Friday, March 21, 2014

PINTEREST- Teaching Kids

I thought I'd take a quick minute to direct you all to my Pinterest board: 

There are more than 200+ posts and articles regarding positive parenting techniques written by amazing and qualified parents and educators from all over the world. If there is a parenting or early childhood issue you have questions or concerns over you will likely find it there.


Monday, November 25, 2013

FREE Thanksgiving Printable Packet for Kids

Print out one packet per kiddo and staple together for  pre-dinner coloring fun.
Packet includes:

Cover Page
Turkey Coloring Page
Thanksgiving Coloring Page with "I'm Thankful For.." writing space
Thanksgiving Mad Lib- "Recipe For the Best Dish Ever"
My Thanksgiving Feast Plate Coloring Page
Draw a Picture of My Family Eating Blank Coloring Page


Sunday, November 24, 2013

3 Thanksgiving Tips for Blended Families

Blended families often come with many many challenges and the stress of the holidays can only exacerbate them. 
Here are my top 3 Child-Centered Thanksgiving tips for blended families:

COMMUNICATE- Obviously communication is key. With extended family, ex-spouses, and the lot. But communication with your CHILD is paramount. Explaining the day's schedule, who is expected to attend, where you are going, and how long you expect to be there OR how long you expect others to be at your home will help reduce the anxiety that can build up in your child. This is especially true for children under age 6 and those with physical, mental, or behavioral struggles and those that spend the day with newly blended families as there are likely to be a lot of strangers around. Information should come from BOTH biological parents if possible. It is extra comforting for a child if they also know what the parent that they aren't spending the day/weekend with is doing. The more information they have the better. Leave your feelings at the door and be as factual, logical, and loving as possible.

ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS WITHOUT SHAME OR GUILT- All children- regardless of age are entitled to their feelings- whether you like their feelings or agree with them is irrelevant. Respecting their emotions, even negative ones, teaches them respect in return. It shows them that you love and support them unconditionally, and isn't that what we as human beings regardless of age crave the most? If little Sally misses the parent that isn't in attendance or doesn't have custody that day don't take it personally! This isn't about you. Your child loves you too and would probably be crying for you instead if the tables were turned.  Hug her, love her, acknowledge her feelings ("I can see that you miss your Mom and that makes you sad.") and then reiterate your love for her and redirect her attention to something positive. ("I love you and I'm here for you *hugs* and we'll get through this together... let's go see what Grandpa is doing!)

DON'T BE A SLAVE TO THE CALENDAR- Yes, Thanksgiving is nationally dedicated to the last Thursday of the month, but that doesn't mean that your family needs to celebrate it on THAT particular day. It is important that your child(ren) gets to celebrate that holiday with as many sides of the family as possible. If your ex has them on the national holiday, schedule yours the weekend after, before, or a couple days after/before. The holiday is about tradition, family togetherness, and thankfulness- and all 3 can be celebrated on any day of the year.

These are just a few tips- but I'd LOVE to hear how you celebrate your blended family Thanksgiving as I'm sure other readers would too.. Sound off your tips and traditions in the comment section below! 

and as always... 


Friday, August 30, 2013

Building Trust and Acceptance through Play

Children- especially babies and toddlers, learn a great deal about themselves, others, and how the world works through play.
They are discovering their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, and learning how to share and cooperate, among a myriad of other things cognitively and developmentally.

Yet how often do we as parents tend to "guide" their play?
How often do we unknowingly "restrict" them by pointing at or giving them toys they aren't focused on?
Or "help" them by pushing the button for them, building the blocks for them, or teaching them how the toy works?

"Relinquishing any parental agenda sends our baby a powerful message of trust and acceptance, “Whatever you choose to do when you play is interesting to me. It’s ‘enough’,” rather than, “Don’t do what you feel like doing, do this.” .....

(or worse yet, "you can't do it, let me do it for you.")

"When we nurture our baby’s individuality by allowing her to stay in touch with her true self, she can grow up feeling comfortable and proud of the person that she is, more able to trust her instincts, accept her feelings and those of others. Surely, this is one fundamental key to happiness?"  - Janet Lansbury

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to Teach Your Kids about Swear Words & Encourage a Respectful Vocabulary

My 4 year old son is at a stage where he is asking if various words are "bad". He'll come up to me and say, "Is crap a bad word?" "Is holy cow a bad word?" and even, "Is shit a bad word?"

I think most people would say, "yes that is or no that isn't."

But is it really a bad word???? Even "swear" words?????
The answer in my opinion is, "No".
No words are bad and no words are good. They're just letters put together to make certain sounds. It's the MEANING, tone, emphasis, context, and intent behind the word that makes it good or bad.  
 For example: "Ass" and "Hell" are words used in the bible. As adults we all know that the author is merely speaking of a donkey and the place where Satan dwells. Simple and innocent words. But calling someone an "ass" or telling them to "go to hell" all the sudden makes those words disrespectful and derogatory. Using those words in a different context changed their meaning and made all the difference didn't it? We all know that- but a child might not. If they learn that "ass" is a bad word, and then innocently read or hear the word "ass" in the bible or the dictionary, it can produce feelings of shame and guilt. And for what? In one context an entirely different definition was meant, and in another they were inquiring the definition. In neither case should they feel ashamed or guilty. Learning that there are "good" words and "bad" words can lead to shame, regret, or guilt when your child innocently hears or reads that word... whatever that word may be. There is no sense in feeling shame when you read the word "ass" in the bible. (I know I felt it as a child. I would pass over it and mentally insert "donkey" in its place)
And there is no sense in a child feeling shame or guilt if he/she innocently inquires about a word they heard. Responding with surprise and disgust (Gasp! Where did you hear that word! Never say that word again!) isn't fair to the child. How would you feel if someone scolded you for saying, "Vipzyg"..... (made up word intended) you've never heard the word, it means nothing to you, but you see that people use it and sometimes people react strongly to it. So you innocently inquire about the word... and then get reprimanded strongly for inquiring. And worse yet, you don't understand why.
Children deserve an explanation. If they inquire about the meaning of a certain word, or if they want to know if a word is good/bad, they deserve to know the definition and why you/others/society thinks it's bad.

So why is meaning and context so important to teach to young children instead of good words vs. bad words???

*Swear words change over time. Words that were considered profane 100 years ago are now not. Some that weren't now are. And with our ever evolving language- one that is now sped up due to technology, we even have acronyms and numbers that are now considered profane and insulting. Acronyms that will undoubtedly change and evolve probably very rapidly. ( WTF or 666 for example )

*They vary from culture to culture and from language to language. At some point in time they may come into contact with others who speak different languages or maybe even get lucky enough to experience life in a different culture. Are you going to teach them exactly what words are "bad" and offensive in every language/culture they may potentially come across in their lifetime?

*"Swear" words can also vary from family to family. I know when I was growing up I wasn't allowed to say that I was "pissed off" because the word "piss" was off limits. According to my parents it was a swear word. Yet (much to my confusion) it was a perfectly acceptable word and phrase to say in some of my friend's families. There is no way for them to know what words are appropriate from one family to another. It may be perfectly acceptable for them to say, "shit" or "God" in your household, but very disrespectful at their friends house. (or vice verse). In our family we try to use God's name (and all religious deities; Buddha, Shiva, Jehova, etc) with reverence and respect, but we live in an area where many people use the word, "God" in ways that don't harmonize with what we believe. However, my children have learned the importance of context and intent and understand that what we consider a sacred word, many others don't. Because often times the way people use the word isn't meant to be disrespectful, it's apart of their culture, it's a learned habit, or it's just like any other word to them. What one person may find offensive another person won't. You cannot choose what other people say, and sometimes you can't choose what you hear either. 

Teaching children that there are no good words or bad words, just respectful and disrespectful ways to use words is not only a more well rounded and logical point of view- it will also help them to internalize the importance of choosing to avoid disrespectful words and phrases.

It provides clear guidelines for every sentence and word they choose.  

Because to a child... why exactly IS that a bad word? It's just a word. Why does it offend? Why do people say it? What does it mean? Are there more words like it? Why did this person just tell me that it isn't a swear word but that person told me that it is? Which is it?
It is easier for a child to understand... "Using this word in this way hurts people because...." than it is for them to understand, "this word is a bad word."
So.... Is "crap" a bad word?
No, son. There are no bad words or good words. A word can BECOME bad. But it isn't bad to begin with. Remember, there are respectful things to say and disrespectful things to say. Crap is another word for poop. So sometimes people call their poop or their dog's poop "crap". Other times people say, "crap" when they've messed something up, like, "oh crap!" But anytime you call someone a name, or use the word crap to be mean, it then BECOMES a bad word, a disrespectful word.

 Is "holy cow" a bad word?
No, son. There are no bad words or good words. Only respectful things to say and disrespectful things to say. Holy Cow is an expression people use to verbalize astonishment, like another way to say "WOW!" (Think that sentence is too big for a 4 year old? Read Why I Use Big Words With My Kids here)

Is "shit" a bad word?
No, son, remember... there are no bad words or good words. Only respectful things to say and disrespectful things to say. It all depends on how you say it and what you mean by saying it. Shit is another word for poop. It is the word people used for poop hundreds of years ago (true story. It didn't become an offensive word until hygiene became more privatized) It can also mean that something isn't very great, like, "this is shitty" or sometimes is said when people are surprised or angry, like, "oh shit".  If you read this word- like in a dictionary- it's just a word- until it makes you feel something. If it makes you feel bad then it's a word you should choose not to say. But this word is a word that you have to be very careful with. A lot of people call this word a "swear word." Saying this word can offend a lot of people. You have to be careful with it. And it's also a word that a lot of people use  to hurt others. And any word that we use to put other people down or to hurt someone else always BECOMES a bad word and a disrespectful word to say.

And in all honesty- sometimes a lengthy answer isn't necessary. For my inquisitive son, nothing less than a lengthy, well rounded answer will suffice. Sometimes the answer to, "Is _____ a bad word?" can be answered with a simple,

"If the word is used to hurt others, or a word makes you feel bad inside- then it can become a bad word. But most words are not bad. They're just words. It depends on how you say it and what you mean."

You can use your words..... THOUSANDS of words, verbal, nonverbal, and in a multitude of languages, to show respect, to disrespect, to lift someone up or to bring someone down. What one may find offensive, another may not. Learning the most common words people use to offend and the swear words of your language and society will probably happen naturally, innocently, and over time. Having the ability to discern context, intent, and meaning, and learning to choose words with positive and respectful meanings can have nothing but a positive effect on their self esteem and confidence,  and perhaps more importantly, will foster a general attitude of respect, tolerance and acceptance in them. 
Because they're just words.

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words will never hurt me.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's All About Respect.

What if others constantly grabbed you, touched you, or removed you from your current activity/position with out asking?

Children have personal boundaries too. They deserve respect. And one of the best ways to teach respectful personal boundaries (both to themselves and to others) is by emulating it.

If they say "No", respect that. Children need to learn that it's OK to say "no". 

Ask if you can hold their hand instead.
Encourage the independent child to follow you instead.
Explain where you are going and why if necessary. Especially if you have to carry them due to circumstances beyond their control.

Look at it from their perspective. If you wouldn't want it done to you- don't do it to them. It's that simple. Because children are Human Beings, not loose change.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mommy Playdate 100 Days of Play: Doctor Pretend Play Kit

I'm a HUGE fan of encouraging imaginative play in children. If you don't believe me....
check out my Pinterest board dedicated to just that

In our house we are never short on owies and boo boos. Every time one kid gets an owie they ALL need a band-aid. And their stuffed animals. And their other owie. And their other stuffed animal. We go through band-aids like candy! My oldest is particularly fond of playing Doctor. So much so that it inspired me to create these free printables for her

Here is the free doctor kit should your kids want to enjoy a few hours of Doctor/Patient fun! Click the Image to print. The Rx Page has 4 per page so you can create a little Rx pad for them. I just made it big for this image so you could get an idea of what they look like.


(Glad to be participating in the 100 Days of Play by Sun Scholars!!)

100 Days of Play