Some children are born with an obvious talent, like the 2-year-old piano prodigy who plays Beethoven, or the 5-year-old who can bend it like Beckham. Those kids' parents have it easy. But for the rest of us, it can take time and patience to discover our children's interests and hidden talents. Here's how:
â€¢ Observation is key. Pay attention to your child and what seems to stimulate his curiosity or peak his interest. â€¢Expose your child to a variety of activities. Try music, art, or sports. Visit museums, take hikes, play games, and be creative. As she grows you will see what she keeps returning to. It may not be what she is naturally the best at, but what brings her the most enjoyment. â€¢ Discuss activities daily. Ask questions about what your child is doing at school, with friends, and after school. Find out what he enjoyed about his day and what he'd like to do tomorrow. â€¢ Accept that your child may not be as good or interested in your favorite activities. â€¢ Don't expect perfection. It's perfectly OK for children to make mistakes. Teach your child not to be afraid of making a mistake and to learn from the mistakes he has made. â€¢ Encourage your child to attempt challenging activities, to try new things, and to follow her passions. â€¢ Praise your kids often. Offer lots of encouragement and positive reinforcement for your child's efforts and successes.
How have you been able to successfully foster your child's interests and encourage growth? Share your insights with the Community.View Thread
Don't feel pressure to sign her up for every available toddler activity. She's only 14 months old! Introduce her to activities at home and see what she likes. If she enjoys banging spoons on pots and pans, try a music class. If she likes finger painting, explore art. If she's climbing on furniture, perhaps a toddler gym class would be fun. It's ok to go slow. She has years to experience a variety of activities. One class at a time is usually my rule. And there's also nothing wrong with simply going to the park everyday! Kids need unstructured free play time too. This down time is important for her creativity and to rest her mind and body.View Thread
Unfortunately, everything that is alive will one day die. Teaching children about death in an age appropriate manner is not only OK, it's important. I'll confess that I hid the death of our goldfish, Goldy, from my boys when they were 3 and 5. Goldy passed away at a friend's house while we were on vacation. The boys never asked and I decided not to bring it up. But when Great Grandma died, we knew it was time to start talking.
With young children, the goal is to be direct and truthful. Young children only need bits and pieces of information, as that is how they learn and process. Answer questions simply and don't offer up a long explanation or more information than they need. "Great Grandma was very, very old. And sometimes, when you get old, your body stops working and you die." Try to avoid connecting death with sleep or sickness. You don't want your child to be fearful that when he goes to sleep at night he might not wake up. Or the next time he has a cold he might die.
Your child may ask if you are going to die. It's fine to reassure her that you will be with her for a very, very long time. You want her to feel safe and secure, especially at a time when your family is grieving.
You also need to feel comfortable with your own reaction over the death of a loved one in order to help your child. It is OK for your child to see you cry when you feel sad. This will make it easier for him to do the same. And taking care of yourself will provide you with the ability to take care of him.
My husband and I discussed for hours how and when we would tell our 3 and 5 year old that Great Grandma had died.
"There's something that we need to talk about as a familyâ€¦Great Grandma is dead," my husband said. It actually went much better than we had imagined.
"When you are dead your body doesn't work anymore," my 5-year-old said.
My 3-year-old said, "You can't see, or hear, or use any of your 5 senses. You're like a doll. You're dead." And then he lay down on the ground. Well, they certainly understood what death meant. We went on to discuss memories and how we would always hold her in our hearts and see her photos on our computer and in albums.
Taking advantage of opportunities to discuss death earlier -- with a pet or even a worm in the driveway -- can make future conversations and events easier to deal with because your child will have an understanding of the concept. So next time I won't hide our dead goldfish. I will embrace the opportunity as a teaching moment with my children.
What about you? How and when did you explain the concepts of death and grief to your kids?View Thread
How do you teach your children to respect you, other adults, and their teachers? And what about showing respect for themselves? In today's informal society many children address adults by their first names. And some parents try much too hard to be their children's friends. Some tips I suggest for fostering respectfulness in your child include:
1. Model respect. Children watch every move you make. So demonstrate respectfulness to everyone you see. That means everyone: your spouse, your parents, your child's teacher, your neighbors, the cashier at the grocery counter, and the mailman.
2. Respect your child so that he can respect himself. Use kind words to address him, no matter how upset you may be. You can correct and discipline without criticizing, degrading, or belittling.
3. Discuss respect. Use storylines from books and TV shows as teaching opportunities. Admire others who are respectful and acknowledge acts of respect that you see in the community.
4. Consistently carry out the consequence for showing a lack of respect. If your child is disrespectful to you, friends, or a teacher, enforce the consequences. Don't be afraid to set rules and impose them in your home.
5. Praise your child's respectfulness. Compliment her when she is respectful. When you catch her being respectful, let her know how much you appreciate her behavior. Use kind words, hugs, or even small tokens of appreciation to show her just how proud of her you are.
How do you draw healthy boundaries and teach your children to be respectful to others?View Thread
Hi, nursingbug - Sorry to hear what you're going through. First and foremost, you must take care of yourself emotionally and physically. I would recommend that you seek expert care at a large university hospital or children's hospital because depending on the type of congenital diaphragmatic hernia there may be treatment options available. If the baby's condition does end up being incompatible with life, you will need to address the issue with your 4 year old. You may want to talk to a child therapist for advice more specific to your situation, but I usually recommend waiting until you know for sure before explaining death of a fetus or newborn to a young child. I use words such as, "the baby stopped growing" or "the baby was born with a problem and wasn't able to breathe." Tell the truth, but don't give more information than needed. Just simply and directly answer the question.
As parents, one of our most important jobs is to teach our children. We teach them about life and love, right and wrong, hard work, and the importance of giving to others. We help our kids develop empathy and understanding toward others and concern for the world around them.
Parents often ask me how they can teach their children about charitable giving. Here are some suggestions that I find work well with young children:
â€¢ Talk about giving to charity in front of your child and discuss how you make it a priority in your schedule and budget. â€¢ Help your child pick out a few toys that she no longer plays with to give to families with younger children who don't have as many toys. â€¢ Encourage your child to save pennies, loose change, or part of his allowance to donate to a charity of his choosing. â€¢ Set aside time every month to volunteer as a family. â€¢ Choose a cause that is meaningful to your family or adopt another family in need. â€¢ Organize clothing or shoe drives in your community -- or even at your child's school -- for a local drop-in shelter. â€¢ Donate canned and nonperishable food items from the grocery store or your pantry. â€¢ Visit a nursing home or a hospital if allowed, to sing songs, read books, or help with volunteer projects.
No matter how you choose to teach your children the importance of giving back, make it a fun family activity. I look forward to the days when my family can volunteer together. And I want to inspire my kids to take on their own individual charity projects and to contribute to our community and the world at-large.
What are some of the ways you've been able to teach your children the importance of giving back and helping others?View Thread
As parents, you should encourage healthy habits in your youngsters at an early age. Decreasing the amounts of unhealthy fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar in your family's food is one half of the battle. The other half includes making exercise a routine part of your family's day. You may think your children get enough exercise at school or in gym class. But, chances are, they don't. Kids -- and adults, too -- need 45 to 60 minutes of continuous cardiovascular activity every day.
Need help getting your kids off the couch? Limit TV, video games, and computer time to 1-2 hours a day. Give them options for fun family activities, from taking a stroll after dinner and walking the dog to bike riding, camping, and hiking. Here are a few age-specific and fun exercise tips for staying active with your own kids.
2-3 year olds: Most toddlers are not developmentally ready for competitive activities. But they thrive on unstructured play! Swinging, climbing, playing in the sandbox, and carefully supervised water play are fun and healthy activities that they can enjoy. Be sure to join in the fun with your toddler. He'll love it and you'll get some exercise, too.
4-5 year olds: With increasing coordination, 4 and 5 year olds can roll balls, play catch, and take part in other organized games and activities. Biking and swimming also become options for this age group. But be careful. Practice certain safety measures, such as using helmets and padding, and adding training wheels to your kids' bikes. And always watch your children when they are near a pool or any body of water.
6-12 year olds: This is the most important time for developing exercise habits that can help prevent obesity later in life. Find out what your child likes to do, whether it's baseball, football, swimming, ice-skating, gymnastics, dance, or martial arts. Demonstrate your commitment -- and encourage theirs -- by practicing with your children at home, coaching their teams, or showing up at their games.
You are your child's best role model. So be safe. Always use helmets and protective gear on bicycles (including tricycles and big wheels), roller blades, and skateboards. Apply sunscreen to your entire family (even on overcast days) to prevent sunburn and decrease the risk for skin cancer.
Exercise should become a routine part of your family's life. It improves self-esteem, reduces stress, and decreases the risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. By stressing fitness with your children early-on, you can help encourage them to stay active throughout their lives and into adulthood. So make sure physical activity is always fun for them. Keep in mind -- if your child is not interested in a specific activity, don't force it. And never force them to compete if they don't want to. By decreasing your servings of junk food and increasing your fitness goals, you and your children can be off the couch and in shape in no time!
Share your family fitness tips with the group. What sports or physical activities do you and your kids stay involved in, either as a family or individually?View Thread
My son had his first sleepover at our house when he was 5 ?. We knew the other child's family well. They lived on our cul-de-sac. We all felt comfortable enough to let the boys try a sleepover. Before that we'd had some of our sons' cousins sleep over and made occasional overnight trips to the grandparents' houses. So I felt we had a few practice sleepovers under our belt.
The age of a first sleepover can vary depending on parental rules and a child's comfort with sleeping away from home. While homesickness isn't like other childhood illness in many ways, it is a common occurrence when kids sleep away from home. Whether your child is headed to a relative's house or a slumber party, it's perfectly normal to feel a little homesick for family and familiar surroundings.
Here are a few tips to ensure that your child can enjoy fun and safe sleepovers, both at home and away:
-- Let your child help decide when he is ready to spend the night at a friend or relative's house.
-- Arrange practice sleepovers. Start in a sibling's room and advance to a relative or neighborhood friend's house.
-- Be positive about upcoming sleepovers. Discuss the fun and excitement he could have, as well as potential feelings of homesickness if sleeping away.
-- Pack a special item such as a pillow, blanket, or toy so your child has a bit of home with him while he is away.
-- Let your children know that it's OK to talk to a friend's parent if they are feeling sick, lonely, or uncomfortable.
-- Make sure you're well acquainted with your child's friend's family. Know that you can trust the supervising adult and that you feel comfortable with their parenting techniques. Alternatively, if there are no conflicts, invite the friend to sleep at your home.
-- Safety is most important. Ask the hosting family about any pool gates, pets, and if there are any guns or weapons in the house. Don't forget to discuss any food allergies or medical conditions that either child has.
-- When hosting a sleepover, plan activities and meals ahead of time. But know that often kids will just play and have fun according to their own agenda.
-- Have a plan for pick up or drop off if things aren't going well.
-- Stay in touch. Make a plan for a good morning phone call or send texts or emails to check in.
-- If she slept away, make coming home fun. Plan a special family activity to welcome your child back home. Ask questions and spend time listening to stories about his sleepover.
With a little preparation and creativity children can enjoy a sleepover. What tips do you have that can help ensure fun and safety for your child's sleepovers? View Thread
Many children enjoy visiting their pediatrician. I love when my patients excitedly run in the front door and give me or my nurse a big hug. And this actually does happen every day at my office, more than you might think.
As nice as it is for me and my staff, I'm sure my patients' parents are also thrilled that their children are comfortable and even happy about seeing the doctor. Here are a few tips that you can use to prepare your child for his doctor's appointments and encourage him to cooperate and enjoy the visit.
- It's never too early to begin talking about the doctor. Kids love learning about fireman, astronauts, zookeepers, and even doctors. Get a toy doctor's kit for your home. Let your child become familiar with the equipment. Prepare your child for the exam by role playing. You can be the patient or vise versa. Take this opportunity to teach your child about the body parts that her doctor will most likely check out, such as her ears, eyes, nose, mouth, or belly button.
- Make going to the doctor's office fun. Bring activities to occupy her in case there is a wait. Books and small toys work well. If you seem like you are having fun, your kids will sense it and be more likely to enjoy themselves, too! So it's important that you try to relax, even if you are nervous about your child's health. Children will also sense your stress and anxiety.
- Talk to your child about how Mommy and Daddy also go to the doctor's office to stay healthy and get better when you're sick. It's all in the presentation, so talk up your own experiences.
- Don't lie to your children, or tell them things like their shots won't hurt. Instead, explain to them that shots will help keep them from getting sick. Tell them that a shot will feel like a quick pinch. But then it'll be over. Let them know that Mommy and Daddy get shots, too. And again, if you're strong and relaxed, your child will be, too.
- Do your best to keep your child's regularly scheduled doctor visits. If your child is comfortable going to the doctor's office as a result of making regular well-child visits, sick or emergency visits will be easier for them to deal with.
- Lastly, giving your child a special reward or treat after a good visit is a nice tradition that kids will associate with seeing the doctor in the future.
Going to the doctor is part of living a healthy life. It should be a positive and fun experience whenever possible. What have you done to prepare your child and avoid any anxiety about visiting his pediatrician? View Thread
Floss, floss, floss your teeth! Floss them every day! Floss the top. Floss the bottom. Floss the plaque away!
I sing this song with my own kids every night. At ages 4 and 6, my boys still need help flossing their teeth, as well as a reminder to do so.
Flossing is just as important as brushing, since flossing prevents the buildup of sticky plaque between the teeth. And if not removed, plaque can cause tooth decay and cavities. It can also damage the gums and the roots below the teeth.
There are several types of floss you can choose from, including waxed, flavored, string, tape, or sticks. It doesn't really matter which type you choose. The best type of floss is the one your child likes the most and is more likely to use every day. My pediatric dentist gave my sons character floss sticks. And they enjoy choosing the character and color of their floss stick every night.
A good time to start a flossing routine with your child is when he has developed two teeth that touch each other. Floss after your child eats foods that are sticky, and most importantly, before bedtime. This important routine will help keep your child's teeth and smile beautiful and healthy.
Around age 8, many children are capable of flossing their teeth on their own. Here are some simple tips on the proper way to floss:
â€¢ If using loose floss, take a long piece -- around 1 foot in length -- and wrap each end around your index fingers. â€¢ Carefully insert the floss between two teeth, and slide back and forth and up and down the side of each tooth. Remember to floss the back side of the teeth, including the molars. â€¢ Gently floss toward the gum line and even slightly below. â€¢ Don't force the floss into the gums, as this can injure the gums and be painful. One "Ouch!" and it may be really hard to get your child to open up and let you back in.
Remember to see your pediatric dentist every 6 months, starting around 1 year of age. No question is a bad question, so ask your pediatrician or pediatric dentist about anything you want to know concerning your child's oral health.
How did you get your child to start flossing? What kinds of fun flossing products or habits have worked for your little one?View Thread