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Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Encourage Outside-The-Box Thinking in Your Preschooler

A fantastic way to get your little one to think outside the box is with cooking.

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For example, you can make numerous different croissant dishes with a simple roll of the dough. Unfold each section from the packaged roll and form it into an individual triangle. Once it is face open, ask your child what to add to the middle. There are a ton of possibilities; following are three examples:

  1. Add a piece of ham and a piece of cheese, and then roll the dough for a delicious ham and cheese sandwich.
  2. Add pepperoni and cheese, and serve with a tomato sauce dip to create a mini-croissant pizza.
  3. Add shredded chicken and bacon and serve with ranch.

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Another way to encourage your child to think outside the box is with riddles.

  1. A man went on a trip riding his horse. He left on Friday, stayed in town for three days and came back on Friday. How did he do it?  Answer: His horse’s name is Friday
  2. What has three hands, but cannot clap? Answer: a clock

Five Ways to Encourage Good Manners

Learning to be polite and respectful is just as important as learning any other life skill. Here are five ways to encourage good manners in children.

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  1. Be a good example. Children imitate what they see and hear, so if you are polite and respectful to others, there is a good chance that your child will be, too.
  2. Role play with your child. For example, ask her to pretend she’s at a restaurant. Then ask her what she would do if she needs somebody to pass the salt or what she would do if the server asks her what she wants to order.
  3. Enlist help from other family members. If you are comfortable with it, let other family members know that it is okay for them to encourage your child to use good manners. Or, say, if a grandparent burps, gently remind the grandparent that he or she should say “Excuse me.”
  4. Begin teaching manners early. Even if your child is a toddler, it is never too early to start teaching manners. After all, if a child is encouraged from day one to say please and thank you, it becomes a regular part of his everyday life.
  5. Correct mistakes politely. Your child is bound to make mistakes, and it is perfectly fine for you to correct her. Just be sure to do it calmly and politely.

Four Ways to Encourage Children to Share

Learning to share is important, but it can be challenging to convey this to children. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four ways to encourage children to share.

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  1. As is so often the case, children grow to give what they have received. Valued and generously loved children find it much easier to be generous to others – in due time. Parents who behave generously (and talk about it) help their children develop the language of sharing early on. Phrases such as “Want to share my grapes?” or “I’d love it if I could share your orange, okay?” afford your child the chance to hear the vocabulary of sharing in the context of positive emotions like appreciation and generosity. This helps children begin to understand that generosity is a way of staying emotionally close to the people they want to stay close to.
  2. Avoid parent-enforced sharing whenever possible. The umpire is the least popular position in any sport or family. Acting as the referee supports the fantasy that, when a child wants something another child has, you can make things fair or right by forcing that other child to share. Instead, whenever you can, use the huge power of your affection to comfort the child, reassuring him you are staying right there and helping him wait for his turn.
  3. When you catch your child sharing, which they are more likely to do with younger, less intimidating peers, praise her for it, tell her how proud you are that she shared. This works far better than teaching or trying to make children share.
  4. Children in mixed age groups often find it easier to share than those who interact with their peers. Older children are usually less territorial and more likely to share, which can be a cue to younger children to share. These moments should be met with praise.

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

It can be difficult for children to deal with their parents’ divorce. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four things to keep in mind when helping children cope with divorce.

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  1. Although the stigma of divorce stings less these days, partly because it is so common, children almost never think it is as good an idea as the parents who seek it. Don’t insult them by trying to talk them into agreeing with your point of view about its benefits or its hazards. Children, especially the young ones, love having their families together and often feel anxious, angry and saddened when they begin to come apart.
  2. Most parents work at separating and divorcing without traumatizing their children. Children often recover from this loss without serious emotional scarring and with their ability to trust in relationships intact, especially when parents acknowledge how their children are feeling about this event and when children trust the adults to hear them out and love them through it.
  3. One of the most difficult aspects of divorce to young children, besides a change in family income and lifestyle that may accompany a divorce, is the threat to (or in some cases the end of) their parents’ friendship with each other. This particular loss may leave children feeling more alone and worried that they might be next.
  4. Boys and girls typically respond differently to divorce. Boys show their distress more obviously with behavioral, school or social troubles. Girls may seem okay at first with few outward signs of distress but may suffer the effects later when they enter their first close relationship and feel overwhelmed by self-doubt, suspiciousness and fear of abandonment.

Making Mornings Easier

Getting ourselves ready for work, our children ready for school and our pets ready for a day alone in the house can create a ton of stress in the morning and cause us to forget important steps in our morning ritual. For example, have you ever forgotten to send your child to school with a lunch or to take your dog out and later come home to a mess on the floor?

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Follow these steps the night before to help your mornings work seamlessly.

  1. Choose and lay out your outfit and accessories and assist your children in doing the same. You might want to try on outfits before bed to ensure you’ll be satisfied with them in the morning.
  2. Pack lunches for the whole family. It’s a great idea to encourage your children to help with their lunches, which will help teach them
  3. Check that their homework is done, and that any outstanding papers or permission slips are signed.
  4. Premeasure your pet’s food for the morning, making it quick and easy to place in their bowl.
  5. Put a list of things that need to be finished in the morning on your refrigerator and check it off so you don’t forget anything critical.

What are your family’s before-bed rituals that help your mornings run more smoothly?

 

Facing a Power Outage

When a strong, windy storm results in a power outage, some young children may become afraid, especially in the evening when it’s dark outside. Follow these steps to make power outages seem less scary and even enjoyable for your little ones.

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  1. Be prepared. Before a big storm, make sure you have at least two working flashlights and plenty of batteries for them.
  2. Be safe. Light candles, out of the reach of children, in each room. Make sure to have a well lit path from the living room to the kitchen, to the bathroom and to wherever you and your child
  3. Be smart. Call your power company to find out the estimated time to restore the power. It will seem less scary to your little one if she knows when the lights will come back on. Consider incorporating a fun game of counting down each hour.
  4. Be wise. Have planned activities ready for your child in order to avoid boredom. Here are a few activities that you can include:
    • Card games such as go fish
    • Coloring and other arts and crafts
    • A taste test with things found in your kitchen – Lay out a few plates with different foods on them. Have your child cover his eyes and ask him what is on each plate.
    • A sock puppet show – Guide your child in making faces on the socks, and then put on a puppet show.
    • A concert – Ask your child to use his imagination and gather things and from around the house that can be used to create music like pots, pans and bells. Then make some music.
    • Special time – Snuggle up and read a book together.

What are some activities your family does together during power outages?

Three Ways to Discourage Children from Arguing

It can be challenging when a child argues with a parent. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers three ways to diffuse an argument before it escalates.

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1. Alexander, the main character in Judith Viorst’s wonderful Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, complains that it’s not fair about not getting new sneakers when his brother did. If a child said this to his mother, one strategy would be for his mom to say, “It may not seem fair right now because you don’t need new sneakers. When you need something, you usually get it and then it seems fair to you. Those are our family rules, discussion over.” Making sure it’s understood that the discussion is over is the crucial component.

2. Let’s say that a child is arguing with her mom about picking up her blocks. Mom, keeping her cool, might announce, “I’m setting the timer for five minutes. Any blocks not put away when it rings will be taken away. It’s your choice.” “Discussion over” is implied. Try not to include the oft-heard concluder “Okay?” because the child will never think it’s okay, and you are just inviting the next arguing match.

3. It is a good idea for parents to change their behavior first and not wait until the child does what the parent wants. If you feel yourself being sucked into the argument vortex, you should stand firmly and silently for 10-30 seconds, avoid eye contact, breathe a few times and then announce something like “I am not arguing any more so that I can help you learn how to manage yourself when you don’t get your way.” After doing this a few dozen times, it usually slows the arguing to a tolerable pace. Silence, without the shaming, is a parent’s most powerful tool.

How to Create a Story with Your Child

Many parents read stories to their children. But have you ever created a story with your child? Crafting a story with your child helps boost creativity, literacy and critical thinking skills. It is also a great opportunity to bond with your child, and it’s a lot of fun. Here are the four steps to creating a story.

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  1. Create two or three characters. Make a character checklist with your child to flesh out the characters. Are your characters boys or girls? What kinds of food do they like? How old are they? What do they do well? What do they not do well? Where do they live? How do they know each other? This is a good starting point for coming up with interesting characters, but feel free to give your characters additional attributes.
  2. Give them something to do. All characters should want something, even if it’s just to get ice cream. Once you figure out what your characters want, have them try to obtain it.
  3. Put obstacles in their way. If your characters want ice cream, for example, and are trying to get to the ice cream parlor or supermarket, put obstacles in their way. The obstacle, in this case, could be the simple problem of not knowing the way to the ice cream parlor or supermarket. Stories come from the characters having to overcome challenges to achieve their objectives.
  4. Write the story down. If your child isn’t old enough to write the story down, write it down for him. You could even paste those pages in a scrapbook, turning your story into a keepsake.

Screen Time Guidelines for Summer Break

Summer is here, which means children have more time to watch TV and play video games. To limit how much screen time your child has, you can institute a reward system.

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  1. Select readily available tokens that your child cannot not easily access, such as stickers or playing cards.
  2. Think of some helpful tasks that your child can do around the house. Tell her that she can earn a reward for each task she completes without being told to do it. Examples include cleaning up after herself, bringing in the mail, feeding the pets and setting the table. Explain the concept of exchanging the token for a prize or privilege. This system will also help your child learn and understand the concept of spending money to purchase a product.
  3. Explain to your child that each time she wants screen time, she must hand in one of her tokens. Set a time limit for each token that is suitable for the age of your child. For example, one token could equal ten minutes of screen time. You may want to set a limit for the number of tokens that your child can use each day. Write down these rules and explain them well to stop any arguments before they start.
  4. Let your child know that if she has no tokens, she will have to do more chores to earn screen time.

Your little ones will be so excited to earn their tokens that they will not realize how many helpful tasks they are completing.

Meeting the Dentist

Your baby’s teeth are just as vital as your adult teeth. Primary teeth create space for permanent teeth. They also help your little one when she begins speaking and chewing food. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child’s first dental visit should be after her first tooth arrives, and it should occur before her first birthday, whichever exciting event happens first.

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It is important to schedule a visit early. This will allow your dentist to check for any signs of dental problems, like tooth decay or issues from extended thumb sucking, before they become severe. The dentist can also show you the best way to clean your child’s teeth, recommend oral care products and answer any questions you may have about the growth of your child’s teeth. After assessing your child’s teeth, gums and jaw, your dentist can recommend when to schedule a second visit.