Thursday, September 29, 2011

We are family...

... get up everybody and...


Time and time again, research suggests that engaging in family activities, including meals, is good for everyone's mental health.  A comparison study exploring substance abuse in teenagers revealed that teenagers who reported dining with their family 5-7 times a week were 4 times less likely to use alcohol, tobacco or marijuana, than teens who dined fewer than 3 times a week with their families.  By this they mean a proper sit down dinner, and not takeaway in the car on the way back home.  Mealtime can be a chance for siblings and parents to connect, catch up and share views.  When it comes to teenagers, the most common complaint is "they don't understand me", or "no one sees me" when talking about their family.  Allowing yourself and your child to have that verbal exchange on a daily basis may decrease their feelings of loneliness and alienation.  It is also vital for both parents and children's mental health to see each other in a fun and loving atmosphere regularly.

Commonly, younger siblings look up to older siblings, especially in regards to experimenting with drugs, tobacco and alcohol.  If younger siblings see the positive and family oriented side of their older brother or sister, they are less likely to experiment.  Family time also teaches kids to share and be patience.

With our hectic schedules, and our kids' hectic schedules (especially our teenagers), scheduling mealtime is often very difficult.  I would first urge all of us to think if it can be managed, as it is a priority, if not, then find other alternative activities that can unite the family together.  The goal here is engagement, which means fostering conversation and encouraging a safe banter of ideas is key.  Find opportunities to play games, be a part of a social event, do some family volunteer work, join a cooking class, etc.

Suggested activity of the day:

As I've previously confessed, I am a fan of board games, and here is a quick glance at the great collection of board games for all ages at Fantasy World in Avenues Mall.  You can also search online for more options (Amazon is a good option).

For more information on this study and related articles click the two links below:
  • SHOTS (article)
  • National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (Report)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On stage ... off stage

3rd Poll Results revealed that most of you are looking for activities that are PERFORMANCE based.  I am not surprised, and I have made it my mission to search for the best performance opportunities and classes I could find.  I will sporadically mention activities in future posts, but here are some suggestions for now...

Newish and note worthy-  Activities in Kuwait:

LAPA-  Loyac Academy of Performance Arts

I have always been a huge fan of Loyac.  For those of you who have not heard about it, it is a non-profit organization that aims to promote the development of youth through work opportunities, volunteer projects and many more programs and activities.  Recently they started with LAPA, where they offer classes in dance (hip hop, break dance, salsa), singing, guitar and violin playing, and also drama.

Take a look at their new Schedule.

Sidekick Academy

A very interesting academy that offers a variety of programs for adults and children, Sidekick Academy has caught my attention.  Yes this is more sports related rather than performance, but it does help the child in learning about his/her body, building his/her self-esteem, and encouraging independence.  Three characteristics that can empower the performer inside him/her.
The kids' program description made me almost want to stand up and cheer! Not only did they highlight defense rather than fighting (see my earlier post), but they also mentioned the benefits of structure and physical discipline for children with learning difficulties (or learning differences as I prefer to say).  Bravo Sidekick Academy!

The kids' program divides children into two groups by age: 4-7 year and  8-14years. Click here for the program schedule.

Olden, but golden (and ever changin'):

Bayt Lothan

A haven, a sanctuary and an inspiration.  Bayt Lothan is a space where events blossom, individuals shine and creativity is born.  They constantly change their training classes, so do visit their website.  Training courses include music, film-making, photography, oil painting, and arts and crafts. 

Performance @ home

One way to introduce your child into performance-related activities is by hiring private instructors, be it a piano teacher, dance instructor, artist, etc.  Find available instructors by asking your child's teachers at school (art, music, drama).  Also try contacting T.V/Radio personalities (many of them are on twitter).  Ask around and you will be sure to find a few recommendations.   

Performance @ school

Many schools offer after-school clubs and programs.  Make sure you ask about your school's options, but also look for schools that offer after-school programs that are open for the public (not their own students).  Some schools have done that on-site and off-site.  



For you lovely PLAY.TEACH.LOVE.  followers and readers (who should become followers and get the inside scoop first!), a very special gift from the fabulous Dalia Al Falah at HomeWork Club Kuwait... Be one of the first 10 callers to book your child, and get 10% off the club fees!!!

Call now and speak to Ms. Nanaki:  9723 4527

Sunday, September 25, 2011

HomeWork - Home = Homework club

I promised to show you the sign that caught my eyes in my earlier post "A world of Discovery".  Here this is it!

HomeWork Club, is a wonderful concept created by Ms. Dalia Al Falah, which I had known about for a while, but only found out about their new location in Discovery Mall recently.  Some might say it is important that parents play an active role in teaching and engaging with their child.  I do agree that it is very important, but it is also equally important to evaluate your child's individual needs and your own needs.  If home work time ends up being a daily struggle, then the engagement with your child is negative and difficult.  Also, some parents might have difficulty in teaching specific subjects.  This club offers professional assistance in a fun and light-hearted atmosphere for the child who needs extra attention and help.

Here is their information:

Contact Ms. Nanaki on 9723 4527

P.S.  Here is another reason why I love Discovery Mall:

For expectant mothers

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Other Voice: Car seats

Another wonderful and educational  "The Other Voice" post, this one is by a great friend and an inspirational young mum, Dana Al-Fulaij...

Your baby will need a car seat the moment s/he leaves the hospital and will need one as s/he becomes a toddler and eventually a full-grown child. For this post, we will focus on the infant and toddler car seats (birth – 4 years old).

Infant Car Seat (Birth – 12 months, 0-13kg)

The Infant car seat will stay with the newborn until he/she is approximately 12 months old. This car seat is rear-facing which offers the best protection for the baby of that age and weight. You may think that it is boring for the child to face the back of the seat and not the front, or you may worry that you can’t see the child if you are driving in the front seat, but it is the safest option for the baby. You can easily find little mirrors to attach to the back seat so that you can see the baby and the baby can see some bright colors to keep busy throughout the ride.

There are many infant car seats available in the market now, and my favorite is the Maxi Cosi Pebble.  The Pebble is lightweight, cushioned, and has “stay open straps” that make it easier to secure the baby into the car seat (you won’t have to struggle to find the seatbelt under the baby, it always stays up).

Another feature of the Pebble is that it fits on the Maxi Cosi Family Fix Base, which is a must if you will be taking the car seat around with you wherever you go. We all know that newborns are almost always sleeping (and we want to keep them sleeping), so keeping the baby in the car seat becomes an easy solution when you can easily “click” the car seat in and out of its base. The Family Fix Base will always be secured in your car so that you don’t have to worry about installing and uninstalling the car seat every time you go for a ride.

The convenience of having the car seat and base combo also carries on to the stroller. Maxi Cosi provides adaptors for many of the strollers (Quinny, Stokke, Bugaboo), which allows you to use the car seat on the stroller itself. This means that you won’t have to un-strap and re-strap your baby into the stroller when you are finished from your outing. Again, this is convenient when your baby is sleeping and you can keep him/her sleeping through the car ride since you won’t touch the baby when taking him/her from the stroller into the car.

A unique feature of the Pebble and Family Fix Base is that once your child outgrows the Pebble car seat and is ready to move to a forward facing car seat, you can keep the base and just attach the Pearl Toddler Seat. That means that with one base you can attach both the Infant Pebble and the Toddler Pearl car seats on the same base, a two for one deal.

Unfortunately, the Family Fix base is not yet sold in Kuwait. You can order it online from and they will ship directly to Kuwait from Dubai. They have the full line of car seats and accessories as well which you can order.

If you do not want to buy the family fix base and just want an infant car seat that can be installed using the car’s seat belt, then I recommend the Maxi Cosi Cabrio Fix.

Toddler Car Seats ( 9 months – 4 years, 9-18 kg)

Maxi Cosi Pearl:

This is the best-tested toddler car seat from the Maxi Cosi brand. It offers the “stay open straps”, an adjustable headrest that can grow with your toddler, and the option to have the car seat easily tilted to 5 different positions from sitting to sleeping.

The Pearl only attaches to the Family Fix Base. So if you do not intend on buying the base, then I recommend the Maxi Cosi Tobi, which can be installed using the car’s seat belt.

"The Other Voice"- Is our contributing authors post.  If you would like to contribute, email me at for approval, editing and eventual posting:)

Safety first!

               Stranger Danger

Wear a seatbelt                                    Baby proof your home

                                            Car seats are a must
Follow the rules

                                                Protect your child’s head with a helmet

Dial 112

            Schedule regular check-ups

                                                            Check DVD/Game ratings

                       Locate the meeting points in malls

            Memorize cell-phone number and home address

                                     Do your research

                        Keep dangerous items locked up

                                                                              SPF 50  
   Encourage expression

 Always inform other adults of your child’s medication/allergy history

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A world of Discovery

As the current poll suggests, I wanted to spend some time exploring activity options in Kuwait.  My first thought went straight to Discovery Mall.  The promise of a "developmental center for kids" made this a must-see!

As a space, Discovery Mall is organized and spacious, but does not necessarily have a child friendly, developmental or fun vibe to it as a whole.  Granted I am not an architect nor a designer, and perhaps I had my hopes up too high.

Having said that, there are enough child-friendly spaces within it to warrant it an excellent choice for parents with kids of all ages to go.  I will show you a break-down of my favorite spots, with age appropriateness.

Lets start with My Gym.  I absolutely LOVED this place.  I took a special little man with me and saw it in action (see picture below).  I would recommend the structured play for beginners (parent participation class).  There is a very enthusiastic instructor, who leads the kids during circle time, she also allows you to see all the materials that you could use within the gym.

The programs include:
  • Structured/parent participation class
  • Martial Arts and Karate classes
  • Free Play- this is an opportunity for you to organize a play date with other parents kids.  As it is unstructured, if you are alone it is similar to playing at home.  But for those parents who have limited space at home for a play area, this is wonderful too.
  • My Gym Camp
  • My Gym Art-  Which many people do not know about as it is in an adjacent space.  Great space to play and create.

AGES: 6 weeks-13 years!

I am a stickler for safety!

Little man having a blast!

Next is a very cool space called:

Kuwait Flight Simulation Center  This center apparently caters to amateur and professional pilots.  For amateurs, the youngest age allowed is 13 years of age.  The place looks very intriguing and if I had the time, I would have strapped my self in and tried it.  For you parents who want an indoor space that your teenager might like, this is a great option!

AGES: 13+ (including adults)

The basement at Discovery Mall, also has a mini golf facility- Golfania.  The lighting was not very good, so I decided not to put any of the photos I took.  But again, great option for something indoors, active.  I could not find their website, but you can follow them on twitter @golfania2010.

AGE:  There was no sign about age that I could see, but obviously I would say no unattended young kids, and only bring kids that are able to play, and not run around trying to catch the ball with their hand:P

The top floor had many options as well, including:

Cozmo Bowling- which also has some air-hockey and pool tables.  This can be a great "family time" option, as it caters to most ages (not your tiny ones of course).

AGE: As soon as your child can swing that ball.

Goal!  an indoor football field, which is excellent!  The website is very professional and has information on all their activities, which include:
Goal ! Parties
Goal! Academy
Goal! Club

AGE: Depends on the activity.  Check their website.

PLAY, or PLAYTIME, is an indoor area for kids under 5.  It looked interesting from a distance, but I will have to see it when they have kids inside.

AGE: under 5

There are other areas and things to do at Discovery Mall, but these are the ones that caught my eye...

As soon as I walked in Discovery Mall a sign caught my eye, but I will brief you on this wonderful club in a post very very soon!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Posted not tweeted!

Apologies for those of you who were searching for the LoFat twitter updates today. LoFat was unfortunately unable to provide real-time tweets of the dietician training, so I will give you a brief overview! Today's focus was on how to approach, motivate and succeed with teenagers in regards to health. 

We need to first think about the real differences between young children and teenagers. One important difference is that with physical growth comes changes in hormones and metabolism. Those changes influence body image and mood. Another change is age, and with age comes increased expectations and responsibilities. A very important difference is social. Teenagers are motivated, demotivated, enabled and disabled by the social environment. The parental influence is important, but it ceases to become a motivator. Teens want to feel accepted by peers and want to feel "normal" according to the larger social circle. 

Knowing these difference and really understanding their implications helps us identify ways to motivate and inspire teenagers to succeed in a healthy lifestyle:

  • By empowering teens to understand and take control of their body, they become more independent and thus successful.  Teach them about their body, how BMI works, muscle VS. weight gain/loss, etc. 
  • Aid them in finding fun ways to move and exercise.  Exercise does not mean treadmill; paintball, bowling, swimming and many more can be options. 
  • Educate them on making healthy food choices when they are dining out. 
  • Teach them to read the labels and look for healthy recipes. 
  • Help your teenager identify and establish a "buddy system". By that I simply mean having another friend or family member go through all or part of the experience with him/her. 
  • Be flexible! Allow a free day for example.  
  • Do not compare.  Each child is different.
  • Rewards should not be with food.  An experience-based reward or more privileges are good examples.

I will add one note that is specific to parents, and I hope you can accept it from me... If you are a healthy role-model, your child will eventually learn from you.  Do not expect change, if you cannot model that change.

As an adult in the teen's life do be aware of how you approach the topic of weight loss. Focus on gaining a healthy lifestyle rather than losing weight. The dangers of unhealthy body image, eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia), and yo-yo dieting are severe. If you do suspect that your teen may be exhibiting signs of depression, anxiety, obsessive and/or disturbed behavior and mood swings, do consult with a therapist.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Inspirational tale...

Good evening... I wanted to share this inspiring New York Times article about this very real, and for many, daily struggle of living with a member with Autism.  I want us to all give a big round of applause for the Canha family, and hats off to Ms. Stanton-Paule.  The article is very long, but do take some time to read through it and watch the video

I do not want to be political on this page, but I just want to share my hope that real change will come soon; that children and adults with disabilities will find the resources and support they need in Kuwait and worldwide.

Published: September 17, 2011
Justin Canha, a young artist with autism, prepares for life as an independent adult. Links to special features with Mr. Canha and his art can be found in the article text.

For local resources please check:

  • Kuwait Center for Autism- unfortunately the website does not seem to work, if anyone has a current website/address please send it to me.
  • Applied Behavior Center of Kuwait (ABC)
  • Kuwait Dream Center- also no working website

Some blog house-keeping!

  • It seems the Marina FM interview link no longer works. As I am very untech savvy, we will have to do it the old fashioned way. Please log on to this link.  You can then select the show DH- Duwaniyyat hawwa/7awwa, then find the date of the show (11th September).  I apologize for the inconvenience...
  • Remember, the 2nd training session at LoFat is taking place tomorrow, Monday, at 12pm. Real-time tweets can be followed @lofatgroup or #alzabinlofat
  • Dont forget the vote on the poll! It does affect the direction of the posts

Have a great week!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What, why and when?

Parents worry...  This is normal and expected, and I would also argue, it is a healthy part of parenting.  When the worry continues over a specific aspect of our child's development and/or behavior, we often find ourselves wondering: "why is this happening?", "do I need help" and "what kind of help do I need?".  We must start first by taking a deep breath.  Remember, your anxiety very often transfers to the child, which will escalate his/her issue.  Psychological and psychiatric services are available to you anytime, even if you just want a second opinion.  But for those who are hesitant about seeking help, you can then ask your self the following questions:

  • How long have I noticed this change?

If the change continues for over a week, without you understanding the reason behind it, you may seek professional help.  If it continues for a month or more, you should seek professional help (exception is teenagers, where mood swings and fads are a normal part of their development.  Seek help for a teenager when the behavior becomes harmful or extreme).

  • Can I think of any reason for the change? (beginning of school year, exams time, you were traveling, your child was sick, new vitamins/diet, etc)

Think of medical, emotional and social changes that may have happened recently.  If the behavior has continued and you find no explanation for the changes, go ahead and seek a professional.

  • Is my child's behavior/change escalating?

By that I mean is it getting worst, or more pronounced. If so, it is best to see a professional.

  • Did my spouse or other family member also notice the change?

Sometimes when we are watching our child so closely, little changes can seem quiet large and alarming.  Having a second opinion may help ease your anxiety or support your observations.

  • Has my child had a medical check-up recently?

I usually urge parents to do a blood test with most psychological/psychiatric conditions to exclude any medical reasons for the change.

Realistic or exaggerated worrying?

Now, if after answering the questions you have decided to seek professional help, do your own research.  Start first by checking some websites about the behavior changes (if it is not an emergency).  If it seems unprofessional and/or more confusing, then wait until you see a professional.

Research available centers and professionals.  Make sure that they are qualified and licensed.  It is within your right to ask the therapist about their credentials (I personally never get insulted, I actually encourage it).  If you cannot find any good resources online, ask your child's pediatrician, or ask around in your social circle.  Some professionals and centers offer free consultations, which is a great first step if you are unsure about the issue or the type of intervention.  

If it is an emergency: Go directly to the ER, or alternatively you may visit the ER at the psychiatric hospital (if it seems more of a psychiatric issue).  Some psychologists/psychiatrists do make house/hospital visits.  Again, check your local sources.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Other Voice: The Best School Year...Ever

At the beginning of the school year, there’s excitement and a sense of “starting fresh.” The students are generally done with vacation and eager to see their friends. They (more-or-less) eagerly trot off to school with a backpack full of new school supplies, hoping for a good year. Everyone – teachers, parents, and students – wants to have a successful year.

While we all hope for this to happen, the reality is that some children struggle to be successful in school be it academically, socially, or behaviorally.  Year after year they seem capable - but unable - to meet grade level expectations. These students languish on academic probation risking denial of enrolment, and parent-teacher meetings, IEPs, and standard interventions don’t seem to make things much better.
When a student is not doing well in school, the best thing a parent can do is take the time to determine why the child is struggling. It is rare that a student fails by choice. Hidden reasons for a lack of success include undiagnosed learning disabilities, developmental delays, psycho-social stressors, &/or underlying medical issues to name just a few. Any one these things may cause a child to have significant, observable difficulty in school. It is worth noting that poor school performance is the single most prevalent reason for childhood issues with self-esteem, confidence, and emotional resilience.

Assessment by a qualified, experienced psychologist can help identify the underlying hindrances, provide a diagnosis if necessary, and allow for the implementation of specific and appropriate learning support. When children get the support they need to learn effectively, they experience a sense of accomplishment. Success breeds confidence, which encourages effort, which produces more success – it becomes a self-sustaining process.

“I wasn't diagnosed[as dyslexic] until well after I had reached adulthood, had struggled through school being considered lazy, dumb, and perhaps even retarded, and had flunked out of college seven times.”
~John R. Horner, World-renowned paleontologist

If your child is struggling in school, take the time to find out why. The sooner the real problem is identified the sooner the hope for success – and all that success means for your child – can become a reality. Don’t wait. You won’t be sorry.

Post author: Dr. Sussanah-Joy Schuilenberg, clinical coordinator & supervising psychologist at Soor Center.

"The Other Voice"- Is our contributing authors post.  If you would like to contribute, email me at for approval, editing and eventual posting:)

2nd Poll results and announcements!

The second poll "What are you most anxious about this school year?" is now closed, but the third is up and awaiting your response:)

The majority of you said that you are mostly worried about grades.  It is understandable to be scared and anxious about your child's academic success, but keep in mind that students will be more motivated if you start encouraging and focusing on their effort, rather than their grade.  Effort will eventually translate into better grades unless there is another inherent problem.  I do not want to elaborate too much, as I am going to share the first post from a professional which will address this topic.  I am delighted to start this new section with a contribution by Dr. Sussanah-Joy Schuilenberg, a colleague and a friend.


  • All posts by other authors will be titled as "The Other Voice" with the additional title chosen by the author or edited by myself.
  • Continuing on my earlier post "A heavy weight", I was at LoFat today and provided a 2-hour training for the dietitians.  I truly enjoyed it, and LoFat provided real-time tweets of the whole training, which you can follow @lofatgroup, or look for #alzabinlofat.
  • The next training sessions will be Monday 19th of September, and again tweets will be real-time with the same trend/topic.

Monday, September 12, 2011

To fight or not to fight?


One of my favorite health blogs, is National Public Radio's (NPR) blog,  SHOTS.  An article entitled "Pediatricians Put The Kibosh On Boxing", caught my attention.  It explained the dangers of boxing as a sport for kids.  The writer noted:

Citing the risk of injuries, including concussions, the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Paedeatric Society, have come out in opposition to boxing as a sport for children and adolescents.  Pediatricians should strongly discourage parents from letting their kids box and suggest sports "that do not encourage intentional head injuries," says a new policy statement from the two national groups for pediatricians. (link)

One might wonder, does that mean all combat sports are bad?  

There is never a right or wrong answer because these things are relative; it depends on how the sport is taught, which combat sport it is, what the child is like (aggressive vs. calm), the child's age, the guidelines established at home, the instructor's methods, etc.  I would argue, however, that the critical point here is intent.  Sports like taekwondo and Karate are fighting/combat sports, but many instructors focus on the self-discipline aspect, and do not encourage fighting aimlessly.  Boxing and wrestling, at least in my eyes, seem to carry the intent to harm, and children watching and practicing these sports, tend to act-out the sport more often. 
There is merit to some of these combat sports.  Children can build strong self-esteem and courage based on the experience.  With martial arts, many instructors focus on discipline, and an understanding of the body and mind.  They teach children to think before they act.  But the fact remains that it is a form of fighting, and some children are encouraged to rough play at home with their siblings and sometimes fathers.  Without proper guidelines, these children may transfer these lessons to the schoolyard and classroom. 


What are your experiences?  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back to school interview

I had an informative interview with Marina FM earlier today (in Arabic) regarding school readiness.  The interview focused on both the anxieties of parents and children.

Please follow the link for the full hour program. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Disciplined... Part 2

Misbehavior, rule breaking and/or tantrums are an inevitable part of growing up. Sometimes it is an attempt (by the child) at gaining control; an attempt at mastery. Other times it is an experiment of "what will mama/baba do".  This can be intentional, as we can see from the video below, or not.  This post is targeting intentional and repetitive attempts by your child to misbehave.

With teenagers it is no different. They may not lie down on the floor and scream, but they still seek attention, experiment with breaking the rules, and seek ways of expressing that they have grown, and that rules may need to change.  This might be a time when renegotiating the rules is helpful.

As aforementioned in the previous post, structure and discipline are necessary. Discipline is not just about rewards, nor is it only about punishments. We need to start with having a set of rules and guidelines for our children to follow, we then need to be role models. For younger children these rules have to be short and clear; and we need to keep a reminder of these rules.  We should remember to use positive reinforcement when our children are doing well. When they are not, we give chances (or warnings) to allow them to correct their mistakes. If our child is being stubborn, we use punishments, or as I would rather say, consequences to teach them discipline. (I will use punishment in this post because it is more familiar and recognizable).

Punishments/ consequences:

  • Punishments, like rewards, need to be immediate. (i.e. Do not punish a behavior exhibited at the beginning of the week, by taking away something on the weekend).  This can be an exception with teenagers, who are able to wait and you may postpone a punishment.
  • Punishments need to be short. Elongating punishment will only decrease its effectiveness. (i.e. take away the game for an hour instead of a week).
  • Punishments need to be age-appropriate. (i.e. Time-out for younger kids vs taking away privileges for older children).  Please use the term "thinking chair" instead of "naughty chair".  Remember we are trying to promote positive thinking and behavior.
  • Talk to your child not at your child.  Try to kneel down and maintain eye contact.
  • Clarify that you are punishing the behavior and not the child.  Show your child love even in those tough moments.
  • For educational, safety and emotional reasons I will have to mention that I am adamantly against corporal punishment (physical punishment).  This is always a sensitive topic, especially in this part of the world.  As the cartoon below shows, it only teaches the child to be aggressive, and to avoid an act out of fear, and not conviction).
Corporal Punishment

      This video might make you laugh, break your heart, or allow you to sigh and say "yippee! Its not only my boy who does that!"...  It does, however, show us that intentional and manipulative behavior starts at a very young age.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Disciplined... Part 1

Structure is an essential part of a child's development.  It allows the child to have a sense of predictability and stability which nurtures his sense of security.  Rewards and punishments teach the child about consequences of actions, allowing the child to act after consideration rather than impulsively. Establishing rules and guidelines may be difficult in the beginning, and here are some tips about one aspect of discipline:


Rewards should be immediate.  A reward far off in the future is neither enticing nor motivating.  Children can tolerate and should tolerate waiting, but creating a token system for a future reward is more effective than a verbal promise. (i.e. collecting point, stickers, etc).

For younger children explain very clearly why the reward was given, the more specific you are, the more likely it is that the child will repeat that specific behavior.

Do not assume the child has not learned if s/he does not repeat the rewarded behavior.  Consistency, repetition and persistence are essential, especially when dealing with special needs children.

Use one-on-one rewards when targeting embarrassing or personal goals. (i.e. age inappropriate toilet training, hygiene, relationship problems).   

Try to be creative with your rewards.  Find activities and experiences that you can reward with, rather than focusing on materialistic rewards. For example, 15 minutes of one-on-one play with your child (a game of their choice), allowing them choose their favorite dish for dinner, bake cookies, or make popcorn and watch T.V. together.  For bigger rewards, these could include organizing an outing, having friends over, or allowing them extra privileges.    

Express your love and pride for your child generously

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Calling all bees...

The aim of this blog is to be an interactive space to share experiences and expertise related to children.  I  would like to welcome all you busy bees interested in sending a short topic you would like to share.  It could be an experience, event, message or skills development.  Parents, teachers, care-takers, and professionals are all welcome.

The posts will be first seen by myself, and once approved and edited I will notify you prior to publishing it.  Posts could be anonymous.

Please email me the full post or idea at:

I look forward to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A heavy weight...

I had a lovely meeting this morning with Abdullah Al-Eisa, the CEO at LoFat.  I was asked to help work on improving their LoFat Juniors program.  Abdullah's vision is very much directed towards awareness and public education about the real dangers of obesity. In doing my pre-meeting research, I found a limited source of research studies, which is not surprisingly since research in general is very sparse in Kuwait.  There were, however, 2 studies in the past year about this topic. Both studies show the alarming increase of obesity in Kuwait.

LoFat's Head of Operations, Ms. Amal Lahalih was helpful is supplying me with these facts:

  • Forbes ranks Kuwait the 8th most obese country in the world with a 74.2% obesity rate.
  •  40% of Kuwaiti children are diagnosed with obesity
  •  According to Dr Wajdan Al Shamiri citing a report by the World Health Organization and quoted in the Arab Times, no country in the entire Middle East has a higher rate of obesity among children.
  •  Due to poor diet and the prevalence of obesity, 1 in 4 Kuwaitis suffer from diabetes
  • More than 15 percent of the adult population has diabetes and 22 out of 100 children under the age of 14 are diabetic
  • The cost to treat a person with complications that are caused by diabetes is high; the cost of diabetes has been calculated a few years ago to be nearly seven percent of the overall health expenditure in Europe.

Some helpful tips for parents:

  • For real and ongoing change in diet and lifestyle, children need to be in control and not feel forced.  Try to teach your child about healthy choices.
  • Choose activities for your child that s/he likes.  Do not force a diet and a physical regimen that has no chance of becoming part of their lifestyle.
  • Make changes uniform.  If possible, have the whole family participate in a healthier lifestyle.
  • Do not become an enabler.  Sometimes we feel guilty about "not giving our child what he wants".  Think of the bigger picture: Would you rather give your child temporary pleasure or a lifetime of health and happiness?
  • Changes need to be realistic.  A severe and restrictive diet might change your child's behavior to oppositional and aggressive.  Try to be flexible and understanding.
  • Praise and support your child's attempts, even if they are unsuccessful in the beginning.  They key here is for the child to be motivated and gain the will to try.