When Was the Last Time Your Family Had A Game Night?

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Children love spending time with their parents, especially fun time.  What better way than to have a family game night to enjoy the time together and help your children to learn and develop new skills?

Games teach children many different, yet important things.  From colors to shape recognition to new words to social interaction, there are so many benefits.  Some games such as chess teach logic and strategic planning.  Children also learn that there are basic rules that must be followed in order to play and win. 

To start off, select one night a month that fits into everyone’s schedules.  Once the date is selected, stick with it and do not make excuses to cancel it.  Plan for the night as a family so that each person has input.  Will there be food? What game will be played? How long will the game(s) last?  It is easy to search the internet to find games that will be suitable for your family.  Consider both board games and physical games such as Twister (which was one of our family’s favorites). 

Be sure not to give up if the first family night is not as successful as you hoped.  The key is to plan and keep everyone involved.  It will become one of your and your children’s fondest memories.

Helping Your Children Become Entrepreneurs

We should encourage entrepreneurship spirit in our children beginning at a young age.  Children are very creative and having a dream to establish a business and be self-sufficient and successful are very positive goals.

My parents were small business owners.  I saw how they struggled to make ends meet when their business was established and then the benefits they reaped as the business grew.  After I graduated from law school and returned home to practice law, the seeds they had planted in me for entrepreneurship began to grow and I established my own private law practice.  My parents always encouraged me and my sisters to be self-sufficient and follow our dreams.

Later, as a mother with two sons, I hired them to work in my office to do general office tasks after school and on the weekends.  By working with me in that business environment, they were able to experience hands on training about what it is like to own your business and the dedication and hard work it takes to be successful.

Many children do not have the opportunities that I and my children had but parents can still open their children’s minds to the possible business opportunities that are available.   Children frequently ask for money so why not think about ways to help them earn money rather than just giving it to them.  If your children’s school has classes that teach entrepreneurship, encourage your children to take them.  If there are after-school activities and clubs centered on business ownership and development, again, encourage your children to participate.  

Of course, the typical business idea for children is the ubiquitous lemonade stand.  However, there are many websites that have ideas for children’s businesses.  At the end of my blog, I will give you a website with some very creative suggestions.

The key component is the parents’ involvement to help start and run the business, as children cannot possibly do it themselves.  Please do not start a business and then give up because you allow other tasks or activities to take precedence.   Many factors must be considered before starting a business with your children, including the time commitment involved, the availability of financing, and the general logistics of where and how it will be operated.  As the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.  

Please visit this website for some business ideas for children: click here

Helping Your Children Find Hobbies and Sticking with Them

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Do your children have any hobbies?  A hobby is something that is done during their free time for fun and pleasure.  I hope that you did not answer that question with “Yes-they play video games”!  The absolutely last thing we should want our children to be doing during their free time is sitting and playing video games for hours on end.  

According to child development experts, hobbies are important for children for many reasons.  Hobbies help your children to develop creativity.  Is your child artistic?  Then, encourage him to draw and paint.  Several brand stores have huge sections devoted to art supplies.  Does your child enjoy taking photos with your cell phone?  Encourage her to continue to take photos and learn more about that art form.  There are many books that teach about how to take photos and to be very creative in doing so.  If her interest continues, consider purchasing a camera for her.  You can even show some of her photographs to her teacher and ask for suggestions of a club that she can join with like-minded persons.

Hobbies also can help develop skills that may lead to lucrative careers in the future.  If your child enjoys writing stories, help her to learn more about being an author and structuring her work.  It may be that you have a budding Pulitzer prize winner on your hands!

Hobbies further help children with developing intelligence.  For example, by sitting and putting together a jigsaw puzzle, your child will learn how to associate shapes with images as well as patience.  If your child enjoys reading, books will provide challenges to learn new words.  When your child encounters a new word, encourage him to write it down, find its meaning, and then use it in a sentence.  Review the word again with him each day for a few days to make sure that he continues to remember it. 

Lastly, hobbies give children a sense of accomplishment.  They have undertaken a fun task, stayed with it, and completed it.  Do all you can to have your children complete a hobby that they started.  The results can truly be amazing for them and you!

There are so many hobbies to consider.  One of the growing categories is rocketry.  Think about all the science involved with propelling a rocket.  Your children will be learning as well as having a fun time.

Please do not overburden your children with hobbies though. As I have written in prior blogs, your children need to spend time with you and other family members.  Adding too many activities to their schedule, especially during the school year can cause unnecessary pressures on them.

The list of hobbies is almost endless.  Don’t allow your children to waste their free time.  Hobbies will definitely allow them to continue growing and learning.

What are Healthy Sleep Habits for Children?

Now that school has begun, it is important to ensure that our children are getting to bed at a decent time to have the rest they need.  Their performance and learning ability in school depends on it.  But, just how much sleep do our children need each night?

There is an excellent article online about our children’s sleep habits at healthychildren.org.  It may be surprising to you to find out that children from 3 to 5 years old need 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day and children from 6 to 12 years old need 9 to 12 hours of sleep a day. Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours.

Some recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics are:

1.    Have a daily family routine for sleeping.  Include nap times as well during the day.  Children will understand and be ready to go to sleep when there has been a regular routine established at night and bedtime is set. 

2.    Be sure to keep all sorts of electronic screens out of your children’s bedrooms at night as they have been known to cause sleep disruption.  In fact, it is recommended that all electronics be turned off at least 1 hour before bedtime.

3.    Prepare your children for going to sleep.  For example, you may want to incorporate a bedtime story just before tucking them into bed and turning off the light.  Children love being read to and I can’t think of a more perfect way for children to wind down and get ready for sleep than having a story read to them.

4.    Be sure to monitor your children’s sleep patterns.  Are they going to sleep easily? Are they having problems waking up in the middle of the night? If you have any concerns, speak with your family’s pediatrician about them.

To learn more, please visit the following website: CLICK HERE

Some Tips for Parents as Their Children Leave for College

When we dropped off my oldest son at college for the first time, I thought I had prepared myself well.  Unfortunately, I had a difficult time leaving him and then traveling back home.  Even weeks later, I suffered from a very empty feeling of loss.  My late husband and I had prepared him to be independent and confident, yet we struggled with having him leave us and our home. 

I learned a lot from that transition so that when my youngest son was ready to be dropped off at college, I was able to handle the transition much better.  Here are a few tips that I learned that will help parents adjust quicker as their children leave the nest and head to college:

1.    Even though it is a sad turning point for you, please do not let your son or daughter see you too upset.  Remember that this is an amazing starting point for their lives as adults and you have taught them all you could over many years.  Let them know how difficult is it for you to transition without them, but be very encouraging to them.  The last thing that you should want as a parent is for your children to be overly worried and concerned about you when they should be studying and making new friends as well as planning for their future careers.

2.    Contact them to make sure they are doing well but do not be communicating with them too much.  This is the time for them to learn to be on their own and use the skills you taught them to adapt and solve problems.  Calling, emailing or texting too often does not give your children the space they need to continue learning and growing on their own.  Sometimes they must learn from their wrong decisions.  We have all had to.

3.    Help them if they need assistance to deal with a challenge but do not take over control.  Again, guiding them to make the right decisions is critical in their maturing process.  When you take over complete control in solving problems, they can lose confidence in their own abilities.

4.    Assist them with their monthly expenses but do not splurge on them or allow them to spend money frivolously.  They must learn to live within a budget.  After assisting them with establishing that budget, be there for them in the event of a financial emergency, but again, do not allow them to spend frivolously and then bail them out.  This is their time to learn how to manage their allotted money.

5.    Get busy with your own lives.  Spend more time giving your talents and energies to others, such as your church and community organizations.  You still have a lot to experience and contribute, so do all you can to be active.  Your community needs you.

It will always be difficult for parents to transition from having their children at home to an empty nest.  However, this is a time for you to grow too!  Have confidence in the fact that you have done all you can to raise your children well and that you have much more to give to the world.  Get busy doing that!

The Importance of the Extended Family in Your Children’s Lives

With very busy lives, parents often think about spending time with their children rather than incorporating the extended family into leisure time too.  However, extended families have tremendous impact on children’s well-being. 

In an online article for the American College of Pediatricians, the many positive benefits of the extended family on children are extolled. Here a few:

1.    Children learn life stories and lessons from older family members.

2.    Parents and children have extra support when the time comes, because the time will indeed come.

3.    Exposing children to different beliefs and ideas from others will help them expand their understanding and knowledge and not just rely on their parents.

4.    Family health history is known and shared.  

The article ends with this statement which I believe is so important:

When kids can go with members of their extended family and be loved and cherished, and then come home to more people who love them, they are more connected to the love and goodness in humanity and better able to live positive and productive lives. 

So this weekend, set out some extra chairs for members of the extended family and have them to your home for special times.  Your children will grow to love and appreciate these times.

To read the entire article, click here.

Grandparents Raising Children

Congress passed a new law that was signed by President Trump on July 9 named The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act.  It is estimated that there are about 2.6 million grandchildren who are being raised by their grandparents primarily due to the high rise of substance abuse, especially opioid use, by their parents.   The law aims to assist grandparents by providing a one-stop access to resources and services.

Raising grandchildren is a second-go-round for grandparents.  It impacts them not only emotionally but also financially.   One of the main sponsors of the Act was Senator Susan Collins of Maine who said that grandparents are coming to the rescue and providing a loving environment for grandchildren who are often very traumatized.

To read more about the new law, click here.

Make Certain That Your Children Receive Proper Oral Health Care From an Early Age

According to an online article written by Dr. Anthony Mendicino, DDS and Laurie Turner Finger, RDH in February, 2018, forty percent of children may have tooth decay before they enter kindergarten.  That’s a very surprising statistic. The article goes on to say: “Tooth decay or Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is the single most common chronic childhood disease affecting children today in the US. Tooth decay can compromise the health, development and quality of life in children both short and long term.”

In fact, tooth decay can cause many problems such as depression and dental infections and abscesses. The critical issue is to start teaching your children early about preventing tooth decay.   The authors suggest the following:

1.    Have your children visit a dentist early so that the dentist can begin monitoring tooth development.

2.    Do not allow your baby to fall asleep sucking on a bottle with milk or any sugary liquid.   Sugar coats the teeth and causes tooth decay.

3.    Be sure to begin brushing your children’s teeth as soon as one emerges.  Do not wait until they have many teeth to brush them and be sure to teach your children how to brush them too.

4.    Investigate whether your drinking water has fluoride.  If not, consider some type of supplements.  Fluoride has been shown to reduce tooth decay. 

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

Some Fun & Interesting Websites for Your Children this Summer

During the summer months, parents struggle to find interesting and creative activities for their children.  The last thing we want them doing is playing mindless video games all day long.  Finding alternatives for them that are fun and still allow them to use the computer can be challenging.  We have done the work for you and found some interesting websites that we believe your children will truly enjoy and learn from:

1.    Science News for Children https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/ - This is an interesting and challenging website full of facts that children will enjoy.

2.     Cool math http://www.coolmath.com/ - There are so many cool math lessons, your children will be amazed.

3.    Is it possible for your child to become a genius? “Make Me a Genius” claims that it can http://www.makemegenius.com/

4.    National Geographic for kids https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/ - This website provides almost everything your child will ever want to know about animals, nature, countries, etc.

5.    Games that help children learn http://thekidzpage.com/ - All kinds of puzzles and other games are featured that will keep your child learning and having fun.

6.    How stuff works https://www.howstuffworks.com/ - This website provides answers to many questions in a variety of areas.  Nothing boring here!

7.    The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids  http://www.almanac4kids.com/ - So much fun information for your children that they cannot possibly get bored.

The Benefits of Sensory Activities for Toddlers and Young Children

The knowledge of the importance of sensory play for children has grown significantly over the years.   Sensory activities are those that stimulate one or all of the five senses - touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Young children, especially babies and toddlers, are constantly learning by utilizing their senses, which makes sensory play a great learning apparatus as well as a stress reliever.

These activities encourage children to use different processes in their play, including motor skills, aid in their development of these skills, and refine their sensory thresholds, which basically means they give children information as to how they are affected by the things around them.  They also assist in helping them to understand their bodies’ reaction to certain stimulants.   What does a lemon taste like? What does squeezing this object do? What does spinning in circles for a long time do? Can I shake this and make a noise?  Why does it make a noise?  Sensory  play answers these and many other related questions your children may have.

Some fun (and relatively mess free) sensory play ideas are:

1.    Frozen shaving cream

2.    Homemade shakers (jars with rice, beans, nuts, or seeds)

3.    Lights and shadows (different light intensities and their effects on shadows)

4.    Homemade, edible finger paints

5.    Sensory bin (a large container -big enough for a toddler- and one that is inside and smaller containing different objects of varying shapes, colors and sizes. The big bin traps all the mess!)

Along with being a way for children to learn more about their reactions to different stimuli, sensory play can also provide a great deal of comfort.  Squeezing play dough or playing with shakers can be very cathartic, so keep them on hand for the next time your children need a quick source of distraction and comfort.

There are many internet sites with sensory activities.  Try this one to start as it breaks down sensory activities based on each specific sense that is the focus: CLICK HERE

Fighting Childhood Obesity One Bite at a Time

Healthy eating and exercise should be an important part of your children’s everyday lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children and adolescents affected with obesity has tripled since the 1970s and it is now estimated that 1 in 5 school age children and young people between the ages of 6 to 19 are obese in the United States.  These are shocking statistics! 

Experts agree that obesity begins when there is excessive daily caloric intake in relation to daily caloric expenditure.  Poor food choices are at the root of this excessive intake, as usually choices involve fast food rather than healthy food.  For example, children love to eat pizza, but what type of pizza do they consume?  Typically, it is the pizza with double or triple extra cheese.  And, what about the types of drinks that are consumed with a meal?  Again, these are typically carbonated sodas with considerable sugar and calories. 

The key then is for a parent to introduce healthy food and drinks into their children’s diet.  Have food and snacks available that are nutritious and low in processed sugar.   Encourage them to drink more water as it is recommended that children drink 5 to 10 glasses of water a day, depending on their age.  As options for fast food or food and drink high in sugar and calories are diminished, your children will slowly be weaned from them and toward more healthy eating habits.  Please understand that this process will not be easy.  Sugar is an addiction and your children will be craving it.  However, offering them fruits with natural sugar as an alternative is very helpful.

In addition to changing what your children eat and drink, parents must encourage them to exercise.  Experts lament over the fact that children have become very inactive, opting to sit and play video games or watch tv for hours rather than go outside and play.   It is estimated that children now spend four hours a day watching tv. 

Instead of telling your children to exercise more, try joining them and encouraging them to exercise.  Take some time out of your day to exercise with them, if even for 15 minutes. Jog around the block, play a sport, or even join a dance class! The opportunities are endless and choosing an activity that your children will enjoy is the best way to ensure that they will keep up with it.

What our children eat every day fuels their bodies and ultimately their lives.  Choose to provide good, nutritious food and drinks for them to help them build lifelong good habits.

Raising Your Children to be Problem Solvers

Among the skills parents should teach their children, problem solving is often overlooked.  A person’s ability to solve problems quickly and effectively plays a huge part in the way he handles challenges, and ultimately, the path of his life.  Providing children with the tools and experiences to be proficient problem solvers prepares them for the problems that will inevitably show up in their personal and professional lives.

In her online article for the PBS website, “I Figured it Out!”: Helping Kids Become Tenacious Problem Solvers”, author Deborah Farmer Kris gives some expert advice in nurturing our children’s imagination and creativity.   First and foremost, we must encourage our children’s curiosity.  When they are young, children constantly are asking the question “Why?”   Instead of reacting to this question as a burden, parents should enthusiastically respond “Let’s find out!”  By responding in this manner, we show that their question is to be respected and that there are ways to find out answers. 

Second, Ms. Kris recommends that we do not give answers to a problem to our children right away or step in too quickly to resolve it.  We should help them reframe or clarify the problem and search for answers.  Ask such questions as “Have you tried this already?” or “Tell me more about the situation.”  Help them to think about the challenge and come up with their own solutions.  I’m a lawyer and law schools use the Socratic method to train students to think critically.  A law professor always asks questions of the students, forcing them to think critically and search for the right arguments.

Third, honor their “tenacity”, the ability to continue trying to find solutions for a problem rather than giving up easily.  You can say, for example, “That was a challenging puzzle, but you stayed with it.”

Fourth, help your children to be good observers.  Encourage them to look for clues or search around for material needed for a project.  Spending time in nature is a good way to develop good observation skills as they can use their five senses. 

To read the full article, click here.

What God’s Word Says About Being a Good Friend

I have written before about how to help our children choose good friends according to the Word of God.  I think that message is very important, but what is just as important and often overlooked, is what the Bible has to say about being a good friend.  Friends are a crucial part of our lives.  Having and being a good friend strengthen our lives and our walk with God.  These are a few ways your children can be good friends and have positive influences on their friends’ lives:

1.    Be there for your friend. We all go through rough patches that only a true friend could make better. The Bible talks about being there for a friend in times of trouble.  Being available, whether by phone or in person, and listening to them when they are distressed can be so comforting to them and lets them know that you can be trusted. It strengthens the bond of that relationship in a time that can tear many apart.

2.    Tell the truth.  We often want to spare our friends’ feelings, but sugarcoating a situation does nothing to help them in the long run.  We should be honest with one another because it is the only way to grow and better ourselves.  Of course, that does not give anyone the right to be mean or harsh.  I once heard someone say “honesty without tact is abuse,” and that is so true.  As a friend, your goal should never be to hurt someone’s feelings, but to help your friend progress in whatever aspect needs improvement. Give constructive comments rather than hurtful criticisms - the message will be received much easier.

3.    Spend time together. Between school, soccer practice, and chess club, our children can be very busy.  Yes, school and extracurricular activities are important, but just as important is spending time with their friends and truly enjoying their friends’ company.  Children have so much energy that they are bound to find activities to do during their time together.

Also, they should never be afraid of silence. Friends sitting in comfortable silence is an indication of the comfort between them. Being in that moment together can feel just as fulfilling as a day’s worth of exciting activities.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
— Proverbs 18:24
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
— Proverbs 17:17

Who Are Your Children’s Role Models? Part 1

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The Meriam-Webster dictionary defines “role model” as a person whose behavior is imitated by others.  The entertainment media is constantly providing us with information about the so-called “stars” and role models - whether they are actors, musicians, singers, or other public figures.  Often, we see children and youth emulating the dress and behavior of these “stars”.   As Christians, we should have our own “stars” for our children – persons who are different, yet extraordinary role models.  And, these “stars” must start at home.  This week’s blog centers on the role models whom our children should have in their every-day lives.

            When I found this image for this week’s blog, I was very impressed and happy.  It says a tremendous amount in very few words, and I encourage you to  take your time to read it and talk about it with your spouse and other family members.  Please set aside some time to do so.  As people who are not Christians look to the world’s “stars” to give them inspiration for living, we Christians must choose a different standard – one that glorifies God. 

Working Parents: Have a Plan for Taking Time Off From Work When Your Children Need You

Whether your child has an illness or injury, or the babysitter could not make it, taking unexpected time off from work can be tricky.  When both parents work, this can cause unnecessary tension because of arguments about who is going to stay home and take care of the child.  To prevent this from happening, it is very important to develop a plan ahead of time with your spouse about unanticipated “at home” days.

One important consideration is who has the most flexible schedule on any given day.   It may be that an arrangement can be worked out where both parents  divide the caretaking day in half.  If one spouse has mostly morning meetings and the other spouse has them in the afternoon, you can both work around your schedules.  My late husband and I did this.  His schedule was generally more flexible than mine, since as a lawyer, my schedule could be extremely busy.  We worked it out though between us, always keeping our focus on what was best for our children.  Compromise is very important as it reduces the parents’ stress levels and aids in flexible decision making, which of course, leaves more time for you both to focus on your child who needs you.

Speak to your office manager or human services representative ahead of time about the protocol for working from home or having children in the workplace. Many companies allow a parent to work from home if he is unable to come to the office and some allow children to be in the office under special circumstances.

If you and your spouse are not able to do any of the above, research alternatives.  Often retired relatives or friends will assist for a short while.  What is critical is that you do not wait until you need assistance to find a solution.

Raising children can be filled with ups and downs.  Having a plan and being willing to compromise - those are the key elements to surviving a sudden at-home stay.  Life is always going to throw curveballs at you, but being proactive can make them a little easier to catch

Small Ways to Boost Your Children’s Self Esteem

I have written before about boosting your child’s self-esteem, but today I will be discussing a few additional points as this is such an important subject.  Self-esteem is simply how a child feels about himself.  It is vital that children feel good about themselves because it makes them better problem solvers, better learners, and more appreciative of themselves and the people around them.

Since self-esteem is so integral to a child’s development, here are a few things you can do to boost his confidence.

1.    Do not pile on the praise. This may seem counterintuitive to what you believe.  Simply praising your child for everything he does is not helpful.  And, research shows that it may backfire.  Concentrate on praising effort.   Your praise may appear fake if a child knows that he did not perform well so instead, acknowledge when your child is making mistakes and encourage him to keep trying!

2.    Let your child make mistakes.  When teaching a child something new, be patient and monitor what she does.  Then, let her do it on her own so that she can learn from her mistakes.  Too often, as parents, we do not want our child to perform mediocrely.  How can she learn if she does not keep trying to do better.  

3.    Encourage independence. Once your child knows the difference between right and wrong and understands the consequences that come with certain decisions, let her make some for herself.  Often, this can show how much you trust her and respect her choices.

4.    Do not give harsh criticism.  I often hear parents calling their children names such as “lazy”, “messy”, “disorganized”, etc. What we speak over our children will come to pass.  They will begin to think about themselves just as you described.  So, select descriptive words that are encouraging rather than discouraging and look for things that they do right, rather than what they have done wrong.

Though these steps may seem simple, following them will go a long way in building healthy self-esteem in your children.

Kids Health provides more information about the benefits of high self-esteem in children and what you can do.  Read the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

Be Vigilant This Summer to Ensure Your Children’s Outdoor Safety

School is out and our children are outside much more enjoying summer activities.  Their safety should always be of utmost concern for parents.

In a recent online article Summer Outdoor Safety Tips Offered for Child Care Facilities, reporter Eric Tegethoff of Public News Service writes about issues of concern for parents during the summer months especially.  The article is a refresher about information we may have heard in the past, but is updated and reminds us parents about how diligent we must be to protect our precious ones. 

Of course, the number one issue is keeping an eye on our children when they are in and around water.  As parents, we understand this but the tragedy is that even those parents who understand the dangers that lurk for children when playing in and around water, often believe that nothing would never happen to their children.  One of the first considerations is the surface around the water.  Typically, children play around water barefoot so your diligence requires your examination of the surfaces for any potential causes of injuries.  Are there any sharp or jagged surfaces?  Are there any protrusions? Can anything potentially dangerous be hidden underneath the surface, such as under sand at the beach?

Another consideration is keeping a vigilant eye on your children when they are in water.  The article quotes the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s findings that “for 77 percent of child drowning victims, the child has been missing from sight five minutes or less.” Never assume that another adult will be keeping an eye on your children unless you have specifically requested that he/she do so and trust that person. You must be focused and knowledgeable about where your children are all the time.

The article also refers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s  findings that 2 of the 10 drowning deaths that happen every day are to children 14 and younger. It recommends that there should be one adult for every infant in a pool.  As children get older, less monitoring is required:  four children for every adult at pre-school age and six per adult for school-age children.

Please do not forget to put sunscreen on your children before they go to play outside and be sure that they have sufficient hydration.  The sun provides important vitamin D for them but also can cause problems.

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

Helping Your Children Develop Social Maturity

When it comes to our children’s performance in school, as parents, we are almost always focused on their academic progress.  Although that of course is critical, it is also beneficial for us to ensure that they are getting the most out of their schooling, and that includes being socially proficient. Whether your children have issues with their social development or are just naturally shy, there are several ways that parents can teach social maturity.

It is best to start teaching your children social graces before they start school.  For example, you can take them to the park where they can interact with other children while you sit, observe, and possibly strike up a chat with their parents. You should be looking for a few things as your children mingle with others: are they sharing, actively involved, and laughing?  These are crucial in friendly interactions.  Use what you have observed to talk with your children about how they can improve their behavior during the next social event.

If your children are in school but still having challenges interacting with their peers, consider how to assist them.  Students are surrounded by the same people every day and having a familiar environment helps many children thrive socially.   A great way for your children to actively meet new people and socialize with friends, even in a new environment, is for them to join a club.  Clubs are smaller groups of people who have similar interests and who interact with each other based on these common interests.  My sons participated in many different clubs based on their interests, such as sports clubs, chess clubs, church clubs and music clubs.  And, they developed long lasting friendships that exist to this day from those clubs.

Another way for children to develop socially is working with others on homework.  Often, teachers assign projects to a small group of students.  The students in those small groups then get together and plan and prepare what to do for each project.  By helping each other, friendships are developed.  My nephew is in 9th grade and one of his teachers often assigns group projects.  He and his fellow students meet frequently and after they have dedicated time to their project, my sister takes the group out for a treat.  All during this time, social skills are being developed, as well as academic skills.

Parents have tremendous influences on their children’s lives.  When speaking with your friends, family members, or even strangers, be sure to display kindness, compassion, and confidence.  Children learn best from what they see and hear. Be the best example to your children that you can be!

A well-rounded child is not just one who excels academically.  Social growth and maturity are key to a child’s ultimate success in life as well. 

What to Do When Your Child says “I Hate You"

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
— 1 Corinthians 13:7

Oh, how this week’s Bible verse comes in handy, especially when children try to test your patience, question your affection for them, or even make you question their love for you.  Parents often fear the day when their child screams “I hate you” in the heat of passion.  Unfortunately, it will happen to a lot of parents and I think it is important to be prepared for when it does.

Children are not able to articulate their thoughts and feelings into meaningful, temperate phrases.  They are very honest and tend to share their feelings without filter.  Often, they blurt out whatever is on their mind, without regard for anyone else.

When your children utter these three words, experts recommend that it is best to focus on your children’s anger and not take the remarks personally.  You should respond with loving and reassuring phrases such as “I understand you are angry.  I love you and I am here for you.”   Teach your children to express in words that they is angry.

Your children need to know that you are always there for them and will try your very best to understand them. However, they also need to know that hurtful words like “I hate you” are unacceptable.  When the situation has calmed down and everyone has had the opportunity to take a short break, have a talk with them about appropriate ways to express their feelings.  Using the word “hate” is extremely powerful and negative.  Don’t yell at them and threaten.  The more loving your response is, the more they will understand that their choice of words was wrong and they can do better in the future.

You may have to bear through a few more intense tantrums and go through these points several times before your children are truly able to grasp the concept of healthy expression.  Keep trying – don’t give up!  The more practice you have, the better it will sink into their minds and the more they will be able to share their thoughts and feelings. You do not have to wait for them to throw another tantrum to put those lessons to work, though.  Try discussing experiences that usually elicit an impulsive, negative response from your children and teach them how to respond kindly.

Hearing those three words can be so devastating to a parent, but by responding in love and using these moments as times to teach, parents are establishing a foundation of self-expression that will definitely benefit their children in the future.

Help your Children Plan and Prepare for their Exams this Exam Season

It is exam season and your children might either be freaking out about it or blissfully oblivious as their exam dates get closer with each passing day.  Regardless of their state of mind right now, exam season is always a stressful time.  Parents can play a significant role in relieving some of that stress by assisting their children to prepare for their exams.

Before beginning, parents must understand the type of learner their children are.  Of course, each child is different.  Is she a visual or hands-on learner?  Is he a mix of both? Does she work better alone or in a group? How long is his attention span? Talk with each of them about it and come up with methods for exam preparations that are the most conducive to his learning style(s), not yours.

Many parents, including me, assist their children before a test. Some use flashcards, others ask probing questions, while others make mock exams - the effectiveness of each technique is completely determined by each child’s learning style.

I have written some tips in a couple of articles on this blog about spending time with your children and being involved when they do their homework, that can be applied to helping your children study for exams.  The most important takeaways from these blogs should be scheduling, location and your overall involvement.  Studying in a clear - somewhat secluded- area helps your children focus on their tasks without distraction.  Planning a schedule to study for each class gives a sense of order during a time that may be chaotic for most students. Parents can assist by checking up on your children every once in a while to observe their progress or assist with a problem.  This shows them that you care about their academics and it gives them the chance to share what they have learned. It also gives them the opportunity to ask questions on what they may not thoroughly understand yet.

That is not all! According to an article on the U.S. Department of Education’s website, one of the best things you can do for your children is to talk to them about their exams. Find out what subjects they are confident and not-so confident in. Speak with them about the areas they think they need to focus on. Speak with their teachers and present these inquiries to them, too.  Use your newfound data to help your children set up a study plan that strengthens their weaknesses and enhances their strengths.

Be sure to confirm with their teachers the correct exam dates and ensure that they start studying well in advance.  Children can get confused about dates, especially if they have not written them down.  Also, having a longer time span for them to go over the information for each subject, gives your children a better chance of actually learning and comprehending the information rather than just memorizing it.  Comprehension signifies that the information can be applied to many different situations; however, memorization makes it much harder to do so.

Parents know what exam season is like. We all have been through it. We can use our experiences, along with these tips, to ensure that our children handle studying and taking exams better than we did and are more successful.  You can find the U.S Department of Education’s article for more tips on how to help your children by clicking here.