Tips for keeping kids happy and able to enjoy the fun
Article Courtesy of Child Mind Institute: Author: Rachel Ehmke
It’s easy for children to be smitten with the magic of the holiday
s. Fun presents. Extra sweets. A vacation from school—there’s a lot to like. But with the freedom and excess of the season, sometimes kids can get a little carried away. For most families, there will be a point when the kids get overtired and cranky, or greedy about presents, or would rather play a video game than talk to Grandma. Here are some tips to keep kids happy and ready to enjoy whatever the season brings.
1. Gifts, gifts, gifts: Getting presents is a high point of the holidays for any kid, but they shouldn’t be the only focus. As adults we know that giving presents can be just as rewarding as getting them, and we shouldn’t wait to teach that lesson to our children.
Even when kids are too young to buy a present, they can still make one, or help you pick out something. Some of my best holiday memories are of helping my father look for the perfect gift for Mom, or combing the mall to look for presents with my siblings as we got older. Volunteering, participating in a local toy drive, or giving each of your kids a little money to give to a charity of their choice are all great ideas for getting children in a more generous mood.
Also, remember that the best gifts that you give your children probably won’t be the material ones. Taking time for the whole family to get together to play a game, watch a movie, or decorate sugar cookies—these are the things that kids remember as they get older.
2. Let them help out: There’s a lot of extra work to do around the holidays — putting up decorations, cooking big dinners, throwing parties. The Martha Stewart in all of us can take over, but it’s important to take a step back and make sure our kids are included, too.
Children can help set the table, decorate the house, and wrap presents. If they’re too young to wrap, they can help by holding down the paper or getting the tape ready — there’s always something kids can do. And at holiday time, the preparations are often as fun and as meaningful as the end product. Plus, this way kids won’t feel left out — or be glued to the iPad for hours.
3. Keep routines: We love the holidays because they give us a break from the everyday, but that can also make them stressful, especially for kids who find routine comforting. Try to keep some things constant. Kids still need snack time, they still need special attention from you, and they still need a chance to unwind before bedtime.
At family gatherings when they notice the kids are “getting antsy,” psychologist Rachel Busman says she and her sister give them their baths, get them into pajamas, and turn on a movie. “We know when they need to wind down, and no one judges us for excusing ourselves from the table to do these things,” she says. “In fact, my sister and I enjoy some great conversations during this time.”
4. Remember they’re kids: Some holiday traditions depend on kids being on their best behavior: lengthy services, parties with lots of strangers, elaborate meals that may not appeal to picky eaters. Try to keep those to a minimum and customize festivities for your kids’ frustration level. Don’t schedule more than one demanding event in a day, and make sure to include physical activity and plenty of downtime. Your kids will be grateful — and so will you.
The experts have been polled and the results are in: a positive parent-teacher relationship contributes to your child’s school success.
“Easier said than done,” you may be thinking. After all, there are teachers your child will love and teachers your child may not. There are teachers you’ll like and dislike as well. There are teachers who may adore your child, and those who just don’t understand him. But whatever the case, your child’s teacher is the second most important person in your child’s life (after her parents, of course). And you can help make their relationship a strong and rewarding one.
“A positive parent-teacher relationship helps your child feel good about school and be successful in school,” advises Diane Levin, Ph.D., professor of education at Wheelock College. “It demonstrates to your child that he can trust his teacher, because you do. This positive relationship makes a child feel like the important people in his life are working together.”
Communicating well is a key factor for making this relationship work. “Communication on both sides is extremely important,” notes teacher Susan Becker, M. Ed. “The parents need information about what and how their child is learning, and the teacher needs important feedback from the parent about the child’s academic and social development.”
But communicating effectively with a busy teacher, who may have up to 30 kids in a class, can be challenging. When’s the right time to talk — and when isn’t? How can you get her attention? What should you bring up with her with and what should be left alone? How do you create a relationship with someone you may only see a few times a year? And how do you do this without coming across like an overanxious pain in the you-know-what?
Try these strategies to build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher.
Approach this relationship with respect. Treat the teacher-parent-child relationship the way you would any really important one in your life. Create a problem-solving partnership, instead of confronting a teacher immediately with what’s wrong. “Meet with a teacher to brainstorm and collaborate ways to help your child, instead of delivering a lecture,” recommends Susan Becker, M. Ed.
Let your child develop his own relationship with the teacher. “This is one of the first relationships with an adult your child may have outside the family unit. If you take a back seat and let the relationship develop without much interference, a special bond may develop,” advises guidance counselor Linda Lendman. “For young children, the teacher-child relationship is a love relationship,” adds Michael Thompson, Ph.D. “In fact, it may be their first love relationship after their parents and it can be pretty powerful and wonderful.”
Try not to brag. Of course you think your child is brilliant, but bragging over her many accomplishments may send a message to the teacher that you think he may not be good enough to teach your child. “You don’t need to sell your child to the teacher,” notes Michael Thompson Ph.D., “you have to trust that your teacher will come to know what’s important herself. Telling a teacher that your child loves to read will thrill the teacher. But challenging your teacher with statements like ‘Susie read 70 books over the summer’ or ‘Matthew is a whiz at math,’ may backfire.”
Remember how you liked (or disliked) your teachers. Your experience at school is likely to affect your attitude toward your child’s teacher. “It’s important to leave your own baggage at the door, so you can talk about your child with the teacher (and not about you!)” adds Michael Thompson, Ph.D.
The start of a new school year can be stressful for kids and their parents. Here are some great tips from anxietyabc.com for helping your child deal with back to school worries.
Look after the basics.
Nobody copes well when they are tired or hungry. Anxious children often forget to eat, don’t feel hungry, and don’t get enough sleep. Provide frequent and nutritious snacks for your child.During this time, you also need to build in regular routines, so that life is more predictable for your child. These routines can involve the morning and bedtime habits, as well as eating schedules.
Encourage your child to share his or her fears.
Ask your child what is making him or her worried. Tell your child that it is normal to have concerns. Before and during the first few weeks of school, set up a regular time and place to talk. Some children feel most comfortable in a private space with your undivided attention (such as right before bed, or during mealtime). Teens often welcome some sort of distraction to cut the intensity of their worries and feelings (such as driving in the car, or taking a walk).
Avoid giving reassurance...instead, problem-solve and plan! Children often seek reassurance that bad things won’t happen in order to reduce their worry. Do not assure them with “Don’t worry!” or “Everything will be fine!” Instead, encourage your child to think of ways to solve his or her problem. For example, “If (the worst) happens, what could you do?” or “Let’s think of some ways you could handle that situation.” This gives you the opportunity to coach your child on how to cope with (and interpret) both real and imagined scary situations. You will also be giving your child the tools he or she needs to cope with an unexpected situation that might arise. See How to Address Excessive Reassurance Seeking for more details.
Here’s a sample script for engaging your child in problem-solving and planning (instead of giving reassurance):
Role-play with your child. Sometimes role-playing a certain situation with your child can help him or her make a plan, and feel more confident that he or she will be able to handle the situation. For example, let your child play the part of the demanding teacher or bullying classmate. Then, model appropriate responses and coping techniques for your child, to help them calm down. For more information on role-playing, see Helping your Anxious Child Make Friends
Focus on the positive aspects! Encourage your child to re-direct attention away from the worries, and towards the positives. Ask your child, "What are three things that you are most excited about on your first day of school?" Most kids can think of something good, even if it's just eating a special snack or going home at the end of the day. Chances are that the fun aspects are simply getting overlooked by repetitive worries.
Pay attention to your own behavior. It can be anxiety-provoking for parents to hand over care and responsibility of their child to teachers. Children take cues from their parents, so the more confidence and comfort you can model, the more your child will understand there is no reason to be afraid. Be supportive yet firm. When saying goodbye in the morning, say it cheerfully – once! Ensure you don’t reward your child’s protests, crying, or tantrums by allow him or her to avoid going to school. Instead, in a calm tone, say: “I can see that going to school is making you scared, but you still have to go. Tell me what you are worried about, so we can talk about it.” Chances are, your child is anxious about something that requires a little problem-solving, role-playing, planning, and/or involvement from the teacher.
Without the daily structure of school, it’s common for kids to stay up later and not sleep long enough to make up for it.
After a while, the lack of sleep can begin to affect their mood, health and ability to learn. It may seem nice to allow your child to wake up later during the summer, but try to stick to the same bedtime routine they have throughout the rest of the year. This will cause their bodies to become accustomed to a sleep schedule. If they wake up later than normal a few times a week, they can become groggy and jet-lag like, making it hard for their bodies to feel tired at its normal bedtime.
Even though bedtimes tend to be later in the summer, as parents, try to still keep them as consistent as possible. For instance, if your child has an 8 p.m. bedtime during the school year, allow them to stay up until 9 p.m. during the summer. The consistence of timing is powerful because the internal clock works best under routine.
Studies have shown that elementary-aged children that have a regular bedtime performed better in math, spatial stills and reading. On the other hand, kids whose bedtimes were inconsistent, were more likely to have behavior and mood issues.
To help guide your child back to a regular sleep schedule at the beginning of the school year, it’s important to start changing sleep patterns at least 10-14 days before school. Start by incorporating the earlier bedtime slowly, by putting 15-20 minutes each night toward bedtime with a familiar routine. Additionally, keep regular bedtime and wake-up times on weekends. Without the proper amount of sleep, kids have difficulty focusing and more emotional sensitivity, which can lead to more problems down the road. Sleep guidelines recommend that preschool-age students get 10-13 hours of sleep each night, school age children 9-11 hours and adolescents 8-10 hours.
Follow these tips to help your child get the sleep their body needs. In return, you’ll sleep better, too!
Article originally written and published by: Mankato Clinic
Before you fire up the grill, light up a sparkler, launch a firework, or settle in to watch your hometown’s Independence Day parade; make sure you talk to your children about staying safe during these fun July 4th celebrations.
Fireworks and Sparklers
Being safe around fireworks is critical for both kids and adults, as the risk of injury is greatest for teenagers and young children.
Create a child free zone while you grill. Children should know only adults are allowed to use the grill and they are not allowed near when it is on. Grilling is a tasty treat for the whole family, but it gets very hot and smoky. Be sure to check the grill’s tubes and burners for blockages from grease, cracking, holes or leaks. Never use a damaged grill.
Designate a Meeting Spot at Crowded Events
Crowded events such as parades and fireworks gatherings can increase the risk of your child becoming separated from the family. It is best to predetermine a meeting place for both you and your child, so both of you know what to do in this situation.
Bonfires Safety Tips
Bonfires are a fun activity in places without overhanging tree limbs, dry grass or power lines. To keep it safe, arrange chairs at a safe distance away from the fire and do not sit directly in front of the fire’s smoke. Adults and children should not throw objects into the flames as this can cause them to pop up from the heat or release chemicals into the air. Your family’s favorite bonfire activity may be making s’mores as a tasty treat. If so, make sure you tell your child to never shake a burning marshmallow because it can fall off the stick and go toward someone else around the fire.
Don’t forget your summer basics
Because it can be such a busy day, don’t forget your usual summer safety protocols. This means lathering on sun screen before going to the town parade and bringing along water bottles for the whole family. If your child is swimming, you should exercise the same precautions as you would any other day during the summer. Read more about summer safety here.
An Important Message from the CDC
Hot weather provides opportunities for kids to enjoy the outdoors. Take steps to keep them safe and healthy, both indoors and outdoors.
Master Water Safety
Swimming and other water activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life. Get the most from these activities while helping everyone stay safe and healthy.
Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Adults and children need protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they’re outdoors. Learn how to protect your child from sun damage.
njuries are the leading cause of death in children aged 19 and younger, but most child injuries can be prevented.
Summer is quickly approaching. It is that time of the year our children love, and parents dread. What are you going to do with them all summer long? It's not too early to be making you summer care arrangements. So what are some of your options?
Here are some tips from Child Care Resource and Referral at John A Logan.
1)Licensed Child Care Centers and Licensed Homes
Many licensed center and licensed home provide care for school age children. Some even expand their offerings during the summer month. CCR&R has a list of programs in the region and has a referral specialist on staff that can answer any questions you may have.
2) Family, Friends or neighbors
Do you know someone who will be home during the summer months and that you feel comfortable having your children in their care? They may be willing to help you out for the summer and earn a little extra spending money for their own family. It never hurts to ask. When you make these type of arrangements, keep in mind that a family can care for up to three children including their own ( or one other family) without having a license.
3) Cooperative /shared care care
Think about sharing care options with another family. Maybe you can provide some care for their children and they can help your when needed. It can help keep your child care expenses in check and develop a supportive friendship with other parents. If you have a friend with same-aged kids, consider using some of your vacation time to provide a parent-run “camp.” You take your friend’s kids for a week or two. She or he takes yours for a week or two. The adults can relax knowing the kids are in good care. Both families save quite a bit of cash. You can enjoy time at the park or at the beach and playing backyard games and doing crafts with your favorite kids. Make sure that you and the other parent have similar expectations about how the days will go, beginning and end times, what you expect each other to provide in the way of meals and snacks, and how you will set limits.
4) Hire a babysitter to come to your home
. School is out for older teens and college students too. Work is hard to find. Contact the high school guidance department. Ask them to contact students they can recommend about your available job. If there is a college nearby, contact the Early Childhood, Education, and recreation Services departments. Interview carefully. Set clear expectations. Provide clear information about options for summer fun. Sit the kids down with the sitter to establish clear ground rules. Make sure to stock the fridge. Pay decently and you’ll buy quality. Always be considerate and on time and you’ll win loyalty.
5) Summer Camp. The Scouts, Park Districts, SIUC and other groups in the regions offer day camp opportunities of anywhere from a week to all summer. For children too young or who don’t want to be away from family and friends, day camp provides the camp experience without the separation. They cost much less than overnight camp. Many have “campership” programs for those who are low income and qualify.
Many communities have a local recreation department that offers sports camps, arts and crafts camps, or a day camp kind of model. Most are affordable. Many offer a sliding scale fee structure. Many have a scholarship program.
Overnight camps. For some families, overnight came is the best option. These camps run from one week to all summer. Some are run by organizations like the Girl and Boy Scouts. Some are private. Some focus on one major activity (such as computers, theater, or wilderness) while others offer a smorgasbord of activities every day. Like day camps, many offer camperships to help low-income families. Talk to other parents to get ideas. Take care to make sure your child is ready to spend time away from home.
6)Summer school. Many school systems offer summer programs that include some academics and a lot of fun. Especially consider this if your child is struggling with school or is at risk to lose skills over the summer. Summer school can give your child the extra academic support her or she needs. Done well, summer school also includes crafts, sports, and the arts so it isn’t all work and no play.
7)Volunteer work. Kids who are between 12 and 16 are the hardest to occupy in the summer. Many consider themselves too old for many of the other options and yet they are too young for paid employment. Give them a head start on paid work in the future. Help them build a resume and a work ethic by doing some volunteer work. Many camps have a “counselor in training” program for middle teens. Nonprofits are often delighted to have another set of hands to do work. Just make sure there is enough supervision and enough to do every day to keep your child engaged.
Knowing your options and advance planning can help make it a great summer for you and the kids.
Question?Call CCR&R at 1-800-548-5563.
As you think about signing kids up for organized sports, consider how emotionally and physically ready they are to participate. If they're too young or not ready, it will be frustrating for everyone, and can turn kids off from sports for good.
Although there are sports programs designed for preschoolers, it's not until about age 6 or 7 that most kids develop the physical skills and attention span that most sports need. Preschoolers can throw and run, but it usually takes some time before they can coordinate the two skills. And it may not be until kindergarten or first grade before kids understand the rules of the game.
That doesn't mean kids can't play sports when they're younger. Sports can be fun for toddlers and kindergartners, but these should be less about competition and more about learning skills and having fun while being active. So even if young kids inadvertently score a goal for the other team or spend the entire game chasing butterflies, as long as they're enjoying it, that's OK.
If you do decide to sign your 5-year-old up for a team, be sure to choose a league that emphasizes fun and basic skills.
Organizing and storing expert, Emma Gordon, of Clutter.com, has worked with celebrities from Neil Patrick Harris to Jamie Lynn Sigler, and now she's sharing her decluttering tips to help you get your kids' rooms in tip top shape.
Original Article By Emma Gordon
Is your family getting cabin fever from the Arctic Blast? Getting cozy with the family is one thing. But being cooped up inside because of the weather can cause even the happiest of homes to experience some angst. With a little thought and ingenuity, though, you can turn your time together into an opportunity to bond and create. Here is a list of 8 quick tips to warm everyone up to each other. Maybe it will spark some new ideas in your family!
1. Bond through baking
There are hundreds of kid-friendly recipes on the Internet. Your efforts will add some warmth and comfort to your home.
2. Declare a “Family Game Day”
Dust off those board games hiding in the toy chest. Now is the time for some stiff competition.
3. Host a moviethon
Invite outside guests to enjoy in the fun. Ask them to supply the popcorn or some other movie time treats to eat.
4. Keep the chill outside the house
When families are cooped up together, things can heat up. Your children look to you to model appropriate reactions. An upbeat attitude can be catchy.
5. A little bit of laughter goes a long way
A good way to keep things comfortable is to encourage lightheartedness. Challenge each family member to tell a funny joke or story.
6. Plan your summer vacation
A good way to keep your mind off the cold weather is to talk about what you will do when it is warm. Call a family meeting to start generating ideas for family fun over the summer.
7. Collaborate on crafts
Ask your kids to help you come up with fun creations. All it takes is some crayons, markers, paper, glue, tape and some odds and ends from around the house. When you ask them to take on the task together, you encourage feelings of self-esteem and competence.
8. Engage in a family competition
While video games are not the best way to engage in hours of play, sometimes an exception can go a long way. Invite your kids to compete in their favorite video game system or online game. Structure the competition into rounds of play and offer prizes for the victors. A team approach is often the most fun-kids versus parents is a good way to build camaraderie between siblings.
It may be cold outside, but when you capitalize on time together, you create a warm and loving environment that could quickly melt away the bad weather blues. Here’s to keeping warm and happy
By Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder for KnowMore.tv