It’s So Tempting to Spank…Times Are Tough!

It’s So Tempting to Spank…Times Are Tough!

These are hard times. Parents stress levels are at an all time high.
Kids feel this tension. Feeling helpless when you cannot keep your kids from acting out or you cannot pay your is normal. Using your body to express how you feel at any age is also normal. Because when you move, you feel better.

But, hitting your kids to get them to stop their behavior may work for the moment, but it will never change their behavior. When you’re at your wit’s end please do move to make yourself feel better about whatever bad situation you are in, but make sure it’s healthy movement. Dance more, run more, walk more, listen to music more and goof-around more!

There are tons of evidence-based reasons why spanking doesn’t work. Here are just a few:
• Study of over 3,000 children where corporal punishment was used the results were kids cheated more, lied more, bullied more, had no conscience about misbehavior, were more deliberately oppositional to their parents and had trouble getting along with their teachers.
• 1,112 kids 4-11 years in the National Survey of Families & Households discovered that regardless of age, race or gender kids that were spanked had increased antisocial behavior and fighting in school 5 years later.
• 1,519 adolescents boys studied showed that if they were hit, as younger children they were much more likely to hit their parents in adolescence.
• A five year study showed that boys who were hit where more likely to physically assault their girlfriends in the following 5 years.
• Kids that had less corporal punishment from their parents had a greater probability having an above average cognitive growth; simply kids are smarter.
• Lastly, in 1998 the American Academy of Pediatrics published “Guidelines for Effective Discipline” that advises parents to avoid spanking because it NEVER changes behavior in their kids.

Not spanking your kids doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discipline them when they are out of line.
Just remember to touch your kids when they are acting the way you want them to! When your kids are not behaving that is not the time to touch them especially in a hurtful way. So look for ways to make physical contact with your kids when you see them being kind to others, listening to you, smiling, and cooperating.
All of us parents, myself included will get through this tough time together, Dr. Ann

California Kids Could Lose Everything…On May 19

Politics are not my usual topic of discussion when it comes to children and families. But, I am extremely compelled to communicate accurate information to you about proposition 1-D, one of the CA May 19th special election initiatives.

In 1998, CA Children & Families Act formed a State Commission to oversee & support funding for the education of children from 0 to 5 years called First 5 California. Before any of these funds raised from taxes on tobacco (proposition 10) could be distributed county commissioners had to develop complicated strategic plans based on extensive public input. This process of course took time, but did insure that all of those funds went directly to children except 1% used for administrative functions.

First 5 California is so crucial to CA children because it;

* Improves children’s mental and physical health

* Provides quality preschool for kindergarten readiness

* Strengthens at-risk families which protects children from harm

* Increases child’s safety from abuse & neglect

1-D proposition deceptive description says that it protects children services funding and helps balance the budget, but the reality is if it passes it will take money that currently funds over 100 programs, like

KCET’s PBS show, “A Place of Our Own” and fills the holes in other areas of the CA state budget deficit.

Please read this proposition carefully, get the facts at Decide for yourself, but please vote!

Another FYI, T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., respected pediatrician says VOTE NO on 1-D!

Think about,

Dr. Ann

Economic Crisis & Your Kids

This economic downturn affects everyone, children included. Because there is no money, all services for kids will be compromised from classroom size to school closings and unemployment support for children whose parents have lost their jobs. Parents worry not only about how to provide for their children, but what should they tell their kids about the state of our economy, if anything.

The answer is different depending upon the ages of your kids. Here are some guidelines to make your job as a parent easier in tough times.

Kids up until the age of three or four only know that if their parent is happy, they are too. To help relieve your stress about your finances P.L.A.Y. with your kids. On March 28, 2009 I will be offering P.L.A.Y. workshop (Physically Laughing Along with Youngsters) at the CA Association for the Education of Young Children conference in Sacramento, CA.

Laughter is the best medicine as they say! Playing your cares away is a gift that young children give to their parents. So laugh and play, even for a moment with your kids and your troubles will seem further away. The model your kids will see is that stress can be washed away with playful smiles.

School age children know and feel the tension in your family during these trying times, so don’t try to hide it. Instead teach your kids what to do.

When you are uncertain about the future the best solution is to SAVE.

Talk to your kids about the “rainy day” concept and be their example by putting a few pennies in your piggy bank and theirs, so the future doesn’t have to be so scary.

Teens and young adult children are worried about keeping their jobs. Tell them to focus on the unique talents that they bring to their work. Make sure they show their boss how invaluable they are by continuing to contribute hard work. If they do get laid off, be sure to tell them it is not their fault and encourage them through your support.

If you are a parent who has lost their job and you need your kids support to get through your crisis, do not hesitate to ask. Everyone needs to feel needed. Healthy families are built on mutual respect & trusting each other.

Stick with your kids no matter what their age during this crisis. If you lose your home remember that, “home is truly where the heart is”! Your kids only need you, not a place, to know they are loved,

Dr. Ann

TIME-OUT…Has Nothing to Do with Time!

Time-out is so misunderstood. Most parents use it to change their kids’ unruly behavior. Thinking as they have been told my tons of friends, neighbors and experts that if they leave their child alone for a few minutes they will surely think about what they did and choose not to do it again.

The first myth buster I want to tell you is, time never changes behavior.

Our prison system is a perfect example that this never works.

So when your kids are acting ‘a little criminal’ from your perspective remember if you put them in time-out that will stop their behavior for the moment, but it will never change their behavior.

The second myth buster is that kids know what to do or think about when they are ‘in time-out’. All they know is that it doesn’t feel so good to be separated from everyone, especially my parents, but kids don’t know what to do to change that. So you have to teach your kids what to do in time out.

For younger children give them their ‘lovey’, as that love object will help them feel like they are not alone. If they are older, teach them to either listen to music or move (jumping jacks) and that will help them change their mood.

In order to change behavior in your kids you have to teach them what ‘to do’ instead of giving all your time and attention to your kids when they do the stuff you wish they would stop doing.

It does not matter where you put kids for time out or how long they stay there. Just keep a close eye on them when they need to be separated from a situation because they just hurt someone with their words or their bodies. When they start to calm down, go to them and tell them how you are proud of them and they should be proud of themselves because they have stopped themselves.

Finally, a pretty famous amount of time to ‘ground your kids’ is two weeks.

What research tells us is that after 24 hours of regret and remorse for what they did kids just begin resenting their parents and spend the rest of their ‘grounding time’ thinking about how they can do it again without getting caught.

Time-out is NOT a CONSEQUENCE; it only stops a behavior. The best consequence for changing behavior is parents teaching their kids appropriate behavior and giving time and attention to their kid’s great behavior!

Parents spend some of your time-out thinking about it,

Dr. Ann

What All Kids Need…Oprah Tells Us

Oprah’s show this week about the “Little Girl Found Living Like an Animal” reminded us all what devastating effects neglect has on children.

Even if kids are not severely neglected they suffer if their parents don’t have a relationship with them.

Dr. Bruce Perry is not only the leading authority on child abuse and neglect, but is one of the most down-to-earth psychiatrists I have ever met. His book, “The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog” is not for the faint of heart, but gives profound insight into how the human brain changes if kids don’t connect with their parents.

There is more neglect in our country than abuse. Caretakers are responsible for helping children learn how to form and maintain relationships. Oprah pointed out that if kids spend too much time with ‘things’ like T.V. and computer/video games and not people that is a form of neglect.

There is optimism about change after neglect. These adoptive parents are awesome. Both mother and father gave this child the gift of unconditional love and affection to help this child travel through her trauma to learning about love. Watching her moving in the family pool to help herself process her emotions and environment was a beautiful sight. All kids need movement to change their moods and deal with their pains.

Dr. Perry emphasized what I have been sharing with you on my website when he said, “Simple things like eye contact, touch and rocking and humming can make all the difference to a baby. It makes neurons (the telephone system in the brain) grow, to make connections in the brain. Those connections make the brain functional.

So the moral of this story is keep touching, talking and making eye contact with your kids for healthy connections to keep their brains thriving.

The gift of your presence in your child’s life means more than any other ‘thing’ you can ever give them, Dr. Ann (Check out show at

The Bachelor…Setting A Terrible Example

Last night’s ABC “The Bachelor” show was just as entertaining as promised, with every twist in the book thrown at the audience. But at what cost to a child?

Jason, the single dad of Ty, a three year old, came off initially as a really genuine guy, who professed to put his child first at all costs. He emphasized that who ever he picked to be his wife would have to be a ‘good’ mom. But, in the process he turned out to be a not so good dad!

Children learn best through model, so matter what we tell kids to do as their parent; they will always pick what they see us do over what we tell them. So what Jason just demonstrated for his son is that he should follow his feelings, not learn what to do with his feelings.

What you do about the way you feel is what we should all be teaching our children. In this case, when Jason was feeling confused about his relationship with Melissa he should have immediately stopped having her ‘hang’ with his son. Yet, Jason shared openly that he spent all the holidays with Melissa and his whole family. That kind of experiment with children’s feelings is very damaging.

Another sick and ugly lesson Jason chooses to teach his young son is that you can commit to someone and then flip-flop your decision very quickly. Not to mention immediately commit to someone else that you rejected publicly and seemingly it does not matter that you caused tons of humiliation and embarrassment to other human beings.

Hooray, for Melissa’s parents, who from the beginning were smart enough to not participate in such a potentially publicly, painful experience for their daughter.

Now that is good parenting!

Lastly, Molly needs to be reminded that leopards don’t ever change their spots. Jason will surely flip-flop again. And he is not acting like a father who really cares about his child. All of the woman out there should be asking the question, do you want the father of your children teaching these kinds of messages to your kids?

Never, ever introduce your children to someone you don’t intend on making a permanent part of your children’s lives! Because kids don’t have a say about their relationship ending with someone they have become attached to. So when parents end a relationship for a child that means something special to them, that’s just plain cruel!

Think children first, Dr. Ann

Are Apologies Over-Rated?

Michael Phelps is our most recent American hero, the next young adult for our children to admire and want to be just like him. Come to find out, he is human and makes mistakes just like the rest of us. So how do parents teach their kids about mistakes and how to make amends?

In 2004, after winning gold, Michael Phelps, in the ‘off season’ was sited for drunk driving. He said he was SORRY.

In 2009, after winning record gold, we all saw incriminating pictures of him with a pipe that is used to smoke marijuana. He said he was SORRY.

How many of your kids say, SORRY, then quickly turn around and do the same behavior again? If your kids are anything like mine were this scenario happens quite often. So the question is how do we teach kids to actually feel regret and remorse enough so that they don’t do it again?

I am sure that Michael Phelps was really SORRY both times he was caught doing something illegal. But, saying the word, SORRY, didn’t keep him from doing it again.

The answer to this age-old tough question is in teaching your kids how to ‘feel’ sorry and what to do next time, instead of just saying the word sorry.

When you see your kids feeling sorry, either for someone else or themselves be sure to tell them that they are feeling ‘sorry’ right now. That will help them learn how to identify what sorry means.

Next, after your kids do something they regret, instead of telling them to say they are sorry and talking to them about what they did wrong, take this opportunity to teach them what you’d like them to do next time.

Lastly, be sure to show and tell your kids when you are sorry and tell them this is how you make sure you won’t do it again. Wouldn’t hurt to put a sign up that says, “SORRY MEANS TO NEVER DO IT AGAIN”. Dr. Ann

Cook With Your Kids…

Watch them learn math, science and social esteem!

There is more cooking over the holidays than any other time of the year. Kids are out of school, so they need more activities to occupy their time. Parents need to get holiday cooking done for family visitors, but have less time with the kids’ home. So what’s a parent to do? Cook with your kids!

Any time kids have to measure ingredients it’s math.

Watching how one ingredient mixes with another and makes an entirely different substance is science. Cooking is a fun experiment.

Talking about how foods fit together to make a meal and then sitting down to enjoy the food and take pride in what you’ve made builds social skills.

Cooking is the perfect opportunity for hands on learning.

Even very young children can hold wooden spoons and sit up on the counter to get up close and personal with food festivities. As kids get older they can begin to be a ‘real’ help to their parents and become part of a family cooking team. And by the time they reach young adulthood they will have the experience and confidence to take care of their own meals, not to mention saving money because they can ‘cook in’ instead of going out all the time for food.

Here is a favorite easy recipe from my family to yours!

“Baby Carrot Cake”

2-small jars strained carrots
2-teaspoons vanilla
1-teaspoon salt
2-teaspoons soda
3-teaspoons cinnamon
2-cups flour
1 1/2 cups salad oil (can substitute apple sauce)
2-cups sugar
Mix all ingredients in large bowl.
Bake at 325 degrees for 1-hour in a greased and floured 9X13 pan.
Icing (optional)
1/2 stick butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 box confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Got any kids hands-on recipes to share, please add them to the sight,

Dr. Ann

P.S. Never forget to let your kids smell whatever you cook, it literally makes memories!

Asking for Help Doesn’t Mean You’re a Bad Parent

Parents that ask the most questions about raising their children are the most courageous.

Offering advice to friends and family about what worked for you as a parent is excellent. Just remember to give the advice ONLY when asked and don’t take offense if other parents don’t take it!

If you get unsolicited advice from well-meaning friends and family and it drives you nuts and makes you feel like you are a BAD parent, feel free to use this ‘come back’ that I have told parents for years.

Just say to the person, “Could you do me a favor?” Usually when you ask this people will say, “Sure what is it?” Then say, “I value your opinion, but I would really like to learn from my own mistakes as a parent!”

Feel free to contact me with any question you have this holiday season,

Dr. Ann

Santa Claus is Scary

Big guy in a bright red suit, with a strange laugh can be too much for some kids to handle. This time of year, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourselves as parents that some things surrounding the holidays that seem fun, normal and non-threatening to you are really scary to your kids.

Hair on the face, a simple beard is scary for some one year olds.

Any kind of costume is potentially scary for 2 and 3 year olds.

Too much stimulation with food, fun & strange people can put a 4 to 5 year old into over drive.

So what can parents do to help their kids with their normal fears even though these fears are unrealistic? The best place to start is to teach your kids the difference between realistic and unrealistic fears.

For children in the first year of life, if they are going to be in unfamiliar surroundings or with people they don’t know, like a distant aunt that they only see once a year who wants to hold them immediately, be sure to hand your child to them with their back to the stranger and so they can continue to see your familiar face. Even though someone they don’t know is holding them they can still see the person they trust in front of them.

Play lots of dress-up with 2 and 3 year olds. During the holiday season dress up like the images your kids might see during the season. Put antlers on your head and say “I’m a pretend reindeer now” and then take them off and say, “Now I am your Mommy/Daddy again”. You just might have some fun along the way too!

Four and five year olds can use reason and logic so talking to them about realistic and unrealistic fears is very effective. You might start by making analogies about everyday things.

Ask them if any dogs talked to them on the way to school and of course they will laugh and say, “Dogs don’t talk”. That is your cue to say, “You’re right, real dogs don’t talk, only pretend dogs in cartoons like Scooby Doo”.

After defining for your kids the difference between pretend and real, you can point out realistic fears vs. unrealistic fears.

Your discussion could go something like this, “If you try to run and hide in the mall when we are shopping for the holidays that is a real scare, because I cannot find you. But, when we go to relatives house to have a holiday dinner even though you don’t know them very well, that is not scary because your mom and dad are with you”.

Enjoy this joyous season, but don’t forget to respect your child’s fears and support them even if it seems like a silly scare to you as an adult. Happy Holiday, Dr. Ann