Make Time for Your Children

Making time to spend with your child reaps many rewards for both you and your child.
Even if you are busy with work and home activities, set aside time each day to spend with your child.  Below is a list of suggestions on how to fit time with your child into your busy schedule.
» Commit to a family mealtime each day.
» Write your child’s activities in your appointment book – in ink!
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Identify one thing/activity on your weekly schedule that you can do without and replace it with kid-time.

» Take your child along with you when you run errands.
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 Volunteer to participate in a regularly scheduled child activity, such as coaching a softball team or helping with a school activity.
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Identify one children’s show on TV that you secretly like to watch and make a point of watching it with your child.
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Develop an interest in a hobby that you and your child can enjoy together.
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If your work requires you to travel, take your child along with you when your business trip can be extended into a long weekend.
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If your work schedule is flexible, start your work day earlier so you can spend more time with your family in the afternoon.
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Leave your work, cell phone and/or pager at home when you go on family vacations and outings.

Effective Step-Parenting

Patience is the most important attribute a step-parent can have.
It takes time for everyone involved to gain mutual respect for each other. Make a conscious effort to overlook small differences and avoid criticism or condescension when communicating with your step-children.
» Do not expect an instant “family”. Take time to get to know your step children and for them to get to know you.
» Be prepared for them to react negatively. Respond with positive remarks and actions. Remember, you are the adult and should set the example of treating each other with respect.

» Allow your step child to have alone time with her/his biological parent. This will help to eliminate the child’s feeling of competition for your spouse’s attention and affection.
» Also, spend some one-on-one time with the step child yourself. Taking the time to be interested in her and what she likes or dislikes will help form a bond between the two of you.
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Never say negative comments about the other biological parent in front of the child. This will only damage your relationship with the child. Even if the child knows that the negative comments are true, they may feel a sense of duty to defend their biological parent.
» Move slowly in building a relationship with your step child. Many times they are already feeling jealous or distrustful of you. It takes time to build respect and trust.
» Defer to the biological parent for discipline. If you disagree with your spouse, do not confront him/her in front of the child. Discuss and come to an agreement on methods of discipline with your spouse before there is a need to apply them.

Discipline Vs. Punishment

Discipline and punishment are not the same. Punishment is a penalty or reprimand for doing something wrong or misbehaving in some way.

Discipline, on the other hand, teaches a child right from wrong, how to respect others, how to control his impulses, to feel secure and loved, and to think for themselves.

Discipline Guidelines:

» Be consistent in your methods of discipline – this lets the child know that there are predictable consequences for his/her actions
» Stay calm and avoid losing control
» Do not criticize, but let the child know that you are not happy with his/her behavior
» Offer positive reinforcement rather than focusing only on negative behavior
» Never spank or use physical punishment – spanking teaches a child to be afraid but does not teach him/her to be respectful

Parenting Styles:

Be authoritative not authoritarian. Authoritarian is being overly strict and making children afraid or fearful. Authoritative involves setting rules and limits while also communicating with the child why the rules and limits are necessary.

Effective Discipline Tips:

» Plan ahead as to what the consequences should be for certain behavior
» Do not give in when your child whines or cries about a particular consequence
» Do not continually repeat a command – repeat only once with the resulting consequence if the undesirable behavior continues – then immediately follow through with the consequence
» Ignore minor or unimportant misbehaviors

Setting Limits:

» Begin with just a few rules
» Explain why you are saying “no” – do not say “because I said so”
» Be clear about your expectations so the child knows exactly what the limits are and the resulting consequences
» Have set times for meals and bedtime – structure helps children know what is expected of them

Child Abuse

CHILD ABUSE HURTS. It is everyone’s problem. It exists in every community.

By recognizing the signs of abuse and knowing what to do, you may save a child from an abusive adult. Seek help from the proper authorities in your area if you suspect a case of child abuse.

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional or a result of neglect. The number one reason that triggers infant abuse is a baby’s constant crying. Other reasons that may cause a parent or adult to abuse a child include the following:

» History of abuse during their childhood
» Substance abuse
» Unrealistic expectations of children
» Living at or below poverty level
» Lack of parenting skills
» Abuse from their partner
» Emotional problems – low self esteem or a need to control

Physical abuse involves any injury due to hitting, shaking, kicking, biting, or any other physical harm.

Signs of physical abuse may include:

» Unexplained bruises or broken bones
» Fear of adults
» Defiance and aggression towards others
» Fear of physical contact
» Acting like a child younger than their actual age

Sexual abuse may be physical (inappropriate touching or rape) or nonphysical (indecent exposure, sexual conversations, or showing sexually explicit material such as magazines or movies to the child).Signs of a sexually abused child may include:

» Inappropriate displays of affection from the child
» Abnormal interest or knowledge of sexual behavior
» Wetting pants or bed
» Social withdrawal from others
» Poor performance at school
» Pain during urination

Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse, mental abuse, or severe acts of punishment.

Signs of emotional abuse may include:

» Lack of concentration or emotion
» Rocking, sucking, or biting
» Aggression or depression and withdrawal
» Sleep or speech disorders
» Socially immature for his/her age

Physical neglect is the failure to provide a child with basic needs such as shelter, food, clothing, and hygiene.

Signs of physical neglect may include:

» Clothing that is dirty and/or inappropriate for time of year or weather
» Lack of daily bathing, dirty hair, poor dental hygiene
» Lack of supervision by the parent or adult
» Untreated medical problems
» Lack of concentration due to sleepiness

If you suspect or have knowledge concerning child abuse or abusive behavior, you should report it to the authorities. This can be done anonymously and may save a child’s life.

10 Ways to be a Better Dad

The positive effects on a child from having an involved and nurturing father are many.

They include beneficial impacts on the child’s happiness, social and academic success, self-esteem, and emotional stability.

» Respect Your Child’s Mother

A father and mother who respect each other provide a secure environment for their child. When children see their parents treating each other with respect, they will emulate this behavior, thereby, treating others with respect.

» Spend Time With Your Child

Spending quality time with your child is one of the most important building blocks in developing your child’s self-esteem.

» Talk To Your Child

Take the time to talk to your children about various subjects when everything is going right, not just when you have to be the disciplinarian.

» Discipline With Love

All children need guidance and discipline – not punishment. Teach your children that there are consequences for their actions, but discipline in a calm and fair manner.

» Be A Role Model

Fathers can teach their children what is important in life by demonstrating positive attributes.

» Be A Teacher

A father who teaches his children the difference between right and wrong and encourages them to always do their best will see his children make good choices.

» Have Family Mealtime

Sharing a meal together (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) can be an important part of a healthy family life. Take this time to listen to your children without the distraction of a TV, newspaper, or magazine.

» Read To Your Children

Begin reading to your children when they are infants. When they are older, encourage them to read to you. Reading with your child will not only increase your child’s understanding and thought processes, but will also provide you the opportunity to spend time together.

» Show Affection

Children need the security that comes from knowing they are wanted, accepted, and loved by their parents. Fathers need to feel comfortable and willing to hug their children every day.

» Realize That A Father’s Job Is Never Done

If a solid foundation has been built when the child was young, the additions to the father/child structure will always continue.