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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Fishing for Crackers

Fishing for CrackersSpruce up snack time with this easy, healthy and fun snack!

Ingredients:

  • Carrot sticks
  • A bowl of hummus or veggie dip
  • Goldfish crackers

Dunk the carrots into the hummus or dip. Then put some goldfish crackers on a plate and use the carrot stick to “catch” the crackers.

Superhero Green Smoothie

In a hurry? This sweet green juice has lots of vitamins and makes a good pre-practice dinner or a great breakfast. Use a blender or juicer to combine the ingredients into a quick, healthy meal.

Smoothie

  • 1 handful kale
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 pear, cut into small pieces
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced into small pieces
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup strawberries or raspberries
  • Juice from 1 lemon (or ½ an unpeeled lemon if you are using a juicer)

If your children have a strong aversion to anything green, you can use more strawberries or raspberries or add some blueberries.

Ten Little Ways to Say I Love You

Telling your children you love them is one of the best things you can do as a parent, but showing your children you love them is also important. Here are ten ways to show you care.

  1. Write a note to your little one. It can be a simple note that says “I love you,” just something to let your child know you’re thinking about her. Put the note in her lunchbox, under her pillow or in a place where only she will look.Father and Son Hug
  2. Say yes to an unusual request. Did your child request donuts and ice cream for dinner? Does he want to wear his pajamas all day? Relax the rules occasionally.
  3. Keep a record. Recording your child’s early days in a baby book or journal can be a great way to remember all the wonderful little things he does. You can also share this keepsake with him when he’s older.
  4. Listen to her stories. Stop what you’re doing and listen to her recap her day or a recount a game she played with a friend. This simple gesture helps you stay connected with your child.
  5. Ask questions. When your child talks to you, engage her and ask follow-up questions. Creating a dialogue can show her that you’re truly interested in her world and what she has to say.
  6. Share your stories. Your child is just as curious about you as you are about him. Talk to him about what you did for fun when you were his age, or tell him about your first day of school.
  7. Ask her to play her favorite songs. If you’re in the car or at home, ask your child which songs she would like to hear, why she likes that particular type of music or where she first heard the songs. This is a fun, easy way to find out what makes her tick while showing her that you’re interested.
  8. Start a daily tradition. Read a story at bedtime, have an after-school chat or play a game every day to ensure that you two have a special bonding time.
  9. Display her doodles and drawings. Your child pours her heart into every piece of artwork she makes. Hanging up these creations at home or in your office can encourage her creativity while showing your child how important she is to you.
  10. Show him how to do things. If your child wants to know how to bake cookies, teach him. If he asks how to inflate a bike tire, walk him through the process. Your child will remember and cherish those lessons.

Positive Solutions for Discipline

Guest Post
by Patricia Zauflik, M.Ed

Knowing your child’s abilities and limitations is extremely important. Expecting too much or too little can be frustrating for you and your child, so try to keep your expectations realistic! Use logical consequences when disciplining your children. Logical consequences are an alternative to punishment, and they need to be practical and consistently enforced. These consequences help children learn how they are expected to behave. For example, you might remove an item a child throws at a sibling, or if two siblings are fighting, you could send them to separate rooms to play. The children lose the privilege of playing with an item or with each other!

Try to plan ahead and anticipate what your children may do or need in various situations. Plan to set your children up for a successful experience. Hope for the best, but always have a backup plan. Boy

Most children are not born with a built-in ability to make decisions and accept the consequences. Learning to take responsibility for their actions requires lots of support and practice. A good way to help your children develop these skills is to offer limited, reasonable choices throughout the day, such as when your children are dressing, having a bath, eating snacks, watching TV, cleaning up and getting ready for bedtime. For example, you could ask, “Do you want to wear the red shirt or blue shirt to school tomorrow?” or “Do you want one minute or two minutes to finish playing before getting ready for your bath?”

Another strategy is to use first-then statements. A first-then statement tells your children what they need to do before doing something that they want to do. For example, you might say, “First put on your shoes, and then you can go outside,” or “First clean up your toys, and then you can have a snack.”

Redirection can also provide guidance to children and prevent them from misbehaving. By interrupting a challenging behavior and physically or verbally redirecting your child to another activity, you can engage your child in a more appropriate practice. For example, if your child is playing in the sink and splashing water all over the bathroom, you may choose to gently move the child away from the sink and toward the toys in your child’s room, or you could verbally distract the child and provide an alternate activity. For example, you might say, “Let’s go upstairs and read one of your new library books.”

Remember to give your child specific, positive attention for the behaviors you want to see and teach your child what to do!

Tips for Your Baby’s First Days

Your baby’s first days can be quite an adjustment, especially since you might not be getting enough sleep. Remember to do the following:

  • Sleep when your baby sleeps;
  • Keep scheduled activities to a minimum. Settling into a schedule with a new baby takes time;
  • Accept help when it is offered. You can’t do everything yourself, and that’s okay;
  • Leave baby with a trusted family member or friend so you can get a few minutes to yourself;
  • Eat properly and drink lots of water. Taking care of yourself will give you the energy you need to take care of your newborn;
  • Let non-essential household chores wait. Give yourself a little leeway and enjoy your baby’s first days;
  • Set limits with visitors. This may mean insisting that visitors wash their hands before holding your baby or asking anyone who is ill not to visit until he or she feels better. Also, let friends and loved ones know the best times to visit and how much or how little time you have for these visits.

Long Days, Short Years: Enjoy Them While You Can

by Michael Petrucelli, on-site owner of The Goddard School located in Darien, IL
As seen in Suburban Life Magazine

“Long days, short years.” How true these words are for parents. Several years ago, a mom with college age children said those words to me, and they resonate with me every day as a father, and as the owner of a preschool.

Family 03_jpgBeing a parent is one of the most challenging and most rewarding things we can experience in life. We are so busy trying to be the best parent we can be (while fulfilling our other obligations to work, family, and the community) that we may lose sight of how precious every moment with our children can be. It isn’t always easy to muster the energy to read a book with your child as part of a goodnight ritual after a long day. It isn’t always easy to take it a step slower at the store so that your children can look around and explore. It isn’t always easy to go outside after dinner to practice baseball or soccer with your children. It isn’t always easy, but it is always important.

My son is nearly twelve, my oldest daughter is nearly eleven, and my youngest daughter is eight. I remember the day each was born like it was yesterday. Along the journey, there have been plenty of sleepless nights filled with worry, illnesses, bumps and bruises, spills and messes, and emotional outbursts (not just by the kids), as parts of many long days. I have been fortunate to have been able to spend quality time with my children: just hanging out, coaching their sports teams, projects that always took extra time with my “helpers,” family dinners.

I remember a Saturday morning about two years ago though. I woke up to spend the day with my children, like we usually do. I was informed that everyone had a play date. I didn’t know what to do! This meant that the two-hour project I had to do, would only take two hours, and not three because my children wanted to “help.” It meant that I could sit down and read the newspapers without interruption. It didn’t feel good at first because it seemed like a very long day without them, but then I remembered that it is all a part of our journey through life together.

Keep all of this in mind as summer approaches. The “long” days of summer present extra opportunities to spend quality time with your children. Take a walk to a park or playground. Run around in the yard and play hide and seek or tag. Plant a vegetable garden, and check on the progress all summer. Visit the zoo, walk around a local town to explore, or find a nature preserve to visit. If the kids wake up early on Saturday or Sunday, rather than setting them in front of the TV, go for a walk or a run with them, or make a special breakfast together. We used to live not far from a small pond that we could pass by during a run. I would load up the double jog stroller with two of my children. We would bring bread, and I would stop our run so we could feed the ducks. We would then set back on our trek that was always filled with new things to see and discuss.

So when you are a little late getting out of the house because your son or daughter needs to say goodbye to the fish, or because they forgot a mitten, or your children wake up early on Saturday morning and want to play; try to cherish how long the days are, because the years are short.

Diving into Dad Duties: Five Tips For New Dads

Fatherhood is a profound, wonderful journey full of moments that you will cherish for a lifetime. Here are five tips for dads who are new to the experience.

  1. Master the art of diapering. Diapering is part of Fatherhood 101. Changing a diaper is a simple Get%20Set%20Girl%20and%20Father_jpgway to help keep your baby happy while bonding with your baby.
  2. Work as a team to handle baby duties. You and your spouse are a team, so try to share all the responsibilities. Make sure to help out when your partner is tired or busy.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. When you’re part of a team, communication is key. If you’re going to be late coming home from work, call your partner. If you’re not sure how to handle a baby-related task, ask someone. Opening the lines of communication can work wonders.
  4. Be patient. Fatherhood isn’t an exact science, so remember that becoming the best dad you can be takes time. Enjoy those moments when you’re still figuring things out and remember to laugh.
  5. Take care of yourself. Being a good dad means being there for your child. Make sure you are staying healthy and avoiding unnecessary risks. Exercise, watch your diet and drive carefully.

Playful Parenting: Fun Activities for Newborns

Like all children, babies learn best by having fun. Here are some simple, play-based activities you can do with your infant to help him or her develop motor and learning skills.

  • Encourage tummy time. Tummy time is good exercise and allows your baby to practiceInfant_jpg
    moving. Lie your baby on her stomach and put one or two colorful toys in front of her or around her;
  • Read. Besides being an excellent bonding activity, reading to your newborn also prepares him for reading on his own and introduces him to shapes, letters and colors;
  • Talk to your baby. Simply chatting to your baby about whatever you’re doing keeps her entertained and helps to establish a foundation for language development;
  • Play with toys. Playing with age-appropriate toys helps your newborn exercise his sense of touch. Babies especially enjoy toys with different textures, such as crinkly fabric, satin and velvet.

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Secure

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

Feeling Secure, Included, Respected, Important and Accepted

According to Dr. Newmark, the fifth critical emotional need of children is the need to feel secure. Helping children feel secure means creating a positive environment where people care about one another and show it, express themselves, listen to others, accept differences, resolve conflicts constructively, provide structure and rules so that children to feel safe and protected and give children opportunities to participate in their own growth and the evolution of their family.

These important elements contribute to children’s sense of security:

  • Their Parents’ Relationship – When parents bicker, treat each other without respect and rarely show affection for each other, children experience anxiety and insecurity. If couples treated each other with the five emotional needs in mind, they would be better role models for their children.
  • A Caring, Affectionate Environment – Ob­serving affection between their parents and receiving affection from them is very important to children’s sense of security. The beginning and ending of the day, week, month and year present opportunities for regular demonstrations of affection toward your children. Remember to take care of yourself, too.
  • Traditions and Rituals – Establishing traditions and rituals for family celebrations and participating in family activities give children a sense of stability and security.
  • Their Parents’ Anxiety – Overprotective and excessively controlling parents often produce insecure, uptight, anxious children who carry some of these hang-ups and anxieties into adulthood.
  • Discipline – Children need structure to feel secure. Establish rules and consequences together. Avoid creating ambiguous expectations, implementing too many rules, creating inappropriate or excessive consequences, being inconsistent with the consequences and using physical punishment.
  • Self-Discipline – Encourage self-discipline so your children develop it. Allow your children to explore and experience the consequences of their actions. This way, they learn to anticipate negative consequences and exercise self-control to avoid them. If their parents are too controlling, children don’t have this opportunity.

Children need freedom as much as they need control. Being too protective can result in intimidated or rebellious children. Our goals are to protect them so they don’t suffer from their im­pulses and inexperience and to give them enough freedom to grow into confident, self-reliant, thoughtful, independent, caring and civic-minded individuals. Growing up in a positive and stable environment contributes to a child’s sense of security.

Satisfying children’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”

Click here to read article one in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Respected.”

Click here to read article two in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Important.”

Click here to read article three in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Accepted.”

Click here to read article four in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Included.”

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Included

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

Feeling Included, Respected, Important,  Accepted and Secure

Feeling included is the fourth critical emotional need of children. They need to feel like they belong, they are a part of things, they are connected to other people and they have a sense of community. Children join cliques, clubs and teams to satisfy their need to belong.

People who do things together feel closer to one another. Family activities offer a way to become closer, have fun, learn and contribute to the happiness of others. Identifying strongly with the family unit makes children more resistant to negative outside influences and more open to positive role models within the family. Obviously, we can’t include children in everything, but we need to make a conscious effort to include our children when we decide on family activities. This way, the activities will that appeal to everyone. Regularly repeated activities can become traditions that further satisfy a child’s need to feel included and secure.

Including children in your work life has multiple benefits. Describe your work environment, your job duties, your co-workers and your feelings about your work and your fellow workers. If possible, take them to work and encourage them to ask questions and give their opinions. If you work at home or have your own business, introduce them to clients and co-workers and let them do some work for you and with you.

Communication is another key tool for helping children feel included.  Parent-child communications are often brief, dull or haphazard.  Consequently, despite their best intentions, caring parents may have little understanding of what their children are thinking or feeling. Meanwhile, children often feel misunderstood and puzzled by their parents’ actions and frustrated by what they feel are attempts to control and overprotect them. The challenge for parents is to move from sporadic, brief interchanges to a sustained and substantive dialogue. Family meetings and feedback sessions provide the settings and contexts for this dialogue to happen. These sessions should take place at a regular time. Let everyone share their thoughts and feelings and discuss how everyone feels the family is doing, how individuals are doing and what your family could be doing differently and better. Make a conscious decision to include children in choices, discussions and decisions in their everyday lives.

Next time we’ll address the need to feel secure.

Did your parents read to you every night or begin and end each day with a warm hug?

If you’ve divorced, do you ever say bad things about your children’s other parent? Are you cordial to each other in your children’s presence? Have you explained what happened without blaming the other parent and emphasized that the divorce was not the children’s fault?

Satisfying children’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”

Click here to read article one in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Respected.”

Click here to read article two in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Important.”

Click here to read article three in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Accepted.”