Bahamas Blog International
Effective Child-rearing Tips
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Child-rearing tips that work:
By Kermit B. Fernander, Guardian Lifestyles Reporter -
Raising children requires such vital and varied skills that parents and families need all the help and support they can get. Dr. Ruth Peters, a clinical psychologist and an expert on parenting, has come up with five parenting tips that work.
She is not suggesting that parenting methods used in the past have been either right or wrong; but she is advising parents to think about and assess what has worked well with their child, and what has not.
Don't major in the minors:
In other words, don't sweat the small stuff. Don't knock yourself out over petty things that leave you so emotionally drained and exhausted, you are incapable of tackling the important issues.
"If it won't have a lasting effect beyond a few days, let it go ... I've never heard of a kid being harmed by skipping the tooth brushing for a few nights, or by not using soap in the shower, or by the bed actually being made only on sheet-changing days," Dr. Peters says
She further suggests that parents focus on the important things, which may be quite different from your neighbor's list of priorities. For example, you may decide that having dinner together as a family three or four times a week may improve channels of communication, and provide the kids with some nutritious meals — apart from pizza and burgers.
It may be that issues around cell phone usage, not sneaking around, being where you say you will be, and abstaining from alcohol and drugs will carry more weight than other issues. "Roll with the requests, compromise when possible, but stick to your guns on the big stuff," says Dr. Peters.
Imagine that the activities in your home are being recorded by video or DVD:
How would you like your associates and friends to see your home videos, and get a real look at how your family members treat each other? According to Dr. Peters: "Being 'on tape' is a great motivator for watching your language (knocking off the negative tone of voice, requesting rather than demanding, cleaning up the four-letter words, and just being more polite with your spouse and the kids)."
She goes one step further by suggesting you actually set up a camcorder one evening when everyone is at home, then view the family production. The results might not be what you would want your colleague at the office to see or — God forbid — your mother-in-law, but, "at the very least, it's a fun activity, and hopefully you will see where some improvements in common courtesy, politeness and body language need to occur."
Put guilt where it belongs — in the trash can:
While parents generally hate to disappoint their children — and saying 'no' to a child is a disappointment — it can also be a learning opportunity. "Children must learn to tolerate frustration, to learn to work for greater goals rather than expect all to come to them in the present, and to evolve into a being that accepts and understands another's point of view."
If we must disappoint our children, so be it. However, the worst thing a parent can do is give in to the child's request just to avoid feeling bad about having to disappoint. "Kids are resilient and it's really difficult to get them down, and they are often pros at knowing how to push your guilt button proficiently," says Dr. Peters:
When a punishment did not work last year, try something else:
You may have tried time-out or limiting your child's TV time, but with poor results. If this is the case, try thinking out of the box. Your kid may, in fact, not be terribly interested in TV! It's up to you to discover their true interests. These vary, of course, but may include anything from collecting baseball cards, buckles, or costume jewelry to renting a DVD or video game, and most kids will enjoy earning such rewards.
As far as time-out is concerned, Dr. Peters says 10 minutes in bedroom time-out is generally a waste of time, but half hour in a safe, boring spot (empty hallway, safe bathroom, utility room with no chemicals or dangerous objects) generally will get the kid's attention.
Teach compassion and gratitude as you would Math and Reading:
Dr. Peters suggests that having a high Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is great, but it's more important for your child to have a high Emotional Quotient (EQ). Acquiring emotional balance will help the child to better cope with the demands of adulthood, such as getting along in the workplace, relating to a spouse or raising children when the time comes.
"We all want our children to be bright and literate and to achieve to their capacity in the academic setting. But how about in their hearts, souls and value systems? Dr. Peters further recommends that parents "take time to discuss with the child right from wrong, how it feels to be in someone else's shoes, why people make the decisions they do, and the consequences (good and bad) that result."
Teaching the child about helping others, especially the less fortunate is most important, and Dr. Peters suggests visiting, reading to or playing games with residents at a nursing home. To drive home the principle that charity begins at home, parents might consider organizing a patio sale and donating the profits to a favorite charity.
|January 28, 2008 | 6:01 PM
Prayer is key to cultivating and maintaining a strong relationship with God
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Strengthen and develop a relationship with God:
By KARAN MINNIS,Guardian Lifestyles Reporter -
A relationship is defined as a linkage between two elements, and the bond that connects us all. They can be good, bad, or even neutral, and all need work — even your relationship with God.
"We believe that communication through prayer is the best way to strengthen any relationship with God," says Father Crosely Walkine of St. Anne's Anglican Church, Fox Hill. Additionally, studying the word of God to find out what he has for you to do is also important. But you have to be open to finding God and to connecting with him before any deep connection is possible.
"Everyone has to have a relationship with God, but developing it is a personal thing. Christianity is a community religion, it's one that has to be developed through attending church, reading the Bible and speaking to God. No one can force you to develop your relationship with Him, however. It's something that you will have to want to do," he said.
Samuel Archer, 24, describes himself as a non-christian, even though he says he believes in God.
"Christianity is something that you'll accept when you're ready. In The Bahamas we are surrounded by persons telling you that you need to be a Christian, but it's not their choice [to make]. It's mine. I know the Bible, and I know and believe in God, but when I am ready I will become a Christian and not a minute before," he said.
"This kind of thing isn't something I would want to play with. It's something I feel that people should do wholeheartedly, or not at all. I know that right now I would only be playing with it. So I don't mess with calling on Him or playing with prayer," he said.
Simone Clark, 26, is the exact opposite, she said when she gave her life to the Lord, she knew she would have to make changes with her lifestyle. She confessed that those changes did not happen overnight.
"[I] was and still am a work in progress. If I kept waiting for the right time, the time would never be right. So I read the Bible continuously, attend church regularly and I pray. That's how I build my relationship with God and myself," she said.
According to Pastor Natasha Williamson of Mount Tabor Baptist Church, Pinewood Gardens becoming a Christian in the first place is another story. "Becoming a Christian is easy, I guess. You simply ask the Lord to come into your life. Ask him to be your Lord and personal savior and you denounce sin. And of course just how we seek to feed our physical bodies every day, I believe that we need to feed the spiritual man. But that's the importance of aligning yourself with a church so that you're fed spiritually through the man of God on a regular basis."
She said that all Christians have struggles but says you must find your way back to God through the Bible.
"Whatever you feed your physical man will keep you healthy or make you sick, and like wise, whatever you put into your spirit will either help you or hurt you. So a lot of times Christians need to demonstrate, or they need to use more of the disciplines that Christ has put in place such as reading the Bible, because if you don't know what the word of God says then how is it that you're going to know how he feels about certain things or whatever. I believe that everything He has even given us is in the word of God. And I also believe that his words will give us strength."
"No one is promised tomorrow. The only thing we have is the present — that's right now. We don't know if this is our last hour on earth and the thing is that no one wants to stand before an angry God knowing that they had a number of opportunities to give their heart to the Lord and they passed up every opportunity. I believe that if the Lord is knocking on the door of your heart today, you should open it up today, not tomorrow, because no one promised you tomorrow."
Pastor Samuel Greene of Zion Yamacraw Baptist Church, Yamacraw Rd. says that prayer is key to cultivating and maintaining a strong relationship with God.
"We like to see the Bible as a manual, that guides the way through life, and since God determines how long we are going to live on this earth, then He is the best source for guidance.
"Whether a man agrees or not, he is connected with the concept of God, and [He] determines journey through life. Therefore we all need a relationship with him."
Greene said prayer is also important, and it is how people should keep connected with their Creator.
|January 26, 2008 | 5:57 PM
Bahamas: "If Florida [legislators] repeals the sales tax exemption and it makes them uncompetitive, then they'll lose our business . . ."
Related to country: Bahamas
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Bahamians encouraged to join fight to keep Fla. tax exemption:
By INDERIA SAUNDERS,Guardian Staff Reporter -
A hike in prices on goods imported from the Sunshine State may be looming as Florida legislators debate repealing an exemption on the six-percent sales tax directed at foreign importers — a concession that has made Florida the top supplier to Bahamian businesses.
The legislative move may come as early as this year and in the midst of an economic downturn in the state's economy, said Adam Hasner, the Majority Leader in the Florida House of Representatives
He was in Nassau yesterday trying to enlist the help of local businesses in the fight against the Democrat-led initiative.
He fears that if the concession is removed and enough regional importers decide to take their business elsewhere, his state's economy will fall further into what increasingly appears to be recession.
At a Bahamas Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Hasner argued that possible development was something neither Floridians nor Bahamians should welcome.
But many of his colleagues in the state legislature may see lifting the exemption as politically expedient, given it directly affects communities outside of Florida — communities full of people who can't vote in that state.
"Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax the guy behind the tree," said Hasner, suggesting that's the attitude of some lawmakers. "You need to come out from behind the tree with your friends and make it known the tremendous negative impact that it (repealing the exemption) would have not only on Caribbean nations, but the negative impact it would have on Florida businesses."
If that happens, Bahamian importers, wholesalers and retailers would likely have as much as 10 percent tabbed onto the cost of their merchandise, factoring in auxiliary expenses. Still, that's only if they don't take their business elsewhere.
Greg Kelly, general manager of Kelly's Home Center, asserts he'll be one of those Bahamian importers looking outside of the Florida market for his wares if the tax break is broken. He'll likely turn to Georgia for the lumber he'll then turn around and sell to Bahamians.
"Our loyalty is to Kelly's and then to the Bahamian public, not to Florida or any other state," he said Wednesday. "If Florida repeals the sales tax exemption and it makes them uncompetitive, then they'll lose our business . . . we're going to shop wherever we find the product at the best price."
If the six-percent exemption were to be removed, said Chamber head Dionisio D'Aguilar, many people may just opt to suck it up and pay the costs. Still, there are other options, although some Bahamian importers have more of them than others.
"The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce just went on a trade mission to Panama where we found, especially in the clothing sector, it's much cheaper to buy (there) than (in) America," he said. "However, there are a lot of items that you simply cannot but buy from Florida — especially food items and perishable items."
|January 24, 2008 | 4:18 PM
Bahamas: A major alcohol importer says, "Raising taxes on alcohol, especially wine, would have a strong negative impact on the hotel sector, it would increase already high prices on the wine list..."
Related to country: Bahamas
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Bristol says spiking alcohol tax would hurt hotels:
By VERNON CLEMENT JONES, Senior Business Reporter -
A major alcohol importer is cautioning the government against adopting recommendations to raise taxes on that product, arguing the move would devastate a hotel industry already awash in complaints over high bar tabs.
"It certainly would not be a good thing," said Eddie Gardner, VP of sales and marketing for Bristol Wines and Spirits. "Raising taxes on alcohol, especially wine, would have a strong negative impact on the hotel sector, it would increase already high prices on the wine list.
"Tourists already complain that the prices are too high because they're paying $19 for wine that would cost them $9 in the States."
Gardner is focused on possible fallout from any move to increase the government's revenue stream courtesy of alcohol taxes.
Last week, a special committee of public servants proffered the idea, suggesting an increase in duties and stamp tax on liquor imports could help fund those infrastructure projects on the government's blotter.
Customs already collects its share of the nearly $100 million in booze shipped into The Bahamas each year, with an additional 50-percent being tabbed onto the price of a bottle of wine.
That's substantially more than the $10 or $11 dollars the government claims on every imperial gallon of gin, rum or liqueur cleared by Customs.
On the whole, the Bahamian rates are relatively high compared to others across the region. Any upward movement, even to raise the seven-percent stamp tax on wine and ale, would likely heighten visitor concerns about the high-end nature of the destination, said Gardner.
It's a lesson that other Caribbean nations may have learned firsthand, moving in recent years to lower their tariffs on alcohol imports, not increase them.
Moving in that direction may have led to a growth in revenue, said Tom Tyler, chairman of Caribbean Producers Jamaica Ltd.
"Duties on alcohol importation were very high here for years," he told Guardian Business Tuesday. "Then the government moved to cut them, which has not only curtailed the illegal import of wine and spirits, but made the product more affordable to Jamaicans.
" People are buying better wine now."
By "better wine" Tyler means more expensive.
That higher price tag translates into more money for the Jamaican treasury given that its 33-percent cut on a $100 bottle of Merlot is considerably more than on a $10 bottle of Muscatel.
"The current Bahamian duties on wine seem just about right, if a little on the high side," said Tyler. His firm is in fact the largest importer of wine in Jamaica.
But even Gardner is hesitant to suggest that a rise in tariffs would immediately translate into weak sales for hotel bars and restaurants in The Bahamas. It might, however, work to drive both future resort developers and tourists, alike, into the arms of competitors like Jamaica and the Dominican republic.
Still, it remains unclear if the government will take the panel's recommendations seriously or look elsewhere to grow its income.
|January 23, 2008 | 9:01 PM
Autistic Children And Family Life In The Bahamas
Related to country: Bahamas
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Stresses of autistic children on families:
By Nadine Thomas-Brown, Guardian Lifestyles Reporter -
A child screaming loudly, darts into the men's rest room, her father scrambling to stop her. He asks a small boy trying to gain access if he minds using the women's rest room, while he waits for his daughter to emerge.
"She is a special needs child, she is not being hurt" he tells onlookers, as the child's loud wails could be heard. "What's wrong they ask?" He explain that she is autistic.
Outside, her little sister, rhetorically asks "Why do I have to have a sister like that?"
Dad returns and reveals that the autistic child is 13, and tells onlookers that they noticed something was wrong with their child at around 18 months when she was not hitting her milestones.
He excuses himself again and returns with the teenager. The hair peeping out from under her baseball cap is lank and wet with sweat, her face puffy from crying. She is sniffling. The crying has stopped at least for now. "She wanted to play soccer but was told no. This is what set her off," dad explains. "This is nothing new. My wife and I have been going through this for 13 years. Sometimes it embarrases us. Sometimes it makes us angry. Sometimes it makes us sad," he says before waving goodbye.
This man whether he knows it or not is not alone. He is part of a large group of parents in the Bahamas whose lives are centered around the care of autistic children.
According to Karen Hanna-Ayton who controls two government run units for autism in New Providence, the disorder affects 1 in 150 children.
A pamphlet from REACH [a registered voluntary organization consisting of parents, teachers, medical persons and others concerned with the disorder] says that autism is more common than childhood cancer, cystic fibrosis, and multiple sclerosis combined.
Autism is a developmental disorder that makes it hard for the individual to properly understand what they see hear and otherwise sense. This results in difficulty with communication, language social skills and relating to people. First signs occur before the age of three. Autism spectrum disorders include PDD-NOS [pervasive development disorder] Asperger's Syndrome and Rett's syndrome.
No one has discovered its cause but researchers have established a link between mercury and autism. However recently there have been reports from researchers who have dismissed this theory.
There is no cure for autism and it is four times more common in boys than in girls. The usual onset of the disease is around 18 months. Parents are usually alerted to the fact that something is wrong when children fail to hit milestones such as walking and talking, loss of words unusually long attention span as well as other peculiar behavior not displayed before.
Canon Basil Tynes, pastor of St Barnabas Church, Nassau, began noticing some of these symptoms in his son when he was around the age of two. The child was consequently diagnosed with autism. He is now five-and-a-half years old.
"He had already began talking and doing the normal things that children would do. He was saying words such as 'mommy', 'daddy', 'bird' and 'dog'. He would call certain words and even though it was not as fast as we expected he is fine. We noticed that after his immunization his development in terms of his speech slowed down and came to a halt," Tynes said. "Words which he knew before he did not have anymore. We noticed a change in his behavior; he would stay to himself; he was no longer interested in toys."
Sandra Munnings, a single mother, who describes her child as a savant (genius-like abilities, with the ability to do complicated things like Math, but unable to tie own shoelaces), says she realized something was wrong with her child Wenrick "Ozone" Johnson, 23, after she left the hospital.
"He would not sleep, and at eight days old, he was turning over in the bed. You could not leave him in a king size bed. I went to my doctor and said something was wrong with him."
She said no one could give her an answer as to why the newborn was doing that. "When it came to the milestones, he would not sit up, creep nor eat. Then suddenly at two, he got up off the stomach and ran. At this point I was looking for wheelchairs because I thought he would never walk. I thought he would never talk when he finally talked, he spoke in sentences. He never did the baby talk.
"His memory is like a computer. He forgets nothing. But if you make him sit down he blanks you out. He will run around and you will be teaching and it appears as if he is not listening but he would be able to tell you all that was said."
For Genya Brown and her family having her child, who is now six years old, diagnosed as autistic at age two was heartbreaking.
"He was not showing the developmental progress at the ages he should and that caused us concern.
"My initial reaction was, 'Why me, Lord?' I felt like I was robbed of a child, especially because he was diagnosed with severe autism. Most of my family members were in denial as they thought it was something he would grow out of."
She says the disorder has changed the family's routine because her son needs constant supervision and someone reliable who understands his needs.
This is a challenge that most parents of autistic children face. Because the Browns can't leave their child with a sitter they take turns going out many times.
According to Tynes, the biggest problem for his family has been the child's lack of communication skills. "He is a remarkably intelligent child. He knows how to go to the computer and turn it on. He knows how to go to the internet but as far as expressing how he is feeling it is very difficult.
"When he is ill he cannot explain himself. He will come and lie beside us and we will know something is wrong. He is not completely non verbal- we have gotten a few words out of him; but getting him to repeat it is very difficult."
Munnings also stressed the importance of having help from family members when dealing with an autistic child. The single mother, said her two older sons were instrumental in the care of Ozone when he was a child.
Unfortunately Munnings recently, had to place her son in Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre. She shows her hands where a scar the size of a quarter is very evident. She said that her son had gotten violent and she had required stitches to close the wound. She explained that sometimes when people with autism can't verbalize their feelings they hurt themselves or become aggressive.
According to the Secretary of REACH Fruzan Langdon Bethell, in recent years, there has been a more proactive role in providing much needed services such as diagnosis and education to aid in the fight against autism.
There is a national screening program, followed up by diagnosis by psychiatrists, psychologists and neurologists. Currently there are two autistic units — one at the Stapledon School and the other at Garvin Tynes Primary School.
As for support groups for parents dealing with autistic children, De'Costa Bethel president of REACH said simply, "REACH".
|January 21, 2008 | 7:53 AM
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