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Posts Tagged ‘Parenting Tips’

Bored Kids Are Distracting: Things Your Child Can Do While You Work

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Identifying activities for your kids to do while you’re busy with other things can be a daunting task. This is why work-at-home parents need all the help they can get.

A majority of kids lack knowledge of how to engage in solo play. Typically, kids appreciate having access to a daily routine of exciting things to do, but they require gentle encouragement and training. Providing your children with exciting and enjoyable activities helps them extend their attention span as well as experience in keeping themselves busy.

According to Linda Acredolo, a psychology professor at the University of California, play is an important activity during childhood. Although you might regard it as mere child’s play, childhood play involves several interrelated undertakings, ranging from problem-solving and learning new skills to mental and physical challenges.

Below are some few things you can do to foster your child’s learning.

Stretch Your Child’s Imagination

It’s been noted that kids who engage in make-believe play are often good at keeping themselves busy according to Dr. Willard. Children typically have their imagination even when participating in boring activities. You could try engaging your child’s imagination. Perhaps, you could provide your child with beads and string for making keychain animals. Doing so helps improve your child’s ability to count and make patterns.

Introduce technology

You can give your child an iPad for a few minutes and let them play with an educational app. This way, your child can play and learn at the same time.

Letting them occupy their time with mobile apps can provide tremendous benefits. Nonetheless, kids need guidance on the use of mobile applications. For this reason, you need to keep close tabs on how your kids are using or interacting with any mobile apps you choose for them.

Reward Your Kid for Playing Alone

Keep in mind that your kid has many playmates at school. But at home, they are denied this opportunity or only have access to their siblings. This is why your kid may resort to the B word. To resolve this problem, you need to create a plan that lets your kid hang out alone.

Try engaging your kid in activities such as playing Lego, puzzles, or browsing through picture books. You can improve this process by letting your kid come up with his own ideas instead of dictating what he ought to do. Jennifer Kolari the author of Connected Parenting recommends rewarding your kids every time they play alone in their bedroom. For instance, you could go out on a date with your kids.

Be Creative

Often, it seems convenient suggesting activities for your kid whenever they are bored, and they can’t seem to come up with something on their own. Note that the most common entertainment platforms teach kids to expect instant gratification. In the short term, these distractions-be it TV, movies, or mobile apps- will keep your kid temporarily occupied. However, in the long term, your kids will become intolerant of quiet moments as they induce hypertensive states. Instead, you should engage your children in summertime long projects. Perhaps, you can encourage them to tend a windowsill, flower, or vegetable garden to occupy their free time.

 

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.

How to Overcome Your Child’s Picky Eating Habits

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You were a picky eater when you were a child. Now your own child is, shall we say, highly discriminating on what he or she eats, too. Coincidence? A recent study says maybe not.

The study, by researchers from the University of Illinois, gathered information from the parents of 153 preschoolers. They found that while many factors can play a role in a child’s choosy eating, genes that are linked to a child’s sensory responses could be one of them.

What does this mean if you’re the parent of a picky eater? Do you simply throw up your hands and say it’s genetic?

Keep trying

Don’t give up on efforts to entice your child to eat a broader range of food, says Jennifer Hyland, RD, CSP, LD of Cleveland Clinic Children’s. It’s important to continue to expose children to new foods over time to get them to try them, she says.

There is a wide spectrum of behavior when it comes to picky eating, Ms. Hyland says. But for most children, picky eating does not go away on its own unless parents really work at it.

Research has shown it can take anywhere from 10 to 20 tries for a child to like a particular food, she says.

But you don’t want to force foods upon your child. Keep meals an enjoyable experience, Ms. Hyland says. One strategy is for parents to ask their children to take no-thank-you bites – which means they can say, “no thank you,” but they have to at least try the food. This leads to continued exposure, and over time, it’s hoped they will learn to develop a taste for these foods.

At meal time, Ms. Hyland says, it’s helpful to have at least one food on the plate that you know your child will eat. Also, but be sure to give everyone at the table the same foods.

“Try your best to cook the same meal for the whole family,” she says. “The child may not eat all of it, but it’s important that you encourage them to at least try, and that you set an example of trying these foods yourself, so that over time, they will learn to eat these foods.”

It begins during toddlerhood

It’s typical for picky eating to start during the toddler years, Ms. Hyland says.

“Normal picky-eating can start anywhere as early as age 2 or 3,” she says. “Usually during infancy, children are adventurous eaters and they’re trying new things. The picky eating really creeps up around the time they become toddlers. Parents will say, ‘My kid ate vegetables and they liked this and they liked that and now they don’t eat anything.’ We see that pretty frequently.” 

Should parents worry about a picky eater? If your child is underweight, you might be worried that your child isn’t getting enough nutrition. This results in parents giving their children whatever they want to eat to make sure they’re getting enough calories.

If this is you, it’s a  good time to meet with a registered dietitian or physician, because there are ways to combat that problem, while still improving the picky eating habits, Ms. Hyland says.

The most important thing a parent can do with a choosy eater is be consistent and not give up, Ms. Hyland says.

However, if a child has chewing or swallowing issues, or shows severe anxiety about trying new foods,  talk to a doctor, because you child may need the help of a behavioral specialist or multidisciplinary feeding program.

Complete results of the study can be found in the Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics.

 

 

This article was written by Children’s Health Team from Cleveland Clinic 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.

Road Trip Snacks That Won’t Make a Mess in Your Car (and the Snacks to Avoid)

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Keep fueled on your upcoming road trip with these relatively clean, easy-to-eat road trip snacks.

As the summer winds up, there might be a road trip somewhere in your future. Whether it’s just a couple of hours in the car on your way to grandma’s, a weekend away at a lakefront resort, or a week long cross-country journey, you’re surely going to need a backseat full of road trip snacks. And, unfortunately, good road trip snacks probably aren’t the first thing you’re thinking about when you’re planning for your trip—likely, they’re one of the last things you do before heading off, either stopping at the grocery store the night before you leave or, let’s be real, even when you’re already on your way!

But this year, we can all aim to do better and plan ahead to make sure you’ve packed the best road trip snacks possible. Thankfully, we’re here to do the heavy lifting for you (you’re the one that has to lug those heavy suitcases to the car, after all!). Here, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts in regards to good road trip snacks (because who wants to come home with a sticky backseat to deal with?), healthy road trip snacks to make, and of course, the best road trip snacks to buy (because you’re probably not going to be all packed the night before). Read on for your road trip survival guide:

Good Road Trip Snacks, Dos and Don’ts

Do: Pack individually portioned treats. The fact that you’re strapped into a moving vehicle makes passing handfuls or ripping off portions a little tenuous. Make things easier for everyone by separating snacks into individual zip-lock baggies or buying pre-portioned snacks in bulk.
Do: Bring two bags. Bring a cooler bag for things that should be kept chilled like sliced cheese, fruit, carrot sticks, sandwiches, drinks, and more. Your pantry bag can be filled with trail mix, cookies, crackers, etc. Keeping the two separate make sure that the dry pantry foods don’t get soggy from condensation or spills.
Do: Focus on dry foods. While you might have the aspirational urge to become a health guru on your road trip, it’s a good idea to stick to self-contained fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges. Although they do leave waste, they’re relatively clean compared to melons and berries, which are prone to dripping and leave behind a wetness that can expand outside of its container.
Don’t: Pack anything that could melt or spoil. It may feel like a no-brainer, but many yummy pre-packaged foods won’t last long without refrigeration. Instead of packing chicken salad or milk for the kids, just plan to make stops to pick up along the way. And while chocolate may seem like a fun treat, it melts quicker than you’d think—so keep it to a rest stop treat unless you want to deal with a sticky mess in your backseat.
Don’t: Pack foods that need utensils. Avoid a last minute lunch meltdown when you realized you forgot to pack forks or spoons and just plan to have everything edible by hand and bite-sized. Since you’re likely to be eating out of the packaging, these foods are logistically easier to eat than those that would need forks and knifes.
Don’t: Pack messy foods. Unless you’re planning on a full car detailing post-trip, stay away from foods like crumbly granola bars, croissants, cheese puffs, and quinoa. “Foods that make you brush off your pants while eating are a no go,” says Food Director, Dawn Perry. Additionally, you might want to stay away from things that come with shells like pistachios or peanuts
Do: Pack food in mason jars. Just because you’re driving doesn’t mean that you have to skip out on the road trip snacks. Fill up a mason jar that easily fits into a cup holder so the person at the wheel (or the trusty, hungry copilot) can snack along too.

Healthy Road Trip Snacks to Make

Trying to stay away from processed foods? Load up your cooler with these homemade healthy road trip snacks. From DIY Kind bars to addictive party mixes, these snacks will help the time roll by.

Kamut-Banana-Walnut Muffins
Break and Bake Kitchen Sink Cookies
Pizza Pretzel Nuggets
Cookies and Cream Crispy Treats
Honey Mustard Snack Mix
Nutty Superfood Breakfast Bites
No-Bake Lemon-Chia Bars

Best Road Trip Snacks to Buy

Planning on taking the “There’s No Way I Can Get Snacks in Order Before I Leave” route? No worries at all! There are plenty of delicious, healthy, and fun snack options to be found at the warehouse club, grocery store, or even gas station! Pick a couple of options from this Real Simple-editor approved list.

Oreos
Nuts
Water
Granola or nut bars
Grapes
Beef jerky (We tested more than 100 and these were our favorite jerkies!)
Cheese and crackers
Popcorn

 

This article was written by Liz Steelman from Real Simple 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.

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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.

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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 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.

7 Nag-Free Ways to Get Your Kids to Sit Down and Do Homework

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Going back to school after a holiday break is always tough. Getting your kids to dive back into that pile of math worksheets and book reports when they’d rather be playing with their new toys or watching YouTube? Torture. To help ease everyone through the transition, we asked moms for their best tips on how to get the kids to focus on their homework—no screaming, pouting, or bribery involved.

Be a study buddy.

“Remember how much more fun it was to be in a study group in college or high school? You can be your child’s study buddy. Plan 30 minutes a day when you sit at the kitchen table and work together. Your child can do homework and you can catch up on work you brought home, write out shopping lists, or do whatever it is you can get done in a half hour. Your child can continue on if needed after you’ve finished, but getting started is always the hardest part.” —Tracey Hecht, a New York City mom of one

Let them run off their excess energy first.

“I make sure my kids have an hour or so of play time outside with their friends right when they get home. Another mom once told me that because they’re cooped up so long in a classroom each day, trying to obey all the classroom rules, kids need some time to let off steam when they get home. This is especially helpful for our son, who seems to be better able to focus on homework after he has run around with his buddies.” —Erin Myers, a Baltimore mom of two

Use fun props.

“On the days when my 7-year-old daughter is feeling less eager to get her homework done, I’ve found it helpful to incorporate fun bits of home life into homework. For example, learning subtraction with M&Ms or using her alphabet puzzle to help learn alphabetization makes it feel less frustrating and more fun.” —Larissa Pickens, a New York City mom of one

Get out of the house when you can.

“I alternate where my kids do their homework and I find it helps keep them motivated. For example, on certain days we go to the children’s section of the local library. The result: Inspiration from other children doing homework!” —Melva E. Pinn-Bingham, a Chesapeake, VA, mom of three

Create a kid-friendly workspace.

“A homework station is a low-tech solution that cuts down on clutter, time and waste. It’s a one-stop-shop to find what you need, when you need it. In our home, the kitchen table is our family hub. It’s the spot where my daughters do their homework each evening and we use magazine holders for activity books, library books and homework sorting and pencil cases to keep supplies separated but contained.” —Rachel Rosenthal, a Washington, D.C., mom of twins

Set a timer.

“When one of my kids starts complaining about how long their homework will take, I set a timer for 15 minutes, and tell that child to work as hard as he or she can until the timer goes off. More often than not, the dreaded homework assignment is finished in less than 15 minutes. Then I get to point out that they spent more time complaining about the homework than it took to just do their homework!” —Maureen Paschal, a Charlotte, NC, mom of four

 

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

Choosing A Pediatrician: What New Moms Need To Know

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Whether you’re a first time mom or recently relocated for work, choosing a pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during your child’s early life. They’ll help guide you through those worrisome early days when it feels like you’re doing everything wrong, reassure you, and patch your child up when things get a little bumpy.

But how do you choose a pediatrician if you don’t have a team of fellow moms to help you out? These 4 simple guidelines can help you determine if you’ve found the right fit.

Observe The Office

As with most places, you can tell a lot about a doctor by looking at their office. That means if you walk into a practice and things are dirty or look old, that’s an immediate warning sign. Similarly, you should avoid offices that are still clinging to paper records rather than transitioning to electronic medical records.

Offices that use electronic records make fewer mistakes because doctors don’t have to interpret illegible handwriting and all records are immediately on-hand and searchable. It also makes it easier for your pediatrician to collaborate with other specialists.

Of course, it’s not just the technology you should be evaluating; décor matters too. Beware of waiting room couches and other hard to clean furniture. Out of date, repeatedly photocopied paperwork is also a warning sign, as are old toys and poor office signage. If you can’t find the practice because it lacks a legible sign, has signage featuring former doctors’ names, or has a sign that’s old and peeling, keep moving. Doctors who are invested in their practice care about little details like having quality signage and a clean, welcoming office space. Simply put, a great pediatrician can see the big picture.

Talk Philosophy

First time parents often think pediatricians are primarily there to offer medical advice, but their role is greater than that. That’s why it’s important to talk about parenting philosophy with potential pediatricians before settling on one. For example, some pediatricians feel very strongly about working mothers, while others are very encouraging and know a lot about local childcare programs. Similarly, some are emphatically pro-breast feeding and will put a lot of pressure on mothers to breastfeed, while others are more nutrition-focused.

If specific issues like returning to work or nursing are concerns for you, raise them with potential pediatricians from the start. A great pediatrician will support your choices while emphasizing safety and healthy child development. Leaving your kids with their grandparents while you work? Many pediatricians support family-based care, but know that older relatives might be out of the loop on proper childcare practices. The right physician will help you address these concerns productively and even offer to meet with grandparents, while one whose values don’t match yours may warn you away from your choice without discussing it.

Support From Specialists

While most children will thrive regardless of their pediatrician, children with specialized health needs may need equally special support. Finding a pediatrician in your area who has the appropriate training, then, is absolutely vital. In fact, it could become a lifelong relationship, as has been Jeff Vetor’s experience.

Vetor has a condition known as pulmonary stenosis, but like many people with childhood diseases, as well as those with developmental and intellectual disabilities, he continues to see his pediatrician, as few doctors are trained to handle what was formerly a life-limiting condition. As more people survive these conditions into later adulthood, though, we may see a greater capacity among general practitioners to handle congenital health issues previously restricted to specialized pediatricians.

Rejection Criteria

Finally, but importantly, you’ll want to discuss patient rejection criteria with any potential pediatrician. Some pediatricians have a few basic rules, such as not seeing unvaccinated patients, while others have less structured rules like rejecting patients whose parents are especially difficult. Just remember that when you’re interviewing pediatricians, they’re also interviewing you.

You may not have a mommy network to guide you through the pediatrician selection process, but that doesn’t mean you’re totally alone. With the amount of information on the internet today and a few smart questions, you can find the right doctor for your family. But start early – it can take a while to go through the interview process. You’re making a big decision.

 

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.

How I Finally Got My Kids to Eat Their Veggies—and Like It

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I used to stand in front of the blender so they couldn’t see. Sautéed zucchini, red and yellow peppers, spinach—I’d throw it all in there quickly with the tomato sauce and breathe a sigh of relief when the crunching would stop and the swirling would begin. Meanwhile, my boys (4 and 6 at the time) would play with their Legos on the kitchen table none the wiser. Sure, I could openly put some veggies on the table (exactly two: broccoli and carrots), but that never felt like enough.

Then one day, a letter came home from my son’s kindergarten PE teacher announcing a nutrition challenge she called Strive for Five. Based on the National Cancer Institute’s recommendation to eat five servings of fruits or vegetables each day, all kindergarten classes would compete to eat at least three servings (but aim for five) of fruits or vegetables a day to celebrate National Nutrition Month in March. All the parents got a handy calendar so we could keep track. The reward? The kindergarten class with the most servings got to choose an activity for PE.

That night, as my husband and I were munching on potato chips on the couch, I remembered that the letter said that the challenge might help parents eat better, too. That promise that we’d start eating a Mediterranean diet this year hadn’t really been working out.

“What do you think if we all did the challenge?” I said.

After my husband finished his delicate, crispy, so-salty-it-sings potato chip, he wiped his hands and said he was all for it. He reminded me that March is the beginning of Greek lent, when he cuts out meat and dairy for 40 days. If I wanted, I could join him, too. Over breakfast the next day, we told the kids that we’re all going to get in on the competition.

“Even me?” said the four-year-old.

“Yes, even you,” I said.

“But what do we get?” my kindergartner asked. I told the boys that, just like the school reward, we could do an activity of their choice for a day. The outing could be anything they wanted, within reason, like going to the aquarium or the science museum or the arcade (read: family time).

The boys grabbed some magic markers and decorated their calendars with pictures and added their names. I posted them on the fridge at eye level so they could easily mark them up every day. They boys were so excited, they wanted to start that day, but I told them they’d have to wait until March 1.

While the idea seemed perfect for our family, because we’re naturally a little competitive (my husband even told the boys, “I’m going to destroy you!”), I honestly didn’t think my kids would follow through. Take our attempt at chore lists. They got tired of being asked to do a chore and mark up their magnetic chart, and I got tired of asking them. My boys were certainly acting excited about the fruit and veggie challenge, but I thought maybe at the end they’d forgo the veggies and focus only on fruit (they eat fruit like I eat chips). Or they’d give up altogether.

But amazingly, they totally owned it.

“Does this count as a serving?” the boys would ask me, nearly every day. Five broccoli florets, check. Four raw carrots, check. Spinach with garlic, check! Two spoonfuls of sautéed mushrooms, absolutely check! Toward the end, my kindergartner even discovered the joy of salad sprinkled generously with vinegar. The boys totally motivated us, too; my husband and I were finally eating like we were in the Mediterranean. Every time the boys marked up their chart, they grinned, as if they were getting away with something. Little did they know I thought I was getting away with something, too.

It may have worked because they could take care of their own chart. Or maybe they had the arcade in mind, but I also think they had a chance to outshine their parents every day. When do kids get to do that? When my kindergartner was tallying up his servings for the day, he’d also count up everyone else’s. “Ha! I have… 7 and Daddy has only 5!” Every week or so, he’d add up everyone’s total servings for the month so far, just to see who was pulling ahead (math skills!).

My little one, I must admit, fell off the wagon toward the end. In the last week, he started saying “I don’t care if I win,” with chocolate on his cheek. But my kindergartner cared very much, and during the month he started reading nutrition labels on almost everything we ate (“Mom, this orange juice is good for you. It has no sodium!” he even said to me).

On the last day, my kindergartner and my husband were neck and neck. “You’re totally going down!” my husband said to him at breakfast. After our boy left the room, I whispered to my husband that maybe we could let him win, just this once. “He’s come so far, and he totally deserves it,” I said. He just smiled at me.

At the arcade, our boys shot up dinosaurs as my husband and I sipped on our coffee, thinking we were totally owning this parenting thing. My kindergartner’s class won the competition at school, too. Mostly, my kids’ good eating habits stuck around after March. They do eat more veggies than they did before the challenge, but I’m not above mashing sweet potato into pancake batter.

 

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