October 2014

Recent News Events Can Scare Children - Here's How Parents Can Help

child watching tv

Ebola. Terrorism. War.

Shootings. Poverty. The economy. Death.

All scary topics and all very real. These subjects are broached regularly in the media and, if you’re a parent of a young child, you’re likely concerned about the effect that such information is having on your little one.

With recent world events escalating in tandem with the ubiquitous 24/7 news cycle, it’s almost impossible for a parent to completely limit the access to information that their children may have. While it is possible to keep a lid on the negative and scarier news items while your child is within your care, our kids do venture out into the world without us - at school, at a friend’s house and elsewhere - and it is in these places that we don’t have much control. Add to this fact the reality that kids talk amongst themselves and it’s likely that your child will have heard something about the latest headline, whether it’s good or bad.

In many instances, kids react to what’s in front of them. What we as parents need to do is to provide context, information and in all cases, reassurances and support to allay any fears that our children may have.

Following are 5 tips for parents about how to calm their child’s fears during these difficult times.

 1) Listen - Listen to your child’s fears. What are they most concerned about? Oftentimes, there are one or two things that are really scaring them. Are their concerns based in reality? What have they heard, where did they hear it and what do they think is going to happen as a result? When you have a clear understanding of exactly what is bothering your child, you’ll be better prepared to provide them with the information, comfort and support that they need.

 2) Limit Exposure - As much as is possible, limit your child’s exposure to negative and scary news stories. Granted, information is everywhere, but while your child is in your care, turn off the radio, mute the TV and monitor internet use to assure that what is being viewed is appropriate and at the least, neutral. While we can’t completely control what our children see or hear, we can make a difference in the amount and type of information that they receive while they’re with us.

 3) Share Age-Appropriate Information - Kids have a limited understanding of many of the underlying reasons and causes behind the headlines. The geopolitical situation that has fuelled recent wars, the spread of infections diseases; there is much more context and information that underlies the realities of what is being conveyed in the headlines. Children of certain ages, particularly the younger ones, should be provided with as much detail as is appropriate, and that they can handle. In many cases, this may mean giving them basic facts of the situation at hand, but not getting into the specific, granular details, much of which may be beyond their scope of understanding. As the parent, you will know what your child can and can’t handle. Proceed accordingly when providing them with information regarding world events.

 4) Be Honest - If you don’t know, you don’t know. It’s okay to tell your child that you don’t have all the answers. Children need to learn that parents are just people and as such, we don’t know everything that there is to know. What is important is letting your child know that you’ll share whatever information that you receive (age-appropriate, of course) when received, and that you’re there to answer any questions. As always, honesty is the best policy.

 5) Provide Comfort - A warm hug and some kind words can go a long way, especially coming from Mom or Dad. At the end of the day, kids are looking to their parents for reassurance and comfort that everything is going to work out fine - or as fine as things can be, given the circumstances. Be available to answer questions but also be available to give your child whatever reassurances that they may need. Sometimes they may be words; other times, a big hug and some prolonged cuddling can assuage the fears of the most anxious child.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here.


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Image courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk


Trick-Or-Treating is for Kids. Period.

by Samantha on October 25, 2014

Save the Halloween Treats For the Little Ones

It happens every year.

They come to your door, taller than you, baritone voices and facial hair abound.

The females? Let’s just say that their costumes are often not PG-rated, to say the least.

Yet they’re heralding the Halloween battle-cry: “Trick or Treat!!”

What do you do?

Beside them, in front of them, behind them are kids - real kids - ones who can barely walk and in some cases, carried by their parents. Ones who have just learned about the joys of the quid pro quo deal offered through the Halloween covenant: Ask and ye shall receive.

These little ones deserve candy, and more. After all, they’ve taken the time to dress up, helped by their parents, buoyed  by the excitement and anticipation that this annual “high holiday” of childhood brings. For weeks, they’ve been planning their costumes and waiting with bated breath for the evening where they can finally reveal all to their neighbours in exchange for candy.

So have some other “kids” who want to get in on the action.

It’s fair to say that many teens love getting something for nothing. Free candy? It fits the bill.

And every October 31st, they fail to disappoint, showing up at the door, thrusting a bag in the direction of unwitting participants, sometimes without even uttering the agreed request - sometimes, the words “Trick or Treat” aren’t even mentioned.

Often, the shock and confusion lends itself to these kids walking away with a handful of candy and treats. After all - it’s quite stunning to be asked by a 6’2 Frankenstein for candy. Most of us would oblige.

But then, there are some of us who will put their foot down and just say no.

And how do I respond?

“Sorry. Halloween is for kids. Little kids.”

It took a number of years for me to build up my courage in saying this - after all, I didn’t want to be seen as an “Ebenezer Scrooge” (I know, wrong holiday, but bear with me for argument’s sake), but after being deluged year after year with more 16-18-year-olds (and older) than I could imagine, I had to take a stand.

I remember that wistful year that I turned 13, knowing full well that it would be my last year trick-or-treating. My friends and I had consulted with each other, talked it through, discussed the pros and cons of continuing the charade - literally - and erred on the side of caution, realizing that we were…well…too big to do it next year. It was a sad realization and one that made that last All Hallows Eve even more special because we knew that it was the end of a tradition and, in a way, the end of our childhood as we knew it. There was an unwritten code that dictated that kids would stop asking for sweets around the times that they started becoming interested in the opposite sex, and when school dances became much more important than any other event that season. We knew in our heart of hearts that we were just too big - both physically and mentally - to dare ask for candy under the auspices of childhood. After all - we were, at the same time, battling with our parents about our maturity and independence; how could participation in this very obvious vestige of childhood jive with our request to borrow the car?

Granted, adolescence is a strange mix of childhood and adulthood with those venturing through its path unsure upon which side they should fall. Some days, they’re kids. Other days, they’re adults. Many days, they’re confused. Therein may lie the problem on October 31st, though I suspect that many of these young adults who come to the door looking for candy know full well that they’re leaning more towards the “grown-up” scale than not.

It’s understandable that they would want to cash in on the sugar bounty that happens every October. After all - who wouldn’t? Show me a parent who hasn’t tucked into the Halloween stash both before and after their child has gone trick-or-treating and I’ll show you a parent who doesn’t exist (those tiny chocolate bars are a major temptation).

That being said, there comes a time when one has to be honest with oneself about the realities of life and this should ideally occur before any Adult XL Frankenstein or similar costume is donned.

Leave the candies for the kiddies. The high-school dance is so much more engaging.

 Image courtesy of www.parentdish.co.uk


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CBC Radio Interviews - Lice, Kids and School

by Samantha on October 11, 2014

Your kid comes home with lice. Who's responsible?


We as parents wait with bated breath for the dreaded letter.

It usually starts out something like this:

A case of pediculosis has been identified in your child’s class…” yada, yada, yada. You get the point. Someone in your kid’s class has LICE! You are freaking out, especially if you are a first-time parent and never have had to deal with this scourge.

As a mother of four, I have had the dreaded letter sent home one too many times, and have dealt with it - and more. Let’s just say that it’s no fun and yes - it’s a hassle to say the least.

Lice - those pesky little critters that get into hair and so much more - have become the scourge of parenting in the 21st century. Not sure what happened but there’s been a proliferation of the dreaded creatures and our kids - and oftentimes their unwitting families -  are the victims.

But who’s to blame?

  • Is it the parents of the children who are bringing these horrible little bugs to school?
  • Is it the kids themselves who, through their actions (innocent or not) perpetuate the proliferation of these dreaded creatures?
  • Is it the school board for not having a more comprehensive educational program to teach both parents and kids how to avoid the scourge of lice?

The reality is that it’s a combination of all of these factors, but I strongly lean towards the third as a key component that is not being addressed as much as it should be. There needs to be a concentrated effort on the part of educators at the school level about how to deal with lice as, let’s face it - it’s at school that kids usually pick up these pesky creatures and bring them home to their families.

CBC Radio Metro Morning

I was recently back on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning to discuss this timely and touchy topic.

Here is a link to the full interview:

Metro Morning - Head Lice and Schools

As a result of the interview, I was asked by CBC Radio’s sister program Ontario Morning to discuss the topic, which I can share with you - scroll down for a link to the clip below.

Some other points that were addressed during both interviews was the rise of “Lice Squads” - enterprising entrepreneurs who - for a fee (often more than $200), will come to your home and delouse your child of the dreaded pests. In many cases, “Lice Parties” are taking away the stigma - and the pests - by normalizing the infestation and by making the delousing actually fun - parents are having wine and cheese in many instances while their kids are getting nits and eggs removed from their heads. I guess this is an example of life giving you lemons and you deciding to make lemonade…or sangria, as it were…

Anyway, all be well and good for those who have the money (the cost is per child, so if you have two or three kids, you can do the math and figure out that delousing the family could get pretty pricey), but what about those who are struggling financially and can’t come up with what would be considered a very expensive way of getting rid of a difficult problem? The issue of inequality of opportunity arises - in other words, if you don’t have the cash, you may have a much more difficult time dealing with ridding your family of these horrible critters. And we haven’t even touched upon the question of stigma - because we all know that those kids who have had persistent bouts of lice and have had difficulty getting rid of them are stigmatized, at least to some degree.

Finally, let’s not forget what all of us parents who have been in the trenches of parenthood for years have known - the “lice letter” that comes in the fall is often one of many that occurs throughout the school year. Again - do the math and these pesky critters can cost a family a lot more than inconvenience.

So what’s the solution?

Ontario Morning

You can listen to my interview with Ontario Morning here (link to iTunes Ontario Morning feed) - The episode is from September 30th 2014 - skip to 40:25 for my segment (it’s at the end of the program):

Ontario Morning Interview - Lice, Kids and School

Of course there are many natural ways of removing lice which don’t cost an astronomical amount and don’t employ the usage of very caustic and often toxic chemicals. Who wants to put that on a child’s head? Some advice and tips on details about natural lice removal can be found in the links below:

How to Kill Lice Naturally

Natural Lice Treatment

Home Remedies For Lice

So what are your thoughts? How do we deal with this yearly, pesky problem that occurs in our schools and spreads to our homes? Who’s responsible and how do we rid ourselves of these horrible critters? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image courtesy of www.huffingtonpost.com


Family Halloween-Themed Viewing Ideas From Netflix

by Samantha on October 10, 2014


The one day of the year where kids and parents alike can live out their inner fantasy of being a superhero, ghoul or rock star.

It’s also an opportunity to enjoy some of the creepy day’s more appropriate entertainment fare.

This year, Halloween falls on a Friday, allowing for a full weekend of dress-up, trick-or-treating and movie watching. For those of us with little kids, the big costume parties may take a backseat to some family entertainment such as a movie-night marathon featuring appropriately scary or ghoulish themes.

This year, add to the fun by watching some shows that pay homage to your kids’ costumes.

For the little ones who are burgeoning spies and sleuths in the making, there are The Busytown Mysteries and I Spy and Inspector Gadget Capers among others:

I Spy





For the older kids, Spy Kids is a popular favourite, along with Black Hole High and House of Anubis:

Spy Kids



Dim the lights, add some popcorn and tuck into the treats (of course) and have a ghoulish family movie night with these picks.

Happy Halloween!


What are your favourite Halloween-themed movies or shows that you like to watch with the family? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

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