Wisdom is better than strength in guiding your kids

If you’re serious about changing your child, work on changing yourself! Trying to change others usually doesn’t work anyway. Adolescents perceive such efforts as saying, ‘You’re not acceptable to me.’ That’s a perfect way to turn them into freedom-fighters whose cause becomes resisting your efforts to change them.

The best way to change someone is to change how you handle them. When you change your steps, the entire dance routine changes because you’ve changed what they’re responding to. If what you’re doing isn’t working, stop it and do something that will! You don’t have to come up with the perfect solution at first. Just stopping the tired, frustrating dance of conflict will improve your environment, decrease stress and opposition, and help make way for a more effective strategy. Nagging only makes your kids ask, ‘Why are you always on my back?’, diverting them from the real issues. Decreasing tension, while affirming your child’s value to you, increases your likelihood of success. The adolescent mind is wired differently. They’re not crazy, they’re just dealing with rapidly changing chemistry. There was a time when we thought that by five years of age the brain was finished changing. Were we ever wrong! We know now its most sophisticated development happens throughout adolescence.

In the emerging teen, brain neurons fire off spontaneously, without warning or conscious reasons, leaving your child overwhelmed by feelings they don’t understand and haven’t yet learned to control. So they behave irrationally, inconsistently, unpredictably, irritatingly. Your job is to try to understand this and become a calming influence. The ‘craziness’ will pass. In the meantime, pray: ‘…wisdom is better than strength…’ (Ecclesiastes 9:16 NKJV).

Guiding Your Kids Through the Tough Years

Are you raising a teenager? Welcome to the tough years! There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just parenting an adolescent. You say, ‘But they are just 10, this craziness shouldn’t be happening yet!’ Sorry, but now they develop faster! Puberty hits them between 10 and 12 years of age, and learning how this accelerated genetic mix functions is vital to good parenting.

So here are some helpful updates:
(1) Some of your old ways aren’t likely to work anymore. What worked with young children frequently fails with older ones. Do you remember when raising your voice to your seven-year-old brought instant obedience? Try that with your hormone-charged teen and get ready for battle! Teenage chemistry defies the old logic, so learn what makes them tick, pray for grace and respond based on what works, not what doesn’t. If you treat teens like pre-teens you will get nowhere!

(2) What didn’t come naturally, can be learned. Those ‘model parents’ you heard about are either understating it, enjoying a short-term break, or they earned their stripes the hard way. It’s not easy. You learn to do it well by first doing it poorly, then doing it better, then asking God to do what you can’t. And He will!

(3) Your only unforgivable mistake is the one you won’t acknowledge. Your children know you’re not flawless and they can handle it. They also know how big you have to be to admit it, and they’re quick to forgive.

So forget modelling perfection; just show them, humbly and constructively, how to handle it when they’ve been imperfect!

Alternative Medicine for Toddlers

When reaching for a cure to treat your toddler’s ailments, you may not have to reach any further than your own kitchen. Before you run to the pharmacy at the first sign of a tummy ache or cough, check out these alternative medicines for toddlers.

There’s no doubt about it: More people than ever are turning to CAM — complementary and alternative medicine (which includes everything from herbs to acupuncture). And it’s not just limited to adults. Kids, too, are hopping on the CAM bandwagon. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 20 to 40 percent of healthy children and 50 percent of kids with chronic illnesses have been treated with CAM therapies. While your child may not be up for a trip to the acupuncturist just yet, there are some safe and simple alternative-medicine remedies that are worth trying at home:

Chamomile. If you’ve got a toddler who can’t sleep, give him a small cup of chamomile tea (let it cool down first). The tea has a calming effect, and some experts say the herb also relieves an upset tummy and can ease the torment of teething. Chamomile in cream form may even treat skin irritations and itchiness.

Aloe vera. Slice open the thick leaves of an aloe vera plant, and you’ll get a clear, gooey gel that’s been used for thousands of years to soothe cuts, sunburns, and skin infections. Direct from the plant, dab the gel onto your toddler’s skin so that it covers the entire boo-boo. Not good with plants? You can find aloe gels and creams at the drugstore.

Peppermint. Like chamomile tea, a lukewarm cup of peppermint tea may help soothe a bellyache. Peppermint can also ease skin itchiness. So if your toddler is itching for a cure, pour a cup of peppermint tea into his bathwater (the mint creates a cooling sensation on the skin).

Ginger. If your child tends to get carsick, a cup of ginger tea before hitting the road may help prevent his nausea. Mix a quarter teaspoon of grated gingerroot in hot water and add some lemon juice and honey. Your tot’s not a fan of teatime? Offer him a cookie made with real ginger instead. It may not be as potent as ginger tea, but it may offer him some relief and a sweet distraction!

Oatmeal. When it comes to treating skin conditions such as rashes, hives, and eczema, oatmeal may be your best bet. Not only does it seal in moisture and relieve irritation, oatmeal also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which decrease swelling. Simply mix uncooked oats with water to make a paste, and place it on your toddler’s itchy skin. Or fill a cloth bag with half a cup of oatmeal and add it to your toddler’s bath.

Honey. How sweet it is! Research shows that when your child has a sore throat, a spoonful of honey before bed cuts down on nighttime coughing. The syrup coats the throat and eases soreness. Plus, the sweet taste actually increases salivation, which thins mucus and alleviates the urge to cough. (But remember, don’t give honey to babies younger than a year old because it can cause infant botulism — a rare, life-threatening illness.) Another use for honey, ironically, is to prevent irritation after a bee sting. If your toddler is stung by a bee, dab some of the very honey the insect makes onto the boo-boo — it will cover the sting and keep the air out to prevent the area from getting irritated.

When giving any alternative medicines to your child, keep in mind that natural does not necessarily mean safe. Like drugs, herbal remedies can be toxic and interact with other medications. So talk with your pediatrician before giving your child any complementary or alternative medicine.

For more safety and healthy tips for toddlers, visit What to Expect.