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Helping Your Child Accept Their Braces

Helping Your Child Accept Their Braces

Braces come at the most inconvenient time for most kids. Right at the onset of the most awkward phase of their preteen/teenage years. Trying to navigate who they are, pimples and 4th period’s science projects are enough without adding what a lot of kids perceive as the embarrassment and uncomfortable addition of a metal mouth.

Being aware of our kids discomfort and doing what we can to make it as painless as possible to both their confidence and their mouth is important. Here are some things I found really helpful for my daughter that I hope helps makes this a better experience for your family.

Educate

Like with most things helping our children understand the way of the world and why things need to be done a certain way can be a struggle at this age. They are so much smarter than us (at least that’s the common perception anyway) so having a professional really explain what needs to be done, why, and the long term benefits was crucial.

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Once she understood the numerous health benefits of braces, it helped her to not only understand why she needed them, but accept them as well. Not only do braces straighten and correctly space crooked teeth, but they:

  • Prevent gum disease
  • Prevent teeth from rotting and falling out
  • Correct bad bites and prevent jaw problems
  • Prevent abnormal tooth wear

Food Choices

One of the subtle complaints when we talked about getting braces was the loss of certain foods. Foods like Jerky, gum, caramels, nuts, popcorn, taffy are all off limits. Anything crunchy or chewy are bad news for braces. The crunchy foods can damage the braces, bending wires and popping brackets. The chewy foods like gum, caramel and taffy get lodged into the braces also causing bending and popping of brackets and ending up terribly stuck in the braces.

When the orthodontist explained that eating these things would probably end in prolonged treatment that gave her pause, it wasn’t until her and I sat down and made a game out of deciding what foods I would keep in the house to replace the ones she would have to stay away from. Apples were replaced with bananas, chips with string cheese, bagels with muffins, popcorn with cookies and so on. In the end the “haves” outweighed the “have nots” and she was happy, and that’s what mattered most.

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Appearance

This was the hardest for her. We have all heard of and seen in popular media the poor “geek” with braces that gets ragged on by their classmates. Being a teenager is hard enough and kids can be really brutal so giving them ammunition, like braces, is scary for most kids. There are some kids who are confident enough to own and dismiss any negative responses to their braces without a problem. I wanted to make sure for both of our emotional well beings that she was comfortable socially with them.

We sat and talked about whether the opinion of mean spirited people is important to her, whether she has any friends that have braces and if she sees them any differently and for a good laugh, looked up the celebrities who have had braces and what they looked like. It was a good way for us to connect, have a good laugh and help her to be more comfortable in her own skin after she got the braces.

Another factor that was a lot of fun for her were the colored bands. She was able to customize them to her liking making them feel a little more trendy which helped with the original self consciousness surrounding them.

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Pain

This was a big one. A lot people have an anxiety about the dentist in general. I am not sure why but my daughter has been afraid of the dentist from a very young age. So much so that in grade school when I would tell her she had a dentist appointment coming up she would immediately tear up and looked as if she had seen a ghost. It slowly got better as she got older and realized the dentist wasn’t there to intentionally cause her harm, but the potential of harm still made her squirm.

Treatment for braces does not hurt most of the time; it is just uncomfortable. After her orthodontists and I clarified the facts and let her know that it is nothing a little Tylenol won’t relieve and any discomfort only lasts a few hours you could visibly see the sigh of relief.

We scheduled her appointment at the end of the school day so that she didn’t have to go back to school with a sore mouth and she was able to spend the rest of the evening becoming accustomed to them before heading back to school to take on whatever was thrown at her with confidence and a smile.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Winter via flickr.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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