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Archive for the ‘Family dynamics’ Category

The (Proven) Best Activity You Should Be Doing with Your Kids

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There have been numerous research studies demonstrating that one of the most beneficial activities you can do with your children is consistently eating dinner together. The benefits of eating dinner together as a family are wide-ranging and important.

Eating dinner together helps improve the vocabulary of young children because the children are exposed to a wider and more difficult set of words than in their usual environments. To be fair, the study included all family meals together, not just dinner. It also showed that frequent meals together boosted vocabulary even more than being read to aloud. Young children were exposed to more than 1,000 rare words at meal time, compared to only 143 from parents reading books out loud. As an added benefit, kids with larger vocabularies start reading at an earlier age and with less difficulty than other children. Mealtime talk, especially during dinner:

“often incorporates discussions and explanations of current events, world knowledge, and even abstract general principles…mealtime talk constitutes an opportunity for the problems of everyday life and proposed solutions to be discussed, often in the context of stories.”

Older children also benefit intellectually and emotionally from family dinners. Enjoying regular family dinners is a powerful predictor of high test scores – it’s a better predictor than time spent in school, doing homework, or time playing sports.

Most importantly, it’s also hugely beneficial to the emotional state of adolescents and teenagers. There are a number of studies demonstrating regular family dinners reduce a number of high risk teen behaviors. In one study, entitled Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors, there is a significant reduction in high risk behaviors – alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, sexual intercourse, depression-suicide, antisocial behavior, violence, school problems, binge/purge eating, and excessive weight-loss – all from consistent family dinners. Another study demonstrated a lower rate of depression and suicidal thoughts is associated with regular family dinners.

Aside from the prevention or reduction of negative behaviors, there is a strong association between regular family dinners and good behaviors, such as a strong association with good moods in teenagers, an optimistic outlook of the future.

Now that we know how important family mealtimes are for children, what’s the best way to institute this in a household with working mothers or a household where both parents work? The key is to cut down on time spent preparing the meal and cleaning up after the meal is over, in order to maximize the time and quality of the meal.

One of the best ways to save time preparing the meal and cleaning up, and maximizing the time spent actually enjoying dinner with your family, is to look at the large catering platters and party platters from grocery stores. For example, Walmart party tray prices are extremely reasonably priced when looked at on a per-meal basis. A typical party tray will feed my family for 2-3 dinners, and has a wide variety of items so no one gets bored. The cost per person per meal can be as low as $1-2.

The best part is that there is almost no cleanup and no preparation time. This helps create a stress free environment where I can focus on listening to my children and learning about their lives, while sharing stories at dinnertime. On days where I do cook dinner, I usually end up being stuck in the kitchen and missing out on most of the conversation, and at the same time, it takes much longer for me to prepare the food and then cleanup afterwards.

For health conscious mothers, Costco offers similar party platters and has recently become the world’s largest seller of organic foods, prime meats and other high quality food products. I’ve spoken to Costco staff and it’s clear to me that they use the same high quality ingredients in their platters as they sell on their shelves.

Eating family dinners together as frequently as possible is clearly one of the best activities you can do with your children. As a working mother, it’s critical to prioritize and maximize high quality activities with the family. In the case of dinner time, the most important activity isn’t food prep or cleaning, it’s actually sitting down with your children during the meal, chatting with them and listening to them. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to do this is to shop in the catering isles at large grocers.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

What Does The Tooth Fairy Pay These Days, Anyway?

toothfairy.pngAs a kid, the idea of the tooth fairy can be magical, fun, even thrilling. As a parent, it can be anything but.

If you have ever freaked out after hearing how much money that fluttering creature brings your kid’s toothless friends, have woken up in the morning panicked because you realized you forgot to shimmy some money under your child’s pillow, or have just gotten downright frustrated with the tooth fairy, you’re not alone.

It’s no wonder people have a hard time determining the tooth fairy’s payout in their own homes ― the rates are all over the place.

The mythical dental sprite’s reward has recently decreased, according to multiple surveys.

The Original Tooth Fairy Poll (yes, that is a thing) from Delta Dental, which has been recording rates since 1998, saw an all-time high average in 2016. The fairy was forking over about $4.66 per tooth then, a 75-cent increase compared to 2015. For their latest results, Delta Dental surveyed 1,007 parents of children ages 6 to 12 in December 2017. Results showed the tooth fairy paid an average of $4.13 per tooth last year.

In 2015, Visa found that $1 was by far the most popular amount for the tooth fairy to leave behind, based on 4,027 telephone interviews conducted from May to June 2015 (32 percent of those surveyed reported this amount). The average per tooth was $3.19.

The fairy was a bit more willing to part with her money for some kids, though. Almost one-fifth of the Visa survey participants said the fairy offered $5 for a tooth, and about five percent said the flying being left $20 (!) or more.

If you’re thinking, “I never got that much from the tooth fairy when I was a kid,” a survey from LendEDU, a personal finance marketplace, might make you think twice. The company surveyed 400 baby boomers, 438 generation Xers and 400 millennials in an online poll in March and asked how much they received from the tooth fairy as a kid.

LendEDU’s results reflect that baby boomers (ages 54 and older) received an average of $0.69 per lost tooth. Generation Xers (ages 39 to 53) received $1.39, while millennials (ages 24 to 38) got $2.13. The company adjusted the rates for inflation using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator and found that on average, the tooth fairy left behind about $5.77 per tooth for baby boomers, $5.54 for generation Xers and $3.72 for millennials. That fairy is quite generous.

Of course, these surveys only give you a sample of the tooth fairy trends in the United States. Factors like the state of the market and a family’s income can play significant roles. And if you want to get creative with what the tooth fairy leaves, there are always Etsy and Pinterest

There is one stat, though, that might make caretakers playing the role of fairy breathe a sigh of relief. 

According to the most recent Original Tooth Fairy Poll, more than half the parents surveyed (about 55 percent) said they the tooth fairy may have missed a visit a time or two.

At least you’ve got that going for you, dental liaisons.

 

This article was written by Taylor Pittman from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

4 Science-Backed Benefits of Eating Dinner as a Family

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Whether you’re munching on organic grain bowls or ketchup-drenched, defrosted, dinosaur-shaped nuggets, sharing a screen-free family dinner nourishes kids in life-changing ways. And wash away your guilt, working parents: If you can’t get home for mac and cheese at 5:30 p.m., don’t sweat it. Aiming to eat together at least three times a week—including breakfast and weekend brunch—is a worthy goal. When it comes to raising healthy kids, body and soul, prioritizing frequent family meals counts most.

It lowers the risk of substance abuse 
Family dinners not only lower the risk of depression in kids, they also guard against the impulse to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. That’s because key communication takes place at these end-of-day parent-child debriefs. According to Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, “Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (5 to 7 per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than 3 per week) are more than twice as likely to say that they expect to try drugs in the future.” Teens who seldom eat with their parents are almost twice as likely to have used alcohol, and 1.5 times likelier to have used marijuana. “The magic that happens over family dinners isn’t the food on the table, but the communication and conversations around it,” explains the center’s marketing director Kathleen Ferrigno. “Of course there is no iron-clad guarantee that your kids will grow up drug-free, but knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better the odds are that you will raise a healthy kid.”

It leads to better academic performance
Writes Harvard Medical School psychology professor and author of Home for Dinner Anne Fishel: “Researchers found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to…Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud. Kids who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily.” And as kids grow up, the intellectual benefits explode. “For school-age youngsters, regular mealtime is an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art.”

It decreases obesity and eating disorders
Family dinners provide opportunities for parents to model—and regulate for their kids—healthy eating habits. According to a study led by eating disorder expert Dr. Jess Haines, “Compared to those who ate family dinner ‘never or some days,’ female adolescents who ate family dinner at least most days were less likely to initiate purging, binge eating, and frequent dieting.” An unrelated study conducted by University of Minnesota Family Social Science professor Dr. William J. Doherty found Americans (parents and kids) are significantly less overweight if they share family meals more frequently, and have fewer distractions at the table (like tech). Kids who eat dinner with their families often also eat healthier (more fruits and vegetables; less soda and fried foods), according to a study by Harvard Medical School’s Obesity Prevention Program. Family meals allow for both “discussions of nutrition [and] provision of healthful foods,” that study’s director, Dr. Matthew W. Gillman, told CNN.

It increases self-esteem and resilience
According to psychology researchers at Emory University, children who have frequent family dinners “know more about their family history and tend to have higher self-esteem, interact better with their peers and show higher resilience in the face of adversity.” When families who are close don’t sugarcoat life’s hardships (like the death of a relative or pet) their children exhibit “higher self-esteem and sense of control.” The communal table is where the stories of who we are, and who we come from, get passed down. According to Marshall Duke, a co-director of the study, which analyzed 120 hours of recorded family dinner conversations, “As the family talks about things, I think they are teaching the kids about assessment, about appraisal. How bad is this? How good is this? Resilience is nurtured when the child understands that negative events don’t define the family history.” 

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Life-Changing Tricks to Make Morning Routines Easier

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We asked you what product or strategy helps streamline your mornings and get you out the door on time. These ideas are serious game changers.

I wait until I’m at work to have my coffee. It motivates me to get ready and keeps me from lingering.

Libby Cutler, Richmond, Virginia

I keep the kids’ socks, shoes, and hair stuff next to the garage door so we don’t have to run around for the last few things we need to leave the house.

—Valerie Thompson, Houston

I shower and wash my hair in the evening, then sleep on a silk pillowcase. In the a.m., I just fluff out my hair with a light styling product. It saves me up to half an hour.

— Susan Katz, Henderson, Nevada

I set my alarm to an upbeat song to stop myself from pressing snooze. There’s no better way to get moving in the morning.

— @DARTHCAKEINATOR

Twenty years ago, I decided to wear only dresses to work. They’re easy and comfortable, and they require less outfit coordination.

— Kimberly Gremillion, Alexandria, Louisiana

While preparing for bed, my husband and I talk through the next day. It helps us get on the same page in case we forgot about something. And knowing we’re ready for the day ahead helps us sleep better.

— Mayhew Lester, Dallas

I taught my five children to make their own lunches. From the age of about four, they started learning what should be included in a healthy(ish) lunch and being given a budget at the grocery store to use on their favorite snacks. This also helps keep them from complaining about not liking what I packed or not having an extra snack after school.

— Ashley Gaines, Jacksonville, Florida

The Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker is a game changer in the mornings. I’m able to serve my 5-year-old a hot breakfast while tending to my newborn at the same time. Talk about a win!

— Molly Woodsum, Tallahassee, Florida

One of our young daughters used to require 45 minutes to get dressed in her winter gear. Amazon’s Alexa helped us implement our pediatrician’s advice to set a timer. The kids jump to get their shoes, coats, and backpacks every time she rings.

— Amanda Dreyer, Madison, Wisconsin

A keypad lock on my front door. Because I mostly walk, bike, and take public transportation, I rarely need car keys; the keypad lets me forgo carrying a house key, too. No more search-and-destroy missions or fumbling around before leaving the house, which translates into less stress getting to my destination.

— Kate Schwarz, Washington D.C.

When my children were younger and in school, I made a breakfast menu with pictures of their favorite food and drinks, such as cereal, bagels, OJ, and chocolate milk. Before they went to bed, they circled what they wanted. It made morning time easy, with no complaints!

— Debi Muller, Plantation, Florida

Binder clips. My hands chafe and get cold easily, so I’m always wearing gloves during the winter. I keep my gloves together using the clips and put them in a clear plastic bin in the closet. It makes it easy to grab a pair of gloves and go.

— Marge Laskowski, Miller Place, New York

Setting the coffee maker on a timer the night before. The scent helps me move faster.

— @ANJUBSM

A hatchback car. I work in forestry, so I leave the house with my arms full of backpacks, binders, tools, and equipment. When I bought my most recent car, I insisted on a hatchback so I could just shove everything in quickly and not dirty the passenger seats.

— Camille Stephens, Logan, Utah

Every single clock is set 10 minutes ahead.

— Ann-Marie Lyons, Frankfort, Illinois

I spend a few minutes cuddling with my children. It makes them much more willing to do what needs to be done to get out the door.

— Tiffiny Wolf, Atlanta

 

This article was written by Real Simple Staff from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How To Measure Whether Your Child’s Tantrums Are Normal

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In the throes of your toddler’s rage, it’s perfectly healthy to wonder whether you’re observing normal childhood behavior, or the beginnings of a behavioral problem. Here’s how to know for sure.

Fortunately, there’s a way to measure whether your child’s tantrums are abnormal. The temper tantrum scale, developed by Lauren Wakschlag of Northwestern University in Chicago, identifies normal tantrum behaviors and duration. Her study also highlights red flags parents can use to determine whether their children are acting out more aggressively than expected.

Meet The Temper Tantrum Scale

Answer the following questions with “never in the past month”, “less than once per week”, “1-3 days per week”, “4-6 days of the week”, “every day of the week”, or “many times each day”:

How often does your child…

  1. Have a temper tantrum
  2. Stamp feet or hold breath during a tantrum
  3. Have a tantrum that lasts more than 5 minutes
  4. Keep on having a tantrum even when you tried to calm him/her down
  5. Break or destroy things during a tantrum
  6. Have a tantrum until exhausted
  7. Hit, bite, or kick during a tantrum
  8. Lose temper or have a tantrum with a parent
  9. Lose temper or have a tantrum with other adults
  10. Lose temper or have a tantrum when frustrated, angry or upset
  11. Lose temper or have a tantrum when tired, hungry, or sick
  12. Lose temper or have a tantrum to get something he/she wants
  13. Lose temper or have a tantrum during daily routines such as bedtime or mealtime
  14. Lose temper or have a tantrum “out of the blue” or for no clear reason
  15. Become frustrated easily
  16. Yell angrily at someone
  17. Act irritably
  18. Have difficulty calming down when angry
  19. Become angry very quickly
  20. Get extremely angry
  21. Have a hot or explosive temper
  22. Stay angry for a long time

OK, I Did It. Now What?

Certain behaviors on the list are normal even when they happen quite often—others, less so. To figure out which behaviors were truly abnormal, Wakschlag and colleagues surveyed nearly 1,500 preschoolers. She found that 95 percent of children engaged in certain behaviors with predictable frequency, and established this as the baseline. Presumably, abnormal behaviors are those behaviors along the tantrum scale that fall outside the 95th percentile—in other words, behaviors that 95 percent of children do not engage in. None of the tantrum behaviors on the list are abnormal if they occur less than once per week. When these behaviors crop up more frequently, however, there may be cause for concern. Here’s the breakdown:

The following are “abnormal” behaviors only if they occur 1-3 days per week, or more:

  1. Hit, bite, or kick during a tantrum
  2. Stay angry for a long time

These are “abnormal” behaviors only if they occur 4-6 days per week, or more:

  1. Stamp feet or hold breath during a tantrum
  2. Have a tantrum that lasts more than 5 minutes
  3. Keep on having a tantrum even when you tried to calm him/her down
  4. Break or destroy things during a tantrum
  5. Have a tantrum until exhausted
  6. Lose temper or have a tantrum with other adults
  7. Lose temper or have a tantrum during daily routines such as bedtime or mealtime
  8. Lose temper or have a tantrum “out of the blue” or for no clear reason
  9. Become frustrated easily
  10. Yell angrily at someone
  11. Act irritably
  12. Have difficulty calming down when angry
  13. Become angry very quickly
  14. Get extremely angry
  15. Have a hot or explosive temper

These are “abnormal” behaviors only if they occur every day, or multiple times per day:

  1. Have a temper tantrum
  2. Lose temper or have a tantrum with a parent
  3. Lose temper or have a tantrum when frustrated, angry or upset
  4. Lose temper or have a tantrum when tired, hungry, or sick
  5. Lose temper or have a tantrum to get something he/she wants

My Child Is Abnormal. What Now?

First of all, don’t panic. Most children will, at some point, do most of the things on this list, and not all abnormal tantrum behaviors are created equal. Wakschlag and her colleagues write that the most rare behaviors should be the most worrisome for parents. So if your child is, with any regularity, staying angry for a long time, or hitting, biting, or kicking during tantrums, that should concern you more than observing that your child “becomes frustrated easily” more often than average. The authors include a ranking of each tantrum behavior, broken down by severity.

If your child is experiencing tantrums that fall well outside the average, especially if those behaviors are ranked “severe” by Wakschlag, it may be time to seek professional help.

But if your kid is on the cusp of abnormal tantrum behavior, or tantruming more frequently than you’d like, there are some simple ways you can use tantrum research to tame your wild child. The key is to figure out what your children wants to obtain, and ensure that they do not get it by tantruming. They then learn, over the long term, that tantrums are ineffective negotiating tools.

Behavioral scientists recognize three types of tantrums: a demand for attention (hold me), a demand for tangibles (food, games, activities), and an escape from demand (I don’t want to get dressed). The first two can only be solved by ignoring the tantrum—age-old advice. But the third type of tantrum requires finesse. Because in this scenario, children pitch fits in the hopes of making their parents ignore them and not make them do what they don’t want to do. Instead, when a child throws a tantrum to avoid doing something, the correct approach is to “help” them do it. Placing your hands over their hands and forcing them to get dressed or eat their dinner teaches them that tantruming to avoid tasks leads to a worse outcome—loss of autonomy.

“Kids learn very quickly that you’re serious about this intervention and they comply,” tantrum expert Michael Potegal once told Fatherly. “They may grumble and fuss, but they will comply.”

 

This article was written by Fatherly from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 healthy family rituals to cultivate

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Family rituals can make all the difference when family life gets tough. You may think you don’t have time for rituals. Some days you barely have time for the essentials, which is why it’s important to keep things simple.

Here is a list of rituals that you should implement in your everyday life to enrich family time:

Family dinner

Family dinner used to happen every night, in every family. That was before the days of working moms, a twenty-four hour society (and the constantly changing shift work that comes with it), and the crazy schedule of extra-curricular activities many kids are involved in these days.

Family dinner has an impact though, so it’s worth preserving. According to this Washington Post article, simply eating dinner with your family is the most important thing you can do with your kids. It doesn’t have to happen every night, and it doesn’t have to be elaborate or even home cooked. Take-out pizza on a Friday night is still family dinner, as long as you all gather around the table to eat it together and enjoy some conversation and bonding.

Family game night

One night a week, or month, devoted to playing games as a family can be a ritual you all will enjoy. They don’t have to be board games. You can play cards or do something physical like playing Twister or Charades. You can even make a family game night about video games. Anything goes, as long as everyone’s involved.

Family movie night

Many families spend way too much time in front of the TV, without necessarily watching anything worthwhile. Instead, try setting aside a regular night where you all watch a movie together. Take turns picking out the movie. Make popcorn. Snuggle under an old quilt. Do whatever it takes to make it feel like a ritual rather than an ordinary night in.

A driving ritual

As kids get older we spend a lot of time driving them around. So develop a driving ritual. It could be a game you play, or a favorite soundtrack you always listen to (and sing along to) in the car. As a parent, you can have a different, and highly personalized, driving ritual for each child, especially if you regularly drive them to an activity where it’s just the two of you.

A change of season ritual

Everyone can find time for a change of season ritual. It only happens once every three months, after all. Again, it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. It could be a family trip to the lake on the first day of summer, or collecting and preserving the most dramatically colored fall leaves in your backyard each year.

An achievement ritual

Many families have a favorite restaurant they go to when they have something to celebrate. Put a twist on it by incorporating a few things you always do to celebrate an achievement. A small gift or a printable certificate for younger kids works. As they get older it might be something as simple as the child who’s achieved something gets to ride in the front seat of the car.

Be careful with this one. Some kids achieve more than others, or they achieve more of what society sees as important. But all kids hit milestones or shine in at least one or two areas. Done right, an achievement ritual can be a way to show the less academic or sporty kids in your family that you recognize and value their achievements too.

A holiday ritual

Every holiday should have a ritual, and most have quite a few, but they’re very generic: trimming the Christmas tree, making the Valentine’s cards, carving the jack-o’-lantern. Try and develop at least one ritual for each holiday that is unique to your family, or just take one of the common holiday rituals and do it in your own way.

A bedtime ritual

Bedtime happens every night and it’s a great time to implement a simple ritual you do together as a family, or that you do with each child. Many parents will read a story or say a prayer with their child before bed, but it could just as easily be a fist bump and saying a “love ya.” That’s a ritual that might even last through the teenage years.

A daily ritual

Technically, this could be your bedtime ritual, but sometimes it’s inspiring to make the mundane or necessary parts of life sacred and enjoyable. Can you think of one thing you have to do every day that you can make into a daily ritual with your kids? It could be walking the dog with your teen after dinner, strolling to the mailbox hand-in-hand with your preschooler every morning, or sorting laundry with your toddler after nap time. Make the mundane everyday stuff into lovely little rituals you look forward to.

A self-care ritual

Teaching your children self-care is a wonderful gift. Whether it’s a pampering evening with your daughters, a short relaxation and meditation session with your teens, or a weekly trip to the farmer’s market to pick out healthy food, showing your kids that it’s fun to take a little time out to look after yourself is a great ritual.

No matter how strapped for time we are, we can all find a few family rituals that don’t take up too much time, but help all family members connect and communicate.

 

This article was written by Karen Banes from Family Share and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Simple Ways To Help Your Child Understand You Better

Anyway, our go-to speech pathologist Kelly Lelonek has lots to say about why our kids don’t always “get” us — mainly because we talk too much. Here, her best tips for how to encourage little ones to tune in and listen up.

Like when, just for hypothetical example, requests to clean up the Magna-Tiles get tuned out, monologues about the day’s agenda elicit a confused “What?” and efforts to discuss the self-actualizing lessons of The Little Engine That Could are met with knock-knock jokes about butts…?

Does anyone else feel like her kids ignore her, oh, 97 percent of the time?

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Babies as young as five months old know their names, says Lelonek. Around nine months old, they understand basic words like “No.” When you’re spending time with your baby, get down to her level, call her name and wait for her to establish eye contact before asking a specific — not open-ended — question (“Do you want the dolly or the bunny?” vs. “What do you want to play with?”).

1. It’s never too early to develop good communication habits. 

Twenty20

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Keeping your language pared down works both for developing speech and for managing behavior as children get older.

Speak slowly and simply, in sentences that are as short as possible says Lelonek. She suggests reinforcing words with visual cues, like showing the child a picture of what you’re discussing, or pointing out an object in the room as you say it. Keeping your language pared down works both for developing speech and for managing behavior as children get older. Writes Robert J. Mackenzie in Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child, “A clear message should inform children, specifically and directly, what it is you want them to do. If necessary, tell them when and how to do it. The fewer words, the better.” His example? “Clean up your mess at the counter, please, before you do anything else. This means putting your silverware and bowl in the sink and wiping off the counter.”

2. Clarity is key.

Twenty20

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Lelonek suggests speaking about the present, not what happened yesterday or what you’re planning for tomorrow. Most kids do not even begin to grasp the concept of time until after kindergarten. You’ll have better luck getting through to them if you focus on the here and now.

3. Live in the now.

Twenty20

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The TV that no one’s watching, the car radio, even the whirring oven vent can interfere with a kid’s ability to process language. Optimizing their environment for good communication means “eliminating distractions and background noise,” says Lelonek.

4. Silence background noise.

Twenty20

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Twenty20

5. Leave some white space in conversation. 

As adults, we’ve learned to view extended silences as awkward or uncomfortable. But when we jump in to fill them, we end up bulldozing right over our kids’ opportunities to formulate and express their thoughts. “After asking a question, give your child at least five seconds to think and respond,” says Lelonek. “Kids need time to process our questions and their reactions. We do not need to fill every silent gap with talking.”

This article was written by PureWow from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Family Traditions From Around the World Worth Trying

Celebrate the first day of school, the German way.

The kickoff to first grade is a big deal in Germany, as my American family learned while living in Berlin. The weekend before our daughter started first grade, we joined a celebration called Einschulung. Her school welcomed students with an assembly; afterward, families gave the children Schultüten—large paper or plastic cones filled with school supplies and sweets. When we moved back to the United States, we replicated Einschulung for my son. We invited our family over and asked them to bring a small school-related gift, like a notebook or pen. We made him a Schultüte, and the older kids put on a play about what school is like. It makes the children feel responsible, grown-up, and proud to be going to school.

Sara Zaske is the author of Achtung Baby: An American Mom On The German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children. She Lives in Moscow, Idaho.

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Honor your ancestors, the Japanese way.

Traditional Japanese homes have a small family altar, or butsudan, as a sign of respect for elders who have passed away. When I go back to my family’s home in Japan, I still feel a spiritual connection to my ancestors as I make offerings at the butsudan—a bowl of rice, flowers for my grandmother, a can of beer for my grandfather. It feels truly healing. To set up a memorial, pick a quiet spot, put out photos, flowers, and other offerings, and tell kids about their ancestors. If we don’t mark our history, we may lose an important part of who we are.

Candice Kumai is a chef and the author of Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art Of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Share your culture through stories, the Trinidadian way.

In Trinidad and Tobago, where I grew up, storytelling happens anytime, anywhere—not just at bedtime. We might be driving to the beach or walking to my grandmother’s house. People often tell folk stories about mythical creatures called jumbies to help explain things people don’t understand, such as a sudden illness. Regardless of where you come from, there is a benefit to telling traditional stories. At some point, I realized my kids, who were growing up in the U.S., had no idea what our folklore was, so I started telling them jumby stories. Telling these stories helps the children preserve their culture.

Tracey Baptiste is the author of Jumbies, part of a fantasy series for middle schoolers. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, she now lives in northern New Jersey.

Care for all animals, the Indian way.

To show gratitude to animals, families in southern India feed cows and birds during the annual Hindu harvest festival of Thai Pongal. Children learn that all species are interconnected and interdependent. I’ve followed this tradition in both India and the United States with my daughters. In Bangalore, I used to take my young daughters to a nearby shed to feed the cows. We also fed birds by placing fruits and grains on banana leaves and putting them out on our terrace—something we also did surreptitiously at our New York City apartment. Pick a day for an annual visit to a petting zoo, butterfly garden, family-friendly farm, or horse stable where you can feed the animals or help care for them. It’s a way to teach children about having compassion for all beings.

Shoba Narayan is the author of The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure. She lives in Bangalore, India.

Exchange personal poetry, the Dutch way.

In the Netherlands, families exchange not only gifts but also poems during Sinterklaas, the Dutch winter holiday season. Older children and adults each draw a name and write a poem about the recipient. The poem usually has puns and is funny—the more mischievous and personal, the better. On “gift night,” people sit in a circle with hot drinks, and everyone reads the poem they receive out loud. I’ve learned that the real gift is the love that goes into the poem. You’re taking time to compose something special, letting someone know what they mean to you.

Rina Mae Acosta is a writer, photographer, and coauthor of The Happiest Kids In The World: Bringing Up Children The Dutch Way. She lives in Doorn, The Netherlands.

 

This article was written by Betsy Rubiner from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Proven Ways to Fight Working-Parent Guilt

The emotional push-pull between home and the office can be painful. Here’s how successful working moms and dads keep life guilt-free.

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Lean On Your Partner

“When my first child was born, people at work would say, ‘How do you come to work and leave your beautiful baby at home?’ I actually had a lot of guilt about how I didn’t feel more guilty I was working. The guilt kicked in when my son learned to talk. He had friends who had moms who were at home, and he wanted to know why I couldn’t pick him up after school. Luckily, I have a really involved partner. At night when the kids are sleeping, we can sit on the sofa and talk about everything that happened that day.”

— Kristy Sekedat, 39, Forensic Scientist in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Say Yes Whenever You Can

“If I have a deadline for a book and my son comes over with a Star Wars figure and says, ‘Dad, will you play with me?’ the answer is always yes. I know that 15 minutes of playing with Star Wars figures will make him so happy. And that helps me with the guilt. I divide my day by the type of tasks I have to do: the ones that require everyone to leave me alone, and the ones I can do while sitting with my family. I do those menial tasks—which a lot of people do during the day—while watching TV with my family. Not wasting a single minute means I get more minutes for them.”

— Matthew Dicks, 47, Fifth-Grade Teacher and Author in Newington, Connecticut

Own Your Choices

“My daughter is almost 1, and any time I spend away from her is time I question inherently. Before I went back to work after she was born, I thought I would feel so guilty every second of the workday, but it turns out I don’t. Anything that makes me feel good about myself as a person makes me a better mom. I have a mantra: ‘I am showing her what a strong woman looks like. I am showing her what it means to have a career I made for myself and built out of nothing.’ She’s still too young to understand, but I like to think she sees it in her own little way.”

—Jamie Stelter, 36, Traffic Anchor for NY1 in New York City

Designate Family Time

“My three kids have grown up coming to work with me, knowing the people I work with and understanding the important things we do. It’s also important to me to build in family time. Every Tuesday night is our night, and that takes priority over anything else. We read a book together, we do a fun activity together, we write down what we’re grateful for, and we pray together. It starts a discussion and gives us a chance to talk about what’s coming up in our week. I enjoy having a life that’s fulfilling at home and in the world. I want to show my kids that my life is bigger than just myself.”

— Yasmin Diallo Turk, 41, Evaluation and Compliance Analyst at the Nonprofit Safe Alliance in Austin, Texas

Create Strong Bonds

“Both my kids started daycare at three months old. I’ve coped with the guilt by breast-feeding them for so long. I breast-fed my first until she was 3, and my youngest is 20 months and I still breast-feed her. Taking my full maternity leave, breast-feeding as long as I can to make sure the bond is there, and spending quality time with them are my ways of not feeling the guilt. I also decided to be a class parent—it has helped me stay involved and get to know the parents of the other kids in the class very well.”

— Ninon Marapachi, 40, Head of Hedge Fund Origination at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York City

 

This article was written by Jane Porter from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Put an End to Sibling Rivalry (Finally!)

From Jan Brady wailing “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” to the Pearson kids on This Is Us arguing over which member of the Big Three mom loved the most, sibling rivalry is a fact of life in any family with more than one kid. After all, who hasn’t felt like the wronged child—the one who always gets the earlier bedtime or the smaller scoop of mac & cheese? And no matter how careful you are to make sure your kids feel equally loved, one of them will inevitably bust out, “Not fair, you always take her side!” You may not be able to turn your household into one big harmonious sing-along, but here are some ways to keep the squabbling to a controlled minimum.

Let them resolve their own fights.

If you take sides—especially if you weren’t there to see the whole dispute—someone will end of feeling misunderstood. Plus, kids learn more from working out their battles, says Julie Hanks, PhD, a family therapist in Salt Lake City, UT. “Look at this as a chance for them to gain valuable experience resolving conflict,” she says. Letting them work through the different stages of fighting and making up also teaches the important emotional lesson that a number of feelings toward others can coexist, including love and jealousy, says Barbara Greenberg, PhD, a family therapist in Fairfield County, CT. (Of course, if someone is about to get smacked on the head with light saber, do intervene.)

Feel everyone’s pain.

The more you can empathize with everyone in the family, the less left out anyone will feel. This is especially true when siblings are at each other’s throats. Let’s say they insist on giving you the play-by-play of their blowup. You can acknowledge their emotions without choosing sides by telling each one, “I can see how that would be upsetting.” Or: “I can tell you’re both frustrated, but I know you two will work it out.”

Help each child shine in her or her own way.

When kids grow up in a house where everyone is encouraged to develop their own unique talents, they’re less likely to compare themselves to siblings—so don’t nudge Susie into playing soccer just because it will be easier than coordinating her hip-hop dance and flute lessons with her sister’s practice schedule. “You can help kids build self-esteem by getting them involved in activities where they feel happy and accomplished,” says Greenberg.

Carve out one-on-one time.

In a large family, a child may feel lost in the crowd. That’s why Greenberg suggests having rituals you do one-on-one. It might be a regular outing (like a Saturday lunch after robotics class with Dad or a monthly mani-pedi trip with mom), or something simpler, such as a cup of tea together after school or a weekly trip to the library.

Aim for awesome.

No need to waste energy trying to prevent spats; instead, focus on building compassion and pride in each another, says Greenberg. That may sound like a gargantuan order, but it is possible. Every time you model empathy you show your kids how it’s done. Talking to one child about his sibling’s feelings may tame anger and jealousy, says Greenberg. You might even throw out a compliment-for-two, like, “Oliver has come a long way with the cello. Thanks for helping him!”

 

This article was written by Lisa Lombardi from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.