Archive for 2011
Grandparents are not only the safety net for their own kids, but they are also a safe haven for their grandchildren. Typically kids do not like to talk to their parents about problems or ask questions because they are too afraid to confide personal information to them. On the other hand, they tend to divulge more information to their grandparents because it feels safe and free of punishment. Grandparents typically take on the role of buffer between their own kids and their grandchildren.
Grandparents are also unsung heroes. Not only are the typically able to help out in a time of need, they are trustworthy and willing. Having grandparents geographically close allows parents to have a babysitter that they know and trust, and typically don’t have to pay! When emergencies happen, they are always there to help you out. Grandparents can truly be a lifesaver if you let them.
When you’re unsure of the activities your kids and their grandparents can do together, the options are near limitless.
– Go to the library, museum or a show.
Take a monthly trip to your local library where grandparents can choose books from their childhood and shares them with the kids. Museum and live theater are a great way to spend time together. www.glazermuseum.org, www.mosi.org, www.tampaartmuseum.org, www.strazcenter.org, www.rutheckerdhall.com, www.largoarts.com
– Spend time in the kitchen.
Take out the apron, the recipe box and cook something from your family history. It’s a great way for kids to learn how to cook and talk about their heritage with family elders. The occasional food fight isn’t bad either.
– Teach them how to fish.
Fishing is an American pastime and a great way to spend a summer afternoon with the grandparents. Teaching kids how to wind the rod, bait the line and catch fish is fun and a great way to spend some time talking. You can even teach the older kids how to filet the fish
– Work on Arts and Crafts.
Grandparents grew up with a lot less technology than their grandchildren and probably learned how to sew, knit or scrap book at a young age. Sharing these talents with them is a great way to create keepsakes for them to remember their grandparents by.
– Share some history.
Grandparents’ stories are full of history. Grandkids love to hear from different generations about what life was like when they were growing up. This is a great time to share family history so it can continue on from generation to generation.
– Make a family tree.
It is never too late to start keeping a family tree. It’s a fun and fascinating project for everyone who is involved.
Grandparents may not always be able to be a part of your child’s life, but if it is possible, be sure to take advantage and urge that special bond to happen. Your parents and your kids will thank you down the road.
Mornings can be a struggling battle for some, or something to look forward to for others. Over the years, we have all become familiar with the term “Morning Person”, and we have come to recognize whether we are one or not. What most parents can agree on, is whether they choose to be a morning person or not, that choice goes out the window when they start a family.
Some families may find their morning routines to be a breeze enjoying the quality time together, while others need a good night’s rest just to gear up for their morning routine. Although we all dream of kids waking up bright-eyed and bushy tailed, that is just not reality. Parents start out with the responsibility of doing everything in the morning while their kids are too young to do it themselves, but parents need to remember that as they get older they can teach their kids to do some of these simple tasks to eliminate the chaos and stress of the morning.
Teaching kids even the smallest tasks like waking up on their own, dressing themselves and brushing their hair and teeth will free up plenty of time for mom and dad in the morning to start their own routine.
A few steps families can take to make the morning calm and enjoyable are:
Plan: Problems in the morning are often rooted in the fact that things should have been done the night before. Check school bags the night before to make sure all necessary contents are in them and then place them at the front door. Also, lay out clothes for the next day to save a few minutes the next morning. Pack your kid’s lunches or teach them to pack their lunch the night before.
Stay on a routine: Creating a routine keeps most of the unpleasant surprises that wreck havoc on mornings out of the picture, allowing your family for the most part to start refreshed and charged. Wake up an hour earlier than you need to and take time to relax, drink your coffee, do yoga or read Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.
Get quality sleep: This sometimes seems like a thing of the past to adults, but to kids this is extremely important. Making sure your kids get quality sleep will allow them to wake up feeling refreshed and happier than being on an inconsistently unhealthy sleep pattern. All parents would rather see smiles in the morning than tears and temper tantrums!
There will always be bumps in the road to challenge one’s parenting tactics, but just making a few of these changes will rid some stress and frustration out of the morning no matter what obstacle comes. With your newfound free time, make sure to spend it with your family enjoying each other. Sitting down and having a breakfast is a fantastic way to bond and get fueled up for the day! With something that could positively affect every member of the family, there is no reason not to try out a few of these ideas!
Did you know that children on average get sick more often than adults? Since the immune system of a child is not fully developed, it is more susceptible to catching viruses when in close contact with another infected child. Seeing how most virus/infection transmissions occur at daycare or school parents can start feel hopeless when trying to keep their kids healthy. But avoiding the doctor’s office is as easy as instilling simple, consistent hygiene, sleeping and healthy eating patterns.
Some kids fall easily into these pattern early on. But for those who don’t, here are a few ideas to help get your kids eating right and in bed on time.
“Why should I go to bed?”
Children between the ages of 5 and 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep per night. But with school and after school demands increasing, keeping kids on track after school can seem nearly impossible. Creating an afterschool chart of when homework, after school activities and dinner are to be completed will help keep kids on task and on schedule. Putting into place a “coming down time” 30 minutes before bed where TV, electronics and game playing ceases will help ease them into a restful evening. Enforcing a bedtime, even when on vacation, will help your child’s body rest and regenerate.
“Why do I have to eat that?”
Your child’s diet is incredibly important to keeping them from having sick days. Children naturally gravitate to “junk” food because it “tastes better”. But what your children may not know is that these foods can cause them to fill up on non-nutritional foods leaving little or no space for the foods they should be eating. Making sure that children are getting a balanced diet is pivotal to having a healthy child. Explaining to your child on a regular basis why nutrition will help to cement the habits of healthy eating.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that when a group of 324 elementary school students, aged 5 to 14, were given a lesson in hand disinfection theory there was a 66 percent decrease in the number of students that missed school for four or more days in one academic school year. And the number of students with zero sick days went up 20 percent compared to the previous school year. “Regular training in hand washing and hand disinfection” is the simplest, most cost-affective way to reduce the number of days children miss school says the study author, Inge Nandrup-Bus.
If you find that the bathroom sink has become a battlefield in the Soap Wars saga, here are a few ideas to help keep your kids from coming in catching an illness:
“Washing your hands is fun!”
Kids think that washing their hands is a chore. Making the experience fun will help ease the burden kids feel while washing their hands. Create activities like singing or using colored soaps for hand washing. Some companies are now creating clear, organic bars of soap that have a small toy in the middle of the bar. Once the child has worn down the bar of soap, they’ll get the reward on the inside.
“Watch how mommy does it.”
If you don’t wash your hands on a regular basis, your children won’t either. Making it a habit to wash your hands when the kids are around will help set the right example for them.
“Watch the clock.”
The amount of time your child spends washing their hands is very important as well. Running their hands under water for 5 seconds does not count as “washing their hands” no matter how much they insist. An easy way to remember how much time their hands should be scrubbed is by singing “Happy Birthday” twice.
“Why is it important?”
Explain to your child why hygiene is important. Making sure that they understand the correlation between hygiene and illness will help them make sense of its importance.
“When do you wash your hands?”
Although there is no specific number of times a day children should wash their hands, there are certain activities that should always be followed by a visit to the sink. These include coughing/sneezing, handling animals and trash, before and after coming in contact with a baby and before and after meals. If your worried that the kids won’t remember, leave them a little note in their lunchbox or book bag.
Creating the good hygiene, eating and sleeping habit early on will help you avoid sickdays as your kids get older. Enforcing these habits will not only help them in the short term but in the long term as well. Kids truly are mounds of clay that parents can form into healthy, happy kids.
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Last year, the computer and video game industry had $10.5 billion in revenue. Since the days of Pac Man and Tetris, the booming industry has seen sales and profits rise consistently as it continuously reinvents itself. This hobby has created extreme loyalty, which can sometimes be viewed as addictive and dangerous. In 2010, the average gamer spent eight hours a week playing video games, and 25 percent of those gamers are under the age of 18.
We have all seen the news stories about video games making kids overweight and increasing crime rates in teens. But with 67 percent of U.S. households having a gaming console, are there actions parents can take in order to keep kids safe and healthy?
The most significant thing for parents to keep in mind when allowing their kids to play video games is to remember they are in control. Here’s a short list of ideas to help you keep gaming under control.
- Monitor their playing time either by how much time a week, or as a reward for doing homework, helping out around the house or even exercising.
- Use the parental controls. With the new gaming technology, most consoles and games come with parental controls, so make life easier by using them. With the new technology, your kids can go online to play and talk with complete strangers. Be aware of those games and limit what their kids can do.
- Keep a close eye on the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating. These ratings typically show up in the commercials as well as placed on the boxes. There are numerous ratings and they run the gamut from EC for Early Childhood to A for Adults Only. Parents should purchase games that are appropriate for their children, instead of just buying what is popular.
- Play video games with your kids so you are in the know about what they are being entertained by.
- Discuss your household video game rules with friend’s parents so no toes are stepped on and consistency is maintained.
Parents should keep in mind it is not always a negative thing for their kids to play video games. Some available games promote hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and the mind’s ability to process information.
If you see a sudden change in behavior, grades or socialization habits, the negative effects of gaming may be affecting your child. When in doubt, go with games that are known and promoted for their educational benefits. Giving a game that is entertaining as well as beneficial to your child’s mind is a win-win for all. And lastly, do not let the gaming world become their world.
The terms “step family” and “blended family” may not be new, but they are much more common in society today than ever before. In the past, we were most familiar with two drastically opposite views on what a blended family could be. On one hand we had the negative example of Walt Disney’s Cinderella and her evil stepfamily, and on the other we had the picture perfect portrayal of a blended family brought to us by the Brady Bunch.
Now, blended families are more of a norm, with 65% of remarriages including children from previous relationships. Just as a divorce or losing a parent is life changing for a child, and sometimes extremely difficult to deal with, “blending” families to create stepfamilies can be just as challenging. Sometimes the battle is between the kids getting along, the kids and the new parents accepting each other or even between the parent’s struggling to find a balance between two different parenting techniques. It may be difficult at the start, but one of the key elements to blending a family successfully is time. The biggest mistake a parent can make is to force and rush the transition.
Things to Keep in Mind When Planning a Blended Family
- Too many changes at once can unsettle children. Blended families have the highest success rate if the couple waits two years or more after a divorce to remarry, instead of piling one drastic family change onto another.
- Don’t expect to fall in love with your partner’s children overnight. Get to know them. Love and affection take time to develop.
- Find ways to experience “real life” together. Taking both sets of kids to a theme park every time you get together is a lot of fun, but it isn’t reflective of everyday life. Try to get the kids used to your partner and his or her children in daily life situations.
- Make parenting changes before you marry. Agree with your new partner how you intend to parent together, and then make any necessary adjustments to your parenting styles before you remarry. It’ll make for a smoother transition and your kids won’t become angry at your new spouse for initiating changes.
- Don’t allow ultimatums. Your kids or new partner may put you in a situation where you feel you have to choose between them. Remind them that you want both sets of people in your life.
- Insist on respect. You can’t insist that people like each other but you can stress that they treat one another with respect.
- Limit your expectations. You may give a lot of time, energy, love, and affection to your new partner’s kids that will not be returned immediately. Think of it as making small investments that may one day yield a lot of interest.
The biggest step for a parent is making an effort to create a relationship with their spouse’s kids. Even if the kids do not accept the change at first, stepparents should not take that as a sign to give up. This is a new life and everyone needs to go through the ups and downs together. Continue to take baby steps. Show them you care, that you want to be in their life and appreciate them, because in time they will do the same.
A young man who was grieving for his pet goldfish said, “If something happens to me, will Mom and Dad flush me too?”
A 10-year-old girl who had just lost her 9-year-old dog—with whom she’d grown up—said, “Mom and Dad aren’t crying, so I should be grown-up too and not cry.”
These humbling examples offered me a sobering perspective on how deeply and personally children experience grief. With such a fragile and sensitive subject, what can parents and grandparents do to help?
Right now, before a loss occurs, think about how to bring your child into the process. Each person handles death differently. Age, life experience and personality vary from child to child, and parents need to be able to acknowledge that and support their child’s healing process individually. Death is a natural part of life, and how a parent guides their child or grandchild through their grief will very likely affect how they will deal with similar experiences in the future.
Although there is no uniformed way to deal with death, there are actions parents can take to help their child understand this unfamiliar circumstance:
- Explain death to them. Of course this is going to need to be done in terms appropriate for their age level. Using unknown vocabulary or ignoring the situation all together will only make your child more confused and hurt. Whether it is a beloved family member, distant relative or even pet, it is important that a child is not sheltered from a natural, uncontrollable part of life. It is going to happen and it is better for them to understand the process than be under the impression of false information.
- Teach them how to handle death appropriately. Even if it is the death a pet they’ve had for less than 24 hours, parents should take these examples and make them teachable moments. Holding a small family funeral, at which the animal’s life is celebrated with stories, artwork, poetry, or a song, will help kids learn different ways to express their feelings in the situation of death.
- Show emotion! It is important for children see their parents express emotion in these unfamiliar situations, because they are looking for any sign of what to do and how to act. Parents and grandparents are always the number one role models and seeing their parents handle emotions such as crying, will teach them that it is okay to show emotion and how to appropriately go through the healing process. If parents suppress their feelings, their child might come to believe that it’s wrong to express one’s grief.
A popular question parents have when helping their child cope with death is what is the proper age for a child to attend a funeral? This choice is up to the parent. They know their child best, and have a good grasp on what their child can handle. If it is the first funeral, parents should brief their child on what to expect when they go. Sometimes attending a funeral is the best way for a child to understand death and heal. Children closely connected to someone who died may need that closure and final good-bye. At the same time, some children may not be ready to attend funerals, and this potentially could make them only more upset. Again, it is a judgment call only a parent or grandparent can make.
As kids learn how to deal with death, they need space, understanding, and patience to grieve in their own way. They might not show grief as an adult would. A young child might not cry or might react to the news by acting out or becoming hyperactive. A teen might act annoyed and might feel more comfortable confiding in peers. Nevertheless, watch for any signs that kids need help coping with a loss.
Signs your child may need additional help coping with death:
- Drastic behavior and character changes. Ex: Going from a social butterfly to extremely withdrawn and angry.
- No signs of healing. If your child has not come to terms with the death after a normal period of time.
A doctor, school guidance counselor, or mental health organization can provide additional assistance and recommendations. Also look for books, websites, support groups, and other resources that help people manage grief.
Just as dealing with death is a learning process for kids, teaching this is also a process for parents. Parents can’t always shield kids from sadness and losses. But helping them learn to cope with them builds emotional resources they can rely on throughout life.
Many families don’t know that attending school is not a legal requirement in the United States. Although your kids may jump for joy if you were to tell them that, they should know that it is legally required for them to be educated.
Kids can receive a traditional education by attending a public or private institution. Some families choose a different education platform like online schools or homeschooling. Over the last decade, the number of students being educated through nontraditional outlets has skyrocketed. There are now more than 1.5 million students in the United States that are homeschooled and the number continues to grow. But why?
There are plenty of reasons parents decide to home school their kids. The most popular reason is concerns over the school environment. Other reasons parents may choose to home school their children are:
- A desire to provide religious or moral instruction
- A dissatisfaction with academic regulations imposed by the Department of Education or individual private institutions
- Nontraditional approach to children’s education – or “unschoolers” who consider typical curriculums and standardized testing as counterproductive to quality education
- Increasing family time, lowering financial burdens and travel expenses
- Child has special needs (other than physical or mental health problems) that schools cannot or will not meet
- Child has a physical or mental health problem
Like any other education decision, there are pros and cons to a parent making the choice to home school their kid. Some things to consider:
Advantages of Home Schooling:
- One on one attention, allowing them to take their time in subjects they don’t understand without being left behind, as well as excel in subjects they enjoy.
- Get out in the community more. They may get to experience hands-on education at community resources. They also might volunteer or participate in “service learning” where they take on local projects.
- Learn in the comfort of their home. Parents have the advantage to rid of any distractions as well as control their child’s surroundings.
- Flexible schedule.
Disadvantages of Home Schooling:
- Laws and requirements vary across the United States, and it’s up to home schoolers to comply with local regulations. Learning about and following local regulations can be a lot of additional work for the parent.
- As homeschooled kids become teens and old enough to guide their learning, they may be left more on their own to find resources and do their own research. At the time this may be difficult, but this independence will pay off in college.
- Time commitment is a huge factor. Without careful planning the parent teacher may never have time to herself. Planning time for homework, housework, field trips, lessons must be scheduled to avoid chaos.
- The lack of convenience to some school facilities, such as a gymnasium, science lab, or art studio.
If parents choose to home school their child, they need to go above and beyond in getting their child socialized and involved outside of the house. Parents who choose to have their kids learn from home can still get their kids socialized by joining home schooling groups, public school extracurricular activities and sharing lesson times to name a few.
There is no right or wrong answer for choosing the type of setting a child should be educated in. Many factors will play into the decision, and it’s a parent’s job to make the best decision for their child’s future. Meeting with families who have chosen a nontraditional education route can be a great way for you and your child to learn more about the options.
A child’s imagination is an extraordinary thing. It can create worlds we cannot visit, friends we cannot see and ideas we can barely fathom. There is no measurement to the extent a child can grow this magical ability, and as a parent we need to embrace this limitless wonder. Some of your child’s best creations will be the product of their imagination, whether it is as bewildering as banana chicken soup, or as stunning as a hand painted mural. With such a powerful tool for a child, it is important for parents to encourage the growth and not dilute it.
In the past year, studies have shown that creativity has decreased among American children. Since 1990 children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas resulting in less humor, imagination and ability to elaborate on ideas. The good part about these conclusions is it is easy to nurture an imagination. Some quick fixes parents can take to ensure that their children are using and expanding their imagination are:
- Make time to pretend. Pretend play lets kids try out new roles for themselves (like superheroes, princesses, wild animals, or even parents) and allows for creative problem solving. But it also helps them deal with another hurdle of the preschool years: intense emotions.
- Turn off the video games and TV. These are two mediums that create fantasy worlds for them, and typically do not stimulate kids to do so themselves. Instead, have them create their own entertainment, whether it’s directing their own play or illustrating their own storybook. Also with the growth of technology, it is always nice to bring out old toys like blocks and dolls and see what they do when they are in charge of their own entertainment.
- Slow down. Nowadays, kids have a packed schedule, allowing no time to actually “play”. Giving them time to just have fun will give them the opportunity to use their imagination to play house, super heroes or even princesses.
Just like most stages in a child’s life, the imagination stage will fade and parents will be left with a pile of costumes and a memory of laughter. This bittersweet moment is known as “the age of reason”, meaning the child is now at a higher-level of thinking and has realized that the way they thought the world worked is now not necessarily how it actually does work.
The age of reason is when parents will see their kids start to decipher what is right from wrong, the battle of finding their conscious and the realization that their fantasy worlds and friends were never there to begin with. Luckily for parents, the fun does not end with the start of the age of reason. Parents will start to see the product of their child’s imagination translate into their future through:
- Creative writing
- Help with critical thinking
So when the capes come off and the wands stop working, parents should not discourage the creativity they have been enveloped with the past few years. Instead, they now know their child’s capability and should encourage them to dabble in art, music, creative writing and critical thinking situations to find their true passion.
The first years of a child’s life is equally exciting and frightening for parents. It is amazing to see the miracle of human growth and development, but frustrating when parents are unable to see progress in a normal timeline. It’s difficult for a parent to know exactly when your kid should walk, be potty trained and even talk. Parents should remember that all kids grow and excel at different speeds.
Surely a sense of relief comes with the development of a child’s speech and language, giving them the ability to communicate any issue with their parents. So, when something as important as speech and language skills do not develop, or progress very slowly, what is a parent to do?
First parents need to understand that speech and language are two separate abilities.
- Speech is the verbal expression of language and includes articulation (the way sounds and words are formed).
- Language is much broader and refers to the entire system of expressing and receiving information in a way that’s meaningful. It’s understanding and being understood through communication — verbal, nonverbal and written.
What are the signs of a speech delay?
Speech delay occurs in up to 10 percent of children. An infant that isn’t responding to sound or isn’t vocalizing is of particular concern. Between 12 and 24 months, reasons for concern include a child who:
- Isn’t using gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye by 12 months
- Prefers gestures over vocalizations to communicate by 18 months
- Has trouble imitating sounds by 18 months
- Has difficulty understanding simple verbal requests
Parents should seek an evaluation if a child over two years old:
- Can only imitate speech or actions and doesn’t produce words or phrases spontaneously
- Says only certain sounds or words repeatedly and can’t use oral language to communicate more than their immediate needs
- Can’t follow simple directions
- Has an unusual tone of voice (such as raspy or nasal sounding)
- Is more difficult to understand than expected for their age. Parents and regular caregivers should understand about half of a child’s speech at two years and about three quarters at three years. By four years old, even people who don’t know the child should mostly be able to understand what they are saying.
The causes of delay of speech vary from child to child. There are numerous reasons, some of the more common reasons are:
- Mental retardation
- Hearing loss
- Maturation delay
- Expressive language disorder
- Psychosocial deprivation
- Elective mutism
- Receptive aphasia
- Cerebral palsy
Things You Can Do to Improve Speech Delay
- Just because your child may show signs of speech delay, or may be affected by one of the genetic causes, do not throw in the towel on helping them progress. There are very simple steps a parent can take to help develop their child’s speech and language skills. By using some of the following tips, the chances of your child catching up to the rest of the kids their age are much greater.
- Take time to communicate with your child. We tend to lose, or lack an ability when we do not use it often. Engaging with your child from day one, will teach them all the fundamentals of communication while make it second nature.
- Read! Reading is never outdated. It is a great way for people of all ages to develop and maintain a strong sense of language. Start reading age appropriate books at six months, and encourage them to imitate motions and sounds in order to create motor skills. As they get older, parents should progress to teaching them to recognize words and eventually read.
- Guide them into learning. When they are younger, fortify their communication by guiding them through conversations. Set up conversations with questions about the day, explain things you are doing, ask and acknowledge their responses. It may be difficult, but try to refrain from using baby talk.
Naturally, when there is an issue, mental or physical, early acknowledgement and treatment is the best action a parent can take.