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Show Support 06-04-09

Friend Choices 05-30-08

Have Dinners With Your Children 03-27-08

Neuro-Transmitter Pruning 02-23-08

School Fundraisers 10-22-07

Don't Say Don't 10-12-07

When to Let Your Child Shave 09-19-07

Watch Your Child's Performances 09-04-07

Back to School 08-29-07

Travel with Kids, Long Vacation 08-09-07

Safe Internet 6-06-07

Kids' Furniture 6-02-07

Problems with Reading? 5-28-07

Is Your Child Stressed Out? 5-08-07

Kid's Backpacks 3-23-07

Listen to Your Children 03-13-07

When to Get Your Child a Cell Phone? 03-06-07

Help Your Kids With Learning 02-20-07

Personal Style 02-08-07

Child Safety 02-02-07

Be a Good Role Model 01-25-07

Learn by Repetition 01-12-07

Watch Your Child's Weight 01-08-07

Keep Shoes Tied 12-27-06

Use Restraint When Giving Gifts 12-14-06

Baby Language 12-06-06

Teach Safe Play 12-05-06

Teach Daily 11-27-06

What Happened to Imagination? 11-14-06

Practice Makes Perfect 11-06-06

Couch Potato Kids? 10-31-06

Have Fun With Your Kids 10-17-06

Do You Know Your Child? 10-10-06

Check Those Lyrics & Content 10-6-06

Teach Differences in Religion 9-26-06

Have the Child do Chores 9-21-06

School Mornings 9-19-06

Serve Breakfast 9-12-06

Stretch Daily 9-6-06

Help Ready Child for a Test 8-29-06

Practice & Teach Patience 8-24-06

Back to School 8-19-06

The Power of Praise 8-11-06

Empowerment 8-9-06

Talking to Kids 8-6-06

ID Safety 8-4-06

What to do About a Fever 8-1-06

Tell Them You Love Them 7-29-06

Serve Healthy Foods & Snacks 7-17-06

Keep Kids Active 7-11-06

Touch 7-6-06

Pick Your Priorities 5-30-06

Attend Your Child's Events 5-20-06

Discuss Personal Issues 5-16-06

Is Your Child Talented? 5-9-06

Check Off Lists 5-4-06

Responsibility 4-28-06

Skip the Slip 4-14-06

Give Kids Physical Contact 4-12-06

Kids Love You Being Involved 3-30-06

Girls in Dresses and Skirts 3-30-06

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Show Support 06-04-09
Your child needs your support and encourgement. Even if you are having a hard time with supporting something, turn it around in some way and support something about the choice, if not the choice. For example, if your child wants to go on a trip with an older teen and she is only 14, you can support how she shows she's getting mature, but the trip idea won't work because in all reality, a teen may not be able to be trusted with your precious child (a teen isn't exactly as responsible as an adult - there are years of brain growth and experience that needs to develop before you can allow the trust). Support that your child is showing initiative, or common sense, or responsibility, or wanting to volunteer - but maybe the situation isn't something she is yet ready for. You can even blame it on yourself (sometimes) - that you are afraid for her safety in such situation. In any case, try to support and praise something every day or every minute of your child's life. Help her feel you really care and trust (to an appropriate degree) her.

Friend Choices 05-30-08
As a parent, you won't always like the friends your child chooses. The friend might be foul-mouthed, or have an unstable home life, or gets into trouble a lot, or hurts your child's feelings without feeling bad about it, etc. If your child has such a friend, you can't exactly tell your child to stay away - sometimes this drives the child toward the friend more vehemently. Instead, let your child vent his or her frustrations to you and listen. Or let him tell you why this friend is so cool. Tell her you understand and you've had hurt feelings in similar situations (if it' true). Tell him that he's cool as well, all on his own. Just be there for your child when the fall happens. Most of the time something will go wrong - and you need to let your child trust you so he will come running to you.

If there is a more dire situation - you might have to remove your child from contact with the friend - it might be dangerous to allow them to hang out together. Perhaps there are actions which can be harmful or fatal. Perhaps drugs are involved. Perhaps there is a dangerous cult following that the friend is involved in. Perhaps the family at the friend's home shows a bad example in contrast with the values you want to have your child follow. In any case, be up front with your child and explain why this break needs to happen. You don't want to hurt either child but the best course of action right now is to keep them separated. Or perhaps you can allow play time only at your house where you can keep an eye on the relationship. See what you can do to help the situation - but be truthful and up front with your child.

Have Dinners With Your Children 03-27-08
Try to make it a point on a daily basis to have dinner with your children - it is good, quality time that can bring a lot of good to the family. If not every day, shoot for as many days as you can. Perhaps dinner won't work out if you work swing shifts - have a family breakfast instead.

Resolve to keep discussions going during dinner. Some families use the time to do daily devotions and then discuss the reading. Find out how the kid's day was - anything fun, interesting, challenging or hurtful? Make sure you show support - don't judge or discipline or blame. Let this time be one where everyone can open up freely and speak what is on his or her mind.

If conversation is difficult to start, ask questions - nothing that is satified with a "yes" or "no" or "fine" - dig a bit. Ask who your child played with at recess, and what they played. Ask how he felt about his test - did she do well, or was it difficult, what questions were on it, etc. You might find out ways to help your child understand some aspect of homework or school work. You might find out who her new best friend is. You might realize that puberty is starting to set in and perhaps it's time to get ready and figure out this new phase. You might find out that there is a bad influence in his life and you'll need to know how to approach that. Maybe your child has another friend in trouble and all that weight is heavy upon your child. Just ask questions - the more comfortable your child is with talking to you, the more he or she will open up. Ask in a way that isn't interrogative - ask in a way that shows you are interested.

For a family that isn't used to eating together, it will take a bit of time to get comfortable but don't give up. Speak up about yourself and our challenges - see if the family has any suggestions for you - if you got nervous in a presentation during the day - maybe 6 year-old Jimmy will tell you how he deals with it when he has to get in front of the class - and my guess is his advice will be priceless! Once someone starts the conversation, it helps others chime in. Once someone seems at the same level (nervous or forgetful or did something "stupid") as another family member, the doors can really open up. Don't forget to laugh, as well - not "at" anyone, but "with" someone, or laugh at yourself and perhaps they'll laugh "with" you. Get the stress out of there!

Neuro-Transmitter Pruning 02-23-08
Stay close to your children and let them feel free to talk to you, confide in you, without your trying to judge him or her. In the teen years, kids go through neuro-transmitter pruning - old useless connections are being discarded in the brain and new ones are forming in order to ready the child for adulthood. The brain needs to mature and go through changes. You might be able to pick up on some difficult times of adjustment if you keep communicaiton channels open.

The society we're living in and exposing out children to - it's very different from when many of us were growing up. Kids are expected to grow up a alot faster, be exposed to more, have more pressures on them. They get less sleep than they should, often have a large amount of homework, and added sports pressures and schedules. Some kids thrive well with it, but some can literally fall apart. Almost without a clear clue, they can sink into deep depression and contemplate doing harm to themselvs. This doesn't mean they are crazy - but yes, unstable. Much of this depression can be attributed to the faster pruning than your child can handle.

It's not just hormones if your child cries a lot, feels worthless, doesn't feel like she has any friends, can't think straight to do homework, lose concentration at school. It's all normal, but the extent to which this happens may be an indication of depression. If this behavior gets more pronounced or the happy moments are less and less - take your child to a doctor. First try to talk to him - let him know he is loved by you and you are concerned. Let him know that there is hope (he probably feels like life is hopeless) - assure him that you will help him get through this period and so will the doctor. The doctor may prescribe counseling, and perhaps also an anti-depressant. Make sure to monitor your child during this time of treatment.

Some anti-depressants can trigger suicidal thoughts in some children - make sure to keep a good eye on your child for the first few weeks. Have him take the medication at about the same time each day, and don't skip a dose. If a dose is missed - don't try to double up on it to make it up - just start again at the normal time and go forward with regular dosing. Keep the medications stored where he can't find them - to make sure he doesn't try to overdose, or let a friend try it. Judgment may not be a virtue during this time. If there is any type of reaction or worsening of mood - call the doctor immediately and watch your child. Above all - be accessible to him so he can talk to you freely about his moods and needs. Don't try to "fix" him - try to understand him and just listen.

Start "scaling" him often - ask where he is on a 1-10 scale in how he feels - 10 being a "high" point where he is happy and content, and 1 is a low point where he is upset and hopeless. As the treatment works, there should be more highs over time. Lows are ok, but hopefully lessening.

Help your child develop good friendships with kids who are good for them (not with toxic personalities who will bring your child down - he cannot deal with this right now and cannot be held responsible for helping to "fix" the other toxic child). Offer to get them together at safe meeting places - at each other's homes, at a movie or other outing, get them to start a dance or hockey program together, etc. Make sure friends are accessible to your child - that can be a real help in getting over the worthlessness feeling.

Always make sure he knows you love him. Follow the doctors' advice on how to help. Talk to him a lot more to bring in trust, and let him open up to you without your judging him. If there is a problem he has that he tells you about, find out what he feels about it or if he feels it is wrong or right. Help him think it through and realize if he used bad judgment - and see if he'll apologize, then accept that. Help him learn through that so he can think it out better next time. Just show consistency, openness, love and support.

School Fundraisers 10-22-07
As much as you hate them, you feel pressured to support those school fundraisers, even if you don't need the products and you cringe when you get approached or need to talk to family or friends. The fact is - schools need the funds - there are supplies, equipment, and programs that cannot be supported without the extra funds. Some schools have done away with fundraisers and just require families to donate a certain amount evey year.

When running a fundraiser - try something different. Find out what people in your area are "into" - what's hot these days, and still affordable? What can people actually want and use? The yearly gift wrap and magazines may make some people refuse to open their doors, and yet some depend on the kids to provide them these things every year. Don't be afraid to suggest an alternative - magazines can be found elsewhere, gift wrap is easy to find in the stores at holiday time. More people have stockpiles of wrapping paper than anyone knows about! And the cheap junk - well, need I say more?

Find out more about fundraising here.

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Don't Say Don't 10-12-07
When talking to your child, or disciplining your child, try not to say "don't do" something. Find ways to say "do" something. If you think about it, most kids only here the "something" but not the "don't" - and they end up doing exactly what you told them not to. Sometimes it's because they truly didn't listen to the don't so didn't hear it, and other times it's because you put the tempting thought into your child, and he wants to find out "why" the "something is a "don't." Rather than say, "don't pull your sister's hair," say "be nice to your sister and if she wants, gently help her brush her hair, and she can help you." Or rather than "don't drive the car," say "you can take the car to the store - just drive carefully," or "you can drive the car again when your punishment is over."

When to Let Your Child Shave 09-19-07
If your child is anxious to begin shaving, start thinking about when might be appropriate. Does your boy have facial hair? Then maybe it's time to show him how to shave. Is your daughter growing hair under her arms, or is her leg hair really dark - these can make her very self-conscious. Show her how to shave once it's apparent that she is feeling bad or others are making fun of her. Get a decent safety type razor to practice with and show how you shave yourself. You can also get an electric type razor to be very cautious. Gauge this timing also with the maturity of your child - but anywhere in the 10-13 year range seems consistent.

Watch Your Child's Performances 09-04-07
With school and other activities starting - your kids will likely be in performances and athletic competitions and meets - go see your child as often as you can! Your child wants to see you there, being supportive. It feels bad when all your child's friends have their parents watching, and your family can't make it. It can be shaken off a few times, but if it happens a lot, your child will feel bad. Most of the time he prepares so that he can show YOU what he can do - he is working for your benefit. Be there for him or her. It will go miles in keeping a good relationship going between you and your child - and you can talk to him about the performance - be positive, no criticism, no matter how it went - just say you are proud of him for what he did.

Back to School 08-29-07
Help your child with anxiety - calm him or her by talking about school. Talk about when you went, and how it turned out OK - you adjusted and made lots of new friends. (If it was a bad experience, don't talk about that - wait several years until it doesn't matter anymore, or don't ever bring it up - your child will pave his own way and should not feel destined to follow in your footsteps.)
Walk your child to the bus stop or drop her off at school on the first day - let her tell you when she is ready to go into the school on her own, and help coax her. This should not have to be repeated after the first year, in most cases, unless you make it a tradition.
Try to get everything ready the evening before - watch the weather and decide on clothes. Pack a lunch so it won't run you late in the morning (or be forgotten) - or pack the lunch money into the backpack. Pack up the backpack with all homework the night before.
For lunch tips, click here. If there is a lunch account - send a check to school to load it up with perhaps $5 so she is covered on those days that she might forget to take her lunch.
Plan out the breakfast - make sure to set out a grain item (cereal, muffin, bagel - NOT the sugared or chocolate variety), and a fruit item, served with milk. Forget the fatty and sugary breakfasts - sugar gives a quick high, then a hard low shortly after. Fats are bad for anyone and doesn't help with energy.
Make sure your child gets enough sleep - going to bed early enough to get enough rest.

All Your Back to School Needs Here

Travel with Kids, Long Vacation 08-09-07
If you are taking a long vacation out of the country (which we just did and thus I could not update my blog - sorry!), think of your kids and what they'll get from it. My daughter was an optimum age at 12, to go to Scandinavia - she'll surely remember so much about the trip and the relatives. Much earlier and things would blend in and not be so easy to sort out and remember. Museums are great for kids who are patient and interested, not so much for little ones. Amusement parks in the middle of the trip can help re-energize a child who feels he's had nothing interesting to do.

Don't bribe with sweets as rewards - sends the wrong message about sweets - and can hurt in his gaining weight and keeping up the habits. Don't get into power struggles with your kids - be firm and explain the expectations. They need to behave in restaurants and with relatives, in museums and other places. When things get tense (people getting on each others' nerves, etc.), plan a break away from each other - don't let things explode. Some people need space and can again handle the interaction better. Allow your children to feel shy - it's natural in circumstances that are out of the ordinary. Eventually they should come around if there is a comfortable feeling. In the case of an odd relative, or old relative, try to get your child to empathize with his or her situation and perhaps the stigma will go away or ease.

Try to take walks with your kids and show them what they can find if they look around, and just talk (and to give them a break away from the others - give some parent to kid alone time so she will not feel disconnected to you). In our case, taking a little excursion into the woods found a bounty of wild berries - how exciting for my daughter! Sometimes you can relate stories of when you were growing up or visiting there at another time.

Try to figure out some travel games or activities for when on a plane or in a car or train - those are quite boring times for kids - sitting still is difficult for long periods of time. Bring the iPods, the hand held games, a small toy, a doll or better yet a puppet so you can help entertain your child. Bring books and even magazines with word games.

There is so much you can do to help your child have a good trip, which will, in turn, help you have a good trip as well!

Shop at The Scholastic Store for your kidís favorite Books & Toys!

Safe Internet 6-06-07
These days with the Internet getting quite raunchy and with predators stalking kids on the 'net, we all have to step in and take more control of our kids' usage and time spent on the Internet. Get on the Internet with your kids - check the sites they get on. There are sites in which kids interact together and with each other, such as Club Penguin, in which it is pretty harmless and moderated. No one is allowed to ask certain types of information questions, and no one is allowed to get out of line. Penguins report each other for bad behavior, and blocks are set up almost instantaneously when there is a problem. Make sure of the ground rules at any club sites - some for older kids may be totally inappropriate.

Talk to your kids about chat rooms - no giving out any specific information about them. No age, no male or female, no city or address. No phone number. No names at all - first or last. No description - not hair style or color, eye color, height, weight or anything. Not even pretending to be someone else! You might want to restrict all chatting if you can't be sure your child is following your rules.

You should place restrictions on websites, on emails, on chat rooms, and anything else your child might get into while you are not watching. Limit those things you have not ok'd. If your child starts getting inappropriate emails, cancel that email address and start a new one.

If your child acts evasive about her Internet activity, start monitoring it while she's on it, and restrict her from getting on at all while you are not there. Kids do need to feel a certain amount of privacy in talking to friends, but it should not relate in the same way to strangers.

Stress the importance of NEVER setting up a meeting with anyone met off the Internet. It could be a predator pretending to be a trusted child of similar age. By the time he figures that out, it could be too late.

Play it safe and both restrict what your child can do on the Internet, and monitor the activity they do have - look at where they have been to verify in your mind that it is safe.

Kids' Furniture 6-02-07
When choosing furniture for your kids, find pieces that are sturdy and will last awhile. Get solid furniture that will take some abuse well. Kids are hard on furniture, face it. No matter how much you think they'll take good care of it, it will get drawn on, dinged up, spilled upon, etc. Find a line of furniture that can clean up easily and withstand abuse. Great furniture for kids are those which can stack and change around - my daughter has a Muure Me set that can transform into bunk beds or single beds, drawers and cabinets can be pushed close or far from each other with a desktop over them. There are bookshelves which can stack or stand alone, or stand on the end of the drawers and desk. This way she can rearrange her room as often as she wants, and without having to buy new furniture.

Figure out what your child needs - single or bunk bed, twin or double or queen. A desk to do homework on? Book shelves? Drawers for clothes and other things? A toy chest? Other storage units? Let the needs of your child tell you the best pieces to buy. If he can't use what is in his room, what good is it to him?

Find durable, safe kids' furniture here.

PoshTots - "The Most Extraordinary Children's Furnishings in the World."

Problems with Reading? 5-28-07
If your child doesn't seem to learn or read like other kids, you might want to watch him or her more carefully - there might be a learning struggle. Perhaps it's only that the teacher doesn't present things in a way your child picks up on - try explaining it to him at home, in a different way. Don't let your child get stressed out - keep him calm, to know that you aren't expecting him to get it immediately or perfectly. Try to find his strengths and let him feel good about those.

If he truly has problems learning or reading at the same level as the other kids on his class, he might have a cognitive skill weakness - or AADD/ADHD - or some other problem that keeps him from learning easily. You should have him tested because it's rarely a "phase" that your child will outgrow - learning difficulties do not tend to go away.

See more learning tips at Teach Daily and see Early Reading Tactics

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Is Your Child Stressed Out? 5-08-07
If your child tends to get stressed out - having too much homework, not understanding homework, trying to figure out how to do something in a sport or in playing an instrument, and he or she gets frustrated or moody or has a tantrum, it can mean stress is affecting your child. Try to help - don't "push" any further or threaten. The child is either having a "block" or is not talented enough to do what is asked of him. Don't let him feel you are disappointed in him, or that you are punishing him.

If the amount of homework is too much or too hard, talk to the teachers and find out why there is so much. See if it can be lessened, or if the teacher can give some personal attention to help your child understand. Some techniques don't work for all children - a different strategy may be needed. If your child is heavily involved in other activities, don't expect less homework in order to accommodate all his extra-curricular activities. In that case, please try to reschedule your child so he gets enough time for school. If the activity is vital in your eyes, then look into home schooling - the school system can't accommodate special needs of all students.

If she is trying to learn a new technique - perhaps an axel in figure skating, or a new song in band, and is having trouble - assure your child these things take time and there is no pressure on her. If others are pushing her, perhaps you should tell them to back off. Have the coaches or teachers take the pressure off - perhaps she need not do this concert or competition this time. Sometimes a child just needs a break from an activity. Or to know others have the same problems - that she is not alone.

Assure your child that you are happy and proud of her no matter what, as long as she does her best that she can, whatever that is. Make sure she knows that as long as she tries and puts out effort, it is ok. Let her know you don't expect 100% in grades, lower is ok and nothing to be ashamed of if she tried. She need not skate a clean program - maybe she peaked the day before - it might not be able to be done again. It takes years of muscle memory for a sport move to be executed the same way without fault. Stress can make everything a mess in sports - everyone has a bad day at some point.

Just don't add to the stress. Help your child in any way that you can that will help. Take the pressure off of her. Let her know you are proud no matter what (as long as she is doing her best to try, and not doing bad things on purpose). Let him know perfection is not required. Sometimes it's ok to just be "good enough."

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Kid's Backpacks 3-23-07
Check your child's backpack weight when she is carrying books and other things in it. It should not weigh more than 10-15% of the child's own weight - a 60 pound child should have a backpack weighing 9 pounds or less. This may become more difficult as the child gets older, as in middle school or even 5th grade. Help the child by perhaps getting a rolling backpack if the school allows, or perhaps even purchasing a set of textbooks to leave at home, not needing to go back and forth daily. Make sure your child knows how to carry the backpack properly - evenly distributed weight across the shoulders, and if there is a waist strap, use it to put more weight onto the hips (especially important for those sling-type packs *not good* which are getting popular - the weight is resting all on one shoulder, stressing the back). Don't allow your child to stress out his back so early. Back problems haunt people for the rest of their lives. Teach your child to pack the heaviest items on the bottom of the back, and closest to the back, with lighter things on top. Get a backpack with padding along the back. Also make sure the child keeps pencils and all sharp objects in a pencil bag, to prevent getting stabbed by the pointy objects when looking for something in the pack. Tell your child not to throw the pack, either - it can torque the back with the pull of weight. Teach your child to carry a textbook or two in his hands, rather then stuffing too much into the backpack. Help your child to check her backpack - perhaps there are things that are not necessary to be in the backpack, or could be left at school.

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Listen to Your Children 03-13-07
Try to engage your child in conversation by asking questions, by encouraging, and not by judging. Listen to what is said, and look your child in the eye to show her you are paying attention. Kids can tell if you are interested or just faking it - they have valuable things to say if listened to. You might find out some things you should be aware of. My daughter is so open with me about almost everything - she will tell me if someone is making poor choices at school and what she thinks of it. She tells me what she thinks of her teachers and what they say - daily. She knows I listen, I pay attention, I remember, and she can trust me not to go around telling other people unless she wants me to. She is possibly the exception to the rule, but I believe if you take time to start it early enough, you can have the same relationship with your child.

By the way - it is no longer true that kids blow off and ignore what is told to them - if you want to talk about early sex, or about drugs, or about smoking, etc. - talk about it with your child - he'll listen. It may not seem like it at the moment, but it sinks it to process through later. A decade or so ago, it was believed that kids don't listen, but these days, it's been proven that they do. They do think what you say is valuable. So make it worth listening to.

When to Get Your Child a Cell Phone? 03-06-07
I let my daughter use my cell phone for awhile starting in about 4th grade - when she went off on some play date or something, so she could call me at home and let me know when to get her, etc. At the end of 5th grade, I let her keep the phone, and put her own message on it. I got a different cell phone. Her call phone is a pay as you go phone, with and reloadable limited funds.

She doesn't use it unless she needs to - after our two blizzards, there is no second lane in the pick-up loop, so she calls me on my cellphone and tells me where to best pick her up according to the backed up traffic at the school. She uses the land line phone at home to call friends on. She knows her minutes are limited so she doesn't waste them. If she uses her minutes too fast, she'll have to pay for more minutes herself, and that's not how she wants to spend her money. I'm proud of how responsible she is.

She has to keep it off at school, but turns it on when she leaves school.

A cell phone for your child - it's your decision. But teach your child to be responsible. A pay as you go account is great - buy 15 or 20 minutes on a card - tell her she has 1, 2 or 3 months to keep it going or she will be buying her own time. The first time the phone runs out of time - he'll hopefully figure out how to use it more wisely.

We have guidelines on her usage, but she has been so responsible about it - I have no worries. The one thing that makes me glad she has a phone is the situation in Bailey (about 40 minutes from here) last semester, when kids were able to call parents using their restricted cellphones. I like to know that she can call me when she needs me or needs to tell me something.

Find the Right Cell Phone Here.

Help Your Kids With Learning 02-20-07
Your child will need some support from you in order to study and get homework done. Make sure to provide a good environment for your child - every kid seems to need a way to study - not everyone is the same. The child may need quiet, may need a desk, may need music, may need snacks or breaks - see what helps your child to study his best. Keep a specific time and area set aside for her daily homework studies, and make sure she has all the school supplies as she needs - plus, make sure she always has her supplies at school - replenish as necessary. For your part - ask her to tell you about her day in school - what she did in classes, what she is studying, and what homework she has (and how much). Help her with explaining her homework - don't ever just "do" it for her. Keep track of how long the homework takes, and check with her teachers to see if this is normal - perhaps teachers need to adjust the amount of homework, or perhaps she needs extra help in a subject. Go through her papers and grades regularly - be supportive and encouraging. Communicate with the teachers if your child is having struggles - teachers don't always pick up on this. Try not to pressure her - if she wants to do well, she pressures herself. Keep things in perspective and allow fun in her life. If she is not interested in school - you will have to figure out how she can get motivated. Talk to the teachers and see if you can come up with a plan. Perhaps your child only learns in certain ways - some are spacial thinkers, some are hands-on learners, some think in quirky ways to make sense of what they learn. It may just need an adjustment to how things are taught.

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Personal Style 02-08-07
Kids start very young to assert their styles - toddlers right about or after the "I want" stage. They want to dress their own way, figure out thier own hair, and start experimenting with style. If he is secure in his own self, he will likley not follow the same styles as his friends - just wear what he likes. Other kids will try to wear the same clothing styles as their friends wear. This pattern lasts for many years - even adults tend to be like one or the other.

If the choice doesn't hurt anything, there is no harm in letting your child have his way (unless you have to go to the store and buy an outfit to please him - that may be going too far). Maybe she wants to wear a short-sleeve shirt in the winter - you can reason all you want but a determined child only knows what she wants. Let her wear the short sleeved shirt, but send her on her way with a sweater or hoodie that she can wear when she gets cold - she'll figure it out after a little while, unless she has Nordic blood in her - maybe she doesn't get cold easily.

If you aren't into the revealing styles, don't wear them in front of your child. Don't let her have heroes and role models who dress that way. Teach her that she is not to wear such clothes now, and for as long as you tell her - there are many very cool styles that provide coverage. Don't let her start young (even if it looks "cute" when little) - she'll be confused later and continue to think those styles are normal and cute.

Kids' & Teens' Clothing & Fashions - Great Styles!

Child Safety 02-02-07
Child safety - so much to think about. Teach your child her full name, address and phone number, plus her mommy's and daddy's names. Then teach her not to give any of that information to any strangers, for any reason. Ok for teachers and school office, or a policeman (you just have to hope she encounters no impostors). Keep the photos in a safe place.

Early on, get her photographed, and include any particular features she has (birth marks, scars, defects, strong features, etc.). Take new photographs frequently - every 6 months at a minimum. List all of these attributes and features so you can list it for law enforcement if ever needed. Better to be safe than sorry - be ready before anything can happen. Keep these prints in a safe place.

Get to a police station and get her fingerprinted - call prior to going to see if there is a charge and also where to go. Don't let it traumatize her - perhaps you can get fingerprints at the same time and pretend it's pretty cool.

When you label her things for school, as you are told to do for clothes and jackets, etc., don't make it obvious on the outside (so a stranger won't see her name and call her over as if he should be familiar), and don't put all information on it. Label as K. Smith, or Katy S. (use a formal name if she goes by a nickname, or the other way around), and write a teacher's name & grade & school on it - not your home phone number or address.

Teach safety rules to your child - never talk to strangers, bolt and scream when a stranger tries to entice her into a car, don't wander off away from you in a store or mall, etc.

Always pay attention to the clothes your child is wearing on each day - it will make it easier to find him if he gets lost in a store, or tried to walk home from school - you and police and neighbors can spot him more easily.

For older kids, teach them about self-defense tactics. Arm her with a cell phone, and perhaps a personal alarm or pepper spray (don't send pepper spray to school or other functions that don't allow it)

More safety tips and safety products.

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Be a Good Role Model 01-25-07
If you expect certain behaviors or eating habits, or manners, etc., from your kids, you'll need to show them how you follow the same rules. You'll have to be a good role model for your children. Who else do they look up to, to learn what they need from life? Not only will it help guide your kids in the right directions, but it will make you a better person, as well. If you watch your language at home, it will help you watch it at work. If you eat healthy in front of your kids, it will do you good. If you exercise with your kids, it will help your health. If you don't smoke, it will help you and your children. If you use good manners, it will be easier for you to have good manners at work and at dinner engagements. Be a good model for your kids - you can't expect them to do one thing when all they see is something else.

Learn by Repetition 01-12-07
Kids learn by repetition - they need to practice things over and over to "get it" - math problems, sports tricks and abilities, music, etc. When helping your child study or practice, remind her the practice makes perfect and rarely is someone good at a skill when first starting out. The skill comes from a lot of practice and repetition.

If your child has a spelling test, have him look over the list for a few minutes, and then quiz him. If he gets it wrong, tell him and let him know what is correct, plus any tips you may have to help him remember the intricacy of the spelling of the word (perhaps an alphabetical sequence of letters, or a good phrase with the words using the first letter of the letters he needs). The only way one learns to spell is to repeat and repeat. Some kids learn better by writing, some by just saying it or visualizing. Test your child both ways until you figure out what works best.

A sport ability - help your child practice it, over and over. Maybe you need to "spot" him, or maybe you need to ride a bike with her, or maybe she needs to learn an ice skating trick, and just wants you on the rink with her to remind her to practice and tell her what to adjust to get it right. Throw the ball with him or kick it, depending the type of sport - well, you get the idea by now.

Repeat and practice - and your child will "get it."

Watch Your Child's Weight 01-08-07
According to the news, girls from 9-12, in general, are gaining too much weight - don't let your child eat a lot of sweets or just lots of food unless her metabolism can support it and she looks ok. Call your doctor to find out if she is in the proper weight range for her size and age. Make sure she exercises more - even running around the yard or walking the dog - keep her active. Ride bikes with her and help her be active - sneak it in as fun. If she gets overweight at this age, it can easily progress the trend into her adult. The same thing applies to boys - they should not be allowed to get overweight, either. In talking to your daughter, however, be careful not to push the "thin" look because that is also not healthy. There is a middle range that is good and proper - just keep an eye on her and feed her foods with more good fuel - fruits, vegetables, grains. Get away from the junk snacks and fast foods.

Keep Shoes Tied 12-27-06
Kids' shoes are always untied, it seems. Even when you double tie them, they end up untied. Shoes then get loose, fall off, or become a tripping hazard. For some shoes, the shoelaces are too slippery - you might just need to replace the laces and all will be fine. You can also replace them with the stretchy coiling laces, that will just wind up once tightened, staying out of the way. Another trick you can use is to place a cute clip - a hairclip, a cute paper clip, a fun decorative clip - on the knot to hold it together. It's also a fun way to decorate a shoe!

Use Restraint When Giving Gifts 12-14-06
Don't automatically go shopping for everything a child asks for - and get something of your choice for at least one of the presents. Children need to learn they can't have everything. They need to respect that the season is about giving, not getting. They need to learn to be giving and generous themselves. Perhaps if they choose their own gifts to give, or make something with their own hands that will be from the heart, they will enjoy the season more - or at least we can hope so.

Why don't you and your children go volunteer somewhere - bell ringing, soup kitchen for the poor, helping out at a church. Go see a "Living Nativity" performance and remember what Christmas means. Be a servant to someone less fortunate - remember that Jesus was a servant king. "But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first." Matthew 19:30

Make Your Own Gift Ideas and Supplies can be found here.

Baby Language 12-06-06
I watched the Oprah Show last month, and saw an amazing guest who had a gift - and part of her gift is the ability to hear and detect noises babies make. With her incredible sense of memory and ability to figure things out, she noticed a pattern with certain sounds babies make - universally in any language or country. If you have a new baby, you should check this language out. There apparently is a different language for babies in the three months, and then they graduate to other needs and wants. It's amazing. Here are the sounds - as the initial sounds the baby starts making (if ignored, the noises get more frantic and the baby cries) and their meanings as told on Oprah:
"neh" means hungry
"owh" means sleepy
"heh" means discomfort (perhaps diaper needs changing, or too hot or cold or wet)
"eair" or "eaah" means lower gas
"eh" means "I need a burp"
The Dunstan Baby Language DVD is available at

Teach Safe Play 12-05-06
Make sure you give your kids child-safe toys to play with - and heed any warnings on the package - and make sure to pay attention to recalls on new tech toys. Many times a toy isn't tested in every way a child might play with it - and once it goes to market, the numerous amount of children will test it further until perhaps an accident could happen. Make sure to check out all toys your child gets or plays with for safety. If you have doubts, stay away from the toy. Teach your child how to play safely with the toys or products you feel he or she is mature enough. Teach dangers of jumping on a trampoline, for example. I grew up with a backyard trampoline, and yes, it was fun, but there can be hazards if one doesn't play correctly on it - one child at a time so no knocking of heads, stay in the middle and not near the edge, don't do somersaults until you have plenty of training and only while parents are watching. Use common sense and teach the same to your children. Games and toys, such as trampolines, are a great way to play, and but make sure the play is safe.

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Teach Daily 11-27-06
Teach your kids whenever you can - on car rides, while waiting in line, while taking a walk - anywhere. You can sneak in a lot of knowledge and the child won't even know he is learning, but it can stick with him better this way. Life's lessons are easier to remember than book learning. Have her try to learn letters while driving - and later try to read the stop and other signs, then later again try the street signs - make it a game and the reading gets faster. Talk about changes in seasons while you point out the trees growing buds, or dropping leaves, or changing colors. Show how clouds can determine probably storms. Point things out and explain them. The car speed gauge - she might see it from an angle and see it reads a different speed than you see - this is called parallax - none of my daughter's friends have a clue what this phenomenon is. There is so much you can teach, just by observing and talking about things around you.

What Happened to Imagination? 11-14-06
Kids these days are playing too many automated games, toys that do everything for them, computer games, etc. They watch TV and learn how to act. They are not exploring the wonderful world of books, where the imagination can sweep them away into a whole new world. They don't know how to pretend and play-act. They aren't good at writing anymore. Yes, there are some kids who are able to write and read, and imagine - but not nearly as many as there have been. Encourage your kids to read more, write about things, imagine situations and perhaps plan a dream vacation, writing up all the aspects and schedules, pretending to see as he imagines he is there enjoying it now. Restrict the amount of TV, computer games, automated toys, etc. that they are allowed to play in a day, or in a week. Try to make the time fun, perhaps a family activity. Have your child write a play and put it on for his friends. Have her write a song, or poetry. Just start those brain cells working again!

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Practice Makes Perfect 11-06-06
Your child might not understand that things may not come easily to him. He may have trouble with school, or with a sport-type skill, or something else. You need to tell him he needs to practice. If your daughter is having trouble learning a dance move, she needs to practice it over and over and over until it becomes better. To depend on school, or a dance class, or a coach's lesson, is not going to work. The child is given a skill to learn - he must practice it over and over outside of class to really "get it."

Couch Potato Kids? 10-31-06
Do your kids spend too much time in front of the TV, watching shows or playing video games? Or playing games on the computer? Is it because they don't get motivated to be active, or are you letting these things baby-sit your kids so you have more free time? In any case, priorities must change - put a limit to how much TV or video games can be played - no more than 1 hour per day, for instance. Spend the rest of the time playing board games, or reading, or doing homework, and make sure to do something active, as well - kick a ball around, play tennis, run after the dog, go for a walk, ice skate at the rink weekly, or some activity that you can enjoy with your child. The child needs your attention, and involvement in her life. You both need exercise and activity to stay healthy.

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Have Fun With Your Kids 10-17-06
Every day, or at least every week - do something fun with your child or kids! Lighten up and participate with your child in some activity or game. Go to the zoo, or an amusement park, or even a museum. Play ball, or a board game (try not to play a computer game - play a game that engages you with your child), or go on a bike ride with a picnic to enjoy somewhere. You can do the simplest activity and it will go a long way in letting the child know how much you care and love her. The child just wants to be with you, spend time with you, interacting with you. She doesn't demand much - even if it seems that way - don't get talked into some expensive outing just to "please" her - try something simple to let her understand there is more to life. Be prepared to let your guard down and laugh.

Do You Know Your Child? 10-10-06
Do you talk to your kids enough? Do you know his best friends? Do you know his favorite sport or activity? Or favorite food or flavor? Do you know her favorite color of the week? What does she think of her teachers? Does she have a strong or weak subject in school? Does she want to start playing piano or the flute? Can you remember all your kids' birthdays? Make sure you talk to your kids more - understand them. You can try to engage them in discussion, but he's got to want to talk to you. Ask questions, listen, and repeat your understanding. Don't give quick "answers" if they haven't asked for an answer - sometimes you just need to listen. If you can listen, and let her know she can trust you and you won't discount her feelings or get angry with her for telling you some things, she'll talk more to you. The more you seem to pry, the more closed up he'll be. Be an open gate to let him come in to you. You can start by telling about some childhood experience you had, and ask for opinions from your child, or ask how he would have handled it. This way he gets to know something about you and perhaps you'll learn something about your child.

Check Those Lyrics & Content 10-6-06
Have you heard what kids are listening to these days? There are a lot of "catchy" songs that may even be hard to understand, but if you really listen, can you hear how inappropriate the lyrics are? I have been shocked at what many popular songs actually say. Have you ever really listened to some of the popular "Green Day" or "Fergie" songs? Before you buy an album for your child, check out the lyrics! If certain songs are decent, download them from
iTunes or elsewhere on the Internet - don't purchase a whole album unless you screen the songs first, because the bad songs come along with it. Check out common lyrics here.

The same goes for movies and music videos. My daughter went to a slumber party where one of the guests brought her "Green Day" music video DVD over, and had the girls watch. It was so repulsive to 4 or 5 of the girls (my daughter included) that they went off and did something else. There is definitely inappropriate material in so many media that our kids can get to. Teach them to tell you when they or hear something they shouldn't, or something they need explained - and talk to your child about it. How much better he or she learn from you than from the wrong information their friends may give out. Screen DVDs or ask around before you buy one for your child, or allow her to own one.

Teach Differences in Religion 9-26-06
Teach your child about religion - and about differences in religions. Give him or her an overview understanding so he can make up him own mind. Let him know about cults and "religions" that try to pull kids to them. The more for-warned he is, the less likely he'll fall into a trap. He might like to embrace a certain religion - let him try going to a church or youth group that he relates to. Go with him, or see if he has any friends to go with. Some children long for a guidance factor as a church offers, and to deny him can hurt. This all has to be done on an age-appropriate basis. Let her go to different churches or a Sunday School class with friends (as long as you approve of the type of church). In doing all of this, teach tolerance for people in other religions. They can still be friends with other kids who are of other religions.

I was invited and coerced to attend a "Bible study" group by a casual friend in college. I figured I would try it so that she would quit bugging me. I went and it was all girls. The Bibles they handed out to us had sentences and entire passages blacked out. I knew right away something was wrong. They had us look up a passage and talk about it. The discussion was about how God doesn't approve of teenage sex - but nothing like that was from the passages that we read. The whole topic was turned around into this somehow and I never figured out what it had to do with that. Not that I don't disagree with the premise they presented, but I know the Bible readings had nothing to do with the topic. And then they proceeded to tell us how much love and support for us there was - how welcomed we were, no matter our prior sins or difficulties. They laid it on with so much of this loving that I could see exactly how a weak or knowingly immoral teen could get sucked up into the support and follow it. It felt like a brainwashing session, in all truth. I left with a total discomfort about it, and never went back. Make sure your child feels comfortable with his own beliefs, and an accepted person in a group of friends that are good for him. It is all too easy for a confused teen to be brainwashed into feeling accepted by the wrong groups.

Have the Child do Chores 9-21-06
Teach your child to do chores in the house. Make sure he knows he has responsibilities for living in the house. Every person must do his share when in a house and in a family. Give him an allowance according to how well he does his chores - it will teach him respect for how you, his parents, need to earn money in order to pay for things. Gradually increase his allowance over time, or each year, along with his responsibility level. Don't overdo it with allowance - keep it reasonable for how he would spend it. A 6 year-old with $10 per month won't understand the value of money, unless you specify he puts a certain amount into savings, and only has a portion of it to spend as he wishes (within reason by your approval).

School Mornings 9-19-06
If your child has a hard time getting up and ready for school in the mornings, you can try to help her. Have her make her lunch the night before, so not to have to get it ready in the morning and have things run late. Have her pack up her backpack the night before, as well, so no last minute search for the things that need to be in it. Have her pick the most likely clothes she'd wear - see what the weather will be, and lay out what is needed (including jacket or umbrella or whatever outerwear is needed). Remember to lay out the shoes, as well - they tend to wander all over the house or get left in the car - find them prior to school mornings. If she has an activity, such as track or soccer, after school, have her pack up what she needs so all she has to do is grab it. If she has PE and needs running shoes, have them go to school with her, or keep an extra pair at school so they aren't forgotten. Make sure the alarm is set to give plenty of time to shower, or primp, and eat breakfast and get ready in general. This will all cut out the stress of school mornings - kids have a hard time getting up. Don't let her be late to school, either - whatever she forgets, make her deal with that and perhaps she'll try to get it all ready the night before, so not to happen again.

Serve Breakfast 9-12-06
Make sure your child eats a good, nutritious breakfast every day. Eat with her and make this a good habit for you, as well. Serve whole grains (grain muffins, grain pancakes, grain waffles, grain bagels, grain cereal, grain toast, oatmeal, etc.) and fresh fruit. Try to keep as much sugar out of the breakfast as you can (limit the amount of syrup, for example, and don't offer chocolate anything). If you can, get some protein into breakfast (not via sausage or bacon, however) - it can be peanut butter or eggs or some other type of decent source. Serve milk as well, and you'll get 4 of the 5 food groups easily into your child, and yourself. Breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day - it helps the kids get going in a healthy way. It gives energy up front so the kids can think better at school. The energy level is so important in the morning. Start the day out right, with a great breakfast.

Stretch Daily - September 6, 2006
Teach your kids how to stretch - every morning before getting up, before every sport or activity, whenever he feels tight or tense or stressed out, etc. He won't be as prone to injury if he stretches his muscles and warms them up before using them. Tight muscles can tear or get strained if they aren't loosened up first. While you're at it, stretch for yourself as well!

Help Ready Child for a Test - August 29, 2006
If your child is having a test, help him prepare. He should, ideally, have studied for several days prior to the test in order to make the thoughts and ideas "stick." He may have been uninterested in studying, letting it go, procrastinating. He may start feeling a panic the day before the test. Help him understand he needs to go over the material - over and over, several days before, and on each day up to the test. You might make flashcards for him, to help with certain facts. Give him "pop quizzes" and have him solve problems. Give him hints on how to remember things, like a word that will make sense and has the first letters of what he needs to remember. Or that a preposition relates to "where" - any little hints that can help. The night before the test, quiz him. Quiz him over and over. Make him explain the meaning or thought behind the answers so he is certain to know why he knows the answers are what they are (not just memorization without understanding). Mix up the questions you ask him - do things out of order so he really has to think. Make sure to repeat it over and over and over the night before, so that ideally he will wake up and still remember.

Practice & Teach Patience - August 24, 2006
We are in a society which demands everything NOW. The fastest computers, the fastest food, the fastest results, etc. People have no patience with standing in lines, with stopping to observe & appreciate ("stop and smell the roses"), with dealing with traffic. Show your child you can be patient. Don't complain when in traffic or lines. Make a game when waiting - look for consecutive letters of the alphabet on license plates while in traffic or in signs in an office or store, make words out of license plates (LDR320 - what vowels can you add to LDR or its sound to make a new word - LaDdeR or LeaDeR, etc.). Have books on tape for the car, or some hand game or Etch-a-Sketch while in lines. Walk slowly through a zoo, paying attention to all animals and read all signs. Don't let your child get that "I want it now" attitude. When he or she breaks or loses a toy, don't run out to the store immediately - let the child get along without it for awhile to learn to wait. Your child will learn to stay calmer, keep his temper in check, learn to enjoy other things in life, and be a more pleasant person. It will do you a lot of good to practice this too - you can shed a lot of stress by practicing patience, and this is a good role model for your child.

Back to School - August 19, 2006
It's that time of year again - prepare both your child and yourself so you'll both be ready. You may feel like it's time to get the kid(s) out of the house and reclaim your time, or you might be going through a tough time letting go. Your child may be going through similar feelings and may feel insecure. Make sure your child feels as prepared as possible for school - especially if it's to a new school, or to middle school or high school. Talk to your child about what to expect, and make sure there are some friends for familiarity that he or she will recognize (if you just moved to the area, introduce other kids to your child before school starts if possible). Make sure to take your child on a tour of the new school, as well, if this is the case. Shop for school supplies, and get a backpack he or she can be proud of. Make sure your child knows that you will be available if he needs you, but don't hover over him and make him feel you are there at all times. Let go, for yourself and for your child. Prepare yourself, as well. Connect with other parents, and see how to volunteer at the school, and at other areas. Find people to talk to who feel as you do. It always feels better to have a support system, or someone who understands how you feel.

School Days

The Power of Praise - August 11, 2006
Use praise more than scolding on your child. Let the child learn that he is loved and gets great attention when he does things right, or does well, or gives it a good try. Some kids regularly act up because it's the only way they know that their parents pay attention to them. Change that - let your child know when she does things right, and give lots of praise. Let her try to get your attention by asking for praise and being noticed when she does good. She might not feel like she has to get your attention if you give her acknowledgment regularly. She'll know she is loved by you. Praise is much more powerful than punishment, and you should see less need to punish if you show more love and the child wants to please.

Empowerment - August 9, 2006
Empower your kids - give them more responsibilities and opportunities to make their own decisions. Kids will learn valuable life experiences this way. Don't shelter them in ways that you don't have to. Let them choose their clothes (perhaps within reason - qualify what is necessary for certain weather days or when going to church or other nice place). Let them help you at the grocery - give part of the list to them, and make sure it's specific if you are looking for something or some brand in particular. Don't set them up to fail by bringing back a box of cereal you won't then buy, etc. Teach them how to tell which fruits and vegetables are good to choose - and how to tell if they are ripe enough. Let them help you cook, have them responsible for setting the table, or for cleaning afterwards. Let them decide which activities they are interested and how it can work to add them into their schedule - time, rides, cost, etc. Give them an allowance and help them see how best to spend the money, or to save it, not to go out every Friday and use of the entire amount on candy. Figure out these things that you can allow your child the freedom to make decisions on, and this will help them later in life.

Talking to Kids - August 6, 2006
When talking to or with your kids, talk on his or her level. Ask questions that cannot be answered with a "yes" or a "no" - try to draw out more information if you can. Ask about school, but don't ask in a prying manner - some kids clam up. Ask if there is anything they want to discuss. Keep a chat line open with them so they will always trust you, always be able to open up to you. Always act interested, not as if you are grilling them. Empathize with them - recall that you have felt a similar way. Don't tell them that your story is better or tougher - let him ask you about it, and make sure you don't say you know how he feels - ask him how he feels, and always repeat that beck to your child. "I understand that you felt this way ..."

ID Safety - August 4, 2006
Get your child identified for reference in case of loss. If your child gets abducted, or lost, you'll need proper ID to give to authorities. Make sure to get your child's photos - of different angles, sides, distances, and also recent videotape. Get your child properly fingerprinted - go to a police station to get this done correctly. Make a CD or tape of your child speaking, plus have him or her write something, both in cursive (if old enough) and in print. Update this often - kids change their styles often while maturing. Get a signature of the name. List all noticeable traits - birthmarks, piercings, moles, eye color, limb defects or characters, colorations, tan lines, and any other significant markings. This will start you on your way to keeping your child safe - to help him or her be found in case of a problem.

What to do About a Fever - August 1, 2006
If your child has a fever, use only age-approved medications. Don't use adult medicine on kids under 12 - it's can be dangerous if they overdose. Don't use aspirin on any child, ever, due to danger of Reye's Syndrome. Use age-approved Motrin or Tylenol (or their generic counter-parts). You can use Motrin every 6 hours, and Tylenol every 4 hours. For high fevers, or stubborn fevers, alternate between the two every 4 hours and there won't be danger of over-dosing, and it will be more effective. Call your pediatrician if the fever is high or lasts. If the fever is high, use cold, damp cloths on the forehead, face, abdomen, etc. Try to cool the child down. You can try a cool (not cold) bath, as well.

Tell Them You Love Them - July 29, 2006
Tell your children you love them - on a daily basis. Even if they don't seem to respond, they will appreciate the gestures of love. One of his favorite memories later in life will be the hearing of "I love you" - and can make a big difference in how he turns out. He will be able to tell his family that he loves them. He will know and feel your support of him, so that he may not feel like following the wrong crowds - he may feel secure with himself. It can only help to hear those words.

Serve Healthy Foods & Snacks - July 17, 2006
Kids need proper fuel for optimal development. Don't make them (or you) survive on junk foods, processed foods, etc. Keep well-stocked with fresh fruits, carrot sticks, whole grain crackers and bread, peanut butter, etc. Don't keep candies and cookies and sugar-filled or white-flour foods for them to snack on. Get rid of soda, as well. Keep chilled water and fruit juice alternatives around. Teach good eating habits early so your child will not become obese or have health problems. Oh, yes - make sure breakfast is healthy and your child will get a good start to the day. Don't feed "sugar bomb" cereals, or chocolate anything in the morning. Give fruits, milk, and a grain food (muffin, bagel, cereal, etc.) to get the proper fuel into your child.

Keep Kids Active - July 11, 2006
Kids need to be active - don't let them be "couch-potatoes" or they can become over-weight and unhealthy. Get your kids involved in a sport - soccer, skating, swimming, skiing, gymnastics - something. Even an impromptu neighborhood baseball game can make a huge difference. Find out what the child has fun doing, and get him involved. If she loves to watch figure skating on TV, take her to a skating rink and start her on lessons. If he's intrigued with horses, perhaps he can ride every week, or work at a stable in exchange for being able to ride. Get your kids involved in activity and you'll see a difference in weight, body tone, eating habits (hopefully good choices - junk food makes for bad fuel for activity), and even personality.

Touch - July 6, 2006
Your kids need to be touched - if your child isn't a touchy-feely type, it's ok - just give him a punch on the arm, or wrestle just a bit. Be careful not to intrude on his private "bubble" - just figure out the limits and stay within the boundaries your child sets - these boundaries can change over time, but respect what is set up in his mind now. Little kids hug their mother more, later their dad, then perhaps shy away from contact. Start early and give comforting touches - I like to lightly stroke my daughter's belly or back - and she still asks me to stroke her when she's sick or afraid. Touch can be comforting.

Pick Your Priorities - May 30, 2006
When raising a child, what is more important - fighting with him about the way he dresses, or his messy room, or do you want to let some things go in order to keep bigger issues under control? What would you prefer never to see from your child? Piercings, tattoos, smoking, early sex? Can you live with her hair styling choice and concentrate on higher priority issues? You should pick your priorities and fight the important battles, and let the smaller stuff go. You might voice your opinion so it's registered that you don't like it, but you're letting it go. Then he'll understand you don't say "no" all the time.

Attend Your Child's Events - May 20, 2006
Show your child that you support him or her - go watch the performances, field days, meets, tournaments, competitions. Even if you aren't understanding the event (you might know nothing about karate or figure skating, for instance), your child will feel proud to have you in his or her corner. Gauge the child out, however, before inviting neighbors and friends and other relatives - sometimes they aren't ready to be shown off to anyone else, and the pressure becomes huge. The child should know you are proud of him or her, even if the child falls on the event - the child tried hard and put forth effort. After a day or two go by, or perhaps even hours, depending on the child, talk with him or her about what went wrong and see if you can help correct it (if possible - sometimes it's just an unfortunate mistake or accident) - maybe a different position, maybe better equipment, maybe the coaching. Also - if you are not informed in the activity, read up on it or ask the child to explain it to you. It goes a long way when you can discuss the activity with some intelligence, even to correctly call the competition for what it is known - a competition, a tournament, a meet, etc.

Discuss Personal Issues - May 16, 2006
When your child asks you to explain things, such as the difference between bodies of boys vs. girls, or to explain what the dog is doing when it's humping something, or why there are changes happening to him or her, please talk to the child. If the mom can talk to girls, and the dad can talk to boys, it usually goes easier, but certainly it can be done if there is a close enough relationship between any parent. You should start easing into the information beginning in about 4th grade, because most changes start happening around 4th and 5th grade, to most kids. Some are later, some earlier, so gauge the timing according to what is happening with your child. Be aware of his or her friends, as well - if they are starting to change, you should explain about this to your child so he or she will understand. You should give your child the "straight scoop" and not relay on them getting accurate information from her friends (they will often give a warped explanation, or say something totally unlike you want your child to learn). Keep an "open door" with your child, giving her the open freedom to discuss anything with you - and then there won't be embarrassment later.

Is Your Child Talented? - May 9, 2006
IF your child has a definite talent, try to nurture and support it, if your child has interest in it. Some kids show talent but could not care less about the activity - don't force something until the child is ready for it. Do try to find out if there is something behind the resistance - perhaps your boy is great at figure skating but the other kids in his class make fun of him, but he may truly love it. If this is the case, find other ways to deal with it and still allow him to skate (get him to feel proud and not care what others say, or get him a t-shirt that says "If Figure Skating Was Easy, It Would Be Called 'Hockey'" - or talk to his teachers to quell the teasing - see what works best for your child). If you take away your child's ability to work at his or her area and interest of talent, the child may later rebel in ways you cannot predict. The anger can manifest for a lifetime, eventually being forgotten for the reason, but resentment still there. Even if the cost is high, help him help you figure out how to afford it - where there is a will, there is a way. You just have to find it. There may be a retired instructor or coach who would love to work with your child for a small cost, or even for free if the joy is there. Talk to people, search the Internet, find out your options.

Check Off Lists - May 4, 2006
Make a large font list for your child - list the things that need to be done before going to school, or before going to a sport, or the chores for the day or week. Give a pen to check off the items with, or use a dry erase board (for permanent entries, use a permanent marker so you only need to erase the checkmarks each time things are completed). School lists might include: pack backpack, make lunch, brush teeth, etc. Sports lists might include: uniform, shoes, water bottle, ball, mitt, cap, sunscreen, etc.

Responsibility - April 28, 2006
Teach your child to become responsible for himself. Get an alarm clock for her when she's in elementary school, to get used to getting up on her own. Let her go to the dentist or doctor appointments while you sit in the waiting area. Let him help set the table or clean the dishes. Give chores to do. All of this takes time, and may be rough at first. If your child isn't ready or comfortable yet, ease into it and let him tell you when he is ready (eventually all kids will want to have their parents wait for them in the waiting room at the doctor, for example). Be patient, and don't make her grow up too fast - let these tasks be age and maturity appropriate.

Skip the Slip - April 14, 2006
Rather than using a slip on your daughter, which still shows undies if roughing around, have her wear short tight-fitting shorts that allow coverage of the undies but still don't show under the shorts. It allows the child to have a "spill" and still not show her undies. Kids are always playing hard, roughing around, running and falling, hanging upside down on jungle gyms - slips aren't meant for such play.

Give Kids Physical Contact - April 12, 2006
Kids need some amount of physical contact - some kids need more than others. This can include hugs and kisses (appropriately given - no touching in private areas), or even a pat on the back. Giving a "knuckle kiss" where you make a fist and meet the child's fist can be good enough for some kids. If a child longs for touch, give hugs. If a child runs from hugs, try another friendly touch - the pat on the back, the "knuckle kiss," or perhaps a bit of wrestling fun.

Kids Love You Being Involved - March 30, 2006
Your child needs you to be involved in his or her life - in school, at their events, in chatting about his day, and more. Get to know her friends. Volunteer at school. Host kid get-togethers with snacks and games. Coach or be behind the scenes at sports events and other activities. You might notice that the parents all the kids feel comfortable with and know are the ones who are around, interacting. These parents are the ones the kids are proud to call their parents. Come and watch their games and performances. You'll build a stronger relationship with your child if you get more involved. Your child needs you - make time for her. Make time for each child if you have more than one. If you cannot spend time with each child - why did you have more than one?

Girls in Dresses and Skirts - March 30, 2006
When your little girl is young and wears skirts or dresses, the easiest and best thing to do to keep her undies from showing is to have her wear a pair of short shorts (preferably stretchy shorts, more of a solid color or not too dark). Then if she flips over, or lands with her feet up in the air while roughing around, etc., people will see the shorts and not the undies. Slips don't do any good at young ages - they fly up with the dress or skirt. You can try bloomers - some girls like them but others hate them - so have her try them on before buying.

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What color bear? A hunter spotted a bear due east. Taken by surprise, he ran directly north, and then looked to see that the bear hadn't moved. As he steadied and took aim at the bear, he aimed directly south. What color is the bear?
The answer is "The man must have shot the bear from the north pole, making it a polar bear, which would be white."
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