Games and More Games

Gone are the days when we see children play hop scotch, tag, or any fun filled games on the streets. Due to technology, most kids are at home with their computers playing video games. Even 2 year olds can play games with their gadgets. When you think about it, sure, it’s cool. However, it has negative effects such as poor eyesight, headaches, etc.

Playing online games can make your child feel cool, but, hey, let’s not forget the classic games that entertain and at the same time prevent children from wearing eye glasses!

Here are the top 2 games for children 3-5 years old:

1. Puzzles

Puzzles help children sharpen their memories: where a piece fits or what part of the picture they should place it in. It also improves problem solving and strategic skills in finishing the puzzle such as grouping pieces of the same color.

2. Pretend Play Toys

Unleash your child’s imagination by giving him or her toy props for playing doctor, dentist, carpenter or geologist. Let your tot experience what it feels like to be a “professional”. Give him or her a stethoscope and let them play as a doctor or maybe even a patient. You can even ask them things like which medicine to take and for some medical “advice.” Have them set up a pretend store… a great way for them to start learning basic math.

Let them get excited! You can join them by going to the garden and plant some stuff like fake bones, jewellery toys or coins under the soil. Allow them to dig until they find it! Through this, they can have a sense of fulfillment in uncovering something on their own.
Spending quality time with your children is important. It can affect all aspects in their life, especially their emotional and psychological growth. Playing with them is an assurance that you are there for them and you support them every step of the way.

Green Thumb for Toddlers

Instilling our kids with an appreciation of nature at an early age is such a gift. I do not really think I’m endowed with a green thumb and I admire those who have one. Imagine being able to nurture a seed until it grows to something majestic! I just love the idea that at any age, no matter how young or old, one has a capability to contribute to Mother Nature’s works!

Now how do we start this with our children? Start by choosing plants that would have a purpose in the household – for example, the plants which can be medicinal, used in cooking or baking. Most of all, the ones with scents that they would really like.

A favorite is rosemary. Help your young folk re-pot the seedlings into a planter. Let them write down the “birthday” of their plant and give it a name. Be creative!

Have them water the plant and remove tiny insects which might harm the plant. Let them keep a diary for the plant as it grows – as days, weeks and months pass. They will see how much it has grown and how beautiful it is.

Finally, assign a time to harvest. With rosemary, you can bake focaccia – the easiest bread to bake and one of the most delicious. Let your kids carefully cut a few sprigs and – of course – participate in the baking of the bread.


And, as a final touch, you can also make an entry on when your plant gave back. A sort of graduation from being a seedling into something that has given their share into making a good memory; as being a part of a family activity!

Enjoy!

Chores and Play

We sometimes tend to overlook the lessons and joys in simple everyday life.  There are so many things to discover in seemingly mundane chores  Little things that can boosts the confidence and help hone skills of your tot.  This burst of discovery, especially in their toddler years will become the foundation where they can draw good memories from, and serve as an assurance that they are doing well.

Here are 3 examples of chores that can help make a younger child feel like a contributing member of the family while showing that chores can be fun.

The first one is making the bed.  This takes very little time and can teach them how easy it is to keep a neat room.  They can be assigned to help fluff and puff the pillows.  They can also be the ones who will tidy up the corners.  Another advantage to this task is the teamwork it takes to fold the very large blankets.  Pepper this with words of encouragement as it would help them understand how important they are in doing the task.


Second activity: organizing the drawers.  They can be given the t-shirts to fold or the pairs of socks to roll up.  And, as an added source of learning – you can have the pieces grouped into colors or functions.  In that way, they can also appreciate relating common things as a way to initiate learning Math and also Abstract Reasoning.
The third and most fun activity is washing the car.  Whether they’re old enough to help with the family car or follow along with a toy car or even a bicycle, they’ll feel like they’re contributing and of course, what’s a car wash without a hose fight breaking out?


Kids love to imitate siblings and adults so why not include them in household tasks at an early age and help them
develop good habits at an early age.

Children and Photography

Creating a good photo doesn’t mean you have to be a photographer and do it in closed doors with colorful backgrounds, lights and props. Sometimes, it’s much nicer to be in the natural setting, with the sun as your light or trees as your props. You just have to be creative in delivering a good set of pictures that will make you want to look back every now and then.

Children are a very good subject. Parents want to take thousands of pictures of their kids because they grow up so quickly, from having their first tooth to learning how to walk and next thing you know, they already know how to bike. As they say, time goes by so fast, and you wouldn’t want to miss a single moment of it.

Childhood plays an important role for everyone; you can immortalize your child’s growth through pictures.

Here are some tips for parents in photographing children:

1. Be prepared

See to it that your camera is always ready for a click because you’ll never know when children can be so irresistibly cute. They may be giving you tantrums for a minute and next thing you know they can give you the sweetest smile you’ll ever see and you don’t want to miss that.

2. Let them be the boss

Some parents direct their children on how to pose or smile, but let them be the boss and you will see how they can creatively give you amazing pictures. If they want to make fancy expressions, let them.  Its much nicer to see a real weird expression than a fake smile.

3. Be Candid

There is nothing more gratifying than seeing your child do what she/he loves.  Go to school activities, discover that he’s the best dancer in class or watch his basketball game… know his style in shooting hoops.

Time Capsule Storybook

Take the chance to create a Time Capsule Storybook for your child.  Having this time capsule storybook will be a discovery for them – a treasure to have when they reach milestone moments in their lives.

Imagine, if you were able to work on this project – for example, being able to document their first year of life in the most creative and endearing way – the moment you give them this treasure when they turn 7 or maybe 13 or 21 years of age they will be amazed at how much they have grown.  They will realize how important they are to you – they will treasure this as a token of your love for them.

 

To begin, decide why you want to create the Time Capsule Storybook.  You have to discern which tokens or which things will signify, embrace and capture the period of life that you want to document.  For example, if you would like to document their toddler years – you can go for pictures, drawings, first time to have their hair cut – a lock of their hair… a stamp of their first walking shoe, a stamp of their hand on a page…anything that can possibly signify that point of their life!

 

After deciding which tokens you will go after – decide now how to keep them.  It can be a two-dimensional medium – like a scrapbook.  Or, it can be a box of keepsakes with letters about them and their history.  If you are leaning more toward a picture-loving parent – the scrapbook would be best.  If you are easily attached to their baby clothes – a box would be better.

Having these put together in an organized way – or in a spontaneous way – is just half the fun.  When you finally are able to complete the tokens – you must find a place that they cannot access.  Just in case, they found the box or the scrapbook before the date that you would like them to have it – no worries! Even if they discover it before the right time – just the thought that you were preparing this would be more than enough to show how much you love them.

Before You Grow Up

Ever have one of those epiphanies about your kid, the one where you realize that your baby is not “little” anymore — and is, in fact, well on his way to adulthood? Here are 10 things you should teach your baby before he or she grows up :)

1.  Be kind. To each other and to yourself. Smile. Be generous. One kind word can create a ripple effect that might change the way people around you feel today. If we could all remember to do this, imagine what the world would be like. (And yes, that means being kind to the girls in your class, too.)

2. Take responsibility for your actions. This is one of the toughest things to do in life. It’s hard (and humbling) to admit you’ve made a mistake, done something wrong or hurt someone. But being able to ‘fess up is one of the keys to being a strong, brave person.  Remember, it’s impossible to change without first taking responsibility.

3. Find something to do that you’re passionate about. The fact is that we spend most of our lives working. If it’s possible to find something you love to do every day, you’ve won half the battle.

4. ”You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.”James Lehman.

Sometimes it takes more courage to walk away — or to not fight at all — than it does to throw a punch or say something cutting and cruel. You have the ability to decide for yourself whether to join a fight. You have the power not to join it, as well.

5. Positive thoughts get you much farther than negative ones. If you want to accomplish anything in life, telling yourself you can’t do it won’t help. Life isn’t always easy, but being positive (and surrounding yourself with positive people) can help you take the leap necessary to start living your dreams.

6. If you’re not trying, you’re not living. I don’t mean that you have to win at everything or be the best at everything, necessarily. Trying means you’re doing your best and not holding back — not coasting through life. When you look back, it always feels good if you can say, “I tried my best.”

7. Being popular is not the same thing as having friends. True friends are the people who will be loyal to you no matter what, and who care about what happens to you. They’re happy when good things happen to you and listen to you when you’re going through a hard time. Being popular might feel good, but it’s fleeting. Good friends will be with you for a lifetime.

8. Your uniqueness is a strength. Maybe you don’t like the same things everyone else does. Maybe you don’t learn the same way, or see things the same way, either. That’s okay. Keep doing what you love to do. What makes you unique is also what will give you strength in life.

9. Don’t be afraid to hug. I’ve found that men who are able to hug and show affection are strong and feel comfortable in their own skins.

10. Everyone makes mistakes — even Mom and Dad. We are not perfect by any means, and we don’t know the answers to every question. Parents make mistakes, but they love you and are trying their best every day to get it right.

When Parenting is Tiring

Let’s be real. Even though you love your children, there are days when you’re just plain tired of parenting. Look at it this way: How many parents wake EVERY morning thinking, “I can’t wait to get to work!!” Just like with a job, there are going to be days when we feel like burrowing in and pulling the covers over our heads as parents. And think about it — how many parents actually have a designated day off?

I don’t know why we’re surprised or feel guilty about not wanting to parent on certain days. The fifth call from school about your child in two weeks is enough to send anyone off the deep end.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to call someone somewhere and say: “Nope, I’m not going to parent today, I’m sick and tired of it!”  Think of all the confrontations you could avoid until you’re mentally and emotionally ready for them!

So what can we do to help ourselves when we’re in this exhausted, “I-need-a-break” place? First off, if you find yourself in the frame of mind where you’re not liking your child or wishing he was somewhere else for the time being, try not to judge yourself. As much as we love our kids, we all have moments when we would like to take a break from parenting. Recognize it for what it is: frustration with our child’s current behavior and often, just plain physical or mental exhaustion.

I think we also need to accept the fact that we are human. We need to forgive ourselves for not being 100% all the time. How many of us like anyone in our life all the time? The point is, most of us don’t like to eat the same food every night.  We don’t like moving the same smelly shoes every morning to avoid tripping on them or scrubbing the toothpaste out of the sink, again. But just remember, it’s very easy to forget that it’s the behavior you don’t like, not the whole person.

In spite of all of this, it would be nice to remind yourself  how much you’ll miss it all when your children are grown and out of the house.  The house will be clean, the food will still be in the refrigerator, and life will be quiet and peaceful.  But these are who your children are. Focus on their positive characteristics, not their shortcomings, and on your own reactivity as parents.  They may not put their dishes in the dishwasher every time, but they may successfully clean their biology equipment at school.


We all know childhood is fleeting, and most of us are grateful that adolescence does end.  But that doesn’t mean that we can always be the loving, wonderful parents we want to be all the time. We need to be forgiving and gentle with ourselves on those days when we want a time out.

 

Dodging your Child’s Excuses

The truth is, most kids make excuses for their behavior.  This is normal, and something that a lot of adults do as well.  Maybe your child always has a reason why he did (or didn’t do) something. But remember, if your child doesn’t feel as if anything is his fault and blames everyone else, then he doesn’t ever have to take on the responsibility of changing his behavior.

For parents, constant excuses can be downright infuriating.  We have here a 3-step process that shows how you can handle this behavior:


1. Name it.  In order to best handle this behavior, it’s going to be most effective if you directly state what it is that your child is doing.  Let me give an example of how this might be used. Say your son starts playing video games every day after school instead of doing homework.  You set up a homework structure with him where he can earn video game time after his homework is complete.   He still keeps playing video games with his friends instead of doing his homework, saying something like, “Well, I always play with Tommy, and he can’t play later, and if I wait until I’m done with my homework, I’m not going to have anyone to play with.” Instead of lecturing him for the 100th time about the importance of doing well in school, try saying: “It sounds like you’re blaming Tommy for you choosing not to follow the rule around homework.”

2. Restate the rule or the expectation.  Again, you’re going to be most effective if you do not give your child a lecture; rather, simply state what your house rule is around the behavior you are seeing.  Using the above example, you might say, “The rule is, you get to play video games after your homework is done.”


3. Problem solve with your child about next time.  When everyone is calm, we recommend having a problem-solving conversation with your child about what he or she will do differently to follow the rule next time.  Remember, it’s more effective to focus on how your child is going to take responsibility rather than argue about whose fault it is, or isn’t.  The parent in this example might say “Blaming others isn’t going to fix this for you.  What are you going to do differently tomorrow to make sure you are following the rules around video games and homework?”

Keep in mind, making excuses just means that your child is human, not that he’s a bad kid or that she’s never going to be able to be responsible.  Using these tips can help develop that sense of accountability for his or her actions.

 

A Different Approach on Chores

One of the toughest parenting tasks is to get your kids to do their chores.  Let’s face it: for most kids, chores are just not on their radar.  You can’t make a 10-year-old commit to taking out the trash and set it as his or her priority. And it just seems to turn out to be harder and harder as your child enters his or her teenage years.

So, what’s a parent to do?  Most parents have discovered that nagging and lectures just aren’t effective.  Why not try a totally different tactic?  Simple appreciation. You read that correctly.

Have you ever seen an office poster or school poster that said:

 “Actions that are recognized and rewarded will be repeated”

What a great saying.  But look at it closely.  Notice that it doesn’t just say positive actions. It means any type of action – positive OR negative.

If you reward your child for whining by giving him what he wants, that negative action will be repeated. If you reward your daughter by ignoring her breaking a rule, that action will be repeated as well. Similarly, if you allow a child to slide by on an assigned chore without consequences, that action will happen as well.

But if you come home and thank your son sincerely for unloading the dishwasher, compliment him on how nice the front lawn looks, and tell your daughter how proud you are that she has kept her room clean for the last few days, how likely is it that these positive actions will be repeated?

You might even take it a step further. Why not reward chores done well with surprises like a weekend trip to the movies, staying up a little bit late, or other unexpected treats. Everyone likes a little surprise now and then – you’d be surprised at how much more cheerfully kids will do their chores when you just show them a little appreciation!

Imposing Discipline Correctly

Children do not always do what parents want. When a child misbehaves, the parent must decide how to respond. All children need rules and expectations to help them learn appropriate behavior. How does a parent teach a child the rules and, when those rules are broken, what should parents do?

Parents should begin by talking to each other about how they want to handle discipline and establish the rules. It is important to view discipline as teaching not punishment. Learning to follow rules keeps a child safe and helps him or her learn the difference between right and wrong.

Once rules have been established, parents should explain to the child that broken rules carry consequences. For example, “Here are the rules. When you follow the rules, this will happen and if you break a rule, this is what will happen.” Parents and the child should decide together what the rewards and consequences will be. Parents should always acknowledge and offer positive reinforcement and support when their child follows the rules. Parents must also follow through with an appropriate consequence when the child breaks a rule. Consistency and predictability are the cornerstones of discipline and praise is the most powerful reinforcer of learning.

Children learn from experience. Having logical consequences for misbehavior helps them learn that they are accountable for their actions, without damaging their self-esteem. For example, if children are fighting over the television, computer or a video game, turn it off.  If a child spills milk at the dinner table while fooling around, have the child clean it up. Some behaviors have natural consequences.  For example, a teenager who stays up too late may suffer the natural consequences of being tired the next day. Another type of consequence that can be effective is the suspension or delay of a privilege.  For example, if a child breaks the rule about where they can go on their bike, take away the bike for a few days. When a child does not do chores, he or she cannot do something special like spend the night with a friend or rent a movie.

There are different styles and approaches to parenting. Research shows that effective parents raise well-adjusted children who are more self-reliant, self-controlled, and positively curious than children raised by parents who are punitive, overly strict (authoritarian), or permissive. Effective parents operate on the belief that both the child and the parent have certain rights and that the needs of both are important. Effective parents don’t need to use physical force to discipline the child, but are more likely to set clear rules and explain why these rules are important. Effective parents reason with their children and consider the youngsters’ points of views even though they may not agree with them.

The following are tips for effective discipline:

  • Trust your child to do the right thing within the limits of your child’s age and stage of development.
  • Make sure what you ask for is reasonable.
  • Speak to your child as you would want to be spoken to if someone were reprimanding you. Don’t resort to name-calling, yelling, or disrespect.
  • Be clear about what you mean. Be firm and specific.
  • Model positive behavior. “Do as I say, not as I do” seldom works.
  • Allow for negotiation and flexibility, which can help build your child’s social skills.
  • Let your child experience the consequences of his behavior.
  • Whenever possible, consequences should be delivered immediately, should relate to the rule broken, and be short enough in duration that you can move on again to emphasize the positives.
  • Consequences should be fair and appropriate to the situation and the child’s age.

Parenting classes and coaching can be helpful in learning to be an effective parent.