Jumaat, 22 November 2013

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

Relentless advocate


Modern Family's Julie Bowen is raising awareness on life-threatening allergies.

ACTRESS Julie Bowen keeps us giggling as the helicopter soccer mom Claire Dunphy on Modern Family. But there's a cause close to her heart that is no laughing matter – anaphylaxis. When her own son was just a toddler, Julie had a terrifying experience when he had a life-threatening allergic reaction to peanut butter.

Julie opens up about her three "rowdy" sons – six-year-old Oliver and four-year-old twins John and Gus – and the joys of motherhood. She goes on to talk about her new online children's e-book, The Adventures of Ana and Phyl: The Carnival that helps raise awareness for anaphylaxis.

Tell us about narrating the new online children's e-book The Adventures of Ana and Phyl: The Carnival. What is it all about and why did you get involved?

For the past year, I've been working to increase awareness of life-threatening allergies and encourage people to be prepared to respond if anaphylaxis occurs.

Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and is life-threatening. It occurs when someone comes into contact with a food or other trigger to which they are allergic. As a mum to a child with life-threatening allergies, I know it's important to keep this conversation going both at home and at school, which is why we developed this e-book. The hope is that parents and teachers will use this e-book to talk about this sometimes scary subject in a non-threatening way so they can show how kids with severe or life-threatening allergies can participate in school and community activities. It's available for free download at www.anaphylaxis101.com.

The Carnival follows brother and sister duo – Ana and Phyl Axis – as they work with parents, teachers and other children to plan an allergy-friendly event at their school. The reader follows them on an adventure to choose the most appropriate foods and supplies to make the event a success. I narrated the book with silly voices and had a lot of fun with it. My kids love it!

Tell us about your own son's experiences, and how you became a spokesperson for anaphylaxis.

When my oldest son was a toddler, he had a life-threatening allergic reaction to peanut butter. He had eaten peanut butter once before, but the second time he ate it he experienced anaphylaxis and we found out he is highly allergic to peanuts.

It was a real wake-up call for me and my family. We really didn't know a whole lot about anaphylaxis. But, now that we've been educated I want to help others learn more, too.

An estimated one in 13 kids in the United States has a food allergy, so this is a topic that affects a lot of people. Through the "Get Schooled in Anaphylaxis" campaign, I feel like I'm doing something practical to help people be aware of the signs and symptoms, learn about avoiding triggers, and understand the need for an anaphylaxis action plan.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis?

I'm not a doctor, but I know common symptoms of anaphylaxis include trouble breathing, chest pain, skin hives or redness of the skin, tightness in the throat, swelling of the lips and/or tongue, nausea, dizziness, a decrease in blood pressure and/or fainting. There's lots of information on www.anaphylaxis101.com.

What are your best tips for parents in talking to their kids, making them aware and self-advocates of their anaphylaxis?

It's important to have an anaphylaxis action plan and to talk about it with your child. The plan should include avoiding allergic triggers, knowing the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, having access to two epinephrine auto-injectors, and being prepared to respond if anaphylaxis occurs.

Talking about the topic can be empowering for a child. We talk to my son about his life-threatening allergies a lot, and as a result, he's become his own best advocate. He's six and tells everyone about his allergy to peanuts and asks if there are nuts in foods before he eats a food he doesn't recognise.

How are your boys doing?

I have three boys, so my house is ... rowdy! They are close in age, so they really do like playing with one another, and so far, get along very well. I hope that continues.

How do you juggle your busy career and your family life?

It's a constant juggling act, and I'm just like every other mum trying to do the best I can. I have noticed that now that the boys are a little older they notice more when I am gone, so I try to be around as much as possible.

But it's good for them to see I have a job that I love, too. And I'm lucky that my work schedule is very manageable.

What is it like raising kids in Hollywood? Do the paparazzi drive you crazy?

I try not to really let it affect us too much. The kids could really care less that I am on TV. If I'm not on a cartoon they're not interested. I'm just mum.

What's up next for you?

I'm really enjoying my work on Modern Family and the stage it's given me to bring new information to other mums. This includes my work to raise awareness of anaphylaxis. – Celebrity Baby Scoop/ McClatchy Tribune Information Services.

Creative parenting


AS a parent, I know that for every bit of fun and enjoyment to be had with children around, there's always the possibility of consequences and necessary discipline, too. It's the parent's responsibility to teach their children right from wrong, as well as how to behave, how to treat others, etc. I know – it's a BIG job!

With my kids ranging in age from eight months to 27-years old, I've learned a thing or two about being creative when it comes to consequences and discipline.

Motivate positively – You can try to steer your children in the right direction to avoid some unnecessary (and not-so-fun) consequences and disciplinary actions simply by motivating them positively with some sort of reward system. Sticker charts are great as are coin jars and other similar items. With this idea, you'll be able to discuss behaviours and expectations early-on, and your child will know exactly what they'll need to do in order to earn a sticker.

Consequence jar – Just as your children will be able to have a sticker to their sticker chart for behaving well, they might also have to draw a Popsicle stick from the consequence jar when they misbehave. Some ideas for this jar include: early bedtime, no television for a night, an extra chore, a timeout, etc. With this method, your child is essentially choosing his or her own consequence and you'll be around for the follow through.

Let them decide – By bringing your child into the conversation and letting them help determine their consequence, they'll be able to fully contemplate the severity of their actions as well as brainstorm what kinds of consequences would be equivalent to those poor or negative actions and behaviours. Writing up a behaviour contract, and having your child sign it once you decide upon a consequence you both find suitable, is also a great activity and possibly a bit of a consequence in itself. After your child sits and thinks about what they did wrong, determines what their consequence will be and then writes the whole thing out to sign, they'll likely have a whole new outlook and certainly won't be confused about what they did wrong in the first place.

Teaching your children how they're expected to behave on a day-to-day basis is difficult, and chances are you'll have to discipline your children for their actions a time or two before they figure things out. – McClatchy Tribune Information Services

> Robert Nickell, aka Daddy Nickell, father of seven, is the founder of Daddyscrubs.com, where he covers topics about parenting and the latest babies' and kids' gear, all from a dad's perspective.

Mum on strike


Sometimes a little tough love goes a long way.

I THINK I just needed a break; to keep from snapping.Weekday mornings in my house had deteriorated into the "nagging and yelling" hour, starring me as the frustrated and cursing Mum.

I would urge my slow-moving 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter to wake up, get up, wash up, use lotion, get dressed, use deodorant, eat breakfast, brush teeth and look out the window for the school bus.

That process would eventually evolve into me yelling about responsibility, mostly at my son who has been wrongly convinced by puberty that his opinion always matters.

We'd taught them how to be responsible, but the morning routine proved that somehow I still ended up doing too much around the house. They would take care of business when I told them to, but I thought I shouldn't have to tell them to do routine stuff. Right?

I just got plain tired of it.

So, while perusing the uplifting posts of my Facebook friends one day, I decided that I deserved better cooperation. I hatched a plan to teach these spoiled slobs to use the home training that we tried so hard to impart. On a whim, I told my Facebook friends that I was officially on a Mum Strike.

I did not cook, clean or shop, nor did I tell anyone else in the house to do it.

It was a work stoppage against the faction in my household who I reverently referred to in my Facebook posts as "The Son" and "The Daughter." "The Husband" was more an arbitrator who didn't want to be splattered by my imminent explosion.

I wanted to know how bad they'd let the house get before they would notice. What was their dirt threshold? Was I properly estimating my worth to the household management? Or could they get along fine without my help? If so, that was good. Right? Would anyone miss my fried catfish?

Disorder reigns

My Mum Strike lasted 10 days.

In that time, fruit flies took over the kitchen and the stank of a cat's behind wafted through the house thanks to a full litter box in the basement. The breakfast bar went from good to "ugh" on Day One. The kitchen and bathrooms got downright gross.

On Day Two of the shutdown, I mean Mum Strike, I posted a photo on Facebook of the breakfast counter: It was cluttered with a dirty white sock, a hairbrush, a pencil sharpener, and takeout dinner plates half full of scraps next to The Son's density science project (a plastic bottle full of several different food liquids). I feared they would attract roaches.

But sooner than I'd thought, The Daughter got grossed out.

On Day Three, she said, "Ma! Can you kill fruit flies with bleach spray?! And are these maggots?!"

She had awakened to find flies on a pot and dirty dish towel. There were no maggots, just instant noodles on the towel. She tried to clean the mess but ran out of time before the school bus arrived. The Son skipped breakfast rather than cook it. I peered into the nasty sink and hoped someone would buy some bug spray soon.

On Day Six, I asked my Facebook friends for support. The kids' bathroom was full of drippy towels and the counter speckled with dried toothpaste spittle.

I was keeping myself busy with do-it-yourself projects such as repainting my master bath to avoid the mess that was accumulating in the common areas. And I was still teetering on the edge of bonkers.

By Day Seven, armed with some tips from my Facebook friends, I put a formal plan into motion to get my demands met.

First, I took The Daughter to Home Depot and bought the prettiest purple and yellow paint to redecorate her room. She hugged me, "Oh, thank you, thank you, Mummy! When are we painting?" I responded, "As soon as you create a track record of taking care of your responsibilities." I bit my lip. It would've been cruel to laugh. Her cute little face broke and fell on the floor. Then she gave me that, "What you talking 'bout Willis?!" face a la Gary Coleman ... I had her full attention.

And what did I do to The Son? The one who basically told me, "Shame on you for going on strike against us." I traded in his broken cellphone for an iPhone5c.

I told both kids that they would get their rewards after one week of doing all chores properly. They would lose them whenever they failed to do their chores. And I instituted a new rule: If it's on the floor, you must not want it. It must be trash. So it's gone.

I warned that a backpack on the floor would be trashed and the guilty party would have to find another bag for school or use a plastic garbage bag.

By Day Nine, I was relaxing in a clean house without lifting a finger or raising my voice. The strike ended on Day 11 with a written contract.

Making It Work

I am no softy. We have had a daily chore chart for a couple years and failure to do the work results in loss of weekend TV/video games (no TV or video games is allowed in our house from Monday until Friday after school), loss of cellphone or added chores.

So what happened? Why did I need to go on strike?

During the strike, I learned three important lessons:

1. Consistency is key: My kids have had sporadic schedules for years because of travel sports and activities, so I had been inconsistent with enforcing completion of chores. Now I update the chore chart daily.

2. Harsh consequences work: Nobody wants to lose their stuff to the "trash rule" or to Repo Mum.

3. Real rewards work: I do not give allowance because I allow them to live in my house. However, I have always told my children that hard work is rewarded.

Until my Mum Strike, my rewards were pretty lame. I upped my game based on each kids' likes. And more important, privileges provide leverage to keep the kids motivated. Again, they must fear Repo Mum.

During my Mum Strike, the kids and I had a few emotional moments when we talked about how we feel when other people fail to pitch in. And I felt bad when I trashed my daughter's pink fuzzy slippers with the googly eyeballs because they were on the floor and not on the shoe rack.

But now I live in a cleaner, happier home. My Mum Strike was fun and effective.

The family cat who went unbrushed for 11 days would beg to differ. – Detroit Free Press/McClatchy Tribune Information Services

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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