Anxiety in children and teens….could it be their environment?

Can children suffer from anxiety? YES, absolutely!

Can it interfere with everyday life and their overall well being? Again, YES, absolutely!!!

Do they tell us they are anxious?? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Children and teens are not able to recognize signs and symptoms of anxiety. Most children are not mature enough to verbalize these unknown, uncontrollable and scary feelings. Often anxiety can be related to the child’s environment. It may be their home environment, school environment, or another environment such as sports, church, school bus, etc. It is not usually an easy diagnosis, nor is it easy for the parents to reach out for help. Often times, the parents may have anxiety issues as well. I have talked with many children that have anxiety issues, and find that more than half of them have one or both parents with anxiety issues. Some of these children have issues because of the parents anxiety. Some of these children have issues because of other problems related to their family, such as lack of good parenting skills, loss of a loved one, loss of a parent to divorce or death, an ill family member, or a recent stressful event. Just as often, this anxiety could be from an environment outside of the home, the issue could be bullying in school, traumatic events in the news, severe weather situations, an inappropriate or abusive relationship by a trusted adult, a stressful event at school or in the in the local community, natural disasters, and many other situations.

What does anxiety look like?? Anxiety in children and adolescents can present as shyness, fearfulness, acting out, impulsive behavior, sleep problems, headaches, stomach aches, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, chest pain, shortness of breath, and just an all over feeling of discomfort. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) describes anxiety as “the fearful anticipation of further danger or problems accompanied by an intense unpleasant feeling (dysphoria) or physical symptoms.” Anxiety is more common in children and adolescents than we realize. Statistics show that only 25% of childhood anxiety is actually diagnosed. That means there are A LOT of children out there dealing with more than they can handle, and they DO NOT know how to ask for help!

So, what can you do to help children with anxiety issues?

  • Write or draw in a journal daily.
  • Spend time together. Quality and quantity of time matter.
  • Exercise at least 3-4 days a week.
  • Eat 3 balanced meals a day.
  • Play an instrument.
  • Talk about fears/concerns.
  • Get adequate sleep. (See my post about sleep: Sleep is Crucial for Healthy Development)
  • Talk to your child’s primary care provider to determine if medicine is necessary for your child.

Anxiety can affect any child at any time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Recognizing anxiety in children is not always easy. Figuring out why a child is anxious can be quite challenging as well. Working closely with a professional can help you help your child.

In the next couple weeks, I will be cramming for my mental health certification. (All prayers are welcome! Thanks!) I am hoping to work more closely with children that have mental health challenges such as anxiety. These children are often mislabeled as shy, uncooperative, having ADHD or behavior problems. Talking to the right professional can make all the difference in how well the child is able to manage and cope with this challenging disorder. My goal will be to help these children and their families deal with and overcome these overwhelming feelings. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to send me an email.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it… PARENTING IS THE HARDEST JOB YOU WILL EVER HAVE!!! No doubt about it. Regardless of the challenges, your child will always be worth the efforts you put into being a good parent.

I hope this bit of insight helps you Enjoy the journey! 🙂

Effective Parenting… Important for all kids, but especially important for raising kids with ADHD!

Effective parenting takes time and effort, no doubt about it!!

For kids with ADHD, effective parenting is a must whether these kids are medicated or not medicated.

This information will be useful for all parents, not just those raising ADHD kids…

Does the child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) need to be medicated?? Yes and No… that’s clear as mud, huh? First, it’s crucial to make sure that what you are dealing with is ADHD! Many children will present with symptoms that might appear to be ADHD, but are actually symptoms of other disorders. ADHD can present  differently for different kids. Yes, there are the classic symptoms, but not all children are as obvious as others. For diagnostic information about ADHD, check out my post, Hyperactive or Just Busy…Could your child have ADHD?

If it’s not ADHD, what else could it be? Some disorders that may present as ADHD could be anxiety, depression, lead poisoning, thyroid dysfunction, vision problems, food allergies/sensitivities, sleep apnea or something else entirely. Making sure your child has the appropriate evaluation is the first step to proper treatment.

I see many preschool age children that are brought in by their parents for behavior problems, it’s most frequently boys vs. girls. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that both boys and girls can have ADHD, but boys are diagnosed 2:1 over girls. I always say that God made boys to hunt and gather, not sit still for 8 hours. 😉 Perfect example – I saw a little boy this week for behavior problems, he is 3 years old and his mother thinks he has ADHD. The first thing I do is ask why the parent thinks the child has ADHD? Jason’s mom reported that he got in trouble in preschool A LOT, was biting other kids, was constantly in time-out, talks non-stop, and his dad has ADHD. After meeting with Jason and his mom, I think he might have ADHD, but at 3 years old I NEVER label a kid as ADHD. And, I would NEVER medicate a 3 year old for attention problems or hyperactivity; 3 yr olds are supposed to be active and have a very short attention span. If a child this young presents with problems, he needs a though neuro-psych evaluation!

There are many interventions that I recommend for young children with behavior issues that resemble ADHD. These interventions can make a huge difference for a family, and must be consistent! These interventions take time and effort on the part of parents. They are useful for all kids of all ages, but especially necessary for kids with ADHD. Many of these interventions are just good, effective parenting:

  • Routine is unbelievably important. Doing things according to a schedule helps a child learn what to anticipate day after day. Using lists or pictures can be helpful to remind children what they are responsible for and keep them on task.
  • Make sure the rules are clear and followed consistently. If you have rules that are only enforced some of the time, the child will not know when they do or don’t have to follow the rules. This leads to frustration for the child and the parent. And, needless to say, inconsistent results!
  • Give the kids something to be responsible for…this could be helping to take care of pets, taking out the trash, or other chores around the house. This helps the child feel important, learn responsibility, and also builds self-esteem.
  • Praise and Positive Reinforcement is a must for disciplining all children, especially children with ADHD. Recognize & Praise good behavior and accomplishments. Just getting homework or small chores done can be challenging for children with attention issues.
  • Limit “screen time” – This includes all screens, such as TV, video games, computer, etc. Screen time should be limited to just 2-3 hours per day, and should be turned off at least 1 hour before bedtime. This isn’t hard to enforce during the school year because there is limited free time after school. It is a little more challenging during the Summer. Being more liberal with this rule during the summer is ok, just remember, you will see a difference in the child’s behavior; and it is essential to get back into a school routine a week or 2 before school actually starts.
  • Have a good bedtime routine with an acceptable bedtime. Kids in preschool and early elementary grades should be in bed by 7:30-8:30, upper elementary should be 8:30-9, middle school 9-9:30, and high school should be between 9-10. For more information about sleep, please see my blog, Sleep is Crucial for Healthy Development. A tired child has trouble focusing, paying attention, and retaining information. For preschool aged children, there is a significant correlation between hyperactive and impulsive behavior and short sleep duration.
  • Watch what your child is eating, 3 healthy meals and snacks are important for good brain function. Adding essential fatty acids to a child’s diet helps promote good brain function. Eliminate artificial food dyes (AFDs) from the child’s diet. AFDs have been proven to increase hyperactivity in the majority of children. A study done in Great Britain in 2006 documented that 75% of children demonstrated hyperactive behavior correlated with ingestion of AFDs and Sodium Benzoate. I have recommended this intervention to many families, and received many Thank You’s because it makes such an obvious difference in the child’s behavior. I firmly believe that AFDs should be eliminated from our food supply altogether. AFDs have been outlawed in Canada, Britain, Germany and a few other countries.
  • If your child has allergies, treat allergies with a daily allergy medication. Allergies can make ADHD worse! Allergies are a hypersensitivity, ADHD is a hypersensitive state…1+1=2, it’s that simple.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise! Physical activity helps to regulate the neurotransmitters that are dysfunctional in those with ADHD. Tell your kids to run around the house a few laps before dinnertime, it gets the wiggles out.
  • Whatever they are good at, encourage it! Whether their forte’ is math, sports or building things, encourage it! Without our multitasking, intelligent ADHDers, we would not have telephones, airplanes, or many of the inventions and discoveries we take for granted everyday. My above mentioned ADHD post expands on this, check it out!

Do I think these interventions will keep a truly ADHD kid from needing medication? Probably not, it depends on the severity of the ADHD. If I child has mild symptoms, the above interventions may be beneficial enough to avoid the need for meds. If a child has moderate to severe ADHD, they will need medication along with the above interventions.

I can’t expresses how important these “effective parenting” interventions can be, even for those children that need medication. Medication alone will not be enough for a child with true ADHD.

I’ve had many parents come back to me and tell me how much these interventions have helped make their life better. I can tell you personally, that they do make a difference in our family. I’ve shared Joshua’s story with you, he is the definition of Inattention and Hyperactive. If you haven’t read Parenting = Biggest Rewards + Most Frustrating Job You Will EVER Have!!, check it out for a little more insight on raising Josh. Joshua literally spun in circles for many years during his early childhood prior to the elimination of AFDs from his diet. I used to refer to him as Taz, the Tasmanian Devil. After a few days with no AFDs, the spinning stopped!! It was unreal!! It turned my little Tasmanian Devil back into a sweet, funny, and interesting little boy. He was still busy, but it was obvious that he had more control over his behavior.

Children with ADHD take extra time and effort, but the extra parenting will pay off someday when they are able to accomplish their goals. The time and effort will build self-esteem, intellect, and help your child grow to be the healthy and happy person you will always be proud of.

All kids take lots of parenting effort and energy. Each child comes with their own unique challenges, no doubt about it. Being the parent of an ADHD kid will take more patiences, time and effort than parenting the average kid. Your efforts will pay off though, I promise!!

Whatever parenting challenges you face, I hope you always remember to ENJOY THE JOURNEY!

One way to make ’em smile… Pets!

I have to tell you about the latest additions to our family! We brought home 2 little kittens today!! Drew and Josh are so excited! They chased the babies around the house for the first hour; until they realized that it would work better to sit and let the babies come to them. Initially, we planned on getting Drew a kitten for her birthday a few weeks ago. As we waited the couple weeks the kittens needed to get bigger before leaving the shelter, we decided we needed 2! Getting a pet for each kid in the house sounded like a better idea. Yes, dogs are nice, but, we don’t have the time at home that a dog requires right now, and in the past we have contemplated gerbils or hamsters. We have even had a few fish and hermit crabs, but that didn’t end well. Kittens are what we decided would fit best into our family.

Every kid needs a pet! It teaches a little bit of responsibility. Yes, I know I will be the one doing all the work, but a Mom can dream can’t she. 😉 Pets also give unconditional love, what more could we ask for!?! When children are stressed or down, a pet can be great therapy. Having a companion that is always there with unconditional love is very heartwarming. Having a loving pet to cuddle with can help improve self esteem and self confidence, that’s a win-win situation. And, having a kitten to snuggle and cuddle with really does make the kids smile! Drew has been giggling for hours now. Tonight, Josh and Drew are both in their respective beds, with kittens laying next to them, it’s just priceless!!

Josh has decided to name his kitten “Kwai”. This is a slant from Kawai, which means “cute” in Japanese. Josh is my out of the box thinker, so researching a name took days for him. I must emphasize the word research, because that is exactly what he did. He spent time on the computer looking up different words and their meanings. Josh has taken to Japanese ever since his fascination with Bey Blades, I’m sure most mothers of boys can relate to this phase. Josh has decided he wants to learn Japanese, and I guess this is the beginning…

Drew named her kitten “Jules”. This came from one of her favorite movies, Rio. There is a bird named “Jewel” in the Rio movie. She has asked for a blue macaw, but, that just wasn’t going to happen. We told her the bird would be living here longer than she would. So, when she first started talking about names she came up with Julie. This was very interesting because we live on property that my great-grandfather first purchased and developed in the late 1930’s, and his wife’s name was Julia. Coincidence?? hummm?? I think not… makes you wonder, now doesn’t it. Well, it makes me wonder who is still wondering around this place! It warms my heart and makes me smile. My cousin, Julie, who lives 3,000 miles away in Cali thinks it’s just a great name. You can guess where her name came from, now can’t ya?

Well, all I can say is, adding a pet to the family is a great idea. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but the timing hadn’t been right until recently. Me getting my masters, kids too young, but now that the kids are 6 and 10, it works perfectly. And, as I said, one way to make ’em smile is to get a pet! Kids love animals, and animals (usually) love kids. They just go great together, kind of like peanut butter and jelly. So, as you travel along this exciting journey called parenthood, Get A Pet!! Get whatever pet works for your family, it really doesn’t matter what it is to the kids. You will be glad you did, and your kids will be glad you did too! Just ask anyone that has a pet, and they will agree, no doubt about it!

So, if you want to make ’em smile….Get a Pet for the family to enjoy!!

As always, I’m hoping you Enjoy the Journey!! 😉

Small Dose #11 – Just 10-15 minutes a day…


The one thing I keep seeing in my practice is children that aren’t getting enough time with Mom and/or Dad.  It is so obvious that kids just want to spend time with their parents. These children are sad and looking for attention, or are uncommunicative and withdrawn. I had a 10 year old come to her annual physical without a parent and ask me if I would like to go to her Talent Show. I almost cried. A 7 year old patient with behavior issues told Mom the one thing he would like the most as his reward for good behavior is time with Dad. Again, I had to hold back the tears….

When I see children that are happy, it correlates to time spent with Mom and/or Dad. When I come across kids that are not doing well, it seems to go back to no  1 on 1 time or not enough 1 on 1 time with their parents.

It is absolutely essential that kids get Mom and Dad’s time and attention every day.

Time spent together makes kids happier, healthier, more able to cope and builds self esteem. It takes as little as 10-15 minutes a day to make an impact on your child’s world. Time together decreases the chances of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse.

Sure, there are many things that parents have to get done in a day, but time with children and family MUST be a priority! It doesn’t matter if you play a game, toss a ball around, go for a walk, or just sit down and talk. For ideas about what to do when you are together check out Being Together is Most Important

So, make time to be together every day! This will ensure that you and your children enjoy the journey! 🙂

Being Together is Most Important

Hi all, lately I haven’t had time to do much blogging, and figured I better catch up just a little. In the Springtime, there is just so much to do, but remembering to take time for yourself and your family is important! As a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, I am very committed to keeping kids healthy, and the mental health of our children is just as important (if not more) than physical health. Make sure you take time to smell the roses with your family. Sometimes we need to schedule “unscheduled” time, which I wrote about in Leave the Schedule behind and Enjoy Family Time. When I think of what kinds of things the family can do to spend time together, the first thing I think of is planting flowers or a garden. This can be a task that requires time and attention for weeks to come, but the pay offs are BIG! It’s exciting and rewarding for kids to watch something grow and see the fruits of their labor! I LOVE to plant flowers, I’ll be sure to post some pictures after all the hard work is done.

Just a reminder – your kids just want to be with you! Giving yourself and your time is the best gift you can give your child. The love and attention of a parent builds trust, self confidence, and self-esteem!

My Family
(photo compliments of In His Grace Photography)

I thought I would make a list of some of the things that the family can do to spend time together:

  • plant flowers or a garden
  • go for a bike ride
  • go for a nature hike
  • prepare a meal together, homemade pizza is always a hit 😉
  • bake cookies (plain sugar cookies can lead to fun and creative decorating too)
  • have a picnic
  • play at the beach
  • go swimming
  • play a game; board games, charades, soccer, golf, the possibilities are endless
  • put a puzzle together
  • sing a song together
  • volunteer
  • draw or paint a picture
  • look at family pictures or make a new scrapbook
  • go camping, even if it’s in the backyard
  • fly a kite
  • visit friends or relatives
  • visit an amusement park
  • go bowling
  • read a story aloud for the whole family to enjoy
  • Just be together!!
What are some things that your family likes to do to spend quality time together?

Life is about enjoying the journey, not reaching a destination! Now, off to the flower shop, so we can make the yard beautiful! 🙂

We MUST make them strong!!! Survival Skills for Raising a Daughter!

Oh my, friends! Today, I had a 16 year old patient that I am worried may be in an abusive relationship…  I want those of you that have daughters to understand how important it is to make sure they are physically and emotionally healthy enough to make it in this difficult society!

I’d like to share a list of things I have come up with to help us all raise strong, capable, confident, and emotionally secure daughters!

Here are a few tips:

  • Teach Do unto others, this is the ultimate golden rule! Treat her with respect and set the example when dealing with others!

    My girl

    My girl

  • Always tell your daughter that she is beautiful! Let her know that the most important beauty is on the inside!  
  • Always use manners! ‘Yes, please’ and ‘No, thank you’ show kindness and respect!
  • Communicate openly! Talk to your daughter often, and let her know you are always there to listen. Regardless of what she tells you, never act surprised, anything and everything is open for discussion. Remember, if she doesn’t talk to you, she will talk to someone else.
  • Explain that everyone has flaws, that is what makes us all human. As a parent, set an example, don’t criticize yourself or your self image. Children often follow in our footsteps.
  • Encourage her to pick the right friends. The “cool” girls are only cool if they are nice to other people. Teach your daughter that true friends respect her choices and decisions and won’t make her feel inferior or left out.
  • Encourage involvement in sports and other group activities. Sports, playing an instrument, girl scouts, etc. teaches life skills and builds self confidence.
  • Teach your daughter to dress appropriately. It is best to leave what is underneath covered up, only to be discovered by someone that truly cares and respects her.
  • Limit social media! Today’s children can be cruel, and social media is an easy outlet for bullying.
  • Encourage your daughter to speak for herself. Don’t speak for her! Allowing her to speak and express herself prepares her for the future.
  • Teach your daughter that knowledge is power. Doing well in school really does pay off when it comes time to prepare for the future.
  • Encourage her to Read!! Reading makes you smarter!
  • Encourage her to bring her friends home to meet you. This will pay off when the boyfriends start coming around. Meeting your daughter’s friends is crucial to knowing what is going on in her world.

These are just some suggestions, please feel free to let me know of any suggestions you have to help us all raise healthy and happy young women!

Now, let me tell you why I felt so strongly about sharing this information with you. I am hopeful that Janie isn’t in as bad a situation that I fear she may be….

Janie came in because she had an “eye that was bruised” from hitting it on a table picking up her baby’s bottle. Janie is 16, has a 4 month old daughter, and was brought in by her fiance, aka, her baby daddy. When I first walked into the room Janie didn’t say a word, but the guy with her asked “how long would she look like that?” I informed him that bruises can take a couple weeks to go away. He immediately said that he needed me to write a note to keep her out of school for a week or two until this went away, because “he had a reputation to uphold!” Red flags immediately went off in my mind!! HE had a reputation to uphold… I refused to write an excuse to keep her out of school for something that is not contagious. Her education was important, and this bruise did not interfere with her learning. I continued, saying that appearances are not how we judge people. Someone’s value and self worth is not from outward appearances, but from what they can give to those around them and their community. He shrugged, and gave me a “humph” and it was obvious he didn’t like my answers. Janie proceed to tell me she had a little bit of pressure and watering from the eye, but otherwise was fine. Her fiance proceeded to tell me that he was going to move Janie a few states away to where his family was after she finished high school. At this point, all kinds of warning bells were going off in my head.  I had to figure out a way to talk to Janie one on one!!

I was worried that Janie was in an abusive relationship! How could I help???  I’m not sure why, but Janie’s fiance left the room, and I took my opportunity. I told Janie I had looked up the ER report and was not worried that there was something serious going on with her eye. I did ask her if anyone had ever hit her or hurt her? She said no, and the ER asked the same thing. I told her that I thought her fiance seemed a little controlling, and NO ONE should control another person!! I encouraged her to consider her situation. I also told her that emotional abuse is just as bad as physical abuse, and she should be in control of what goes on in her life. I invited her to come back and talk with me at anytime if someone hurt her or if she was worried about being in a relationship that she needed help getting out of. Janie responded by asking, “What’s your name again?” I told her, and she smiled, and said “Thanks.” I hope I see Janie again soon, and hope that I can help….

I am sharing this with you because odds are at least 1/2 of you are raising daughters.  There are too many young women in our society that end up in physically or emotionally abusive relationships. 

As parents, it is our job to raise daughter’s that are strong enough to avoid partners that are going to be abusive or controlling.

And, if you are raising a son, make sure you teach him to treat girls with respect at an early age. Raising strong, confident, mentally healthy men is a huge responsibility too, but that’s for another post. 😉

No one said it was going to be easy, but I can promise you it will be worth all the effort and hard work! Enjoy the journey! 😉

Mean Moms are the Best Moms

“I loved you enough . . . to ask where you were going, with whom, and what time you would be home.
I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover that your new best friend was a creep.
I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your room, a job that should have taken 15 minutes.
I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, and tears in my eyes. Children must learn that their parents aren’t perfect.
I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your actions even when the penalties were so harsh they almost broke my heart.
But most of all, I loved you enough . . . to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it.
Those were the most difficult battles of all. I’m glad I won them, because in the end you won, too.
And someday when your children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates parents, you will tell them.”

I saw this poem in a pediatrician’s office when Joshua was a baby, and immediately knew these were words to live by. I was once again reminded of it today when a friend of mine called me for some Mom advice. I’ve told y’all that I started this blog because many of my friends call me for advice about their kids health and parenting issues. I never mind sharing my perspective and professional advice with a friend. I think we should all help each other.

As I’ve said before, It takes a village to raise a child, and it really does!!! 🙂

housewifeToday when I got a call from CC’s mom and heard what was going on, I knew I needed to do some clean up work, and fast. Mom’s mental health and stability is crucial for a happy, healthy family!!  CC is 13.5 months old, and one of the cutest little girls you would ever want to meet. She has a handsome, athletic Papa, and a beautiful, smart, strong, athletic, determined, and caring Momma. 😉 From the beginning, CC has given her parents many happy moments, and also a few challenging moments along their parenting journey. I remember going over in the first few weeks and helping CC and her Momma get the breastfeeding challenges under control. I told Mom at the time this was going to be a very head-strong little girl. I could tell from the beginning that she was going to learn how to do things her way. Today’s phone call let me know once again how head-strong and smart little CC is going to be. Even though she can’t say anything yet, CC made it known that she wanted to spend more time with her grandmother than mom by pushing away and saying what sounded like ‘Go away’….Can you say Heartbreak!! 😦 CC isn’t really talking yet, but we are thinking her first words were ‘Go away.’ When Mom called me, she had been processing this for a little while and just couldn’t believe her baby girl’s first words might actually be Go Away.

What this tells me is that Miss CC is S.M.A.R.T!! She has already figured out that spending time with a grandparents is all fun and games! Children learn very early on how to wrap those grandparents right around their little finger. Unfortunately, Mommy and Daddy don’t have this same luxury. Mothers and fathers have to be the disciplinarians. Parenting is NOT always fun. Children depend on their parents to set boundaries, create limits, and teach them what the real world is all about.  Mom and Dad don’t have all day to sit and play; they have to prepare meals, clean, do laundry, and work all while keeping up with the daily routine of life. So, playing all day is out of the question. Kids learn very early that they can get away with so much more with grandparents than parents, and they definitely use this to their advantage. Mom referred to CC as Miss Independence. I agreed with her, and told her that the text books really do call this developmental stage “Miss Independence.” Yes, there is no doubt where CC gets her smarts. 😉

I tell the working  mom’s I know that they really have 2 jobs, but only one of those jobs pays a salary. I tell the Moms that stay home that they have the hardest non-paying job ever. Motherhood is the hardest thing we will ever do… EVER!  Being a mother is the most thankless job you will ever have, but you really won’t care.  There is a saying that motherhood is like having your heart walk around outside your chest …how very, very true!

Being a mom does not mean you are your child’s friend. You can be their friend when they grow up and realize what a great person you are, and what a good mom you have been. Being a mom does not mean that you will do your child’s homework, they have to learn how to solve problems on their own. If they don’t struggle a little with learning, how will they ever persevere when things get tough.  Do not allow your child to think they are better than someone else. Being a mom means that you will discipline your child when they start to act inappropriately to another person. If children are not taught right from wrong, they will not learn what is right or wrong.  A mom should not let you talk disrespectfully to other people. A mom will make you use your manners, even if people are unkind. All of these Mean Mom things are going to help your child cope with the world around them, and build their confidence and self esteem. I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. And, yes, there are times, that you can let your guard down and just have fun with your children.

So, to my friend, I hope you are feeling better about being a Mean Mom. You are doing a fabulous job along this challenging  journey called Parenthood. Keep up the good work!! CC will thank you someday. 😉

As Mean Moms, we are teaching our children what is right and helping them become better people.

Mean moms are the world’s best moms! The world needs more mean moms on this journey, don’t you agree??

Leave the schedule behind & Enjoy Family Time!

Over the Easter holiday, my family spent a long weekend with cousins in Charleston, SC. We had such a great time, and the kids just love spending time with their cousins.

Today’s families have so much on their schedules; work, school (parents and kids), homework, sports, music lessons, church, choir practice, birthday parties, appointments, etc., etc….

Sometimes we need to schedule unscheduled time! 

It is so obvious when we watch how our children react to unscheduled time that it is necessary, and a valuable must for all of us! Being able to enjoy the great outdoors, a family meal, or holiday memories is more special than many of us realize.  The over-commitment and over-scheduling of today’s society can create stress and anxiety. Having time to just relax and enjoy each other without the rest of life’s demands keeps us healthy in ways that we don’t even think about. These demanding schedules can raise stress hormones, such as cortisol. Increased cortisol levels can cause difficulty concentrating, obesity, depression, sleep problems, high blood pressure, thyroid problems and many other health issues. Many of today’s kids are over-scheduled, it is important to make sure that children have time to unwind and relax. Given time to relax, cortisol levels will decline.

Unscheduled time allows for creativity. I’ve mentioned it before, creating and accomplishing things builds self esteem. Kids learn to make up games, build forts, and just explore their surroundings. One thing that time playing outdoors can do is help regulate neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are important for normal brain function, concentration, organization, retention of information and paying attention. There is no doubt that kids need all the help they can get with focus and attention, especially those ADHD kids I talked about in my previous post.

Josh and AK battling it out!

During our time away, our children didn’t have a schedule, they ran around outside playing, jumping, climbing, bouncing, swimming, building, and just doing things that kids do. One thing I noticed during this time is that their was no complaining, no crying, no battling over attention, and the kids worked together to help one another! What a bonus for everyone!! 🙂

G reading Drew a book on our way to dinner.

Another cool thing I notice about hanging with our cousins is how kids bond, and you just can’t predict these things.  Most of us, as I did, would would assume that the girls would play girl things, and the boys would play boy things, but that isn’t necessarily the case. What happened is that the oldest cousin, Garrett (13) and the youngest, Drew Elizabeth (5) spent time together, and Joshua (10) and Anna Kat (11) spent time together most frequently.  It has been this way ever since they were very young. It is so cool to watch Garrett try to teach and explain things to Drew, and help her learn new things. I even caught him reading to her on our way to dinner. This changed just a little on this trip because Cousin Garrett has a girlfriend. When G’s girlfriend was around, Drew had to share , but she didn’t seem to mind. Even adding another kid to the mix didn’t cause any problems, everyone got along great. Drew climbed right up in the paddle boat with G’s girlfriend, and he had to take care of both girls, it was pretty cute! He bucked up and met the challenge, I think it really got him some brownie points with the GF! 😉

Overall, I think the unscheduled time is good for everyone, kids and adults alike! Taking time out to relax and smell the roses is one of the best coping mechanisms we can teach our children! It never hurts, and always helps to let those cortisol levels go down every now and then! The hard part is leaving to go back to the schedule of day to day life. Both of our children were very unhappy when it came time to leave, Morgan and I were too. 😦 Joshua hid in my cousins Suburban so he didn’t have to leave, it took a few minutes to find him too, crazy kid. Drew Elizabeth was carried on the verge of tears, kicking and pouting to the car. You don’t have to be very old to know that unscheduled time is the best for everyone. 😉

I hope that you figure out how to balance your children’s time.  There are so many things we want our children to experience and enjoy as they grow up.  Don’t forget some of the best things in life are things that happen by chance, not by a schedule.

My wish for you and yours is that you find lots of opportunities for unscheduled time along your journey! 😉

Bullying Info from Child Psych Mom


What most kids don’t realize is that most bullies really have low self esteem and need to pick on others to make themselves feel better.

Bullying is such a huge problem in our society! I am grateful that my children go to a school that is very in tune with the students and their interpersonal relationships. Not all children have an environment that keeps them as safe as we hope. Now that I have delved into the world of blogging, I have found a few really great parenting blogs, one of which is Child Psych Mom. I recently read a post by Child Psych Mom that dealt with Bullying that I wanted to pass along to my readers. She has some great references to check out too.

Parents, teachers, and all adults should be hyper-vigilant about how children interact with one another. Bullying can affect a child’s self esteem for the rest of their life. Growing up in this society is hard enough without having some bully make it worse.

Read Child Psych Mom’s post Bullying: How Do I Save Myself? to educate yourself. The more parents and other adults know about bullying, the better we can protect our children.

And, remember, your children watch what you do, and learn from what you do! Spread happiness and smiles! 😉


Small Dose #5 – Don’t just say it, live it!!

Be an example for your children!

Children watch and learn from the adults in their life.

Do not judge other’s for their differences, but embrace what makes us all unique! 


Be kind to others, and teach your children to treat others the way they want to be treated!

Say “Hello” to passersby.

Encourage your children to help those in need.

We all need to come together in our own community to make it a better place for our children’s future.

Volunteer in your community and encourage your children to do the same!

SPENDING TIME with your child is the MOST VALUABLE thing you can do for them,

and the one thing they WANT and NEED most in this world!

Don’t just say it, live it!