playing outdoors

Outdoor Play for Your Kids

Between spending most of their day in school and a significant amount of time in front of a “screen” (such as television, computers, and video games), kids are simply spending too much time indoors. Think back to when you were a kid, while you may have watched your fair share of television, more often than not, you spent a majority of your playtime outdoors with friends. Your child doesn’t have to have free reign of the neighborhood to enjoy the outdoors, but simply sending your child out to the backyard can do wonders.

If your child is missing out on outside time, here are some reasons to get your child outside now:


Spending some time outdoors can make anyone healthier. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 children and teens are obese. While childhood obesity may be a result of various factors, such as diet, inactivity is also a culprit. By sending your child outside and encouraging play, he or she may be less likely to have issues with weight.

Children, who play outdoors, are more likely to have a better immune system and have the ability to fight off illnesses during the cold and flu season. Outside play can help children get exposed to dirt and bacteria, which can actually build a stronger immune system. So, let your kids get a little dirty. Remember, it’s good for their health (and dirt is easy to wash away).

Other health benefits include natural exposure to Vitamin D, which can help protect your child from future bone problems, heart disease, and diabetes. Just 10 to 15 minutes in the sun can boost your child’s Vitamin D.


Think of how your imagination thrived when you played outdoors. Outside play can encourage and enhance your child’s imagination. Whether he or she is playing in a tree house, playing pretend with sticks and flowers, or simply gazing at the clouds in the sky, your child’s imagination and creativity is hard at work. There’s something about the creativity of playing outdoors that cannot be duplicated in a videogame or on an iPad.

Improving Values

The more time your son or daughter spends outside, the more likely he or she is to respect and value nature and the community around them. Maybe there’s a bird nest in the backyard or a spider web forming on the apple tree. With gentle daily observations, your child is learning important lessons about life and the cycles within nature. By learning to appreciate nature, he or she may be more likely to encourage others to respect nature (i.e. picking up litter or leaving nature alone).

By allowing and encouraging your child to play outside, you are showing them that you value some free time and their well-being. Even 30 minutes a day, can reduce your child’s stress or worry and give them a chance to take a “break” during the day. If you want to your child to appreciate time outside, take the time to enjoy the great outdoors, too.

safe environment for foster children

How To Help Foster Children Feel Safe In A New Environment

If you’ve ever brought a pet home for the first time, you know that acclimating an animal to a new environment takes time. You have to help the new animal feel safe and comfortable by buying them a new toy, a bed to help them feel comfortable, and a blanket for comfort. Children aren’t any different when it comes to living in a new situation. Foster children have a history that they bring with them that should be considered. It is important to help them feel comfortable and safe in their new home.

Ways To Help Foster Children.

Ask them what they enjoy. Learning what a foster child is interested in is helpful when helping them feel comfortable. Help them feel integrated. If the child enjoys playing with Legos, set up a playroom that includes a variety of Legos that they can choose from.

Learn their history. Find out about the child or children you’re bringing into your home. Take them to places they enjoy. Planning fun outdoor activities to will help your foster child feel comfortable. It is important to help them feel as welcome as possible. Take them to the museum, local park to socialize them. Don’t pressure the child to forge new friendships. Remember that each children has their own personality. Some are shy and not as outgoing. Give the children space to get to know each other.

Have healthy and open communication. Sit with your foster child and speak with them at their level. Don’t pressure them to speak. You may want to speak to them while they are engaged in an activity and ask them questions. Let them answer at their speed and don’t take it person if they don’t respond immediately. Remember that you are also new to them and it takes time to nurture any new friendship and relationship. Give it time.

Create a safe environment. Offer them space and time. Don’t pressure the child to do what he or she may not be ready to do. Remember that being in your home is new to them. Be patient with them. Offer them a comfort toy. Children love having a special blanket or toy. It is their safety blanket and comfort. Allow your foster child to have a special comfort to help them as they assimilate to their new environment.

Discuss boundaries with everyone in the house. When a foster child enters a new home it is important to be sensitive to their history. If the child came from an abuse situation, talk to the other children in the household in a kind and gentle way. Help them understand the importance of having patience and sensitivity. Help them feel comfortable. If the foster child is having conflict with integration, give them space and time. Don’t force them to participate in activities that might them feel alienated or pressured. They need to feel as safe as possible in their new environment.

Finding comfort in new environments is a challenge for everyone. Feeling pressure or judgement from others can hinder our ability to find acceptance and safety. You may want to read literature to help you understand your foster child. Study their personal history and observe. Your foster child needs your respect and gentle loving care as they transition. Be source of comfort to them and create a safe place for them to grow and thrive. Enjoy the new adventure and stay positive!


Pets to Avoid

Pets are great. Everyone loves them. And everyone loves their kids. In most cases, pets are a great idea for kids, and provide an opportunity for them to learn many life lessons.


Some pets, though, are inappropriate for some children. And some children should not be around vulnerable creatures. Here are 5 of the worst pets you can get if you have difficult, unpredictable children.


Spiders and kids shouldn’t mix. This is for two big reasons. One, spiders could pose dangers to kids. Some spiders are venomous. Children may not have the impulse control and cool heads necessary to keep a spider relaxed. Sudden movements and loud noise might frighten a spider and cause it lash out and hurt someone. Additionally, the sight of a spider might frighten local kids and leave them with psychological damage.  


The other problem is that the kids could pose dangers to the spiders. Spiders are small, delicate creatures. Children are still learning how to behave in the world, and there is a good chance that they might not understand how to treat such an alien and vulnerable creature as a spider.


Children and snakes are probably not a great mix, either. Like spiders, snakes are very alien creatures—they’re not mammals and do not behave in ways that humans always understand. And like spiders, snakes may get stressed around loud and excitable kids. An stressed snake is an unhappy snake, and its owners will likely be unhappy as well.  


Snake lovers are fiercely dedicated to their animal of choice. That’s understandable. Snakes are fascinating creatures. But snakes might not be a good choice of pet for kids with behavioral issues.

Dogs With Histories of Abuse

Dogs who have not been treated well are needy animals. They need loving homes and lots of peace and quiet. Dogs who have been abused need to be the prime focus of their owners.


If you have children who are prone to violent outbursts, please reconsider when talking about getting a rescue dog. Loud noises and aggressive—even playfully aggressive—behavior can trigger past traumas in vulnerable dogs. A frightened dog may hurt itself or your kids, and neither occurrence is beneficial to your family. If you want to get a dog and have children with behavioral problems, consider getting a young, resilient dog.

Other Exotic Pets

Exotic pets should mostly be left alone by everyone aside from trained zoologists. They should especially be kept away from kids. The term “exotic pets” get used differently by many people, but for the purposes of this post simply refers to animals that do not commonly live as pets and will not enjoy life with humans. Examples of exotic pets include chimpanzees, slow lorises, kangaroos, and komodo dragons.
These animals, simply put, do not feel comfortable living with people. Many of them are captured by poachers against their will and go through terrifying (often illegal) ordeals. Living in a house will be bizarre to them, and they will certainly not enjoy being around your children. Your children, likewise, will probably be scared of the panic stricken beasts living in their homes.   

teenage mother

Teenage Parents

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, there were 26.5 births for every 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19 in 2013. Although this rate has declined over the last few years, statistics reveal that the teenage pregnancy and birth rate in the US is still higher than that of other developed countries. This has been linked to various causes such as school progress, ethnic background of the teen, history of teenage pregnancies in the family, financial standards of the neighborhood of the teen, and other socio-economic factors.

Reprogramming the Mind to think like a Parent

There are several programs available to help teenagers who have become pregnant as teens or are young mothers. These programs are designed to promote a sense of community living for pregnant teenagers by providing assistance in terms of housing, in given case that the teenager is financially unsupported. Alternative means of assistance include counseling and medical care. According to a publication by American Academy of Pediatrics, there are several school based and non-school based programs that can provide psychological support, medical assistance, and a life skills approach to coach teenagers on how to become parents and provide care to an infant. In essence, the purpose of such groups also includes provision of peer support to an adolescent parent so that they can pick up on parenting skills, learn of the consequences of child neglect, and simultaneously develop their own profile through continuing to grow at school. These programs also stress on the importance of a parent caring for their child regardless of the whether an adult is involved in the childcare or not. The purpose is twofold; identifying and catering to the needs of a child as a parent, while also recognizing the fact that the parent also requires care in order to achieve self-actualization.

Identifying a case of neglect

There are reported cases where adolescent parents are unable to care for their child adequately. The neglect can be of various forms; hence identification of neglect involves a comprehensive look at all aspects of a child’s life. For example, children may be neglected physically by being provided insufficient nutrition or shelter. Alternatively, some children may be educated emotionally by being isolated or bullied. Neglect can encompass lack of sufficient health care or education which is the basic right of any human child. Identification of such neglect includes looking for signs such as poor hygiene, poor cognitive development, sudden weight loss, unhygienic skin conditions, irregular behavior, lack of proper medical attention, along with other visible and invisible symptoms. It is crucial that child neglect is reported immediately. It can be a federal offense not to do so.

Does consultancy have to be professional?

Regardless of whether the adolescent parent has access to expert level consultancy and counseling, the ideal solution would be to have similar guidance and care provided by relatives and adults nearby. This could include immediate family, neighbors, friends, or parents of friends. The idea is to have a well-rounded support system available to the teenager where issues can easily be discussed and identified.

Foster Children and Holidays

Foster Children and Holidays

When the holidays roll around, regardless of what you celebrate, it’s easy to take them for granted and assume that everyone shares the same feelings of comfort and joy. If you are a foster parent, you know that the holidays can be difficult for foster children of all ages. While it’s important to make your foster child feel special during the holidays, don’t avoid “touchy” subjects that may become intensified during the holiday season. Remember, your foster child may struggle with conflicting feelings of loyalty, general stress, and maybe hopelessness. Here are some ways to make the holidays a little easier for your foster child:

Prepare Ahead of Time


Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah, you and your family probably has annual traditions. When including your foster child, tell him or her about your traditions. Additionally, ask him or her if there are any traditions that he or she would like to introduce to you and your family. Definitely inform and include your foster child in any and all activities, but don’t expect him or her to jump right on board. For example, if your foster child never celebrated holidays, Christmas may be exciting yet overwhelming. He or she may have many questions and a few anxieties. Don’t overlook them and answer as best as you can. It’s always a good idea to talk about holiday plans as early as you can for better preparation.

Talk with Others about Your Foster Child


In addition to informing your foster child of holiday plans, don’t forget to include your family or friends. While your family and friends are most likely well-intentioned, they may have questions themselves, not knowing how to proceed with the holidays or how to include your foster child in holiday traditions. Encourage them to withhold from asking too many personal questions that may hit an already sensitive nerve. Your foster child just wants to be seen as normal during the holidays.

Be Patient with Your Foster Child 


As a foster parent, your patience is probably tested frequently, but don’t forget to be extra patient and understanding during the holidays. Think about how the holidays make or have made you feel; chances are you’ve felt stressed, overwhelmed, and a little sad from time to time. Your foster child may exhibit behaviors that reflect depression, anxiety, and anger. Even if the holidays are supposed to be a “happy time of year”, allow your foster child to have feelings. Don’t give up on him or her just because you want to feel in the spirit of the Happy Holidays.

Include Biological Parents if Possible


No foster child’s life story is the same and before you decide to include or not include biological parents in your holidays, you need to consider your foster child’s background, safety, and overall well-being. If your foster child is really struggling with the holidays, you may be able to ease anxiety and sadness by having him or her buy a small gift or make a card for a biological parent. If your child shows no interest or desire to acknowledge his or her biological parent, let it go; never pressure him or her to be part of something that makes him or her uncomfortable or sad.


Childhood Myths You Shouldn’t Worry About

So many things are out there that can hurt your kid. Parents have a rough time identifying and dealing with the seemingly unlimited hazards that the everyday world poses to children. Vehicles, sports, playground bullies, diets, etc. It seems as if the world is made up of nothing but dangers to young people, but consider a few of these childhood myths.


But there’s some good news! Not all of these supposed dangers are all that bad, and many aren’t even real. Superstitions, urban legends, and simple mistakes have all made their way into parenting lore and causes generations of adults to worry about little nothings. Here are a few big ones.

Sitting too Close to the TV

Everyone one heard this one as a kid, and pretty much every parent has contributed to it: “don’t sit too close to the tv—it will ruin your vision.” Well guess what? It’s not true! According to, no evidence has ever arisen that showed a connection between a front seat at the TV and bad vision. Whether or not TV (or the computer) rots your brain is still up in the air, so maybe limiting your kids’ TV time remains a pretty a good idea, but if you’re worried about their eyes, you don’t need to worry about that big, bright screen.

Normal Body Temperature and Childhood Myths

Here’s another one everyone has heard, and most people still think: “98.6 degrees is the normal, healthy body temperature, and anything else is a sign of bad health.”


Now this one is definitely based in reality. 98.6 degrees tends be an average body temperature. What’s mythical about it is that it assumes all bodies are the same. According to the Cleveland Clinic, human bodies have a big variety of normal temperatures. People’s body temperature fluctuates constantly. Additionally, different parts of the body will give different temperatures; don’t apply the 98.6 number to any temperature other than under the tongue. (Keep in mind that fever range officially begins at over 100.4 degrees; seek medical attention if your child’s temperature gets this high.)

Childhood Myths and Mental Health

Many people think that mental health problems only affect adults, and that treating children for mental health issues is overzealous parenting. Not so, says an article in the Huffington Post. Kids suffer from mental health problems just like anyone, and getting children the treatment they need is just responsible parenting. Don’t worry about your neighbors’ opinions; trust medical professionals when advise you to treat your kid.

Childhood Myths vs. Vaccines

Many parents get spooked at the names of the chemicals in their vaccines. But that’s just what scientific names sound like; the long technical terms are usually based in Latin or old Greek words, and often describe chemical compounds already found in your blood.


And the amount of vaccines doctors recommend is safe. Medics do suggest a pretty busy vaccination schedule for kids, but children’s bodies are incredibly resilient. They can use vaccines to develop homegrown defenses against terrible diseases if they stick to the medically-recommended schedule.


Keeping Kids Free From the Flu

Flu season is here again. Yes, it’s that nasty time that comes with the cold each year and leaves us all weak and sneezing. Every year, too many people skip their flu vaccines—which are cheap, accessible, and mostly effective—and spread the virus around to more and more people. Flu shots are an important method for maintain the public’s health around the world.

But what about your kids? How can you prevent them from getting sick? Do they need flu shots? Are the shots safe for their immature immune systems? What age is old enough? And what are the risks that every parent should know?

Young People and Flu Shots

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone from age 6 months and up—not counting people with certain allergies and other medical condition that render it unsafe—get their flu vaccine each year. Flu shots are recognized as safe and effective, even for children so young. Children’s bodies are strong, energetic, and resistant to infection. Vaccine manufacturers have a lot of experience with the flu, and even though they can’t predict with precision the right flus to vaccinate against every year, they do frequently stop the chain of infection and prevent lots of infection every year.

The Dangers of Influenza on Kids

The flu is not simply a cold. The flu is a serious viral infection, and it kills and seriously harms children. In fact, CDC reports that around 20,000 kids end up in the hospital yearly due to the flu. And children under the age of two get the worst of it the most often.

A flu shot will prevent your children, as well as the playmates of your children, from contracting this all-too-often ignored hazard. Many parents underrate the dangers of the flu and think that getting a vaccine is too much of a hassle. Some parents even think that vaccines are unsafe, despite a complete lack of evidence for their stance.

Kids and Hygiene

Kids like to get messy. They play around in dirt, don’t like to wash their hands, and don’t understand the finer points of microbiology. In short, parents need to look after kids and help make health decisions for them. As a parent, you can set an important example for your kids by making sure the whole family gets vaccinated this fall.

But there’s more to keeping influenza at bay than a flu shot. As a parent, you need to make sure your kids learn proper hand-washing techniques. This will have the added bonus of preventing all kinds of other illnesses.

The Flu and the Community

Don’t just do it for your kids. The flu hurts older people, pregnant women, young kids, and people with compromised immune systems. Preventing the flu from passing into your community is an easy and important thing you can do to help make the world a safer place. Remember also that viruses evolve quickly, and more opportunities that the influenza has to evolve, the sooner humanity may need to face a version that medicine can’t handle. Stop the flu. Start with you kids.  


Health Risks in Children

Sadly, children in foster care do not seem to fare much better than in the previous conditions that landed them there in the first place. Children who are kept in foster care develop behavioral, developmental as well as emotional problems. Not just that, children are also known to develop physical and serious health problems if they are kept in foster care for too long. The main reasons behind this is neglect and abuse. If you are associated with the child welfare system, you should understand the level of abuse, and even molestation that these children can face while in foster care. This can severely impact their mental and physical development.


If the children are separated from their parents and are put in foster care, they tend to develop complicated mental health disorders. They also have a greater risk of substance abuse and failure in educational and co-curricular activities. It can even lead to juvenile delinquency, homelessness, crime, and even imprisonment.

Mental Health

If any child is found to be having mental health problems, they should be immediately taken to a mental health expert or psychiatrist. They will be able to provide the right insight and treatment for the child. There are many different ways psychiatrists can attempt to repair the lost self-esteem in the child and improve their behavior.


Non-medical therapies include talk therapy and psychotherapy. There are different methods in which a professional would try to bring back the child to mainstream society and have them thrive, much like any other children who have never been introduced to foster care.

Psychotropic medicines are also effective against the behavioral and psychological problems that children in foster care can suffer. Care needs to be taken to not create a drug dependency.

Sometimes a psychiatrist provides a combination of the two treatment methods to be able to effectively treat the mental and physical troubles that the child may have after their experiences in foster care.

What do the reports say?

Many would be shocked to know that there are more than 500,000 children in foster care in the USA. Most of the children have been found to be the victims of drugs and substance abuse. Prolonged neglect and lack of a stable environment coupled with a gap in nurturing, it is no obvious how these children can develop mental health issues. They also have unmet medical needs and are often suffering from various diseases and health disorders.

Assessing the Child’s Condition

If you have adopted a child who had been in foster care, you need to take them to a doctor. There are certain important things that you need to remember before the first doctor’s visit:

  • If you have the child’s complete medical history, be sure to take that along.
  • If possible, take along the history of your child’s mental health and psychological problems.
  • You should also make the doctor aware if there has been any traumatic experience faced by the child.

You should be careful and patient with a foster child whom you might have adopted. Behavioral and mental health problems should be addressed at an early age before these turn out to be major problems in future.

Foster Children & Academic Success

The Department of Education reports that there are an estimated 400,000 children and youth in foster care at any given time. Despite difficult backgrounds of neglect, abuse, and separation, students who have a positive educational experience are more likely to seek out and succeed in post-secondary education. Having to the opportunity to experience and succeed in college may also lead to a better life overall as adults, including self-sufficiency.

Positive educational experiences can happen as early as Pre-K; the earlier and consistent the chance at education the better the outcome. Children in foster care are unable to make choices about their education and despite any desire they have, success and happiness in education is somewhat dependent on foster parent involvement. The positive experience can also be enhanced by teachers and other faculty who take the time to structure a learning plan around the foster child.
Be Involved in Your Foster Child’s Education

Without a doubt, being a foster parent is full of rewards, but can also be challenging. Not only are you responsible for providing basic day-to-day needs such as shelter, food, & clothing, but you are also responsible for making sure that the child in your care has an opportunity for an education and is able to attend on a regular basis. Foster children, who are forced to move frequently, rarely get the chance to attend school regularly, create solid relationships with their peers, or even stay caught up in course work. As a result many fail to pass a grade level and have a poor attitude towards school, which can last for the rest of their academic career.

Although you can’t predict or control how your foster child will feel about school, you can be involved in his or her education. Here are ways to help your foster child succeed in school:

Consistently communicate with teachers and counselors. Don’t assume that your foster child’s caseworker can or will stay in frequent contact with them.

Discuss academic successes and failures, as well as any emotional or behavioral issues with teachers. Open discussions may help your foster child’s teacher create a specialized plan.

Assist with homework and offer to volunteer or be a “class parent”.
Tips for Teachers

As a teacher, you strive to understand all of your students and create curriculum based on their specific needs and learning styles. When you have a student with a “history” you may struggle with how to lend a helping hand. Some educators don’t want to treat a child differently based on his or her home life, such as living in foster care, but taking the time to learn more about your student can help him or her succeed. All foster children have different backgrounds and their academic experiences vary greatly. Here are some tips for helping a student succeed:

Make your classroom a diverse environment. Consider discussing foster care and how it’s not uncommon.

Reconsider class projects that revolve strictly on biological histories (ie. family trees). Instead, talk about what different types of families exist.

Work with the foster parent and learn as much information as you can about the student’s academic past.

Don’t coddle or single the student out, but be patient.

Foster children have the opportunity to succeed in school as long as foster parents and educators are committed to encouraging the child.


Drugs and Families: a Lethal Cocktail

Drugs can rip apart anything they touch. Much drug education and addiction outreach focuses on the harm done to individuals. This is important information, but there are other victims of substance abuse, namely the families of addicts. Drug use can tear a family apart as easily as it can empty an individual’s bank account. Family members are unwilling victims, punished by circumstance.

Damage to Families

Drug abuse damages more than just the user. It damages the whole family. Abusers may misuse money, neglect care, avoid proper socialization and teaching, and physically assault family members. Law enforcement, social work, and activist communities all do what they can to limit these effects, but the first line of defense against drugs harming children is parents themselves. Addiction at so close a space can do deep damage to a child.

The Children

Children are frequently hit the hardest by the side-effects of drug abuse. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) frequent problems for children include:

  • age-inappropriate roles and relationships with either the addict or the non-addict parent;
  • risk for violence, theft, sexual abuse, and other negative circumstances;
  • becoming incompetent parents themselves one day, either by repeating the mistakes of their parents or by becoming overprotective and domineering;
  • various personality problems (unreliability, weak social skills, etc); and
  • addiction and other learned problem behaviors.

Foster Care

Fortunately, the United States has a modern foster care system, and thousands of families across the country welcome the children of drug-addicted parents into their homes every year. These families, while not a perfect replacement for a child’s parents, are nonetheless a good source of role modeling, education, mental health care, and general basic life necessities.

Drug abuse does, however, place a strain on the foster care system. Substance misuse is, at least in some states, responsible for the most foster placements. The number of good foster homes is not limitless, and more young people need to be taken from unsafe environments every day.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement members are often placed in awkward roles in these situations. They are frequently in prime positions to notice risky behavior posed by drug-addicted parents, but they are not typically trained as social workers or family counsellors.

The Department of Justice launched an initiative called the Federal Interagency Task Force on Drug Endangered Children in 2010. This seeks to coordinate efforts between law enforcement and other groups (such as social services and medical professionals) to keep endangered kids out of harm’s way. Law enforcement across the country seems to be making a serious, conscious shift toward roles with an eye toward earning public trust, and this is one great example of cops combating a serious social ill.