raisingkidswithlove

You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

What should be in your child’s playroom?


The Holiday Season is here and the shopping has begun!  I was in Target this past weekend, the toy choices are overwhelming and expensive!  What are the best toys for your child?  Which toys will be fun and valuable for your child’s development? It is difficult to decide what toys are the best choice!

I can remember feeling like toys in our house multiplied every night. SURELY we didn’t have THAT many stuffed animals yesterday! Too many toys results in a child who doesn’t play with anything well, they become overwhelmed with the number of toys. Parents also can fall into the trap of buying the newest flashiest toy on the market. We all love our kids, so why wouldn’t we stand in line to buy the “most popular” toy of the season? Many of these flashy toys encourage a child to play passively, using no imagination or creativity. Toys should allow a child to play in several different ways. A child should be able to decide how to play with a toy, the toy should not determine how a child plays. Play is a child’s work, it is through play that a child learns how the world works. As you make that holiday wish list, here are what I think every child needs in his playroom. You might be surprised!

  1. Blocks and construction type toys

Wooden blocks, cardboard bricks, Legos, and magnetic tiles are all great choices. Depending on your child’s age, you will see children build towers, knock towers over, sort blocks by color, create designs, make roads for cars and tracks for trains and more.

  1. Art supplies

Creative juices start flowing when a child has a blank piece of paper, crayons, paints, markers, stickers, scissors and any other item you can find in the craft aisle to help with their masterpiece. Blank paper rather than coloring books will provide more encouragement for a child to create. Children age 2 and older love to create on an easel which allows for larger muscle movement which makes drawing and painting easier.

  1. Books….lots of them!

Provide books in bins so children can see the front of them.  The front of the book will interest a child more than the words on the spine of the book on a shelf. Provide books that have flaps, pop ups, and colorful pictures. A corner with a small chair or big floor pillow encourages reading.

  1. Play kitchen supplies and other child sized house hold items like keys, phones, brooms, rakes etc.

If space allows, a play kitchen is a great investment. Play food, dishes and utensils and other child sized household items encourages great imaginative play and cooperative play with others.

  1. Doll stroller or shopping cart

All children like to push dolls, stuffed animals, and other toys around.  Toddlers and preschoolers are “gatherers” and a doll stroller or shopping cart provides a way for them to collect “treasures” on walks outside or around your home.

  1. Dress up clothes

Role play is a great way to encourage imagination and development of social skills and empathy.  Keep those Halloween costumes out all year in an easily accessible dress up box.

  1. Puzzles

Puzzles help a child learn to problem solve, develop patience, practice persistence, and develop spatial awareness.

  1. Medical kit

Play helps a child work through scary or anxiety producing experiences.  All children like to give Teddy or Baby a check up and/or shot after a visit to the doctor.

  1. Musical instruments

Children love to create music.  Drums, xylophones, tambourines, shakers all help develop rhythm and a love of music. Children exposed to music and rhythm often are more successful in Math!

  1. Tools and play household items like a broom, vacuum, lawn mower etc.

Boys and girls love to hammer and build with “tools”. Allow your child to build. This is the basis of STEM education. Children also love to take on the roles they see at home, let them participate in chores and pretend with toys that look like Mom and Dad’s tools. A Swiffer or dust cloth is fun too!

  1. Tent or play house

Children love small places to hide, read, play quietly or play house, school, or camping. This play house or tent could be as simple as a large box or a blanket thrown over a card table.

  1. Dolls/stuffed animals

Playing with dolls or stuffed animals fosters empathy development. Pretend role play of Mommy and Daddy is very important.

  1. Balls

Throwing, catching, kicking are all developmental milestones.  Simple games with balls introduces cooperative play, taking turns and helps with fine and gross motor development.

  1. Shape sorter

This is a basic toy that will grow with your child.  Young toddlers will fill and dump, older toddlers will sort by shape and color, and often children will use it to gather other items. Another great sorting tool is your kitchen muffin tins! Have your child sort different cereals, different colored pompons, or any other item!

  1. Stacking cups

This less than $10.00 toy is a bargain!  This will last a child from 6 months through preschool.  Children bang them, stack them, pour and dump water and sand, “drink” from them and learn size and volume with them!

  1. Clay/Play-dough

Children will love to squish, roll, and create with clay. The use of hands to roll and shape creations develops fine motors skills used for writing.

  1. Pedal powered ride on toy

Learning to pedal is a developmental milestone for 2 to 3 year olds. Ride on toys get children needed outdoor time and exercise along with development of coordination.

  1. Cars, trucks, and or train

Children love toys that move. Purchase cars, trucks, and trains that are easy to handle and run on “kid power”.

  1. Farm or other toy with animals

Farm animals, dinosaurs, and/or zoo animals are a great way for children to learn about animals, habitats, and encourages imaginative play.  Dinosaurs are often a favorite too!

  1. Family games

Even preschooler can participate in family games. Think Candyland! (not my favorite, but there are many choices out there!) Board games help a child develop skills in handling winning  and losing, taking turns, and cooperative play. Board games are much more valuable than video games which do not provide as much person to person interaction.

And yes, sometimes just a large box or two, plastic containers or a few laundry baskets will provide hours of entertainment and imaginative play for your child! Toys do not need to be expensive!  Remember that a toy is only valuable if your child plays with it! Quality is more important than quantity of toys.  Often the best toys don’t come with batteries. And most important, allow your child to play freely…a child who plays well is learning!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

“We always do that!” Why Family Tradition is Important!


Our “traditional” Christmas tree.  A little more “perfectly” decorated than years past….there are ornaments even on the bottom of the tree now! 

If we are smart we listen to our children when they say “That is how we always do it!” or “That is what we always do!” even when we have only done it that way one other time.  Your child is not just talking about the good time he had, but the fact that it meant something to him and he thinks to you too.  One of my favorite quotes is from the book The Little Prince by  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “We live not by things, but the meaning of things.”  It is not what you do or eat that is important, it is the meaning and feeling that comes with what you are doing that is so important to your child.

There are 3 important “anchors” in a family, our family values, our family rules, and our family rituals and traditions.  If we don’t take time to develop each of these….we usually will run on a “default” mode of doing what is easy at the time.  Being intentional as a family is very important.

Values… what is most important to your family.  Values are what you want to pass to your children.  For some families these values may center around religion, or the value of education, or the value of respect and kindness, or the value of taking care of our earth. In order for a value to become a part of  your child there must be “rules, rituals and traditions” that follow these values.  If religion is a value, your family might attend church together, participate in family prayer, and become involved in activities which reflect your beliefs. If education is a value, your family might read together, limit screen time and have rules regarding homework and effort in school. If kindness and respect are values, your family may have rules about conflict resolution, sharing,  guidelines on the words that are spoken, and even family “missions” of kindness in the community.

Traditions and rituals are planned or intentional.  These are family activities that have a purpose or meaning behind them and support your family values. Some are simply daily rituals, like bedtime routines and family dinners.  Some are weekly rituals like Friday pizza nights or movie nights.  Some occur with the season or with family milestones like the traditions of the holidays or 1st day of school pictures and birthdays.  Some traditions are simply fun. These daily, weekly, and seasonal rituals and traditions tell your child what is important to your family.  Some you plan to start…some happen accidentally and then you plan to repeat!

Creating your own special rituals and traditions now and repeating them throughout your child’s life will help your child feel secure, will provide stability, and a sense of pride and belonging to your family. Even during a family crises, the fact that a bedtime ritual or a Christmas celebration looks somewhat the same brings a sense of security and stability to a child and to you as a parent!

Four reasons tradition is important to a family:

1.  Traditions help make life predictable.  Rituals that are followed daily, weekly, and yearly such as family dinners, nightly stories, spring picnics, holiday songs etc. helps make children feel secure.  Their world is often unpredictable—keeping things predictable at home gives security.

2.  Traditions give families a time to connect.  Life is busy and sometimes this can give families a feeling of disconnect. Family meals, stories, game nights etc. help us reconnect and start talking.  Soon we know what is going on in our children’s lives.  We know when there is exciting news, when there is difficulty, and when a child is happy or stressed. Traditions will also just bring simple fun….who doesn’t need a little of that!

3.  Family traditions teach children family values.  Service work, religious ceremonies, concern for the environment and many other values can be established through family traditions and rituals.  These are values that when they are reinforced with traditional activities, your child will bring them with him to adulthood. The only way your child knows if something is valuable or important is through the activities that surround that value.

4.  Traditions form a family identity and connection.  A child who feels connected to his family may not look for other groups to identify with that may not be the best choice. All of us want to feel connected, and children will search for connection.  Research shows us that children who have close family identity/connection have a better self image and are happier and more successful.

Traditions and rituals can be very simple…it is the act of repeating them, allowing them to change with your family’s “season in life” and keeping them fun that is key.  If something is not fun or causes stress then let it go!

Don’t get hung up on creating the perfect rituals, let them happen naturally based on what your family enjoys and values. Many rituals and traditions just happen.  The wonderful thing about a young family is that you have the opportunity to create your own unique family traditions  and rituals from scratch.  Some you will come up with on your own, some you will borrow from your childhood and some you will discard from your past, but the traditions you repeat will become part of who your unique family is.

Some suggestions to try during the holiday season:

  1. Take a drive in pajamas to see the holiday lights.
  2. Take a hike in a local park and find some natural decorations for your tree or to make other holiday decorations.
  3. Make a homemade Christmas tree ornament.  Date it, and each year you will add to the collection.
  4. Bake Christmas cookies and share with friends and neighbors.
  5. Draw Secret Santas in the family.  Each Secret Santa will complete a kind deed for the family member he or she drew.
  6. Have a traditional Christmas breakfast, or Christmas Eve dinner.
  7. Attend religious services together.
  8. Lay a piece of straw in the Baby Jesus’ bed each day if a child has done a good deed.
  9. Read a holiday story each night.
  10. Have a traditional Advent wreath or Advent calendar.
  11. Have a Christmas countdown chain.  Make a construction paper chain and tear one link off each day until Christmas.  Write an activity on each chain link that you will do that day.
  12. Camp out under your Christmas tree one night.
  13. Go caroling.
  14. Make a birthday cake for Jesus.
  15. String popcorn for your tree.

And the list can go on and on….share some of your favorite traditions and rituals!

Remember, family tradition endears your child to your family and establishes an everlasting family bond. The celebration, the meal, and the activities do not need to be perfect, the perfection comes from a celebration steeped in tradition and full of fun memories that draw a family together….that is perfection

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Some things never change!


christmas pic 2011

Your “Mom words” never change!  🙂 

I was on the phone at different times this week with each of our 4 children.  After several of my conversations I realized that even though I am in a different season of parenting than many of you, my conversations can sometimes be very similar!

You:  “Try a bite….yummmm.  Try your squash.”

Me:  “Sure that would be good.  Just peel the squash, cut it up, toss it in some olive oil and stir fry it.  It will be great in that pasta.”

You:  “It is night-time, time for sleep.  Close your eyes and tomorrow we will have fun!”

Me:  “I know you are busy with classes and your project, but you need to get some sleep.  You will feel better if you get 8 hours tonight!  Crawl in bed early.”

You: ” You are frustrated with that puzzle piece not fitting…can Mommy help?  Try it this way.”

Me:  “Your tire is flat?  That is one frustrating day!  Take a breath, call Triple A and then find a Wal-Mart, they can fix the tire with the screw in it!”

You:  “Yea!  I am proud of you!  You pottied like a big girl!”

Me:  “I am so proud of you!   This new career move is going to be so exciting for you.  I can’t believe my “little girl” is heading to New York this week!”

You:  “Careful, you are spilling on your nice shirt.  Let’s take it off and then eat.”

Me:  “No…don’t put that nice shirt in with those dark clothes; it probably should be dry cleaned.  Just bring it home the next weekend you are coming home.” 

You:  “I love you so much.”

Me:  “I love you so much.”

I have come to the conclusion that I will always talk like a Mom…saying some of the same things just slightly different, offering my Mom wisdom, my Mom ear, my Mom advice,  and most importantly my Mom love….and I love that fact, because I love being a Mom.  TGIF, enjoy where you are at this moment.  Remember, there are only 940 Fridays between the birth of a child and when that child leaves for college!  Love today, today.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Simple steps to prevent childhood obesity…we can do it!


We all have heard that childhood obesity is a major health issue in our country.  Children who are overweight will be more likely to be overweight adults and develop significant health issues.  We hear so much in the media about what to eat, what not to eat, how to cook, how much exercise we all need, and frankly sometimes it is simply overwhelming to parents.  We all are busy and many times the drive through at the fast food restaurant just calls our name at the end of a long day.  We can develop healthy patterns as families to guide our children to healthy lifestyles.  These healthy patterns can be simple…it is just getting started.  So, parents….let’s get started!

Breastfeed when possible and no solid foods before 4 months of age…

  • A recent study showed that when children were breastfed for at least four months, then the timing of solid food introduction did not affect the obesity rate of the child at age 3.  Children who were never breastfed or who stopped breastfeeding before age 4 months and were given solid foods before the recommended 4 months of age were 6 times more likely to be obese by age 3.

Know where your child is…(know where you are too!)

  • At your child’s 2 year old well child visit, your pediatrician will calculate his body mass index (BMI). This is a better indicator of weight issues than simply where your child is on the growth chart.  A child with a BMI greater than the 85th percentile for his age and sex is overweight, a BMI greater than the 95th percentile determines that your child is obese.
  • Children that have parents who are overweight have an increased risk to become overweight too.

Know what a serving size is….

Remember, children need child size portions!  A tablespoon per year equals a serving.  This is a simple guideline.  For a child age 2 to 3:

  • Grain Group: About 3 ounces of grains per day, half of them whole grains. That is about three regular slices of bread or one slice of bread plus 1/3 cup cold cereal and ¼ cup cooked rice or pasta.
  • Vegetable Group: 1 cup raw and/or cooked vegetables per day. (no ketchup is not a vegetable J, but tomato pasta sauce counts!)
  • Fruit Group: 1 cup fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.  Juice should be kept at a minimum.  Whole fruits are better than juice!
  • Dairy Group: 2 cups per day. Whole milk is recommended for children younger than 2, low-fat after age 2.
  • Meat and Beans Group: 2 ounces total per day. Options include one ounce of lean meat or chicken plus one egg or 1 ounce of fish plus ¼ cup of cooked beans (black, pinto, etc.).
  • Oils: 3 teaspoons or less per day of liquid oil or margarine.
  • For more information about eating plans and serving sizes for other aged children, visit MyPyramid.gov.

Provide two healthy snacks a day…

  • Unhealthy snacks fill up small tummies so children don’t eat the nutrient dense foods they need.  Try giving fruits and vegetables as snacks.  These foods are low-calorie, high fiber, and full of vitamins and antioxidants.  Giving these foods when your child is hungry encourages your child to give them a try.
  • Juice should be at a minimum…and no soda at all!
  • Keep healthy snacks in plain sight.  A bowl of fruit on the counter, fresh cut up vegetables on the first shelf in the refrigerator, dried fruit and trail mix in the pantry.
  • Don’t let your child eat because of boredom.  If your child has eaten well and had a healthy snack but still is begging for more…then suggest another activity.  Ask you child what he would like to do besides eat.  Help your child distinguish between “I’m bored” and “I’m hungry.”
  • Make snack time planned…no grazing throughout the day.  Have your child sit on the floor or at the table for snack time.  Mindless eating is an unhealthy habit!

Provide healthy choices at meals

  • Serve whole-grain breads and cereals.
  • Whole milk until age 2 and then low-fat or skim milk after age 2.
  • Full fat yogurt until age 2 and then lower sugar and low-fat yogurt.
  • Serve lean meats like chicken, turkey, fish and lean beef cuts and pork cuts.  Remove fat and skin.
  • Bake, broil, poach, grill, or steam when preparing meat, fish, and chicken.
  • Use vegetable oils like canola, corn, olive, and sunflower.
  • Encourage fresh fruits and vegetables in season, frozen next and canned last.  Have fruits and vegetables at EVERY meal.
  • Limit fast food to an occasional meal only.
  • Treats can include frozen fruit bars, frozen yogurt, low-fat pudding, angel food cake, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, and of course…the occasional Oreo!  Balance and moderation are important to teach children so they do not “binge” later.

Don’t force your child to be members of the “Clean plate club”…

  • Forcing children to eat everything that is put on their plates often leads to overeating.
  • Focus on the quality of the food your child eats and no the quantity.  Let your child learn what it feels like to be full and what it feels like to be hungry.

Get your child excited about healthy food….

Eat breakfast every day…

  • Start every day out right with a healthy breakfast.  Children often eat their best meal of the day in the morning.  Include healthy grains, fruits and proteins to give your child a great start.
  • Children and adults who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight.

Establish good sleep habits…

Get your child active…60 minutes of active play at least every day…

  • Get outside every day.
  • Choose developmentally appropriate activities.  Be careful about organized sports too early…burnout can happen.  Let your child just be a kid and play!!!
  • Provide active toys.  You should have balls, jump ropes, bikes and other active toys.
  • Be a role model.  Build physical activity into your daily life so you can keep up with your children and feel better!
  • Turn off the TV and limit computer time.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours of total screen time a day after age 2.  That includes video games, TV, movies, and computers.

There is so much that parents can do to prevent childhood obesity and lifelong weight issues and medical problems.  Outdoor play, limited TV, limited fast food, healthy food choices, teaching appreciation for good foods, and soon everyone in the house is feeling better, having fun, and living a healthier lifestyle. We can do this Moms and Dads!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

We are having a baby!…..Now what???


Many of us picture the pure of joy of a new baby….many of us don’t think about the challenges most new parents encounter. Learning to be a parent plus the lack of sleep that comes with a newborn is not easy! Giving yourself grace and giving yourself the time and space to fall in love with your baby, navigate this new role, and not be perfect is essential in those first few weeks. Hopefully this article from SELF will provide some tips to survive, thrive, and enjoy your baby those first months after delivery! There are several experts who share resources and preparation for those first few weeks….I also have a few tips in the article! Share your thoughts and any tips you have for new parents.

https://www.self.com/story/better-postpartum-experience

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Are the “Magic Words” still important?


Why is it that so often when you want your child to be on his or her best behavior…the most embarrassing things happen?  (Remind me to write about my son when he was 2 1/2 and dinner with our parish priest…long story)  Simply, because children are not born with manners…and the development of manners is a process, a LONG process, a LONG and IMPORTANT process.   This process of learning the all important life skill of manners  is much easier when started very young during formative years.  Words like “please” , “thank you”, “ excuse me”, and “I’m sorry” need to be taught, practiced, and modeled at home from the time your child is a baby.

Manners really help shape a person’s character, help increase a person’s self confidence, and definitely help make a person more likeable.  Manners are a part of most successful people’s lives.  People that naturally practice good manners have less focus on “self” and more focus on the respect of others. That is what I want for my children! Manners are so much more than just please and thank you!

Our children are exposed to very different social norms today.  Society is very open and allows honest expression of feelings.  I agree that honest expression is important, but we need to teach our children ways to respect the needs and feelings of others while still expressing their own feelings and needs.

I think some of our pop culture actually rewards disrespect.  Some of the most popular TV shows, popular music, and professional athletes glorify being rude and disrespectful…it has suddenly become “cool”.  As parents, it is our role to provide teachable moments so our children more often hear and see what is polite and respectful rather than what society may be teaching is the norm and “cool”.

So the fact is, no one is born polite.  In fact children, especially toddlers, tend to throw fits, grab toys, throw food, and display very few if any glimpses of manners…and we parents should not expect it!  Developmentally toddlers are not naturally polite!  However, your teen will not be polite either if you don’t start introducing the concept of manners and respect at a young age.

Where do you begin?

Between the age of 6 and 12 months begin with The Magic Words….

“Please”  “Thank you” and “Excuse me”

Saying please and thank you is usually the first bit of manners parents begin to teach.  You can begin this before your child is verbal.  Many parents teach the sign for “please” and “thank you” starting at about 6 to 9 months of age.  I see many of the youngest toddlers in my parenting groups sign “please” before getting their  snack!  Parents should always prompt, “What do we say?” or “Say please!” or “Say thank you!”  If your toddler aged child does not respond, then you should say the words and provide the sign for your toddler.  Soon, “please” and “thank you” will become a part of who your child is…and will be words that are used by habit.

Saying “Excuse me” when interrupting, bumping into someone, or (heaven forbid) making a bodily noise (which is hysterically funny for young boys especially) will also serve your child well.  Once again, forming the habit early and modeling the behavior for your child is essential.

“Play nice” “Gentle Hands” and “Share”

Toddlers are incapable of playing cooperatively and sharing nicely.  Preschoolers should have begun to master those concepts, but that will only happen with teaching and modeling the acceptable behavior.  When you begin to see your older infant or young toddler grab, push, or hit…respond with “Gentle hands.  Let’s play nice and share.”  Help your child share by trading the toys back, helping him take turns, and praising him for cooperating.  Toddlers who hit, shove, or bite when angry should immediately “take a break” or in other words a “time out”.  As you play with your child, trade toys back and forth, offer to share, model gentle touch and the behavior you want your child to learn.  After much practice, children will begin to learn how to play cooperatively, share, and respond with words rather than physical action.

“I am sorry”

Few words are more important in life than these.  Teaching your child to apologize when he or she is wrong or behaves in a way that is not respectful is an essential piece of manners.  Those words must be modeled by parents; apologizing to your child is essential to your child learning what a true apology is.  Again, teaching the sign for “sorry” can be the start.  Helping your child say “sorry” when necessary is also key.  If your child hurts another child or takes a toy, help your child apologize by prompting your child to sign or say the words, or say the words for him “John is sorry he shoved you, Mary.”  Talk about how saying sorry helps the hurt go away.

Talk and read about manners and respectful behavior every day. Some of my favorite books to introduce respectful behavior and manners to toddlers are:

Manners Time (Toddler Tools) and Sharing Time (Toddler Tools ) by:  Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen

Perfect Pigs an Introduction to Manners by: Marc Brown and Stephen Krensky

OOPS , Sorry! A First Book of Manners by: Richard Morgan

My Very First Book of Manners by: Michal Sparks

No Slurping, Little Pig! A book About Table Manners by: Sue Kueffner

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Parenting tips…day three!


 

Final tips….add your own to the list!

31.  Respect your child’s likes and dislikes

  • Allow your child to develop their own passions, likes, and dislikes.
  • Provide opportunity for your child to experience many things to discover passions, likes, and dislikes.
  • Your child may not like the same things that you do, and that is OK!

32.  Be a team with dad and other people who parent your child

  • Don’t be a gatekeeper, allow Dad or other important people in your child’s life to participate in parenting.
  • Realize that there is benefit in doing things differently, different is not always wrong.
  • Have a united front with Dad; this gives your child a clear message of expectations.  Never disagree about parenting issues in front of your child.
  • Parents, who are not on the same page, will be manipulated.

 33.  Always set expectations

  • Defining your expectations helps your child determine expected behavior.
  • Setting expectations beforehand gives better results.
  • Frequent discussions about what you expect from your child helps him or her develop a good moral compass.

 34.  Teach basic manners by example

  • Manners and respectful behavior will help your child be successful.
  • Your behavior that your child observes is more important than the words you speak.
  • Make sure that your actions show respect of your child.
  • Provide the example of gratitude.

 35.  Talk quieter—not louder when you are very upset

  • This will defuse a frustrating or angry situation.
  • Everyone will remain calmer if voices are quieter.
  • Your child will have to calm down in order to hear you.
  • Yelling usually accomplishes nothing.

 36.  Use discipline in public, and if your child has a meltdown, leave

  • Following through on discipline in public will allow you to leave your home!!
  • Children learn very quickly when and where you will not follow through with consequences…and they will behave accordingly.

 37.  Sometimes look the other way

  • Your child will hear “no” many times, save it for the important things.
  • Pick your battles, some are not important enough to pick!

  38.  Don’t reward everything. Let your child learn the valuable lesson of being proud of himself .

  • Let your child develop an inner drive to success.
  • Constant rewards and praise result in a child that is externally motivated, driven by the outside things.
  • Internal motivation results in a child who does the right thing because it feels good, not because he will “get something” in the end.

39.  Know your child’s friends, open up your home to them

  • Knowing who your child’s friends are gives you a glimpse of their life away from you.
  • Know the parents of your child’s friends; parenting together gives you a sounding board and more parenting power.

 40.  Forgive yourself for not being the perfect parent

  • Your child does not expect or need perfection.
  • Being too hard on yourself, makes you not trust your parenting.
  • Expecting perfection from yourself sets the example for your child that only perfection is acceptable.
  • We only need to be “good enough”…not perfect.  Lighten up, there is always room for silliness.
  • Unconditional love trumps parenting imperfections!

41.  Some things are not worth the worry

  • Being a parent should not doom your life to worry.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • No child will starve themselves, temper tantrums are part of childhood, embarrassing behavior happens, you can’t protect your child from every illness and injury, and your child can be happy without the latest and best video game or pair of jeans….and many, many more worries that are not worth the energy!

42.  Teach good sleep habits and early bedtimes

  • Adequate sleep makes everything look better.
  • Children are wired early to bed early to rise.
  • Early bedtimes provide evenings for you to refill, recharge, and reconnect.

 43.   Don’t view your child’s life through a camera lens

  • Documenting your child’s life in pictures is important, but don’t miss the moment by trying to always have the perfect picture.
  • Step away from the camera and really enjoy the moment.
  • Sometimes the memory is better when you are actually playing in the pool with your child and not photographing it!

44.  Don’t wish time away

  • Don’t keep thinking life will be better when…..my baby sleeps through the night, my child is potty trained, my child is in school all day—with every stage is a new challenge and a new joy.
  • Enjoy each moment and each stage…they are all special.

45.  Keep it simple…working at parenting too hard or making it too complicated robs the simple joy!

Let’s make this an even 50!  What are your tips to share with others?  Share your wisdom…and help us all to enjoy every challenge and every joy of being a parent.  Like  Raising Kids with Love on Facebook and join in the conversation!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

More parenting tips….


A few more tips that I found out work over my 30 years and counting of parenting….what are your tips?

16.  You are your child’s parent, not friend

  • You must parent, which means you may not always be liked
  • Making difficult decisions that may cause your child to be unhappy at the moment, is the definition of a good parent

17.  Nagging does not work

  • Saying “pick up your shoes” 100 times will not make it any more likely to happen

18.  Don’t buy a lot of “things” for your children

  • Buying does not equal love
  • Your child does not need a lot of things
  • There will be a new “gotta have it” every week

20.  Don’t feel like you must always play with your child

  • Time with your child is important, but your child must learn how to play without you.  This builds self-confidence, ingenuity, and your child will learn how to “work his world”.

21.  Don’t over schedule

  • Your child does not need to be involved in every lesson, sport, and club to become successful.
  • Down time is important to children, our children are often over stimulated and overly tired.
  • Teach your child the art of being alone….turn off the technology and be comfortable with alone time.

22.  Eat together as often as you can

  • Meals together reconnect a family.
  • Families who eat together have children that are more successful and less likely to be involved in alcohol and drugs.
  • Remember, a family meal can be a frozen pizza!
  • Breakfast counts as a family meal too!
  • Make at least one meal a week together a must.

 23.  Have family fun together

  • Plan activities together.  Don’t fall into the habit of everyone going their separate ways.  Family time builds connectivity.
  • Children that have a strong family identity have higher self-esteem.
  • Read and play board games, go back to the basics for family time.
  • Children remember the good in family time–even if it seems like a trip or outing was disastrous!

 24.  Establish family traditions and rituals

  • Tradition and ritual defines a family.
  • Tradition endears your child to home.
  • “That is how we always do it” means it is important!

 25.  Don’t helicopter parent

  • Allow your child to finish a task on his own.
  • Allow your child to experience consequence for behaviors.
  • Do not “rescue” your child from every hardship.
  • Let your child do his own homework and projects.
  • Give your child age appropriate responsibilities.

  26.  Parent with your heart and gut

  • Experts are great, but don’t rely only on what you hear and read, trust yourself.
  • If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.
  • What is right for your family may be different from what is right for your next door neighbor’s family.

  27.  Attention is attention, whether it is positive or negative

  • Your child wants your attention, whether it is negative or positive.
  • Lots of talk about negative behavior gives that behavior lots of attention.
  • Try to give most of your attention to positive behaviors, not negative.

  28.  Love all your children but treat them differently

  • Do not try to treat each of your children exactly the same.
  • Every child needs something different from you as a parent.
  • Have the same rules in your home–but your approach to those rules may be different with each child.
  • Trying to keep things “equal” often increases sibling rivalry, give every child what he needs when he needs it.

  29.  Keep TVs and computers out of bedrooms

  • Parents must monitor their child’s exposure to TV, computer, and video games.
  • There is never a good reason to have a TV in your child’s bedroom; it decreases family interaction, reading, and creativity.
  • Keep the computer out in an area that is full of family activity.
  • Know what websites your child has been using.
  • Be tech savvy, your kids will be!

  30.  Know when to let go

  • There are times when you must trust your child–and let go.

The last few tomorrow…join in this conversation!  What are your favorite parenting tips?!  We all have them, share so we can all benefit from each other.  Like Raising Kids with Love on Facebook and join in the parenting talk!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

A few parenting tips….


All of us have a few parenting tips…let’s share them this week!

We all know that there is not an “official” parenting tip book…wouldn’t that be nice!!  But, in actuality, it is best for parents to develop their own “parenting book”.  Parenting your child is unique to you and your child.  Develop your parenting instruction book by reading, watching others, and asking parents you admire what their best advice is.  Trust yourself and your ability to be the best parent to your own child.  Over the next few days I will share a few of my tips.  They are in no particular order, just a few tips that have worked for me over the last 30 years. Share some of your own too!  We all can use a little advice!

1.  Show your unconditional love for your child every day. 

  • Use your words of love verbally, and written.
  • Use your touch with physical hugs and kisses even as your child gets older; older children need that loving touch just as much as younger children!  Even if there is very little reciprocal hugging, the need is there.
  • Teach your child to express his or her love with words, touch, and actions.
  • Begin each day and end each day with “I love you”.  No matter how the day has been or what is in store, those three words make everything start or end well.

2.  Listen

  • Really listen, stop what you are doing and give your child your attention.
  • If you have more than one child, carve out a few minutes every day to share with each child individually.  A few minutes on the bed talking each evening worked for us!
  • Stop what you are doing when your child needs to talk, put the phone down, the computer away, and turn off the TV.

3.  Make your child feel safe

  • Keep adult problems adult problems; don’t share them with your young child or teen.
  • Don’t belittle your child’s fears; monsters can be very “real”.
  • Comfort your child when he is scared first, and then teach coping strategies.
  • Show your child that you will keep them protected.
  • Protect your child from violent TV, videos, and inappropriate web sites.
  • Discuss current events and news—don’t ignore what is happening in the world, but don’t dwell on world problems that are too adult for your child to emotionally handle.

4.  Provide order and routine in your child’s life

  • Routine brings stability and security to your child.
  • Routine and order helps a child manipulate his world.
  • Routine and order helps a child become a better student.

5.  Consistency is the key to discipline

  • Responding in a predictable way to your child’s behavior results in a child who knows what behavior is expected.
  • Sporadic discipline and consequences results in poor behavior.
  • A child who receives inconsistent discipline will push the envelope until a limit is set.

6.  Keep life fun, break the rules sometimes

  • Do the unexpected—eat ice cream for dinner, stay up too late, break your routine occasionally.
  • Enjoy a few minutes of fun every day.

7.  Take care of yourself

  • You cannot care for your child if you do not care for yourself.
  • Teach your child the lesson of self respect by “refilling your pitcher”.
  • Show your child your passions, your child will learn to develop his own.
  • A good parent is one who likes himself or herself.

8.  Take care of the significant relationships in your life

  • A happy marriage is the best gift you can give your child.
  • Your child should be the satellite of your marriage, not the center.
  •  Healthy adult relationships teach children what relationships should involve.

9.  Apologize when you are wrong

  • Teach your child that you make mistakes too.
  • Saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it repairs nearly any parenting mistake.
  • Teaching your child to apologize with true meaning is one of life’s greatest life lessons.

10.  Admit when you do not know the answer

  • You do not have to know everything to be respected by your child.
  • Work together to find answers.
  • Your child feels more secure when he or she knows that you are not “pretending” to know.
  • Your child will figure out that you don’t know everything eventually…trust me!

11.  Give your child chores

  • Teaching responsibility is key to becoming a productive adult.
  • Chores help a child feel like a valuable member of the family.
  • Self esteem is built on accomplishments—including small accomplishments like chores.
  • Chores help a child learn how to time manage.

12.  Encourage your child to listen to the voice in his or her heart

  • Help your child develop his or her inner moral compass.
  • Develop a group of core values that represent your family.
  • Talk often about right and wrong, and what feelings and emotions are connected with each.
  • Encourage your child’s moral judgment, role play how your child would react in situations that would call for that judgment.

13.  Find your spiritual guidance

  • Successful families have a spiritual core of beliefs.
  • Make those beliefs clear in your words and actions as a family.

14.  Surround yourself with like-minded parents and families

  • It is easier to parent when you have the support of others who agree with your parenting values.
  • It is so helpful to be able to bounce parenting issues off other parents for advice.
  • Your child will benefit from other families with the same moral guidelines.
  • Your child needs other adult role models in his or her life besides you!

15.  Every day is a new day

  • Each morning brings a new start for you and your child.
  • Let yesterday go, your mistakes and your child’s mistakes should not be dwelled upon the next day.  Start every day with a new beginning.

The first 15…more tomorrow.  Can you add a few to these today?

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Don’t let comparisons steal your joy and contentment!


comparison

Comparisons steal your joy and contentment as a Mom!

I caught myself doing it again this morning….thinking “Why can’t I be more like “so and so” who always has time to…..”  As I said this to myself, I could feel the negativity creep into my morning, the joy being sucked out of my morning cup of coffee.  The fact is…when we compare ourselves to someone else, or wish we could trade places, all we are doing is stealing the joy we have in OUR life.  If we “switched” into someone else’s “perfect life” we would also have their “imperfect” challenges which may be very different from ours!  Comparison only leads to anxiety and discontent.  We must choose to be intentional and purposeful in our life so that we can make the most of where we are instead of wishing we were at some other stage in life or in a different situation.

Comparisons tend to creep into many aspects of our lives…she is more fit, she cooks more than I do, her TV screen doesn’t have fingerprints, her child is rolling over already, her son is speaking in full sentences, her husband pitches in more and the list goes on…..All these comparisons bring unnecessary stress and discontent into our lives.  Wondering why your friend’s 11 month old is toddling about and your 13 month old is still holding on to the coffee table steals your moment of joy when your child grins at you.  Here are a few reasons to stay away from comparisons:

  • A child who is developing at a “normal” rate (remember there is a wide range of normal) is perfect!  A child who is developing a bit quicker is not more likely to be successful than your child! Relax and enjoy.
  • What works for one Mom may not work for you and your child, no matter how wonderful it seems.  Relax and trust what works for you and your family.
  • Working outside the home, working inside the home, childcare, breastfeeding, formula feeding, organic food…all these are personal decisions.  If you are content and your child is happy and developing well, ignore the chatter or arguments.  You don’t know their whole story and they don’t know yours. Relax and trust your choices for your family.
  • No one is as perfect as they seem on Pinterest! Pinterest fails are more common than Pinterest perfection. Relax and enjoy, children don’t need the perfect birthday party decorations to have fun!

If we keep telling ourselves that we are exactly where we are supposed to be…our children will grow up knowing that the life you have at this moment is full of challenge at times, but also so full of joy if we choose to see it. What a better lesson than an example of continuous discontent!   The simple joy of my quiet morning cup of coffee is much better than wondering if I should be doing or accomplishing something else.  Once again, I have vowed this morning not to let comparisons steal my joy and contentment today.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Keep your precious cargo safe by using a car seat correctly!


Parents must be sure that their child’s car seat is being used correctly…we all have precious cargo!

I read an study recently in the Journal of Pediatrics which really shocked me.

A total of 291 families (81% of those eligible) participated. Nearly all (95%) CSSs were misused, with 1 or more errors in positioning (86%) and/or installation (77%). Serious CSS misuse occurred for 91% of all infants. Frequent misuses included harness and chest clip errors, incorrect recline angle, and seat belt/lower anchor use errors. https://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(15)01459-6/fulltext

95% had errors in car seat installation of positioning! That is such a scary thought since car accidents are the leading cause of death for children.  But to be honest, car seats are not easy to install correctly!   The manuals are long and sometimes confusing, there are different recommendations by auto manufacturers, and I know the installation of a car seat has caused many an argument between Moms and Dads!

The newest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics state that until at least age 2 your child should sit in a rear facing seat and preferably a child should be rear facing until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer (that means your child most likely will be older than age 2 and still rear facing).  Children over the age of 2 may sit in a front facing seat with a 5 point harness until their weight and height exceeds the car seat’s recommendation for the seat.  A booster seat should be used until a child is 57 inches tall, which is the average height of an 11-year-old (wow…bet you didn’t realize that!)  No child should sit in the front seat until age 13! www.healthychildren.org

Types of car seats:

  • Rear facing only

This seat is used for infants up to 22 to 40 pounds depending on the seat.  They are small and have handles to carry the seat.  Some have a base that can be left in the car.

  • Convertible seats that can be used for rear facing

These seats can be used rear facing and then “converted” to forward facing when your child is older.  They are bigger than infant seats and do not have handles or a separate base.  They often have a higher rear facing weight and height limits which is great for larger babies.  They should have a 5 point harness.

  • 3 in 1 seats

These seats can be used rear facing, forward facing and as a booster.  They may be used longer by your child. (But remember every seat has an expiration date…about 5-6 years)

Installation of rear facing car seats:

  • Always know the weight and height limits of your car seat.
  • The shoulder straps should be at or below your baby’s shoulders.
  • The straps should be snug (you shouldn’t be able to pinch any slack) and the chest clip should be at the nipple line.
  • The seat should be tight in the car.  You should not be able to move it more than an inch side to side or front to back.
  • Never put a rear facing seat in the front seat of a car!
  • Make sure the seat is at the correct angle so your baby’s head does not flop down.  Many seats have an angle indicator or adjusters that can help with this.
  • I recommend having a certified car seat technician help install the car seat.  This will help with the many questions parents have and may even prevent Mom and Dad from having an argument!  🙂  Check out this website for great information on car seats, car seat recommendations and locations of car seat technicians in your area.  It is an excellent resource! http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm

Installation of forward facing car seats:

  • Always know the weight and height limits of your car seat.
  • The shoulder straps should be at or above your child’s shoulders.
  • The seat should be tight in the car.  You should not be able to move it more than an inch side to side or front to back.
  • You may use LATCH if the weight of the car seat plus the weight of your child is less than 65 pounds. The car seat manual will give the maximum weight for your child to use LATCH.
  • You must use the car seat tether for forward facing. Read your vehicle manual to be sure you are attaching the tether in the correct place.
  • I recommend having a certified car seat technician help install the car seat.  This will help with the many questions parents have and may even prevent Mom and Dad from having an argument!  🙂  Check out this website for great information on car seats, car seat recommendations and locations of car seat technicians in your area.  It is an excellent resource! http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm

Common questions parents have about car seats:

  • What if my rear facing child’s feet touch the back of the car seat?

No problem…your baby will cross his legs and find a comfortable position.  There are few reports of leg injuries from a crash with a baby in this position, but a leg injury is a much less severe injury than a head and neck injury which you are helping to prevent by keeping your child backward facing until age 2 or older.

  • What do I do if my baby is slouching in the seat?

You may put blanket rolls on both sides of your baby and a small cloth diaper or blanket between the crotch strap and your baby for a while until your baby grows a bit.  Do not ever put padding or blankets or anything behind your baby or add any car seat insert unless it came with the seat or was made by the manufacturer of the car seat.  Any additions to a seat may make it work a bit differently and provide less protection for your baby!

  • What do I do about winter coats?

Remember that thick winter coats, blankets, or clothing should not be put under the car seat harness or straps.  Dress your baby in thin layers and then tuck a blanket around your baby over the harness straps if necessary.

  • Where is the safest spot for the car seat in the back?

The safest spot is where the seat can be installed properly, it is convenient for you to use safely every time.  Some LATCH systems are only on the sides of the back seat.  Some car seats only fit well in the middle.  It depends on your car seat, your vehicle and the number of children you have on where is best for the car seat!

  • Should we use a car seat on a plane?

Most infant and convertible car seats can be used on planes.  The seat must have a FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approval label on it.  The FAA and the AAP recommend that children use car seats when flying until age 4.  This keeps your child safer during takeoff and landing and in turbulence.

 Car Seat Tips

  • Always know the restrictions of your model.  Know the maximum weight and height limits for your seat!
  • The shoulder straps should be in the slots that are at or below your child’s shoulders for rear facing.
  • The shoulder straps should be in the slots that are at  or above your child’s shoulders for forward facing.
  • You may need to adjust the angle of the seat when you turn it to forward facing, check your car seat manual.
  • Choose to use the LATCH system if your vehicle has it OR the seat belt.  Do not use both.  Check your vehicle manual and your car seat manual for proper installation with the LATCH or seat belt. Latch does have a weight limit of 65 lbs total, meaning the weight of the car seat plus your child.  If the car seat and your child together weighs over 65 lbs, then you must use the seat belt to secure the seat.
  • Use a tether strap for forward facing.  This is a strap that attaches to the top of the seat.  It is often on the seat back of the vehicle.  This gives extra protection by not allowing the car seat and your child’s head to move too far forward in a crash.  All vehicles manufactured from 2000 on have them.  Check the weight limit for the use of the tether anchor.

So much information…but so important to keep your child safe.  Remember Healthychildren.org is a great resource!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

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