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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

How to Prevent Meltdowns during the Holidays

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By Jack Maypole, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

What is not to love about the holidays? There are acres of food, the anticipation of celebrations, traditions and, in some traditions, gifts. From a child’s perspective, it is a winwin. Routines are thrown to the wind, the rhythms of the day (like, say, bedtime or school) are changed over to the holiday pace and, for those who may be quarantining or podding with family or friends this year, there may be guests visiting your home. There’s so much going on and so much novelty. When do we open presents, again?  

From a parent’s perspective, the holidays may feel like a seasonal conspiracy designed to precipitate that dreaded event in any parent’s journey: the meltdown. Parents may have trouble recognizing who their children become when put into the breach of the overstimulation the holidays can bring. The joy of big meals, the hubbub of shared traditions, the sharing of the home and toys and the need to get along with everyone may be too much, leading to tears, yelling, thrown toys and children showing their families that they can go full supernova when they fall apart, spectacularly. (Hey, these can make for some funny memories for years to come, or you may take videos to put aside to embarrass your future high school senior.) In some cases, they can be pretty upsetting or take a while to get past for some children.  
Fortunately, with all of this in mind, there is a lot families can do to prevent the meltdowns in the first place. With a little bit of planning, one can lower the risk of witnessing fruitcake made airborne in a fit of pique or hearing salty oaths muttered to a cousin or houseguest.  

When humans of any age are sufficiently stressed, it can challenge their ability to cope and absorb annoyances or inconveniences. For adults, we have learned to adapt and extend ourselves during the holidays to be at our most polite and on our best behavior (wellmost of us have). We have an enhanced ability to roll with the stresses and quirks of the holiday schedule, leading to our ability to engage in small (or big) talk, connect with our relatives and prepare and deliver on the celebrations. We can behave, usually.  

For infants to children of school age, shifts from the normal patterns of sleep, shifts in meal and snack times and new surroundings or company may lead to them becoming crabby and more emotionally fragile. Whether you are hosting a celebration at home (via Zoom or in person) or whether your family is traveling afar to stay with others, I counsel families to bring some routines and special times with you to support your children emotionally over the holidays. There are some key ways to keep them on track and help them be more likely to hold it together. Have a go bag ready to go this holiday season. 

Are you worried about your picky eater not eating well and getting hangry? Bring his favorite snacks or food items. For my daughter, energy bars and some fruit were a handy goto that kept her smiling and willing to roll with whatever life threw her. 

Are you concerned your child will become edgy if she sleeps poorly? Bring the items that may optimize sleep in a busy time, including a noise machine (or app on your phone), noisecanceling headphones and some favorite books, and create a dedicated space you can escape to for siestas and downtime.  

For older toddlers and schoolage children, alone time may be as important as nap timeGiving children a chance to be on their own or just with their siblings may allow them to recharge and be ready to reenter the holiday fray.  

Preparations to head off meltdowns can start before the holidays themselves begin. I advise that parents talk with their children of all ages in a way that is right for their ages and stages, and give the children a sense of who is coming and what will happen. Keep the dialogue going, and even have them help get decorations or items ready for family members or guests. Praise them for their good work and, in the process, plant the seeds for their enjoyment of this busy time of year.  

For children who may hit the point of no return, there may be some lastminute techniques to head off a meltdown. Keep an eye on the clock, and be mindful of people or situations if you think your child may be having difficulty with them. Like a coach on the sidelines, consider having them take a moment in a quiet place to let them talk through what they are feeling or why they are upset. Redirect and distract them if you think it may help—bust out some crayons or head outside for a walk or a romp to work out the feelings physically if time and weather allow. Take time or make time if you need to. Like us adults, children may have an overflow of energy, but they are just better at playingusing their imaginations and dispelling that frustration. 

You might do all of that. Chances are, you do a lot of this consciously and unconsciously in your daytoday already, but even the most attentive and vigilant parents may find that, in spite of all of their preparation and research, meltdowns may happen anyway. If they occur, do what you can to help yourself and your children leave the crowded area and find some private space. Give children time to emote, and be supportive—it can be tough when you are a child and things don’t go your way. If necessary, delay a return to the bigger group and make some intimate fun – read a book together, sing a song or cast a spell and send those bad feelings packing. If your children are willing to talk about it, let them know that meltdowns happen and, like holidayscan be pretty intenseand it is okay. After a while, they too shall pass, and life will get back to normal.  

10 Ways Families Can Honor Memorial Day This Year

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By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Children often think about Memorial Day as a time when the family gets together for a barbecue. Parents have an extra day off to play, and some homes have the flag flown in the front yard. It is also a special day to remember and honor those who have fought for the country since the 1800s.

This Memorial Day may be a little different since parades may be canceled and the large family barbecue may be smaller. There are still ways we can share the value of honoring Memorial Day and those who served. Here are ten ideas to mix up the day with your family.

  1. Share the story of why we have Memorial Day. It began in 1866 to honor soldiers from the Civil War and was at first called Decoration Day. People decorated graves with flowers, flags and wreaths. You can make decor at home in red, white and blue and display your decorations inside and outdoors. Have your children plan and make the decorations.
  2. Raise the flag. Fly the flag at half-staff until noon and then at full-staff until sunset. If you don’t have a flag, make one. Your children can count the stars and stripes as they create the family flag.
  3. Share stories. It is often easier to explain a concept like Memorial Day through storytelling. Share your family’s stories or read one of our favorites:
    1. The Wall by Eve Bunting
    2. Hero Dad and Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin
    3. The Impossible Patriotism Projectby Linda Skeers
  4. Take an afternoon break. Honor the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time with a moment of peace.
  5. It is the unofficial start of the summer. Plan something fun outdoors, such as a lunch outside or a backyard camp out.
  6. Seven billion hotdogs will be eaten between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Wow! Encourage your children to plan the Memorial Day meal. What is necessary to include – ice cream, hotdogs, chicken?
  7. Honor those who are still serving by bringing a little joy into their lives. Create cards, drawings or a care package to be sent overseas to a soldier, marine, airman, sailor or coastguardsman actively serving. Visit the site anysoldier.comto discover how and where to send your special items. You can extend this to your children’s teachers or people who are working in the hospitals.
  8. Sing songs throughout the day. Start the day with “America the Beautiful” and end the day with the national anthem.
  9. Get out the pots and pans, cardboard tubes and other materials that can become instruments. Have a family parade around the house. Video the parade and share with friends.
  10. Connect with a family far away by video chat. Share a favorite recipe, read a story together or sing a song such as the national anthem.

Valentine’s Day Crafts

Spread the love this Valentine’s Day by making these crafts with your child. Whether your child chooses to give them to someone special or keep them at home to decorate, these cute creations are sure to bring smiles!

Heart Tree Sponge Stamp Art

Show how love grows with this beautiful piece of Valentine’s Day art.

Materials:

A piece of white paper

Brown, pink, red and purple paint

A paintbrush

Scissors

Kitchen sponges

Instructions:

Help your child paint a tree trunk and bare branches with the brown paint and allow to dry.

Cut out hearts from the sponges in different sizes.

Have your child use the sponges to stamp heart-shaped leaves onto the tree with the different colors of paints. The fuller the tree is, the more love there is!

Love Bug Footprint Craft

This piece of love bug art is the perfect way to spread Valentine’s Day cheer.

Materials:

Red and black paint

Paintbrushes

A piece of white paper

Two googly eyes

Glue

Heart stickers

A black marker

A drop cloth or an old tablecloth

Wet wipes

Instructions:

Spread the drop cloth or tablecloth on the floor of your work area to contain any mess.

Paint the bottom of your child’s foot red, and have your child carefully step in the middle of the paper. Fill in any bare areas of the footprint with paint, and allow it to dry. Use the wet wipes to clean off your child’s foot before moving onto the next step.

Once the red paint has dried, have your child paint a black circle on top of the heel of the footprint. This will be the love bug’s head.

Once all the paint has dried, help your child draw three legs on each side of the footprint and one line vertically down the middle of the footprint. On either side of the line, have your child draw hearts instead of ladybug spots.

Help your child draw two antennae on top of the love bug’s head and add a heart sticker to the top of each one.

Have your child glue googly eyes onto the love bug’s face.

Heart-Shaped Bird Feeder

Help your child spread some Valentine’s Day love to the birds outside your window this February.

Materials:

Pipe cleaners

Ring-shaped cereal

String

Instructions:

Have your child string the cereal onto a pipe cleaner, leaving a little space at the ends.

Twist the ends of the pipe cleaner together to make a circle, and then bend it into a heart shape.

Help your child tie a piece of string onto the heart in a loop, and then take your child outside and find a place to hang the feeder where birds can enjoy it.

Handprint Wreath Craft

This handprint wreath is a simple craft to get your children’s creativity flowing. You and your little ones can use this craft throughout the year to make a handprint wreath for each holiday season.

Here are the materials that you’ll need: a paper plate, a pack of colored construction paper, scissors, glue, crayons, paint and markers.

How to create your wreath

1. First, cut out the middle of the paper plate so you are left with just the rim of the plate. This will act as the base for the wreath.

2. Next, let your children sift through the pack of construction paper and pick out the colors they would like to use for this project.

3. Once their favorite colors are chosen, let them trace about 10 to 15 handprints on the sheets of construction paper, and then help them cut out each handprint.

4. Allow your little ones to be artists: let them color, paint and draw on their handprint cutouts to decorate them.

5. Once they are finished, allow your children to start gluing the handprint cutouts onto the rim of the plate.

6. Let the handprints overlap a bit and continue gluing them on until the entire rim of the plate is completely covered by handprints.

7. When finished, loop a piece of ribbon through the wreath, and then tie a bow at the top.

8. Hang the wreath anywhere in your home.

5 Easy Activities for Your Family to Practice the Art of Giving

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By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Sharing and giving are an important part of learning, and the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to help your children develop these important skills.

Gift-giving creates a happy feeling not just for the receiver but also for the giver. Children are in fact happier when they give back. Researchers at the University of British Columbia* interacted with children using puppets, which would make ‘YUMM’ noises when given treats. The results indicated that children were happier when giving the treats away than when receiving treats for themselves.

Here are five easy activities for your family to practice the art of giving:

  1. Give a Gift That Keeps on Giving – Make a “Giving Book” with your children. Think of five things they would enjoy doing for someone at home or for a neighbor or a relative. Write or draw the things on three-by-five index cards, decorate the cards and staple them together. Present the “Giving Book” to the relative. This is a gift that keeps on giving and extends the fun beyond the holidays. It also gives your children confidence in the things can they do for someone else.
  1. Build a Plan for Giving – Ask your children how they would like to give back. You may be surprised at what they come up with. Implementing their ideas will help build their confidence and commitment to the activity. Decide together on how to accomplish their ideas.
  1. No Money Needed – It is important to have children experience how to give beyond buying a gift. Donating time and effort is just as important. This will help your children in daily interactions with others. Many foundations have projects that are designed just for kids. Your children could make artwork for a local children’s hospital or help plant trees for a nature reserve. Whatever your child’s passion is, connect it to giving back.
  1. Donate Your Joy – Ask your children to select gently used clothes, toys and other things around their room that they could donate to others. You can choose the charity together. Take your children with you to donate the goods so they can see where they will go. Talk about who might receive them.
  1. Checking In about Feelings After your children spend time giving back, ask them how they feel. Most likely they will have a positive response and want to do it again. Conversations about giving help young children make the connection of that good feeling to giving back.

*Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J. K. & Dunn, E. W. (2012, June 14). Giving leads to happiness in young children. PLOS ONE 7(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039211

How Children Learn Manners Through Every Stage of Early Childhood

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 By Jack Maypole, MD
Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Starting at a young age, children will need to develop social skills and learn how to get along with others. How they get along in the world is largely determined by how they behave with those other people. Developing manners is a great place to start.

What has always made manners a complex issue for parents is that of all the incredible abilities our children are born with, the ability to behave appropriately is not among them. Manners must be learned. Learning how to behave sensitively and sensibly toward others begins with how parents behave with each other and their children. This task might feel daunting, but it is less so when separated into the stages of early childhood.

Infancy – Observing
Babies watch us like hawks. They see how we treat one another; how much regard we have for the needs of others; how we wait for our turns, share and help out (or not); what the tones of our voices are; and what the expressions on our faces are as we interact in everyday life.

Toddlerhood – Laying a strong foundation
Ask your children to hand you the cereal bowls when they are finished, and introduce the magic word “please” as part of family life. The magic is the smile on the parent’s face when these words get used – the meaning and intent come later. Empathy usually starts to develop by the end of this period. Around 18 months old, children begin to figure out that others have feelings similar to theirs, so it makes sense to introduce vocabulary such as “excuse me” and “sorry” and the regular use of people’s names when asking or telling them something.

Preschool – Building that strong foundation
Sharing and turn-taking should be easily understood and expected more often than not. It’s also important to explain, in simple terms, the impact of behaviors on others: “We just don’t hit. It hurts, and you don’t like it when it happens to you.”

Kindergarten – Setting expectations
Expect your children to pick up their toys and dirty clothes, help set or clear the table, keep their hands to themselves, be fair to others most of the time and introduce themselves to others once they learn how to do it in preschool using dolls or puppets.

Prepare Your Child for Holiday Travel with These 12 Books

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The holiday season often means lots of travel with your family. Whether you’re taking a quick trip up the road or a cross-country journey, travel can be a big deal for young children.

Prepare your children for these special trips by reading some of the books on this list. These stories feature planes, trains, cars and relatives like grandparents to help your children learn what to expect.

Airplanes

  • Going on a Plane by Anne Civardi and Stephen Cartwright
  • A Day at the Airport by Richard Scarry
  • Maisy Goes on a Plane by Lucy Cousins

Trains

  • Trains: Steaming! Pulling! Huffing! by Patricia Hubbell, Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
  • The Train Ride by June Crebbin and Stephen Lambert
  • Subway by Anastasia Suen and Karen Katz

Cars

  • The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Car Trip by Stan and Jan Berenstain
  • Duck, Duck, Moose by Dave Horowitz
  • Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

Relatives

  • The Ultimate Guide to Grandmas & Grandpas! by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Michael Emberley
  • The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant and Stephen Gammell
  • Cooking with Grandma by Rosemary Mastnak

Hand Print Turkey Craft

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Celebrate Thanksgiving with this fun, family-friendly craft. Gobble, gobble!

WHAT YOU NEED

* White construction paper

* Non-toxic paint in brown, green, red, yellow and orange (or any other colors you have on hand)

* One paintbrush for each paint color

* Paper plates

* Googly eyes

* Glue

* Crayons or markers

* Aprons or paint shirts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Pour a little paint onto the paper plates. Use one plate per color.

2. Set out the white piece of paper in front of your child, and have your child put on an apron or paint shirt.

3. Using a paintbrush, paint brown paint onto the palm of your child’s hand.

4. Then, paint your child’s fingers. Make sure to use one paintbrush and paint color per finger.

5. Press your child’s hand onto the paper. Try not to move it around too much, and then lift your child’s hand.

6. When the paint is dry, put a dab of glue onto the thumbprint, which will be the turkey’s head, and press on a googly eye.

7. Finally, let your child use the crayons or markers to draw a beak, legs and a snood, which is the red part of a turkey’s neck. Enjoy your adorable masterpiece!

What Thanksgiving crafts do you make with your children?

Holi…daze.

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Create Calm.

Daze. Do you ever find yourself in a daze during December days? I call in the Holi…daze. I have found myself, dazing out the window…worrying. At times, I have found myself paralyzed.

Dependent on how you celebrate December and what you choose to put on your ‘to do list’, chaos may be created. I am challenging myself and all of you to choose to create calm. My 2017 mantra is “Create Calm”. I strive for this daily and don’t always succeed-but, I will continue to try and try again, like the “Little Engine that Could” because it finally did, right?

Create Calm. Calm may help our creativity, our circle of trust, our clarity. We are all balancing chaos during December: the holiday gatherings, school activities, shopping, working on year end deadlines, but…we don’t have to make lunches for kids for 2 weeks? That’s cause for decking the halls! I plan for December Days every year and it still hits me hard. So, I’m leaving you with some “how-to’s”. Here are a few tips that I try and follow during this month (hoping they are helpful):

1 . Lists Santa isn’t the only one who needs a list this time of year. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s all good (said in the Pete the Cat-like voice). This is a time of year for fellowship, spending time with family and friends. Every night, I re-write my list of what I WILL do (include breaks, workouts, what you will eat, etc…every detail). In moments of chaotic craziness, this will act as your guide book when the “December Daze” decks you.

  1. Keep it Real. Will you really be able to accomplish all you have listed?

  2. Forgive and Forget. Forgive yourself or having the move a few things to the next day or 2 on your list and the hard part, FORGET ABOUT IT.

  3. Have fun. Focus on Friends & Family. Phones forgotten. The holidays equal fun. The definition of holidays is not to be in your ‘holidaze’. We’ve all witnessed or felt “dashing. dashing”-not through the snow, but through December. By creating calm, let us tattoo the traditions and thoughtfulness from the top of our head to our toes. Traveling through and really practicing playfulness, peace, and presence.

How will you create calm during December? Can you do it? I think you can…

 

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

4 Shortcuts to the Most Impressive Holiday Cookies I’ve Ever Made—And They’re No-Bake

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How does she do it? Cheating of course. My secrets for deceptively fancy holiday cookies.

My Nutella Cones with Hazelnut Praline are the type of easy-to-make, destined-to-impress shortcut cookie recipe this (and every) holiday season needs. They’re inspired by the Nutty Buddy, an ice cream filled, chocolate dipped, peanut sprinkled number. But seeing as it’s December, an ice cream filling isn’t appropriate. So, I swapped the frozen stuff for Nutella, threw in a few other pre-made shortcuts, and came up with the fanciest, easiest cookies I’ve ever made. And they’re no-bake to boot.

Instead of making every part from scratch, I put together a cookie shortcut dream team. The result? A stunning and stunningly simple cookie guaranteed to make you the countess of the cookie swap.

Don’t tell anybody, but these are my secret shortcuts:

The Cone

A simple sugar cone offers the same slightly sweet, cracker-like experience of my first favorite snack, Barnum’s Animal Crackers. They’re just the right texture and not-too-sweet base for what becomes a decadent finished product. I ordered these mini cones from amazon.com (actually, looks like I got the last box!) but you can use a serrated knife to trim the tops off of regular-sized sugar cones. Use the leftover cone bits in place of graham crackers for a delicious press-in crust. (Try it in this sweet potato pie.)

The Creamy Center

Nutella behaves a little like a homemade ganache—a spreadable mixture of chocolate and cream often used to fill truffles or no-bake pies. It holds its shape but stays pliable at room temperature making it the perfect shortcut filling for my (alternate name) Winter BuddiesTM. For extra texture, I folded in a handful of toasted hazelnuts but you could use toasted almonds or salted peanuts if you want. The nutty filberts help balance the sweetness of the Nutella but if you’re a No Nuts Person you can leave them out.

The Crispy Shell

To create the crispy outer shell, I made a homemade version of “Magic Shell”—an easy-to-make combo of chopped chocolate and coconut oil—but you could definitely use the pre-made stuff.

The shell does two things: first, it lines the cones with a water-tight chocolate seal. Without this coating, the cones get soggy as they soak up moisture from the Nutella filling. You can skip it, but the cones will lose their crunch after about 8 hours. Once your cones are filled with the nutty Nutella mixture, you’ll dip the finished bites in more magic shell to contain the gooey interior.

The Sparkle

Crushed hazelnut praline adds a sparkly finish to these otherwise brown on brown treats. I made a homemade praline but you can use store-bought candied nuts (or those rectangular sesame candies) for a similar effect. Or, skip the molten sugar part and top the cones with more chopped nuts. Just be sure to add them while that outer coating of magic shell is slightly tacky so they stick.

And if all this still feels too fancy, tie a big ribbon around your favorite box and call it a (holi)day. For more homemade cookie inspiration, check out some of our favorite cookie recipes here.

 

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