Social Media & Pressure to be a “Perfect Parent”

Social Media & Pressure to be a “Perfect Parent”

Part of being a parent is feeling angry, guilty, overwhelmed and confused when it comes to raising your child and accepting that mistakes are inevitably going to happen. You can read as many parenting books, articles and blogs as you want, and no matter what, life is still going to happen, and it isn’t always pleasant. Striving to be the perfect parent will become tiring and may create feelings of self-defeat.

Parenting Style

When parenting, you have to trust your own instincts. Remember, you know your child the best, and often as the parent you know a lot more than you think you do. Accept the fact that both you and your child are going to make mistakes, but what matters is finding the right solution and learning from it to better yourselves. Focusing on aspects of the parent-child relationship, like communication, is important. Many common problems can be avoided if communication is open and clear, and both parties understand what is being communicated.


As for your child, keep in mind that there is a spectrum of developmental milestones and you have to be patient with your child. Not all children develop at the same rate. Accepting your child for who they are and become is important, and as the parent you should be flexible. Allow your children to explore their own interests and hobbies and encourage them to be themselves, and most importantly, accept them. Your parenting style can reflect and affect your child’s development and behavior.

Social Media

In today’s world of social media usage, it is so easy to get caught up in the opinion of others and succumb to things you read online. This goes back to trusting your own instincts as a parent. Yes, it is okay to get online and share proud parent moments or to ask and research a parenting question from time to time, but don’t depend on social media for all of your answers and opinions. No one is perfect and that’s okay: instead, strive to be the best parent you can be to your child.


Healthy Children


Avoiding Screen Time Before Age 2

little girl looking at screen

Though it can be so easy to just hand a tablet to your baby or turn on the television for them to keep them occupied, it may not be the best idea. According to surveys, over 92% of one-year olds already have experience interacting with a tablet or mobile device, and some begin as young as just four-months old. Now, as the parent, you may be asking yourself where is the harm in this?


Young children learn best when they are physically interacting with people and objects. This can mean touching, playing and shaking with toys and books and also, seeing faces and hearing voices of their parents, siblings or caregivers. Physically interacting with people and things is how toddlers translate basic, necessary skills that they will need within the real world. Yes, there are educational games and videos available on devices, but simply tapping and swiping at a screen makes it much more difficult to apply those skills and lessons in their everyday lives.

The Facts

There is strong evidence that infants and toddlers who accumulate higher screen time can have long-term negative effects on things like reading skills, short-term memory, language development, attention span and sleeping patterns. An easy way to think about the relationship between screen-time and your toddlers is like junk food and our bodies, and screen-time is like mental junk food. Even if you have the television on in the background while you’re trying to clean or cook, this can decrease a parent’s words per hour from 940 words to 770 words, which translates to less opportunity for your child to learn from you.

The World Health Organization recently announced that infants younger than one year should not be exposed to screens at all, and that children between two and four should avoid sedentary screen time longer than one hour. The American Academy of Pediatrics is currently revising their screen time guidelines as a result of the World Health Organization’s findings, though their recommendation currently states that after age two, you can become a little more lenient with screen-time, and it should be monitored closely. When your child wants to watch something, make sure it is something educational so they can learn from it.


World Health Organization

Healthy Children


Violent TV & Video Games

Boy in front of computer monitor playing video game

Though video games and television are supposed to be forms of entertainment, science has confirmed that there may be more serious consequences of engaging in violent TV and video games. Research shows that children who are exposed to violence in video games and TV experience a change in how they behave and resolve conflict. As a parent, you want to think that your child won’t be the one to be affected in such ways, but it can happen.

The reason for children and teens committing acts of violence or becoming aggressive in situations is not completely due to the violence they experience in video games and TV. Though there is some influence, it has never been proven that an act of violence was the result of violent media consumed. We can say that violent media contributes to the behavior or thought process behind the act of violence and that there is a link between the two.

Parental Controls

The parent does have a choice in the type of media their children consume, how often and in what ways. It is recommended that children under the age of six years old do not engage in or watch violent media, whether that be watching a movie or TV show, or playing a video game. This recommendation stems from children not being able to distinguish reality from fantasy.

Staying on top of the media your child consumes is one of the easiest ways to filter out the violent content, especially when they are young. Activating parental controls on devices is one place to start. Be sure to do your research before purchasing popular games, so that you know what to expect.

Choosing the Right Games

Often in violent video games, the player is rewarded for completing a mission or winning the game through killing the other players. This type of reward system may influence or teach your child that acting violent is a way to be rewarded or feel empowered. Luckily, there are hundreds of video games available on the market that are educational, non-violent and fun for your child. Sports-themed games may be a better option than gory, war-themed games.


Healthy Children

Dangers of Electronic Cigarettes

Dangers of Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes, better known as vapes and Juuls are unhealthy, addictive and even deadly for young children. These electronic devices are now being created to look cool and hip, to attract the younger generations. Devices can look like pens, USBs and have the ability to light up. Going another step further, the vape juice or e-liquid can contain nicotine which is then flavored to attract kids. Vape juice is available in hundreds of different flavors like cannoli, cucumber, vanilla custard and lemonade. Vapes and Juuls are sweeping through middle and high schools and are quickly becoming a problem for underage kids.

Why is Liquid Nicotine Dangerous?

For parents who vape as an effort to quit smoking cigarettes, there is something you must keep in mind: E-juice, or liquid nicotine, is very dangerous to infants and young children under the age of five. The liquid nicotine is considered poisonous to young children if there is direct contact between the skin and liquid. The first death of a one-year old child occurred in 2014 and since 2015, more than 2,400 calls to poison control centers have been recorded.

Young boy holding a small vape pen

Ways of Poisoning

There are three different ways in which a child can become poisoned. The first is through direct skin contact when the liquid is absorbed into the blood stream. The second way is when the liquid comes in contact with the child’s mouth and is absorbed through mucous membranes. The third exposure route is when the liquid is swallowed and absorbed into the intestinal tract, which can become very dangerous.

What To Do

If you suspect your child may be experiencing liquid nicotine poisoning, immediately contact the Poison Center hotline at 800-222-1222. Symptoms to look out for, but are not limited to, include: trouble breathing, vomiting, increased heartbeat, and shaking. Many of the bottles that the liquid is packaged in are not child-resistant. Though some states require this type of packaging, it is recommended that parents transfer the liquid into child-resistant bottles and store the bottles out of the reach of children.


Healthy Children

Developing Good Homework Habits

latina girl doing homework on her computer

Developing good homework habits in your child while they are young is important. Doing so will teach your child that homework is a necessity, and the sooner they start, the sooner they will have more time for fun and games later. For some kids, doing homework isn’t a problem and for others, it is like a chore. Creating a routine of coming home from school and jumping right into the homework after a 10 to 15-minute break is a great strategy.

What Not to Do

Forcing your children to sit down and do their homework does not always work. In fact, doing so will make them resent not only you, but the homework too, prolonging the process. Try not to hover while they complete their assignments. Teaching your children that doing homework is their own responsibility is a must. As a parent, you can set up a quiet study area and encourage them to do their homework but ultimately, it will be up to them.

Be Supportive

The best way to go about developing homework habits is to make it seem natural. Provide support and encouragement to your child along the way but make it known, the child is responsible for the completion of the assignment. Helping your child develop organizational skills and focus early on will help her in the long run. It may take some time, but you and your child will find a routine that works best for everyone.

Once the homework is completed, praise your children for their hard work and reward them with play time. Doing so will allow your children to feel accomplished and proud of their homework. It will also give your children something to look forward to and will give them that little extra push when needed. It’s always good to take some time to sit down and relax with your child whether that being having a little snack, reading a book or watching a favorite television show together. This is another great way to reward your child for completing her homework.

Helping Your Child Learn to Read

little girl in a library reading a book

Some children have a desire to learn how to read and others may be more reluctant to learn this complex skill. The best way to encourage this exciting milestone in your child’s life is to make reading fun. Now, you may be asking yourself how can I make reading fun for my child?


Allowing your child to read at his own pace is important when reading together. Helping a child pronounce words they stumble upon by coming up with creative ways to remember the word, can make reading more fun. If you are reading to your child, have fun with characters’ voices and tone. When reading picture books together, talk about what is on the page with your child and see where their imagination takes them.


Let your child pick out a few books that pique their interest and begin reading the story to them. After a couple times of reading the same book, your child will be able to remember the words and can join in on the reading. Allowing your child to finish a sentence encourages them to keep going because they feel confident. Once your child feels confident enough, challenge them to read the entire story out loud. Don’t be afraid to introduce your child to age-appropriate chapter books to expose them to something different and challenging early on.

Reading Time

Reading a book should never be rushed, it should be a relaxing, fun activity to do at the end of a busy day. Setting aside reading time is a great idea, and bedtime is one of the most popular times to read with your child. Keeping books placed in the child’s bedroom is a great way to encourage them to become comfortable with books and even start to pick them up on their own.

Though children do have to learn how to read in school, as a parent, we are their first teachers. Showing them love and support is the first step in helping your child learn how to read. For both you and the child, reading can seem frustrating at times but that is never an excuse to put a book down, instead it should be a moment of support and encouragement.

How to Help Gifted Underachievers

How to support a child who is a gifted underachiever. Child day dreaming in a classroom.

As a parent, watching your child grow and meet milestones earlier than other children can be exciting. You consider your child gifted, as they have interests and are articulate beyond their years. However, once your gifted child entered the classroom, their teacher started noticing that they often fell behind other students, seemingly always distracted.

Gifted underachievers can find a traditional classroom unstimulating and can suffer in school as a result. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 30 percent of “gifted children” have a significant discrepancy between their potential intelligence level compared to their achievement.

Be Supportive

Try not to put too much pressure on your child if they’re struggling in school. It’s more important that they get the type of instruction that’s right for them, rather than discipline them into conforming to the school’s expectations.

Keep Confidence in Mind

Gifted underachievers can feel badly about themselves for not getting high grades like their friends. They can think negatively about their abilities and may grow frustrated with school. As a parent, be cognizant of this and make sure to give positive reinforcement when they do succeed.

Utilize School Resources

Child study teams, guidance counselors, and educational specialists can be brought in to help your child at school. Sometimes children need specialized attention in a traditional classroom setting that one teacher cannot provide. Talk to your school about what options your child has. Getting help early on can help avoid problems as your child goes on to higher grade levels.

Talking Technology with Your Kids


Talking Technology with Your Kids

The use of technology is unavoidable in today’s digital world, no matter the age of a person. Our children and teenagers use various forms of online technologies for work, school, and pleasure. Parents are left with the challenges of keeping their children safe when they’re online and making sure their children have a balance between virtual reality and the “real world.”

Parents who utilize blocking or filtering software soon discover that this approach, by itself, isn’t sufficient. Many children learn how to work around such software or simply use their friend’s devices that don’t have blocks of filters.

It’s better for parents to use multiple strategies and the CDC recommends the following

Here are some talking points to help you begin the conversations with your child:

About Texting and Instant Messaging

Advantages: updates such as plan changes

Disadvantages: may hinder writing and social abilities because of the shorthand language used, not great for immediate replies, not great for long conversations

About E-mail      

Advantages: great for letter-like communication, updates, sending pictures, and staying in touch

Disadvantages: not great for “instant” communication or for significant conversations

About Cell phones           

Advantages: allow direct communication

Disadvantages: limited by cell coverage

About Video Chat            

Advantages: visual conversation in real time; body language and facial expressions are visible, which helps you to gauge emotional responses

Disadvantages: need to be online and logged in, connection issues can occur; interference issues from background noise can occur

About Social Networking Posts 

Advantages: great way to stay connected, good for humor, good for being socially involved

Disadvantages: privacy concerns, not appropriate for private conversation but often used that way


Cell Phones: What’s the Right Age to Start?

Childrens Medical Group Children and Cell Phones

Cell phones and smartphones have taken over our lives.  Almost every adult has some type of cell phone, and millions of adults use them daily.  It should come as no shock to any parent or guardian that even young children will ask for their own cell phone or smartphone.  At this age, they want to play with whatever YOU are playing with.  Modeling their own behaviors after your behaviors is quite natural and normal.  You always have a phone out – or “your toy” out – and they want to play with the toy, too!

While the “I want to play, too” dynamic may extend into later years, ‘tweens and older children often desire a cell phone for different reasons than young children.  Many of those reasons, however, may not be terribly different from your own.  Again, some older children will see them for their recreational value – as do we all.  Some may want to use them at their “job” in life (i.e. school) – as do many of us.  Some see them as a way to increase social activity – and you may recognize that fact as you “Like” us on Facebook right now.  Finally, some children may even see the value in having a consistent lifeline to you as their primary caregiver – and we all feel safer driving with a cell phone in the car, don’t we?  This last point can be especially important if they are experiencing some form of bullying, abuse, or neglect in their lives.

Unfortunately, providing all of your children with a phone – and at any age – is also clearly not the correct choice.  Smartphones with Internet access can lead to all sorts of problems.   See our article, “The Internet and Your Children’s Safety” for a review.  While they may help during in-person bullying situations, smartphones can also open the doors to cyberbullying (as a victim or as the cyber bully.)  In addition, some question the potential risks that could occur if children have prolonged exposure to the microwave radiation (MWR) that is emitted from cell phones.  Some researchers have stated that children and unborn babies face a greater risk for bodily damage that results from MWR given off by wireless devices. Other researchers have stated that cell phone use can lead to shorten attention spans or disturb sleep patterns.

Childrens Medical Group Teenagers with Cell Phones

So what’s the correct age to provide your child with a cell phone or smartphone?  Unfortunately, there is no “one” right answer that applies to all families and all children of a certain age. Regardless of the age, a parent or guardian should begin by asking the following types of questions:

  1. Is your child often impulsive? Would s/he understand and respect the time and usage limits you would place on their phone?  Do they honor time/usage restraints you currently have about video games or television?
  1. Does your child have unique medical needs? Might s/he need the phone to stay connected with you due to potential emergency situations?
  1. Does your child already express a clear understanding on how they can use the Internet safely?
  1. Does your child express an understanding of how to use your landline phone safely and appropriately? Do they know not to reveal personal information over the phone? Do they understand that they should never agree to meet up with someone they’ve met over the phone?  Do they take care of the phone (i.e., they don’t slam it down, get it covered in dirt or emerged in water, etc.)?

Most importantly, and should you decide to consider buying a cell phone or smartphone for your child, be sure to do two things.  Check in with your service provider to see what plans they have particularly for children or teenagers.  Second, as with all parenting, recognize that this is a big step for your child and that it requires a lot of conversation, listening, understanding, patience, and clarity…for everyone.