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When Does Rough Play Become Bullying?

January 13, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

bullyingDuring the early years of childhood, it is often inevitable that parents will have to deal with the occasional tantrum or generally stubborn behavior.

It is common for children to get in fights with their siblings over toys or teasing and playground fights can sometimes occur between friends if their emotions get the best of them.

However, it is important to distinguish if this type of play or behavior could be something more dangerous to themselves or others: bullying.


Bullying or rough play?

Rough play is a natural part of the growth of a child. Though it shouldn’t necessarily be encouraged, this type of play allows children to experience different ways of dealing with people as well as different emotions.

Depending on the age, some children may have yet to understand the consequences of their actions; they simply listen to their emotions without recognizing what is socially acceptable behavior. In other words, these children are not bullying because they have no malicious intent.


Bullying is intentional

However, when children begin to become more self-aware, inappropriate behavior may sometimes be done with the intent of hurting others.

To distinguish between rough play and bullying, characteristics of bullying can include:

  • Indifference in hurting others

  • Needing to be in control all the time

  • Repeated and targeted hurtful actions to a specific child

  • Name-calling

  • Frightening other children

Some of these behaviors can occur simply because the children have yet to learn how to properly express themselves as their communication skills are still developing. Thus, some of these behaviors can occur without it being bullying which makes it hard to distinguish.

As parents it’s necessary to teach children early the right way to play. It’s important to let children express themselves but when it’s done at the expense of others then steps should be made to properly discipline your child.

Proper Nutrition Improves Childhood Obesity Statistics

January 6, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

According to the CDC, childhood obesity rates have tripled over the last thirty years. In 2010, 18% of children ages six to eleven were considered obese. Numbers like these are occurring all over the country, causing alarm among the medical community.

As these rates continue to rise, it is certain more and more children will become victims of obesity, threatening their health and their lives. Many in the medical community are working to see what can be done to stop the onslaught of this epidemic.

Through research, it has been found the foods being consumed by children are putting their health at great risk and causing weight issues like have never been seen before.


Childhood obesity and kid’s dietschildhood obesity

Why Is the Diet of Today’s Children Such a Concern?

Very few children these days are getting the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) of the healthy foods containing the vitamins and minerals needed for proper growth and body function. Not only are children not eating the proper foods, but they are eating way too much.

The average child eats hundreds of calories more than they should in a day. Between the ages of seven and ten, children should consume between 1500 and 2000 calories, depending on their age and sex.


Food choice heavily impacts childhood obesity

One of the biggest worries among the medical community is children are eating more fast food, fried foods, candy and soda than ever before. If your child consumes a 4-piece chicken nugget happy meal, they have already consumed about a third of the calories they need in a day. This can be even greater if your child chooses to up the size of their meal to a Mighty meal.

Though the schools are trying to do their part in helping provide children with proper nutrition, they are failing in many ways. Pizza, fried nuggets and fries are not making for healthy kids.


Curbing childhood obesity

To improve the health of your child and prevent or reverse obesity, you need to offer your child a wide variety of healthy fruits and vegetables. Snacks should be offered in the form of fresh fruits and vegetable sticks. It is also important to get your child moving as much as possible.

Studies have shown active children who have plenty of opportunities for active play, weigh less than those who sit around and play video games or watch TV.

Through a healthy diet, exercise for kids and your supervision over their health, your child’s weight will improve along with their health.

Managing and controlling your child’s ADHD symptoms

December 27, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)



If you have a child with ADHD or ADHD symptoms, then you know how overwhelming this can be. What if there was a way to control and reduce your child’s ADHD symptoms, by helping them directing their energy into something more positive?

Most children with ADHD or ADHD symptoms do not have the ability of organizing, thinking and planning ahead, or completing tasks. As a parent, you will need to provide extra guidance for your child, while allowing your child to gain skills of their own.


What are some ADHD symptoms?

Before you can find solutions for your child, it’s best to first understand all of your child’s symptoms and how they impact the family as a whole.

Here are a few noticeable behaviors that many children with ADHD have that can disrupt the life of your family.

  • They tend to disregard parental instructions
  • They are very unorganized, as well as easily distracted
  • They’ll begin projects and forget to finish them
  • They will often interrupt conversation and demand to be the center of attention at the worst times
  • They may speak before they think of what to say
  • It can be very difficult for them to go to sleep
  • They can also put themselves in physical danger by doing things that will cause them bodily harm


Ways to manage ADHD symptoms

There are ways to help reduce some of these symptoms that will make you and your family much happier in the long run. The first step is to stay positive and healthy by have a more positive outlook on life.

The best way to do this is to try to keep things in perspective. Keep in mind that your child’s behavior is a disorder. They don’t have an evil intention to make you and your family’s life a living hell.

Another thing to keep in mind is to have a sense of humor. As your child gets older, all of those embarrassing experiences you’ve dealt with in the past, will become funny stories in the future.

You’ll need to make some compromises for your child. If you child hasn’t finished their chores or have missed a couple homework assignments, cut your child some slack. You need to understand that if your child hasn’t finish something the way you wanted them to, it isn’t the end of the world.

Help your child grow as a person by believing in them. Put together a list of positive and unique this about your child. Be sure to trust that they will be to learn and mature themselves as the days go by.


ADHD symptoms can take a toll on you as well

While you are taking care of your child, you should also take care of yourself, especially during this time.

Be sure to exercise and eat right, as well as look for ways to reduce stress from your life. You should also seek support by talking with a teacher or a therapist.

You should also consider joining a support group for parents of children with ADHD. This will allow you to share your experiences and receive helpful advice from others going through the same situation.

Practice word blocks to help manage verbal bullying

November 27, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

Just like blocking a punch or kick in a physical altercation can prevent injury, so too can having blocks against hurtful words. We call these “word blocks,” and they are an important tool in managing verbal bullying.

Also just like blocking a physical attack, you must learn to use word blocks reflexively and immediately, without any trace of emotion. The goal of these word blocks is to stop a verbal attack by showing that you are listening to the other person’s concerns and initiate a redirection.

Some examples of word blocks are:

  • “I hear what you’re saying and I’m listening, but…”
  • “It seems that way and I agree it’s difficult, however…”

Using these simple word blocks can help take the heat off of you and give you the opportunity to steer the interaction into a more useful direction where the two parties might be able to come to some sort of mutual understanding.

Next time you find yourself in an argument, try using a word block to stop it and shift the focus of the conversation to a more constructive place.


Managing ADHD in your child

November 26, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

Child Safety Podcast


So you’ve just found out that your child has Attention Defect Hyperactivity Disorder and you are worried about what lies ahead for you and your child.

Below are a few things that every parent with children diagnosed with ADHD should know.


It can be managed

Although there is no cure for ADHD, the symptoms can be managed through medication and behavioral therapy. Meanwhile,  specialized or supplemental education such as a private tutor can ensure that your child doesn’t fall behind academically.

The amount of countermeasures needed to manage ADHD symptoms will vary based on the severity of each individual case, but typically children can be nearly symptom free with these simple treatments.



There are three types of medication that children with ADHD could be put on. They are:

  • stimulants – most common treatment, last 4-12 hours
  • nonstimulants – fewer side effects than stimulants, last up to 24 hours
  • antidepressants – can be effective, slight risk increase of suicide

Each have their positive and negative effects, so it is up to you and the doctor to determine which one or combination are right for your child.


Behavior therapy

In addition to medication, your child might benefit from more structure through establishing a routine. The goal is to help your child understand what is expected of them by consistently having them perform the same actions on a regular basis.

For example, having a set bedtime that is followed on a nightly basis will help your child understand and recognize that as the bedtime approaches, they are expected to do things like get in their pajamas and brush their teeth.

Limiting choices and distractions in their life will keep them from becoming too distracted or overwhelmed.


Your child is not alone

Between 8% – 10% of American children are diagnosed with ADHD. Boys are three times as likely to be diagnosed than girls. In addition to speaking with your doctor, both parents and children might find it helpful to talk with other families managing the symptoms of ADHD.

Together you can learn what works and what doesn’t without having to feel like you’re suffering through it all alone.

When dealing with bullies, confidence is king

November 14, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)



The easiest way to deal with a bully is to never have one in the first place. Although this may seem like common sense, most people don’t know how to keep themselves from becoming a target. The key is to project confidence.

Bullies look for easy targets; those who look like they won’t fight back or challenge their authority.  They look for targets like this by paying attention to how other kids carry themselves, how they speak and how they respond to adversity.



The easiest thing for a bully to pick out is the body language of a potential target. Several factors combine here that display what the person is feeling about themselves or their surroundings. Someone showing weakness or a feeling of intimidation is going to be much more likely to attract a bully than someone who shows that they feel self-assured.

Here are the body posture cues they look for:

  • Head and eyes – are they looking at the floor or scanning the area ahead for potential trouble?
  • Shoulders – slumped shoulders typically indicate submissiveness. Hold your shoulders up and slightly back.
  • Chest – when your shoulders move back, your chest moves forward
  • Back – slouching or walking slumped over indicates that you are unsure of yourself or your surroundings. Stand up straight and the rest will feel more natural



In many cases, displaying more confidence will help to deter some bullies but others may still decide to test your confidence by verbally interacting with you to gauge your response. Here it is important to speak assertively and decisively.

  • Volume – imagine a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being a whisper and 5 being a shout. Your volume should be at a 3.
  • Tone – talking loud but sounding unsure won’t help your cause. Speak with confidence and assertiveness.
  • Speed – too slow and it sounds like you’re stalling, too fast and it sounds like you’re in a hurry to run away from the conversation. Speak at a natural, even tempo.
  • Preparedness – have a preplanned practiced response to what a bully might say about you.



Looking and sounding the part is a great start to displaying confidence, but if you fold at the first sign of resistance all that work will have been for nothing. This doesn’t mean that you should be ready to get into a fight, instead knowing how to quickly and appropriately respond to situations will show bullies that you are well prepared.

  • Scan your surroundings – stay out of harm’s way by looking out for potential trouble. If you can’t avoid it, scan for the nearest exit in case something does happen.
  • Self defense – martial arts training is a great way to learn to keep yourself safe
  • Know who to speak with – if something serious happens to you or someone else, knowing who to report the incident to can put a quick stop to it.


Child fitness strategies need to be enacted at home to work

November 12, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)



In recent years the epidemic of childhood obesity has gained notoriety in the media for being a serious issue facing our youth. Countless studies have been cited and statistics trotted out to the increasingly concerned public, and in response, elected officials have begun making policy changes aimed at increasing child fitness through better nutrition and health education.

As a result, the meals that many schools provide are beginning to include more healthy options and PSA’s stress the importance of getting children physically active for at least 60 minutes a day.  These well-meaning initiatives are certainly a step in the right direction towards improving child fitness on a national scale, but these sweeping policies can also provide a false sense of security for parents.


General programs aren’t enough

Some schools have been able to make changes to their lunch program by making healthy food options more accessible to students and now provide better education on the importance of being in good physical shape. But for those that haven’t – due to lack of funding, staff or resources – many of these programs fall on deaf ears.

Budgets are tight for schools and youth-service organizations across the country. Among the first things being cut are gym classes and after-school recreational activities. Meanwhile, healthy food options usually cost more than the more traditional choices many of us grew up with.




Even if schools are offering these resources to their students, parents can easily get the wrong impression that these steps are enough for their child to be healthy. It is this false sense of security that parents need to overcome.

Ultimately the health of a child falls on the responsibility of the parents. They need to be the ones to ensure that their children are eating healthy foods at home – and when they’re at school that they’re actually choosing the healthy meal options. They also need to get their children to be physically active for a meaningful amount of time each day.


The role parents play

School and public programs only go so far into changing the habits of children. For any long-term changes to be achieved, the message needs to be reinforced at home by their parent or guardian at a young enough age when habits are still being formed. In most cases family involvement will determine the success or failure of these programs in improving child fitness.

Children can learn all about the food pyramid and the need for aerobic activity, but unless the message is reinforced and mirrored at home the lessons are unlikely to sink in.

Parents need to make healthy meals and plan physical activities at home so that children receive the lessons we want them to learn in a consistent and organized way. This might include such things as:

  • involving children in grocery shopping by helping them pick out fresh fruits and vegetables
  • having them help you prepare nutritious meals (let them toss the salad!)
  • go on family bike rides
  • play in the yard or at the park with them
  • set good examples by eating healthy and remaining physically active


Take initiative for their sake

It might be easy to assume that the lessons children at school about fitness is enough to create a lasting change in the decisions they make about their health, but sadly that’s not the case.

And it might also be easy to say that because of busy schedules or other commitments that continuing any good lessons taught at school or through after-school activities at home is too difficult. But what you must remember is that these teachable moments are shaping the life-long habits to ensure the health and well-being of your child. And nothing can be more important than that.


Ed Holpfer

How to Plan for the Unexpected—Part 2

November 6, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)



Annie Babbitt, guest contributor

In the first part of this essay, we discussed how to create and legalize a will. Now let’s move on to the harder task of choosing a guardian and caring for your child in case of unexpected death of you and/or your spouse.


Choosing Guardianship

Do not assume that your spouse will automatically gain guardianship over your children when you pass away. If there is no guardian named then anyone can put his or her name forward to be considered. While your spouse has a very high chance of being chosen, it is not a guarantee. State your spouse specifically as guardian, then choose one or two alternatives in case your spouse is unable or unwilling to care for the children, or passes the same time as you.

If you have strong feelings against your children’s other parent having guardianship, be sure to state exactly why in your will, with examples and reasons. The judge will consider all information available before making a final decision.

Thinking about someone else having to raise your children can be very tough and emotional. However, it does need to be given a lot of thought before a decision can be made. Here are some questions to consider when choosing a guardian for your children.

  • Is there someone your children are already close to and comfortable with?
  • Who is financially, physically, and emotionally responsible and stable enough to care for your children?
  • Will this person have the time and energy to give your children the care they need?
  • Does this person have children already, and would your children fit in or get lost in the shuffle?
  • Would your children have to move far away, and would that cause more problems?
  • Does this person have the same parenting style, values, and religious and educational beliefs that you do?
  • Should your children be kept together, or would it be better to name a separate guardian for each child? Separate guardians may be good for children who are far apart in age, for children who have special needs, or if they have special attachments to different people.
  • Should you name one guardian until your child is a certain age, then a different guardian after that? A switch like this can be difficult on a child though, so keep that in mind when considering this option.


Your Child

Having one or both parents pass away will be very hard on your child, and the more they know the better they will be able to handle it. If the death is known to be coming, say from a sickness, talk your child through each stage and explain in terms they understand what is going on. If it is sudden, make sure the person caring for your child will give them concrete answers, and be able to answer questions as the child ages and is able to understand more.

Make sure children know who will take care of them in case both parents are gone. Consider writing a letter for your children to have in case something happens, like this blog mom did. Tell them reasons you love them, reassure them, let them know they will be taken care of, give advice, and comfort them.


Final Details

Once your will is finalized place it in a safe spot, like a locked filing cabinet, and tell your executor and a couple other trusted friends and family members where it is located. Some banks have very strict rules about who can access safety deposit boxes, so those may cause more hassle than they’re worth if your spouse or executer cannot access your will.

Make sure someone has official permission to pick up your children from school or daycare in case something happens to you and your spouse, and consider naming someone as temporary guardian to care for your children until a judge has named the official guardian.

Once you have your will put together it is a good idea to have it looked over by a professional. This makes sure you have everything you need to make it official, that you have not missed anything, and gives you a chance to ask any questions you may have. Some law firms will offer a 30 minute consulting session, and while finding a lawyer in your area may sound intimidating, it is as simple as searching online for “Ottawa law firm,” or something similar, then making a phone call for what services they offer.

The peace of mind you gain from having a will in place, and a professional reassuring you all will be well for your children if you and/or your spouse pass away, is well worth the money and time it costs.


Annie Babbitt writes about her interest in current events, political science and philosophy. Annie loves helping promote change and being an advocate for those in need.

NFL Bullying Incident Shows it Can Happen to Anyone

November 6, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)



There’s no doubt that to play in the NFL you’ve got to be tough. But as the recent bullying case involving Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins shows, all the physical strength in the world can’t protect people from the torment of bullies.


Beyond stereotypes

The bully/victim stereotype is of a bigger, stronger child picking on a smaller, weaker child who may be younger than the bully. And while that size and strength disparity may be true for many bullying incidents, it surely doesn’t hold true in all cases.

Perhaps that’s part of why people are so shocked by the news that bullying was enough to drive Jonathan Martin to quit playing for the Dolphins. At 6′ 5″ and weighing in at 312lbs, Martin doesn’t fit into our preconceived notion of a bully victim which causes people to be taken back at the thought of this happening to such a person.


Skills that should be universal

But the fact that bullying can – and does – affect those we don’t typically think of as victims means that everyone should know how to prevent and control bullying.

In a recent interview, bully expert Dave Young points out “Bullying happens everywhere,” and not just to the small kid with glasses. You can see the story here:

Expert says NFL bullying incident can be lesson for all

Everyone should know how to:

  • project confidence
  • create and use deflectors
  • address the situation before it gets out of control
  • speak up for themselves and others


The need for change

If you or your child is being bullied, you’re not alone. Anyone can become the victim of a bully and should learn the skills needed to lower their chances of a bullying encounter. As a society, we are doing ourselves a disservice by not addressing the full scope of the issue.

Schools, companies, government agencies and individuals need to have the tools in place to address bullying because as the case in Miami so clearly demonstrates – it can happen to anyone.


The Shocking Numbers Surrounding Bullying

November 4, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)



With all this talk about bullying and how much of a problem it has become, it made me wonder just what the statistics were regarding bullying rates in America. What I found was staggering.

A quick Google search revealed the scope of the problem and, at least in my mind legitimized the use of the term “epidemic” when describing bullying. Here are just a few statistics from a number of sources:

  • 71% of students report bullying as a problem in their school
  • 1 in 7 K-12 students is either a bully or the victim of a bully
  • Daily, an estimated 160,000 students skip school for fear of attack or intimidation
  • 1 out of 4 kids will be bullied sometime within their adolescence
  • About 35% of kids have been threatened online

Hopefully these numbers help to put in perspective just how serious this problem is. And if you are the victim of a bully, you are not alone.


Ed Holpfer

* statistics sourced from BullyingStatistics.org, MakeBeatsNotBeatdowns.org, National Education Association