Kids Get Sports Injuries From Specializing Too Soon

At one time there was a school of thought that the best way to ensure your child excelled in a sport was to push them to play that particular sport as early – and as often – as possible. That is how we ended up in a world of traveling baseball and volleyball teams all year round. It is why we still see kids in Canada playing in different regional hockey leagues every three or four months, staying with host families to do so. This is just how sports are supposed to be at the elite youth level.

Recently, though, this concept has come in for plenty of criticism. Ideas that were once thought to be a healthy way of pushing your kids forward in a sport have become old fashioned as more and more research has come out saying that this early specialization does nothing but physically hurt kids. The only real surprise here is just how long it took someone to say that abusing developing bodies with the same physical motions day after day and month after month was doing far more harm than good.

Using the same motion over and over is simply bad for the body. Overuse injuries are seeing kids as young as 12 or 13 in operating rooms needing surgeries on worn-out shoulders and ACL tears. Intense training in this way leads to these apparent injuries, but it can also lead to mental burnout. A sport that was fun at seven or eight can become something a child has no interest in pursuing by 11 or 12 if that is the only sport that they are allowed to participate in.

The answer here is quite obvious – diversification.

Sports should be fun. So let your child have fun. While some see specialization as the only route to a college scholarship, the truth is that by playing different sports you are giving your child the right guidance to succeed both on the field, and in life.

In 1993 professor Andres Ericsson wrote a paper that suggested to become an expert you had to put 10,000 hours of deliberate practice into it. This is a theory that was aimed at musicians, not at athletes. Unfortunately, the method has become the cry of parents who look to specialize their kids in a sport, no matter what more recent research has advised.

“We know pretty definitively that early specialization in sports is not good. It does predispose younger athletes to what we call overuse injury,” said Jonathan Shook, a sports medicine physician with OrthoIndy a sports medicine facility in Indianapolis. “We highly discourage it.”

Playing different sports work different muscle groups. Shooting a ball in soccer is different from a single-leg takedown in wrestling which is different from a tackle in football. To help child become a better athlete, it is vital to train all their muscles to function and work together. Overworking one muscle group to the detriment of others doesn’t do that.

One muscle that especially needs work is the brain. Throwing a fastball over and over and over is mentally taxing. However, if that pitcher also has to think about making a bounce pass as a basketball point guard and his footwork as a quarterback, then he or she will have a much more rounded ability to problem solve in any life situation.

Specialization can hurt young athletes. Given the right guidance, however, a diversified bank of sports will allow youngsters to compete for a college scholarship in their chosen sport when the right time to specialize crops up.

Article by Vital Guidance

Encouraging Children’s Creativity To Help Them Succeed

Narrowing down a focus on how your child should grow up is usually not a good idea. Giving vital guidance in all aspects of their early life, but not stifling any spirit or purpose, however, is something that should undoubtedly be encouraged.

Some people think that creativity is a birth trait and that you either have it or you don’t. This just isn’t true, with creativity being a learned skill more than something that is decided on genetically. Knowing this means that creativity, like any skill, can be fostered, encouraged, and developed. Given the many paths in life that involve a creative, problem-solving brain in this digital age, it is a good idea to help your children learn how to be creative and show how creativity can be a huge part of their upbringing.

Here a few ideas on how to spike the creativity level of your children:

Don’t always be an alpha

This is a tricky idea to work with at first. We live in a world where fear and the concept of Big Brother watching affect our decision making daily. That fear can certainly lead to decisions and rules that stifle a child’s creativity.

This isn’t saying that we should give three-year-old junior a pair of scissors and see where it goes. It is merely saying that sometimes, when playing or introducing concepts, it is an excellent idea to let the child take the lead. For example, when playing with Lego or working on some other model, don’t just immediately pull out the instructions and go for it. Let the kids work with what they have for a little bit first. Their creativity might surprise you.

Find a creative space

This is a very Zen and New Age sounding proposal, but it is one that makes sense as you provide your child with the vital guidance to be creative.

Creativity is most likely and most often found in areas where there is room to express. This can be as simple as making sure that the playroom is set up to allow for creative play – not having every toy or set of things in a specific place that should never be moved – or as in-depth as allowing spots in certain parts of the garage as dedicated for painting.

Emphasize the arts

Video games are not a bad place to learn how to use creative thoughts and lateral thinking, as long as the game is in the right genre. No child, though, should be relying only on video games and TV for their entertainment.

It is all too easy in 2019 to let the iPad be the be-all and end-all when it comes to playing. Instead, go a little old school. Reading on a kindle is fun, but no e-reader has yet been able to replicate the actual feeling of reading a book. Drawing is essential for creativity too, and it is much more fun when done the way we used to do it, instead of using a finger on a screen as a paintbrush.

Stop caring about achievement

This is probably the most significant single way to allow your child to be creative with your vital guidance. We live in an accomplishment and winning-based society. Your child will undoubtedly learn that soon enough. For now though, who cares if a painting gets finished or if the product isn’t as good as the one put together by the kid across the street. Instead, make sure your child enjoyed any activity as much as possible. Eventually, the results will pay off when your child’s creativity allows him or her to solve a problem that a straight-line thinker would miss.

Article by Vital Guidance

Video Games & Parenting: Doesn’t Have To Be A Scary Thing

It can be argued that there has never been a more difficult time to be a parent. The way that technology has moved on in the last 20 years is breathtaking, and it has opened new opportunities and new horizons for people all around the globe.

While it is impressive to be able to browse the internet from your phone, to have shows and movies on demand through Hulu and Netflix, or to merely banking in your PJs, this new world does not come without risk. Specifically, that risk extends to children who are also finding themselves in an ever-changing digital world, but who don’t have the risk assessment necessary to know when something is good, and something is potentially dangerous.

Children learn their world by watching adult behavior. As we spend more and more time online or in the middle of digital anything, they want to do the same. They need necessary guidance and vital mentors from their parents to make the right decisions, the safe decisions, and the decisions that will let them explore in a way that you as parents can be comfortable with.

Here are four steps that you can take to ensure that your children playing Fortnite are chatting with friends safely and responsibly.

1.    Know who they are talking to – This is the most natural step to take, but it is one that often gets overlooked. There is a fine line between letting your child develop their sense of privacy and being too oblivious to whom they interact with daily. A good rule of thumb is to encourage your child to only communicate and talk with people they have met, never adding strangers or friends of their buddies.

2.    Encourage communication – Being a vital mentor means that your child is open to talking with you. All too often in the world today, we see parents and children that known nothing about each other’s life. You don’t have to be your teenager’s best friend, but you should certainly be able to talk to them enough to know what they are planning on doing on a Friday night.

3.    Keep personal information safe – Anyone can hide behind a screen name; this is both a good and a bad thing. The wrong side is focused on often, with people preying on others or bullying them with no recourse. The flip side though is that your child is also anonymous. Make sure they understand that this is important, never sharing photos, real names, addresses, etc.

4.    Set reasonable internet usage limits – Nothing is going to make a child act out more than being told what to do in a way that seems unfair to them. Workaround this by setting an internet limit, then offering incentives to increase it through insight into their world.

As with many topics concerning children, the key here is communication. Be open and honest about what you expect and be reasonable with what you want from them. The digital world CAN be a scary place, but it only doesn’t have to be that way.

Story by Steve Wright
Independent writer

Reading Is Vital To Your Child’s Learning

Reading to your children can make a vital difference in their lives. Not only will you and your child bond and make memories over their favorite books, but you are also guiding them into a love of reading they will carry with them through adulthood. Reading is not only a source of entertainment; it is a way to expand the horizons of young minds.

Below are ten reasons to make a little time each day to read to your children.

1. Language Skills
Language skills will vitally improve when you read aloud to your child. Listening, speaking, reading and writing are the four language skills, and if your child is read to every day, he or she will be well equipped to handle the challenges of school.

2. Vocabulary Skills
Vocabulary skills will also improve through hearing words and phrases that are not used in their everyday life. If your child has not yet started to read, pointing to the words while reading will give them a head start. Guide your children through the books and discuss the illustrations before reading
the text.

3. Empathy
Empathy can develop through reading. Children identify with characters, and can effortlessly feel the emotions the character is going through. Reading every day will help children identify with their own emotions and feelings as well as an ability to understand how other people think and feel.

4. Imagination
A child’s imagination can soar through reading. Being transported to other places, times, and spending time with remarkable characters can spark new ideas and creative thinking in your child. While I believe it is vital to let your children’s imagination skyrocket, it is also essential for them to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

5. Bonding
Connect with your children through reading. A regular bedtime reading ritual will help you both relax from your busy day and enjoy a little cuddle time. Reading will also guide you and your child to increased communication.

6. Longer Attention Spans
Most young children have a relatively low attention span and living in a world of constant screen time doesn’t help. However, reading does assist in developing longer attention spans in younger children.  This will be of great benefit to them as they enter school.

7. Academic Performance
Children who read, or have been read to regularly, perform better in school. They have learned how sentences and phrases are supposed to sound, which gives them a head start in language structure. This aids your child in all subjects, not just language arts and English classes.

8. Concentration
Children who have been read to and who like to read can concentrate for more extended periods. This is a vital skill that will be needed throughout their academic career.

9. Eagerness to Learn
Reading teaches children about the world and assists them in finding topics they are interested in learning about. These topics of interest may lead to wanting to know more, therefore opening the door to more knowledge. Guide your children to different subjects, fiction, and non-fiction. A quick trip to the library may spark a new interest.

10. Cognitive Skills
Reading to your child teaches early thinking skills such as problem-solving, decision making, and remembering. Your child will have an easier time processing information with regular reading. It also has a positive effect on the growing brain, helps advance literacy skills, and is vital to attaining better comprehension skills.

Through your guidance, your children will benefit from reading, not only in the ways mentioned above but throughout their entire lifetime. Set your children up for success while enjoying the time you have with them as they grow. Reading is not only a good source of entertainment; it is an excellent way for a family to connect and build stronger relationships.

Article by Kristine Protopsaltis
Independent Writer

Mentors Provide Vital Guidance To Children

It is vital for children to have good mentors in their life.

The above statement seems like it would be an undeniable fact, yet in our modern world, where everything happens at a fast pace and technology has taken such firm root, it is not a statement parents give much thought.

Parents from the younger generation, Millennials if you will (though I hate using that phrase) need more help than ever when it comes to raising their children. There are so many examples of co-parenting, (most good but some bad) and other types of family units that it is sometimes hard for children to get the vital counseling that they need from a mentor or role model.

Mentors fill so many roles for children that it is hard to come up with a complete list of all the ways they provide necessary guidance at an age where it is most needed. These vital relationships can last for years, even a lifetime for the right match of people, and here are just a couple of the ways that mentoring can help children grow into balanced and successful young adults.

Freedom of expression
A good mentor knows when to step in and when to step back.  Children do not want to be in situations where someone else is dictating all their choices.  Frankly, if someone is controlling their life, there is no opportunity for them to grow.

A good mentor plays the role of a supporter at times.  He or she is willing to let children make decisions, be they correct or incorrect (within reason) and to let them be themselves. This trust also results in a level of accomplishment for the mentor as with the right vital guidance children will succeed off their own choices and their freedom to make decisions.

Development of confidence
One trait that we commonly see in children and teens today is a sense of being withdrawn from life. Parents find it all too easy when a child at a young age is boisterous or inquisitive, to sit them in front of a tablet or TV for the evening. While there is undoubtedly a place for that in raising kids, there are so many good entertainment options out there that involve learning, and this can have a negative effect if used too often.

In the past, and by that I mean 20 years ago or so, children learned how to be social because there were basically no other options. If you wanted entertainment, then you had to build a friend group with similar likes and dislikes and go from there. Today, kids don’t have that, so confidence within the peer group can be challenging to achieve.

A mentor will help with this instantly with a human connection to the broader world.

Article by Steve Wright

What’s Your Opinion On Raising Children?

Everyone has an opinion about how to raise children, even those without them. The fact is, no two kids are the same so the experience of raising children will not be the exact same for parents.  Some kids will listen and some will not, some kids will be calm and still and others will not, and some kids will need more vital guidance than others.

The Bible is one of the best resources we have for how to raise children.  Not only does it provides vital guidance about parenting children, but it also provides guidance for being a parent.  The child-rearing experience will still be different for parents but the Bible helps with their responsibility to teach a good foundation for children to thrive in the world.

Here is a short list of some of the best verses for parents and children:

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” comes from the Book of Proverbs.  There are a few different ways people view this verse from raising a child based on his or her talent to growing the child up in God’s Word for character and a relationship a with Him.  The latter view sees a relationship with God as more important than earthly talents.  However, the overall goal would still be to have a child with godly character who still thrives to be the best at his or her talent(s).

There are also verses about “children obey your parents” and “Fathers do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” in the Books of Ephesians and Colossians.  At times, it’s a natural response to be upset with children when they do not listen or have intentionally damaged something that was important to you.  However, that is when parents must fall on the vital guidance of the Fruits of The Spirit to parent in a way that is comforting and safe for children to learn from their actions.  In the end, parents will see it was just stuff that was not more important than their relationship with their children.

There is no guarantee how children will turn out as they grow up, but parents still have a responsibility to teach them right from wrong.  If you do this based on varying opinions of others then your children can’t explained why their beliefs are what they are because they were never a solid foundation. They were just the opinions of others that can readily change based on how they are feeling that day.

In the Book of Deuteronomy, the Bible says “these words I am commanding you today are to be upon your hearts.  And you shall teach them diligently to your children and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Today, there are many ways to learn those words.  Reading, audio as well as Bible videos are available in many languages as well as at our fingertips because many of us have mobile phones.  So the next time you’re in the comfort of your home, traveling or relaxing before bedtime, read or listen to a few verses for knowledge of how to train up a child.

Rules on Opening a 529 Plan Account for College

Year over year, participation in 529 plans continues to rise.1 Anyone can open an account, lifetime contribution limits are typically over $300,000, and there are tax benefits if the funds are used for college. Here are some vital guidance to common questions on opening an account.
Can I open an account in any state’s 529 plan or am I limited to my own state’s plan?
Answer: It depends on the type of 529 plan you have: college savings plan or prepaid tuition plan. With a college savings plan, you open an individual investment account and direct your contributions to one or more of the plan’s investment portfolios. With a prepaid tuition plan, you purchase education credits at today’s prices and redeem them in the future for college tuition. Forty-nine states (all but Wyoming) offer one or more college savings plans, but only a few states offer prepaid tuition plans.
529 college savings plans are typically available to residents of any state, and funds can be used at any accredited college in the United States or abroad. But 529 prepaid tuition plans are typically limited to state residents and apply to in-state public colleges.
Why might you decide to open an account in another state’s 529 college savings plan? The other plan might offer better investment options, lower management fees, a stronger investment track record, or better customer service. If you decide to go this route, keep in mind that some states may limit certain 529 plan tax benefits, such as a state income tax deduction for contributions, to residents who join the in-state plan.
Is there an age limit on who can be a beneficiary of a 529 account?
Answer: There is no beneficiary age limit specified in Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, but some states may impose one. You’ll need to check the rules of each plan you’re considering. Also, some states may require that the account be in place for a specified minimum length of time before funds can be withdrawn. This is important if you expect to make withdrawals quickly because the beneficiary is close to college age.
Can more than one 529 account be opened for the same child?
Answer: Yes. You (or anyone else) can open multiple 529 accounts for the same beneficiary, as long as you do so under different 529 plans (college savings plan or prepaid tuition plan). For example, you could open a college savings plan account with State A and State B for the same beneficiary, or you could open a college savings plan account and a prepaid tuition plan account with State A for the same beneficiary. But you can’t open two college savings plan accounts in the same 529 plan in State A for the same beneficiary.
Also keep in mind that if you do open multiple 529 accounts for the same beneficiary, each plan has its own lifetime contribution limit, and contributions can’t be made after the limit is reached. Some states consider the accounts in other states to determine whether the limit has been reached. For these states, the total balance of all plans (in all states) cannot exceed the maximum lifetime contribution limit.
Can I open a 529 account in anticipation of my future grandchild?
Answer: Technically, no, because the beneficiary must have a Social Security number. But you can do so in a roundabout way. First, you’ll need to open an account and name as the beneficiary a family member who will be related to your future grandchild. Then when your grandchild is born, you (the account owner) can change the beneficiary to your grandchild. Check the details carefully of any plan you’re considering because some plans may impose age restrictions on the beneficiary, such as being under age 21. This may pose a problem if you plan to name your adult son or daughter as the initial beneficiary.
What happens if I open a 529 plan in one state and then move to another state?
Answer: Essentially, nothing happens if you have a college savings plan. But most prepaid tuition plans require that either the account owner or the beneficiary be a resident of the state operating the plan. So if you move to another state, you may have to cash in the prepaid tuition plan.
If you have a college savings plan, you can simply leave the account open and keep contributing to it. Alternatively, you can switch 529 plans by rolling over the assets from that plan to a new 529 plan. You can keep the same beneficiary when you do the rollover (under IRS rules, you’re allowed one 529 plan same-beneficiary rollover once every 12 months), but check the details of each plan for any potential restrictions. If you decide to stay with your original 529 plan, just remember that your new state might limit any potential 529 plan tax benefits to residents who participate in the in-state plan.
1 Strategic Insight, 529 Data Highlights, 3Q 2018