Loading...
Browsing Tag

parenting tips

3 Basic Life Skills We Need To Teach Our Children

About 60% of parents worry their children are lacking essential life skills, such as time management, public speaking and managing their finances, according to a survey conducted on 1,000 parents of children aged 13 and above.

As parents who want to do everything in our power to help our children become strong individuals who can handle anything life throws at them, this should be a wake-up call to stop doing everything for them, and make sure we’re teaching them the skills they need to become independent and confident young adults.

How to prepare a meal 

Nutrition is a vital part of life. Everyone needs to eat a healthy and balanced meal every day to provide the body with sufficient energy and vital nutrients to stay healthy. Sadly, not everyone knows how to prepare a meal properly. In fact, many parents in the US opt for fast food, lacking either the time or skills to prepare home-cooked meals for their families.

Do not let your children fall into the fast-food trap. Teach them how to cook tasty meals that incorporate all the vital nutrients they need. This will help them live healthier lives, and also save them a lot of money.

How to sew 

One of the biggest problems with the current generation is that when something is broken, they would rather replace it than fix it. The same applies to clothes. When a piece of clothing gets even the slightest tear, most people throw it away or banish it to the dark corners of their closets that they never visit.

This is very wasteful, and isn’t the mentality we want our kids to have when they grow up. Instead, you can teach them how to sew, showing them basic hand stitches, and teaching them how to use a machine so that they are able to repair their clothes or even make their own.

How to drive 

Driving is another important life skill that parents should teach their kids during their childhood years; not just when they are old enough to drive. Many parents mistakenly think that they should start teaching their kids how to drive when preparing them for their driving test, but this is not the case.

Children start learning how to drive through observation when they are still in their car seats. They see how you behave on the road, how you treat others, and whether or not you follow traffic laws. Parents should teach their kids not only how to control a vehicle on the road, but also how to behave while driving.

For centuries, humans have survived by passing on essential life skills to the next generations.

Unfortunately, many of them are not taught in schools, and it is up to us as parents to teach your kids all the skills they need to be healthy, happy and independent adults.

10 Ways to Keep Baby Cool When You Have No AC

Staying cool during the summer isn’t just a desire for babies, it’s a necessity. Babies who become overheated can suffer terrible consequences, ranging from heat exhaustion to heatstroke. While babies can’t exactly tell you when they are hot, there are signs that can indicate your baby is overheating. Some signs that indicate overheating include your baby being extremely thirsty, tired, and having skin that is cool and moist.

Overheating is one of the leading causes of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) according to the National Sleep Foundation. When babies are too warm they sleep deeper, which can lead to trouble. For this reason, it’s important not to overdress your baby for sleep. When she is sleeping in her crib and there is no air conditioning in her room, putting her in a onesie or a pair of light pajamas is best. You’ll also want to have a fan running in her room to circulate the air, but make sure that the fan isn’t blowing directly on her. To cool the air that the fan is blowing you can put a pan of ice water in front of it.

A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby like you are comfortably dressed, plus one layer. If you are comfortable wearing shorts and a T-shirt then put her in that as well, plus a onesie underneath. If you’re burning up and have a pair of shorts on, leaving your baby just in her diaper may be appropriate. Try to avoid synthetic fabrics when dressing her as they tend to trap the heat and moisture in instead of allowing her skin to breathe.

If you are going to be going outside with your baby then dress her in lightweight cotton long pants, long sleeves, and a floppy hat. Keep her in the shade and preferably somewhere she can feel a breeze. It’s better to keep her skin covered than to use sunscreen on a very young infant. If you must use sunscreen, apply it conservatively and only to the areas of skin that are exposed. You’ll also want to avoid being outside between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m because the sun’s rays are the most damaging during these times.

On hot days holding your baby can cause her to become too hot. Your body is warm against hers and she can overheat from being held close to you. If you must use a baby carrier, make sure it’s a lightweight nylon or mesh one and not something heavy like denim. You want to use breathable fabrics wherever possible.

It’s also essential to keep babies hydrated when it’s hot outside. Babies sweat too, and in warmer weather you need to make sure that you are giving her plenty of fluids. Infants over six months of age can be given water to help keep them hydrated.

Water play can be a good option for those babies that are able to sit up on their own. Never leave your baby unattended during water play or a bath. Babies love to splash in the water. Taking her to a covered baby pool will also help to keep her cool. If these things are not an option, putting a cool wash cloth on your baby from time to time throughout the day will help keep her cool.

If it just seems too hot both in your home and outside and you fear that your baby is too warm it’s a good idea to go hang out in a public place with air conditioning. The library or the mall can offer convenient, cool choices.

If you feel like your baby is becoming sick from the heat, contact her healthcare provider. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are serious conditions that warrant medical attention.

10 Reasons You Never Realized Why Dad-Son Fishing Is Gold

The iconic image of a father and son fishing trip is one that’s ingrained into the collective cultural consciousness. Even the classic sitcom images of Andy and Opie sharing a heart-to-heart over a fishing creel cements the American idea of fishing as a male-bonding activity.

As a father, spending time with your son is an important part of his emotional development, as well as a contributing factor to your filial bond.

Here are ten of the reasons why you should take your son fishing, and understand that you’re actually doing something far more important.

  1. The Opportunity for Quality Father-Son Time – In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s not easy to set aside a significant amount of time to spend one-on-one with your son. Taking a fishing trip, whether it’s an extensive one that will require an overnight stay or just an afternoon affair, allows you to focus all of your energy and attention on your son.
  2. Fostering Conversations You Wouldn’t Have at Home – The quiet stillness of a lake and the relaxing nature of waiting for fish to bite fosters plenty of conversation, some of which would be awkward to broach over the dinner table. The natural evolution of your talks can lead to more than one subject you probably wouldn’t discuss under other circumstances.
  3. Passing Along a New Skill Set– In a world where youngsters teach their parents the intricacies of new technology, it can feel like there isn’t much left in terms of skills that fathers pass on to their sons. The age-old art of baiting a hook to catch fish is a real skill, and it’s one that your child can’t fully learn from a YouTube video.
  4. Making Memories You’ll Cherish Forever – As your son gets older and becomes less inclined to spend time with his parents, you’ll have the memories of your shared fishing trips. When he becomes an adult himself, those memories will become fodder for pleasant reminiscence.
  5. Encouraging Independence Under a Watchful Eye – You can encourage your son to bait his own hook and cast his own line while you’re there to watch, allowing him to explore some independence as you look on to ensure his safety.
  6. Instilling a Love of Outdoor Activity – For outdoorsy fathers, the opportunity to share a love of nature with a son is a valuable one. Instilling a love of the outdoors and an appreciation for fresh air, sunshine and screen-free entertainment is a great way to combat the effects of technologically-advanced, indoor-based living.
  7. Temporarily Cutting the Electronic Cord – There are no video games, televisions or computers on the lake, which means that for at least one afternoon your son will be enjoying a completely low-tech good time. What better way to limit your son’s screen time than to take him somewhere that screens aren’t welcome, but fun is still on the menu?
  8. Investing in Your Collective Emotional Future – In order to have a strong father-son relationship, you have to forge a strong emotional bond with your son while he’s still young. Fishing together allows the two of you to get to know one another as individuals, to talk openly and enjoy one another’s company.
  9. Teaching Environmental Stewardship – When you’re on the lake enjoying an outdoor activity, you’re perfectly positioned to pass along the basic tenets of environmental stewardship without seeming like you’re lecturing or preaching. In fact, you can guide your son in the right direction simply by modeling earth-friendly habits.
  10. Establishing a Shared Hobby – A shared hobby allows you and your son a bit of common ground, something that will become even more important as he gets older and looks for ways to assert his independence. The love of fishing that the two of you share during his formative years may be one of the few ways you’re able to effectively communicate during the turbulent times of adolescence.

No matter how many lessons and exciting experiences you share with your son on a fishing trip, it’s important to remember that young children have a finite supply of patience with any activity that requires them to be relatively still. You might be thrilled to stay on the lake from dawn till dusk, but your little man will probably only be able to handle one or two hour sessions scattered throughout the day. Remember to take plenty of breaks, and to be patient when your own fishing time is interrupted by an active little boy’s need to explore.

3 Things To Do To Be More Actively Involved Next School Year

We are at the end of another school year and I’m sure there are things you wish you would have done differently as it relates to coordinating with your child’s school.

If you are a parent then you will know how important it is for you to make sure that your child is happy at school. You will also know how important it is for you to make sure that they are doing well and that they are meeting all of their grades as well. If you are not sure if your child is happy at school or not, then there are a couple of things that you can do to try and find out more. Here are three ways to have an even better school year next year.

Volunteer

One way that you can find out if your child is happy at school or not is to volunteer. You can also get them to attend school events with you so you can find out if they are motivated or not. If your child is not interested in attending extra classes, school events or anything else of the sort then this may be a clear sign that they are not happy and this is something that you will want to watch out for. If you know that your child is struggling with school then it may be worth getting them to talk to someone who has an online masters in school counseling as this can really help you get to the root of the problem.

Ask Questions

If you ask your child how their day was then there is a high chance that they will shrug off your question with the same old answer. If you want to avoid this then one thing that you can do is try and ask them questions that require more of an answer, such as what made them laugh today or if they liked their lunch. You can also ask them what they would like to have in their lunch for the next day and even if there is anything that you can do to make their day better. This will provide you with the valuable insight you need to really make a difference to the way that they feel

Talk to Their Teacher

If you are finding it hard to get an answer out of your child then you can spend some time with

their teacher. A teacher will spend five days out of the week with your child so they will probably notice things more than you will. If your teacher hasn’t noticed anything about your child or if they think that they are happy then it’s important that you listen to them and that you take into account everything that they have to say. This will really help to put your mind at ease and it will also help you to know if you can support them in any other way as well.

Of course, if you are concerned about your child then there are things that you can do to try and give them the support that they need, and by working with them and their teachers, you can be sure to stay on top of any problems that may arise. Being a parent isn’t easy, but if you put the work in then your kids will always know that you are there for them.

 

What Successful Parents Do To Help Cultivate Their Child’s Development

Parenthood can be overwhelming, frustrating, and mystifying. Kids change so quickly, it feels like they’ve hit some new and incomprehensible stage every week. But at the same time, you know just how important it is to nurture their growth and help them succeed as healthy, stable adults.

There are many resources for understanding how your child will develop and learn, perhaps too many. From parenting books to mommy influencers on Instagram, it can be hard to pick apart just what advice to take. You might be tempted to turn it over to the experts, but that opens up a whole new area of research and complexity.

Traumatic experiences in early childhood can stay with kids for a lifetime, and lessons learned early are similarly formative–but when they hit a new phase faster than you can keep up, it can be tough to know what will hurt and what will help.

One option is leapfrogging self-study and going for a more structured, professional approach. If you’re wanting to aid in development and fast-track and deepen your understanding of your child’s growth stages and associated needs, an early childhood education degree might be the right solution for you. It will give you the tools to understand and support your own child’s development, and it has the added benefit of equipping you to use your knowledge in a professional capacity at a later date if you so choose.

If you’d like to do some preliminary research on your own, studying the stages of child development is a good place to start. While every child is unique, knowing these stages ahead of time tend to help you prepare and make more informed responses to your child’s changing behavior and needs.

For instance, there are a number of points throughout childhood and adolescence during which children practice asserting their identities and forming an independent identity from their family and parents. These developmental stages can be traumatic and upsetting, frustrating both parents and children. But if you know roughly when it’s coming and are prepared, you’re better able to put frustrating changes in behavior into context and respond supportively instead of reactively.

Creating a safe, but structured space is another effective way to support child development. It sounds deceptively simple but can be challenging and high impact. Ideally, you want both physical and emotional spaces that offer your child the opportunity for freedom and exploration without significant risk. At the same time, strong boundaries are reassuring to children, though the type of boundary and ways you assert it will change depending on your child’s age. An effective boundary allows scope for imagination and freedom, but places guardrails between the child and actual danger.

You can support your child’s development by taking some time to understand the common developmental stages and average timelines, preparing for each new developmental stage, and creating safe spaces and appropriate boundaries in relation to the needs of that stage. Whether you self-study or pursue professional qualifications, greater understanding and the ability to prepare can transform your experience and help your child grow in a healthy, successful manner.

10 Reasons You Need to Quit Being A Mean Parent

img_9064

Developmental specialists, medical professionals and psychological researchers alike have dedicated decades of energy and resources to exploring the mechanics of parenting.

Diana Blumberg Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist, is one of those researchers. Her studies led her to categorize parenting into four different styles; authoritarian, permissive, authoritative and uninvolved.

Theses have been criticized and accepted by many in the world of child psychology. An authoritative parent is firm and sets limits, but is not rigid. The authoritative parent is willing to make exceptions when appropriate, respond to certain demands of the child, but does not overindulge in them.

Permissive parents allow their children to dominate the household, while authoritarian parents are excessively strict and rigid in their thinking and uninvolved parents are exactly how they sound – uninvolved in their children’s lives. While all different types of parenting styles may yield different outcomes, here are 10 reasons why being a mean parent doesn’t work.

1. Fear – A driving factor of mean parenting is fear. Mean parents may use guilt-inducing strategies or physical force to instill a sense of fear in their children. A healthy dose of fear is appropriate at times and may even be necessary under certain circumstances. If your primary approach to parenting involves using fear as a tool, however, it can have a negative developmental impact.

2. Intimidation – Using fear to control a child’s behavior or humiliation to intimidate him into good behavior may work in the short term, but can have far-reaching implications. An intimidated child will usually embrace their role within the family as a victim and allow themselves to be victimized throughout adulthood, or rebel against it to become overly aggressive to compensate for the loss of power during their formative years.

3. Lack of Coping Skills – Many times mean parenting tactics don’t allow for children to express less than desirable emotions. If a child is crying and the parent cannot appease them quickly, they may use a loud or aggressive voice, demanding the child to stop. Unfortunately, this way of stifling emotions teaches children it is not okay to be upset or disappointed and, in turn, they are not shown ways to care for someone else without using forceful strategies.

Depression – In some cases, a mean parent might be struggling with a lack of emotional control or anger management issues. People who are incapable of handling conflict or have a constant need to control may become very emotionally and mentally distressed when they’re faced with a conflict or loss of control. Inadvertently modeling this behavior can teach your children to mimic it, affecting their own ability to handle negative emotions as they mature.

img_9065


Emotional Instability – Being raised in an emotionally tumultuous or explosive environment can generate a lack of emotionalL stability in children. Anxiety, hypersensitivity and hyperactivity are all conditions that can afflict kids who are constantly exposed to aggressive or frightening behavior from their parents.

Lack of Respect – While a child may fear the wrath of an angry parent, fear and respect are not always synonymous. Children of mean parents can grow into young adults who lack respect for authority or view a lack of authority in others as a weakness. They may also lack respect for their own boundaries, thus paving the way for other destructive behavior, both physically and emotionally. This lack of respect for others and for themselves may manifest by the child engaging in harmful activities and aggressive or rebellious behavior, according to researchers at the University of New Hampshire.

Lack of Compassion – When a child is taught that crying or expressing frustration or disappointment is wrong, they are indirectly shown a lack of compassion. This will make it difficult for them to show compassion to others as well.

Low Self-esteem – Fear can crush a child’s sense of security. Lack of emotional expression can suffocate her creativity. Controlling behavior can suppress his autonomy. When a child’s emotional development is arrested it restricts the love and compassion a child will have for herself. Parenting expert Dr. Laura Markham asserts that the kids of overly authoritarian parents will often use the same tactics to shame, intimidate and bully their inner being, lowering or destroying their self-esteem.

Bullies or Aggressive Demeanor – Children are like sponges. They absorb everything around them, negativity included. If all they are shown is negative or mean behavior, they are likely to mirror their home life in social settings. Bullying is a way of expressing internal frustration. Kids typically don’t bully other children or exude an aggressive demeanor if they feel loved, cared for and accepted as they are.

Abusive Relationships – Because being bullied or exposed to aggressive parenting styles shapes the way your child views the world, it can prompt her to seek out that same behavior in her adult relationships. When anger and fear are commonplace throughout the formative years, they become the baseline for normalcy in a child’s mind. If you want your child to be a reflection of love and kindness, take some time to evaluate your own relationship with them.

A rule of thumb in terms of being a good parent is to find balance in your parenting style. An extreme of any one method can lend itself to unfavorable results, not to mention all children are different, so one style won’t always work with all kids. Your first-born might be a naturally quiet and obedient kid, however your other children may be a bit more rambunctious. Expecting your second or third child to be just as perfectly mannered as the first is setting yourself up for frustration. Set limits, but be flexible in how discipline is doled out to each individual child.

To Raise Good Kids, Don’t Let Them Do These 5 Things

img_7444

These days, parents  are often blamed for the behavior of their children.

Granted it is our jobs as parents to raise children to be good conscientious kids into responsible adults, so we have to make sure we instill certain rules and limitations on them from the beginning.

Here are 5 things we and our partners think you ought think twice about letting your kids do as they grow up:

1. Break the rules. Do you let your 12-year-old order off the kid’s menu even if it says it for children under 10? What about Facebook? Does your preteen have an account with Facebook even though their terms of use say he shouldn’t? When you let your children break these types of rules, you’re sending the message that the rules that apply to everyone else do not apply to them. Children who grow up thinking they are above the rules may grow up with an indifference to authority and perhaps even a blatant disrespect for it.

2. Get away with bad behavior. Find it hard to hold back the giggles when your toddler drops the F-bomb? Too tired to consistently enforce behavioral rules? Will you let your child do almost anything as long as you get five minutes of peace and quiet? When you let your child get away with bad behavior you’re reinforcing that the behavior is acceptable, especially if he knows you notice it. Behavior’s that are cute now won’t necessarily be cute when your little one grows up.

3. Be rude to others. While you may not think it’s a big deal if your child constantly interrupts you while you’re on the phone or refuses to look someone in the eye when they’re speaking, it is. This lack of manners, otherwise called social skills, will impact how your growing child will get along with others as an adolescent and adult. They are absolutely necessary skill to have to do well in school, work and life in general.

4. Think you’re their friend. When it comes to the parent and child relationship, you shouldn’t be your child’s friend, or let her think that you are. Friends are confidants and those who have similar ideas and outlooks on life. Parents shouldn’t confide in their children as children aren’t emotionally able to handle playing the role of confidant. Plus, children and parents often see things differently, like when it’s time to go home from the playground. Setting limits and guiding behavior is an important and functional part of parenting.

5. Develop a sense of entitlement. Children who have a sense of entitlement feel that everyone owes them everything. They tend to be selfish and think whenever something doesn’t go their way it’s not fair. As they grow up, these children expect people to do what they say and get what they want when they say it and when they want it. If this distorted sense isn’t corrected, it can be problematic in the children’s relationships and interactions with others. To deflate this sense of entitlement, parents can teach their children the value of hard work and giving back to others and by setting limits on what they give their kids.

While there are many things you can and should do as parents, these are some of the things you shouldn’t. If you keep your kids from doing these five things, you’re definitely heading down the right parenting path.

12 Easy Ways To Encourage Your Child to Eat Healthy

Being a mom can be difficult, especially at mealtimes.

Children can be very fussy when it comes to trying new foods, especially those of a healthy, nutritional value. If it’s green, it must be mean! However, there are ways we can still encourage our children to eat healthily, and here some ideas in how to do it.

1. Give informed advice

If it isn’t made from chocolate, your children may turn their noses up at what you put in front of them. However, a little education goes a long way. Explain to your child in fun and creative ways why choosing foods of nutritional value are better than eating junk food. Let them know what foods will make them better at sports. Tell them how a healthy breakfast is ideal for boosting their brain cells. We often tell our children to do something without explanation, so start as early as you can with good parental advice.

2. Place healthy food in reach

Whenever you bake cookies, you can guarantee your child will not be too far away, eager for a tasty snack. Instead, have healthy foods placed around the house, such as a fruit bowl on the table, so when they are hungry, they will be tempted by the more healthy choice on offer.

3. Grow your food

Most children hate vegetables. However, if they have been given the opportunity to grow their own, they might take ownership of the food and begin to eat it.

4. Don’t be bossy

The more you order your child to eat that plate of broccoli, the less likely they are going to do it. Instead, consider the foods your child enjoys and add to them to make a healthier option. For example, have a chocolate dip with the strawberries, or have a look at Healthy But Smart’s list of food processors, for those delicious fruit smoothies.

5. Prepare a buffet

Children enjoy choice, so have a range of foods on offer. From pasta shapes to cheese rolls, choose food that looks and tastes good, with that all important nutritional value.

6. Take it slow

Don’t introduce too many new foods quickly. Perhaps try something different each week. If they don’t eat it, tell them that sometimes taste buds take a while to get used to something. That gives you the opportunity to return to that food down the line, giving your child a fun reason to see if they like it better.

7. A spoonful of sugar

We all know too much sugar can be bad for us. However, to misquote Mary Poppins, a spoonful of sugar can help the broccoli go down. Sprinkle a little bit of sugar on the food your child finds disagreeable, and it may be easier for them to eat.

8. Make eating fun

Be creative with your children’s foods. Give the peas silly names, and make fun patterns on the plate. Use cookie cutters to make funny food shapes. Make a pizza together, letting your child design the food on the base, such as a smiley face or a rocket ship. The more fun they have in cooking with you, the more likely they are to eat what they have created.

9. Allow for treats

Don’t be so health conscious that your child never gets to eat what their friends are. The occasional ice cream, chocolate, and popcorn are fine. Everything needs to be done in moderation, but a world without candy floss is a very boring one.

10. Be a good role model

Practice what you preach. Don’t give your child a plate of broccoli while you tuck into a burger. Your child looks at you for a good example, so be mindful of your own eating habits.

11. Let your kids plan dinner

As dodgy as this sounds, giving your children control over planning one mealtime a week may provide surprising results. Ask them to think about a healthy menu and put options in front of them. As you go shopping, as stressful as it can be, let them pick the foods they want for their chosen mealtime. If all goes wrong and they insist on french fries with chocolate, go for it, with the rule that they must eat your food choices on the other days of the week

12. Talk to your doctor

If you have concerns about your child’s eating habits, or you are considering putting them on a diet, talk to a doctor first. Whether you think your child is too fat or thin, it is always better to seek expert advice.

Good luck parents!





 





 

A Road Map To Help Your Kid Grow To Become A Creative Thinker

 

girl3picnoi

A few years ago, a Vice Principal at the Catholic School my children used to attend shared his experience teaching at a summer youth program in an inner city school compared to one in a pretty affluent suburb in the same state.

On the first day, during a short break, the counselors instructed the children that they’d have an hour to rotate on different play stations but something interesting happened then.

In the city program, without prompting, after being told to play, the kids there scattered, grabbed balls and sidewalk chalk, formed teams on their own for playing tag and snatched up limited supply of jump ropes and hoola hoops before the last could be swooped up.

But on the other side of town, with the perfectly manicured lawns, white picket fences and two car garages, where organized recreational league sports, ballet and karate lessons and carpools instead of bus rides  are norm,  no one moved.

The children stood around waiting.

The concept of just scampering off to figure out something to do was not the norm.  After a few minutes of stillness, it occurred to the staff that the kids were waiting for more instructions.  It’s what they’re used to. The counselors divided up the children into groups and assigned them play stations and groups.

I found that unplanned social experiment fascinating, but sad at the same time because my kids would be in the camp with the little robots waiting for instructions.

picnoi-girl-shrug

Lately, from the reports that come out and just general observation of Zen Y and Z, it appears that we may be losing the war between intellectualism and ‘keep it simple’ because, well, it’s just easier to be told what to do and to follow instructions than to come up with something to do on your own.

Independent thinking isn’t necessarily rewarded in a ‘teach to test’ environment where there is little time for traveling off the curriculum and exploring the fields and getting lost in the weeds.

A lot of us adults aren’t too unsimilar to Generation Zers.  We are content following social trends, our favorite singer or entertainer on social media, and we chime in to comments on popular topics and generally, agree with conventional thought.  We want to be liked, and being agreeable is an easy way to accomplish that goal.

teen

In high school, it’s easier to go along with the clique and hang on the words of the leader of the pack.

I imagine that it has always been the case for each generation. Succumbing to social pressure to fit in is innate to humans at any stage of life, even.

In schools, children are taught to read, perform mathematic equations, memorize history material in a school book and to cobble paragraphs together based on Wikipedia or online facts and turn in reports.

There is insufficient devotion in the curriculum to teach critical and analytical thinking.  There are electives for that, I guess. So it goes, children who are naturally talented with words and who have a sincere and deep interest in literature, the arts or physical sciences, will likely do okay.

But everyone else will just settle. I wish we didn’t have to settle.

In my home, I have three children: two who are creative, thoughtful, introflective and responsive to others. They can quickly analyze new situations and promptly adjust. They are great with words, creatively write or draw every day.

My other kid is not as motivated  and a bit scattered, and doesn’t really focus as much  and would prefer to not have to do extra thinking or intellectual activity, outside of reading sci fi series, on his days off.

I know I shouldn’t compare my kids but I want this other kid to be better at dissection a problem or challenge presented to him and come up with a creative solution or to plan that challenges conventional thought, wisdom or trends

Critical and independent thinking skills are crucial, not just for term papers in college but for life, in general.

I think it is essential to be able, for example, to judge a political candidate by comparing  his or her campaign rhetoric from their voting pattern, to be able to read between the lines and understand subtext, covert actions and words and figure out if someone is being disingenuous. There are usual social and word clues that give it away if you’re attentive. But there is so much non-real human face to face interactoins these days, that the skill of interpersonal communication is really lost on many among today’s youth.

It’s not too late. I’m convinced!

My kid and all of the children soon will be in charge, running companies and the government and we cannot afford to shrug it off as just something that’s changed.

I wanted to come up with three concrete things that parents can do to encourage and nurture critical thinking in their children and I came up with one and asked my two creative ones to give me an idea on how to cultivate free thought and broader perspective in children.

kids-tim-gouw

Idea 1: Encourage Role Play, and often.  My suggestion. Pretend play stretches a child’s imagination. She is forced to come up with new scenarios, invent characters and dialogue. All of these activities encourage creative thought  which in turns helps a child learn how to anticipate and come up with alternatives. Building blocks for logic and reasoning later on in life.

Tools: My daughter plays with My Little Pony ponies and in fact, there is an enourmous cottage industry of role-playing on YouTube and my daughter watches hours of it if you let her. But pretend play has helped her expand her vocabulary and her horizons.

I don’t want to be gender divisive, but little boys do, in fact, enjoy playing with toy soldiers and imagining battles for their pieces, plastic dinosaurs and stuffed animals. They too should be encouraged to engage in this type of play.

Online Tools: There are a couple of mobile apps out there that involve role play. My daughter likes the Sofia the First: Story Theater app, Toontastic and Telestory apps are excellent. For older teens,  Second Life apps are also cool for creative playing.

Teens: You teen may be too old for playing make believe, but you can encourage him to audition for the school or town play. If her school has an Odyssey of the Mind club, encourage her to join.

All of these activities are excellent brain developing ones.

Idea 2:  “Take something. Take another thing. And make something new.” My daughter’ s suggestion.  To implement this suggestion for the physical world, you can give a child random objects and ask them to either build something  that already exists out of it or make a new invention. An empty toilet paper roll, yarn and a stick can be used to make a fishing poll or a pulley, for example. It’s about challenging them to think creatively.

Online Tools: Here is where video games like Minecraft actually come in handy. That game is about a virtual world. Players acquire tools along the way to help them build virtual worlds.  Similar building and invention games are great.

Teens: For a teenager, take him or her to a comedy Improv show and later at home have Improv with the family.  Play charades. These are all part of creating something out of nothing or something that is given to you unexpectedly that may not fit. Making it fit is the brain teaser.

jorge-barahona

 “Start Little and Progress” –My almost 12-year old son’s suggestion. Think of that cliché about Rome not being built in a day. You’ll have to start with developing basic skills before expecting much otherwise, you’ll fail out the gate.  For example, you may ask your child to write a story, but first he has to come up with characters, then have them decide on a backdrop, then add scenes and scenarios. Make him write a first chapter of a story one day. Then have him pick back up and develop the story from there. And so on, until the process of coming up with a story becomes natural.

Online Tools:  Games that have levels and progress help a child develop a mastery of the tasks. Similarly, education games like IXL Math or other learning apps gradually increase the difficulty as they go along.

Teens: A teen can be tasked with reading a novel, then a series in a novel and then another.  Split up an assignment into tiny sections and then make the amount of work for each section gradually increased. That’s an exercise that is also good for those with ADD and other attention and focus deficiency issues. They shouldn’t be given too much stimulus to comprehend at once.

img_3295

Hopefully, these tips my children and I came up with will help your journey to help that not-so-creative little thinker in your house. Good luck, parents!

Photos: Picnoi

 

Yeah Baby Sign Language Is Still a Thing and Here’s How to Do It

Bellyitch Rewind

mother-228407_1280

As your infant gets older, she will start to understand her own feelings and needs better, but she still won’t be able to effectively share them with you yet. It can be frustrating for both of you when she’s trying to communicate with you, but hasn’t developed the verbal skills needed to successfully let you know what she needs and wants. Baby sign language can bridge the communication gap and give your baby a way to let you know what’s on her mind. It helps you more quickly understand what your child is trying to say and avoids many of the tantrums and meltdowns that frustration over not being able to communicate brings on. It also is a wonderful way to connect and bond with your baby.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of signing with your infant.

  1. Make it fun. Above all, signing is a way of connecting and bonding with your baby. When you make signing a natural part of your day with him and turn learning time into fun time, you’ll see the best results. Children learn best through play, so introduce and practice the signs during play and relaxation time. You can incorporate signs into songs, word plays and other fun activities you already do with your child.
  2. Don’t expect a response too early. You can start signing to your baby as early as you want to, however, infants aren’t able to understand or respond to your efforts until at least 8 months old. For many, it could be months later. Like any other way of communicating, there isn’t anything wrong with introducing it early and practicing it often. Just don’t pressure your child to embrace signing until he’s ready.
  3. Be realistic about your expectations. Some babies will have more of a natural interest in learning sign language. Others may enjoy the bonding time and interactions with you, but may not latch on to baby sign language as their way of communicating. Let your baby lead the way. Baby sign language is only one way to communicate with your child. If your child doesn’t jump on the signing bandwagon, don’t worry. With time and attention you and your child will develop a system that works for you.
  4. Don’t overwhelm your baby with too many new signs at once. It’s easy to get excited about signing and want to show your baby more and more signs each day. This is especially true if your child has been frustrated at not being able to verbalize his feelings, wants and needs to you and now he suddenly can. However it’s helpful to focus on a few key signs and allow your child time to master those before moving onto additional ones. Soon he’ll have a full signing vocabulary.
  5. Share the signs with other caregivers. Teach anyone else who is caring for your child which signs are his favorites. This can avoid some tearful moments when Grandma or Aunt Maude is babysitting. If your child has gotten used to requesting milk or more cereal through signing, it’s frustrating when the adult he’s trying to communicate with doesn’t understand him. This also gives friends and family members a wonderful way of connecting and bonding with your child.
  6. Start with signs related to things your baby is already interested in. Of course babies will naturally be drawn to learning signs that represent the things in their lives they’re already interested in. Mom, Dad, milk, more, dog and cat often top the list. When choosing which signs to introduce, take your cues from your baby. If he regularly has two cups of milk at lunch time, the sign for more is probably a great one for him to know. If he loves cuddling and playing with Huck, the family dog, the sign for dog will help him communicate his love for his playmate.
  7. Talk, talk, talk with your child too. Signing is a great way to expand your child’s ability to communicate with you, but signing should always be accompanied by talking. By speaking your thought as you sign, you help your child develop important whole language skills. Knowing both the word and the sign for things will help him easily transition from non-verbal to verbal communication.

Baby sign language is an effective and fun way to communicate with your infant. It helps you better understand what your child feels, wants and needs long before he’s able to tell you in words. This helps both of you avoid a lot of frustration and promotes a foundation of great communication between you and your baby.