4 Effective Alternatives To Spanking

Whether you do or do not believe in the effectiveness of spanking, you may be looking for alternatives. Here are four ideas that may help you “spare the rod” and not spoil the child.

I’ll start off by being perfectly honest, I was spanked. Not in the, “Don’t touch the iron, it’s hot” kind of way but in the “Go get my belt” kind of way. Depending on my audience, you are either horrified by that or not at all surprised. The fact is, for many of us, spankings are cultural.  Our parents were spanked, their parents were spanked, and their parents before them.  In most instances, it didn’t stem from a lack of love. In fact, quite the opposite. As parents of color, we are fiercely protective of our children. Often that protectiveness manifests itself in the fear of the life and death consequences of poor behavior. Disrespecting a police officer may get you killed. We want to be sure our children learn disrespect and poor behavior will not be tolerated.

As parents in a new generation, we have learned more about the long term consequences of spanking. A 2010 study in Pediatrics suggested that frequently spanked children (more than twice a month) are much more likely to act out aggressively.  The idea is that children learn that aggression is the best way to solve a problem.  In addition, the study found corporal punishment, i.e., spanking, is more likely to instill fear instead of understanding. Further, the study found spanking is less effective with repeated use which makes it less effective as your children grow older and, arguably, the consequences of their actions become more dire.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I was spanked infrequently and I usually felt like I understood why I was being spanked.  However, intellectually, I can understand how spanking can send a confusing message to a child about the appropriateness of aggression as a problem solver. The fact remains, however, between 70% and 90% of Americans admit to using physical force when discipling their children. Further, corporal punishment is generally legal as long as it is reasonable.   While the definition of reasonable varies from state to state it usually does not include throwing, kicking, burning, cutting and/or other actions that result in physical injury.   A mother in Ohio was recently arrested for taping her toddler to a wall with his mouth taped shut.  Her son was removed from her custody and she was charged with felony abduction.

Whether you do or do not believe in the effectiveness of spanking, you may be looking for alternatives.  Here are four ideas that may help you “spare the rod” and not spoil the child:

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1. Quiet Time

I almost called this one “time-out” but I was afraid you would stop reading.  Recently, I was touring a daycare and asked about their discipline policies.  The director said, “We don’t do time-outs or anything. We just give the children time to reflect.” For close to seven years, through high school and some of college, I worked as an Assistant Teacher/Counselor in a daycare center where we also refused to say time-out. We called it”time under the tree.”  There was a pillar in the classroom decorated like a tree with a chair beneath it. A child could sit there quietly or read a book following poor behavior.  Insert “eye-roll” emoji here. It was all the same thing.

To me, unless your locking your kids in an attic or engaging in similar questionable practices, time-out is not a dirty word. In fact, I think they should be used liberally for parents and children alike.  In our house, we call it “quiet time in your room” and in my best friend’s house, they call it “alone time.” Whatever you call it, sometimes when emotions run high, we need time to take a breath.  I find them most useful during times of conflict between older siblings or in younger children following/during a tantrum or meltdown. Conflicts, tantrums or meltdowns are usually periods of high emotion and it benefits all parties to have time to retreat.  For kids, it allows them time to gather themselves emotionally.  It also removes them from situations where they are acting inappropriately, i.e., hitting on the playground or screaming in a restaurant.  This provides direct consequences for their actions. For example, if you don’t stop hitting other children, you will no longer be allowed to play with other children or if you don’t control your tantrum, no one will want to be around you. For adults, it gives us time to cool down and plan. It prevents those moments where you say and do things you may regret because you acted in anger or frustration.

2. Talk it Out

I found poor behavior can sometimes stem from a lack of communication. Whether it is reactive behavior like hitting or dishonest behavior like lying, children act out when they don’t feel heard or understood. Now, you may be thinking “they don’t need to be heard, they need to listen.” I hear you. However, children are just adults in training.  They may not run things but they deserve your respect.  Giving them respect builds their self worth.

One of my sons is extremely emotional.  He has huge reactions to circumstances where he feels like he has been wronged. After the requisite cool down time (see above), I sit down with him to discuss his behavior. I start by asking him his version of events, e.g., what happened? I then ask him to explain his response to the situation, e.g., why did you do what you did? Thereafter, I ask him to tell me how he could have reacted differently to change the outcome.  During good conversations, he comes to his own conclusions about his behavior and how he will do differently in the future. When he doesn’t, I guide him.

When he was a preschooler and unable to think as critically, I made it simpler. We would rate the issue to have him assess the appropriateness of his response. For example, if his brother knocked down his block tower and he had a meltdown and hit his brother, I would say,  “That is a size 3 problem and you had a size 8 reaction. What would be a size 3 reaction?”  In all cases, no matter the age, it is important to lay clear your expectations for your child’s behavior in your home and in the world.

3. Take Things Away

My son bit his brother last summer. They were fighting and he bit him… hard.  So hard, in fact, his brother had to take a preventative course of antibiotics.  Yeah. My husband and I were livid.  We tried every consequence in the book… and I mean everythang.  However, it wasn’t until we took away his Nintendo 3DX for the summer that he really “felt it.”

Revoking privileges seems like a no-brainer but many parents have trouble with this one. I think this stems from a lack of consistency. After all, let’s be honest, sometimes taking away an electronic device, television privileges or outside play hurts us more than it hurts them. After all, now we have to find other ways to engage them.  However, it is incredibly impactful.  Be clear and consistent with your consequences. If you are going to take away the X-Box for seven days, don’t make it five or six, stick to seven days.  Not only does it provide real consequences for your child’s actions, it can also provide a lesson in gratitude. After all, you work hard for the things they have. They should work hard to show they deserve them.

4. Set a Good Example

James Baldwin once said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” If you are lying, stealing, cursing and cheating, it is very difficult to teach your children not to do the same. My friend’s father used to say, “Do as I say not as a I do.” Even as a kid, I took issue with this advice. First, he was showing his children he was unwilling to live up to the examples he set for them. Second, he was giving them unrealistic expectations of adulthood. Even in adulthood, there are expectations and consequences. While it is important not to place yourself on an unreachable pedestal, it is equally important to show your children you are trying.  By doing your best, you make their best possible.

What do you think, family? What has worked for you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

Finding Inspiration for Our Children in Trump’s America

While distraction would be easy in trying times, I think it is crucial to teach our children to lean in. You may not be raising the next Maya Angelou but it’s still important to teach our children to think and learn outside of their perspectives and process the world in terms of solutions, not just problems. Here are a few tips to get your children thinking creatively.

Donald Trump was elected President of the United States the day after my third son was born. I have to admit, my husband and I were happy to be in our little bubble. In some ways, it seemed like the whole world disintegrated into mass hysteria and it would have been easy to join in except… we had this perfect little bundle in front of us with head full of hair and perfect peachy lips.  While to so many the future seemed bleak, for us, the future seemed blindly bright.

Unfortunately, reality caught up with us. When we got home, our sons had questions. They had trouble processing the outcome of the election. We live in a fairly liberal community. To them, Trump’s election meant the world was about to become a really scary place. We wanted to maintain their optimism for the world they are growing in while at the same time keeping them firmly rooted in reality.  The fact is, historically, this country has overcome greater division and our people have survived greater turmoil.  Not only have we survived, we have thrived.  For instance, the Harlem Renaissance was birthed in the early years of the Great Migration when millions of our people (including my grandparents ) were fleeing the Jim Crow south for a better way of life. The movement included Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington.  The Black Arts Movement grew in response to the Black Power Movement in the Civil Rights era following the assassinations of notable black leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and Fred Hampton. Without it, we would have never known the work of Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Nina Simone and Maya Angelou.  In response to the crack cocaine epidemic in the eighties and draconian drug laws that fueled mass incarceration, we birthed Hip Hop. While there is certainly a great deal to fear, the beauty in our resilience is something I am looking forward to.

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While distraction would be easy in trying times, I think it is crucial to teach our children to lean in. You may not be raising the next Maya Angelou but it’s still important to teach our children to think and learn outside of their perspectives and process the world in terms of solutions, not just problems.  Here are a few tips to get your children thinking creatively.

1. Travel

Traveling is life changing.  It shifts perspectives on life and introduces you to people and places that force you out of your comfort zone. While opportunities for international travel may not always be financially feasible, traveling can be accomplished just by leaving your home. Which, lets face it, as parents is sometimes an accomplishment all its own.  Visit local museums, cultural festivals and events. Take your children to see live music and plays. Take road trips around your state.  Give your children opportunities to diversify their perspective through experiences.

2. Walks and Hiking

I love a good walk or bike ride through the park. It wasn’t until a few complications from pregnancy grounded me that I realized how therapeutic it was. I missed the silence, the feeling of the wind on my face, and the rush of energy.  When possible, I loved sharing that experience with my kids. After my brother passed away unexpectedly in 2009, I was seeing a therapist who used to encourage me to take time to be silent. When I informed her that “silence” was an impossibility as a mom of then-two kids, she said, they need to learn to be silent too.  She was right. In an age of instant gratification and feedback, it’s hard to quiet the world around you to process your own thoughts and feelings. Kicking it old school and taking a long walk or hike gives you an opportunity to be comfortable in the silence of your own thoughts.  You learn to exercise your ability to think critically and empathetically and grow as a human being.

3. Writing and Art Prompts

My kids are very schedule oriented. They love to know what’s coming. If they don’t, mayhem ensues. On cold or rainy days when we can’t explore the great outdoors, we have a great deal of “art” time where we direct them to piles of paper and art supplies and encourage them to create. While during more frustrating moments, the directions are usually “Go write something,” when we have our stuff together, we create writing and art prompts to drive their creativity. Prompts can include anything from story starters to discussion topics.  Art prompts can include giving them an object to draw or directing them to depict a memorable experience in their life. While you can consult the Googles and find tons of ideas, you can also create your own. Writing and art create wonderful opportunities for discussion and meditation.

4. Reading

James Baldwin wrote, “[y]ou think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” Reading connects us. You may never meet a 10 year old homeschooled kid from New York City living with a facial deformity but then you read R.J. Palacio’s “Wonder” and you know him. Reading introduces your children to worlds beyond their own which is an important part of building empathy.

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About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

I am loved! Positive Affirmations For Our Children

By affirming all that is good in our children, we teach them to combat the inevitable negativity they will face on their path to adulthood. In so doing, we can instill in our children an unwavering confidence and belief that they can not only guard their own light but spread that same beautiful light throughout the world.

I remember the moments after my first son was born like it was yesterday.  It was shortly after six in the morning, and I had spent the vast majority of the previous twenty-four hours in an exhausting labor.  Like so many moms I know, I ended up having an emergency cesarean section.  The decision came swiftly and before I knew it, I was laying in a cold and bright operating room with the lower half of my body shielded by a blue curtain. As the doctors worked, I looked up at my husband, my hand woven with his, feeling a mixture of excitement and fear. It took eighteen minutes to hear that sweet sound but when I did my whole world changed. It was my sons cries. A whimper and then a steady whine. They brought him to me swaddled, his full pink lips pressed firmly together and his eyes open wide. The love I felt was instant, immeasurable and all encompassing.  Almost a decade later, I am a mother of three beautiful sons. Each entering the world with just as much of a profound impact on my life.  It has been a joy to witness them as they receive this world, arms and eyes open wide, dwelling in radiant light.  Anyone who has spent time around children knows the light I am talking about.  A young child can embody all that is beautiful about the human experience. Children greet each day with excitement.  They believe in the good in those around them.  They love without condition, and they see endless possibilities for their lives.

As we know, the path to adulthood can be trying.  Pain, grief, disappointment and heartache are inevitable facts of the human experience.  Even the brightest light can dim in the face of negativity.  Our children will inevitably question their worth, beauty and value.  In a perfect world, we would be there for every threat to their humanity.  However, as our children grow into complete human beings, they will venture boldly into this world without us, having experiences we could never predict.  As adults who love them, it is our duty to release them into the world with the ability to protect their own lights.  By affirming all that is good in them, we teach them to combat the inevitable negativity they will face on their path to adulthood.  In so doing, we can instill in our children an unwavering confidence and belief that they can not only guard their own light but spread that same beautiful light throughout the world.

I wrote my latest book I am loved! Positive Affirmations For Our Children to protect and spread that beautiful light. It is available for pre-order now on Kindle and will be available in paperback on February 14, 2017.  I hope you love sharing these beautiful affirmations with your children as much as I do.

I am loved! Positive Affirmations For Our Children will be available February 14, 2017. Pre-order it NOW HERE.

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About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

Something’s Not Right: My Experience with Postpartum Preeclampsia

African American women are three times more likely to die from preeclampsia. I had chronic hypertension, which is a risk factor, but it was well-controlled and monitored so I had no reason to believe this disease would impact me.

I’ve never had an easy delivery. That’s probably why the first thing I said to my husband when he greeted me horizontally in the operating room just prior to my second son’s c-section was, “Never again.” I had just spent the better part of twenty minutes hunched in my obstetrician’s arms as an anesthesiologist jabbed me with a really, really big needle in my spine.  He had trouble finding my epidural space. The result of which was a two-week long spinal headache.  However, six years later, one day before the 2016 Election, I found myself once again laying in the same position preparing for the birth of our third son.  Don’t get me wrong. This little guy was planned. He was wanted.  However, that didn’t stop the anxiety from practically eating me alive as I prepared for his birth.  I was prepared.  That is, I knew what to expect.  However, I also knew all the things that could go wrong.

This was my third c-section.  I had considered VBAC. However, during monitoring my son’s heart rate dropped so I would have had to be induced at 37 weeks. Since labor via induction can be harder on a previously scarred uterus, I chose a third c-section as the safest option for baby and me.  Surgery went well.  I had scar tissue that complicated things but my son was perfect.  He was 7 lbs 10 ounces, 19 inches and screaming his head off.  10 fingers. 10 toes. A head full of hair and placed right in my arms.  The days following my c-section were brutal but nothing out of the ordinary. As the remaining effects of the epidural wore off, the pain returned with gusto but I was on three different pain medications so it was manageable. We stayed in the hospital four days and were released with a clean bill of health. I had no swelling, my incision was healing already, and all of my vitals, including my blood pressure, were great.

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The first warning sign came the day I got home.  It was a Thursday.  As I was parked in our recliner, surrounded by members of our immediate family, I noticed the beginnings of extreme swelling in my legs and feet.  By the following day, my feet had blown up so big, I couldn’t fit any of my shoes or socks. My feet had even gotten too wide for my husband’s socks (he wears a size 15 shoe).  Even more concerning, when I pressed into my feet with my fingers, they left deep imprints (I later learned this was pitting edema).  The swelling was so bad I could feel my skin stretching.  I called my doctor and she told me it was probably normal. However, I would be further evaluated at my postnatal check up the following week.

My second warning sign happened a few days later. I developed a horrible headache. Even with the pain medications, I couldn’t find relief. As a migraine sufferer, I assumed it could be a migraine.  With a new baby in the house and not much sleep, a headache seemed natural and like nothing to worry about.  Plus, it was a Saturday and my appointment was on Tuesday.  I figured any concerns could wait a few days.

When I finally made it in to the doctor’s office, I was surprised to find my pressure was elevated.  It was reading 160/92 which was a sharp contrast to the perfect readings I had gotten all throughout my pregnancy (find out more about normal blood pressure readings here).  My doctor assumed my pressure was elevated due to the excess fluid and put me on a higher dose of labetalol, a pressure medication to help lower my readings. I was already on a small dose to regulate my chronic hypertension before pregnancy.  She also tasked me with monitoring my pressure at home.  Luckily, I owned my own cuff so I was able to record my readings at home.  I had heard of preeclampsia (a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system) but it was rare (though possible) postpartum.  I asked my doctor about it anyway and she tested my blood and urine just in case.  All the tests came back negative.

Two days later, I woke up with an excruciating headache.  I took a pressure reading and it read 174/112.  My husband had just run out to the grocery store, and I called him and told him we needed to go to the hospital.  Everything in my body was telling me something was wrong and the reading confirmed it.  I called my doctor and they told me to go straight to labor and delivery.

When we arrived at the hospital, almost a week to the day we had been released my pressure was 186/121.  I was scared, my head was pounding, and I could barely see straight.  The doctor’s immediately gave me IV blood pressure medication and put me on Magnesium to avoid a seizure or a stroke.  Although the emergency meds worked, I spent almost another week in the hospital trying to find the right medication combination to safely release me from the hospital.  I maxed out on two medications before finding the right combination, and was given IV rescue medications twice.  At one point, my pressure was being checked every fifteen minutes.  It was rough but I survived.  In the end, I was diagnosed with atypical postpartum preeclampsia, a rare and life-threatening condition if left untreated.  My condition was atypical because I never showed signs in my blood or urine. I also developed it almost two weeks after giving birth.  Most women develop symptoms during pregnancy or within 48 hours of giving birth.

I didn’t want something to be wrong. I know that sounds silly but after giving birth, all I wanted to do was live and breathe my new son.  Even now, just writing about it fills me with anxiety.  When I started swelling, something deep inside of me told me something was wrong.  However, I was almost too afraid to know because I didn’t want to be rehospitalized and ripped away from my family.  Nonetheless, I knew letting the fear of knowing paralyze me wouldn’t change anything.  The sooner I acted, the more likely I would be able to get control of what was making me sick.  Ultimately, even though I was hospitalized for another week, my husband and newborn were allowed to stay with me so I didn’t lose any days nursing him and bonding with him.  Most importantly, however, I am ALIVE.  I feel so thankful I listened to my body and had the support of my family and doctors who recognized something was wrong and acted quickly. I will likely be on a large amount of medication for the next month or so but my awesome team of doctors assured me I will be fine.

The fact is African-American women are three times more likely to die from preeclampsia. I had chronic hypertension, which is a risk factor, but it was well-controlled and monitored so I had no reason to believe this disease would impact me.  It would have been easy to ignore my symptoms as sleep deprivation or just another part of postpartum recovery.  However, if I had, I may not have lived to tell my story.  Often women in our community are celebrated for our strength and independence.  Our strength is a source of pride.  Seeking help can make you feel vulnerable and weak.  However, as a survivor, I know recognizing my vulnerability saved my life.  No matter how strong we believe we are, recovering from birth takes time.  As new moms, our bodies have spent close to a year building a life.  If I could lend any advice it would be to listen to your body. Lean on your support system and allow yourself to heal.  Be your own advocate. Be vigilant.  Ask questions and remember, no symptom is too small or question too silly.  If any healthcare professional makes you feel like it is, find someone else. Remember, the most important thing is for you to survive to raise that tiny human.  He/she is depending on you to make it through.

For more information on Preeclampsia, visit preeclampsia.org.

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About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

 

 

Reducing SIDS: What You Need to Know

On October 24, 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics released updated sleep recommendations for a safe infant sleep environment. Here is what you need to know.

Our babies are twice as likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) than babies in other communities. While many factors, including access to newborn education, adequate newborn furniture and bedding, and other socio-economic concerns, could be the blame, it is clear we must take affirmative steps to address this issue.

On October 24, 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics released updated sleep recommendations for a safe infant sleep environment.  Here is what you need to know:

1. Put your baby on his/her back to sleep.

To reduce the risk of SIDS, infants should be placed in a supine position (on the back) for every sleep by every caregiver until the child reaches 1 year of age. If you’re like me, I’m sure you have a Grandma or Auntie who will readily tell you that you slept on your back in 19-whatever and you turned out perfectly fine.  The thing is, now that we know better, we need to do better.

2. Use a firm sleep surface, and keep soft objects and loose bedding away from the infant’s sleep area.

According to the AAP, infants should be placed on a firm sleep surface (e.g., mattress in a safety-approved crib) covered by a fitted sheet with no other bedding or soft objects.  In addition, the crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard should conform to the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  Also, make sure that the product has not been recalled.  If cost is an issue, many local organizations provide low-cost or free cribs or play yards for families with financial constraints.  One organization, Cribs for Kids, has partners all over the United States.  Just pop in your zip code!

As mentioned, when dressing your crib, stick to a fitted sheet. Soft objects such as pillows and pillow-like toys, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, bumper pads and loose bedding, such as blankets and nonfitted sheets, can obstruct an infant’s nose and mouth. Believe it or not, swaddling does not reduce the risk of SIDS. There is a high risk of death if a swaddled infant is placed in or rolls to the prone (tummy down) position. According to the AAP, “infant sleep clothing, such as wearable blankets, [are] preferable to blankets and other coverings to keep the infant warm while reducing the chance of head covering or entrapment that could result from blanket use.”

 3. Avoid overheating.

The AAP provides, “infants should be dressed appropriately for the environment, with no greater than 1 layer more than an adult would wear to be comfortable in that environment.”  Signs of overheating include sweating or the infant’s chest feeling hot to touch.

4. Share a room, but not a bed.

The AAP recommends that infants sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed, but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the first year of life.  The AAP stated, “there is evidence that sleeping in the parents’ room but on a separate surface decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.” The safest place for an infant to sleep is on a separate sleep surface designed for infants close to the parents’ bed.  With my boys, I was a big fan of the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper.  They have a mini version if you are tight on space. I found this sleeper particularly useful while nursing and recovering from my c-sections.

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5. Consider offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.

The AAP notes that studies have reported a protective effect of pacifiers on the incidence of SIDS.  The protective effect of the pacifier is observed even if the pacifier falls out of the infant’s mouth. Go figure!

6. Give your baby supervised, awake tummy time.

According to the AAP, “supervised, awake tummy time is recommended to facilitate development and to minimize development of positional plagiocephaly” (that flat spot on your baby’s head).  You can find really cute tummy time mats/toys on Amazon and at Toys R Us that make tummy time far less burdensome on your tiny humans.

7. Breastfeeding is recommended to reduce SIDS.

According to the AAP, breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS. The AAP recommends moms breastfeed exclusively or feed with expressed milk for at least 6 months.

8. Avoid smoke exposure, alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.

There is an increased risk of SIDS with prenatal and postnatal exposure to smoking, alcohol or illicit drug use.

9. Get regular prenatal care.

There is a lower risk of SIDS for infants whose mothers obtain regular prenatal care.

 

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About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

20 Affirmations for Expectant Mothers

There are so many beautiful things about pregnancy. Your child will never be closer to you and that fact can bring you peace. However, it’s easy to get lost in worry and “what ifs” if you allow yourself to give in to all that can go wrong. Here are twenty affirmations to repeat if you find yourself overwhelmed with doubt.

There are so many beautiful things about pregnancy. Your child will never be closer to you and that fact can bring you peace. However, it’s easy to get lost in worry and “what ifs” if you allow yourself to give in to all that can go wrong. Here are twenty affirmations to repeat if you find yourself overwhelmed with doubt.

Dads, feel free to say them with your partners.

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  1. I am beautiful

  2. I am safe.

  3. I am protected.

  4. I am strong.

  5. I am worthy.

  6. I am intuitive.

  7. I am able.

  8. I am growing.

  9. I am confident.

  10. I am vulnerable.

  11. I am grateful.

  12. I am happy.

  13. I am healthy.

  14. I am powerful.

  15. I am peaceful.

  16. I am rested.

  17. I am responsible.

  18. I am hydrated.

  19. I am capable of love.

  20. I am loved.

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    About The Author

    Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

Cracking the Introverted Child: Getting Your Tween to Open Up

As a tween life can run the gamut of emotions. Our children often have the additional burden of processing other people’s microaggressions and stereotypes that aren’t always easy for a young mind to understand. It is important to me that my son knows I am available to listen whenever he needs me. Here are some tricks I have learned to get my son to open up.

Even when raised in the same family, children can be vastly different. They are unique and their little personalities take shape well before we have the chance to mold them.  Soon after my second son was born, I remember being astounded at how differently he and his brother would respond to the same situation.  As they grew older and their personalities took shape even more, I realized dealing them in exact same way often does not work. Altering my parenting style is often necessary, especially when getting them to open up.  For instance, while my middle son will talk the ear off most willing listeners, my eldest rarely gives more than a one word answer when asked about his day.  While being guarded isn’t always a bad thing, it is important to me that he doesn’t get bottled up.  As a tween life can run the gamut of emotions. Our children often have the additional burden of processing other people’s microaggressions and stereotypes that aren’t always easy for a young mind to understand. It is important to me that my son knows I am available to listen whenever he needs me.  Here are some tricks I have learned to get my son to open up:

1. Create a judgment-free zone.

I found some of what fuels my son’s unwillingness to open up is a fear of being judged.  He is extremely sensitive and when he speaks, is it very important to him that he feels heard and not judged for his feelings or actions. If my husband or I rush to a conclusion about something he has confided in us, he grows emotional or worse, he shuts down.

As a parent, it is instinctual to want to protect your child.  Often that means listening to them with some level of judgment. We all do it. We want to make sure they are making the right choices when they aren’t with us, and if they tell us something that we know may lead to harm, our first instinct is to get them back on the right path.  However, I have learned to be gentle in that guidance when it comes to my guarded son. I start by letting him know how much I value his honesty. I also consistently let him know he can talk to me about anything and everything and I will (try my best to) listen without anger.  Rather than lecturing him immediately, I have learned to ask him questions that will lead him to the right conclusion. Instead of saying, you shouldn’t have done that.  I ask, what consequences do you think you could face? What do you think you could have done differently? These open-ended questions not only fuel the conversation, but they give him the intellectual freedom to draw his own conclusions without feeling judged.

2. Make one-on-one time.

I always know my son wants to talk when he volunteers to go with me on an errand.  It is usually a random request to ride with me to Target or walk with me to the cluster mailbox in our cul de sac.  As a family of four (soon to be five), it isn’t always easy for him to grab alone time with me or my husband.  I learned quickly that these seemingly small requests were his way of getting the alone time he craved. Inevitably, he starts talking.

When you have more than one child, alone time is important to all children, not just your introverted child.  Each child needs your undivided attention outside the often judgmental and immature ears of siblings.  When my middle son was in preschool, we discovered a local cafe that had a “cookie of the day.”  It was such a fun discovery for both of us because the place had little tables by the lake and plenty of space for him to run around. It became a regular ritual for us to go get a quick cookie during the time between when he was dismissed from school and when my oldest got out a few hours later. Even at four years old, it quickly turned into a time for us to talk.  Even if you can’t steal away time with your child, find small moments at home.  When my eldest was small, I would snuggle with him for a few moments in his room before he fell asleep.  Now, he has a later bedtime than his younger siblings so sometimes he spends it smashed between my husband and I on the couch giggling at a family-friendly TV show.  These moments provide him with an opportunity to open up to us about anything that may have been weighing on him throughout his day.

3. Be open about your own thoughts and feelings.

Last school year, my son had some issues with a few boys in school when they decided they didn’t want to play with him anymore.  He didn’t come right out and admit it bothered him but he mentioned the incident in passing with a small shrug.  I knew he was affected by it but he wasn’t quite comfortable being vulnerable enough to admit it.  Knowing that coaxing him would not work, I told him a story of a similar experience I had when a few girls in my elementary school treated me in a similar way.  It was surprisingly easy to dig back to that time and remember my own hurt and confusion.  He listened intently and it wasn’t long before he was echoing my feelings and asking me how I solved the problem.

Developing a relationship with your child is a two-way street. In order to gain their trust, it is often necessary to give them yours. By confiding in your child about your own insecurities and vulnerabilities, you allow them to see your humanity.  Building that foundation is crucial to breaking your introverted child out of their shell.

4. Give your child your full attention.

My sons ALWAYS know when I am distracted.  They call me on it and hold me accountable.  I work from home and have additional projects that make my schedule unconventional.  I would probably lose days on my computer if it weren’t for my children constantly reminding me to exist in reality.  Introverted children are particularly sensitive to distraction.  Opening up is not easy. When they do, it is important they have your full, undivided attention. If it’s not possible to drop everything when they need to talk, make sure you schedule a time when you can.  Don’t just say “we’ll talk later.” Give them specifics and make sure to follow through.  Scheduling a time to talk shows them that what they have to say is important to you and you will make it a priority to hear it.

What do you think, family? Share your tips and tricks for getting your child to open up in the comments below.  It takes a village!

 

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About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.