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

Overcoming Your Past as A Parent

Mother and son having fun in a park

Part of being a parent involves self-examination. Once becoming a parent, feelings about your own childhood can bubble up to the surface. It is important that you address your past and those negative, not-so-easy experiences to better your own child’s upbringing. As a parent you don’t have to bury your past, and instead learn from it and share your experiences and feelings with your little one as they grow up.

Ask Yourself

As a parent, you’ll want to set standards and expectations for your parenting style. One of the first places that your mind will go is to your own childhood. Use this to your advantage and take time to recollect your favorite memories, what you liked and disliked about your parents and home life, what you struggled with academically, socially, mentally and physically and where your greatest difficulties tended to lay. All of this can be used in a positive way to better yourself as a parent.


Consider your strongest, healthiest relationships growing up, what made them this way? Whether it was with your mom or dad, or sibling, think about why you enjoyed that relationship. Depending on your upbringing and family dynamic, you may have grown up in a quiet, more reserved home or a home where there was constant arguing and chaos. No matter the environment, it has had some effect on you and keep that in mind when deciding the best ways to parent your own child.

Memories & The Past

Being able to reflect upon your greatest and worst memories when you were younger will allow you to relate to your own child and what they may be experiencing. If they are struggling in school with math, feeling left out, having difficulty adjusting to a new home, losing a family member or a pet or can’t find something they are good at, chances are you went through some of these very same experiences. You will find it is easier to be more sensitive and understanding with your child in times like these and will be in a better place to communicate and offer solutions. When your child learns that their parent has gone through some of the same struggles, they may feel a sense of relief because they aren’t the only ones, and it may be easier for them to keep their head up and think positively.


Healthy Children

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

Protection Against Measles In Children

Protecting Children Against Measles - Hudson Valley, NY

A measles vaccination can be life-saving. Though measles is not all that common, outbreaks can occur and when they do, it is important your child is vaccinated. Recently, measles broke out in New York amongst unvaccinated children. Measles was once a common part of growing up as a child and most children were able to recover without any trouble. Unfortunately for some children, there were more serious consequences such as pneumonia, encephalitis and even death in some cases.

The Vaccine

The measles vaccine has been widely successful in controlling outbreaks and protecting children from the disease. The vaccine is a very safe vaccination for your child to receive twice in their life, once around the age of one and again around five years old, which is the recommended time period that children should receive the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though no vaccine has a 100% prevention rate, after receiving the second recommended dose, the protection rate jumps to 95%.

Highly Contagious

The measles disease is a virus that is easily spread by air. It can take a simple sneeze or cough by an infected person for it to travel and infect another person. A healthy individual having direct contact with fluids from the mouth and nose of an infected person is another way for the virus to be transmitted.

Do What’s Best

With the recent backlash of parents not supporting vaccinations for their kids, measles outbreaks are becoming all too frequent. The more unvaccinated individuals there are, the greater the risk of a measles outbreak. Though measles is not as widespread as it once was, it is still a problem in many countries abroad. With that in mind, the measles virus can be brought to the U.S. at any time through traveling and flying. For infants under twelve months and other individuals who are medically unable to receive the MMR vaccination, they are at a greater risk of becoming exposed and infected.


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.

Growing Independence: Tips for Parents of Young Children

young child learns how to brush his teeth with his mother

Young children can be a handful, as every parent knows. As your youngster has developed from an infant to a toddler and now to a young child, it seems he is slipping out of your hands and is ready to take on the world. Though this step, in both your life and his, can seem scary, it is also exciting, and there are things you can do to make the best of it. As a parent, we all wish to raise pleasant, polite and, eventually, independent kids. This all starts when the child is young, as some of the most important life lessons and teachings stem from parenting.


Preparing your child to be independent is a full-time job – from teaching them how to walk, feed themselves and talk, and then teaching them how to bathe, dress and function as a little human on their own. When teaching your children to be independent and care for themselves, patience and practice is absolutely necessary. Starting off simple is usually the best way to go, as all of this is new to your children. Guiding them through the steps of taking a bath and dressing themselves at night or in the morning has to be done consistently on a regular basis and eventually they will want to do it alone.


Having a daily routine is key to children becoming independent and functioning on their own. Routines help your child know what to expect, and help to prepare her to have a productive day. A morning routine might consist of brushing teeth, getting dressed and eating breakfast, maintaining the order daily. Keeping the nightly routine similar to their morning routine may be helpful as it will come more naturally to them to know steps are expected to be done.

Simple Rules

Your child’s safety is important. Though we want children to be friendly and respectful to others, teaching them to be cautious and careful is crucial. To ensure safety, discourage your child from talking to strangers. Be sure to discuss who they should turn to if they get lost, like a store employee with a uniform and nametag on, or a police officer. Other simple rules that should be taught are personal space (keep their hands to themselves) and having manners (saying please and thank you).

Children can sometimes experience phases of separation anxiety, which is normal as they grow up. If the separation anxiety becomes a problem, talk to their pediatrician about your concerns.