Take Good Care of My Baby

Go to fullsize imageOh goodness!  Let’s hope that’s not what happens to our kids!

Unfortunately, bullying at all age levels seems to either be getting either more and more prevalent or just more public.  I think that bullying has always been around but not to the degree of meanness that it has come to now.  When you see all the online videos of kids beating up another child because they said something that was “unaccepted”, it makes you a little nervous to send your child into that world when school starts.

I also recently just read the book “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult.  A very interesting take on bullying.  You have the view point of the bully, the bullied, and those that allowed the bullying to occur.  With a surprising ending and many dramatic (traumatic?) events, this book makes you think a little differently about the different ways that bullying can occur and also how people deal with it in different ways.

When I think about bullying, I really don’t have too much experience on the receiving end until my adult life believe it or not.  It wasn’t until being in a competitive college program that I really noticed how cut throat people can be to try and gain power.  I continued to see this and once and a while experience an act of bullying.  People trying to secure their position in social circles at the expense of others.  As you age, you realize that people can be really selfish and I think that’s what drives the bullying (whether unconscious or consciously) throughout life.

I have seen bullying already in my kids preschool.  Kids excluding others for one silly reason or another.  My child, was labelled a bully just because he kicked a few kids in the head at the beginning of the year (I know, I couldn’t believe it but his soft heart became evident as he adjusted.  Thank Goodness!)  It must be somewhat of an innate drive for power that we are born with.  It is our job as “responsible” adults and parents to teach our children what is “right” and what is “wrong”.  It is also our job to protect our children from being emotionally or physically harmed from bullying and I strongly feel from being harmed by becoming a bully.  Afterall, whether you are the bully or the bullied, the acts of violence come to hinder your learning, social/emotional interactions, and can lead to continued acts of violence.  Here are some facts and things to look for that signal acts of bullying or that your child may have observed such an act and have accepted it as being “normal”/acceptable.

Definition:  “A person is being bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more people. Bullying can take many forms – both direct and indirect – but always involves a power imbalance that makes it difficult for the victim to defend him or herself.”

Direct Acts of Bullying:  Hitting, shoving, namecalling, mocking, threats, extortion for money or goods such as treasured possessions. 

Direct acts of bullying are easy to spot and for whatever reason, this is the form of bullying that boys and men will most often exhibit, especially at younger ages.  For whatever reason, they are wired in a more simple way and will “fight it out” physically before they approach the emotional aspects.

Indirect Acts of Bullying:  Beginning and contributing to the spread of hurtful/negative rumors, Intentional exclusion from social circles, verbal manipulation or just manipulating in general, preventing someone from becoming part of particular social groups or friendship circles.

Indirect acts of bullying are unfortunately very common, especially among girls and women.  Females tend to be more in tune with the effects of emotional manipulation and feelings.  Female bullys actually enjoy and will receive positive feedback from peers for being able to emotionally control a victim.  It’s a subversive act of controlling others for power.  In my reading, I found that this type of bullying is rampant in the workplace among adults (but that is another dissertation all together!)

How do you spot acts of bullying?:  40-75% of bullying takes place during breaks during the school day.  Such as recess, waiting to enter the classroom in the morning, lunch hour in the cafeteria, in the hallways, and secluded areas such as the bathroom.  Bullys know what they are doing is wrong, no matter what age they are, and will try to hide their repeated acts of physical/emotional violence, making it a little more difficult for others to spot.  Here’s a short list of things to look for with your child (believe it or not, this is a very short description of bullying):  coming home with damaged clothing, school items, or loses items with no explanation;  bruises, cuts, or injuries that are not explainable; loss of interest in school and a decrease in school performance (grades, activities, etc);  does not bring friends to your home or rarely wants to spend time with other students after school, takes illogical routes to, from or through hallways at school, finds excuses not to go to school in the morning, seems unhappy or depressed with sudden mood swings that involve anger and frustration, decrease in appetite, stomach aches and/or headaches, restless sleep that may include crying or nightmares.

How do know if your child is a bully?:  Children who admit to regular bullying tend to show the following characteristics;   impulsive, hot-headed, shows little to no empathy, easily frustrated, has difficulty following rules, and views violence in a positive way.  Ironically, bullies have an easy time making friends and have average to above average self esteem.

Not surprisingly, a child’s home life will contribute GREATLY to their tendency to be become a bully. 

Here are some characteristics in a person’s homelife that tend to produce bullies:  lack of warmth or involvement on the part of the parents; overly permissive parents (households that lack consequences for negative actions); lack of supervision by parents; harsh physical discipline; parents modeling forms of bullying (parents can be huge examples for children to learn bullying from.  They will show ways to exclude others or talk openly and maliciously about others in front of the children.  After all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). 

What you can do to stop the bully cycle:  #1, the most important thing you can do is be involved in your child’s school and social life.  Now, don’t be controlling but just aware.  The bully and the victim both tend to have uninvolved parents.  So, be involved and know how your child treats others including how their social group treats others.  Encourage your child to not just be a bully bystander.  Help them identify bullying among their peers and let them know that it is not okay.  Encourage them to defend any bully victims by telling an appropriate adult but don’t have them contribute by fighting it out themselves.  If you see any acts of bullying (either direct or indirect), stop it immediately.  Get physically in between the victim and the bully.  Let them know that this will not be accepted and consistently apply immediate appropriate consequences.  Help the victim “save face” and allow them to find support/intervention by regaining self control and without fear of retaliation from others.  Never require that the victim and the bully meet and “work things out”.  Since bullying is a power imbalance, these conversations can once again traumatize the victim and often do not lead to constructive solutions.  Assist the bully in finding ways to make amends in meaningful ways.  Such as changing their actions for the better.

Whatever you do, don’t think that this issue is an unavoidable right of passage for children.  It is never acceptable to deliberately cause harm to another person, no matter what age they are.  Allowing your child to feel victimized will not make them a tougher person.  It will only cause emotional scarring and baggage that will effect them for the long haul.  And if you feel it’s okay that your child hangs out with peers who have shown acts of bullying, remember that people who are prone to bullying are 4 times more likely to perform criminal acts as they reach adulthood.  Violence promotes violence.  It’s a slippery slope.

Well, that’s the end of my lenghty dissertation on bullying.  Probably not one of my most exciting posts, but hopefully informative and helpful in organizing some thoughts and facts on a very sensitive issue.  I know that we all want our children to be happy and successful.  It’s our job to show them the way.

There are so many resources on bullying, surf the web for credible sources or visit the library to review many great books on the topic.  This is a world wide problem, mainly focused on the school age group but also for adults since it never stops if gone unchecked.


“Take Good Care of My Babies”

Tweenie’s Greenies:  Tuesday Edition

The greening continues over here.  Little by little we chip away at our once very toxic and wasteful home.  Granted, at times we swing back and forth like a pendulum.  Going from one green extreme at one moment to total wastefulness the other, all to satisfy our whims of convenience.  Overall, we aim for a healthy balance somewhere in the middle.

In looking through our bathroom routines, I have noticed several little items that could easily be “greened”.  It will also save us some more money which is great seeing as how back to school needs are looming.   For some reason, I have concentrated on greening my daily hygeine regimen and not my childrens.  Kind of backwards if you ask me.  Children’s skin is so unadulterated and sensitive.  You would think this would be my first bathroom priority instead of my leathery abused skin.

First place to start:  A thorough wipe does not have to include a whole roll of toilet paper or oodles of premade butt wipes.  Seriously, when did adults get so sissified?  There must be some kind of butt sensitivity evolving in humans.  Suddenly, no one can handle the discomfort of squeezably soft charmin or have forgotten basic wiping with TP 101.  I have never gotten TP burn for normal wiping or had uncontrollabe TP left overs on my underside before now.  These premoistened butt wipes made by Charmin or Scott or any other manufacturer may feel nice and help to avoid “lint build up”.  But couldn’t you just keep a spray bottle of mild natural soap diluted in water nearby to accomplish the same thing?  Try it and see.  Make up a spray bottle of diluted mild soap (just as you would for cleaning diaper butts), lightly spray it directly on your “privates”/bum.  Then wipe.  Or spray it on the TP, then wipe.  You pick.  I will humbly admit that I bought a couple packages of adult/child butt wipes since Anson was potty training but they have made little to no difference in the cleanliness department. Never again! You will be consuming less plastic from wrappers and packaging as well as using less overall petroleum products in your daily habits.  Another wiping suggestion: teach your kiddos to use less TP.  Seriously, you can spare a square.  Anson thinks that you need to use mountains of TP.  He would use half a roll if we let him, but we are saving money and trees by teaching him to only count out a certain number of squares per duty done.

Next, I looked into their bathing habits.  Hmmm…I have quite a few plastic bottles hanging out to possibly be used on the little ones.  There’s shampoos, body washes, lotions,  and powder.  First of all, the powder is not recommended by most pediatricians, even those with cornstarch (avoid talc at all costs due to contamination with asbestos concerns).  Powders can promote bacterial growth and can irritate the lungs when inhaled.  Give those little bums some air time to dry out instead. 

Take a look at that baby wash container.  Do we really need to soap up our babies in oodles of body wash that comes in fancy wasteful plastic packaging?  A mild bar soap and a soft washcloth does the job just as nicely.  “The Green Book” says that if you use bar soap on your baby that the plastic packaging saved would weigh more than two hundred thousand pounds-enough to make a baby bathtub that would cover more than 4 acres.  If you are saying to yourself, “But I recycle the plastic. It’s okay.”  Remember producing the plastic container uses a lot of energy and resources and plastic can only be “down-cycled”.  It will never be able to be recycled at the same quality it is for it’s original use.  Plus, plastic is expensive to recycle.

Baby lotion.  Honestly, I have had the same bottle for 2 years.  I could probably just get rid of it.  My kids have pretty balanced skin and don’t like lotion.  If they get a dry spot here or there, I could simply rub some good old natural aloe vera gel on it instead.  If your baby has really dry skin and lotion is a must have, buy it in a larger container.  It’s less wasteful to buy the lotion in larger quantities.  Try to purchase natural lotions in recycled containers free of parabens, petroleum products and artificial fragrances. 

Finally, in their actual bath, skip the bubble bath.  It’s fun, but the fragrances that often go along with it are often irritating to the little ones.  Plus, you will avoid another plastic bottle purchase.  Cha-ching!!  My other suggestion is to bath as many little ones in one bath as possible.  My kids are all small enough that they can bath together without being traumatized.  Only one tub of water is used for all 3.  We also only use one towel to dry off all 3.  It’s like an assembly line.  This saves me some laundry.  Goodness knows that I don’t need any more laundry!

Hmmm…I can’t think of anything more at the moment.  I will keep you posted if I think of any more “tips” to green the little ones in the bathroom.


Take Good Care of my Baby”

Tweenie’s Greenies: Tuesday Edition

This is going to be a crazy and short post seeing as all of my children have gone viral on me.  One even has pneumonia.  We discovered that after a quick trip to the ER last night.  Hopefully, everyone is on the mend now with the help of modern medicine.

Being home today has reminded me that sometimes TV can be a wonderful thing.  How do you keep a 2 year old quiet and laying on the couch for an hour?  Start up a couple of age appropriate shows.  My new favorite show and don’t ask me why is Yo! Gaba Gaba.  If you have not watched it yet.  Do so, please!  I usually find myself dancing around the room and singing if it’s on the tube.  The characters are crazy but the messages and songs are fun and catchy.  Here’s a clip of a great little song talking about eating healthy.  My boys love to sing it and they will even eat their carrots and beans if we make it fun to act out with this song.

So there you have it…that’s my lame’o post for the day.  Now back to the urchins.

“Take Good Care of My Baby”

Tweenie’s Greenies: Tuesday Edition

Baby Smile

A while back (okay maybe just a week ago), I was writing some posts about taking care of your baby “green-style”.  I loved making these changes in my home because I know how sensitive babies and children can be to different chemicals in their environment.  In my search for alternatives to the chemically friendly store brands, I found a few green items that will aid in skin care for babies and tots.  The best part, they are SOOO cheap and many of the ingredients are things that you would already have in your home.  Try them, love them, be them.

Cradle Cap Remedy:  When your baby as what looks like crusty old earwax stuck all over their head and in their eyebrows, try this idea.  Rub olive, almond or jojoba oil into the scalp/hair line.  Let it marinade. Use a soft brush or a wash cloth to remove the dead skin.  Warning: You may be tempted to pick or scratch at the dead skin because you are a “picker”, try to avoid further irritation to your babies skin and stop immediately.  Also, these oils may cause a severe negative reaction in household pets.  Upon coming into contact or in proximity to these oils, your pet may begin drooling on and licking your babies head and eyes.  Avoid this pet/child interaction by placing pets in a well ventilated area during use, such as the outside or cover the babies head with a protective barrier like a soft cotton hat.  

Eczema:  Apply natural aloe vera lotion on affected spot several times a day.  Again, avoid picking at it with your fingernail.  You know you want to pick it (or is that just me?).

Baby Acne:  Apply breastmilk to the acne.  I have found in the past that accidental face squirtings with breast milk seem to have prevented this acne.  If you are a “super milk producer”, this is a good way to use some of that excess breast milk while nursing.  The antibacterial properties of breastmilk allow for this great remedy.

Diaper Rash:  If your children are anything like mine, you know when they are teething by their butts.  Everytime one of my children was cutting teeth, they would develop a horrible diaper rash.  Desitin doesn’t have any effect on these babies and often if left unchecked, their poor bottoms would develop a few blisters.  Ouch!  Poor things! I always dread changing them when this happens.  Since the diaper rash that develops while teething is largely due to a high acid content in their poopies, this homemade remedy should help by neutralizing the irritating acid.  Mix Aquaphor moisturizer with 3 ounces of Maalox.  To do so, melt Aquaphor in the microwave or a double boiler.  When the Aquaphor is liquid, pour in Maalox.  Transfer the mixture into a heat safe jar.  Shake for 10 minutes.  Use when cool. 

One more thing, if you need to use baby powder to help reduce moisture on babies skin, do NOT use a talc based powder.  Talc is very similar to Asbestos and may cause cancer.  Use a powder made with cornstarch or slipper elm bark instead.

Let’s keep those babies skin soft and healthy!  Don’t worry, your baby won’t turn green by going green and you may have more green in your pocket. (oooh, I couldn’t resist all those green references this time.)