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Parents often fear their child’s passage from adolescence to adulthood. You may have concerns about the risks of your child binge drinking or using drugs, driving safely, the risk of violence and inappropriate sexual behavior. When you hear stories of teens and young adults taking their life, you may worry about whether one day your child be tempted to suicide. You may wonder how to help your child be resilient to these risks and the many challenges that children face as they grow.

You can offer much in the early parenting years to help promote resilience. Psychologists like me, call the factors that are core to promoting emotional well-being, resilience, and reducing the risky behaviors that you may fear, protective factors. The good news is you can shape the development of these protective factors in your children. These four protective factors are:

1 | Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions

A sense of belonging is the foundation of well-being. We parents know the importance of belonging. It’s why most parents work hard to make sure our child is happy at school and has friends. We may fret when things aren’t going well or our child is feeling lonely and sad.

The first place of belonging is in the home. For many children, this is a source of strength when things are tough for them in other social arenas. Having a good connection with your child throughout their growing years is vital. The relationship with parents is both a springboard into the world and a safe place to fall when life inevitably presents difficulties.

Good relationships with children occur when you provide consistent care and love. Connection comes from providing for basic needs, being attuned to your child’s emotions and being available to help soothe and protect if needed. Creating your own family rituals and spending time together having fun as a family helps to make family seem worth belonging to.

Try to see the positive qualities of your child even when you are struggling with them. Some children, as a virtue of their temperament or unique needs, are more challenging to parent than others. If you are experiencing difficulties in your relationship with your child and it feels like more than just the day-to-day frustrations of parenting, for example, you dislike spending time with your child or most of your interactions are negative, seek professional help via a community parenting group or private practice professional. It is easier to work on this before the teen years when peer interactions are a priority, so do it sooner not later.

If your child is having difficulty belonging at school, enroll them in other activities to give them an opportunity to belong elsewhere. Belonging to a team or group is beneficial for your child. It will help your child build a positive connection with other children their age and lessen the sense that they are the problem. Some children move school in response to social difficulties.

Sometimes this is the best solution but often the same problem will follow to a new school due to a child’s personality factors so it is better to resolve your child’s difficulties at the same school if at all possible. If your child is not being protected and is at real risk of harm, a change of school is beneficial.

You will always have a place with me. Communicate to your child that while you expect they will leave home as an adult, they will always belong to your family unit. Although I hope that my children will leave my home and become responsible adults, one message I give is “if you ever needed to, you can come home; you have a place with us.”

2 | Problem-solving skills

Children who can problem solve tend to have better resilience. If you are reading this and panicking because your child struggles with problem-solving, take a deep breath. Problem-solving is a skill that takes time to build. Children’s ability to problem solve increases with age and continues to develop with improvements in logic and reasoning skills occurring until the age of 25.

You can influence the growth of problem-solving by offering opportunities for your child to problem solve. When your child is angry, upset or despairing spend a little time settling their emotions with understanding and care and then ask questions such as “what can we do to help? What might work?” This is helpful to develop the idea that all problems have solutions if we look for them.

Reduce the amount of control you place on your child’s day to day life where possible and give them opportunities to make choices and decisions. Some parents try to control much of a child’s day to day world from what they wear, to what they eat and play with. This type of parenting doesn’t provide children with opportunities to make choices or name what they need. Reducing choices will not help your child develop problem-solving skills and will also likely impact negatively on your relationship as they become a teen and dispute your control. If you struggle with giving your child choice, start with one choice a day and then build from there.

Model effective problem solving. When I ask parents of anxious children who forecast the worst “When things go wrong how you handle minor problems such as running late?” the answer is often with great stress and the use of statements such as “ this is a disaster, my day is off to a bad start, I can’t handle this.” Instead, model calmness and try statements like “I wasn’t expecting this, oh well I will work it out” or “it’s just a hiccup, what can we do about it?” Be optimistic in your approach to solving problems.

3 | Contacts with caregivers

Being able to contact you (or another caregiver they feel safe with) when your child is in difficulty provides a stable base. From a young age, make it clear to your child that you don’t just want the good news, you want to know when things aren’t okay. “Nothing is so awful that we can’t talk about it,” is a helpful mantra from a protective behaviors program.

Be calm and focused on your child’s feelings. When your child messes up and they come to you, be calm and stay with their feelings. As a teen or adult, your child is more likely to come to you if they know from past experience that you will hear them and help them problem solve rather than judge, shame or fall apart because you can’t handle your own feelings. Be your child’s rock; don’t make your child be your rock – ever. If you struggle with this, make a rule not to lean on your child emotionally. Counseling can also help.

4 | Effective mental health care

Seek professional help. If your child or teen is showing signs of depression, has fears that are restricting participation in daily life, are angry and upset often or seems disconnected from life, it is important to seek professional help. Your doctor or school psychologist is a good place to start. Find an effective mental health provider who provides evidence-based treatment. If the first practitioner or agency you try is not a good fit for your child, do try other options.

Keep in mind that parenting is a journey with daily opportunities to create connection and promote skill building. It is often frustrating when your child is struggling. Avoid excessive self-blame and instead remind yourself that consistent efforts over time are what count and that we all need a little help from time to time. In each day promote resilience by finding a way to connect with your child, letting them know they belong, give them opportunities to problem solve and show them that you see their innate worth even when they struggle.

What techniques have you used to promote resilience in your kids?

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.


A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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