Breastfeeding Benefits

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the optimum food for infants first year and the only food they need for the first six months of life.

Although 95% of women breastfed their babies in 1910, that figure is a lot lower today. About 90% of North American women attempt breastfeeding in the first month, but by the time the baby is three months old, that figure has dropped to about 50% and by the time the baby is 6 months old, the percentage is around 30%.

Clearly, women need much more help, support, and knowledge about breastfeeding if they are going to continue with it as their baby grows.

 

Personally, I breastfed all five of my children and the only time I encountered problems was with the fifth child. You would think that I had breastfeeding mastered, but each child is different and can present different unexpected difficulties. I was lucky that I knew how to access help and I persevered, secure in the knowledge I had about breastfeeding benefits and past experience. New moms don’t have that kind of experience and often give up. The key is knowing when to access help and where to go for it. There is a La Leche League meeting in every major city across North America and they have wonderful help and support at any time of day and night. Many healthcare providers offer various kinds of help, information and support for parents. Ask your health nurse for referrals.

 

There is no need for supplementing, switching to bottles, or formula for the first year of life. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least the first two years of life and beyond, and the world wide average age of breastfeeding is four years of age. In many parts of the world, breastfeeding six year old children is still common. Age of weaning is very much determined by cultural standards, rather than by mom and child wishes, which is very wrong. The good news is that in North American culture, acceptance of breastfeeding older babies and toddlers is gaining every year. Many mothers nurse their toddlers and preschoolers without ever resorting to bottles and continue tandem nursing through the next pregnancy too with no adverse affects to mom, toddler or developing baby’s health.

 

Although breastfeeding is the optimum method for feeding babies, parents that give up breastfeeding are no less excellent parents if they follow an “ infant cue led” feeding philosophy and hold and cuddle their baby while feeding. The bonding, eye contact, and touching are the most attachment, nurturing, connection producing behaviours, rather than the ingredients in the milk.

 

Benefits of Breastfeeding

 

For Baby:

 

  • less illness, less digestive problems, and respiratory problems.
  • Fewer ear infections and allergies
  • Breastfeeding is linked to babies’ intellectual development
  • Increased bonding between mom and child
  • Increased healthy jaw, teeth alignment and speech development
  • Pleasure of sucking instinct satisfied
  • Provides comfort for baby
  • Is automatically sterilized and the perfect temperature.

 

For Mom:

 

  • For every year of breastfeeding, Mom’s risk of breast cancer decreases over her lifetime.
  • For some moms, it’s an effective form of contraception and helps with child spacing.
  • It is convenient, saves time making bottles, and saves cost of formula.
  • Is easier to provide nighttime nutrition, rather than getting up out of bed, heating bottles and feeding baby.
  • Is a pleasurable, sensual feeling once baby is latched properly and breastfeeding is well established (usually after six weeks).
  • Helps to contract the uterus after childbirth.
  • Induces sleep from hormone release.
  • Helps in emotional bonding with baby.

 

Risks

There are no risks involved in breastfeeding.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • My baby is 3 months old and my breasts don’t feel as full as they used to.

 

This is a common concern from new moms. Their breasts have lost the fullness and leakiness of milk that was common in the first few weeks. Don’t worry. The breasts will feel softer and not as full, but they are producing much more milk than those first weeks.

By the time a baby is 6 months old, the breasts are producing about 35 ounces of milk a day, even though they feel smaller and softer. They are much more efficient. If baby is producing 6-8 wet diapers a day and gaining weight according to their individual growth curve, they are getting enough milk!

 

  • My baby has extremely fussy days and seems extra hungry. What is wrong with supplementing with a bottle or two?

 

Fussy babies are common and are not always linked to feeding patterns. Babies fuss because:

  • they are going through growth spurts
  • have been over stimulated,
  • have gas,
  • have had a few bad nights sleep
  • because of their temperament,
  • they are on the verge of a new developmental skill.
  • Or, they simply are having a bad day, just like we adults do!

 

If babies seem extra hungry and want to feed “all the time” it’s because they are probably going through a growth spurt. Babies go through these at approximately 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. They may want to cluster feed and it may seem that all you are doing is sitting down and nursing for a few days. That’s normal and necessary. Breastfeeding works on supply and demand. Baby is nursing to build up your milk supply to keep up with his growth spurt. In a few days, your breasts will be making more milk and he won’t be nursing as often. But, if you introduce a bottle to supplement, then the breasts won’t get the stimulation provided by sucking, that is necessary to build up the milk supply and baby will be hungry. You may be tempted to add more supplementation through formula and then milk production will decrease even more. The best solution to growth spurts is to try and go to bed with baby for a day, rest, and drink a lot of fluids. Avoid supplementation and your milk supply will increase.

 

  • Are my breasts ever empty?

No. Never. Even while baby is feeding, the breast is continually making milk. They may feel empty, but the production is still occurring.

 

  • I want to get out for a few hours. I can’t do it while exclusively breastfeeding.

Freeze breast milk for when you wish to get out. Dad can serve it in a bottle or sippy cup if the baby is older then five months. It may help for him to wrap a receiving blanket with your smell around the bottle, so baby doesn’t feel that its so strange. Or breastfeed baby a huge feeding, then go out for an hour or two and come back to feed again.

 

  • I don’t have enough milk. My breast pump only produces about 2 ounces.

 

Breast pumps have a notorious reputation for not getting enough milk out of breasts. Mothers feel insecure when they see how much effort they put into pumping and how little milk they have produced from the pump and think that baby is getting the same quantity. Any mother who has used a hospital grade electric breast pump would be amazed at the huge quantity those machines extract compared to what the small home pumps do. Babies are also much more efficient in extracting milk from the breast. Their such extracts every drop and as they are suckling, the breasts are making more.

 

  • My doctor told me that today’s formulas are just as good as breast milk.

As much as formula companies are trying to copy breast milk exactly, they can n’t artificially reproduce some components of breast milk, even with today’s technological advancements. Breast milk has hormones, antibodies, and living cells that formula doesn’t have yet. The fat, water, and protein components of breast milk change automatically in response to weather (in hot weather, breast milk is more watery) baby’s age and growth pattern. Formula is the next best feeding product, but so far, will never be superior, or as beneficial to baby’s health as breast milk.

Formulas that advertise ingredients that promote infant intelligence has been shown to be helpful on premature babies but have no effects or benefits for full term babies.

 

  • Am I a good mother if I don’t breastfeed?

Many mothers don’t breastfeed and are excellent mothers. A warm, nurturing response is necessary for attachment and bonding. Mothers who bottle feed according to babies cues are attending to her babies needs in an attachment parenting way.

 

  • Doesn’t breastfeeding cause my breasts to sag?

Pregnancy hormones determine how the breasts age and their shape, size and elasticity after childbirth. Breastfeeding does not change the shape of breasts when breastfeeding stops.

 

  • My 5 month old baby wants to pull away and look around the room. Is it time to wean?

Your baby is going through a developmental stage where he is amused and interested in the world around him. He often wants to “observe” and eat at the same time, and may pull off you constantly, or even worse, try to take the nipple with him as he turns. This is very common and many moms go through a period where they have to nurse in a quiet, dark, low stimulus room to get through a feeding. This stage will pass.

Baby will go through teething and biting around six months and may not wish to nurse from the teething pain, or want to alleviate the pain by biting. Give Tylenol for pain and take him off the breast when he bites. Again, this stage will pass and nursing can continue.

 

  • I feel aroused when I nurse my toddler. Is this normal?

Yes. The tissue around the nipple and areola is sensitive and linked to a women’s sexual response. When breastfeeding moms have an orgasm during sex with their partner, a surprise response is often a let down and gush of breast milk! A sexual arousal during breastfeeding is very normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

 

Judy Arnall is a professional international award-winning Parenting Speaker, and Trainer, Mom of five children, and author of the best-selling, “Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery” She specializes in “Parenting the Digital Generationwww.professionalparenting.ca    jarnall@shaw.ca

 

Toddlers and Picky Eating Issues

 

 

Babies eat more food relative to weight in the first year, compared to any other year of their life. By age one, food consumption drastically reduces. Babies triple their birth weight in the first year, and toddlers only gain five pounds in the second year. If you can get one good meal into a toddler in a day, you are doing very well! (And it probably will be breakfast or lunch; they are falling apart by dinner.)

 

It helps to think about the division of responsibilities between parent and child. The feeding relationship helps to lesson the need to bargain, bribe, and punish a child to get them to eat. It teaches the child healthier eating habits by getting them attuned to how much their stomach feels hungry, rather than eating according to a clock. It allows for healthier social eating relationships where attendance in a group eating situation is encouraged and not grazing.

 

According to an informal poll of my parenting groups, about 25 to 30 percent of parents feel their toddlers are picky eaters. Toddlers are definitely more interested in exploring than eating, so more food may be on them, the tray and the floor than in their tummies! That’s okay. It’s just a stage.

 

The Feeding Relationship

The parent’s job

 

What: The parent controls what food is bought, stored, cooked, and served. Parents control the money and shopping at this age and make most decisions of what to buy.

 

When: The parent decides when snack and meal times will be. Toddler’s tummies are about the size of a ping pong ball, and they need food and drink every two hours. Three meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and three snacks: mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and bedtime per day is recommended. The parent keeps the food on the table for 20 minutes and then puts the food away until the next scheduled meal or snack. The parent doesn’t punish the child for not eating by serving the same food over and over until it gets eaten.

 

Where: The parent decides where eating and drinking will take place. Eating at the table should be encouraged to minimize the risk of choking while running, walking, or climbing. It’s also a good habit to get into, as non-aware eating can lead to weight issues. When children eat while watching movies, playing video games, or computers, they are not consciously enjoying the food or even paying attention to what they are eating. Although, I have noticed you can easily slip a plate of raw vegetables and dip under their noses while they are playing video games and the whole plate is gone in minutes. I don’t even think they notice what they just ate!

Lunch

The child’s job

 

If: The child decides if he will eat, according to his internal hunger cues rather than the clock or schedule. A meal is only a small part of the day’s food intake – only 1/6. If your child chooses not to eat, don’t worry. He will make up for it at some time later in the day, next day, or in a few days.

 

How much: The child decides what quantity will satisfy his hunger. This also

helps him decide his internal cues.

 

More Eating Tips

 

  • Food jags are normal, where the child eats nothing but peanut butter and jam sandwiches for three weeks or a longer period of time. That’s okay. As long as it’s a healthy food, don’t worry about their nutritional intake. Most parents who worried about nutrition, found that their toddlers did eat a variety of foods when they kept a log of their food intake over a week or two week period.
  • It takes 15 tries to accept a new food. Have a one bite routine – try one bite (the no-thank-you bite) and see if your child likes it. If they don’t, let them spit it out onto the “no-thank you” plate. Don’t turn the one bite routine into a power struggle. Young children have very sensitive taste buds and they definitely will change overtime. Toddlers like to feel like they are getting something special. Presentation is everything. Vegetables and fruits arranged in a face will appeal to them when a regular tossed salad is ignored.
  • Toddlers usually don’t eat much at dinner. They are tired and cranky at the end of the day. Track their lunch and breakfast intake.
  • Toddlers usually prefer finger type foods.
  • To save time, don’t use dishes. Put the food right on the tray. Then the plate won’t be thrown.
  • Give baby a spoon for each hand and then you can feed him with a separate spoon. It keeps his hands busy.
  • Give a butter spreader to help preschoolers cut food.
  • Let a toddler practice drinking from a sippy cup in the bathtub.
  • Fill toddler glasses only one third full, and make sure all dishes are plastic.
  • Cool hot food by dumping in an ice cube.
  • Be aware of micro-waving mugs with the attached plastic straws on the outside.
  • The liquid in the straw heats first and can cause burns because the toddler drinks it first.
  • For fun, serve food on doll or play dishes.
  • Think variety: fill an ice cream cone with egg salad, tuna salad, pudding, or yogurt for easy eating.
  • Use the football hold to help get the toddler to the sink and use your other hand to splash water on his chin and guide his arms under the sink to wash. Store clean shirts in the kitchen to save running to the bedroom after meal times. Wash food encrusted shirts within a day or two or the food will become moldy.
  • Clean highchairs and strollers in the shower. Run water and let the encrusted food soften. Works as well outside in the summer with the hose.
  • Dumping, mushing, and throwing food are exploratory behaviors. A little food exploration is part of development. When the food deliberately hits the walls, or the food exploration is testing your patience on a stressful day, it’s a signal that mealtime is over. Remove your child from the eating place.
  • If the toddler doesn’t sit still at mealtime, schedule a burn up activity right before mealtime, and they will have used up some energy. Before a restaurant visit, go to a playground. In fact, this works well for any event that requires a certain amount of sit still time: weddings, church, movies, concerts. Be thankful for 5 – 15 minutes, as this is all you might get!
  • Let them feed themselves with non-messy foods like peas and bread pieces while you can still feed the messy stuff with the spoon.
  • Try serving finger foods with dip or sauce. All children love sauces to swirl.
  • Serve mini portions of old favorites: pancakes, muffins, meatballs.
  • Let them pour their own juice using the dishwasher door as a counter surface.
  • Then you can just close the door after they spill and the mess goes into the dishwasher.
  • Serve a tray of carrot sticks, broccoli florets, red pepper, and salad dressing as you are getting dinner ready. Guaranteed it will be gone!
  • You can pretend to sprinkle sugar over the cereal and nobody will notice the difference. Just wave your spoon over and your toddler will think you put sugar and salt on their food.
  • Young children tend to like their food separated. Avoid casseroles if possible.
  • Serve dessert along with the meal. Don’t elevate the status of dessert as more desirable by declaring it the prize for eating the lesser-valued dinner items.
  • Purée vegetables to hide in soups and sauces.
  • Make sure dessert is healthy. Fruit, yogurt, ice-cream and oatmeal cookies are all very healthy choices and part of a balanced diet.
  • Avoid classifying food into “good” and “bad” categories. Use “more nutritious” and “less nutritious” so you get your child into the habit of making better food choice decisions.
  • Avoid punishing or rewarding a child with food items.
  • Treats are occasional foods. They wouldn’t be called treats if they were served every day. Designate a treat day.
  • Avoid bargaining using food. Parents who say, “Eat four more bites of your hamburger and then you can have your toy,” are setting themselves up for power struggles. Children learn very quickly that parents want them to eat, and by refusing, they can get attention and control. Give children attention for positive behavior and control in the form of choices. Don’t make eating a power struggle.
  • Preserve the social function of food. A comforting, social, happy atmosphere at meal and snack time and a wide variety of healthy foods is all that’s needed for childhood nutrition.

 

Leaving Baby for the First Time

Leaving Baby for the First Time

The moment is here. Your partner has been not-so-gently hinting that you need a date night out. You agree but are reluctant to leave your new baby. Your couple relationship is important to you and you really would like a break too, so you decide to go for it. How can you make the separation easier?

 

Tips for Mom

Have a trial run with your caregiver

Ask someone you are super comfortable with leaving your baby, such as another Mom, or a relative that you trust.

Phone home as much as you need to in order to feel secure.

Say a quick good-bye, hug and leave fast.

Leave a shirt or receiving blanket that smells like you.

Go to something you can focus on such as a movie or show. Dinner is too unstructured and your thoughts may turn to worry.

Post a list on the fridge of what helps calm babies’ crying, positions she likes, food and bath preferences, sleep routine and individual quirks.

Make sure your caregiver and you share the same philosophy. Ask questions such as “How long do you think baby should cry before you pick her up?” to gauge suitability.

Don’t do it again unless you feel ready.

Don’t worry if you only last half the time you planned. It’s natural to feel that way.

 

Tips for Partner

Recognize this is huge for her

Allow her to do what she needs to do in order to feel comfortable.  If she needs to cling to her phone, don’t tease her!

Acknowledge her feelings of guilt, worry and anxiety; she is being pulled two ways between wanting to go out and wanting to stay with baby.

Let her phone home as much as she needs to.

Let her talk about the baby as much as she wants to.

Let her go home if she is overwhelmed. This is still a very natural and healthy attachment at this stage. If her baby is going to university and she still can’t bear to go home, then it might be a problem! She will love you all the more for your understanding to her needs.

As the famous quote by Elizabeth Stone says, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”  Leaving your “heart” for the first time is a huge step of many toward interdependence for you and your child. Do it whenever you feel it is right.

 

 

The Last Day of Parenting (After 29 Busy Years)

Today, is the last day that I’m on active parenting duty.  It began on a sunny, hot, cloudless day on June 29, 1991 when my first son came into our lives. The other book-end, my baby, my youngest of 5 children, turns 18 tomorrow, the first day of his adulthood.  We often count the firsts in parenting – first smile, first step, first time they sleep through the night, but we often don’t celebrate the lasts – the last time we co-slept, the last time we cuddled up to read a bedtime story – the last time he held my hand while out walking – because we don’t know when they are. We have to cherish those moments as they come because they are so sweet and fleeting. Today, I celebrate a job, a passion, a career and a calling – parenthood – as well done. It was hands down the best experience of my life, and so worth the gray hair, empty bank account and wrecked furniture! I have 5 beautiful, caring adult children who I am so proud of and are my best friends. My heart is bursting with pride and happiness at the wonderful people you have become and your individual gifts and qualities. You will go forward and make this world a better place than it was before you came. Happy Birthday my dearest youngest child and welcome to adulthood! And happy Last Day of Parenting to me and my loving partner in this most wonderful adventure!

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Why Do Toddlers Hit? Is it Genes or Environment?

Why do Toddlers Hit?
Is it genes or environment?
by Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE, DTM
It’s natural for toddlers to hit, but where does this aggression come from?
Actually, it is in our genes. We evolved from humans who could fight and
defend their lives, territory and loved ones, and they passed on the ability to
survive through aggression, to the next generation. Even newborns feel anger
when they need something. In addition, in the later half of the first year, they
demonstrate what is called exploratory aggression – curiosity pushes them to
see what reaction hitting or pushing another animal or child will bring. By
toddlerhood, ages one to four years, aggression is at its peak, where one out of
every four interactions between a child and someone else is physical. This is
almost every hour!
Does nurture or nature affect the amount of aggression a child has? Let’s
pretend that a human is like a car. Aggression is like the acceleration a car can
do. We all feel aggression. Self-control is like the brakes. We all have braking
ability too, but in varying amounts. Some people have more acceleration and
some people have more braking power.
Aggression is a function of the brain. The limbic system is the emotional part of
the brain and if we have low serotonin in the limbic system, we have more
aggressive behaviors. The frontal lobes are shaped by inborn temperament, but
the environment (a parent that says, “No! We don’t hit people!”) coupled with
brain development is responsible for suppression of the physical urge of hitting,
pushing and biting.
By age five, children learn about indirect aggression, as the result of their
higher order thinking skills. They can be sneakily aggressive in order to ensure
they don’t get caught, or immediately hit back impulsively. This is a sign of
brain development as it takes higher order thinking skills to weigh out the
consequences in each act. By age five, children do choose how to express
anger.
Hitting relieves tension and may be the reason why parents spank when they
are angry. In a small way, it feels satisfying for a second. However, we also
realize that we are social groups and we can’t be aggressive toward each other
and still get along enough to live together. If we hit, we are group sanctioned;
by isolation, in the form of time-out when we are young, to social ostracism
during the school-age years, and finally, jail, as adults. Isolation is a big
punishment for social mammals whether humans or animals. Societal
disapproval helps children to suppress their acceleration. Young children are
ego-centric and don’t care what others think about them yet. Their impulses
rule their bodies and their brains. By school-age, children are being exposed to
the wider world and care about what people think, so social isolation has a
broader impact on their self-control. Pride, shame, and embarrassment are
effective social tools to keep mammals aggression in check.
As the brain grows, children learn to cope with emotions and develop more self
control. By school age, most children have stopped hitting their friends and
playmates, although the odd lapse against siblings is common until the teen
years. It’s healthy to feel feelings, and express them in better ways such as
words that don’t hurt anyone. The key is to keep repeating what you want them
to do until they begin to take it on themselves. The more children practice calm
down tools, the more they are stored in their memory and come to mind as
they internalize social and group rules. When children are exposed to all ages of
social groups, in extended families and all-age schools, they learn the rules of
controlling aggressive behaviour.
Play fighting does not encourage aggression. In fact, it is useful for
development. Children discover their own limits, and what other people consider
acceptable, and it helps teach self-control. It’s hard to watch as a parent,
because you know one child is going to come to you crying, but it definitely
teaches both children about limits for later.
What is the role of adults: Adults just need to do two things.
Do hold their hands and say “Stop. No. Can you see this hurts your sister?”
“Let’s do this (stomp our feet on the floor) to express our anger.” Children get
to see their effect on others and can choose a non-violent way to express their
feelings. Keep repeating this message after every aggressive event.
Don’t role model hitting, slapping, spanking or any other aggressive
behaviours. Children learn by modeling. Children who are hit, are more likely to
hit others by thinking that those who have power use physical aggression to
wield it.

 

Screen Time Research – Who to Believe?

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Many parents worry about screen time, especially after reading the latest study that involves children their children’s ages. However, how does one sort through the myths from the facts? It is becoming increasingly difficult.

Screen time addiction was not listed in the DSM-V (the main diagnosis manual for the medical community) because the health community can’t determine what amount of screen time or type of screen time constitutes addiction or harm. The evidence is not yet conclusive and until we have long term good meta-analysis evidence, no one can state how much is harmful. Opinions are all over the place because they are based on random studies, many of which are poorly done. What is a parent to do?  Until we have good evidence, moderation is the best practice.

What we do know, is that children in stable families, with low ACE scores (Adverse Childhood Experiences) are less likely to be susceptible to any the 10 addictions, including screen time, no matter how much screen time they have.  Families should aim for a balance of screen and real-time interaction with the priority on face-to-face relationships. For more information, this website is based on the research of 49 neuroscientists across North America.

The Brain Core Story Training

Here is a graphic I presented in one of my parenting groups recently. Addiction is at greater propensity when children experience toxic stress during childhood.  Toxic stress stems from the 10 ACES listed in orange. Research can’t provide good evidence yet which genes are activated by toxic stress, especially those children with addictions that run in the family. Screen time is deemed to be closest to the characteristics in a gambling addiction, but it still has unique qualities.

Best practices for parents?  Build close relationships with your children. Avoid toxic stress in the family.  Enjoy screen time in moderation.

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Combining a Business and Parenting

Interview with parenting expert, Judy Arnall and Heather Boyd, business expert

Listen to Heather Boyd’s Interview

 

The Science of Attachment Parenting

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What is the scientific purpose of attachment parenting? In short, attachment parenting provides the child stress relief. Every child experiences stress and it impacts the body by triggering a stress response. Emotions such as fear, loneliness, sadness, frustration and unhappiness are present in children as young as babyhood. Children’s response to those emotions is usually crying in babies and “acting out”, crying or screaming in toddlers. Young children do not have the executive functioning to “self-sooth” or regulate their own stress response because of the immaturity of the brain’s pre-frontal cortex. They need external “scaffolding” help from an adult. When a caring adult responds to the situation promptly and with warmth, the stress is soothed and the calmness of the child resumes. Eventually, children grow to an age, usually in the teen years, where their self-regulation skills are developed enough so they can help themselves to “self-sooth,” and the scaffolding may be removed although comfort and parenting is nice to have all through childhood.

There are three kinds of stress; positive, tolerable and toxic. Positive stress is good and everyone needs some of this kind.Positive life challenges in the form or people, events or places, create positive stress. When the child faces the stress and overcomes it, often with caregiver support, (and as they get older, with peer support in addition to adult support); the child builds resilience to adversity and it creates a feeling of accomplishment for them. It encourages the child to meet even greater challenges as they grow because it builds their self-esteem and confidence. When a school child makes a class presentation, or a baby is left with a new loving, supportive caregiver, or a toddler faces new playmates at a new daycare, their accomplishment of managing the positive stress builds their resiliency.

Men On Scaffolding Working on a Brain

Tolerable stress is caused by negative events in a child’s life.  A parent’s divorce, an unwanted move, or the loss of a childhood friend are examples of tolerable stress because they are temporary, and supported by a caring, loving, warm attachment adult who can help steer the child through the stressful time.  The adult responds to the child with active listening, lots of hugs, immediate problem-solving and being available for continual help. Even when the child “acts out” their stress by exhibiting bad behaviour, a caring, warm response from an adult will help the child regulate his emotions, return to a calmer state and eventually resolve the problem.

Toxic stress is also caused by negative events although these events tend to be on-going and the one pervasive factor that moves tolerable stress into toxic stress is the lack of a supportive caregiver or attachment parent. On-going, unaddressed bullying at school, or a baby being left to cry it out most nights, or a toddler that is spanked every day for touching items, are examples of toxic stress. In the first example, the bullying is on-going and pervasive. In the last two examples, the adult caregiver no longer is the supportive, caring person, and instead, becomes the source of the toxic stress as in the spanking and leaving to “cry it out” example. When the child has no other adult support resources, they are left to manage the adverse experience on their own.

Of the 8 principles of attachment parenting, the principles of responding with sensitivity (and not anger), practicing respectful sleep habits (not leaving children to cry-it-out alone) and using positive discipline (non-punitive guidance) are the most important attachment parenting principles to ensure toxic stress does not occur.

Children do not need toxic stress. Ever. The full onslaught of toxic stress stimulates the production of cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn is good in short doses to motivate the body into flight, freeze or fight mode, but bad for the body when it is produced in large ongoing doses. The constant production of these hormones can damage developing brain architecture in children and may produce lifelong consequences later in life in the form of eventual physical and emotional health problems and propensity to addictions.

No one lives a stress-free life, but adults who practice attachment parenting principles can buffer the negative effects of toxic stress in order to turn the stress into tolerable stress and grow healthy, happy children. Loving, caring support is never spoiling a child. It is crucial for a child’s healthy emotional, physical and social development.

http://www.professionalparenting.ca

http://www.attachmentparenting.ca

http://www.judyarnall.com

Childhood Assault Must Be Made Illegal

It is an election year, and Prime Minister Trudeau promised to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report recommendations.  One of those recommendation’s is to remove the legality of children being assaulted.  Ask the MP candidates what they are doing in this area to protect children who have very little self-control (normal young childhood executive function) and risk being hit because of adult’s poor understanding of normal brain development. “He should know better!” is a common statement from parents and caregivers that is created from years of myth, bias, and lack of brain capability knowledge that has been passed on from previous generations. As you can see from the above chart, by the time children are old enough to understand “consequences”, about age 6, they are old enough to problem-solve situations without being hit. They have enough self-control to not “do the deed” and really do begin to “know better.” No one would assault a child in a wheelchair for not being able to ascend a staircase, yet, we do it all the time for young children incapable of self-control.

For more help on the difference between punishment and discipline/gentle guidance, read “Discipline Without Distress.” It was written with 5 kids (3 spirited ones) in mind!

https://amzn.to/2Nv0oIJ

For more help, on handling parent anger, and child/teen anger read “Parenting With Patience.”

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For more help on day-to-day non-punitive handling of all parenting challenges, consult “Attachment Parenting Tips Raising Toddlers To Teens.” 

https://amzn.to/2YstucV

All the above books have up-to-date charts on child capabilities and brain development.

Check out the video help at http://professionalparenting.ca/press-media.php

Here is some information of Repeal 43, written by my friend and passionate advocate of non-spanking discipline, Kathy Lynn.

Why Repeal 43? 

Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada

Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances. R.S.C., 1985, c .C-4

This is the wording in the criminal code but

The constitutionality of Section 43 was challenged in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice: then by way of appeal in the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. The Section appears verbatim as it did prior to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision. However, the Court narrowed the scope of defense to assault under section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada and to set out a series of judicial limitations to assist in the interpretation of the justifiable or so-called “reasonable” limits of corporal punishment. The  judicial limitations (which again don’t appear in the Criminal Code of Canada) are as follows:

1)    Only parents may use reasonable force solely for purposes of correction;

2)    Teachers may use reasonable force only to “remove a child from a classroom or secure compliance with instructions, but not merely as corporal punishment”;

3)    Corporal punishment cannot be administered to “children under two or teenagers”;

4)    The use of force on children of any age “incapable of learning from [it] because of disability or some other contextual factor” is not protected;

5)    “Discipline by the use of objects or blows or slaps to the head is unreasonable”;

6)    “Degrading, inhuman or harmful conduct is not protected”, including conduct that “raises a reasonable prospect of harm”;

7)    Only “minor corrective force of a transitory and trifling nature” may be used;

8)    The physical punishment must be “corrective, which rules out conduct stemming from the caregiver’s frustration, loss of temper or abusive personality”;

9)    “The gravity of the precipitating event is not relevant”; and

10) The question of what is “reasonable under the circumstances” requires an “objective” test and “must be considered in context and in light of all the circumstances of the case.”

 Violence against children should be against the law, not defined by it.

Decades ago, it wasn’t a criminal assault to physically beat

slaves,

servants,

apprentices,

prisoners,

dogs,

wives and

children.

In today’s Canada, only children are still on that list.

That’s just wrong.  And it’s not who Canadians are.

This is not a child discipline issue. It’s a human rights issue.  All Canadians, whatever their age, deserve the protection of law against violence in any form.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Government has promised to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action.

Call to action #6 calls for the Repeal of S43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Of the many calls to action this is one that is simple to implement and will protect all of Canada’s children.

Research

Research demonstrates that hitting children can lead to impaired parent-child relationships, poorer child mental health, child aggression and weaker internalization of moral standards and delinquency, often carrying on into adulthood.

United Nations on the Rights of the Child

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The focus for this initiative has been on foreign policy.

But there is another issue that the Liberal Government could easily address.

On December 13, 1991, Canada formally ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention, which is a comprehensive statement on children’ rights, covers every aspect of a child’s life.

The presence of S43 in our Criminal Code is in direct conflict with the UN Convention. It seems to us, at Corinne’s Quest that our government should repeal S43 and come into compliance with the United Nations.

Bottom Line

All that being said, it is 2019 and the culture in Canada is that of non-violence. Bullying is not acceptable in any cases and we say that domestic violence is also not accepted. However, children are not covered when we talk about domestic violence and they can, under certain circumstances, be legally assaulted.

To have a section (S43) of our criminal code which accepts, and in some cases, encourages physical punishment of children is appalling.

It is a question human (children’s) rights and when the simple act of Repeal can protect children from this violence and its unintended risks it should be done.

-Kathy Lynn

 

Video Games Gives Kids A Bigger Academic Edge Than Homework

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Excerpted from the book, Unschooling To University (and College too): Relationships matter most in a world crammed with content.

Games are just another food on the buffet of learning

Children love their technology and parents know it. If you treat screen time like any other educational tool, it will not be elevated to “treat” status in the eyes of the children, and they will naturally find a balance between that and other activities. Leave lots of other play options lying around. Everything kids are curious about is educational and contributes in some way to their development.

Educational benefits of video and computer games

Are video games educational? Of course, they are! Any kind of toy or game is educational in that it teaches children knowledge and competencies. Not every game has to be labeled “educational” to be educational. Other than volunteering, travel, and reading, video games have been the biggest “curriculum” in our home education and have been very valuable in keeping the children engaged in learning, over textbooks and worksheets.

As a parent of five gamers of both genders, I learned early that my children hated the “educational games” that have primitive graphics, poor logic, clumsy interface, are non-multiplayer, and are just plain lame. These educational games seem to be marketed to parents who aim for productive use of time rather than plain fun.

When my kids immersed themselves in games like World of Warcraft, Nox, Spore, Gizmos and Gadgets, Age of Empires, Graal, Lacuna Expanse, Civilization, Garry’s Mod, Crusader Kings, Runescape, and League of Legends, they learned not only reading, writing, and math skills, but also social studies, mythology, history, and science. They learned the valuable social skills of cooperation and conflict resolution with other in-game players, and with buddies in the same room playing the same game. In (World of Warcraft) WOW, League of Legends, and Overwatch, they learned the personal skills of resilience during adversity, perseverance and the commitment to continue and finish for the team, even when they were discouraged. They learned how to deal with challenges, problems, team members, and competitors under time pressure. They learned how to win gracefully, and how to face losing with dignity—and without throwing a keyboard across the room.

Indirectly, games and toys teach some academic concepts in ways that are compelling to children, aided by the focus that is essential for gaming success. Parents who don’t play video games may not even realize how their children have learned these competencies. Have a look at the following impressive list of competencies that video games can help to develop:

Academic Competencies

Executive function planning and working memory skills: Games teach critical thinking, analytical thinking, strategy, and problem-solving skills. Think about the scientific method. Most games give clues but not directions. So, a player has to hypothesize to find a strategy that might work. The game developers withhold critical information, so players must use trial and error to discover what they need to know. The games are giant puzzles that stretch executive function and working memory and develop skills. Further, gaming teaches problem solving under duress because many of the tasks they have to perform have time limits!

Multi-tasking: Players learn to manage many forms of information and options, usually under the stress of time limits and encroaching competitors. Just memorizing the number of items one can obtain in a game is an amazing feat. Some games make a player battle in order to stay alive, providing a great training ground for the workplace! When juggling competing interests, players also learn about time management and setting priorities.

Literacy: Games that require reading, writing, and spelling build literacy skills both on- screen and in game manuals that are often written at a high school level, telling gamers how to play and offering insights for getting over rough spots. Children who can’t read certainly try to learn! Our kids learned to read, write and use grammar from playing Graal, Animal Crossing, Sims, Sim City and many other games. Children who hate workbooks and seat-work can practice literacy skills in a format that really motivates them.

Math skills: Games develop pattern recognition and use math operations, reasoning, and logic to solve problems. The kids were motivated to learn how to tell time. They wanted to know exactly how long a half an hour was and how many more minutes until Neil gets off and they get their turn!

Computer programming skills: They learned coding, Perl, C++, CSS, HTML, scripts, and many other useful computer programming skills by playing user-modifiable games. My son learned how to use Java scripts by playing Lacuna Expanse.

Art, History and Science: Games initiate interest in many topic areas in history, art, culture, and science that spur research and reading. My kids also learned much of elementary school Greek history from playing Age of Mythology, and science from Gizmos and Gadgets and Magic School Bus. Civilization and Crusader Kings were great for learning history. Kerbal Space Program was excellent for learning orbital mechanics, space travel, physics, and engineering.

Knowledge: Gaming allows the elderly, poor, isolated or confined person access to in- formation and communication that might otherwise be inaccessible.

Creativity: During our children’s heavy video game-playing years, they continued with their self-motivated art representations: they played mostly the Mario series, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Pokemon, and Kirby. They painted hundreds of pictures of the characters. In fact, the characters were represented in every medium possible—play-dough, Lego, wood, watercolor, markers, homemade costumes, stuffed figures, and many others. The handwritten stories of the adventures of Kirby and Mario, done by all the children, were equally impressive. They even made homemade board games featuring the characters. When Burger King ran a promotion handing out Pokeballs with characters inside along with their kids’ meals, we ate at Burger King four nights a week and acquired an immense collection of figurines! Although they wouldn’t touch those kids’ meals today, the figurines still represent many cherished memories of their imaginary play in which they set up scenes, built habitats, and invented stories and games with each other and with their characters. I am still amazed at the creativity that those video and computer games inspired. As the kids got older, their creativity moved from physical objects to a screen. They generated art, music, writing, and videos onscreen. The creative process was still there; it just changed formats. Once children reach school-age, mainstream parents tend to get rid of traditional creative items such as arts and craft supplies, paints, dress-up clothes, and drama props because “the schools can deal with the mess.” However, the schools become more academic from Grade 4 on, so very few children have creative outlets at home or at school. Hence the appeal of being creative on the computer, with games like the Sims, Sim Theme Park, and Animal Crossing, where children can create their own worlds. It’s not the children’s need for creativity that has changed, but the medium.

Social and Emotional Competencies

Connection: Children can easily stay in touch with family and friends around the world by playing games, talking, and socializing in real time over communication channels such as Discord or FaceTime. Grandparents love to connect with their grandchildren, regardless of how far apart they might be. My kids often would game with their siblings who were away at university or had moved to another city to work.

Entertainment: The internet and gaming provide limitless sources of entertainment in video and audio format. Name your genre and it’s available.

De-stressing skills: Gaming helps players to zone out, de-stress, escape into fantasy worlds, and relax. My friend is 45 years old and works as a realtor. To de-stress, she comes home and plays computer games with her daughter.

Delayed gratification skills: Players have to work their way up by levels and cannot shortcut without others’ help. Studies show that children who learn to appreciate delayed gratification at an early age tend to do better in life.

Executive function focus skills: Especially difficult in a background of music, noise, chattering, and distractions, gaming demands total focused concentration. This is a useful practice for many children. Often, children are diagnosed with attention deficits in school, yet can focus for hours on gaming.

Self-esteem: Games build self-esteem and confidence in skills that are admired by peers. This is especially important for children who don’t excel in academics, sports, or the arts. Being accepted and respected for a special skill builds self-confidence in other areas of their lives.

Executive function inhibitory control: Games provide a method of teaching and practicing emotional intelligence. Games give children practice in handling anger, frustration, and setbacks—especially when they lose an acquired level because they forgot to save!  It even teaches natural consequences and how to problem solve to fix a situation. Of course, children need an adult around to help them deal with those strong emotions, or else a controller will go flying against the wall!

Gender neutrality: The internet and gaming enable people to communicate without visual stereotypes. People are judged on their words and actions, not on age, gender, culture, or looks.

Commitment and work ethic: “My son doesn’t commit to extracurricular activities, but he is persistent in mastering a game, committing to a team of five in a game, or learning coding,” says Ellen, homeschooling mom of two.

Cooperation and collaboration: Multi-player games lend themselves to team building, cooperation, strategy formation, and group problem solving with other players both in the game and those watching the game. Players have to work together to develop a plan, achieve results, and cover each others’ backs. They learn to negotiate, compromise, and practice fair play.

Encouragement: As well, when one child plays and another watches, they both learn how to encourage each other to take risks, try another solution, and keep going. It’s wonderful to watch their “team approach,” even if only one child is at the controls. Often, my kids played as a team against other teams in League of Legends and it was lovely to watch how they bonded.

Independence: In a world of helicopter parenting, gaming and social media provide a playground for children that is not micro-managed by adults. Children make the rules or the game makes the rules, but not the parents. When children get together face to face, they speak a gaming language that is not understood by adults, but that bonds them together in a secret world.

Conversations: When my kids would meet up face to face with their friends, they spent non-gaming time engrossed in conversations, bragging about games they had and which ones to go for next, which characters they wanted to play, and what levels they had achieved—much like we used to discuss hockey stats, car enhancements, and movie stars. Teens especially like to differentiate themselves from adults in their form of dress, hairstyles, music, and activities. Gaming is one more avenue that helps them do that.

Family closeness: Many parents play video games with their children from a young age until the kids move out—then come back for Sunday dinner and a round of League of Legends! As a non-gamer, I personally found that taking an interest in my children’s gaming by sitting and watching them and listening to their descriptive adventures in the game brought us closer in communicating and sharing fun times.

Socialization: Minecraft Club! Computer Coding Club! Girls Who Game Club! As kids move into the teen years, they are not well practiced in initiating conversations because they are more self-conscious about what they say and do. They need an activity to focus on in order to relax. Gaming clubs provide that activity.

Social media has benefits too!

Social: Kids can easily connect to other like-minded kids who share their interests.

Writing: They can flex their debating and persuasive writing skills on hot topics in discussion websites, with other really good debaters.

Research: They can learn about people with different backgrounds, religions, and cultures as they make online friends around the world.

Create: They can create and share musical, technical, and artistic projects with others by writing blogs and making websites, videos, memes, podcasts, and webinars.

Collaboration: They can collaborate on projects without ever meeting each other in person. Several books have been published with such collaboration.

Citizenship: They can organize, volunteer, raise collective consciousness, and raise funds for charitable organizations and worthy causes.

Entrepreneurship: They can start and grow a business.

Health: They can access health information on any topic from sexuality to depression and get answers to questions that they would be embarrassed to ask an adult.

Because of the proliferation of smartphones and video games, which 80 percent of Canadian kids play, children as a school cohort are dating at older ages, having sex later, driving later, and moving out later, and have little taste for alcohol and smoking. (McKnight, 2015) These are excellent trends. The trade-off is that they spend more time alone in their rooms, connected to their mobile phones. Thus, inter-personal and socialization skills can take a hit. Family can counteract that by spending time together and scheduling outside family social time. Declare some screen-free zones and times, like meal time, to gather together, socialize, and enjoy each other’s company. Social media can also be brutal to children’s self-esteem, so open communication with supportive parents and siblings is critical in keeping peer stress tolerable and not toxic. Screens have value, but children also need face-to-face relationships in the three-dimensional, physical world. Like all technology, games and social media are tools and how we use them can be beneficial or detrimental. Balance is key.

Excerpted from Unschooling To University: Relationships matter most in a world crammed with content, By Judy Arnall

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