About beaumontparentingprogram

Beaumont Children's Hospital's award-winning Parenting Program provides support and education to new parents through experienced parent volunteers.

Navigating Sickness in Little Ones

Bob Reck, Flickr.

As the seasons change, it seems as though we hear of many around us falling ill. My husband and I recently experienced our 13-month-old daughter’s first intense bout with being sick. Thankfully, it was only 24 hours, but it was a scary time for all of us. However, we learned some lessons in the process that may be helpful to you and your family. Here are six tips and tricks for navigating through your little one being under the weather.

1. Trust your gut!

Our daughter got sick in the middle of the night, and we could hear through her noises that something was off. We instantly knew that these weren’t her typical “going back to sleep” noises. My husband and I went with our gut and checked on her; we found a sick little girl in need of our help. 

2. Don’t panic.

Little ones are extremely receptive to their parents’ emotions. Stay calm, hold them close, and reassure them that everything is OK. Even in our sleepy state, we divided and conquered when we discovered her illness at 2:30 a.m. While I drew a warm bath and played calm music, my husband cleaned and disinfected her bedroom. 

3. Do a timeline trace. 

Did anything seem off or peculiar in the prior couple of days? In our case, our typically ravenous daughter hadn’t eaten much the previous day. While we just thought this was a one-off occurrence, we now believe it was a sign that she was starting to feel under the weather. We’ve since learned that this is one of her signs, and will be better prepared in the future if it happens again. 

4. Cuddle, cuddle, cuddle!

The healing power of touch is incredible! Just as we want to cuddle up when we don’t feel well, so do our little ones. Take the time to snuggle up and comfort them, everything else can wait. 

5. Diapers speak a thousand words. 

One reassurance during our daughter’s sickness was her continuing to make wet diapers and take in fluids. Pay special attention to your baby’s diapers during the period of sickness so you may have this information to provide to their pediatrician as needed.

6. When in doubt, consult your pediatrician. 

As this was our first time experiencing anything like this, we didn’t want to jump to the phone too quickly, but we also didn’t want to wait if there was a need for our daughter to be seen. It never hurts to make a phone call to your pediatrician’s office to ask their input on whether or not to come in. 

Note: I am not a medical professional and recommend consulting your pediatrician for any medical input.

– Kylie Coury is a Parenting Program volunteer with a 1-year-old daughter and baby on the way. She enjoys time with her husband and little one, and has appreciated all of the new connections and adventures in this season of life.

The “Baby Tax” List

So your sweet little cherub finally came into this world and has subsequently turned it upside down! You’re not sure what time it is, let alone what day. You think you showered yesterday but can’t remember for sure. And those leftovers in the fridge — are those from two days ago or two weeks ago? You know that you should sleep while the baby is sleeping, but if you could just wash the dishes flowing all over the countertop everything would feel a little better.

You finally lie down, mentally calculating how much sleep you will get if you fall asleep instantaneously (I call this Sleep Math), and your phone rings. You’re immediately annoyed because who has the audacity to call a new parent who is trying to sleep?! Then a heavy dose of guilt shimmies up your spine because it is your wonderful auntie who would like to come and meet the baby. “Sure,” you sigh, when she asks if now is an OK time to visit. “Can I help with anything while I’m there?” she graciously offers, because although it has been many years, she too was once a new momma.

Any savvy new parent understands that they have in their home something powerful: a baby. Like a moth to a flame, friends and family flock to the sweet smell of a tiny baby head. Many members of our “village” are undeterred by sleeping parents and feeding schedules; they are jonesing for some time snuggling your new bundle of joy.

While I always advocate for healthy boundaries in the postpartum period, I believe this is a wonderful opportunity to harness your power! Now is the time to leverage it to help meet your needs. Enter the “Baby Tax” List! Believe it or not, this very simple concept can pay huge dividends for new parents.

In a visible place in your home (like a chalkboard or a piece of paper on your fridge), write down some things that you need done. Think of this as a chore list where your visitors earn the reward of time spent with you and/or your baby. In other words, your visitor pays you a “baby tax” by folding some laundry first before getting to hold the baby.

This is a handy tool for everyone involved. In the early postpartum days, many members of our support network make offers saying things like, “Let me know if I can help,” and “Call me if you need anything.” But in our foggy, sleep-deprived, new parent minds, it can be hard to ask for help. Plus, we want everyone to know we’ve got everything under control, right?!

The reality is life postpartum is really difficult and it is in our (and our babies’) best interest to access and use our resources. It is OK to accept offers of support! A Baby Tax List takes the awkwardness away from asking for help. In fact, the really savvy members of your village will see the list and complete some items without having been asked.

You’ve got a lot on your plate, friends! Share the burden of your load and you will appreciate the small reprieve. Besides, that sweet auntie of yours wants to help. If you think about it, you just might be doing her the favor.

Here are some ideas to get your list started:

  • Bring a healthy prepared or frozen meal
  • Order carry-out
  • Make mom/dad a hot meal and let them eat it while it’s hot!
    (**Bonus points if the visitor makes a hot cup of coffee too.)
  • Take out the trash
  • Launder baby’s clothes or help with other laundry
  • Vacuum
  • Wash the dishes
  • Sterilize bottles and/or pump parts
  • Shovel the drive/walkway (Ugh! Winter is here.)
  • Walk the dog
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Change the bedding
  • Rub mom’s feet
  • Hold the baby while I shower/sleep/read/eat bon bons in the closet
  • Take big brother/sister out for a special treat
  • Hang out with baby while I go for a walk alone
  • Let me go to the gym without the added workout of carrying a car seat
  • Pick up ___________ from the grocery store (Insert 1 or 100 things that you need/want)
  • Run errands
  • Fix the leaky faucet in the bathroom
  • If you love me, let me nap!

As you can see, the list is only limited by your own imagination! The Baby Tax List is a light-hearted, cheeky way to remind our friends and family that we love them and we need/appreciate their support. What would you like some help with? Add it to the list and share this with all the parents that could use some help.

– Nichole Enerson is the Parenting Program postpartum adjustment coordinator in Royal Oak. She adores her teenage children who finally sleep more than she does. She survived postpartum anxiety through the support and grace of her beloved husband and family!

Holiday Not-So-Fun? Seven Tips for Enjoying the Season with Your Special Needs Child

 

Both my boys struggle with different challenges: my oldest is on the autistic spectrum and my youngest is an alphabet soup of ADHD (with a lot of “H”), ODD and OCD. After years of therapy, educational intervention, and pure patience, at 19 and 16 they are both very functional in the world — attending Oakland Community College, working, both with realistic hopes and dreams for an independent future.

When they were small though, it was a different story.

When my oldest was in preschool and early elementary school, he was obsessed with ceiling fans. He would sit and wave his hand in front of his face because he was “making the fan.” He banged his head against his crib and later up and down on his bed. He memorized “Green Eggs and Ham” and would recite it to himself when he got bored. He would answer questions based on what he guessed the question might be; his speech therapist said he had a huge vocabulary for his age, but no understanding of what the words meant or how to string them together. As he grew older, his “presenting” issue became auditory processing disorder, and many of his behaviors settled as he matured.

While he had a number of unusual mannerisms and ways of perseverating, he never really had behavioral issues. Enter son number two. He was a 24-week micro-preemie, born at 1 lb. 7 oz. in an ambulance. We didn’t even know about him until the end of his three-month stay in the University of Southern Louisiana hospital, where he “always progressed and never regressed.” He was clearly determined to be here and has had no physical challenges — in fact, he became a competitive gymnast and extreme sports enthusiast, from skateboarding to snowboarding, parkour to rock climbing. The determination that helped him survive stuck with him, and his frequent frustration resulted in many outbursts at home, in school, in public, and at family gatherings. People were far less tolerant of his constant curiosity; the tearing apart of anything that interested him; the interruptions to conversations; and the insistence on scaling walls, furniture, fences, stair railings; than they were of his brother’s relatively more muted and explicable behaviors.

Needless to say, the holidays were challenging. When the kids were little, we lived in San Francisco and typically stayed home for Christmas but flew back to Michigan at Thanksgiving to visit family. This involved packing, airports, airplanes and confined spaces, and long car drives from one family gathering to another. The Michigan weather at that time of year often precluded being outdoors, while at home, hikes, scooters and bikes, tree-climbing, playgrounds, and the beach were all necessary outlets available to us year-round. Containing the energy of our youngest was especially challenging, made worse by Grandma believing “children should be seen and not heard.” Fortunately my sister had a master’s in early childhood education and had been a Head Start teacher, so her house was often a respite. Still,  noisy and crowded family gatherings were hard for both boys in any location.

Here are some tips that helped us get through our holiday excursions:

  1. Talk to your kids about your trip and what to expect. Explain the parts that will be fun (e.g., the moving walkways at the airport, getting to see and play with their cousins, yummy desserts) as well as what will be challenging (e.g., sitting still on the plane, being quiet at Grandma’s house, playing indoors most of the time). Talk about what quiet activities they can do and let each child pack a carry-on bag. Now is not the time to stay attached to your screen rules so if the 6,000th  viewing of Frozen or an online game on the phone is going to help you survive the plane trip or salvage some adult conversations, go for it.
  2. If you have a long plane trip, try to break it in half. For us, the mid-point between San Francisco and Detroit was Minneapolis, which made two 2-1/2-hour flights rather than one 4-hour flight to Chicago and a hopper to Detroit. This gave the kids time to run around and two flights that were about one movie long when the kids got bored with books! Tip: Pack external batteries and be sure you bring chargers for the rental car so you don’t run out of juice.
  3. Think about how to arrange seating on the plane. For us it was sometimes best to split up the boys, so we would each take one and put him at a window. We’d put our youngest, who was most likely to kick the seat in front of him, behind his brother. When they were a little older, it was easier to take all three seats plus the aisle across and put the boys next to each other, with the grown-ups switching off. If the kids all want the window seat, make an agreement about timing and when you will switch seats – but make sure they understand that it may not work exactly as you plan if the seatbelt light is on.
  4. Unless you know you are going to be very comfortable staying overnight with family, consider getting a hotel room if you can afford it. This will give your family an excuse to leave a large gathering and give you somewhere to go. Many hotels have a small indoor pool that can be a gift for expending pent-up energy. If you are concerned this might hurt your extended family’s feelings, make sure they understand your concerns are not about their hospitality, but about meeting the practical needs of your children.
  5. Talk to your family ahead of time. Make sure they understand what you are dealing with, what your children need, and how it may be different from the needs of the other kids in the family who they may see more often. Ask if they can set aside a “quiet room” in the house where you can take the kids. See if at least one family member is willing to be your ally, support your efforts, and make sure you get some adult time and respite.
  6. Scope out your recreational options ahead of time. Find the indoor bounce houses, the community pool (which may even have a water playground), the gymnastics places that offer open gym times, etc. If you are visiting a place where you grew up, your school friends who still live in the area and have kids can be an invaluable resource for the “secret” things to do with kids. If you are lucky enough to go somewhere warm, take frequent walks, go to the playground, and bring some adults with you so you can catch up while the kids run around. This can be a far better way for your family to get to know your kids than in a stilted family environment with an “adults only” vibe.
  7. Arts and crafts offer great cross-generational opportunities for bonding. Print out multiple copies of holiday coloring pages and offer crayons and colored pencils. Make ornaments for the tree or get some unpainted dreidels to decorate. “Stained glass” can be made using sheets of transparency film and markers. If space permits, consider setting up a dedicated arts and crafts table for the duration of the holiday.

These tips don’t include meeting physical challenges, which we did not have to manage, but here is a great article by a dad who travels frequently with a child who needs a wheelchair and has had a feeding tube. Real Simple also has some helpful tips for celebrating the holidays.

While you will be focused on your child, try to make sure you take some time for yourself and your spouse. Even if you don’t get some physical respite, take some mental respite. Remember that you are doing the best you can in a challenging situation. Don’t assume that the heavy sigh of a family member is directed toward your child. If someone offers to help, let them! Take the time to teach them how to help care for your child, and you’ll not only give yourself a break, you’ll give them the gift of getting to know your child better and strengthening those family bonds.

– Kathy Henry is an adoptive parent to two teenage boys. She is also a marketing consultant, business coach and copywriter who volunteers for several organizations, including the Beaumont Parenting Program.

November is Adoption Month

It was about this time eight years ago that we were contacted by our adoption agency. There was a woman, pregnant with twins, and she was interested in meeting us.

Funny thing about what I remember about that. I was moving clothes from the washer to the dryer as my husband and I talked about it. When we met her at the mall, I wore a black and grey sweater. The night the kids were born, I was sitting on the left couch cushion debating going shoe shopping.

Those little moments in time made an impression on me, apparently. It’s kind of like asking my parents where they were when JFK was shot, or where we were on 9/11. Only these are happy impressions.

I’m to the point where I’m surprised my kids are adopted. Nearly eight years in and I don’t give it a second thought, usually. Except in those moments when I’m reminded.

While I’m open about our adoption experience, there’s things I don’t always talk about such as the agony of waiting to hear if birthmom relinquished her parental rights. I never felt great about that. I was relieved, of course, but there I was hoping a woman wasn’t going to break my heart by wrecking her own.

But that’s in the past. My kids are healthy, amazing and quite the little humans now and I’m living each day by sending a little bit of gratitude into the universe for birthmom. Because in this story, she’s the real hero.

– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive Novmmom to twins, and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.

Potty Training: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

image: Todd Morris, Flickr. CC license.

After many years of diapers in my house, I now have three potty-trained kids. As my family celebrated this milestone, it dawned on me that each of my children potty trained differently. All three children became successful in accomplishing this milestone in their own time and at different stages; the only common factor was that they all reached that success when they were ready. So, while every child is unique, read on below to find some helpful tips I learned throughout this process.

Potty training readiness

Most children will show signs of potty-training readiness somewhere between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old. Even if kids show a lot of signs at 18 months, it is unlikely that they will have the bladder or bowel control to be successful. I recommend waiting until age 2 to begin the process and look for some of the signs below.

  • Child lets the caregiver know that the diaper needs to be changed.
  • Child goes to another room or location to have a bowel movement.
  • Child can pull pants up and down.
  • Child shows an interest in wearing underwear.
  • Child uses the potty consistently at a set time of day.
  • Child wakes up from naps or overnight sleep with a dry diaper.
  • Child goes several hours during the day with dry diapers.
  • Child has bowel movements at a similar time each day.

Technique

Because every child is unique, there is no specific technique for potty training that works for all children, but here are a few recommendations for approaching potty training.

  • Stock up on potty-training essentials when the child begins showing signs of readiness so that you are prepared if they suddenly decide they are done with diapers.
    • Two packages of underwear
    • Small potty (It is preferable for kids to be able to place their feet on a flat surface while learning to use the potty. Also, it is helpful to be able to move the potty if needed).
    • Depending on the child’s attention span, some small toys that stay in the bathroom may be helpful for learning to have bowel movements in the potty.
    • Small incentives
      • Stickers
      • Small candies
    • Empower your child
      • Let your child be a part of the decision when to start, and if possible, let him or her decide.
      • Let your child do as much as possible without assistance. Ask your child if you can help him or her before automatically doing it. This approach may get a little messy but in the long run it is very helpful.
      • Instead of rushing a child to the bathroom if an accident looks evident, rush the potty to the child.
      • If the child is in a bed at naptime, leave a small potty in the child’s room and remind them that it’s OK if they need to use it.
    • Stay positive and be consistent while still being flexible.
      • Offer immediate praise for any amount of success, even if it’s just that the child made it to the bathroom but not the toilet.
      • Give gentle reminders with praise if needed.
      • Avoid constant reminders as it can create anxiety.
      • Consider avoiding pull-ups or training pants. It’s good to fully commit to potty training and try to be home for the first day if possible. Switching between pull-ups and underwear can be confusing for kids.
      • Be willing to give up and try at a later date if it’s too stressful.
      • Have an open dialogue with your child throughout the process.

Nighttime potty training

Some kids are able to accomplish nighttime training simultaneously with daytime training, but other kids may need to be fully successful with daytime training before they can accomplish nighttime dryness. Also, some kids may be fully daytime trained years before they have the bladder control to stay dry at night. Here are some tips on nighttime potty training.

  • Have children use the bathroom as the very last step of their bedtime routine.
  • Consider whether your child is constipated; increase fiber if so. Constipation can add pressure to the bladder and can play a role in nighttime wetting.
  • If you’re unable to nighttime train, use pull-ups just for the night.
  • Nighttime wetting may occur until kids are 7 years old. If your child is still wet at night after age 7, notify your pediatrician.

Potty-training resistance

If you’ve been trying for a while and giving up is not an option, here are a few helpful tips.

  • Look for patterns when accidents are occurring and try to make a schedule. Write the schedule out and turn it into a sticker chart. Have a very manageable, immediate goal rewarded with an incentive picked out by the child and another goal to work toward at the end of the week with a different incentive, then a two-week goal and a four-week goal.
  • Let the child be responsible for cleaning up after him/herself if possible.
  • Read about it! There are many great potty-training books designed for kids and keeping them in the bathroom is a good idea. A favorite in our house is “Everyone Poops” by Taro Gomi.

– Melissa Rettmann, M.S., PA-C has a background in pediatrics and volunteers with the Beaumont Parenting Program. She is the mother of three young children.

It Goes By So Fast

 

“It goes by so fast.”

Parents generally don’t like to hear these words, unless they’re talking about sleepless nights or the terrible twos. Then, they want time to pass quickly.

But the harsh reality of parenting is that childhood really does speed by. It seems like just yesterday, my husband and I were the parents of an only child. Now we have three. Our firstborn was a generously plump bald little guy who was just 6 weeks old when Halloween rolled around. We dressed him in a fuzzy orange onesie with a green stem, black triangle eyes and a crooked mouth all strategically arranged on the hood. It was sized for a 6-month-old but it was perfect for him because we had been calling our son Pumpkin Man since the day he was born.

At his second Halloween, our Pumpkin Man was one week away from becoming a big brother. We dressed him as a monkey because he often acted like a silly little monkey. We took one of my all-time favorite pictures that Halloween night as he sat in front of a big bowl of fun-size chocolate. He liked the look and feel of the shiny wrappers and was content watching the Snickers and Milky Way bars slip between his tiny fingers. As a child with no older siblings and parents who had yet to expose him to the pleasure of candy, he was content and clueless.

Fast forward a few years. Now there are three children in our family. All of them are old enough to trick-or-treat and they all crave sugar. At this point, we have Halloween traditions that include going to the pumpkin patch for a photoshoot and hoping everyone cooperates. Our hard drives are filled with tons of these photos to look back at along with pumpkin-carving shots and, of course, pictures of the kids in the various costumes they spent months deciding on.

In addition to the family traditions, October 31 helps us mark milestones for our middle son, who is on the autism spectrum. We remember the early Halloweens when he wouldn’t even go outside because it was too dark. We celebrated the first time the five of us were able to trick-or-treat together because our son sat the entire time on my husband’s shoulders. It was up there that he felt safest as we shuffled through the decaying leaves and braved the cold while rushing from house to house to fill orange plastic pumpkins.

We laugh about the Halloweens where we pilfered through his candy bag because his allergies prevented him from eating most of the treats and his autism somehow prevented him from caring about the theft. We lament about the year when he finally realized he was getting candy he couldn’t eat and demanded a nut-free, dairy-free alternative. We celebrated the year he finally remembered to tell people about his allergies politely. And, we smile at the unique costumes he’s chosen, including a light bulb, a construction barrel, and a spider web.

It’s fun to look back on 14 years of Halloween pictures and see how the kids have changed, with each costume serving as a showcase of the kids’ likes at interests at a given age. For example, after many years of being a Disney princess, our daughter moved on to more “sophisticated” costumes. Her most recent choices included a poodle-skirt clad ‘50s girl and a vampire.

Each year, Halloween looks different in our family. This year it will look something like this: our daughter will trick-or-treat with a group of friends. Our oldest son will likely hang out at a friend’s house like he did last year, marking the second time he doesn’t trick-or-treat. Our middle child will accompany us in a yet-to-be-determined costume (but probably a recycled one since it’s so last minute). He will politely ask for candy he is not allergic to and hopefully not consume most of it before we get home. As for the chocolate, his siblings and maybe even his parents will vie for the choice pieces, including the full-size candy bars, Twix bars, and KIT KAT bars.

This much-anticipated night will go by fast for our two trick-or-treaters, just like their childhood.

– Jen Lovy is a Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer.

Sibling Rivalry and Bullying: Parents Have More Influence Than They Think

image: Mindaugas Danys, Flickr. CC license.

You hear the scream from the other room and run in to find one kid crying and the other child holding a treasured toy. The accusations and explanations fly back and forth while the tears flow. After a few minutes you realize you’ll never really know the whole story so you:

  1. Take the treasured toy away for a while so it’s not a source of conflict.
  2. Give both the kids a time-out since they need to be separated for a while to cool off.
  3. Throw up your hands and go cry in the other room since this is the fourth time today you’ve had to mediate a dispute.
  4. Yell at the kids since you are so frustrated that they can’t share and get along.

Sound familiar?

Every parent with more than one child is faced with sibling disputes all the time. Whether its toy stealing, physical stuff like pushing/poking, or verbal trash talk that drives the sibling to anger or tears, sibling rivalry is a feature in every family at one time or another. Understanding what drives the behavior will help parents address it appropriately.

Sibling rivalry

Sibling rivalry is triggered for a reason. The child who is acting out wants or needs something. Sometimes he is looking for a parent’s attention. Sometimes she is looking to cure boredom, and sometimes they are looking to get a reaction from their sibling. Figuring out which is the main trigger is very important as it will guide the intervention.

Young children under 5, who are arguing with their siblings, are almost always looking for parental attention. If you really think about it, they aren’t getting any “joy” per se out of their sibling’s reaction but will amp up the behavior if you don’t intervene. They want you. If you don’t run in, the screams get louder and the tussling gets more pronounced.

Another sign that kids are looking for your attention rather than the sibling’s is when they look over at you for your reaction when they are about to do something to their brother or are in the middle of the fight with their sister. They are less engaged with each other than they are interested in your response. A sure sign that the interaction is all about you!

The challenge is realizing that by paying attention to these little scuffles you are reinforcing them and creating a pattern of behavior between the children that can lead to bigger issues down the road. With young children, often ignoring your children’s interactions rather than negotiating, punishing them, or trying to play referee can allow them to work things out on their own and prevent you from become the object of their attention.

The time to help teach children how to negotiate with each other, share well, and be kind is when you are playing with them, not by intervening when they are arguing on their own. Comment on and model these behaviors with your children when you are playing together. You can even role play and practice what to do when you are upset when they aren’t mad; you can give them tools to use at other times.

Another strategy that works well with kids of all ages is to be a play-by-play announcer when you see something happening between your children. Sometimes you don’t want to ignore what you see but know you shouldn’t solve the problem for them. Instead, by describing what you see (the actions and the feelings), you give voice to both of the children in the scuffle and allow them to work things out themselves, perhaps even seeing the other child’s point of view. Here’s an example: You walk in and find 4-year-old, Joey, holding the 2-year-old’s, Jimmy, favorite stuffed animal and he’s crying. Say something like: “Jimmy, you sure seem sad and mad. Joey, you’re holding Jimmy’s best friend. He seems sad and upset. Jimmy is reaching for the toy. Joey, you are keeping it from him. That seems to be making Jimmy even more sad and upset. What are you both going to do?” and then walk away.

When rivalry becomes bullying

As children get older, sometimes what may have started off as an attempt to get the parent’s attention has turned into something more. One sibling has begun to enjoy the “rise” she gets out of the other. Instead of wanting to get the parent’s attention, now the child enjoys the emotional drama that the sibling shows when verbally triggered or egged on in other ways. When this sort of behavior occurs, it can become more serious and, if frequent and unchecked, it is no different than bullying in any other environment.

Most children wouldn’t want to think of themselves as bullies or be labeled as such, but somehow bullying behavior at home isn’t thought of in the same way. Parents have a responsibility to intervene differently when they start to see behaviors that are targeted, affect self-esteem, are power/dominance driven (regardless of which child is older), and persistent. Ignoring these sorts of exchanges can lead to an aggressor-victim dyad in the family that can persist for a lifetime. If one sibling consistently taunts (especially when the verbal taunting is personal and drives the other child to feel insecure or inadequate), intervention is required. Managing both the bully and the bullied in this scenario is key. Both parties are fragile and need support. Bullies often lack self-esteem, are anxious or depressed, or are looking to get attention in unhealthy ways. Getting them help is essential. The child who is being bullied needs strategies to disengage, as well as support to feel secure and safe at home. This last bit can be challenging since the child was the victim of bullying in the place that should feel the safest.

Many parents downplay sibling bullying. “Kids will be kids.” “All kids fight.”
You have to develop a thick skin.” “Siblings will always be meanest to each other.” All of these are examples of things parents say to themselves. And the occasional argument between siblings is normal. But when these interactions become taunting, physically targeted, humiliating, or dehumanizing, it is not normal anymore and intervention is necessary.

The relationships within our family are the best practice we have for relationships in the rest of our life. How we learn to talk to each other and treat each other is the key to our success in friendships, work relationships, love affairs, and as parents later. Teaching your child how to solve his or hew own problems through proper attention to the stuff that matters, ignoring the stuff that doesn’t, creating a culture of positivity in your home, and intervening early if any sign of bullying rears its ugly head is the key to raising kids who will be friends for a lifetime.

– Dr. Molly O’Shea, a board-certified Beaumont pediatrician, offers traditional medicine in non-traditional ways including newborn home visits and emailing parents directly. She has practiced pediatrics for nearly 30 years and was the “Ask the Pediatrician” columnist for the Detroit News for many years. A journal editor for the American Academy of Pediatrics, she also organized the AAP’s national continuing education programming for pediatricians. Dr. Molly loves cooking, traveling and spending time with her family.