Should You Get a Pet for Your Child?

Many of us have have fond memories of the pets we had as children. However, most parents these days have less time to spend with their kids than our moms and dads did. Many families are also in the midst of a financial squeeze, thanks to a lessened economy and stagnant wages. Consequently, difficult decisions are sometimes necessary when it comes to what can be purchased.

Most children love the idea of a pet, while many adults don’t love the cost of vet and food bills. Wondering whether you should get a pet for your child? Here are some reasons why it is actually a good idea:

Exercise

While this usually won’t work with cats, dogs help to ensure that kids get outside and exercise, either through playing with or walking the dog.

Responsibility

Parents often struggle to instill a sense of responsibility in their children. Your kids may not care about the lawn, but they do care about the dog, so that provides motivation for them to regularly feed and care for it.

Reduced Anxiety

Is your child frequently anxious? Studies show that children with pets tend to be less stressed, as well as less lonely.

Increased Self-Esteem

Children who successfully raise pets, particularly ones that are popular and admired, experience an increase in self-esteem.

Fewer Allergies

Exposure to pet dander can be problematic for some people. However, studies have shown that children exposed to this sort of allergen at a very young age develop stronger immune systems. Consequently, they are less likely to have problems with allergies later in life.

Discipline

Helping to raise and train pets can help children know the importance of discipline. Kids come to understand that cats and dogs cannot be allowed to behave just any way they want; that lesson carries over to humans as well.

Looking for Inspiration for Your Writing? Try These Suggestions

Writing is not an automatic process even for the most experienced scribes. Inspiration is there in abundance on some days, and almost completely absent on others. It would be nice to have a steady, dependable stream of great ideas and witty repartee, but there are no guarantees.

That said, you can try the following when you find yourself running short on inspiration:

Conversation

We engage in a great deal of small talk most days, the majority of it forgettable and unimportant at best. However, a really neat idea can sometimes arise from the most banal of exchanges. Don’t shut down; strike up a conversation with that interesting looking stranger.

Read

Reading other people’s work can help a lot. By that, we don’t mean steal ideas; the idea is that your brain becomes stimulated by literature that you find intriguing and rewarding, and that helps to reawaken your own creativity.

Music

Listening to music is another way to get yourself going again. It acts as both a welcome distraction from writer’s block and a wonderful stimulant for creative thought and expression.

Travel

You don’t have to head to the other side of the planet to find your muse; even a trip into the country can help to clear your head and get some new ideas percolating.

Write Down Your Dreams

I can never seem to remember my dreams, which is a shame as some of them seem widely creative as they unfold. Keep a pen and paper or a voice recorder near your bed and make note of some of the more unique and just plain weird things that happen during both your dreams and nightmares. Your brain might just be trying to tell you something.

Search Online

Know what you want to write about, but are not sure how to get started? Enter that subject into a search engine and see what comes out. You might just be surprised.

How to Choose the Right Movies for Your Kids

Parenting can be a full-time job and, even if it makes you feel guilty, it is sometimes necessary to plunk the kids down in front of the TV in order to get a few minutes peace. Or you might drop them off at the local multiplex for a few hours so that you and your partner can have a normal conversation that progresses more than 30 seconds without an interruption.

However, there are so many movies out there, it can be tough to know what is right for your child. The MPAA ratings system can help in turns of gauging the content, but not necessarily the quality. THE LEGO MOVIE was a genuine surprise: fast, smart, and funny for both adults and children. On the other end of the scale is THE EMOJI MOVIE (opening today), a ghastly, completely unfunny mess that displays no imagination, talent, or effort.

Reviews can help. Some critics are also parents and keep that in mind when they are evaluating movies. Knowing what does and does not work for most children is certainly important when writing about cinema aimed at that demographic. Are there any critics that you find to be especially good in this area? Follow them.

Try to watch some movies with your children and observe how they react to them. If the latest PG-13 superhero movie is too intense for your young ones, try to pick something similar, but less violent and frightening. If your child is too young to distinguish fantasy from reality, then anything that is PG-13 should be avoided for now.

Also, have a conversation with them. Find out what movies they liked and what it was that they liked about them. This will not only give you an idea of what to go for in future, but also what to avoid.

THE LEGO MOVIE. Courtesy Warner Brothers.

 

Should All Movies With Smoking Be Rated R?

The argument is almost as old as movies themselves: do motion pictures encourage people to act in a certain way? Do films that depict prolonged or detailed violence encourage people to engage in such acts? Do movies that depict rape convince some that it is fine to commit sexual violence? Do films that feature racist themes and characters encourage imitative behavior and attitudes?

The list goes on and can include any anti-social acts imaginable. Surveys conducted over the years vary, but generally come down on the side that seeing something in a movie will not encourage imitation from the vast majority of people.

Those who disagree with such conclusions often point out that children do not have the experience or judgement to avoid the temptation of certain activities in movies. Smoking has recently come up for criticism in this regard, with opponents recommending that any movie depicting tobacco or marijuana use receive the minimum of an R-rating (under 17 must be accompanied by an adult guardian), even if none of the film’s other content reaches that level.

The Motion Picture Association of America, which rates movies in the United States, does automatically give motion pictures depicting drug use a minimum of PG-13. There is no official policy regarding smoking, though it is sometimes included in the content warnings that accompany those ratings (movies with period settings and people constantly puffing away sometimes receive the humorous classification “historical smoking”).

My take is that children are far more likely to be influenced by what they see in everyday life, which is in their field of vision and imagination for much longer than a motion picture. If the parents or siblings smoke, it seems far more likely to me that others in that household will adopt the habit. Blaming movies for lapses in parenting and/or personal character seems like a cop out.

Sean Young in BLADE RUNNER. Courtesy Warner Brothers.

Do You or Your Kids Have Smartphone Addiction?

Most everyone with a smartphone will likely admit that they spend too much time each day looking at it. Not surprising as they are designed precisely for you to development an addiction. How many times have you received an alert and reached for your phone, only to notice something else? That thing catches your attention and, the next thing you know, you’ve spent 15 minutes looking at it and other related postings.

Social media is a wonderful way to catch up and stay connected, but it is also rather insidious in the way it encourages us to keep coming back. Have you ever posted a picture or video, and then relentlessly checked back to see how many people have clicked “like”? If you put something up that is widely shared and enjoyed, it provides a sense of validation and attention. Put simply, it helps you to feel good and some days, we really can use that.

So, how much is too much? This varies from person-to-person because our levels of responsibility do. However, if your phone use is preventing you from getting work done, encouraging you to tune out of conversations, and causing you to use your phone at inappropriate times (please don’t use it in movie theatres so you will be one less person I have to yell at), then it is a problem. Are you getting in trouble at work over your phone use? If so, is your Facebook feed really worth losing your job?

The best way to lessen your phone use is to put it away at set times of the day. Think about at least four times during the day when you can put it aside for an hour at a time. Once you are used to this, expand the number of “call free” times you plan for each day.

Teamwork is Wonderful for Building a Child’s Character

My friend, Beth, was talking to me about her son, Rob, who was a loner and had problems with authority. I was surprised to hear this because Rob had always struck me as a really polite, dedicated, and ambitious teen who was clearly going to get ahead in the world. Apparently, that was not always the case. Before the family moved here from Buffalo a few years back, Rob was constantly in trouble and failing several subjects.

Beth and her partner were at their wit’s end. She had discussions with several school staff members in order to get as complete a picture as she could of the situation. The one who expressed admiration for Rob was the gym teacher. Oh, he mentioned that Rob could be a real smart ass, but he also noted that the boy had definite physical ability that should be nurtured.

That gave Beth the idea of having Rob join some leagues. In our rural area, there are not a lot of choices. You can sign up for things in the city, but that means long car trips there and back that are simply not feasible on most people’s schedules. However, the county opened an air-supported dome awhile back and it offers league play for soccer, volleyball, and tennis.

Reluctantly, Rob signed up for all of them. The change came surprisingly fast: the boy developed a passion for the sports, especially soccer, and he grew to look forward to both the games and practice. His physique improved and that made him more confident. As Beth put it, “He can now be woo girls the right way instead of being an obnoxious jerk they don’t want to be around.”

Rob’s attitude brightened and he became used to a living his life by a schedule. That resulted in him enjoying school more, as well. Oh, he’d rather be kicking a ball around, but his marks are now all solid Bs. I’m really happy for both Rob and Beth.

Not actually Rob, but a pretty good likeness

 

Air Domes are Also Great for Kids

As a parent, I am always concerned about the amount of exercise (or lack thereof) that my kids get each week. During the warmer months, there are a number of activities they enjoy happening on a regular basis. My youngest son, Steven, can also go jogging or play soccer in the park with friends.

However, when the winter months come, my kids turn into grizzly bears looking for the closest cave to hibernate in. None of them like hockey or skiing, so they don’t want to do anything except play videogames and surf the net.

I was at my wit’s end, but thankfully a new solution emerged when an air-supported dome opened in the county. If you are not familiar with these engineering marvels, they are different from the giant football and baseball domes you see on TV.

Like the name says, these domes are inflated, but quite secure. There is no danger of them blowing away and a puncture or two will not cause them to collapse. The great thing for a small county like ours is the cost. As these structures are not permanent, they do not cost nearly as much as a conventional building. They are also comparatively easy to erect and take down. That way, an outdoor swimming pool can be covered with a dome during the colder months and thus remain available to the community in year-round, quality-controlled comfort. When summer comes, it is removed.

My oldest son, Blane, loves tennis and that is one of the activities on the schedule at the dome. He wasn’t interested in any league play, but loves the idea of being able to play every weekend. It allows him to both maintain and build upon his skill level.

There are quite a few activities available in domes, including soccer, volleyball, badminton, rugby, and even golf! If you have a dome in your area, call them or go online and check their activities schedule. Chances are you will find something of interest to you or your family.

The air-supported dome at Eastern Michigan University. Domes like this used to only be seen in such locations, but their usage is becoming more and more widespread. By Dwight Burdette (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Air Dome Structures For Soccer

What Is An Air Dome Structure?

An air dome structure, also referred to as an air-supported structure, dome, or bubble, is a unique system in which higher air pressure within the dome supports the whole structure. In this system, air will constantly cycle into the structure in order to maintain the higher air pressure inside the structure. Technology seen in these air dome structures to maintain the pressure is specifically designed airlocks that also allow for easy access into the dome itself. Common access points for domes include airlocks for pedestrians free of barriers, vehicle airlocks for equipment and other maintenance, as well revolving doors.

In order for the structure to remain grounded, since the pressure going upwards is significant, the membrane of the structure is anchored to a concrete beam around the perimeter of the area. The weight of the concrete as well as the friction from the soil provides resistance against the uplifting pressure from the inflation of the dome.

Why Choose A Dome?

An air-supported structure offers not only a lower cost to a traditional building, but also the best cost for a soccer dome. This ensures teams can play soccer all year round without fear of stopping because of some rain or other environmental factors that would normally cancel an outdoor game or practice quite quickly. The specialized materials and overall systems helps to ensure the creation of a consistent climate inside the dome, regardless of the weather conditions on the outside.

What Are They Made Of?

Each air dome structure is made of many layers of fabrics. The outside layer is created using a vinyl coated polyester fabric that meets a high architectural grade. The purpose of this particular layer is to provide strength, which is achieved through welded seams enhancing the strength beyond the fabric itself.

The inside layer of a dome is a liner intended to improve the dome’s acoustic and thermal qualities. This layer will help maintain the temperature (cool or warm) within the dome, regardless of the climate outside. If necessary, a dome can also have an additional layer for insulation, which would be in between the insider liner layer and the outside polyester layer, to increase energy efficiency.

Importance Of Maintaining A Balanced Diet For Children

healthNowadays, it seems like there’s more of a struggle to maintain a healthy and balanced diet especially for children.  Although the health kick trend has been growing more and more popular, it often does not get to many communities that have the lack of resources and knowledge to understand these trends.  Instead, they continue to purchase foods that are extremely unhealthy for their kids due to their lack of resources.  We need to help support and collaborate with each other to help aid these communities in providing more knowledge in the foods they’re putting into their system.

A great way to implement a healthy guide is to first get these kids to track down what they eat in a food and nutrition diary.  Through this, we can help them keep track of what are good foods to continue eating and what is actually harming their bodies.  A good tracking system in a diary can make a huge impact on a kid’s diet.  Think of all those apps that track calories and fitness steps.  This is similar but also makes the child accountable for what they’re intaking.

To first implement this process, we need to create a template diary for tracking your food.  The easier this template is, the more likely a child will fill it in every day or even after every meal.  After showing them what is healthy to eat and what isn’t, our hope is that the child will slowly be able to determine for themselves what they should be eating.  Through a steady incline of food knowledge, our goal is that the child will eventually know the stats of everything they’re eating.  Soon, they should be able to determine the difference between healthy foods and non-healthy foods.

This system, if implemented, will definitely help guide not just kids but full communities to maintain a healthier and balanced diet.  To also include in the tracking diary, we can create a template for exercise and other forms of activities that may help a person with their fitness plan.  Eventually this may even serve as a foundation for people who want to start a health kick for themselves!

WNC Families CAN Supporting Each Other

kid

Welcome to WNC Families where we support each other and our families.  As families whose children have emotional disorders, we’re here to help each other.  Through it all, we’d like to be here for all of you and want you to know that we will do whatever it takes to help!

“WNC Families CAN, through mutual support and community collaboration, provides resources, education, and advocacy for families who have children with challenging behaviors and Serious Emotional Disorders.”

Get answers to your questions, attend support meetings, meet families to who face similar challenges, and find tools and support to help your family.

WNC Families CAN strives to provide everything you need, and we will be giving tips and trips so you can have fun with the youngsters.