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5 Tips to Raising Caring and Moral Children

5 Tips to Raising Caring and Moral Children

Any good parent wants their children to grow up to be caring individuals who make the world a better place. As with most accomplishments in life, this is easier said than done. However, raising a morally just child is perhaps the most important and rewarding experience a parent can have, and the effort required in order to do so is absolutely worth it. Parents who want to raise caring, moral children should:

1. Spend time with them

This should be a no-brainer, but today’s busy world makes it incredibly difficult to find the time to just be with our children. Because these moments are so scarce, it’s important to make the most out of every second you have with your child. Learn about their interests, their fears, their hopes and dreams. The Harvard Graduate School of Education suggests parents “plan regular, emotionally intimate time with (their) children.” In other words, don’t just assume that being around your child is the same as spending time with them. Take time to understand what motivates them, and monitor how they treat their friends and peers. Use every second you have to impart the knowledge and wisdom you wish you had growing up. And do this before they’re teenagers and don’t want anything to do with you!

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2. Be omnipresent in their lives

I always joke that, at 30 years old, my mother still knows what I’m up to at any given time. But it’s because she was incredibly involved in my life when I was a child. She kept in touch with my friends’ parents and my teachers, and would always volunteer to chaperone at school functions. This isn’t to say she was overbearing, but she definitely always knew what I was up to. Because of this, I grew up being a naturally moral being who has respect for the world around him. As parents, it’s important to make sure your child knows you’re never too far away, and you’re always available when needed.

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3. Teach them how to handle emotions

Everyone goes through tough times in their lives. It’s how they handle these situations that determines the kind of person they are. Children experience a variety of emotions that they may or may not understand. Harvard suggests we “pay close attention to whether you are practicing honesty, fairness, and caring yourself and modeling skills like solving conflicts peacefully and managing anger and other difficult emotions effectively.” Instead of just letting your kids “deal with” whatever situation they find themselves in, help them identify their negative emotions, reach the foundation of their problems, and work through them in a productive way. Once they recognize their ability to cope with negative situations, they’ll be more likely to face them head on in the future.

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4. Make gratitude routine

Being grateful goes beyond saying “please” and “thank you,” and shouldn’t be done superficially. It’s customary to leave a tip at a restaurant, but it’s possible to show true gratitude by seeking out the manager and pointing out just how great a job your server did throughout your meal (in addition to a tip, of course!). Those at Harvard believe we should “encourage children to express appreciation for family members, teachers, or others who contribute to their lives.” Parents should model gratitude and helpfulness every chance they get, whether it’s by donating to a shelter, or buying a coffee for a homeless man outside a convenience store. Your children will live by the example you lead, so it’s important to set a good one for them.

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5. Practice and reinforce empathy

Along with gratitude, it’s also important to teach your children to be empathetic. This goes beyond simply “feeling bad” for someone, but actually putting yourself in their shoes. Everyone knows the Golden Rule, but the Platinum Rule is much more important: Treat others as they want to be treated. Teach your children not to just assume how someone wants to be treated, but show them how to actually see from various perspectives. Teach them not to judge others as if they know where they’ve come from, but rather help them understand that not everyone comes from the same walk of life, and everyone has had their own unique experiences in this world. By doing this, your children will grow up treating every person they meet as they should be treated: a unique individual.

Featured photo credit: Catie and Her Parents / VSPYCC via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Published on May 21, 2021

Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

Bedtimes for kids might be one of the most challenging parts of the day. Parents are tired and ready to relax, while kids of all ages seem to find extra energy and want nothing to do with sleep. One more story, one more trip to the bathroom, and one more question quickly make for a late-night, and no one gets the rest they need.

If this happens often, you might start wondering if you and your child are getting the proper amount of sleep and how to make bedtime easier. Why is it so crucial for your child to get enough sleep? What does sleep deprivation look like? How do you improve bedtimes for kids?

How Sleep Impacts Your Child’s Health

Whether young or old, sleep is a vital part of staying healthy. There are many benefits to getting the right amount of sleep while not getting enough can have negative consequences. How does it impact your child?[1]

  • Brain Function – Sleep is linked to certain brain functions such as concentration, productivity, and cognition. These all impact a child’s behavior and academic success.
  • Weight – Sleep patterns affect the hormones responsible for appetite. A lack of sleep interferes with the ability to regulate food intake, making overeating more likely.
  • Physical Performance – Sleep impacts a person’s physical abilities. Proper rest means better performance, concentration, energy, mental clarity, and faster speed.
  • Physical Health – There are many ways sleep promotes health. Sleep heals the body but also helps prevent disease and health issues. Getting proper rest will regulate blood pressure, help prevent heart disease, reduce chances of sleep apnea, reduce inflammation, boost immune system, and lower risk of weight gain.
  • Improve Mental Health – A lack of sleep has a negative impact on mood and social and emotional intelligence. A child not getting proper sleep is more likely to experience depression, lack empathy and be unaware of other people’s emotions and reactions.

Sleep, Risky Behavior, and Teens

Studies found that teens were more likely to engage in risky behavior when they are sleep-deprived. They’ll have problems regulating their mood, making them more short-tempered, aggressive, and impulsive. Their inability to self-regulate can even look like the symptoms of ADHD.[2]

Sleep deprivation becomes hazardous when teens are driving. The impulsiveness and risk-taking, along with exhaustion, put them at a higher risk for accidents. In fact, driving tired is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08.[3]

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You can see why sleep is so essential to everyone’s health, but how much is needed? What do pediatricians recommend? Is it the same for all ages?

Sleep Recommendations From Pediatricians

Sleep requirements vary by age. It won’t be the same for every individual. Some people find that they need more sleep than others.

Here is a basic guideline of what pediatricians now recommend:[4]

  • Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
  • Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
  • Age 13-18 years: 8-10 hours

Increase the amount of sleep if your child isn’t thriving on the recommended amount.

Signs Your Child Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep

There are ways to tell if your child is getting adequate sleep beyond the usual grumpiness. Here are specific things to watch out for:[5]

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  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Difficulty waking up on time
  • Hyperactivity
  • Depression
  • Inattention
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Impulse control

As you can see, prolonged lack of sleep can cause relational problems and hinder your child’s ability to do well in school. What can you do if you realize your child is not getting enough sleep? How can you improve bedtimes for your kids?

How to Set Up a Bedtime Routine

Sleep hygiene or a bedtime schedule will help your child fall asleep faster. It will also improve the quality of sleep. You will need to adjust to what works for your family, but the following suggestions can help everyone have a more pleasant bedtime.

For Babies

Most people think they have to let their baby “cry it out” at bedtime. However, there are ways you can teach a baby to sleep without tears, making the experience more pleasant for everyone. In fact, studies show the faded bedtime method—or gentle sleep training—is just as effective as leaving a baby to cry but without the stress.[6] What is gentle sleep training?

Gentle Sleep Training

This method eases babies and young children into falling asleep on their own. There are two ways to do this:

1. Positive Routines With Faded Bedtime

Kids learn to fall asleep easily by using comforting, quiet, and predictable rituals, up to twenty minutes long. The key is to choose a bedtime that’s not too early. A child that isn’t tired will only fight sleep.

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Start the process when your baby or child is sleepy, even if it’s later than you’d prefer. You’ll notice a pattern and quickly discover the time they naturally start winding down. Make this their bedtime for now. They will learn to associate sleep with the routine, and you’ll be able to start fifteen to twenty minutes earlier to slowly adjust their schedule.

2. Sleep With Parental Presence

With this method, you lie down with your baby or child until they fall asleep. Over time, you pay less attention to your child, gradually sitting up, then sitting in a chair. Eventually, your child will be able to sleep without you. A study showed that using this method helped infants sleep longer and wake up less.[7]

Both of these ways take time but are effective and less traumatic than leaving an infant or young child to cry.

More Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better

You want to build a routine, but how? What are practical things you can do to help your baby get ready for bed?

Here are tips for a soothing and calm bedtime:[8]

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  • Help set their “internal clock” by exposing them to natural daylight, daytime activities, and the calmness of evening.
  • Block blue light exposure.
  • Make the hour up to bedtime calm, peaceful, and pleasant.
  • Learn how to keep stress minimal for you and your baby.
  • Don’t force sleep. It will increase anxiety and make rest more difficult.
  • Avoid late afternoon naps
  • Prolong the time between nap and bedtime.
  • Feed baby right before bed.
  • Avoid intervening too soon if the baby starts to wake up. Give your child a chance to fall back asleep without your help.

For Elementary-Aged Children

It’s easier to follow a routine if you start young, but it’s never too late to begin. The good news is it only takes a few nights to notice an improvement in your child’s sleep.

These ideas will help you set up a schedule that will encourage your child to fall asleep easier, faster, and for a more extended period.[9]

  • Offer them a nutritious snack.
  • Bathe them.
  • Brush their teeth and go to the bathroom.
  • Read them a story.
  • Sing them a song.
  • Cuddle or massage them.
  • Talk about the day.

For best results, choose a handful of activities and do them in the same order each night. Dim the lights and keep activity minimal to help everyone slow down.

For Teens

They might fight the idea of getting more sleep, but teens will benefit from a routine, too. They’re usually capable of overseeing their bedtime, but a little structure and oversight can help them get the sleep they need. By implementing the following tips, your teen can get better rest.[10]

  • Avoid caffeine in the evening.
  • Limit screen time.
  • Avoid late-night binging.
  • Exercise, ideally sixty minutes a day.
  • Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
  • Talk through problems.

Quality Sleep for a Healthy Life

Bedtimes for kids can be an enjoyable part of the day with proper sleep hygiene in place. Not only can it be quality time with your child, but it can also set them on the road to good health and high performance. By implementing these tips, you can ensure proper rest for the whole family and better bedtimes for kids.

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Featured photo credit: Igordoon Primus via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medical News Today: Why Sleep Is Essential For Health
[2] Child Mind Institute: Teens And Sleep: The Cost Of Sleep Deprivation
[3] Depart of Health: Drowsy Driving Prevention, Teens Ages 16 To 19
[4] AAP publications: AAP Endorses New Recommendations On Sleep Times
[5] Journal of Excellence in Nursing Leadership: Sleep Deprivation In Children A Growing Public Health Concern
[6] Parenting Science: Gentle Infant Sleep Training
[7] BetterHealth: Solutions to sleep concerns (11) – babies 6 to 12 months
[8] Parenting Science: 15 Evidence-Based Baby Sleep Tips
[9] Sleep Foundation: Bedtime Routines For Children
[10] NHS: Sleep Tips For Teenagers

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