbed.”

What can you do?

Ask the NICU nurse how to comfort your baby. For example, if your baby arches her back, hold back or change your touch. See whether she calms when you cup her head and feet with your hands.

If your baby turns toward you, offer her eye contact or a gentle voice — or both. If she turns away when you talk but toward you when you sing, she’s showing a preference for that kind of voice. Keep in mind that some preemies can only process one stimulus at a time. She may like and respond to touch but not touch in combination with your voice.

Your premature baby’s cues will change as she gets older. As you get to know your baby, you will be amazed at how well you interpret her movements and expressions, and understand how she is feeling or what she wants.

By knowing infant cues, you can learn how to connect with your baby, and respond to her needs. Hopefully, knowing how your baby is feeling will help you to relax and not worry so much.

Source: Preemies- The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, 2nd Edition, by Linden, Paroli and Doron, 2010.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view the Table of Contents of prior posts.

Fortune cookie advice

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

fortune cookieThe other day I opened a fortune cookie and read:  “Help people reach their full potential. Catch them doing something right.” I was surprised to see such a sentiment in a fortune cookie. I know that this concept is true for shaping a child’s behavior – if you want to change their behavior, catch them doing something good and praise them for it. Your praise reinforces the behavior which makes your child want to keep doing it. (As opposed to your child only hearing what he is doing wrong which erodes his self- esteem and makes him want to stop trying.)  But I had never considered this concept as applying to all individuals, especially to adults.

When I stop to think about it, isn’t it human nature to want to keep doing those things that you are doing well and avoid tasks that you do poorly?  As an adult, I like doing those things that I believe I do well, and I generally steer clear of those tasks that are hard for me. I also enjoy doing things that I like and I avoid doing tasks that I simply don’t like to do. Hmmm. This sounds too logical for me.

I found this fortune cookie message to be powerful – it not only applies to parents trying to shape their child’s behavior in a positive way – it applies to all individuals, at home, at work and anywhere.  Do you ever tire of hearing that you are meeting or exceeding goals at work? How do you feel when your spouse or partner recognizes your efforts? Doesn’t all that positive feedback help you to carry on and persevere? If you never received a kind word, encouragement, or a raise in your salary at your job, I bet you would assume you weren’t doing well and perhaps stop trying so hard. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in helping to shape behavior in any individual, including children with special needs. Check out the American Academy of Pediatrics’s tips on positive reinforcement through rewards for ideas on how to get started shaping your child’s behavior in a positive way.

Child behavior experts have long advocated that you should acknowledge and praise a child when he gets it right. And, now, my fortune cookie agrees.

Stay tuned for more helpful information on the power of positive reinforcement in upcoming blog posts.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” in the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). We welcome your comments and input. If you have questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

FDA concerned about BPA, chemical used in plastics

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

plastic-baby-bottleThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expressed concerns about BPA, a chemical used in plastics. BPA is used to make plastics clear, strong and hard to break. Some baby bottles, dishes and toys contain this chemical. BPA stands for bisphenol A.

Some studies have linked BPA to developmental problems in the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children.

The FDA and other organizations are conducting in-depth studies about BPA. Until we have more answers, the FDA has several recommendations for parents, including:

* If plastic baby bottles and infant cups contain BPA, discard them if they have scratches.

* Do not put boiling or very hot liquids, such as formula, into plastic bottles or containers that contain BPA.

* Read the label to see if a plastic container is dishwasher safe. Don’t put it in the dishwasher unless it is.

Plastic products for babies are now available that do not contain BPA.