Doodling and Creativity

Our guest blogger, Megan, shares how she encourages her tyke to be creative!

Mommies and Daddies, did you ever doodle on the back of your notebooks back in high school? How about when you were in grade school? Or, was it just yesterday in your diary or journal? Doodling is not simply boredom manifested – as my favorite Math teacher likes to put it. It’s a way to let your thoughts travel and explore on their own – this was declared as a universal law by my heroic Art teacher.

You can use doodling as a fantastic family adventure. You can set aside a wall, or a rather large table, cover the area in white drawing paper or you can even get some “chalkboard” paint and create your own chalkboard. From there, everyone can doodle. You can all agree that the doodle has to have a certain theme or a certain design. Maybe family members can take turns choosing a new theme each week. The act of roaming around with one’s ideas would encourage you and your little ones to connect and create.

With my child, we have our refrigerator door as our doodling project. We both agreed that red and black would be the only permanent ink marker colors that we can use – moving from there, we also decided that we will doodle the favorite snacks we love, along with names of our favorite places, friends, brands, etc. We now have a curiously interesting refrigerator door that is a good topic of conversation for everyone.

You can also try to be more adventurous by, maybe, having their bedroom door also a doodle spot that the family can work on. Again, there has to be an agreement on what can be doodled on them. They can also decide that it’s one door per person, if they wish.

Just let those ideas travel and let them roam, you’d never know what this fantastic wandering can lead to – a discovery, to say the least.

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.

Picking a Solution for Picky Eaters

Almost every family has a story to tell about toddlers and their eating discoveries and habits. Some children are happy to try new things, while others make mealtime a major challenge for their parents by refusing to stray beyond the few foods they’ll allow to touch their plates. If you have a toddler who falls into the picky eater category, don’t despair! There are some strategies you can try to broaden his food boundaries.

It is said that a lot of time it has to do with what the parents or caregivers are feeding the toddlers when they started eating solid food. For example, the Gerber Feeding Infants and Toddlers survey found that the vegetable most consumed by little ones was French fries. That is about the time when children’s taste preferences begin to develop. Giving toddlers who are 1 to 3 years old cookies, hot dogs, French fries, and other junk food can create taste preferences for those foods that are high-salt, high-fat, and high-sugar which is obviously deviating from the healthy norm.

Experts explain that babies are born with a taste for sweet things because breast milk is sweet. Over time, the taste for bitter or sour develops. Broccoli may be too strong for a 2-year-old toddler, but it depends on how the parents introduce and incorporate it into meals, as well.

One of the solutions is to introduce a variety of foods as soon as a toddler starts eating solid food. Getting a toddler to try the new foods doesn’t have to be a war either.

Here are some positive ways to get your toddler to give healthy foods a try:

☮ Don’t make a big deal out of healthy food.

☮ Allow your toddler to help choose healthy foods. Give him three options and allow him to choose one.

☮ Make fun shapes and forms with food. Vegetables can be easily arranged into a clown face, for example.

☮ Let kids dip. Use spreads like cottage cheese, peanut butter, or low-fat salad dressings with vegetables and fruits.

☮ Never make eating a punishment. For example, don’t tell a toddler he can’t have dessert until he finishes his meal.


☮ Set a good example. Parents should start eating healthy in front of their children to instill that value.

 ☮ Avoid juices, sweetened drinks, or snacks too close to mealtime.

☮ Get over a food jag. If your child likes only one food, meal after meal (food jag), let him have it. But be sure to offer other foods at every meal before that favorite food is presented. Food jags don’t cause harm and typically don’t last very long.

☮ If your child goes on an eating strike, let it happen. Set limits, be supportive, and don’t be scared to let your toddler go hungry.  If he’s hungry enough, he’ll eat.

☮ Give new foods a try. Put a small portion of a new type of food on the toddler’s plate. She doesn’t have to eat it, but keep putting it on her plate so that she becomes more familiar with the new, healthy food. Over time, she’ll eventually give it a try.

Keep these pointers in mind as you work to coax picky eaters to indulge in healthy options. It is always best that our kids start living healthy while they are young to avoid developing diseases that can haunt them while growing up.

Homemade Treats

Stuck in the house on a rainy or snowy day? Here’s a fun activity to keep the kids busy. My friend Alina makes super healthy treats for dogs. She was kind enough to share one of her favorite recipes. These also make a great hostess or thank you gift for friends with dogs. Who doesn’t appreciate a homemade treat?

From Alina:

Here is the recipe for my Peanut-butter Carrot Yum Biscuits. It is a healthy recipe that my pooches absolutely love and I hope your pet child will enjoy it as much!
Sometimes I add a mashed banana to the mixture for an extra kick. Yum!

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1 1/2 cup carrots
1 cup peanut butter
(3) 1 egg
(3) 1 cup water
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 tsp. baking soda * optional
1 tablespoon salt – optional *I prefer not to use salt on my recipes

Stir together the egg, peanut butter, carrots and honey in a medium bowl; blend thoroughly. Stir in the flour and wheat germ; mix well. Turn dough out onto a floured board and roll to 1/4 inch thick.
Cut into bone shape with a cookie cutter, place on prepared baking sheet, and brush tops with egg white. Sprinkle flax seed on top. *optional
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Bake biscuits in preheated oven until dried and golden brown, about 25 minutes, depending on size. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Cool completely, then store in a container on the counter for 3 days. You can refrigerate up to a week and a half. They can be frozen for 3 months.

Yummy homemade treat!

If you don’t feel like making these yourself, check out Alina’s website for these and other freshly made treats. For now, they offer delivery in the Los Angeles area but hope to be shipping soon. While you’re at it, check out her gorgeous handmade collars (for your pooch) and necklaces. They are leather and crystal and are so much fun!