Teaching Children The Importance Of Giving Back

Child's craft

At The Children’s Medical Group, we have locations throughout the Hudson Valley. Each town we serve has its own unique personality and local needs. Still, one of the things that makes this area so special is that we all share a common love for the nearby natural areas and the Hudson Valley community at large.

While there are parts of this area that struggle with poverty, there are many organizations that work to meet the needs of our community, as well as individuals who make a difference in the lives of our children.

Responsibility of Parents

Though our lives are incredibly busy, it is important to take a step back to remember what really matters. The communities our kids are brought up in contribute to who they are, and there are ways as a parent that you can become a leader in the community and a hero in their eyes.

  1. Show kindness – though we don’t know all of our neighbors, all of our neighbors deserve respect. When kids see how a role model treats others, they begin to mirror that behavior.
  2. Be an advocate – the power of sharing positive stories in the community with local news outlets can change the way people perceive young people in public. So often only the worst of the worst and the best of the best is reported, which skews how we think of one another. Sharing with local journalists about a classroom research project or a way in which your child’s extracurriculars are making a positive difference could have an immeasurable, positive ripple effect.
  3. Instill the importance of giving back – volunteering from a young age can have a profound effect on children. It helps them understand people who come from another perspective and teach them that no matter how much or how little they have, a community is made stronger when we all pitch in to help one another.

When you foster the importance of charitability within your child it has a profound impact on the way they view the world for the rest of their lives. It helps create more resilient communities and empowers each child to see how their actions have effects on the people who live around them. Get involved in any way you can today through something your child is interested in. Here are some ideas:

  • Soup kitchen – does your child love cooking and baking shows, or love to help in the kitchen? Help them prepare a dish to donate to a local organization or show up to help prepare food at local soup kitchens. Check out all the good that The Lunch Box does in Dutchess County.
  • Animal shelter – is your child always asking for a puppy? Take them to the local shelter so they can see firsthand how much responsibility is involved, and give back in the process. Hudson Valley SPCA and Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary are great places to start.
  • Clothing donations – kids grow out of clothing quickly. Take your child with you when you donate clothes, such as to United Way’s Children’s Corner so they can see how the whole community comes together to give back and the impact that can have.


Healthy Children

Fostering the Importance of Handwriting

Fostering the Importance of Handwriting

Schools are beginning to utilize tablets and laptops, resulting in less paper and pen work. Though this technology can enhance the child’s learning experience, we still must foster the importance of handwriting. In today’s digital age, children sometimes have the ability to type and text before they can write their name on a piece of paper. This raises the question, how important are handwriting skills and should this be what a child focuses on?

Studies on handwriting have actually raised some interesting relationships. Children who are capable of writing quickly and neatly are more likely to express their thoughts and ideas better through writing. Researchers were able to link increased cognitive activity with better handwriting when children in grades two through five were asked to brainstorm a composition.

What Can the Parent Do?

Your child’s success in their educational journey is important. One of the very first steps in this journey is learning how to write out letters and numbers and eventually, write out their name. There is no doubt that when your child first starts out, it is going to be messy and illegible, but as they practice you should see improvements. As a parent you can encourage your child to draw, color, trace shapes and play “connect the dots” games, before learning the alphabet is even a thought. These types of activities can be effective in helping your child develop the motor skills and the cognitive skills for neat handwriting.

The next step could be teaching your child how to color in the lines, which will help develop their hand-eye coordination. Exercise and proper posture are even proven to help aid in a child’s writing journey, since the better “in shape” the muscles of their hands, arms and shoulders are, the easier it will be for them to move and control their motions while writing. So, reduce the use of tablets and video games and encourage your children to use their creativity on paper through writing and drawing.


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

Managing Medication at School

Child Medication & School - Hudson Valley, NY

It is important to properly manage the medications your child needs while in school. There are a few important things to keep in mind to make sure everything is covered, from transporting, storing, administering and identification. Here is what you need to know:

What to Do:

  1. First, the best way to keep your child’s at-home and in-school medications organized is by having the physician or pharmacist divide the medication in half. Have one bottle to keep at home and the other to bring to school. Doing this will decrease any possible confusion and will also allow the bottles to be properly labeled. Medication in school must be in its original bottle with proper labels; no medicine should be given to the school in an envelope or baggie.
  1. Another thing to keep in mind that may seem obvious is that all medication needs to have a written authorization from the doctor, as well as the parent, giving consent to the school to administer the medication (vitamins included). Be sure to contact the school about any forms that must be filled out to document consent. By doing this, instructions on how often the medication is given, the dosage, and how it should be administered are shared.
  1. Next, make sure that the medication is transported and handed to the school by the parent/guardian. Unless the child is responsible enough to do this on their own, all medication should go from the parent directly to the nurse’s office. During school hours, children should not be carrying the medication around unless told to do so by their pediatrician.
  1. Once in the hands of the school, you the parent, should have no worries. School personnel receive special training on how to take care of and administer medication. In the case where the medication expires or is unused, it will be returned to the parent/ guardian. For special events like field trips, either consult with your child’s doctor to see if the medication can be taken at another time, or confirm with the school that the medication will be taken on the trip.


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.

Being The “New Kid” at School

tips for being the new kid at school

Being the “new kid” at school can sound frightening for both the child and parent combined. A new school means having new experiences, meeting new friends and being in a new environment. Although moving can be a stressful process, it is often helpful to encourage your child to be excited about the new town. The appearance of nerves and butterflies are common as the first day of school approaches, but don’t let them become overwhelming feelings for your child.

Before the School Year

Before the school year begins, a terrific way to introduce your child to the district is by scheduling a tour. Often, schools are open to giving a tour of the grounds and facilities to the new family in town, typically about a week or two before school officially opens. Becoming familiar with the surroundings and environment can help ease the nerves and apprehension your child might have in attending a new school.

Overcoming Labels

Although being labeled the “new kid” might sound bad, it doesn’t always have to be, and there are ways to avoid the stigma that’s sometimes attached to that label. For some children, it is easy to make friends and introduce themselves to new people and for others, it isn’t. One way to avoid being labeled the new kid is by being the first one to introduce yourself, so the other children build a sense of familiarity. Usually, the new kid gets a lot of attention because everyone is curious about him or her, so encourage your child to take advantage of that to meet as many new kids as they can. Over time, they will build relationships with kids who have similar interests.

Get Outside

Becoming familiar with your neighborhood is another great way to ease your child’s nerves about their new surroundings. Find out if there are any other kids on the block for your child to play with outside before the school year starts. Don’t force your child to play with kids – allow them to feel it out and choose who they want to play with. Setting up play dates for shy kids in the beginning is encouraged.

Always encourage your child to keep a positive attitude about their new school, and try not to let them see your nerves about the situation. It may take some time to completely adjust, and that is okay. Building friendships is an ongoing process.


What Causes Shyness in Children

Shyness in Children

Shyness is one of the most common traits in young children. The world is scary to some kids, and if mom or dad are not around, relating and trusting others in daycare or school can be difficult. Still, shyness comes in varying degrees, and more severe shyness could be a sign they are on the autism spectrum. Regardless of how your child relates to others, their antisocial behavior can be influenced and changed with a bit of support and learning.

Adjustment Period

As a parent, you know how many phases your child has gone through. Think back to the inevitable phase of wanting to wear similar things for extended periods of time, like insisting on wearing only pajamas or a sweatshirt that acts as a security blanket. Those phases pass as they are adapting to their world, and shyness is a phase for some. This is especially noticeable when children face an environmental change. Starting in a new school, moving to a new neighborhood, or even losing a family member, among many other situations, can cause shifts in personality. Being withdrawn during these times is common, though your child should begin to get back to their normal selves over time.


Your child may be an extrovert, but their shyness stems from peers viewing them as an “other.” Physical differences, antisocial personality traits like aggression or impulsivity, and other factors can cause some kids to bully other children, while the rest are bystanders without stepping up in defense of your child. In these cases of rejection, adult intervention is often required to show the kids why it’s important to celebrate differences and always be friendly and kind.


Sometimes kids are naturally shy and prefer to be alone or gravitate more toward family or animals. This may simply be part of their personality, but it could also be a symptom of Asperger Syndrome. Asperger Syndrome is a developmental condition that causes children to have difficulty with relationships.

If shyness begins to impact your child’s experiences negatively in school or other social situations with children, or if you are worried about your child’s shyness, talk to your pediatrician. Childhood should be a happy time where kids freely make friends and learn about bonding and friendships. Some kids just need a bit more hand holding than others.

Making Friends in Early Childhood

pediatricians of the Hudson Valley on making friends in early childhood

Before your children start going to daycare or preschool, as parents you can generally control who your kids spend time with. When they start going to school, however, parents can become nervous about the other kids they are interacting with and learning from. Short of video surveillance or constantly calling their caretaker or educator, parents don’t know how they are socializing with other children day to day. This can make many parents nervous, as new personalities are influencing your child for the first time.

Friendships for Outgoing Kids      

Extroverted kids can make friends naturally and enjoy being in a classroom setting. Because of this, they may learn behaviors from other kids that you as a parent would not allow. At a young age, it’s important to talk to your children about who your kids are forming friendships with and help them identify behaviors that are unacceptable, instead of punishing them for the behavior outright. If your outgoing child describes behavior you would not approve of when you are not around, try having a conversation about how friends are supposed to make you feel good.

Shy Kids

Shy kids often experience separation anxiety from parents when they first start going to school or daycare. Shy children crave friendship and connection like other children, but just have more trouble asking other kids to play. If you notice this behavior in your child, talk to their caretaker or teacher and ask them to keep an eye out for them to encourage interaction with other kids. As a parent, you can encourage your child by setting up playdates, as well as spending time with other kids at a park, museum, and more.

Concerns about bullying

Kids are constantly testing out relationships and learning how to treat others, in addition to how they’d like to be treated. Sometimes, this leads to situations where kids put others down to feel accepted by a larger “in-group.” Whether your child is the victim of a bully, or your child is the bully, this behavior is not to be tolerated and it is the responsibility of the parents and caretakers to clarify acceptable behavior. As a parent, model respectful behavior and explain how their actions can affect others’ feelings. Talk to a school counselor, educator or caretaker as well as your pediatrician in any event.

Though you can’t be there to hold their hand the whole time, you as a parent can set your child up for success in social situations. Talk to your pediatrician for more information if your child exhibits behavioral problems. Handling these issues early on can be the best time to intervene.