• Tips for Step Parenting

    Step dad hanging out with step son.

    Blending a Family

    After the loss of a spouse, through death or divorce, finding a new partner is exciting! Just as exciting, but more cause for anxiety, is the blending of two different lives. Being a parent is challenging; being a stepparent is even more difficult. Even if you weren’t warring with the established and widespread “evil stepparent” tropes, you would still be stepping into an intimate role with a young person who may not be inclined to accept you unconditionally. Fortunately, there are some guidelines you can follow as a stepparent to help create a positive and healthy relationship between you and your stepchildren.

    Tips for Step Parenting

    • Ease into a relationship. Even if you feel thrown into the role of parent, remember that you are not the primary parent, and shouldn’t pretend to be. Never forget that your partner and stepchild have a bond that was formed long before you came on the scene. This doesn’t mean you will never play an important role in the child’s life, as an important parental figure, but it does mean that you should refrain from coming on too strong, instead letting the child set the pace for getting to know each other. Most of the time, if you are patient, showing interest in them while giving them time to warm up to you, children will give you a chance.
    • Don’t try to be the cool parent. It’s not a competition. You’re not competing with your partner and, more importantly, you’re not competing with the ex. Don’t let your insecurity or ego cause you to overstep and try to ingratiate yourself with the children, making them want or need you more than the original parent. Children see through this sort of thing, and it will cause conflicts between the adults.
    • Don’t let existing familial bonds make you feel threatened. You and your partner are creating a new family, but the old family had a history before you came into the picture. Accept this, integrating the past into the present by asking occasional questions in an interested way. Move forward, while respecting what came before, without trying to upstage it. Additionally, encourage your stepchild to spend one-on-one time with each of their biological parents. This sends a message that you are not in competition, and you just want everyone to be truly happy.
    • Prioritize the needs of the child. We all have big feelings sometimes, but as a parent, it’s important that you focus on the children’s feelings rather than your own. Aim for selflessness in your interactions, setting high standards for your own coping skills. This doesn’t mean that your emotional needs are not important, but it’s up to you to make sure they are met in appropriate ways. Take time for yourself, to socialize, exercise, and generally practice self-care, and when you are interacting with the child it will be easier to put your emotions on the back burner. Don’t take it personally if your stepchild doesn’t seem to be taking to you. Remember that the child needs to mourn the loss of the original family.
    • Know how to respond to hostility. Will your stepchild yell at you that you are not his or her real parent? It is incredibly likely. Knowing this, take the time to prepare your response. Don’t try to argue, but acknowledge the truth of the statement. Tell the children that while you are not their biological parent, you are a stepparent who loves them. Responding to hostility with a calm, loving response is a great way to defuse it. If it doesn’t? Take a deep breath and move on.
    • Get on the same page with the other parents. This means discussing parenting techniques, methods, and philosophies with your spouse, but it also means addressing these things with the other biological parent. When all the parents are in accord on how things should be done, it makes parenting easier for everyone.
    • Talk it out. Regularly touch base with each other as a family, setting aside family time in which everyone can share how they’re feeling. Ask the kids to be honest, sharing positive and negative feedback, so that you can make your family stronger and better.
    • Create routines to build strong family bonds. Spend one-on-one time with your stepchild, doing something together once or twice a week. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, it can be something as simple as cooking together, as long as you have time to share, listen, and bond. Establish routines as a family, too, like game night, special celebrations on birthdays and minor holidays, and regular family meals. Time together can help the family bond and become more united.
    • Keep your expectations in check. You are unlikely to step into a child’s life and immediately have a strong bond, and you can’t force it by trying too hard. By the same token, you are not likely to be accepted as an authority figure if you over-discipline to try to establish your authority. Take it easy, avoid overstepping your bounds, and keep your expectations realistic. It’s ok, you will eventually develop a relationship, and you can have a happy, healthy, blended family.

    Growing into a Family, Together

    At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow their happy families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.

  • Understanding Your Newborn’s Language

    Father talking to his newborn baby.

    Communicating with Your Newborn

    Babies cry, everyone knows that. What you might not realize until you become a parent, though, is that different cries mean different things. Because it’s an ability they’re born with, babies use crying to communicate their needs, and part of your job is to try to figure out exactly what those needs may be. Don’t worry! In any new relationship, it takes a while to get to know the person and understand his or her style of communication. It’s no different with your new little one, and you will get the hang of it before you know it.

    What Does Baby Need?

    Babies cry because they are hungry, need a diaper change, are uncomfortable, or are in pain. They also cry when they’re overwhelmed by all the stimuli in this brand-new world, so be a little bit patient when you are trying to figure out the issue. Paying attention to other signals, like facial expressions and body movements, can help you get to know your baby better and understand what he or she is trying to say. Some people also find it helpful to begin teaching baby sign language around six months old, just to provide another communication tool.

    Connecting with Your Baby

    As you try to determine what your little one is communicating, use it as an opportunity to bond. Don’t just communicate when little one is fussy, either. Watch how your baby responds to your voice, your touch, and your body language. Talk to your baby as much as you can, while you are playing, during diaper changes and feedings, and when you are just relaxing and getting to know each other. Talking to babies is important, because it makes them feel safe and helps them develop language skills. Always respond to your baby’s cries, to offer reassurance as well as comfort. Knowing that you will meet their needs helps babies grow into secure people.

    When Will Your Baby Talk?

    Of course, communication becomes easier when children learn to talk. This will happen in stages, as baby begins to babble and coo, then make sounds that sound like words, before they actually begin to engage in coherent speech. They understand earlier than they can talk, though, and most babies know what the word “no” means by about six months of age. You can reasonably expect your child to say his or her first work around the first birthday.

    Should I Be Worried?

    Like every other element of a baby’s development, speech evolves differently for different babies. If your little one isn’t hitting every milestone “by the book,” don’t be alarmed. However, talk to your doctor if your baby won’t stop crying, or the crying seems strange, or it is accompanied by other signs that something could be wrong. If your baby doesn’t react to loud sounds by five months of age or isn’t making different sounds by that time, talk to your pediatrician. It may not be anything to worry about, but it’s always good to make sure everything is proceeding normally as you learn to communicate with your baby.

    Happy Families Start at Center for Vasectomy Reversal

    Communication is the key to any successful relationship, and learning to communicate with your children is a big part of building a happy family! At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow their happy families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.

  • Building a Support System and The Importance of Community for New Parents

    They say it takes a village….

    Becoming a Family

    When a couple becomes parents, their world is upended. Community is very important for new parents, because we all need reinforcements to help us navigate new roles. You have probably heard that it takes a village to raise a child, but in fact, it takes a village to give parents the support they need to do the job. When you are expecting, you should begin building your support system, establishing a community for yourself.

    Start with Your Family and Friends

    In the early days, your biggest hurdle may be letting people know you need and value their support. Take your friends and family members up on their offers of help, whether that’s an offer to bring you a meal, help with laundry, provide some emotional support and help care for your new baby, or simply give advice. Lean on your friends, letting them know when you need their assistance, and making sure you are there for them, too.

    Connect with Your Community

    Sometimes, there are resources in the community that provide tangible assistance, like visitation services, diaper drives, meal delivery, or mommy and me outings. Look to your local library of community center for resources that can connect you to the people and programs that can offer support. If you are a member of a faith community, that community can provide a great deal of support as well, if you will simply reach out and let them know you need it. According to the National Institutes of Health, new parents who receive community support grow more confident in their parenting.

    Make Friends with Your Neighbors

    In our modern culture, it’s not uncommon for people living in the same neighborhood to be complete strangers. Make the effort to meet your neighbors, and you may be surprised at the level of support they can provide. Say hello when taking your baby for a stroll, bake some cookies at Christmas, and get contact information so that you and your neighbors can call or text when someone needs a hand. This will benefit you and also give you the opportunity to benefit others.

    Join Some Groups

    Pregnancy is an ideal time to join a parent support group. There are many that meet online, and this gives you the opportunity to connect with people who understand first hand what you are experiencing. Once your baby is born, take advantage of play groups, story times, puppet shows, and other community activities, where you can meet other people with young children. You may find that these people turn into friends and you are able to offer each other much needed support, but even if you don’t, interacting with people on an outing is beneficial for you and introduces your baby to social interaction.

    As Your Child Grows

    The community you are building will serve you, but it will also serve your children well. Having a protective network of adults surrounding your child helps teach the child how to interact with others, and show respect for adults. Being part of a larger community helps your children feel secure and also shows them that rules are universal. Build relationships with the parents of your children’s friends, and get to know their children, too. Encourage your kids to have hobbies and extracurricular activities, and don’t forget to pursue your own interests as well, ever widening your circle and giving your children a chance to practice social skills and learn about sharing, discipline and team work. Volunteer for things involving your child, like carpooling, coaching a team, becoming a room parent, teaching Sunday school, or serving with the PTA. This keeps you closely connected to your child’s world, while also demonstrating connection to the community.

    Support for Your Family as it Grows

    We hope these tips will help you to build a support system of community, to help you navigate parenthood. At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow their happy families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.

     

  • How to Help Clear Up Diaper Rash

    Father putting diaper rash cream on baby.

    Dealing with Diaper Rash

    Diaper rash is the most common type of skin rash for infants, and it makes babies pretty miserable. It makes parents miserable too, because it is so frustrating to see your little one in pain and not know how to help. Fortunately, there are some solid steps you can take to quickly alleviate diaper rash and keep it from coming back.

    Why Does Diaper Rash Happen?

    Typically, diaper rash occurs when a baby stays in a wet diaper for too long. However, some children have sensitive skin, and this makes them more likely to develop a diaper rash than their peers. Diaper rashes can also be caused by a diaper that rubs or changes, an allergic reaction to laundry detergent, soap, bubble bath, wipes, or something else that touches your baby’s skin, a reaction to antibiotics, or a food allergy. Additionally, there are some risk factors that can increase a child’s likelihood of developing a diaper rash. Babies between six and nine months old, who are starting to sleep through the night and eat solid foods, are at an increased risk. So are little ones who are not feeling well, due to diarrhea, a cold or virus, or a course of antibiotics.

    Treating the Problem

    To treat diaper rash, you must clean the area, but regular wipes can make the rash worse. Using water and a soft cloth is a better option, or you can clean your baby in the tub. Create a barrier, using diaper rash cream or ointment, to protect the sensitive skin, but steer clear of home remedies. Some of the diaper rash cures you find online use ingredients that can irritate the skin further, especially if the skin is broken. In fact, some home remedies can be toxic for babies. A zinc oxide ointment is a good option for protecting the area and helping it to heal, but if the diaper rash is mild, Vaseline or A and D ointment might be enough. The trick of clearing up diaper rash is that diapers are dark and damp, so you may need to let your baby go diaper free, at least for a few minutes at a time. Don’t use talcum powder to try and dry the area, because this can be dangerous if inhaled, and never use cornstarch, which can promote the growth of yeast and make the diaper rash worse.

    Preventing Diaper Rash

    Once the rash has cleared, you will feel both relieved and also eager to prevent it from happening again. Switching to water-based wipes can help, and so can switching diapers, because sometimes babies are sensitive to certain diapers. Some parents find that their babies get fewer diaper rashes with disposable diapers than with cloth, and ill-fitting diapers can also be a problem, because they can chafe. The most effective preventative measure you can take, though, is to keep the diaper area scrupulously clean and as dry as possible.

    When to See Your Pediatrician

    Most diaper rashes can be resolved without a trip to the doctor’s office, but in some cases, your pediatrician should be consulted. IF the rash isn’t clearing up, despite your best efforts, or if your baby develops a fever, it’s time to make the call. Similarly, if the rash appears to be infected, it needs medical attention. Signs of an infected diaper rash include blisters, redness, swelling, discharge, or a rash that doesn’t go away with treatment, or gets worse.

    Caring for Your Family

    We hope these tips will help you to keep your baby healthy, happy, and diaper-rash free, because a happy baby is important for a happy family! At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow their happy families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.

  • Why it’s Important to Teach your Children Good Manners

    Little girl with good manners helping her sister put a bicycle helmet on.

    Are Manners Outdated?

    You’ve probably heard older people lament the manners of modern children, and to an extent, the expectations have changed. Modern kids have more autonomy than prior generations, and as our society has shifted to a place of less civility, adults in the public eye often provide a poor example for children to follow. However, this doesn’t mean that manners are obsolete. A vintage manners book for children summed it up succinctly: “Good manners make a person nice to know.” As parents, we have a responsibility to raise people who are nice to know, and that means teaching manners.

    How Learning Manners Benefits Your Children

    When children learn to be mannerly, they’re really learning respect for others. People appreciate someone who is thoughtful and appreciative, respectful and grateful, and treating others with respect is universally recognized as good behavior. When your children are polite, people will remember them in a positive light, whether in school, on teams, or out and about. Instilling polite habits at an early age will help your children throughout their lives, opening up opportunities for them and helping them to succeed.

    Manners that Matter

    The definition of manners varies, but there are some standard practices that are always accepted as mannerly.

    • It starts with please and thank you. From earliest childhood, teach your child these simple expressions of polite behavior. Other, related phrases, including “how are you”, “you’re welcome” and “may I” are also important for children to learn. Get them into the habit of
    • Teach children to greet others respectfully. Though handshaking has fallen out of fashion post-pandemic, it’s still important to greet people properly. Even shy children can be taught to look others in the eye and say hello. Practice this skill by demonstrating the right way to greet someone and role playing with your child. Encourage children to call adults Mr. and Ms., because using a title and a last name is the most respectful way to address someone. Teach kids to wait their turn before speaking, and to say “excuse me” rather than interrupting a conversation.
    • Prioritize human interaction over screens. Children are becoming focused on screens at younger and younger ages. Model polite behavior, practicing good cell phone etiquette and putting the phone away at the table and when interacting with others. In public, teach children to notice other people, holding the door for someone carrying groceries or offering help to someone who needs it. This doesn’t just equate to good manners, but it demonstrates empathy.
    • Instill good sportsmanship and gracious behavior. Teach your children to be a good sport, win or lose, and you will be imparting a skill that will serve them well throughout their lives. Teach good playdate manners, too, reminding kids to follow the rules at other people’s houses and use their inside voices. Teaching your children the importance of gracious behavior will help them to be people who are always welcome wherever they want to be.
    • Teach kids to write thoughtful notes. Thank you notes are a good place to start, but it’s also smart to teach children to wrote polite texts and emails. Explain the basics, like how to right in a clear tone, and as your kids get older, teach them to be polite on social media, never posting rude comments.
    • Practice talking on the phone. Home phones are few and far between, but children need to learn the skill of phone etiquette. Use play phones to demonstrate how to have a polite conversation, and get your child in the habit of talking to relatives and friends when he or she is old enough to do so clearly and politely.
    • Work on table manners. Have dinner as a family, and practice good table manners. Teach kids to wait until everyone is seated and served to begin eating, demonstrate how to properly use a napkin and silverware, and work on etiquette together. This will instill confidence in your child, and you can be sure that your child will behave well even when you are not at the table. Practice conversing at the dinner table, too, and you will help kids learn how to have a conversation.
    • Limit media consumption. Watch television or go online, and you are sure to see incivility and downright rudeness. Limit your children’s exposure to this, and you will also be improving their lives in general; research indicates that less screen time means better health, grades, and behavior.
    • Model acts of service. Kindness is at the heart of polite behavior. Little acts of kindness, like holding a door or giving up your seat on a bus, can go a long way. Take it a step further, and perform acts of service as a family, participating in park cleanups or city-wide service days.

    Teaching Manners

    Now that we’ve established the importance of manners, and which manners are important to teach, how should you go about teaching them to your children? Being too strict is unlikely to be effective, and the same goes for threats and punishments. Modeling desired behavior has a stronger impact, and positive reinforcement can help make manners stick. Role play situations that may test your child’s manners, explaining why manners are important, and encouraging polite kindness to other people. Keep your expectations in check while your child is young and still learning.

    Center for Vasectomy Reversal is Here for Your Family

    Good manners help your children grow into well-rounded, good mannered people, and kindness and respect are two of the core values of happy families. At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow happy families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.

  • How to Navigate the Challenges of Parenting Teens

    Father and teenager son playing video games.

    Parenting in a Shifting Landscape

    One thing about parenting is that it is everchanging. Just when you’ve got one stage under control, your kids move on to the next one, and you have to relearn the job all over again. The teenage years are one of the most challenging stages, because it comes with so much change, as your teens transition from children to adults. These years are hard on everyone. They’re hard on the teenagers because they are going through so many changes, and hard on you as a parent because of your changing relationship with your egocentric teen.  How can you support your child and ease the transition, while maintaining a good relationship?

    Understanding Your Teen’s Mind

    The teen years are a time of breaking away from childhood attachments and forming an independent identity. Your teens may cycle through activities, interests, peer groups, and mindsets, in search of a persona they feel is authentic. Managing all of this through hormonal changes, while overcoming insecure feelings about their bodies, can be extremely challenging. Many teens are intensely self-critical and self-doubting, and this negative self-perception can lead them to spend time alone and avoid their parents. Hyperconscious of all of these changes, parents may begin to criticize and question more than before, and be more suspicious and protective, because of their own anxiety. The anxiety is understandable. Teenagers take risks, act like they don’t care, and lie to, pick fights with, and manipulate their parents. If parents can take a step back from their own anxious feelings, recognize that transitions are natural, and remember what it’s like to be a teenager, this time will be a little bit easier. It can also make conflict with your teens easier if you recognize that teens who are comfortable enough to be contentious with their parents are actually displaying trust. If you can reign in your instinct to demand obedience and instead be willing to debate issues, it will foster respect in your relationship.

    Providing Support During Transitions

    One of the best things you can do for your teens, as they’re navigating this challenging landscape of change, is to be supportive. Understand that your teens have a lot of big feelings, and be willing to listen without judgement. As much as possible try to maintain steady routines, and encourage your teen to focus on healthy habits, like getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and managing stress. Offer your teens the chance to voice their opinions and make choices, but maintain rules and boundaries so that your kids feel secure and know what to expect. Counter your teens’ anxiety by reminding them of past accomplishments and successes, and try to manage your own anxiety in a way that keeps it separate from theirs.

    Guiding With Empathy and Encouragement

    It is easy, as adults to forget how intense things felt when we were teenagers. The challenges teens face today are different than those of past generations, but the physical and social changes are similar, and if you listen, you might discover that your teen is facing some of the same difficulties that you experienced when you were a teenager. Be mindful of this, and try to extend some grace. Maintaining empathy for your teen can help you stay connected, and if you can talk to your teens about some of your experiences, they may be more willing to listen to your viewpoints. When kids are little, they respond to positive reinforcement and praise, and these tactics are just as impactful for teens. Work on helping your teens build their self-confidence, focusing on their positive characteristics and helping them to cultivate a sense of self-compassion. Encouraging them to help others through acts of service can also help them feel better about themselves and give them a sense of purpose.

    Navigating Conflict

    One thing common during the teen years is clashing with parents. Fortunately, these conflicts do not mean that the relationship is weak. Teens may rebel against authority, parents try to clamp down and preserve their authority, and this escalates the conflict. It is important to understand that teens pick fights over everyday issues because they see them as deeper problems that challenge their identity. Limitations on their activities may be seen as a lack of trust or a challenge to their maturity, and this can trigger self-doubts that cause the teen to respond with anger. It is important for parents to listen to their teens and help guide them toward the right decisions, rather than setting unenforceable limits and causing teens to rebel and distance themselves further. Keep the lines of communication open can help let teenagers know that they can go to their parents for support and validation.

    Staying Connected

    It can be difficult to stay connected to your teenagers, when they keep their heads down, looking at their phones, and then lock themselves in their rooms without talking to you. Keep engaging, so that your teens know you’re a safe space and someone they can come to with issues. Recognize that physically distancing from you is a developmentally appropriate move for a teenager, and their self-imposed solitude allows them the time and space to try out some autonomy, spend time in introspection, learn to regulate their moods, and figure out who they are. Keep trying, modifying your connection to meet your teenager’s life stage. If your teenager is pulling away physically, try giving pats on the back instead of snuggles. Keep saying I love you, even if your teen doesn’t say it back. Stay accessible and available, because even when your teens seem to be pulling away, they still need their parents’ love and guidance.

    Support for Your Family as it Grows

    We hope these tips will help you to guide your teenagers and promote harmony in your home as your family grows. At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow their happy families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.

  • Why you should Teach your Kids about the Importance of Education

    Father and daughter reading books.

    Education Begins at Birth

    From the moment they arrive, children are learning. Little children soak in knowledge like sponges, and if you think about everything they learn and accomplish in the first few years of life, it’s really very impressive. Most little ones are innately curious and eager to learn, but often, once they start school, they begin to lose some of that love of learning. It’s important for parents to encourage kids to power through their negative feelings about school, by instilling in them a love of learning and an understanding of the importance of education.

    Why is Education so Important?

    Countries whose populations are well-educated have better outcomes in terms of economic growth, health, and lower rates of violence. However, these are not facts that will mean anything to children. Even explaining to children that education will lead to a better future for them will not typically have much impact, because kids don’t really start to form clear future goals until high school, at the earliest. If you can connect education to someone your child looks up to, or to some goal that relates to the near future, they’ll be more apt to embrace the concept. Ultimately, education is vital for the personal and professional development of a person, and children need to embrace learning to be successful, not just professionally, but personally.

    Why Do Children Get Discouraged?

    There are many different factors that affect a child’s attitude towards learning. Sometimes, as parents, we unintentionally denigrate education by saying things like, “I hated school,” “I was always bad at math,” or even, “that person is such a nerd.” Make sure you don’t allow this kind of anti-intellectualism to creep into your interactions with your children. Another thing that can impact a child’s love for learning is boredom, and a feeling that what is being taught isn’t applicable or pertinent. Then, too, children have different learning styles, and when this is not acknowledged and embraced, kids can become bored and discouraged.

    Explaining The Importance of Education

    When you talk to your child about education, don’t make it all about grades, or future job success. Instead, encourage your children to pursue their interests, acknowledging that learning doesn’t just happen in school. Help them engage with things that interest them, fostering their natural curiosity by embracing their passions.

    Practical Ways to Promote Lifelong Learning

    • Find the right learning environment for your child. Determine your child’s unique learning style, and find a place that meets the child’s needs. If you have a child who is constantly complaining about school, it may be time to talk about possible alternatives.
    • Provide a wealth of learning opportunities. Learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom, and children who are exposed to diverse learning opportunities are more likely to be interested and engaged. Sports and other extracurricular activities, visits to museums and historical sites, travel, volunteering, and even apprenticeships are all great ways to stimulate a child’s love of learning.
    • Model a love of learning. It’s true in just about every aspect of parenting: children learn by example. If they see their parents as people who are interested and interesting, they’re more likely to want to learn. Find your own learning opportunities, and let your children see you reading, researching current events, trying new things, and being curious.
    • Encourage kids to talk about their interests. We get it, you don’t want to hear any more about that video game. However, it’s important to let children talk to you, so that you can get to know them. Ask questions about things they’re interested in and things they’re learning, and why certain things are important or interesting to them.
    • Acknowledge difficulties. Especially when it comes to schoolwork, education is sometimes a challenge. Help your children see that challenges are an opportunity to learn and grow, and mistakes are a natural part of learning.

    Starting a Healthy, Happy Family

    At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow their happy families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.

  • Effective Strategies for Handling Sibling Conflict

    Young siblings fighting over toy.

    Is Sibling Conflict Unavoidable?

    The story of Cain and Abel is one of the oldest stories we have, from the earliest days of humanity, and it’s about some serious sibling conflict. Are we hard-wired to fight with our brothers and sisters? There are many different reasons sibling conflicts happen, but they don’t have to be a major problem. Parents can help manage these fights, in order to help our children develop life-long friendships with their siblings.

    Why Is Sibling Conflict so Common?

    On a deep level, sibling conflicts have to do with each child’s quest to discover his or her own identity and place within the family. There is also the matter of shared resources, which is, of course, at the heart of many conflicts, large and small, personally and globally. It comes down to a combination of externalized conflict and internalized conflict. Externally, children are impacted by things like birth order, gender, temperament, and talent, all of which can cause other people to look at them differently. Add to that list differing developmental stages and any developmental or psychiatric disorders that may be in the mix, and it’s easy to see how conflict arise. Sources of internalized conflict sometimes overlap with the external issues; temperament, for example, impacts how children see themselves as well as how they handle conflict. Verbal fluency and social emotional deficits have an affect on a child’s ability to understand and communicate with siblings. Consider that these factors are also influenced by the way you parent the children, the way the parents interact with each other, and environmental stressors on the family, and it’s easy to see why sibling conflict is complicated and difficult to manage.

    How Much Should Parents Intervene?

    There is a school of thought that maintains that children should handle conflict on their own, without the interference of adults. To a certain extent, that is true, as long as you have already provided them with the tools to manage conflict in a productive, positive way. However, it is crucial that parents intervene if the disagreement becomes aggressive, either physically or verbally. The best course of action, in fact, is to intervene early and work on preventing conflicts from escalating. Identify the triggers that are causing the conflict, talk to your kids about coping with these issues, and try to guide them away from escalation.

    Tips for Promoting Healthy Sibling Relationships

    • Encourage open communication. Work on communication with your children, helping them articulate their needs and feelings rather than acting impulsively. Don’t take sides, but help facilitate this communication by acting as a mediator, and guiding your children towards a peaceful resolution of their issues.
    • Teach healthy conflict resolution. Learning to manage disagreements in a constructive way is a skill that will serve children well throughout their lifetimes. If you can instill this in them early, it will help them to grow into adults who are adept at resolving conflict and managing interpersonal relationships. Work with your children on listening to their siblings’ point of view, not engaging in name-calling or below the belt fighting, and learning to settle disputes without losing their temper. There is a unique component to the sibling bond, in which siblings know how to push each other’s buttons better than anyone else ever could. Teaching your kids to avoid this impulse will go a long way towards helping them become adults who can sustain healthy relationships.
    • Emphasize how harmony is important to the family. Your family is a team, and a breakdown in the relationships between family members affects the entire team. For the family to function well, all the family members need to work together to promote peace and treat each other in loving ways. Try to prevent sibling rivalry in your family, fostering an atmosphere of collaboration rather than competition.
    • Make respect non-negotiable. Name calling, as well as verbal and physical aggression, should be absolutely against the rules. Encourage your children to think about how they’d like to be treated before responding to their siblings.
    • Listen to each side, encourage collaborative problem-solving. Each of your children needs to feel heard, and it is important for you to listen, without judgement or interruption. Keep your children’s confidences, and don’t take sides, but instead work with your children and encourage them to find fair, healthy solutions to the conflict.
    • Model healthy behaviors. As with all parenting issues, this is one in which you really must practice what you preach. In your relationships with your children, your spouse, and other members of your family, strive to remain respectful, loving, and solution-focused in the midst of conflict.
    • Seek help when you need it. It hasn’t been solved since the dawn of humanity, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to completely eliminate sibling conflict on your own. Sometimes, you will need external support, so don’t be afraid to seek this out, whether in the form of a parenting support group, family therapy, or some other form of support.

    Growing Families can be Happy Families

    We hope these tips will help you to help your children and promote harmony in your home as your family grows. At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow their happy families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.

  • How to Teach your Children about Empathy and Kindness

    Son showing his dad kindness.

    Teaching Core Values to Children

    We all want our children to grow into worthwhile adults, but how do we go about raising people who will make the world a better place? It starts with establishing core values that help define your children’s character, and the character of your family as a whole. Which values should be on this list? We believe empathy and kindness should be top priorities.

    Instilling Kindness in Children

    If there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s kindness. Kindness is a term that encompasses various emotions, including sympathy, empathy, respect, remorse for wrongdoing, and satisfaction in doing the right thing, as well as unselfish acts done for the good of others. When children understand how the acts of kindness can help others, and learn to intentionally act in ways that benefits others, they’re growing into kind, compassionate people. Helping your children to develop kindness and incorporate kind acts into their daily activities can help them learn to instinctively be empathetic people. The good news is that children have natural empathy, and if you give them some guidance, it’s not difficult to nurture.

    Incorporating Kind Acts into Everyday Life

    • Teach and model the golden rule. Teaching children to treat others the way they’d like to be treated is an important part of raising an empathetic child. Remind your children to put themselves in other people’s shoes, considering how they’d feel about something before doing or saying it to someone else. Show them how to do this, by showing kindness and empathy in your day to day interactions.
    • Watch what you say. Try to be in the habit of only saying positive things, and encourage your children to follow your example. Teach them that if they can’t think of a positive comment, it’s best to stay quiet. Help them to learn how to find positive things to say, though, getting around criticism by striving to offer encouragement and praise.
    • Model positive interactions with strangers. While we certainly want to teach our children to be wary of strangers, we also need them to get into the habit of being kind to the people they meet. This is a delicate balance, but the best way to manage it is to show kindness to others in front of your children. Teach them to thank retail workers or servers, encourage them to interact positively with neighbors, and say hello when you are out together and someone greets them.
    • Teach your children good manners. Greeting people properly is just one part of practicing good manners. Teach your children to say please, thank you, and excuse me, and role play different situations, so they’ll know how to use good manners, even when you’re not around.
    • Steer clear of spoiling. Encourage your children to be charitable, and not to expect to get everything they want. Patient, thankful children with self-control will be kinder than children who are spoiled.
    • Be kind to your children, and encourage them to model kindness. Let’s face it, children can try our patience. Disciplining them with love and striving to be kind to them will help them learn to be kind to others. When we show empathy to our children, it empowers them to be empathetic to others and it helps us build a strong, secure, loving relationship.
    • Warn kids about bullying and cyberbullying. Keep a close eye on your children’s interactions, particularly when they’re online. Make sure they are educated about bullying and cyberbullying.
    • Offer opportunities to practice kindness and empathy. Make sure you let your children know that caring for others is a priority in your family. Set a high ethical standard, delivering a clear message about how much you value kindness. Guide them in being kind to family members and peers, and talk to them about ethical dilemmas that help them stretch and grow in kindness.
    • Connect your kids with the greater community. Volunteer, and take your kids along with you. Talk to them about people who may be having a hard time. Help them to feel that they are a valuable part of the community, even from a young age.

    Center for Vasectomy Reversal is Here for Your Family

    You might notice that, with most of these, the example of the parent sets the stage for good behavior on the part of the children. Kindness and empathy are two of the core values of happy families, and at the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow happy families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.

  • Promoting Positive Body Image in Children: Encouraging Self-Love and Acceptance

    Father with children.

    The Benefits of Positive Body Image

    Your body image- how you think and feel about your body, is important to your overall wellbeing. Your body image may not have anything to do with your actual appearance, but when you accept, appreciate, and respect your body, you develop better self-esteem and self-acceptance. People with a good body image tend to take a balanced approach to diet and physical activity, while those with a negative body image are likely to experience negative effect on their physical, psychological, social health. Disordered eating, compulsive exercise, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem are all results of negative body image. Additionally, having a negative body image can cause a person to feel self-conscious or distressed, which can lead to avoidance of social interactions and disengagement from daily activities. This causes feelings of loneliness, isolation, and a lack of acceptance from others, further damaging self-esteem.

    Helping Your Child With Body Image

    Fortunately, you can help your child develop a positive body image and strong self-esteem.

    • Start by being a good role model. Be mindful of the things you say, and steer clear of negative talk about your body or the bodies of others. Work on your own relationship with your body, and encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings regarding body image. Talk about societal messages and images that promote unrealistic body ideals, and encourage your child to challenge narrow idea of attractiveness.
    • Encourage healthy habits. Proper nutrition and regular exercise are both important for a healthy body. Don’t encourage your child to diet, and never label foods as good or bad. Rather, work with your child on eating a healthy variety of nutritious foods. Teach children to reach for nutritious snacks, and listen to their bodies’ cues on when to eat and when to stop eating. When it comes to exercise, work to make your family an active one, encouraging physical activity as a habit, rather than a chore. Engage in activities that are fun and physical, and talk about how amazing our bodies are and what they can do.
    • Help your child build confidence and develop self-acceptance. Encourage self-expression, help your kids develop problem solving skills, and help them build confidence in their own abilities by showing your confidence. Teach healthy coping strategies, and encourage your children to assert themselves, learning to say no when they need to and not allowing others to mistreat them. Give your children age-appropriate household tasks, to help them feel they play an important role in the family.
    • Talk about body image, at home and in the community. Avoid making comments about other people’s physical appearance, instead mentioning characteristics like persistence, kindness, or optimism. Create an environment where there is no teasing about looks, and no hurtful comments. Work with other parents and people at your children’s school and other groups, to create a positive environment that encourages positive body image and self-esteem while discouraging bullying and negative peer pressure.
    • Monitor media consumption. Our children are exposed to so much negative information online and through movies and television. Pay attention to what your children are consuming, and help them develop a critical eye towards media messages.
    • Focus on health, well-being, and inner qualities. Talk about bodies in terms of what they can do, and how to keep them healthy. Discuss how a healthy lifestyle improves overall wellbeing, rather than how it impacts appearance. Celebrate your child’s creativity, resilience, and kindness, fostering an environment in which character traits are valued above external appearance.
    • Prioritize gratitude and self-care. Being grateful helps children develop a positive mindset, and that includes how they feel about themselves. Teach them to engage in self-care activities like hobbies, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and just taking breaks.
    • Celebrate differences. Teach your children to appreciate differences in abilities, appearance, and backgrounds, valuing diversity as something that enriches our lives. Foster an environment of support and inclusivity, and encourage them to stand up against body shaming and bullying. When we teach our children to treat others with respect and kindness, we are helping to build a healthier world.

    Helping Healthy Families Grow

    At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow their families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.