All posts by com326

Introducing News and Events!

We are pleased to announce the launch of our brand new website! This product is the result of a lot of work done by a team of web design students from Reinhardt University over the past 3 or 4 months. Visitors to our previous site were either interested in our programs or were families looking for information about the kind of help the Family Support Council provides. Our goal with this new site is to provide our visitors with an easier way to learn about what the Family Support Council does, why we do what we do, and how to get involved. We will be adding new research on a regular basis, and feature up-to-date news events several times throughout the year that will present information on current events related to the community. Volunteer opportunities will be posted as they become available. We now have a blog that will highlight life in the nonprofit sector, and our traditional forum called Ask Mr. Bartley.

Take a look at the new blog here !

We hope you find the new website has a fresh look, is easy to use and is informative. Please send us your feedback:

Thank You!

Melissa Barron, Chante Hill, Trevor Williams,  Alexa Griffin, Jose Resendiz, AJ Brueggert, Maria-Gracia Beltran, Crista Washington, Martina Shaw

April 2014

Just as you inoculate your kids against illnesses like measles and mumps, you can help “immunize” them against drug use by giving them the facts before they’re in a risky situation.  Drug abuse among teens continues to be a significant problem.  Teens, even middle schoolers, are abusing both illegal drugs (like marijuana and synthetic marijuana) and legal drugs (like Adderall, Vicodin, and alcohol).  In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths involving heroin overdoses are increasing dramatically among teens and young adults.  Also, young people are using a drink called “sizzurp” to get high.  Doctors are warning that the drink with the funny sounding name, which is made by combining soda, candy, and prescription cough syrup with codeine in it, can be deadly.     

When kids don’t feel comfortable talking to parents, they’re likely to seek answers elsewhere, and their sources may very likely be unreliable. Kids who aren’t properly informed are at greater risk of engaging in unsafe behaviors and experimenting with drugs. Parents who are educated about the effects of drug use and learn the facts can help correct any misconceptions children may have.

Make talking about drugs a part of your general health and safety conversations with your child. Parents are role models for their children so your views on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can strongly influence the views of your child.

Preschool to age 7 You’ve probably already laid the groundwork for a discussion with your young children. For instance, whenever you give a fever medication or an antibiotic to your child, you have the opportunity to discuss the benefits and the appropriate and responsible use of those drugs. This is also a time when your child is likely to be very attentive to your behavior and guidance.

Start taking advantage of “teachable moments” now. For example, if you see a character on a billboard or on TV with a cigarette, talk about smoking, nicotine addiction, and what smoking does to a person’s body. This can lead into a discussion about other drugs and how they can potentially cause harm.

Keep the tone of these discussions calm and use terms that your child can understand. Be specific about the effects of the drugs: how they make a person feel, the risk of overdose, and the other long-term damage they can cause.

Ages 8 to 12: As your kids grow older, you can begin conversations with them by asking them what they think about drugs. By asking the questions in a nonjudgmental, open-ended way, you’re more likely to get an honest response.

Kids this age usually are still willing to talk openly to their parents about touchy subjects. Establishing a dialogue now helps keep the door open as kids get older and are less inclined to share their thoughts and feelings with you.

Even if your question doesn’t immediately result in a discussion, you’ll get your kids thinking about the issue. If you show your kids that you’re willing to discuss the topic and hear what they have to say, they might be more willing to come to you for help in the future.

News, such as steroid use in professional sports and other drug related stories, can be springboards for casual conversations about current events. Use these discussions to give your kids information about the risks of drugs.

Ages 13 to 17: Kids this age are likely to know other kids who use alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs and to have friends who drive. Many are still willing to express their thoughts or concerns with parents about it.

Use these conversations not only to understand your child’s thoughts and feelings, but also to talk about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Talk about the legal issues — jail time and fines — and the possibility that they or someone else might be killed or seriously injured.

Consider establishing a written or verbal contract on the rules about going out or using the car. You can promise to pick your kids up at any time (even 2:00 AM!) no questions asked if they call you when the person responsible for driving has been drinking or using drugs.

The contract also can detail other situations: For example, if you find out that someone drank or used drugs in your car while your son or daughter was behind the wheel, you may want to suspend driving privileges for awhile. By discussing all of this with your kids from the start, you eliminate surprises and make your expectations clear.

No parent, child, or family is immune to the effects of drugs. Some of the “best” kids from the “best” families can and do end up in trouble, even when they have made an effort to avoid it and even when they have been given the proper guidance from their parents.

It’s important to lay the groundwork.  Know your child’s friends — and their parents. Be involved in your children’s lives.  Pay attention to how your kids are feeling and let them know that you’re available and willing to listen in a nonjudgmental way. Recognize when your kids are going through difficult times so that you can provide the support they need or seek additional care if it’s needed.

Role-playing can help your child develop strategies to turn down drugs if they are offered. Act out possible scenarios they may encounter. Helping them construct phrases and responses to say no prepares them to know how to respond before they are even in that situation.

A warm, open family environment — where kids are encouraged to talk about their feelings, where their achievements are praised, and where their self-esteem is bolstered — encourages kids to come forward with their questions and concerns. When censored in their own homes, kids go elsewhere to find support and answers to their most important questions.

Make talking and having conversations with your children a regular part of your day. Finding time to do things you enjoy together as a family helps everyone stay connected and maintain open communication.  Family meals are a great time to have discussions about many things with your children.

On Saturday, April 26, some law enforcement officials and the Whitfield and Murray Family Connections are sponsoring a local Drug Take Back Day in conjunction with the DEA’s National Drug Take Back Day.  Sites will be available in both counties for people to come and dispose of old and unused prescription drugs in a safe and environmentally friendly way between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  This event was held the last two years and both years several hundred pounds of drugs were turned in.  Drug Take Back helps get rid of drugs in our community that our young people might get their hands on and abuse.  More information about the day will be forthcoming.  Please be watching.     

If you are looking for more resources for you or your child, be sure to talk to your doctor.  In addition, two good websites are and

Valentine’s Day

“I love you” are three words all children need to hear very often from their parents. Around Valentine’s Day, it seems appropriate to have a column on this topic.  Do you want those words to have real meaning to your child?  Do you want to use these words to develop a level of intimacy in your family that communicates your heartfelt affection for your children? If so, consider strengthening I love you with the following suggestions.  This information is adapted from an article by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller, the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose.

1.)    Use eye contact. Give your children your eyes when you say, “I love you.” When meaningful eye contact is made during moments of intimacy, it’s a way of connecting that helps you bond.  Use your eyes to “touch your child.”

2.)    Touch. A pat on the back, a hug, or a high-five will add meaning to verbal expressions of love. So will a slight squeeze of the shoulder or a kiss. Take your child’s hand in yours when you say, “I love you,” and add a tactile component to your words.

3.)    Use names. The sweetest sound in any language is the sound of your own name. Names get our attention and build connectedness. Sadly, some children only hear their own names when they are in trouble. (“William, you better get in here!”) Add your child’s name to your expression of love. “I love you, Carlos,” or “Sally, I really love you.” Watch their reactions. Their facial expressions will encourage you to continue the practice of adding your child’s name to “I love you.”

4.)    Add nonverbal signals to your spoken message. Smile, wink, and add pleasant facial expressions to your words. Make sure the message on your face is congruent with the one coming out of your mouth.

5.)    Do not use the word when as part of your vocal communication of love.  “I love you when you smile like that” or “When you choose that happy mood, I love you” can send a message to your children that your love is conditional. What children often hear is “I only love you when….” To love unconditionally, say “I love you” without any condition attached.

6.)    Remove the word but from your description of love. “I love you, but….” is usually followed by a concern, problem, or frustration. When we express our love along with a concern, we send a mixed message. When we do this, children get confused and conclude that the love part is a manipulation intended to soften them up before the real message is delivered.

7.)    Add because you are loveable to your manner of expressing love. “I love you because you are loveable” is an important concept for children to learn. It helps them understand that your love is attached to no specific condition. It simply is. Be careful not to add any other words after because. “I love you because you are thoughtful” adds a condition that communicates conditional love. The only acceptable phrase to use with because is because you are loveable.

8.)     Say “I love you” at unexpected times. Children often hear our expressions of love at familiar times. We typically say “I love you” when we are going out the door on our way to work. We say it when we end a phone conversation. “I love you” is often the last communication our children hear as we tuck them into bed at night. Saying “I love you” at those times is often expected and certainly anticipated. To heighten the impact of these three valuable words, use them at unexpected times. Say them in the middle of a meal, as you are driving down the road in your car, or as you stand at the kitchen sink doing dishes together.

Some children are auditory and need to hear the words “I love you.” Others are tactile and need to be touched to feel loved. Still others are visual and need to see love on your face and in your actions. Why not give your children all three variations when you communicate your love?

One of your most important gifts as a parent is to help your child develop self-esteem. Your child needs your steady support and encouragement to discover his strengths. He needs you to believe in him as he learns to believe in himself. Loving him, spending time with him, listening to him, and praising his accomplishments are all part of this process.

January 2014

The following New Year’s resolutions for kids are from the American Academy of Pediatrics:


• I will clean up my toys.

• I will brush my teeth twice a day, wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating, and clean up my messes right away.

• I won’t tease the family dog or even a friendly dog, and I will avoid being bitten by keeping my fingers and face away from his mouth.

School Age Kids:

• I will drink milk and water, and limit soda and fruit drinks.

• I will spend a couple of minutes every morning and afternoon applying sunscreen before I go outdoors, even in winter. I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I’m playing sports.

• I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like jumping rope, dancing, or riding my bike) that I like and do it at least three times a week!

• I will always wear protective gear–especially a helmet–when cycling, scooting or roller blading.

• I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car. I’ll use a booster seat until I can correctly use a lap/shoulder seat belt.

• I’ll be nice to other kids. It’s easier and more fun than being mean, and I’ll feel better about myself.

• I’ll never give out personal information such as my name, home address, school name, or telephone number in an Internet chat room or on an Internet bulletin board. Also, I’ll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without my parent’s permission.

• If I come across an unsupervised gun, or another child with a gun, I will not touch the gun and get help from a parent or trusted adult.



• I will eat at least one fruit and one vegetable every day, and I will limit the amount of soda I drink.

• I will take care of my body through sports, fitness and nutrition.

• I will choose non-violent television shows and video games, and I will only spend one to two hours each day-AT THE MOST-on these activities.

• I will check to see if I can give away any of my unwanted clothes and shoes to those in need.

• I will wipe negative “self talk” (i.e. “I can’t do it” or “I’m so dumb”) out of my vocabulary.

• Whenever I am feeling angry or stressed out, I will take a break and look for constructive ways to feel better, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal, or talking out my problem with a parent or friend. 

• When faced with a difficult decision I will talk to an adult about the options I may have.

• I will be smart about whom I choose to date.

• I will resist peer pressure to try drugs and alcohol.

Parents, resolve to go over these resolutions with your kids and help them remember to practice them.

Give Presence, Not Presents

Christmas is fast approaching, and many parents may be concerned about their family’s financial situation and the money problems they may be experiencing this holiday season. This column is adapted from an article by Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman, parenting experts.

The giving of gifts during the holiday season is an honored tradition. However, if you are wondering what gifts to give if you have to tighten your money belt, then maybe the answer lies in the gifts that are given. Give children what they really want from their parents: presence, not presents.  All children spell love T-I-M-E. What we parents can give to our children is our attention, our availability, our closeness, and our time.

Are you being fully present with your children? Can you let go of your worries about money? Can you suspend your agenda to focus on theirs? Can you learn to be there for and with your children?

Consider the following suggestions as a way to give the most important present this holiday season, your presence.

1. Be there regardless of what you are doing. The holiday season requires an added measure of balancing kids’ schedules, visiting family, and cooking, as well as keeping u the regular requirements of work, laundry, cleaning, everyday cooking, etc. When feeling pulled in several directions, many parents turn to multitasking. Avoid the urge to multitask and strive to stay focused on the moment at hand. When you sit with your children, whether it’s to play a game or read a book, give them your undivided attention.

2. Make a “be” choice. How you choose to “be” affects whatever you choose to “do.” When you are with your children, choose to be interested in what they are interested in. Choose to be happy that you have the time to focus on their needs and wants. Choose to be excited about the time you have with them. Even when misbehavior occurs in your children, choose to be glad you have the opportunity to help them learn a new behavior or a new way to communicate a desire or express a feeling.

3. Focus on listening rather than telling. Children spend a great portion of their day following directions: pick up your clothes, make your bed, sit down, be quiet, go play, chew with your mouth closed, stop picking on your brother, hang up your coat, brush your teeth. To kids, the list of commands seems unending. Remember, children have valuable things to say too. Many times parents get so focused on telling that they forget to listen. Value your child’s opinions. Allow them opportunities to vent. Embrace their points of view. Invite suggestions. Listen to their voices.

4. Connect physically. Touch is a powerful way to communicate “I love you.” Get close and touch your children’s heart with a warm embrace or gentle squeeze of the shoulder. Snuggle under a blanket and read together. Go for a walk and hold hands. Wrestle on the living room floor. Dispense hugs, smiles, winks, and an occasional high five.

5. Connect emotionally. Feelings are always more important than things. Create an environment where it is safe to be emotional. Encourage the expression of feelings. Allow your feelings to extend to your children as you share traditions, reflect on holidays past, and gather as a family. Demonstrate empathy, compassion, and understanding.

6. Unplug from the electronic world. The television, computer, video games, and other electronic gadgets have the potential to create a disconnect from personal interaction. Stand up, walk away from the TV, and go shoot baskets, skip rope, go for a walk, read a book, play a board game or card game, or ride bikes with your child. While riding in the care, tell your child a story about the day you were born, relate a favorite holiday memory, sing, or play 20 questions.

7. Play by the kids’ rules. Play with your children at their level. Make mud pies, jump in rain puddles, roll down a hill, spray whipped cream on the kitchen table and join in the creation of artistic designs, and then eat them! Cover the driveway in sidewalk chalk. Let your children take the lead and change the rules of a game if they want. Know that play, no matter how childish or silly it may appear, is an investment in connecting with your children. Play regularly with your kids, and remember that the reason for play  is to play, not to win.

Make a commitment this holiday season to give the best gift you can give by being present in your child’s life. Be active and interactive on a daily basis with your  children. Be the parent God called you to be. Give your presence, not presents!

Thanksgiving Cooking

Almost everyone does some Thanksgiving cooking, but why not change the menu a bit? Spice it up. Add something new. Increase the variety.  This column last Thanksgiving, but it bears repeating.

How about cooking up a huge batch of connectedness? Share family stories. Invite people to tell about their favorite Thanksgiving. Get people to work in teams on a treasure hunt. Have everyone put what they are thankful for on a file card. Collect them and read them aloud. Have people guess who wrote each one as they are read.

Peel the skins off your grievances and put them in the garbage disposal. Still angry about something someone did two years ago? It’s time to let it go. Upset because someone else did something you didn’t agree with? It’s time to peel off the layers of that and begin again.

Don’t allow judgment to stew in its own juices all day. Work on changing your mind rather than changing others. Let your judgment chill out in the refrigerator.

Serve the sustenance in the right order. Lead with empathy first.  Solving problems, fixing things, and making amends can come later, after the important hors d’oeuvre of empathy is dished out in ample amounts.

Don’t allow resentment to boil over. Ask for help if you need it. Invite others to take an active role in cooking and cleaning up. Don’t give something that has the hidden price of resentment attached to it. When you give, give with an open heart.

Liberally add doses of language that affirm and uplift. Verbally appreciate, send affection, and offer acknowledgment. Isn’t it time to add some food for the soul?  

How about serving up some Grade A conversation? Eliminate gossip and talking about others in a negative way. When you improve the quality of the conversation, you improve the quality of our lives.

Refuse to mash what is there. Whatever is there, let that be what you want. What is, is. To emotionally demand something else will burn your energy and darken your attitude.

Serve up one meaningful thing this day that helps someone enjoy a better moment, a better day, or a better life. You are the chef and the server. You get to decide what you feed your family and friends on this particular day.

Prepare Thanksgiving from a get to rather than a have to attitude.  You get to go grocery shopping. You don’t have to. You get to see relatives and friends. You get to watch all the kids interact and learn lessons about cooperation and sharing, or not.

Let Thanksgiving simmer slowly. Don’t turn it into a microwave experience. There is no need for hurry up this day. Savor it. 

Above all else, cook, talk, eat, relax, play, listen, entertain, clean up, pray, and share appreciation and thankfulness with love in your heart. You are worth it. And so is your family.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Every Child a Winner at School

Successful students begin at home, not at school. The expectations you set, the environment you create, the examples you project and the involvement you display — all of these things contribute to helping your child become a strong student.  Much of this information is from an article by Holly Zwerling, LMFT, LCSW

Moms are often the parent most involved in a child’s education, but it shouldn’t be that way. Fathers can make a big difference in influencing academic outcomes. Research very clearly states that when fathers are involved in their children’s learning, children do better in school.  Too many educators say the only time they see fathers is when there is a performance at school and their child is in it.  Both parents need to understand the importance of sharing the role of educator for their children.

There’s more to making learning a priority than checking your child’s report card or signing test papers. Whether you are a mom or a dad, here are some things you can do to help create a healthy learning environment at home and support your child at every age.

Demonstrate your interest in learning. Read in front of your children and discuss the new things you learn.  Talk about things around you. Get excited about your discoveries. Speak to your children about what they see, read, or learn in school.

Set aside time. No matter how busy you are, carve out time to talk about what your child is learning at school. Have him or her explain it to you in detail. Let this be a time to share each other’s day and connect with few interruptions. Listen to your children as if they were teaching you. Thank them for the information, which will add value to it.

Encourage their participation. Children need to have an accepting environment in which they can take risks in answering questions and get positive feedback for trying. Children who have opportunities to speak up at home are more comfortable in expressing themselves and sharing their ideas. This interaction prepares them to be active participants in school.

Allow children to make mistakes. Be understanding of your children’s errors in a non-threatening way and help them learn from their mistakes. They should never be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions or try new things. Take ownership of your own mistakes and show how you, too, are always striving to be better.

Create a learning environment. Have books around the house and share which ones are your favorites. Read together daily, just for fun. Talk about new topics and experiences to increase your children’s vocabulary and comprehension. They will feel more prepared to handle their schoolwork.

Use your imagination. Make up stories and songs together. They will become special between you. In this way you encourage your child’s imagination, creativity and sense of humor, which will help him with his writing in school and at home.

Encourage independence. You may not be available after school, when it’s time for your child to do homework. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is your child’s work, not yours. Express confidence that your child can tackle any assignment, and review the work together when you can. Praise your child’s efforts to deal with his or her assignments, even if some of the answers are incorrect. Instead of saying, “That’s wrong!” say, “I’m proud of you for working on this on your own, and you almost got it right. Let’s try again or figure it out together.”

Focus on your child’s learning. Be attentive while reviewing your child’s homework. Designate a time when you will have few or no interruptions so your child can look forward to working with you. By doing so you are demonstrating how important you think learning is. Also, you are teaching your child the importance of being attentive and focused, which will help in school.

Demonstrate your work ethic. Every child struggles with some subject sometime. It can be frustrating, but you want to teach your child to persevere. Be patient, and work on finding answers or practicing together. Be honest when you don’t know something, and show your own willingness to learn. Hold your child accountable for getting help from the teacher and for finishing assignments.

Apply learning to life experiences. Help kids see connections between what they learn at school and what they do daily. Show them how knowing math can help them to save money. Knowing how to read is important if you want to write a letter to a favorite friend or relative. Work together in the same space so your child can observe you doing your own “homework,” even if it’s just paying the bills or writing a grocery list.

Be aware of your child’s capabilities and challenges. All children have different learning styles, temperaments, and learning capabilities. To be of maximum support to your children, speak to your child’s teachers, counselors, pediatrician, etc. to get information about his progress and how best to work with your child.

Get involved in your child’s school. Children feel special when you come to their school, visit their classroom or volunteer for positive reasons. Participating in school is for your child’s benefit, not just the school’s, so find the time. This is another way to be there for your children and see firsthand what their learning environment is like.

Parent from a distance if necessary.  Even if there is distance between you because of military service, incarceration, or separation from your child’ other parent, it is important for you to stay involved in your child’s life and school. Use Skype or Face Time. Share stories of your daily activities. Send books (homemade or bought) with personal notes encouraging your child to read. Promise to talk about the books after you both read them — and don’t forget to do it. Meanwhile, hold your child responsible for homework and doing his best in your absence.

Sharing responsibility for raising children means both moms and dads working together to provide the home advantage for their children.  The investment you make in your children’s academic future by being a hands-on parent will be the best investment you will ever make.”

Six Ingredients for Strong Families

The recipe for building stronger families has six ingredients. Mix them carefully and watch your family grow closer.  This information is adapted from an article from

 1. Make Family Your Priority:   “The pledge to the family comes first,” says Nick Stinnett, professor of human development and family studies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

To build commitment, you can:

  • Cut back on outside activities so family members can devote time and energy to each other.
  • If something needs to be done around the house, whoever has time to do it does it.
  • Make a big deal of holidays. This creates many happy memories.
  • Develop a family vision. Put your family’s dreams into writing.

2. Express Appreciation and Affection:  “Strong families are good diamond hunters,” Stinnett says. “They dig through the rough looking for the good in each other.” Here’s how:

  • Declare “appreciation” nights. Everyone around the table says something they like about another.
  • Write down 5 things you like about your partner and your kids
  • Parents, be good role models. Appreciate your partner and your kids, and they’ll follow suit.
  • Accept appreciation gracefully.

3. Share Positive Communication:  Keeping conversation positive, rather than hostile and derisive, will enable the other person to feel more respected and encourage sharing of thoughts.

  • Make sure you don’t discourage others by interrupting, mind-reading, or going off on monologues. If you wouldn’t do that to friends or co-workers, don’t do it at home.
  • Keep a family journal. Chronicle the little things, like a baby book that keeps growing.

4. Spend Time Together:  It’s trite but true: quantity counts as much as quality when it comes to family togetherness. Here are some ways to increase the amount and quality of time you spend together:

  • Plan group activities.
  • Do nothing — together. “Think back to your childhood and you’ll realize that your happiest memories probably involve times when you were doing ‘nothing,’ perhaps sorting socks with your mom,” Stinnett says. “That’s when you could talk in an unhurried way.”

5. Nurture Spiritual Well-Being:  Powerful families may band together, but they’re open to the needs of others. Families with a sense that there is a reason for life beyond mere existence will be more likely to encourage one another to focus on what’s really important. To reach that level:

  • Participate in a faith community or discuss spiritual issues at home. Pray.  Study your traditional religious literature and sing together.
  • Teach responsibility. Kids will be less self-involved if you remind them of the world beyond them, Stinnett says. So give time, “muscle”, and money to a cause — and encourage the same from your kids.

6. Learn to Cope with Stress:  Crises cause the strong to unite, which makes them all the more powerful. Follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t take conflict personally. Realize that disagreements aren’t personal.
  • Get enough sleep and exercise.
  • Laugh. Look for the humor in any situation.

And remember: refocus your priorities. What’s important when your kids are preschoolers will change as they grow older. Your needs will change, too, as you move from a new parent to that of an empty-nester. Make sure your family’s goals meet everyone’s needs.

Discipline Strategies

Last month the column discussed the latest study to show the negative effects that physical punishment can have on children.  We often think of punishment and discipline as the same; however, they are really quite different.  Discipline is a whole system of teaching based on a good relationship, praise, and instruction for the child on how to control his behavior.  Punishment is a negative: an unpleasant consequence for doing or not doing something.  Punishment should be only a small part of discipline.

Effective discipline should take place all the time, not just when children misbehave.  Research shows that children are more likely to change their behavior when they feel encouraged and valued.  When children feel good about themselves and cherish their relationship with their parents, they are much more likely to listen and learn.  Much of this information is from the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Here are some discipline strategies to use that do not involve hitting your child.    

·      Natural consequences.  The results that naturally occur from a child’s behavior without the parent doing anything.  If she throws and breaks her toy, she will not have it to play with.  If she spills her juice on purpose, she will not have the juice to drink.

·      Logical consequences.  Those results a parent provides to teach children what logically follows misbehavior.  Logical consequences are logical results of the child’s actions.  If he writes on the wall, he cleans it up.   

·      Loss of privilege.  The child has to give up something she likes.

·      Parental disappointment.  The parent makes a simple statement that expresses the disappointment the parent has in the child’s behavior.  “I am really disappointed that I had to ask you three times to pick up your toys.”

·      Restitution.  If you dirty it, you clean it.  If you leave it on the floor, you pick it up and put it away.  If you break it purposefully, you pay for it.  Young children can “pay for it” by doing age-appropriate chores.   

·      Being grounded.  When a young child deliberately leaves the yard without permission, or when a teenager breaks curfew without calling, an appropriate punishment is being grounded to the house, yard, or room.

·      Redirection.  When a young child is doing something unacceptable, try to call attention to another activity such as playing with a toy or looking at a book.

·      Ignoring.  Behavior that is not harmful to the child or others can often be ignored.  If children do not get attention for their negative behavior, it will often stop.

·      Time-out.  A time out is a temporary isolation of the child from others because he has chosen to act inappropriately.  The time-out spot should be a boring place with no distractions.  Tell the child what he did wrong in as few words as possible.  If the child will not go on his own, pick him up and carry him there.  If he will not stay, gently but firmly restrain him in your lap, saying, “I am holding you because you have to have a time out.”  Do not discuss it any further.  Once the child is sitting quietly, set a timer.  Wait until the child stops protesting before setting the timer.  It should take only a couple of weeks before he learns to cooperate and will choose to sit quietly rather than be held.  A good rule of thumb to follow is to set the timer for one minute of time out for every year of age. You can increase the time for repeated or serious infractions.  Do not overuse time outs.  They work best when other responses have not worked.  Time outs can also be helpful if the parent needs a break to stay calm.   

·      Choices.  By giving choices, you can set limits and still allow your child some independence and control.  For example, try saying, “Would you like to wear the blue shirt or the red one?” “Do you want cereal for breakfast or scrambled eggs?”

·      Material rewards.  Sometimes material rewards such as stickers can be used, but be very careful with material rewards.  They need to be used judiciously.  Your child might come to expect them in order to behave properly.

·      Praise your child often.  When your child remembers to follow the rules and exhibits the kind of behavior you want from her, offer encouragement and praise on how well she did.  You can simply say, “Thank you for coming right away,” and hug your child.  Praising, smiling, and hugging for acceptable behavior should be frequent, especially for young children.  The old adage “catch them being good” is, indeed, true.  If children are getting positive reinforcement for doing what they are supposed to do, they will not feel the need to act inappropriately to get attention. 

If you have questions or concerns, talk to your child’s pediatrician.

The Long Term Effects of Spanking

Pushing, grabbing, slapping, shoving, and other types of physical punishment may increase a child’s risk for developing several types of emotional problems as he or she ages, a new study shows.  I am sharing this new research that is being done on physical punishment.  You can do with it whatever you choose.  It always perplexes me that this is a subject that seems to get many people angry.  When I have done a column in the past on this subject, I have often gotten hostile emails and phone calls.  Many people seem to feel quite deeply that physical punishment for their children is okay; and as I said, that’s your prerogative as a parent.  You do, however, need to be aware of the new research that is being done on this subject.   

The type of harsh physical punishment they are talking about in this study is different from physical and sexual abuse or neglect, which we know is devastating, but it still has lasting repercussions.

The findings appear in the August 2012 Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“We should not be using physical punishment on children of any age,” says researcher Tracie O. Afifi, PhD. She is an assistant professor in the department of community health sciences at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Researchers surveyed more than 34,650 adults about their childhood experiences, including how often they were physically punished by a parent or any adult living in the house. Of these, 5.9% said they were physically punished, but not abused, as kids. Participants were also asked about mood, anxiety, and personality disorders as well alcohol and drug abuse.

Those individuals who were punished physically as kids were more likely to have mental or emotional problems. According to the findings, as many as 7% of mental disorders were related to physical punishment. “This type of punishment was associated with poor mental outcomes and several mental disorders almost uniformly across the board,” Afifi says.

There are age-appropriate ways to discipline children. Afifi often recommends positive reinforcement, or rewarding good behaviors, as opposed to punishing bad ones.

“It is really important to make sure that what you are doing is appropriate for that age or development level,” she says.

“The same act of physical punishment in a 4-year-old can be abuse in a 6-month-old,” says Andrew Adesman, MD. He is the chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in Lake Success, N.Y. Something that might be acceptable in one age group crosses the line in another.

It’s not enough just to tell parents that harsh physical punishment is harmful, he says. Parents need to know how to discipline their children. This starts with setting clear expectations with clear consequences.

Time-outs — when done properly — can be effective in preschool- and grade-school-aged children.

“A good rule of thumb is one minute for every year of age,” he says. “Time-outs should occur in a safe, central location where the child can be observed.”

When is a time-out not a time-out?

“Sending your child to his or her room is not a time-out.” Also, “don’t engage or negotiate with a child when he or she is in time-out. It’s a time for quiet reflection,” Adesman says.  A time out place in a quiet, boring location is best.

Daniel L. Coury, MD, says that the effects of extreme physical abuse in children on future risk for behavioral disorders are well-established. He is a professor of clinical pediatrics and psychiatry at Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  But this recent study shows that harsh physical discipline not classified as abuse also has long-term consequences. “It’s not just a red mark on a child today; it has a long-lasting effect,” he says. “You are causing harm and increasing your child’s risk of lifelong mental problems.”

If you have questions about this study, check with your child’s pediatrician.

Next month I will give you some discipline strategies that you can use that do not involve physical punishment.