As a parent, you want the best for your children. You may be concerned or have questions about certain behaviors they exhibit and how to ensure they get help. We have provided some guidance and resources to get you started.
Children learn to love the sound of language in the very first months of life. When you read books aloud to your child it stimulates their imagination and encourages their understanding of the world. You help your child develop both language and listening skills and build a solid foundation for learning to read when it’s time. When the rhythm and melody of language become a part of your child's life, they will learn to read with ease and enjoyment.
Reading expands a child's vocabulary
Reading builds independance and self confidence
Reading helps children make sense of the world around them
Cultivating a love of spoken and written words in your child helps develop strong communication skills which, in turn, increases your child’s chances of success both professionally and personally for their entire life. In other words, reading to your child is really, really important.
Why Should We Be Worried About Reading?
One in four children in America grow up without learning how to read (“DoSomething.org”, 2015).
Illiteracy is associated with higher rates of incarceration and adverse health effects.
In fact, two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare, and over seventy percent of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level (Peifer, 2014).
The rate of low literacy in the United States directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million every year (Peifer, 2014).
Multidisciplinary research by Astone et al., (1997) demonstrated that reading at or above grade level by age eight was a major predictor of life success.
Reading allows both children and adults to build content-specific and general world knowledge (Sanacore, 2001).
Literacy and reading ability, particularly the ability to comprehend and reflect critically on written words, is predictive of high school graduation, college graduation, career preparedness, career success and over-all life success (Astone et al., 1997; Hein et al., 2013; Murnane, Willett, Braatz, & Duhaldeborde, 2001; Tucker, 1973).
What Can I Do To Encourage My Child to Read?
Let your child see you read. Leading by example is one of the most important ways you can encourage your child to develop a life long love for reading.
Give your child access to age appropriate books that are interesting. Whether you buy books, download them on a reading app or borrow them from your local library, having books in your home that appeal to your child is critical.
Read with your child for 20 minutes a day. You can read the book to your child or, when your child is ready, they can read to you. Make reading a social activity that they can do with you.
Don’t worry about the little words. Research shows that children who are encouraged to read for comprehension and not for technical perfection, develop greater literacy skills and enjoy reading more throughout their lives. It’s fine to let your child misread the little words that don’t change the way the text is understood. In fact, it’s really helpful to focus on what your child is reading correctly and only correct them if they are struggling to understand the concepts presented in the text.
Attachment between a child and his or her caregiver is essential for a child to develop an internal sense of safety and security. It is vital to growing into a healthy, well-adjusted adult. Problems with childhood attachment are linked to lifelong physical, social and emotional deficits and an increase in mental health problems.
What Can We Do To Promote Healthy Attachments?
Spend time with your children. Listen to their hopes and dreams, ask them questions about their lives and how they are experiencing different things.
Eat dinner, seated at a table, with your child and your family as often as possible.
Stop yelling or using harsh tones with your child. Speak to your child with respect and encourage them to do the same with anyone they speak with.
Have fun with your child. Be silly, laugh, dance, read a book together, watch your favorite cartoon from your childhood together. Be someone that your child looks forward to being with.
Stop using shame as a tool for discipline. Your child should feel guilty about their bad behavior but they should never feel shame or guilt for WHO they are. Remember that our behavior can be bad, but this does not make us a bad person. Remind your child that you still love and care for them, even when they have made a poor choice or are in trouble.
What we eat affects almost every aspect of our health and wellbeing. Our children are bombarded daily with choices of foods that are full of added sugar, preservatives and chemicals that do not belong in our food. These foods are intentionally marketed to children and, we now know, are actually addictive, making it very difficult to stop eating them. Obesity rates in children are higher than ever before in the US and the incidence of weight related health problems are also incredibly high.
What can we do? The simplest answer is to stop eating processed foods and start eating a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains like quinoa, oats and barley, nuts, nut butters, eggs, lean protein and lots and lots of water. Encourage your child to eat “treat” food like cookies or ice cream, only a couple of times a week and to see these foods not as “good” or “bad” but as foods for special occasions and occasional treats, not every day foods.
Childhood Nutrition Facts
Healthy eating in childhood and adolescence is important for proper growth and development and to prevent various health conditions. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people aged 2 years or older follow a healthy eating pattern that includes the following:
A variety of fruits and vegetables
Fat-free and low-fat dairy products
A variety of protein foods
These guidelines also recommend that individuals limit calories from solid fats (major sources of saturated and trans fatty acids) and added sugars, and reduce sodium intake.
According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Missing meals and experiencing hunger impair children’s development and achievement.
Eating breakfast helps children perform better.
Students who eat breakfast have better attendance records and exhibit fewer behavior problems.
Sleep is a major focus of every WellPsyche patient’s treatment plan. When children sleep an adequate amount, the following day their energy levels, hunger cues, ability to self regulate emotions and focus are all improved. Conversely, when children do not get adequate rest at night they struggle with low energy levels, trouble with eating too much or too little, emotional outbursts or poor emotional control, inattentiveness, distractibility and impulsivity.
RECOMMENDED SLEEP HOURS PER 24 HOUR PERIOD
Infants: 4 to 12 months
12 to 16 hours (including naps)
Toddlers: 1 to 2 years
11 to 14 hours (including naps)
Preschoolers: 3 to 5 years
10 to 13 hours (including naps)
Gradeschoolers: 6 to 12 years
9 to 12 hours
Teens: 13 to 18 years
8 to 10 hours
So how much sleep does your child need? Use the chart below, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, to help you set a goal for your child’s specific age that is within the normal range and then adjust that time a little up or a little down, according to the unique needs of your child. Almost ALL children will need close to the amount of sleep recommended for their age so don’t adjust it outside of the recommended range, without first discussing this with your child’s provider.
Childhood Sleep Facts
Children who don’t get enough sleep regularly are at greater risk of obesity, memory problems, inattentiveness, high blood pressure, depression and infection. Children who consistently get a good night’s sleep:
are more creative
can concentrate on tasks longer
have better problem-solivng skills
are better able to make positive choices
are more able to learn and remember new things
have more energy during the day
can create and maintain good relationships with others
Tips for Improving Your Child’s Sleep
Keep a consistent bed time
Keep a consistent bed time routine: for example, screens out by 6pm, brush teeth, wash face, put on pajama’s, lay down, read book, say 3 things you were thankful for today and lights out at 8pm.
Go to bed on time yourself. Modeling good sleep habits to your child is one of the most effective ways to set them up for a lifetime of good sleep habits.
Make sure your child is active during the day. Getting adequate exercise during the day helps improve children’s sleep at night.
Limit or eliminate caffeine from your child’s diet. Remember caffeine is found commonly in sodas, chocolate and tea.
Make sure your child has a quiet, dark and cool place to sleep.
Limit screen time during the day and make sure it’s off at least 2 hours prior to bedtime. Screen exposure has been directly linked to sleep problems for both children and adults.
In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement against corporal punishment [physical punishment, including spanking], which concluded:
“Aversive disciplinary strategies, including all forms of corporal punishment and yelling at or shaming children, are minimally effective in the short-term and not effective in the long-term. With new evidence, researchers link corporal punishment to an increased risk of negative behavior.”
Even very infrequent spanking or other forms of physical punishment are associated with significant negative outcomes. Children who are subjected to corporal punishment are:
have poorer vocabularies than peers who are not corporally punished
more likely to have mental health issues over their lifetime
So if spanking is not a helpful tool for discipline, what can you do instead? Research shows that the following forms of discipline are effective and safe to use:
Relate: Children learn through the context of a relationship.
Reflect: Remember your own experiences as a child and how it feels to be yelled at, spanked or ignored.
Time-In: Rather than sitting your child aside in a time out, have them sit close by and allow them to express their feelings and cool down.
Demonstrate: When your child behaves inappropriately, your role is to teach the desired behavior.
Listen/Communicate: Allow your child to provide reasons for their actions.
Attention: Children crave a parent’s presence.
Have discussions prior to the challenging situation and talk about your expectations for your child. Clearly outline what negative consequence they will have if they do not behave the way you have discussed. For example, “We are going to your Aunt’s house for dinner. I know that she has different rules than we do in our house and that it’s easy to forget sometimes to follow her rules in her home. Please remember not to run in the house or to eat anything in any room but the kitchen. If you don’t follow these rules while we are there, you’ll have to give up an hour of Xbox play tomorrow.