Holiday parenting

Veerash SrikisonBy Veerash Srikison, advocate and internationally accredited civil and commercial mediator at Fair Pratice – Family and Legal Mediation Services, Johannesburg. Click here for further information on family mediation and how it can benefit you and your family.

It is time to connect with your child(ren) and enjoy holiday parenting
As the holiday break approaches you may find yourself in the midst of spending quality time with your child(ren). No schedules, no routines, no bedtime curfews just you covering the basics – feeding times, rest times, and fun times.
This quality time you have with your child(ren) is your best time with them, and here are some ways you can make the most of it and create an everlasting bond with them.

Your mind-set during the holidays:
Do not stress about how your family appears, single parent or not, involved extended family or not. Your child(ren) have been looking forward to spending this holiday break with you. During this time you should try not to have deadlines, constant demands from your work schedule or surrounding yourself with disruptive people. You should feel that your child(ren) deserve to get as much affection and attention from you with as much energy as you can muster. If time seems to slow down enlist the help of a friend or family member to watch over your child(ren) while you take a little time out for yourself. They will be better off once you come back with refreshed energy to spend time with them and the holidays should progress more smoothly.

How to reframe your thought processes:
Tell yourself that it is not the end of the world if you all skip a healthy meal now and again and indulge on the lighter side of life and just eat “whatever” together. Smile more often and laugh louder than they have ever heard you laugh. Do childish activities with them and share your favourite childhood stories during bed time.
Get out some of your favourite music you heard growing up and show them your moves and get them to show you theirs. Dancing brings a sense of abandonment and your children will feel comfortable watching you lose control with them and just have fun. Have a dance off and try to copy or beat each other with your own made up steps.

Get to know your child(ren):
Have heart-to-heart chats and listen attentively while they talk. Control the voices in your head that tell you to hurry them up or give out instructions continuously. Explore what they have accomplished throughout the year, even if it was growing a few centimetres taller or moving up a shoe size.
Keep your conversations positive and motivational, to help them look forward to the New Year and do not brush away any complaints or serious discussions they want to have with you. By letting them talk they get to hear what their own issues are and you can help them understand it with open questions:
“How do you feel about…?”
“How do they make you feel…?”
“What do you think could be a few ways you handle this…?”

The voice of your child(ren):
I work with children who are going through changes of circumstances in their lives and often I have to do a child interview with them to understand their perspective

Black Family on a beach

because the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 of South Africa protects the voice of our children.
What I have learned is that children appreciate feeling empowered especially when that person really listens to them. To get your child to feel empowered, you must let them know how important their voice is to them and for them.
Teach your children to speak up and to speak for themselves.
Practice talking loudly and assertively with them so that their confidence comes out in their voices, and teach them the difference between respectful words and disrespectful, hurtful words.
Tell them also that their voice can be used as a weapon in any situation and not to be afraid to call out for help.
Let them know their point of safety is you and that you will listen to whatever they need to say.

Live in the moment:
Be there for your child(ren). Show love with your gentle words and touch. It’s the season to be grateful and to show gratitude. Teach them the value of gratitude and give them opportunities to share with you moments where they were grateful to someone and why.
Your quality time with your child(ren) should be just that, filled with memories and moments that will bring out the best in you. Empower your child(ren) to know that you can be trusted to be there for them and that you lead by example.

The holiday break should be one you are looking forward to. So rules aside get your children to throw in some suggestions on what they would like to do. Planning to have the best time ever should be everyone’s priority.

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What you need to know about breastfeeding

Mike MarinusBy Dr Mike Marinus, dad to Megan and James plus a Chiropractor in Blairgowrie with a special interest in family practice and paediatric care. Click here to hear  his podcast. This is the 7th in our series on babies by Dr Marinus. Find his other articles here.

I was fortunate enough to get ‘The Baby Lady’ Samantha Crompton on episode 7 of The Easy Baby Podcast to talk about the big myths surrounding breastfeeding.

And the biggest secret to Breastfeeding… According to Sam its: “Manage your expectations and do it one step at a time.” Finding out that the World Health Organization says babies should be breastfed for 2 years can be pretty overwhelming in week 1. Take it day by day, say: “I want to breastfeed my baby for 2 weeks” when you’ve reached that goal aim for 6 then 12 and once you hit 6 months you’ll more than likely do a year at least.

Myth 1: “The first milk is not enough, I need to top up until my milk comes in”

The initial milk of breastfeeding mothers is called Colostrum, (also known as nature’s first vaccine) it is measurable in teaspoons (5mls) and it is the only food a healthy full term baby needs. On day 1 your baby’s stomach is approximately the size of a marble so the minimal looking amount of colostrum you provide is exactly the right amount and doesn’t stretch baby’s stomach walls. It is easily digestible and helps baby pass early stools. As your baby’s tummy gets bigger, your mature milk supply increases accordingly. Colostrum also creates a protective lining on baby’s intestine which is sloughed away by using formula.

Myth 2: “It is normal for Breastfeeding to hurt”MomBreastfeedingBaby_0

Breastfeeding may cause some nipple discomfort but it shouldn’t be painful. The discomfort usually peaks around 3 days and is gone at 2 weeks. It shouldn’t last for longer than 30 seconds after latching and there should be no skin damage (no cracks, blisters or bleeding). Your nipple should look the same after feeding, not flattened, creased, pinched or blanched. Going through pain that has you backing away from your baby during feeds is not normal, don’t try to ‘power through’, you need to get help to continue with a positive breastfeeding relationship.

Myth 3: “My baby feeds all the time, I have too little milk or it’s not good enough”

Most newborns nurse 8 to 12 times a day because they have small stomachs and breastmilk is easily and quickly digested. Look out for growth spurts (frequency days) which generally last for 2 to 3 days during which your baby will feed more frequently than usual. This doesn’t mean your milk isn’t cutting it, it means your baby is creating more milk supply by creating more demand. Watch out for these around 2, 3, 6, 12 and 16 weeks. Many moms fall into the trap of supplementing with formula at these times to satiate baby but this takes away your baby’s ability to increase your supply

Myth 4: Pumping is a good way to see how much milk I have”

Pumping is a good way to see how much milk you can pump! A baby that breastfeeds well can get more milk out of a breast than any pump. This is why it is not unusual to have to pump 2 or 3 times to have enough milk for only 1 feed. It doesn’t necessarily mean your supply is low. If you are using a pump make sure you’ve got the right one for your stage of nursing and note that it is almost impossible to pump colostrum with a plastic pump because there is so little of it. Make sure the flange on the pump is the right size.

Myth 5: “Formula fed babies sleep better”

Formula is harder to digest than breastmilk, so babies tend do to go for longer between feeds. The thought is then that babies are sleeping better this is not necessarily the case, what we want is quality versus quantity. Research shows that after 4 weeks there is no difference between breastfed and formula fed babies when it comes to quality and quantity of sleep. Physiologically speaking breastfed moms sleep tends to be better.

For more myths, listen to the full episode in the link above.

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Listening tips for parents

Mia-Von-Scha-kids2-150x150by Mia Von SchaTransformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

We all want our kids to listen to us, but how often do we really listen to them? Are we excellent models of attentive listening? Or are we teaching them how to half listen whilst otherwise distracted?

If you really want your kids to listen to you, the first step is to know how to do this yourself. Here are a few tips…

Be present. The average adult is only present for around 3% of their life. The rest of the time we are lost in remembering the past, imagining the future or off in some fantasy in our minds. On top of this we are distracted by technology, to do lists, work and personal drama. No wonder our kids haven’t learned how to listen. To really hear someone you need to be there, actively listening. The easiest way to stay present in a conversation is to focus on your breathing. If part of your awareness is on your breathing you can’t get lost in your mind. So put aside your phone, tell your mind that you will deal with everything else just now, and breathe and listen.



Paraphrase. Learn to mirror back to your child what they have said to you. Paraphrase what they’ve been talking about to show them that you are listening and to clarify that you have actually understood their message. Ask them if you’ve understood correctly and as they correct you on what you’ve misunderstood you will gain a deeper understanding of where they are at.

Be patient. We’re often too quick to jump in a finish a sentence or try to get to the heart of the matter before our kids have finished speaking. Let them ramble a bit. It may take them some time to organize their thoughts or to really get to the point of what they are getting too. They may repeat themselves or skirt around the real issue. If you interrupt or jump in with questions you may miss out on the crux of the issue by directing the conversation in a different direction.

Use all aspects of communication. Sit facing your child, look at how they are using their body (look out for facial expressions, gestures, posture), keep your body language open, listen for changes in tone, pitch and speed of their voice. Only 7% of communication is in the words that we use. If you pay attention you will see that there is a lot of non verbal stuff going on too and this can often tell you more about what your child is going through than what they say.

Ask interesting questions. We say that we want our kids to open up to us, but then we ask the most arbitrary, meaningless questions. “How was your day?” invites a response such as “Fine”. “What was the weirdest thing that happened today?” may get you a slightly more interesting answer. Try asking about things that are meaningful to your child. Children feel loved, heard and understood when we show an interest in things that are important to them, even if they are not important to us. True communication involves putting aside your own agenda and truly getting to know somebody else and what makes them come alive.

Active listening is something that anyone can learn. It takes some practice, but the rewards are worth it – children who feel loved, heard and respected and so are more likely to love, hear and respect us in return.

Click here to find a list of therapeutic services for families, kids and teens on Jozikids and here on Kznkids

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Choosing a preschool

12248845_967365996656444_1167102577_n By Nadia Wilson, a passionate teacher, married with 3 dogs, a cat & a hamster. Reviews games and comic books. Teaches preschool children from  Gr 00 and is learning Japanese and Mandarin. Find her on Facebook.

Just some points I think are really important to consider when choosing a preschool.

1. It’s important to get a feel for the school. Ask yourself if the current preschoolers look happy. You can tell a lot by the emotional state of the kids in the school. Rather pay a lot on school fees for a preschool (even half day) than pay a little for a school that doesn’t give your child the proper education and stimulation he needs.

2. Is the school in your area?

3. Does the school have a good/bad reputation?

4. Do the teachers/staff get along?
I know you’re probably frowning now but an unhappy teacher equals an unhappy child. Children sense tension in their teachers, if the teachers argue or fight it affects their mood and the way they teach.

5. Can you view the school any time of day?

6. Is the school clean and sanitary?

7. Are the staff members friendly and helpful?

8. Are the teachers qualified?

9. Does at least one teacher have proper first aid training?

10. Are you allowed to ask about the curriculum and can you view the daily lesson plans?

11. Does the preschool communicate with the primary school? (If on primary school premises)

Good luck in finding a school that best suits your child and remember every child is different.

Click here to find a list of preschools in Gauteng.

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Book Review: Wish You Were Here by Andy Cohen

DSC_0837aReviewed by Tiffany Markmancopywriter, editor, small business owner, wife and mom. Tiffany is a full-time workaholic and a part-time kugel. Follow her on twitter.

Talking about loss

How do we tell little people about loss? How do we convey our longing for those who’ve passed on, in a way that makes children feel uplifted rather than scared?

This is something I struggle with sometimes. I lost my dad when I was 6 and, while I’d love to tell my daughter about him, I don’t remember any details. Not his voice, his personality or his eccentricities. (I’m aware that this total mental block may be residual childhood trauma, but that’s another discussion for another time.)

Bottom line? I can’t share any Grandpa specifics with her, and yet I want her to know a) about him and b) that life doesn’t always give us endless time with those we love.

An artist/writer/counsellor friend of mine (yes, that’s a disclaimer) recently illustrated and wrote a beautiful tribute to her father, dedicated to her little daughter, and it’s become a magnificent children’s book that I’m thrilled to review for you today.

Wish you were here

The actual review

Titled Wish You Were Here – a book about missing someone, Andy Cohen’s story begins with a pregnant lady awaiting her baby and yet missing her late dad.

In a dream, she talks to him about things she wishes he could share with his grandchild.

He comforts her, explaining that his gifts will reach her little one as an inheritance that comes from their shared family essence:

‘Humour, insight and a nature kind. Health and beauty and a curious mind. / Knowledge, courage and an imagination. An exceptional life, with no limitation. / Warmth and strength and talents, too. A long, full life with her dad and you.’

These are far greater than any toy or game, he says.

And far greater than any words I can write are the illustrations in this book. Seriously – I don’t have the vocabulary to express  the level of detail, personality, whimsy and sheer prettiness on these pages, which constitute the heartfelt art of a real talent.

A couple of details

This gorgeous book is ideal for all ages: littlies who are still having stories read to them, primary schoolers who are beginning to read for themselves, and pre-teens who are dealing with issues of loss. It also features a page of therapeutic advice and helpful projects to assist children in talking about and processing bereavement.

About the author

Andy Cohen, the author, is an artist and counsellor, currently completing her Masters Degree in Fine Art and investigating the therapeutic application of art in everyday life.

Andy says,

“We never get over losing someone. The nature of grief is that we revisit that loss at different times in our lives, in new roles and from fresh perspectives. [With this book], I decided to help my child get to know my father through my memories. This has helped me process my grief and introduced my daughter to her late Grampa. Somewhere in all of that, she will be eased into understanding how life works. My wish for this book is that it helps families, caregivers, teachers and mental health practitioners to address loss with children in constructive, proactive and loving ways.”

Wish You Were Here is available for purchase on Babarazzi.

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Could my baby have Lactose Intolerance?

Dr Mike Marinus

By Dr Mike Marinus, dad to Megan and James plus a Chiropractor in Blairgowrie with a special interest in family practice and paediatric care. Click here to hear  his podcast. This is the 6th in our series on babies by Dr Marinus. Find his other articles here.

Explosive, frothy, watery poos can be quite an experience and very unnerving for new parents especially when they are accompanied by tummy cramps, painful straining and very stinky gas. It is important to have these tummy troubles investigated by your doctor because there could be different causes for these symptoms.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance has become a buzz word and unfortunately many moms stop breastfeeding unnecessarily or change to a Soy or Lactose free formula without exploring the alternatives.

Lactose is the sugar found in mammal breastmilk. It is too big to be absorbed whole so the body breaks it down into glucose and galactose, which are smaller and more easily absorbed. Your baby’s body uses an enzyme called Lactase to do this and if he doesn’t have enough of it he will develop Lactose Intolerance. Lactose is then not broken down properly and gets digested in the colon by bacteria. This process leaves baby’s colon full of acid and gas which ends up in acidic watery stools, tummy cramps and bad smelling wind.

Preemie babies (especially those born before 34 weeks) are very prone to this because they don’t have enough enzyme to start off with. This is called Developmental Lactose Intolerance and is temporary until their enzyme production catches up. It has been suggested that they use lactase drops to help breakdown lactose initially instead of being put onto lactose free formulae.

It is very rare for a baby to be born with no Lactase at all. For this to happen both parents would have to pass this trait on genetically. But it can happen, and when it does, it is called Congenital Lactose Intolerance and it is a medical emergency.

The Lactose Intolerance we generally see in babies is called Secondary or Temporary Lactose Intolerance and this happens after babies have had an allergic reaction, infection or inflammation of the small intestine where lactase is produced. These babies will often have a short time where they show signs of Lactose Intolerance like of bloating, diarrhoea and cramping because there is temporarily no enzyme to work on the lactose. When the gut lining has recovered everything goes back to normal again.

Lactose Overload

A much more common cause of these symptoms is Lactose Overload. This is when your baby has enough enzyme but is drinking too much milk. Too much lactose gets into the system and can’t be metabolized quickly enough. This then ends in excess Lactose in the colon. Because of its nature this condition is often misdiagnosed as Lactose Intolerance, Colic or even reflux. Babies might overfeed because mom has an oversupply of milk, they may be sick and want extra time on the breast to console themselves or their overfeeding may be linked to sleep issues. The answer with Lactose Overload is to figure out what is causing the overfeeding and manage that by changing your feeding method and habits and possibly lactase drops (which we talk about in the podcast) without necessarily changing baby’s diet.

Cow’s Milk Protein Sensitivity

Another culprit of these tummy troubles can be Cow’s Milk Protein Sensitivity. Whereas Lactose Intolerance and Overload are digestive issues, CMPS is an allergic reaction to cow’s milk protein in either breastmilk or formula that leaves your baby with inflammation in the intestines. This inflammation can stop the production of lactase enzyme and these babies often suffer Secondary Lactose Intolerance as a result of CMPS. As well as the tummy troubles these babies also have allergic symptoms like itchy red eyes, swollen faces and even blood in the stool.


The amount of dairy you eat as a nursing mother has no effect on the level of lactose in your breastmilk but it does change the amount of cow’s milk protein in your milk. Breastfeeding moms of CMPS babies can still breastfeed but need to eliminate cows milk from their diet completely.

Explosive Poos, Tummy Cramps and Stinky Gas are not reasons enough in themselves to stop breastfeeding or change to lactose free/soy formula’s. Check with your doctor, get the tests done and know what it is that’s causing your baby’s discomfort

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What if sharing isn’t caring?

By Tiffany Markman

I’ve read something with which I strongly disagree and, because I feel so conflicted by it, I’m not sure if I’m being silly or someone else is being silly. Help me? (It’s about sharing.) There’s a mom, Beth, who proudly explains that she (and her kid’s school) follow a strict no-sharing policy,

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The pain of losing a child to PH, a potentially fatal auto-immune disease

article blogBy Shaakira Bhodania, mother of 4,  3 children with PH, one died almost 3 yrs ago. She is also an entrepreneur & co-owner of Bake-it-Yourself and supporter/promoter of the Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) awareness campaign.

The pain you experience during labour is nothing compared to the pain of losing a child… The heartache is a physical pain, the emptiness, the hopelessness… There is nothing in this world that can prepare you for it. It changes you. You may go on with your life but nothing is ever the same. A piece of you is gone forever.

I remember the day my son Mohammed Zaid, passed on, in 2013, as if it were today. He was just 8 years old at the time. It had started with just a fever which I had attended to with my usual paracetamol and home remedies. We subsequently went through over a year of doctors, tests, misdiagnoses, various treatments and an increasingly ill child. His health deteriorated at a fast pace and he was merely a glimmer of the sporty, energetic and loving child he once was just a few short months prior. He was finally diagnosed as having Pulmonary Hypertension (“PH”) resulting from  an auto-immune disease of the lungs. He was put onto medication that would not cure his condition but would, the doctors said, give him a better chance of survival and an improved quality of life.

So what is PH? It means that you have high blood pressure in the arteries between your heart and your lungs. With PH, the tiny arteries in your lungs become narrow or blocked. It’s harder for blood to flow through them, and that raises the blood pressure in your lungs. Your heart has to work harder to pump blood through those arteries, and after a while the heart muscle gets weak. Eventually, it can lead to heart failure. Sometimes there is no cause for the PH and this is called idiopathic PH. Other times there could be an underlying disease or defect that you may not have known about that causes it.

Symptoms range from shortness of breath to fevers, dizzy spells, fatigue and swelling in your ankles or legs. Now these may be symptoms of other diseases as well so doctors would do an echo test and run CT scans to check your arteries. Treatment may include oxygen therapy, blood thinners and calcium channel blockers which help to lower the blood pressure in your lungs. My son was on a range of medications and treatments but in the end, he succumbed to this fatal disease.

PH l- sumayra

Humayra, my little girl who has been diagnosed with PH

2 months after his passing in July 2013, my husband insisted that my daughter’s heartbeat was too fast. Humayra was 3 years old at the time. When we took her to a paediatric pulmonologist she was given a clean bill of health but in January of the next year, she passed out and it happened a few times after that. When she was re-examined she was diagnosed with primary or idiopathic PH. We were in shock and even more heartbroken at the news and she was put onto oxygen treatment and the same medication prescribed for her brother Mohammed Zaid. We all had to get checked out for familial PH. My husband and my son Nabeel were all clear but my son Yusuf was also found to have PH but has not shown any symptoms to date.

My daughter is 6 now and is on oxygen most of the time. She is homeschooled and we are trying alternative medications for her. We’ve opted for a comprehensive natural approach due to the side effects my son suffered during his treatment. It has been over 2 years since her diagnosis. We pray for a cure for her and all other sufferers but the disease is rare and progressive.

We will never be satisfied that what we did for Mohammed Zaid was the best for him. It’s definitely made us, as a family, more mindful and appreciative of each other and all we can do now is try our best for our daughter and cherish each and every moment we have with her.

November is pulmonary hypertension awareness month. If you or any of your family or friends think you have PH please consult a doctor as soon as possible.

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Why homeschooling works for some


Have you ever considered homeschooling your children? Perhaps you live on a remote farm or your special needs child cannot be accommodated in a mainstream school, or maybe your child is simply not getting the individual attention he deserves. These are just some of the reasons why a growing number of families are choosing homeschooling.

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Reflux in babies

Mike Marinus
Dr Mike Marinus

Imagine drinking 14 litres of milk a day and then spending 18 hours of every day on your back. Well that’s the equivalent of what babies do every day of their lives, so it’s no wonder these little guys have a tendency to throw up a lot.

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