Saturday, August 30, 2014

Parenting: Sleep

Here is a first day of school photo:

Here is the same young man at the end of the day:

What do you read on his face? Grumpiness, sadness, worry?

I see exhaustion.

School taxes the brain – especially at the beginning of the school year. Children need to pay constant attention, to learn new rules and to learn new schedules. In addition, they must be reading the faces of those around them to pick up on important social cues. This doesn’t even touch on the things they have to stop themselves from doing; behaviors like running in the halls, talking loudly, interrupting.
You child expends all of this energy before math and reading classes make even more demands.

Think back to your first week of work and how everything being new and unfamiliar sapped your energy. Now remember that your child’s boss is throwing new objectives at her every day.

Your child’s brain needs energy and one important source of energy is sleep. For school age children the CDC recommends 10 hours of sleep a day. They need this sleep to refuel for the next day and to process learning. A child needing sleep not only has impaired learning, but also might need to relearn information taught the day before. 

Sleep is tricky. The signs that your child is not getting enough sleep might be confusing. Research shows that inefficient sleep can cause behavior problems such as aggression and hyperactivity, academic difficulties, weight gain, and also excessive talking and difficulty falling asleep. Some of these symptoms suggest too much energy but they are the result of the body trying to stay awake.

Parents find they must make sacrifices for their children. Early bedtimes and sleep routines take away from our own evening time. Our schedules are changed and we may have less time to spend with our children. But, when we consider the consequences of lack of sleep, the need for such sacrifices become apparent.

Don't let it come to this:

  Brain resources and ice cream are terrible things to waste.

Here are some suggestions to help your child get the 10 hours of sleep that will keep him healthy, happy, and learning:

1.      Bedtime before 9:00pm
2.      No media for 30 minutes before desired sleep time
3.      Restrict caffeine consumption to early in the day
4.      Be sure that your child has gotten enough exercise, but not right before bedtime
5.      Set a routine and follow it consistently
6.      End the day with prayer 

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
(Psalm 4:8, ESV)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Share Your Faith: Hope

Puppies have so much to learn in a short amount of time. They grow up in a few months instead of over many years like humans.

The owner of this puppy is teaching him how to trust. At first, the puppy is confused by what the owner wants him to do. It looks as if his master is asking him to jump and fall from a high place. Only the master knows that he plans to catch his puppy. 

Did you notice how the puppy jumped without hesitation the second time? By that point he knew his master would catch him. He knew he would be safe.

How do you use the word “hope?” Perhaps you use it this way:

“I hope we are having pizza for supper!”

“I hope I get an A on my spelling test!”

“I hope Grandma and Grandpa are coming to visit!”

This kind of hope means you do not know for sure, but you want to believe it is true. It is a kind of hope where you cross your fingers and then, wait and see.

This is not the kind of hope the Bible talks about.

We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5: 2b ESV)

God is our Master and we know for sure that He loves us and wants what is best for us. We know for sure that Jesus died and rose again to take away our sins. We know for sure that we are God’s children through our Baptism and heaven awaits us when we die.

We do not have to cross our fingers to hope. We know this hope is true.

This kind of hope helps to make us brave when God asks us to do scary things like tell a friend about Jesus. We know that we are loved. We know that we are safe. We know that God works in us.

We have hope.

How can God help you be brave this week?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Parenting: Separation

Whether for a few hours while mom and dad remind themselves about the phenomena called “date night,” or on a daily basis for school and childcare, children can suffer from separation anxiety.

Their tears can tug at your heart.

First of all, reassure yourself that children are not hurt, physically or emotionally from momentary crying. Crying is an early coping mechanism that helps the very young to express emotion and eventually soothe themselves. As children grow older we want to help them to develop other ways to cope with being sad, tired, or afraid. This is teaching your child emotional self-regulation—a wonderful life skill.

It is quite normal for infants to cry at times of separation. An infant is showing that she is aware of what is happening and is a bit worried about the outcome. Infants rarely cry for very long after the transition has taken place. Stay calm, give a kiss, and hand over your sweet one to the caregiver. Over time, baby learns the routine and learns to stay calm.
For older children crying during transitions, it is time to do some direct teaching regarding more appropriate coping skills. Look your child in the eye and let him know that crying is for when we are hurt, sad or in danger. Assure him that he need not feel any of these things here, because you know he is safe. Then ask him to look around the room and pick an activity that will help him to feel better. Resist the temptation to comfort your child. There is no need to give him the impression that he has reason to be afraid. Your empathy and encouragement are enough.

God designed us to be especially sensitive to the cry of a child. This is a protection mechanism for babies who depend on parental care for all of their needs. God also designed our children to grow and learn and to be able to remember these important words:

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20b, ESV)