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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dealing With Fussy Eaters



Fussy eaters can be frustrating to parents, especially when you can't determine why your child is fussing over his bottle or his plate. 


Fussy eating can be cause for concern or it might be perfectly normal - it is just one of the trials of parenthood to determine the cause of your child's eating problem.


Fussy Eaters During Infancy
The baby who fusses over a bottle has a legitimate reason a resounding majority of the time. The younger the baby is, the more likely there is truly a problem. Fussy eating at this stage might indicate:


- Your baby has a digestive disorder or condition such as acid reflux that makes eating painful. 
- Your baby has a milk or soy allergy that causes discomfort or pain while eating or immediately after. 
- Your baby prefers one feeding method. Many babies love the breast and balk at the bottle, while others prefer the bottle after it's been introduced and refuse to nurse. 
- Your baby is teething. Once babies start to cut teeth around six months, they might start fussing on the bottle or breast because the sucking hurts their tender gums. 
- Your baby has an ear infection. Sucking hurts the inner ear if it is already inflamed due to an ear infection. This is true of both nursing and bottle feeding. 
- Your baby prefers another taste. There is a different flavor between formulas and between preparations styles. You can actually smell the difference in many. It might be that your baby likes the taste of formula made from powdered formula, but not the concentrated variety. This tends to happen later in infancy as your child becomes more independent. 


If you have a fussy infant at feeding time, speak to your child's doctor to rule out the possibility of any problems. 


Fussy Eaters as Toddlers
Once your child becomes a toddler, there are many other factors to consider. The biggest concern for many parents is when an otherwise voracious eater suddenly stops soon after his first birthday. It seems he's just picking at his food or barely eating when he used to eat much more at a meal. This is normal for most children and not a sign of picky eating. 


Babies roughly triple their size between birth and a year or fifteen months. But from the first year through the third, they grow only a few inches and might only gain three to five pounds. This slowing of growth means their appetite and nutritional requirements slow as well. Your child isn't eating simply because he isn't hungry. Offer healthy foods at meals and during snacks and monitor how much he eats over a three day period. Compare this to the requirements for a toddler and you'll likely see that he's right on track.


Other times truly fussy eating does develop in toddlers. Toddlers are learning at such as rapid rate, and one of the most entertaining things they learn is how to agitate their parents. If he sees that a food means a lot to you, your toddler might refuse to eat it on principle. To avoid this don't make mealtime into a battle. Provide an array of healthy foods your child typically enjoys and be content that he is eating healthy foods, even if he's eating only a bit of one today and refusing it tomorrow.


Finally, toddlers seem to enjoy testing their limits. They relish in the realization that they have a choice as to what and how to eat. They might try out their new found freedom at the dinner table by refusing to eat anything but a certain meal or particular item. Play along as much as possible and work to include all necessary food items in the course of a day. Food strikes and "favorites" grow old after a time for children, so it is best to simply wait them out. If you're concerned about malnutrition in the week that you child will only eat bread and macaroni, feed him a multivitamin suitable for his age to help carry you through to the next week when he'll only drink orange juice and chocolate milk.

How to Keep You Kid Entertained With Toys



It's not very hard to keep a kid entertained with something to play with. In this electronic age every toy seems to require batteries or software in order to work. 


However, kid's toys don't have to be sophisticated in order to be fun. Toys that require thinking and the imagination are the best toys that help aide the child in mental development. 


Sudoku for kids and connect four both require critical thinking in order to win. This is precisely what parents should be looking for. Games that rely on chance won't do much to benefit a child. A game of chess or checkers on the other hand can be very beneficial. I will be discussing a few kinds of toys and games that aide in stimulating children to learn more. 


Puzzles
When trying to find inexpensive, fun and educational games, puzzles rank pretty high on the list. This game helps build up hand eye coordination for children and adults alike. The end result of this is a nice fully complete puzzle that you put together yourself. It's a testament of what the human mind can develop in a short amount of time. Children will enjoy the independence that comes along with constructing a puzzle. This is very important early on in life and puzzles actually strengthen the process. 


Building models
Model kits are readily available in most of the world's toys stores. However, due to computer and video games, these types of toys are no longer as popular as they once were. In any event, kid's can build their own cars, planes and boats from scratch using these kits. 


Many of these kits are priced below $20.00 and generally don't require adult supervision. All that's needed is the kit and the child's imagination in order to produce a lifelike model that will last for years. Advanced electric models have hit the market for older children approaching their teens. These models are not only for display but are meant to be played with after they are built. Walking robots, moving cars and trains can all be built. 


Cards
Flash card games that incorporate math, language and/or science into the play are a good investment. Not only will your child be kept busy but they will also be learning at the same time. These card games are regularly used to teach students in school due to their effectiveness. The cost is very little or nothing at all if you make them. This would be a good afternoon activity for a child to do instead of watching television. First they could take some sheets of paper and write the questions and answers on them, then the cards can been used to test them. 


Whether it is a puzzle, flash cards or models, there are plenty of educational games available for kid's. Don't fall into the technology trap by buying games for children that require starring at a screen. Instead, remember that no matter how much technology we develop, children can always be taught using simple old fashion toys. 


Now more than ever, kids are losing their attention spans by spending countless hours in front of the television or by being on the computer. In most cases this only provides a temporary distraction that offers the child very little. Why not consider an educational toy for your child the next time you are out shopping?

How to Keep You Kid Entertained With Toys



It's not very hard to keep a kid entertained with something to play with. In this electronic age every toy seems to require batteries or software in order to work. 


However, kid's toys don't have to be sophisticated in order to be fun. Toys that require thinking and the imagination are the best toys that help aide the child in mental development. 


Sudoku for kids and connect four both require critical thinking in order to win. This is precisely what parents should be looking for. Games that rely on chance won't do much to benefit a child. A game of chess or checkers on the other hand can be very beneficial. I will be discussing a few kinds of toys and games that aide in stimulating children to learn more. 


Puzzles
When trying to find inexpensive, fun and educational games, puzzles rank pretty high on the list. This game helps build up hand eye coordination for children and adults alike. The end result of this is a nice fully complete puzzle that you put together yourself. It's a testament of what the human mind can develop in a short amount of time. Children will enjoy the independence that comes along with constructing a puzzle. This is very important early on in life and puzzles actually strengthen the process. 


Building models
Model kits are readily available in most of the world's toys stores. However, due to computer and video games, these types of toys are no longer as popular as they once were. In any event, kid's can build their own cars, planes and boats from scratch using these kits. 


Many of these kits are priced below $20.00 and generally don't require adult supervision. All that's needed is the kit and the child's imagination in order to produce a lifelike model that will last for years. Advanced electric models have hit the market for older children approaching their teens. These models are not only for display but are meant to be played with after they are built. Walking robots, moving cars and trains can all be built. 


Cards
Flash card games that incorporate math, language and/or science into the play are a good investment. Not only will your child be kept busy but they will also be learning at the same time. These card games are regularly used to teach students in school due to their effectiveness. The cost is very little or nothing at all if you make them. This would be a good afternoon activity for a child to do instead of watching television. First they could take some sheets of paper and write the questions and answers on them, then the cards can been used to test them. 


Whether it is a puzzle, flash cards or models, there are plenty of educational games available for kid's. Don't fall into the technology trap by buying games for children that require starring at a screen. Instead, remember that no matter how much technology we develop, children can always be taught using simple old fashion toys. 


Now more than ever, kids are losing their attention spans by spending countless hours in front of the television or by being on the computer. In most cases this only provides a temporary distraction that offers the child very little. Why not consider an educational toy for your child the next time you are out shopping?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How much is too much TV?



Researchers agree that children should watch no more than two hours of carefully selected television programs a day to achieve optimum health and wellbeing.


CSIRO Project Coordinator, Jane Bowen, said the two-hour guideline was the result of significant scientific studies and would potentially encourage families to be more physically active.


'This recommendation should be viewed as a maximum amount of time - less than two hours is certainly preferable to support a healthy lifestyle, ' Ms Bowen said.


'We found that children who watch television for more than two hours a day are more likely to be overweight, be less physically active, drink more sugary drinks and snack on unhealthy foods.'


Dr Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, said his analysis of 35 scientific studies over the past decade showed it was important for parents to monitor the types of programs children watch.


'There is some evidence that flickering television shows like cartoons and commercials can harm eyesight and potentially cause short-sightedness, particularly in children,' Dr Sigman said.


'Excessive television viewing is also associated with irregular sleeping patterns because it suppresses the production of the hormone melatonin, which has important functions in the immune system and sleep cycle.


'Parents could help offset these potential health risks by actively monitoring their child 's television consumption and allow only good quality programming within recommended time limits.'

5 foods "kill" the child's IQ



     Here are five food which is not good for the brain of children, parents should know to avoid.


1. Foods containing fat oxidation
     If kids eat too fat oxidation in the long run, these substances accumulate in the body causing a number of catalyst systems in the body, which is dangerous, leading to early degenerative brain or underdevelopment.


2. White sugar
     White sugar is acidic. Allowing your child eat sweets (sugar and products made from white sugar) in the long run will form the body and brain acidic, negatively affecting the intellectual development of children.
     Moreover, that children eat too much sugar and sweets, fresh water will make it difficult for the liver function and cause decay.


3. Food too salty
     These foods containing too much salt cause high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, moreover injure blood vessels, affecting blood supply to the organization in the brain, causing anemia , lack of oxygen in brain cells, leading to impaired memory, slow response.
     For adults, just use less salt 7 g / day, children should be limited to less than 4g/ngay. Meals for children, should limit foods high in salt such as improving salt, salted fish, salted meat, dried fish …


4. Refined rice and noodles
     Refined rice and noodles are the food starch refining process, beneficial ingredients such as vitamin B and glucose decreased and the remaining carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will reduce the activity of neurons.


5. Foods that contain aluminum
     Children regularly eating foods containing high aluminum content causes memory decline, slow response, even cause cretinism. Aluminum is often found in fried foods.


     The child’s brain damage is very great if parents  leave alone children eat the food they love .

Monday, November 28, 2011

Getting Children to Eat Healthier



Eating a balanced diet is important for everyone, especially children. Setting good eating habits when young gives children a healthy attitude about food for the rest of their lives.


From around eighteen months to kindergarten age, most kids go through the picky eating stage. Wanting to eat only one or two foods for days at a time can drive a parent nuts. Take a calm approach during this stage. Too much focus on food can lead to mealtime battles and negatives about eating.


Make eating fun for children by serving foods in attractive ways. Cookie cutters are an easy way to make healthy breads and fruits eatable. Arrange fruits and vegetables in the shape of a face or a toy and let them play. Be sure to keep portions small so children are not intimidated. Some examples of portions for children are 1/3 cup of frozen vegetables, 5 - 7 strawberries, 2oz of hamburger meat, one cup of milk or yogurt and 1/2 cup of applesauce. Studies have shown that if you trust your child and serve a good variety, they will get plenty to eat. Some days they may eat everything and the next day almost nothing. Let your child eat until he is full and do not badger him to clean his plate. He will grow up knowing when he is hungry and not eat just to eat.


Offering choices is another good way of getting kids to eat healthy. Just make sure the choices offered are ones that you can live with. Ask them if they want carrots or peas or, which color of glass for drinking. Being given a choice lets the child have some control and can head off many dinnertime battles. Involve them as much as possible depending on their age and ability in decisions for meals. Let them pick out which tomato or apple they think should be used for cooking. In addition, they can help set the table.


Some children will only eat finger foods. As long as the choices presented are good for them, does it really matter if they use their hands? Do not forget to set them a good example. Eat healthy foods yourself and do not be afraid to try new things. If you do not like something, let your kids know why and that it is okay not to like something. However, they first must give it a chance so encourage a one bit rule. It can take up to fifteen offers to get a child to eat a new food so do not give up after the first time or two.


Try to set up regular eating times so they know when a meal is coming. By keeping healthy snacks in the house, your kids will learn to eat what is there. Try not to make any food off-limits. This might set up an unhealthy fixation on that food for when they get older. Having a certain day or meal where they can have that sweet snack, soda or meal lets them know they can have it but it is special.

Teaching Children Not To Play With Fire



We all know fire is dangerous and we have to keep our kids from getting to close to it and not play with it. We need to teach our kids the dangers of fire and why not to play with it when they are young.

Show them that fire burns and what it could do to them if they miss with it, show them picture, not too scary or bloody pictures because you can really scare them.

You can also have the school teach them about fire and the damage it will bring. Show them a wildfire on type or on the TV and how fast they spread when they are not put out right away. Show them how fast a house can burn to the ground just by a small or big fire because it doesn't matter what size a fire can be because they will get bigger in a minutes and that's all it takes is just one flame and buff it's gone.

If they get a hold of any type of fire like matches, lighters, or candles, they could burn down the house or hurt themselves really badly. They can burn their skin and getting second or third degree burns, burn off their hair, burn up their room and get trapped in the smoke and fire, and if they get it around something that is flammable that can or will explode. Teach them what to do in a fire, how to get out to safety and where to meet when everyone gets out. Have a plan at home, at school, or where ever you are at just in case you might need it. Kids rely on you to teach them this stuff, teach them how to survive, teach them stop, drip and roll because if they are on fire they will know what to do and you hope that this will never happen to them but it is better to be safe than sorry.

If you have a fireplace tell them do not get to close to the fire because sparks can from out and set your clothes or the cover on fire. You need to have a gate on it at all time and you need to teach them that so they will know. Tell them that they are not allow to start up the fireplace only the adults are the ones that do that, the same thing goes for a gas stove or heater, make sure that they understand that. Don't let them near a grill when you are going to start it up because they flames will be big and it will burn them.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Teaching Children Early About the Importance of Good Dental Habits

Teaching children good dental health habits early can be an important way to establish lifelong good dental health practices. Children who are taught in early childhood how to brush and maintain other good dental hygiene practices can significantly lower their risk for developing future dental health problems.


Many dental patients that have undergone extensive dental restoration will tell you that they regret neglecting their oral health even as far back as childhood.


When it comes to maintaining good dental health, the key is prevention. There are many steps that you can implement early on in childhood that can teach your child preventative dental health measures.


Talk to your child about the importance of brushing for at least 2 minutes. It helps if you buy a timer that you can show them how to set.


Tell them to make sure they brush every part of the teeth. Another helpful tip is that many dental products for children, such as washes and toothpastes, have colored particles in them that can show a child where bacteria could be lying in wait to destroy their teeth. Have your child brush their teeth until all the colored particles are washed away.


Allow your child to view the different types of toothbrushes available, but make sure you help teach them about the differences in the types of brushes. Many new toothbrushes including power brushes offer some great hand-grips and allow the child to pick a toothbrush that they will feel most comfortable with using.


If flossing is not an option for your child, an investment in an oral irrigator or dental water jet is a great way to make sure your child gets all the little areas that their toothbrush can't. Child-size floss is out there for children and adults that don't want to use the regular type of dental floss.
Dental water jets are also great in keeping children's attention while practicing good dental care or when wearing dental braces.


Make sure you teach your child that you can still have a bite of candy but it is always recommended to brush your teeth as soon as possible when eating anything, especially any type of sugars such as sweets.


Teach your child what kinds of candies to stay away from and how bad leaving food such as sugars are on your dental health if left on your teeth. 


The majority of dental professionals advise people to brush after every meal, as well as the first thing in the morning and the last thing before bed.The majority of dental professionals also recommend that parents observe their child's dental practices until they are about 8 or 9 years old. Observing a child's oral health practices ensures that they are not only brushing well, but that they understand the importance of taking care of their teeth for many years to come.

Tips to establish rules for your teen



You know it. You dread it. Ahhhhh, the teen years have arrived! But they don't have to be painful parenting ones if you establish rules to remind your teen who's boss.


Clean bedrooms
"Choose your battles," someone wise first said. That goes for teen-raising issues such as clean rooms. Ellen R. Delap recommends that you make sure it's one of those battles worth fighting. “Is the messy room affecting her success in school or a value-based issue like timeliness? Choose what value is most important to communicate about, and then choose a communication tool."


Regular chores
If your teen isn’t completing his chores, the issue is responsibility. Host a family meeting to foster a team effort. Delap explains, “Teens choose chores and get a reward (money!) for the team effort. Post a chores chart and refer to it as the authority, not you, the parent. At the next family meeting, focus on the positive and compliment successes.”


Curfews
Remember those? As you define what's too late for your household -- perhaps certain hours for school nights and other hours for weekends -- the key is enforcing your standards. Some parents withhold privileges such as driving the car or using a computer if their kids break their curfews.


Driving
What could be more important than establishing a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving? That said, many parents write in a footnote to this rule: If a designated driver is not available and the teen is tipsy, he may call home for a ride -- no questions asked.


Create consistent enforcement
Ashley Merryman, co-author of NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, says consistent enforcement of rules is crucial. “Inconsistent punishment just leads to uncertainty, and that defeats the point of having rules in the first place. However, reasonableness is still the key. If there's a legitimate reason to occasionally look past a transgression or set aside a rule, doing so doesn't diminish a parent's authority. It increases it because then, parents seem wise and fair."


Keep your cool
Teens are smart and understand that rules relating to going out, driving, drugs and alcohol are all about safety. “They are more likely to respect such rules,” she says. “It's when a parent goes ballistic over something like an unmade bed that parents' rules begin to seem arbitrary and pointless."


Be open to discussion
Merry-man points out that, ultimately, we want our teens to grow into good decisionmakers as adults, not simply obedient rule-followers. “So if a teen wants to argue about the rules, consider that an opportunity to help develop her reasoning skills. Parents should make a real effort to listen to the teen's point of view, encouraging her to think through the relevant issues. If she can do that and her argument is good enough, let her win occasionally.”


Listen to them
He may have a valid reason for breaking a rule. Deborah Peers, mom blogger and mother of 16 children (seven of whom are teenagers!), encourages parents to understand what they are saying. “That doesn't mean to cave in to their requests, but to truly listen to why they want what they are asking for. Listen to how your teen feels about it.”
Brainstorm with themIf your teen is consistently breaking a household rule or is having problems in one area, Peers advises communicating to create a solution together. “Discuss scenarios that have been problematic so far. Together, come up with some ways to aid your teen to remember why the rule is important.”


Love them
Above all, everything boils down to love. After all, you wouldn’t have created boundaries for your teen and ways for her to develop if you didn’t truly love her. Peers reminds us, “When you love your teen, you care about how you present your case in trying to solve problems. Love is gracious and kind in presentation and always thoughtful of how the other person feels. This is absolutely number one!”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Encouraging good behavior in your children

Ways of encouraging good behavior in your child properly without resorting to bribery.
     We have all had times when our child behaves like the diminutive version of Genghis Khan. There is nothing more demoralizing than seeing the little angel who tidied his room turn into the kid who throws his dinner at your mother in law, even though you may have been tempted to do the same at some stage it isn’t the point.

     There are ways to encourage your child to behave like a civilized human being without resorting to heavy handed tactics, some may work for your child and some may not, but the important thing to remember is that each child is an individual and handle them accordingly.

     Don’t ask your child if he wants to do something. Tell him. If you ask him if he would like to go to bed now, you are opening the pathway for a discussion. If you tell him it is bedtime, he knows that there is no other recourse but to go to bed. Talk as if you expect to be obeyed.

     If he yet again has behaved like a savage do not discuss his bad behavior in front of him. Rather send him off to play then talk to the other party, be it a teacher or co-parent. In front of him rather emphasize his improved or good behavior. If children hear negativity about themselves they tend to react negatively. Rather re-enforce the positive.

     Be clear in what you want from him. Don’t just issue a vague demand of “Be good”. Rather specify exactly what it is you want him or her to do. “Stop lying on the floor kicking your feet in the air”, lets him know you have noticed his behavior and you find it unacceptable.

     Children have a knack for changing or avoiding the subject. To do this he may look away or start talking about something else. Draw his attention back to you and repeat whatever it was that you said.

     Make sure he understands what you are saying. Go down to his level, look him in the eye, if he tries to look away gently take his arms and repeat what you say. Try not to threaten him or plead with him, this will not gain you any respect and once you have lost respect you have lost the war.

     Bringing up children as opposed to little heathens is not easy but following the golden rule will make your and your child’s life much easier. Be consistent, and gentle but firm.

Reading to Children

   
    Reading to children is a great way to spend quality time with them. Follow these easy steps for reading to the children in your life.

Reread the Same Books
Kids love repetition when it comes to books. Unlike many adults, they love knowing what is going to happen next and delight in the anticipation of getting there.

Ask Questions
Reading to children is enhanced by interaction. Asking questions about the book will allow children a chance to talk about how they are experiencing it, as well as encouraging active listening.

Go To the Library
There is something about ownership of a library card that can make the idea of books more appealing to kids. Setting aside a time every week to go can be fun for everyone.

Read Before Bed
Reading to children at bedtime daily can become a much anticipated ritual. It gives children something to look forward to and provides a wonderful way of relaxing them for the transition to sleep.

Model Reading
Read yourself. Often and where they can observe.

Read All Kinds of Things
Novels, short stories, biographies, poems, etc. Also don't rule out encyclopedias. They make great illustrated ones geared for children that can make learning about any subject fun and interesting.

Keep Reading Aloud Even When They Are Old Enough to Read Alone
Reading to children is still valuable when the children are independent readers. They can have books read to them at a higher level than they are able to read alone, or they can take turns reading aloud if the book is at their level.

Reward Reading
Make a token system where they chart how many books they have read, or the hours spent reading, and reward them with something, such as a new book.

Start Traditions Around Reading
Children love traditions. Reading to children can become a much anticipated one when it is associated with something fun. For example, allowing them to open a wrapped book every Christmas Eve and reading it to them.

Use Books On Tape
If you find yourself driving around a lot, or at home with a hoarse voice, books on tape can be life savers. Pop one in and listen along with the children, as everyone kicks back and enjoys.

     Spending time reading to children is a wonderful way to show your care. Start today with the above tips to make it a time for all to look forward to.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

9 Great Homework Habits that Work

Since homework starts as early as kindergarten these days, it’s a good idea to get kids into a rhythm of great homework habits as soon as possible. From ways to help your kids get more organized to giving them ways to minimize and eliminate homework stress, here are some great tips for good homework habits that work.

1. Divide and Conquer
Kids can often feel overwhelmed when they look over their list of assignments for the week. Help your child manage his assignments by planning out his work on a daily planner. (This can be particularly helpful if you are at work when your child gets home from school; having a list like this can help your child and your childcare provider manage his workload when you are not there.)

For example, if all the homework is due on Friday, you can try scheduling several minutes for different subject such as reading, math problems or spelling words. Or you may want to have him spend Monday doing reading and reserve Tuesday for math, and so on.

Writing down what needs to be done can be a great way to manage homework, and crossing off assignments when they are completed and tracking their own progress can be satisfying for kids and help give them motivation to continue their work.

2. Cut Down After-School Activities
The reality is that there are only a few precious hours after school to tackle homework assignments. If your child has an after-school activity every day and is unable to manage her workload, it may be time to take a look at which extracurricular activities can be cut out of her schedule. If she has ballet, soccer, piano lessons, and regularly-scheduled playdates, you may want to consider moving a couple of activities to the next semester and making more time for homework.

3. Get into a Regular Routine
Maybe your child is the kind of kid who works better on a full stomach or after fooling around with his toys for a few minutes after school. If so, start with snack time and unscheduled downtime, and set up homework time for about 20 to 30 minutes after he gets home.

If he tends to focus better if he goes right into his work after school, then let him get right to work as soon as he gets home. The important thing is to find what works for you and stick with it so that you have a regular routine. If your child knows what is expected and when, it’ll be easier for him to work more efficiently.

4. Set Up a Great Homework Area
Having a quiet and comfortable place to do homework is essential to building good study and homework habits. Whether you establish her work area at the kitchen table or in her room, make sure she is surrounded by peaceful quiet, free from TV or other distractions.

5. Make Homework Fun
Kids are more likely to view homework as less of a chore if you help them adopt a more playful attitude toward their work. For instance, if your first-grader is working on simple math problems, help him visualize addition and subtraction by using small toys such as marbles or even playing cards. If a third-grader is working on multiplication problems, challenge him to get as many correct answers as possible while racing you (to be fair, he should be allotted twice the time as you).

And if you’re lucky enough to get fun puzzles and brain-teasers such as Sudoku puzzles in the homework packet, then work with him on those and make it a fun way to connect with your child after a long day. One word of caution: Try not to take over and do the problems yourself. Your child needs guidance and help getting the right answers -- not the answers themselves.

Be sure to check his work everyday, and try to make that a fun routine as well. Challenge your child to find mistakes on your work, or have him check his own work to see if he can spot any errors. If you take a relaxed approach to the homework and adopt a fun attitude about it, your child will follow suit.

6. Tie-in Homework to Everyday Life
Learning can often be more fun for kids when they are able to relate the material to things in their own lives. For instance, if your child has to read about immigrants and answer questions about them, continue the discussion over dinner. Talk about your own family’s immigrant experience (“Great-Grandma came from Italy and had to work very hard” or some such) or talk about the ways our world has been shaped by immigrants (“What would life be like today without pizza?”).

By making homework something that is an extension of learning and life, you can help your child see that it is not some separate chore or extra work that they are forced to do.

7. Work Alongside Your Child
Younger children tend to work better when an adult is nearby, ready to answer questions or help work out a problem. You can sit down with your own work or a magazine article or bills -- whatever quiet activity you can do while your child does her homework.

8. Schedule Breaks
You know the importance of stretching your legs or taking a break here and there during your workday. Just walking away from your desk for a few minutes can often do wonders to help your concentration and improve mood. The importance of breaks applies to kids as well, and may be even more important because kids tend to be more active and full of energy than adults.

Whether it’s a five-minute break to have some fruit and cheese and crackers or other healthy snack or a few minutes to play with a pet or water the plants, schedule a few breaks into homework time. And consider taking a short walk or doing a few at-home yoga poses for kids with your child to rejuvenate his brain cells; studies have shown that physical activity can help stimulate concentration and cognitive function.

9. Help Kids Manage Stress
Some kids can experience more stress over homework and schoolwork than other children. If you see signs of stress in your child or your child is experiencing difficulty with the workload, check with other parents to see whether any other kids are having similar problems. For instance, kids in first grade are usually not expected to spend more than a half hour on homework each day; if your child is having difficulty with the workload, find out what the problem may be and schedule some time to meet with your child’s teacher.

Talk to your child’s teacher about any problems and get on the same page about the teacher’s expectations for the school year. Ask her what you can do to help your child with homework. By working together, you and your child’s teacher can find ways to identify and handle any homework problems that may be creating stress for your child.

How do we protect kids from inappropriate material?

To ensure that your child's experience on the Internet is a safe one, parents need to check their child's website activity and email. Even for teens, who might think of this as an invasion of privacy, parents need to talk openly to them about their Internet use.

Older teens are actually more likely to get into trouble than younger children, because they are more apt to explore the out-of-the-way nooks and crannies of cyberspace and reach out to people outside of their immediate peer group.

If you decide to use software that will block or restrict your child's access to certain websites, discuss this decision with your child so that he or she will understand why it is necessary. Here are other safety tips to consider:

1. Spend time with your child on the computer. Put the computer in a place that can be easily accessed by the entire family. Use the Internet with your child to play games, plan for a family vacation, or learn about new places and people. Ask your child to teach you more about the computer and to show you certain tricks he or she may have learned. Not only will you gain computer knowledge, you will also get valuable information on just how savvy your child is on the computer. Make sure to ask your child what he or she likes on the Internet and to show you favorite sites.

2. Let your child know that you will be periodically watching and monitoring his or her online activities. (Internet security software from companies like OnlineFamily.Norton often include parental controls that can help you encourage safe surfing.)

3. Share an online pseudonym, password, and email account with your child. In this way, you can monitor online correspondences and the Internet sites that your child has accessed.

4. Never, under any circumstances, allow your child to have face-to-face contact with someone they met online without your permission. If you agree to the meeting, accompany your child and arrange for it to take place in public.

5. Don't allow your child to go into private chat rooms without your permission and supervision.

6. Monitor your credit card bill. Many pornographic online vendors require credit cards in order to have access to their sites.

7. Alert your Internet provider if you or your child come across sexually obscene material. You can also notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Cyber Tipline, your local police, or the FBI.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teaching Kids How to React When Approached by a Stranger without Freaking Them Out


The world today has changed and sadly it is not always for the better. Parents raising kids today are faced with risks that were virtually unheard of a century or two ago. It is important that parents are aware of these dangers and teach their children how they can protect themselves from such risks.

In particular, dealing with strangers is a life lesson each parent should start to teach their child from early on.  Unlike times past when raising children was almost a community affair, the notion of the innocent, caring stranger next door or down the street has unfortunately gone out of the window.

You must find ways of training your children to protect themselves but without instilling irrational paranoia in them. After all, the vast majority of strangers your kids will encounter will be well meaning people. You need only train them on how to protect themselves from the small proportion that will have ill intent. Focus on the red flags.

For instance, if they are walking next to the road and someone driving past smile and waves at them but continues driving away, your child may not need to be overly concerned by that. However, if the person stops the car and beckons to them to approach the car, that is not acceptable and they should start to walk in the opposite direction from that which the car is facing.

You must teach your kids that reacting in fear can sometimes play into a child predator’s hands. A panic reaction that is not informed by careful forethought may cause them to run towards the stranger as opposed to away from them.

Kids should not reveal their names to someone they do not know especially when they meet the person outside the safe confines of the home or school. They should never let a stranger know where they live or where they go to school.

Whenever you go out shopping, to the park or any other public place that is likely to have significant crowds, your kids should know that they must stay within visual range. And in the event that they do get separated and they cannot find you, they should know where to go and wait/report e.g. the information desk. They should not disclose they cannot find you to just anyone around them.

At the earliest age possible, kids should know their full names as well as those of their parents. Preferably, their knowledge of names should go hand in hand with their knowledge of your home address and telephone contact or even where you work. If this information is too much, you could write it down and ensure it is always hidden somewhere in the child’s clothes that only they know.

Gifts from strangers are another no-no. If someone they do not know offers them sweets or toys, they should decline the offer and walk away immediately.

Overall, teaching your child how to deal with strangers is a continuous exercise to cater emerging risks.

How to React When your Child Molest Others


If you receive a phone call from a parent or the school and you are told your child is a bully, your first reaction is likely to be disbelief. How could that innocent bundle of joy that you held in your arms just a few years ago be the source of grief for their peers?

But as difficult as such news is for any parent, denial will only make a bad situation deteriorate. You should plan to take immediate actions to stop this destructive and anti-social behavior. Since your child will almost definitely deny if you confront them directly, you will have to ask them a couple of indirect questions around their views on bullying as well as keenly observe them when they are around other children.

Some of the signs that would confirm they could be bullying other kids include regularly bragging to other children, terming other children as wimps, the absence of empathy, a need to always have their way and a hostile, defiant attitude.

If the warning signs all confirm your child is bullying, start by getting in touch with the school your child attends to establish what may be the possible triggers for this behavior. Most school counselors are trained in identifying and rehabilitating bullies and they could give you some helpful hints on what is the cause and what you need to do.

Next, ensure that your child understands in no uncertain terms that bullying is unacceptable and you will not tolerate it. Immediately step in and stop any bullying that takes place in your presence. Make sure that there are consequences for bullying such as the withdrawal of some of their privileges that you will only restore once they demonstrate corrective behavior.

Look inwards. Could the trigger for your child’s behavior be something in your home? Maybe it is the violent programs they watch or sadistic video games they play. Or it may be a crushed self esteem as result of constant teasing from an older sibling. Once you identify the trigger in your home, take steps to put a stop to it immediately.

Find out who your child’s closest friends are. What do they do for fun when they are together? Peer influences can be particularly strong especially for teens. Being around other kids who bully others will naturally rub off on your child. Talk to your child about getting involved in activities (e.g. sports) that will connect them with kids that provide a more positive influence.
Set a good example. It will be difficult to convince your child to stop bullying if they observe you constantly disrespect and ridicule the people around you. Observation is the most powerful medium of learning positive behavior.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cats Help Kids Learn Responsibility


American Pet Products Association 2011/2012 National Pet Owners Survey shows dogs and cats help instill responsibilities among children.

In addition to companionship, affection, love and company, a top benefit of owning cats and dogs includes teaching children responsibility. According to APPA’s 2011/2012 National Pet Owners Survey, 58% of small
animal owners rank teaching children responsibilities as a key benefit in owning pets, followed by 44% of equine owners and 43% of reptile owners, posing the idea that dog, cat and other pet ownership is a great teaching tool for children.

“There are so many joys and benefits pets of all types bring to our lives, and they truly help instill responsibility among children from ensuring they have plenty of food and water to helping them receive daily exercise and play,” said Bob Vetere, APPA president.

Celebrating the joys and benefits pets bring to the lives of children specifically, APPA is currently accepting poems for its 4th Annual Pets Add Life Children’s Poetry Contest.

“Every submission we receive for our Children’s Poetry Contest is the child’s expression of just how much their pet means to them and the happiness these companions bring to their lives,” Vetere said.

Students in grades 3-8 are invited to write a unique poem about a cat or dog, what they love about them and the joys they bring, then post it online
here or mail their final poem and submission form to: Pets Add Life, 661 Sierra Rose Dr., Reno, NV 89511. Deadline for submissions is Jan. 31, 2012, at 5:00pm EST.

One student from each grade level (six totals) nationwide will win a $250 gift certificate for pet products, and a byline in a nationally circulated publication. In addition, the six winning students’ classrooms will each win a $1,000 scholarship to spend on dog- and cat-related education.

Children's Games That Teach Responsibility


Learning the important values of responsibility encourages children to become independent and well-rounded individuals. Children can have fun while learning how to become responsible through amusing and educational games. There are different forms of responsibility that are important for children's development, including personal, interpersonal, home and global responsibilities. Games that nurture these values can be easily be incorporated into daily activities.

Personal Responsibility

Teaching children games that instill the value of personal responsibility is vital for development. Playing a game of dress up will help children build responsibility and become more independent. By laying out four different outfits with each outfit being appropriate for one of the four seasons, children can be asked to look outside and decide which outfit is the most suitable for the day's weather. This game will allow children to learn the responsibility of one of their daily living skills, getting dressed. It will also help them build self-confidence. Playing pretend supermarket is another game that will with teach children personal responsibility. Set up a pretend supermarket at home by displaying play food, a basket for carrying the groceries and a toy cash register for when they check out. Children can write a list of groceries down on piece of paper and then pretend to go grocery shopping. They can pick out the play food on their list and learn math skills while counting out play money to pay for their groceries. This game will give children an understanding of the important responsibility of personal finances.

Interpersonal Responsibility

Interpersonal responsibility is the responsibility we have to respect other people. Teaching this social value to children will show them how to be kind to others and treat them the way they would like to be treated. Playing games that involve sharing and turn taking will help to build these skills. Board games like Candy Land and card games like go fish will help children learn to wait his or her turn. Groups of children can also play outdoor games like duck-duck-goose, hop-scotch and jump-roping games or an indoor tea party game using a play teapot, cups, table and chairs, in which they take turns setting the table and pouring tea for each other. These games teach interpersonal responsibility and nurture social interaction.

Teaching Responsibility at Home

Children have responsibilities at home as well as in the world, which they can learn about through fun and helpful games. A game can be created using a spinning wheel from an old board game that can be labeled with household chores that children can easily do, such as setting the table for dinner, feeding the pets, folding laundry or watering plants. Children can have fun spinning the wheel and will be excited to see what chore they land on. This game works well with children of large families because it is far more amusing than following a chore schedule. It will offer children a surprise each day, so that they will not get bored by having the same routine. This game will also provide children with a respect and understanding of the responsibilities that keep a household running.

Global Responsibility

Children can learn to be globally responsible through many creative games. Have a group of children play a recycling game, in which each sorts through their own tubs filled with plastic, paper and aluminum recyclable items. The first child to correctly sort all of the recyclables wins the game. This recycling game will be both enjoyable for the children as well as remind them about the amount of waste people use when they do not recycle. Children can use the new skills they gain to help reduce waste and recycle at home.

The Importance of Grandparents



Many of us recall comedian Bill Cosby's famous routine about the grandparent-grandchild relationship. Once his father became a grandfather, the stern disciplinarian that lived so vividly in Cosby's memory was replaced by someone he didn't recognize: a pushover who spoiled Cosby's children rotten. 


While spoiling with gifts, play time, treats, forgotten rules and extended bedtimes is a traditional part of grandparenting, the relationship - especially when twins are involved - has the potential to evolve into much more, both emotionally and practically. 


On a practical level, grandparents of twins can provide everything from babysitting to twin-toting duties. "An extra pair of hands for me is the most important thing," says a Dublin, Ohio mother of 2-year-old fraternal twins. "With twins, the length of time you hold each of them is shorter, so any opportunity to have someone love and cradle my babies is appreciated." 


Grandparents who are available and willing to baby-sit (some need extra encouragement and guidance because it's been a while since they raised their kids) can provide relief to over-stressed parents who are juggling twins, and perhaps other singleton siblings. Jenny Everhart, mother of 3-year-old twins Benjamin and Cody, says one of the most-appreciated things her mother does is baby-sit once a week. It gives Everhart - whose husband works long hours - a much-needed break to run errands or just take a breather. 


Sometimes it's one twin who needs a breather from the other, or another sibling who needs a break from the twins. Time spent alone with a grandparent - where the child is the sole focus of the grandparent's time and attention - can work emotional wonders for children who must always share their parents. 


Grandparents also can provide the type of unconditional love that is unencumbered by having to adhere to parental rules. 


Developing this grandparent-grandchild bond can be a challenge in today's transient society. It's no longer common to find several generations of a family living within shouting distance. These days, grandparents may not even be within driving distance of their grandchildren, thus ruling out regular face-to-face bonding time. Also, many grandparents still work and don't have an excess of free time. This is the case with the parents of the Dublin, Ohio mother. "It's a challenge to keep in touch and to have extended stays so they can get to know each other," she says. 


Fortunately, there's e-mail, which can be used to communicate frequently (and cheaply). Sharing photos of grandchildren by "snail mail" is still a popular - though less high-tech - way to help grandparents keep track of children's development. Some parents prefer to scan the photos and send them attached to e-mails. 


The reverse works, as well: To keep her twin boys connected to her father, who lives several states away, Everhart keeps a photo album filled with his pictures. 


Videos are another popular way to give far-away grandparents a peek into the daily lives of their grandchildren. And, phone calls and drawings and crafts made by the children also are appreciated by most grandparents. 


For those times - whether frequent or few and far between - when grandparents have their grandchildren alone, experts and experienced mothers of twins recommend establishing some ground rules, which are based on mutual respect. 




Parents should be clear with grandparents about child-care rules - such as diet and bed time - that are important to them. 




But, be forgiving if the grandparents "slip" with the rules from time to time. After all, part of the fun of grandparenting is being able to bend the rules a little.




Remember that taking care of twins can be a little overwhelming for some grandparents. Initially expose the grandparents to the twins in short time increments, perhaps leaving them with only one at a time at first.


Remember that not all grandparents are willing - or able - to baby-sit. Respect their wishes. 
Both Everhart and the Dublin mother agree that whether grandparents live nearby or far away, parents should remember to appreciate whatever practical help they are willing to give and even the smallest amounts of time they can spend with their grandchildren. 


That's the power of this special bond: even if grandparents and their grandchildren can't be together physically all the time, the emotional nourishment the children receive is ongoing. And, the bond also can help strengthen relationships between all three generations.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Impact of Toys in Child Development





Parents often seek assistance in selecting the right toys at the most ideal stage of their child’s development. Many toys are designed for particular ages based on safety concerns; however, many others are designed to specifically encourage the development of certain abilities in a child.


In this article we will explore the fundamental skills developed by infants at varying ages, and the types of toys that can encourage children to reach their potential. 


The Baby’s 1st Year


In the first year of a baby’s life, they begin exploring and experimenting with their most important senses: 


Sound & Smell – In the first instance babies begin to match voices with certain faces and facial expressions, mainly from being held, fed and nurtured. Likewise, certain smells can be recognised and associations are gradually made. As they begin to establish these social attachments they become more receptive to different sounds and smells. Toys with sound and music that react to a child’s action are especially good at this stage, and simply letting your baby smell something and then see it can encourage development in this area. 


Touch & Sight – As babies begin to take a little control of their hands; touching and feeling things become an important part of an infant's development. Similarly, as sight becomes clearer, babies become more receptive to visual aids. Toys for this age are designed to enhance and encourage these traits. Toys should be for seeing, hearing and touching - this encourages the child to respond to the sights and sounds they see and hear. Picture books with sound, teddy bears with different textures and pulley toys that respond to a child’s movement are especially beneficial after 6 months old. Toys in bright, monochromic colours can also help to stimulate eyesight in the first year of a child’s life. 


Ages 1 to 2 


This stage is an important time for developing independence and important social skills that will never be lost. Between the ages of 1 and 2 it is surprising how rapidly a child develops from a tentative toddler saying only 1 or 2 words, to a confident child able to easily run and speak around 50 individual words. 


From the age of 1, infants begin taking an interest in the effects of their manipulation, and it is very fun to sit back and watch children at this age. They particularly enjoy throwing toys and building things, so building blocks Duplo, and stickle bricks are fantastic toys at this age for encouraging hand and eye coordination, as well as a sense of balance. 


From around 18 months, infants are able to walk very well and can run to an extent. When objects are in the way - running can prove difficult. However, with their newfound freedom, children love to explore and try everything out, without a sense of danger, so toys that encourage active play at this age are well received. Balls, Sit n’ Rides , Activity Stations, toys that speak or make noises and toys of characters they see on TV are advantageous additions to a toy box at this age - they will encourage children to play actively, and it will also help them sleep well at bed time (an added bonus!). 


Language progression is also crucial at this age. Children will begin responding when spoken to and chattering away when playing. This makes it important for adults to talk to children in conversations, read stories and sing nursery rhymes whenever possible. 


Ages 2 Years +
As a child turns two years old their abilities in counting and speaking becomes clearer, and bodily strength in running and climbing becomes more refined. 


At the turn of two years old, toys that have movement and sound and allow the child to throw and drop are ideal, as they will help to refine their physical strengths. Toys that allow the children to push themselves along, such as sit 'n' ride toys that allow children to steer are very desirable. 


As they approach 3 years old, outdoor toys such as climbing frames and garden swings are great. Children at this age have good spatial awareness, and refined bodily strength. They can move large toys easily, kick balls forcefully and they also have the ability to use pedals on a bike. 


An infant’s imagination will develop greatly at this age as well, which is why dressing up and a fascination with make believe is noticeable. Doll sets, action figures, train sets and such toys are favorable at this age and help children express themselves and explore their independence. Children will also start to play with others and learn social skills through play. Cooperation and taking turns are examples of skills that will become extremely important both at a young age and throughout life. 


Showing off new skills to family is also a very common trait for children around 3 years and upwards. Toys that mimic adult tasks, such as vacuum cleaners, cookers, shop tills and lawn mowers are especially good for engaging with a child. 
While we have focused on the initial, most advancing years of a child’s life in this article, toys have been proven to encourage creativity, self-confidence and academic skills throughout every stage of childhood.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Teaching kids to handle fights with friends

                                                                                                     -By Jen Klein

Our kids are watching us all the time, watching all the behaviors, trying to discern right from wrong, okay from not so okay. This goes from everything from table manners to interacting with clerks in stores to, well, everything. Friendships included. Sometimes, when we adults get caught up in the parts of our lives we consider to be outside of parenting, we forget we're being watched. And when those issues include conflict, our actions have an impact on what our children learn. It sounds so obvious, but remembering and acting accordingly can be so hard.

In demonstrating friendship to our children, we need to show how to be a friend when things are going fine and in times of conflict. This is the part where I admit I didn't handle a conflict with a friend well several months ago -- and saw it all replayed before my eyes when my daughter had a conflict with one of her friends recently. Thankfully, both conflicts were resolved and friendships saved, but... ouch.

Hurt feelings and anger
Conflicts happen between people. People who love each other very much, whether platonically or romantically, can disagree. They are still individuals, and difference makes our world interesting. It's how we handle the conflict -- what we do with the feelings -- that makes the difference. We may not always handle things right (we're human!) but learning from our mistakes makes a difference.

In that misunderstanding with a close friend several months ago, my feelings were very hurt. Rather than communicate what I was feeling, I closed off and became angry. I stopped communicating with my friend. I did not answer her phone calls or emails for days and generally stewed. It wasn't pretty. I even knew that at the time, but I was angry and hurt and said I didn't care. Meanwhile, my friend was getting more and more hurt by my silence; she didn't know what had happened! As I said, it was a misunderstanding. Finally, after a long walk and a hard workout, I called her. We sorted out what had happened, said our apologies and moved on, though it was a little delicate for a couple weeks. All was better, or so I thought. Thing is, my daughter had been watching my behavior.

Mimicry
More recently, my daughter's teacher sent a note home from school noting some not-so-nice behaviors of my daughter toward one of her closest friends. For the teacher to get involved, the behaviors must be significant. I sat my daughter down for a talk.

When I asked, "Why did you think it was okay to treat your friend like this?" I was stunned and embarrassed when my daughter replied, "That's what you did when you had a fight with your friend."

Reviewing the basics
After calling the friend's mother, sorting things out -- and eating a very large serving of crow -- my daughter and I embarked on a review of friendship basics, as much for me as her. We talked about always treating friends as we want to be treated, respecting our differences and not intentionally doing such hurtful things as stopping communication when we are hurt or angry. We talked about differences of opinion and how to approach working them out -- and we talked about how misunderstandings can get blown out of proportion.

We also talked about my being a better example for her. My friendships have been incredibly rewarding (even when I screw up!) and I want my daughter to have such close friendships in her life, too. Being a good friend isn't always easy, but it's always worth it. Likewise, being an example of a good friend to your children isn't always easy either, but it's also always worth it.

My daughter has learned a good lesson about friendship from this minor fiasco. And I've learned that my kids are always watching.