Author: Kids Country

How Too Much TV Can Affect Your Child

Like most people, you enjoy watching TV at the end of a long day to unwind. No matter which show you prefer to watch, you almost always learn something new or, at the very least, feel entertained.

Likewise, you know your children like to watch their favorite TV shows as often as you allow them to. But lately, you’ve noticed a difference in your child’s overall health and behavior. Your child may seem angrier than normal. Or perhaps he or she doesn’t fall asleep as easily and then is restless for the rest of the night. Whatever the case, you wonder what could have caused such a change in your child.

Have you thought that perhaps the amount of TV your child watches could be the cause of your child’s mood or bad sleeping patterns? In this blog, we explore how too much TV time affects your child and what you as a parent can do to mitigate these effects.

Lower Sleep Quality

According to a 2014 study, the more TV a child watches, especially in the evening hours, the lower quality of sleep he or she has. Additionally, children who had a television in their bedrooms were far more likely to suffer from restless sleep and to sleep less each night.

Depending on your child’s age, he or she needs between 8 and 12 hours of sleep at night, plus up to an additional three hours in naps during the daytime. TV acts as an entertaining distraction that can prevent your child from sleeping properly. This lack of quality sleep can lower your child’s immune systems and cause him or her to feel fatigued, hungry, and more emotional.

Poorer Behavior

As educational as some children’s TV programs are, these same shows may inadvertently impact your child’s behavior. For example, in some TV show episodes, the main character gets into trouble. Maybe he or she lied or did something naughty, and then he or she had to find ways to resolve the issue.

Even though the episode demonstrates that this behavior is unacceptable and shows children how to resolve problems, some children might mimic the negative behavior rather than the positive behavior. If your child starts to display bad behaviors, you may want to examine the TV shows he or she watches.

Less Exercise

Depending on which types of shows your child watches, he or she might devote less time to playing and exercising each day. Daily exercise allows your child to build healthy, strong muscles; develop better coordination; and maintain healthy body mass.

But if your child watches TV for too long, he or she doesn’t have time to go outside to play and exercise. And, as previously mentioned, too much time in front of the TV increases a child’s tendency to snack, making him or her more likely to eat more food than needed during the day.

The extra intake of food and calories, combined with a decrease in physical activity, can cause your child to gain weight.

Impaired Focus

Some research shows that children who have a TV in their bedrooms and who watch several hours of TV during the day have a harder time focusing. If you have a school-aged child, he or she may have a harder time concentrating in class. As a result, he or she may perform more poorly on exams and homework assignments.

What You Can Do

Though you shouldn’t cut out TV time entirely—after all, a lot of children’s TV shows teach your children good values and life lessons— there are a few things you can do to reduce the negative impacts watching too much TV can have on your child. Consider the following:

  • Sit down and watch the shows with your child and look out for the character traits your child has started to display. If necessary, find new shows that demonstrate qualities you want your child to develop.
  • Set a limit for how much TV your child can watch each day. Most experts recommend that children watch no more than two hours daily.
  • Suggest alternative actives such as reading, playing games, or learning a new hobby.
  • Spend extra time with your children. Join in activities with them or teach them to do things that you enjoy doing.

If your child suffers from any of the issues listed above, too much TV time could be to blame. Use the tips mentioned in the final section of this blog to adjust your child’s exposure to television. Though TV shows can be a great source of educational opportunities for your children, watching too much TV each day can negatively impact their behavior and overall health.

Try reducing the amount of TV he or she watches each day—including at home, daycare, and school—to improve his or her health and behavior. For more information and tips, read through our other blog articles.

How Can Dance Help Your Child?

All parents know that exercise is crucial for their child’s development. They make time to take their kids on walks, help them learn to enjoy the world around them, and teach them about sports and other fun athletic activities.

Any physical activity you can get your child involved in is great, but in this blog, we’ll talk specifically about dance. Young kids need more than just general exercise to develop normally—they need to participate in activities that channel their energy, help them develop motor skills, and teach them to work both individually and in groups. Dance is the perfect way to accomplish these three things.

Read our blog below to learn more about why dancing is so good to kids, plus what you and your daycare facility can do to help your kids learn to love dance.

What Benefits Do Kids Get From Dance?

As with music and language, every culture in the world has a rich dancing history. Before the written word, dance was one of many important ways for cultures to communicate and celebrate.

In fact, dance’s rhythms and movements have always been essential to helping humans relate to the world around them. This rich history makes dance the perfect activity for toddlers and young kids, who are just starting to explore their world.

Of course, kids get specific benefits from any type of sport. For instance, if they participate in soccer, they learn how to play together as a team. So why do so many daycares and elementary schools incorporate dance into their physical education lessons, starting from a very early age?

The answer lies in how many ways dance positively affects childhood development, including in these key ways:

Social Interaction

Some kids are too shy to participate effectively in team sports, while others who love team sports also need to learn to stand on their own two feet. Dance helps kids feel a sense of community while allowing them to focus on individual growth.

Physical Growth

Like most sports, dance teaches kids to develop endurance, coordination, and strength. It also involves the entire body, so it helps kids put some of their endless energy to good use. Plus, dance teaches children to stretch their bodies and learn new movements, which is a key part of physical development.

At the same time, dance helps kids learn to control their bodies. And as they dance, they learn how to interact with their surroundings, which is one reason why some teachers incorporate props like ribbons or balls into dancing activities.

Finally, unlike many other sports, dancing works best alongside music. As your kids listen to music and dance, they learn even more about rhythm and coordination.

Cognitive Growth

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that your physical health impacts your mental health. The same is true for young kids. As kids work out their wiggles, they can stay more focused on school and on learning important principles.

Dance is a creative medium that combines memorized movements with opportunities for creative interpretations. The creative thinking dance inspires can help your children learn to become more imaginative and learn how to better express themselves.

How Can I Encourage My Child to Love Dance?

If you have a toddler or young child, chances are high that your child’s daycare instructor will incorporate dance into his or her daily activities. If you’re curious about which dancing activities your child will learn, talk to the instructors. They can fill you in and give you suggestions on how to help your kids continue to practice dancing skills at home.

In the meantime, try a few of these practical suggestions to get your kids moving at home, regardless of what they learn in the classroom:

Play music. Everyone needs a little quiet time sometimes, but when you’re in the car or enjoying some downtime at home, turn on the stereo. Find some vibrant, fun pop songs with a good beat, and dance along with your kids.

Helps kids feel confident in their bodies. If kids feel insecure, they’ll have a harder time enjoying dance time with their classmates. Help your child learn healthy habits. Practice being a positive role model when it comes to body positivity, and watch what you say around kids.

Practice other motor skills. If you have a young child, he or she is developing motor skills and coordination that will last for his or her entire life. Support your child’s development in dance with other activities, like walking or running, that can build strength and endurance. Activities as simple as playing with building blocks or cutting and pasting can also build fine motor skills.

Practice developing creativity. Your child’s creativity in dance should extend to other aspects of his or her life. Help your kids feel more expressive and creative by participating in drawing, storytelling, and other imagination-based activities. Don’t curtail your child’s creativity; instead, give praise and positive feedback.

 

To learn more about how kids can benefit from dance, get in touch with your child’s daycare instructor. And to learn more about childhood development, check out the rest of our blog posts.

Your kids are home from daycare and ready to own the rest of the day. They want to explore, laugh, play, and experiment. You love their enthusiasm and enjoy watching them grow and develop. But you also know that your kids need healthy bodies if they are going to learn quickly and get the most out of each day.

But how do you get your kids to eat fruits and veggies packed with healthy, energy-giving nutrients when they squirm and gag at the sight of anything that isn’t a hot dog?

Luckily, there’s a solution, and it’s great for every member of the family. Kids love it because it’s so tasty, and adults love all of the fruits and veggies packed into this yummy treat. The secret: afterschool kale smoothies.

Let’s Talk Facts

You may think your child won’t go near anything with kale in it. It just won’t happen. But you’d be surprised. Kids love slipping and slurping, and kale smoothies can be smooth, sweet, and tasty, just like their favorite McDonald’s milkshake. It’s always worth a shot, especially when you consider the health facts about kale smoothies:

  • Green smoothies are packed with pure, unadulterated nutrition. No additives, substitutes, or dangerous preservatives. All natural fruits and veggies go into this smoothie, and happy, strong kids are the result.
  • Green smoothies give your kids the fiber they need. Fruit and veggie juices are great, but they strip their ingredients of fiber. And without fiber, your kids miss an important part of their nutritional needs each day.
  • Green smoothies disguise the vegetable flavors that your kids can’t stand. They taste so good that your kids won’t realize how many vegetables they’re drinking.

If you serve a kale smoothie as an afterschool snack, you get the added benefit of keeping your kids hydrated and their energy up until it’s time for their evening meal. Your kids get an afterschool or a post-daycare pick-me-up, and you get the satisfaction of watching your children consume all of those vitamins and nutrients.

How to Get Your Kids to Drink Green Smoothies

You’re convinced about how great the occasional green smoothie can be for your kids, but the trouble still remains: how to get your child to drink it.

The key, as with so many other things with children, lies in presentation. Get your kids excited about the new smoothie recipe you’ve discovered (you don’t have to mention that it is full of those veggies they can’t stand). Deliver it in a cup and straw that disguises the color of the smoothie, or explain that the color is part of the special recipe. If your kids are really horrified of anything green, try a little food coloring.

There’s another tactic—let your kids help you make the smoothie. Part of the excitement may come in helping mom or dad pack the blender full of all kinds of yummy, exotic things and watch it whirl. Make it a family event. Everyone drinks a smoothie after school because everyone helps make it.

Why Taste Matters

Even if you put your all into presentation, your sneaky smoothie tactics won’t get you very far if the smoothie doesn’t taste very good. We’ll provide a kid-friendly green smoothie recipe in a bit, but for now, let’s focus on a few principles that can make any green smoothie delicious.

The normal, “adult” green smoothie contains 60% fruits and 40% vegetables. Your kids will probably work into that with time, but don’t be afraid to pack that thing full of fruit at first. The sweet, tangy tastes of fresh fruit will help your kids feel like they’re drinking a dessert or yummy snack instead of their daily fruits and vegetables.

You also need to get the beverage as smooth as possible. Use a good blender that eliminates lumps. Most people don’t like an unexpected lump in their food or beverage, and that fact is especially true for kids—especially if they don’t know that the lump is a piece of frozen fruit.

Which Recipe to Use

This smoothie recipe is yummy, sweet, and packed with nutrients. In fact, it’s so good that you may have a hard time saving any for your kids!

The Ultimate Kale Smoothie for Kids

1 banana

1 cup pineapple

1 apple (green apples are preferred)

2 – 4 large kale leaves, or a handful of baby kale

6 ice cubes

1 cup vanilla almond milk

Combine everything in the blender, mix, and enjoy! A few tips to remember:

  • Wash all of your fruits and veggies, and make sure to remove the stems from the kale.
  • Use ripe fruit to give your smoothie an extra sweet taste.
  • Use a little more or less almond milk to create a consistency your kids enjoy.
  • Consider adding vitamin powder or protein powder. It won’t affect the taste or texture, but can give the smoothie even more nutritional value. Just use a supplement approved by your child’s pediatrician.

One thing is certain—your kids deserve a nutritional head start, and this smoothie can help. Enjoy this smoothie with your kids, and rest easy knowing that they’re getting the fruits and veggies they need to grow.

As you pick your child up from day care, you typically ask him or her about the day, the things he or she learned, and if he or she enjoyed playing with friends. Amidst the discussion, you learn that one of your child’s peers has special needs. Your child is curious, and he or she wants to know a few things about this individual.

You want to make sure your child understands how to interact with his or her friends with special needs, but you don’t know how to best teach your little one.

In the guide below, we offer a few tips so you can teach your child how to talk to and behave towards any special needs children he or she spends time with.

Answer Your Child’s Questions

Children are curious by nature. Everything they see and hear seems new and interesting. At day care, and even in public, your child may see a peer in a wheelchair. Or perhaps your little one notices another child who has a hard time speaking normally.

Rather than tell your child to not stare at or make comments about his or her special needs peer, address your little one’s curiosity. Let him or her ask you questions, and answer them as best as you can. Explain that each child is different and that it’s easier to see those differences in some children than in others.

Keep your explanations simple. After all, your child can’t understand some things as well as you can. The shorter and simpler an explanation, the easier it will be for your child to understand what you tell him or her.

Explain How to Be Sensitive

You should also tell your child that all children want to be treated nicely by other kids. Teach your child how to be sensitive to his or her special needs peer. For example, tell your child that he or she should never say anything that could hurt someone else’s feelings. Tell your son or daughter that special needs children still understand what people say to them, so your child should always be kind.

Read through our previous blog for more tips about teaching your child about social sensitivity.

Find Common Interests

Remind your child that all kids (even those who are a little different) want friends. Special needs children also enjoy the same things that other children do. Tell your little one to find shared interests with a special needs peer. To start a conversation, your child can ask questions such as:

  • What sports do you like?
  • Who is your favorite superhero or princess?
  • Do you like movies? Do you have a favorite one?
  • What is your favorite color, food, or TV show?
  • Do you have a favorite story or book?

As your child talks with his or her special needs peer, your little one may discover that he or she has a few things in common with the other child. Let your child focus on those common interests to build a friendship.

Tell Your Child to Be Helpful

When you talk to your child, make sure you explain that some children can’t do certain things bythemselves. These children need a little extra help, so tell your child to be helpful when he or she spends time with a special needs peer. For example, explain that if a special needs child knocks over a toy or a book and can’t pick the object up, your child should pick it up for them.

Focus on the Peer’s Strengths

No one likes to feel different or like a disability defines them. This statement is just as true with children as with adults. As you teach your child how to interact with a special needs peer, tell your child to focus on a peer’s strengths—not on weaknesses or differences.

Explain that everyone deserves respect and kindness, and the best way to be kind and respectful is to compliment another child on his or her strengths. For example, a wheelchair-bound peer could be the best painter or joke-teller at day care, or he or she could be the best at shooting hoops, even from a seated position. Have your child compliment his or her friend on these strong qualities.

Continue Educating Your Child

As your child ages, he or she has the capacity to understand more about disabilities. Continue to educate your child about special needs and disabilities as he or she gets older. Look for disability-awareness programs in your community. Learn more about disabilities at home. If you know the parent of the special needs peer, ask if he or she would mind explaining things to you and your child.

Most importantly, teach by example. Your child will follow your actions, and he or she will say the things that you say. Let your example show your little one that differences aren’t a bad thing, and that differences make everyone unique. As you continue to teach your child as he or she grows and develops, he or she will know how to treat others.

 

Use the tips above as you teach your child how to interact with special needs children. For more information about teaching your little one how to approach different life situations, read through the rest of our blog.

8 Tips for Keeping Kids Healthy This Winter

Winter has finally arrived and, unfortunately, so has cold and flu season. While winter should be a time for sipping hot cocoa and building snowmen, it’s often overtaken by germs, infections, and illnesses.

Since children are especially prone to illness, you’ll need to take extra steps to keep your kids healthy this winter. We’ve compiled a list of eight tips that can boost your kids’ immune system this winter—use them to make this season a little more merry and bright!

  1. Provide Kids With More Immune-Boosting Food and Drinks

The stronger your child’s immune system is going into cold and flu season, the better. One of the best ways to boost the immune system is with vitamin- and nutrient-rich foods and drinks.

Try to incorporate the following foods into your child’s diet this winter:

  • Beef—it contains zinc, which is vital in the production of the white blood cells your child uses to destroy bacteria.
  • Fruits that contain vitamin C—oranges, pomegranates, strawberries, and raspberries all contain a good amount of this vital vitamin.
  • Garlic—it contains allicin, a compound that fights bacteria and infection.
  • Yogurt that contains probiotics—probiotics keep the digestive system free from disease-causing germs.

Much like your home requires extra energy to stay warm during the winter, your child’s body will require extra nutrients to fight viruses and infections when they do strike.

  1. Limit Children’s Sugar Intake

From Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day, the winter months are jam-packed with holidays that kids love. Unfortunately, winter festivities often include sugary snacks that can wreak havoc on a child’s body.

Increased sugar consumption not only depresses the immune system, it also causes systemic inflammation. As a result, kids who eat lots of sugar become likely candidates for the cold, flu, and more. Try to limit children’s sugar intake to one small treat per day to bolster their immune system.

  1. Keep Kids Hydrated

A cold glass of water is probably the last thing kids want during the winter, but it’s what their bodies need in order to fight infection and illness. Water not only carries nutrients to cells, it also sweeps toxins out of the body. Thus, dehydration increases a child’s risk of getting sick.

Experts recommend children drink half their weight in ounces every day. So, if your child weighs 50 pounds, try to get them to drink 25 ounces of water each day.

  1. Make Sure Children Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is essential to a healthy immune system—it allows the body to heal and repair itself. If you’re not sure how much sleep your kids need, here is a quick review:

  • Babies younger than 1 year require 12-18 hours per night.
  • Toddlers ages 1-3 need 12-14 hours each night.
  • Preschoolers between the ages of 3 and 5 require 11-13 hours per night.
  • Kids ages 5-10 need between 10 and 11 hours each night.

With an increased amount of germs floating around, your children’s bodies will need a little extra time during the winter to fully recuperate.

  1. Encourage Kids to Relax

Between holiday parties, traveling to visit friends and family members, and shopping for holiday gifts, winter is a busy time. While adults can handle the increased stress, children’s immune systems tend to weaken amid all the hustle and bustle.

On top of making sure your kids get enough sleep each night, encourage them to take time to relax each day. Whether they choose to watch an episode of their favorite show on TV, build a snowman, color, or play with toys, the slower pace will give their immune system time to rest and recuperate.

  1. Change Your Children’s Toothbrushes

Believe it or not, one of the dirtiest surfaces in your house is your child’s toothbrush. Germs often hide in the bristles, leading to infections and illnesses. Buy your child a new toothbrush at the beginning of winter, and replace it right away if your child does get sick.

  1. Teach Kids to Wash Their Hands

Although handwashing is a simple principle, it’s sometimes overlooked by parents of young children. Hands serve as germs’ gateway to children’s bodies, so the cleaner they are, the less likely your child is to develop a winter illness or infection.

Teach your kids to wash their hands:

  • Before and after each meal
  • After touching dirt, garbage, animals, or another person
  • After sneezing, coughing, blowing their nose

Ensure that your kids always wash their hands with both soap and water and for at least 30 seconds.

  1. Know When to Take Children to the Doctor

Most winter illnesses clear up on their own after only a few days, but some can turn into more serious medical issues. Contact your doctor right away if your child exhibits any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 103℉ or higher
  • Very sore throat combined with a fever
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Wheezing and/or trouble breathing (this could be a sign of pneumonia)

Don’t let your kids’ immune systems become a playground for germs this winter—use these tips to keep them healthy, happy, and strong. Ask your daycare provider for any additional tips they have for your specific area.

You have likely stood in line at the check stand and watched an infant look at the people around him or her. And maybe you’ve seen when that baby spots something unfamiliar, like a man with a bushy and long beard, or a woman with bold makeup. Most infants cry in that situation because they don’t know how to channel their confusion, so they feel fear instead.

Young children react similarly when they come across something unfamiliar, like an accent, a different skin color, or different cultural norms. First they feel confused, and then they channel that confusion in a number of ways. Ideally, they would feel curious and ask questions. But sometimes kids feel threatened instead, so they express fear or react rudely to defend themselves.

To teach your little ones to respond positively and compassionately to the different people around them, have a look at the tips below. These tips will help your children grow into understanding and tolerant world citizens.

1. Regularly Introduce Your Kids to Unfamiliar Human Situations

If the unfamiliar becomes familiar, your children won’t have an adverse reaction to that situation anymore. So find out where clusters of other cultures live in your area, and take your kids to explore those places. Point out everything that looks beautiful and smells delicious. Express how cool you think the foreign language sounds.

Your children take pointers from you, so if they see that you have a positive experience around these different backgrounds, they’ll associate the differences with happy feelings. When they see people who belong to these cultures in the future, they’ll react with excitement and curiosity rather than aggression or fear. They will more freely make friends with people from different backgrounds as well.

2. Celebrate Different Cultures Once a Month

If you don’t have access to many different cultures, you can celebrate them once (or a few times) a month with special ethnic meals, a couple trinkets, and some picture books. You can check these books out from the library or purchase them for your collection, but they should give your children a solid overview of what to expect from different peoples all over the world.

3. Read Stories on a Daily Basis

Stories give kids the unique opportunity to empathize in a safe setting. They hear about the human or animal characters in their favorite stories, and they gain perspective about how people feel when good or bad things happen to them. The stories will increase your children’s understanding of how their words and actions will affect their peers.

Additionally, as you read, explain that all people feel similarly bad or good when certain things happen to them, so your children should behave carefully and avoid causing negative feelings.

4. Take Turns Practicing Listening Techniques

The ability to listen intently gives kids the best way to learn perspective and social sensitivity. When your children want to tell you something, give them your undivided attention. And when you need to speak to them, make sure they sit down and quietly listen as well. This listening technique should become a habit, and that practice will help your little ones gain additional perspective as they grow.

5. Talk to Your Kids About Social Mapping

The term “social mapping” refers to cause and effect. Children need to understand that their behaviors affect others. You can teach them this concept by acting out different scenarios. For example, if your children attend daycare, and one of your kids decides to snatch a toy from a friend, that friend will feel sad. Then that friend will not want to spend time with your kids anymore, and your children will feel sad.

As children recognize potential consequences to their actions, they’ll become more sensitive to the needs of others around them.

6. Explain Different Facial Expressions to Your Children

Your kids already know how to interpret basic expressions like smiles and frowns, laughter and tears. However, as you know, people can make hundreds of complicated expressions. Look up a chart online and take your children to the mirror. Make the different faces for them, and explain the emotions that accompany those expressions. Then, your children will know how to better react to their friends’ emotions.

7. Outline Terms that Children Should Not Use in Reference to Other Cultures

When your little ones learn new words, they often feel excited, especially if those words come with a short of forbidden taboo. So, as your children learn curse or derogatory references, explain what the words actually mean, and outline how those words make other people feel. Tell your children about other people’s potentially angry reactions as well.

 

Children want to impress their parents and make friends. If they understand that the steps above will help them do that, you shouldn’t have any trouble teaching them about perspective. For more tips on teaching your children essential life skills, browse the rest of our blog.

How to Help Your Children Resolve Conflicts

When you drop your children off at daycare, you hope that they’ll have a fun and fulfilling day. You look forward to hearing about what they learned and experienced. However, you also worry that something bad could happen to them someday. For example, they may get scrapes and bruises from falling on the playground, or another student may something mean to them.

Hugs and a few Band-Aids will take care of the former. As for the latter, your children need to learn how to resolve conflicts with their peers—and the sooner, the better.

Because your children interact with many other students on a daily basis, they have a high risk for interpersonal conflict. Teach your children about the tips below to ensure they respond constructively to this kind of problem.

1. Pause before you react and collect your thoughts.

Most children don’t have experience with this kind of conflict, so they tend to emotionally explode. However, encourage your children to take a deep breath and wait before responding to a rude comment or an argument. If they wait, they can avoid perpetuating the problem with rude comments or insensitive arguments of their own.

This pause also gives your children a chance to swallow their emotions and respond with a rational or empathetic approach.

2. Try to understand the problem from the other person’s point of view.

Empathy matters more than anything else in conflict resolution. Teach your children that they don’t have to prove the other person wrong to solve interpersonal problems. Rather, they need to understand that person.

When you explain these tips to your children, make sure you outline how to feel empathy. Your children should think about what could have made this other person angry, and then they should react with compassion. This concept may prove difficult to teach, so don’t expect your children to get it right away.

3. React calmly, if at all possible.

When your children have interpersonal problems, they should not use raised voices or talk over the other person. They should not throw tantrums or try to physically hurt the other person ether. Instead, they must keep their voices natural and even. Encourage them to sit still and keep their hands folded in their laps as well. This behavior will make them seem less threatening to their peers.

4. If you must react with emotion, react from a place of sadness, not anger.

Anger only makes issues worse. So, if your children struggle to react calmly, encourage them to react with sadness rather than anger. Sadness looks less threatening to other people—and when people feel threatened, they don’t want to cooperate or empathize. Sadness, on the other hand, persuades other people to feel empathy because they know they caused someone pain.

Additionally, sadness ensures that your children don’t do anything physical or verbal that gets them in trouble.

5. Involve a teacher or other authority figure.

Sometimes, even if your children behave responsibly, the other student may not want to cooperate. In this situation, your kids must involve a teacher, administrator, or other authority figure. They can even involve you. This strategy forces all parties to sit down and find a resolution. Adults can even suggest ways to end the disagreement more quickly.

Also, if your children don’t feel brave enough to confront the angry or rude peer on their own, an authority figure can give them the confidence to continue.

6. Admit it when you are wrong.

Children feel especially sensitive to failure because many of them want to prove their poise and skill to their friends and parents. As a result, when they do something wrong, they try to hide it. Tell your kids that they should not continue this practice during disagreements. If they do something wrong, they should admit it and apologize for it.

7. Tell people exactly why you feel as you do, and explain specifically what you expect from them.

Sometimes people act passive aggressively because they want the other person to do all the work. They see this other person as the responsible party, so he or she has to apologize and make amends of his or her own volition. However, the passive-aggressive strategy rarely works in real conflicts. In fact, it usually makes the situation worse.

So, have your children outline the specifics of what they want from their peers when they have disagreements. Tell them to ask directly for apologies.

8. Forgive the other person.

At the end of the conflict resolution process, your children must forgive the other student. Remind your kids that they shouldn’t let their anger or bitterness fester. They need to let the problem go and treat their peer kindly. If they cannot, then they need to ask you or their teacher for further ways to solve the problem.

 

When your children know how to deal with disagreements responsibly, they’ll have a better time at daycare. Use the tips above to help them develop this skill.

How to Prepare Your Introverted Child for Day Care

Have you ever noticed that your child hangs back whenever he or she comes into a new social situation? Does your child ever seem stressed when introduced to new people? If your child exhibits these or similar behaviors, you might worry about taking him or her to a new daycare.

However, before you decide your child acts too shy for daycare, you should understand that he or she may not actually be shy. Instead, your child might be an introvert.

While introversion might seem negative like shyness or even anti-social behavior, it represents a normal and healthy way to process social interactions. If your child is an introvert, he or she simply needs to feel loved as he or she is. Your child may also need practice making meaningful social connections.

Use our blog to learn more about introversion and get tips to prepare your introverted child for daycare.

What Is Introversion?

Oftentimes, people think of introversion as shyness. If children seem shy or avoid social contact, they often receive the introvert label. However, while many introverts act shy, both introverts and extroverts can be shy. Shyness simply means someone is afraid to interact with people. However, introverts can have complete and fulfilling social lives without any fear.

The Difference Between Extroverts and Introverts

Interaction with people defines only one facet of what separates extroverts and introverts. Other facets, like how they gather emotional energy and find meaning in their social circles, matter more. Introverts gain emotional energy from being alone. They need to process emotions internally. An introvert never truly relaxes until he or she finds solitude in a familiar environment.

Because introverts need alone time to gain energy, they often feel overwhelmed and drained when they experience large groups or new social environment. However, they still want social connection. They usually find it in smaller groups of friends, where they forge strong relationships with a few individuals.

By comparison, extroverts will seek out more social interactions with others because they gain emotional energy from being around more people. As a result, extroverts often have large groups of friends. The difference between extroverts and introverts doesn’t make one better than another. These categories simply predict what types of relationships you can expect your child to have.

How You Can Help Your Child?

While introversion is a natural and healthy trait, your child may not understand that. Without encouragement, an introverted child can easily wonder why he or she doesn’t have as many friends as other people. He or she might try too hard to be social, which leads to emotional exhaustion. Young children need guidance to understand themselves and develop necessary social skills that respect their introversion.

You can provide that guidance by encouraging good social behaviors and helping your child meet his or her emotional needs. Use the following tips to help your child have an enjoyable transition into daycare.

Give Him or Her Alone Time

Your child needs to know it’s ok to have his or her alone time. If he or she seems upset, encourage your child to go play on his or her own. Let him or her recharge.

Talk with His or Her Teacher

Introverts generally need time to process a social situation before they feel comfortable interacting. Bring your child to the daycare to meet the workers before his or her first day. This visit will give your kid the extra time to acclimate to his or her daycare environment.

Create Regular Playdates

Playdates with a few children help your kid learn social skills in a comfortable environment. Let your child associate freely with little interference from you. This association will help him or her develop useful skills and have the confidence to use them with children at daycare.

Practice Social Skills

If your child lacks the confidence to be social at daycare, practice with him or her. Role playing games will help your kid develop strategies in a fun way. Practice introductions and small talk (small talk is particularly challenging for introverts). Keep things low key so your child has fun while interacting.

Share Your Feelings to Help Your Share His or Hers

Introverted children generally want to word answers to questions perfectly. They sometimes feel stress when they don’t have sufficient time to answer a question. So, when you pick your kid up from daycare, tell him or her about your own day or your own interactions before you ask about his or hers. This speech will give your child time to think about his or her daycare experience and give a sincere response.

Your introverted child will enjoy daycare when he or she understands his or her own needs and has the skills to meet them. Use the strategies above to help your child prepare. If you have any other questions, contact your local daycare to learn more about how you can prepare your child for his or her new adventure.

6 Tried-and-True Potty Training Tips

Your child is approaching age two, and you’re frustrated with endless diapers and wipes. But your child doesn’t seem interested in using the toilet. Plus, you’re worried that if you take the diapers away, he’ll have an accident at daycare.

Potty training is not for the faint of heart. Each child reacts differently to the process. Here are some tips for potty training your child—choose the ones that will work best for you.

1. Don’t Rush

Many parents are anxious to ditch the diapers as soon as possible, but they don’t pay attention to their child’s readiness. To determine whether your child is ready for potty training, look for these signs:

  • He or she dirties his or her diaper at similar times each day.
  • He or she has a dry diaper for two hours at a time.
  • He or she has basic motor skills and can remove his or her own clothing.
  • He or she reacts positively towards the idea of using the toilet.
  • He or she is able to tell you when he or she needs to pee or poop.

Remember, there is no “magic age” when you should start toilet training. Every child is different. Some children are ready as early as 22 months, while others aren’t ready until age 2½. Pay attention to the above signs in your child. Keep talking positively about using the toilet and wait for your child to respond.

Don’t worry if your child seems to be doing okay at first, but then backtracks. Stress and change can make potty training difficult for some children. Just keep being patient and your child will soon use the toilet consistently.

2. Use Rewards

Are you motivated to work harder at your job because you’ll receive a bonus or raise? Kids are much the same. Desiring positive rewards for good behavior is just part of human nature.

Here are some ideas for rewarding your child:

  • Keep a jar of M&Ms in the bathroom. Your child gets one each time he or she uses the toilet, and another each time he or she wipes.
  • Offer your child a trip or a new toy once he or she uses the toilet 10 times in a row.
  • Put a new sticker on your child’s chart each time he or she uses the toilet.

3. Read Potty Books

If your child is taking a while to warm up to the idea of using the toilet, try reading books about characters who use the toilet. Familiar characters and interesting stories will help your child feel more comfortable. Some popular books include:

  • The Potty Train by David Hochman and Ruth Kennison: Join the kids in their train journey to Underpants Station.
  • Even Firefighters Go to the Potty by Wendy Wax and Naomi Wax: This fun lift-the-flap book teaches kids that everyone uses the potty.
  • Have You Seen My Potty? by Mij Kelly: Kids will laugh at Suzy Sue’s search for her potty.

4. Make It Fun

Yelling and threatening can only go so far—not far at all. Instead, try making toilet training exciting for your child. Here are some ideas:

  • Provide your child his or her own colorful toilet or toilet seat.
  • Set a watch or timer to play songs every so often to remind your child to go.
  • Dye the toilet water red or blue; your child can watch it turn orange or green when they go potty.

5. Try, Try Again

Sometimes getting your child to use the toilet is as simple as taking him or her to the bathroom regularly. Pay attention to how often your child wets his or her diaper. Use this time frame to guide how often you bring your child to the bathroom and have him or her sit on the toilet. Even if she doesn’t go every time, she’ll at least get the idea of a regular toilet routine.

6. Involve Caregivers

If your child spends a lot of time at daycare or at a family member’s house, keep his or her caregivers informed about his potty training progress. Caregivers may have their own preferred method of potty training kids, such as making them each take turns sitting on the toilet at scheduled times during the day. You may want to adopt some of these methods to maintain consistency for your child.

If you use a special reward system for your child at home, discuss with his or her caregivers whether they can use the same system. However, keep in mind that the caregivers want to treat all kids equally; if they give one kid a sticker each time he goes potty, other kids will want a sticker as well.

Inform the caregivers of your child’s progress, and don’t send her to daycare in underwear until you’re sure she’s ready. Send some diapers or backup underwear with her as well, just in case.

 

Not all of these tips work for every child. Choose the ones that work for you, and enjoy the potty training experience!

When you have a picky child, making it through each meal can feel like climbing Mount Everest. Each spoonful, each bite, is a test of your endurance, patience, and fortitude.

You set your squirmy child in his or her seat, present a carefully cooked array of fruits, vegetables, and protein, and wait for the screams to start.

“No. No. No. No.”

“This is yucky. I hate this.”

“I want Mac and Cheese. Gimme Mac and Cheese.”

It doesn’t matter if your child is just starting to toddle or if your child is prepping for preschool—dealing with a picky eater can make you question your parenting.

Why Is My Child So Picky?

During the first year, infants undergo rapid growth, nearly tripling in birth weight. Because of this, they constantly need to eat to sustain that growth.

However, toddlers grow much more slowly. During their second year, your child may only gain about 5 pounds and grow about 4 to 5 inches. This means your toddler will need less food to sustain growth, and his or her eating patterns will change as a result.

Additionally, young children are more sensitive to strong tastes and smells than adults. Their smaller bodies are more vulnerable to toxins, and what may not affect you could make your child feel sick to his or her stomach. Bitter, sour, and hot foods can be more difficult for your child to digest, and he or she may want to avoid them as much as possible.

What Can I Do?

Just because your child wants to avoid certain foods or eat fewer foods doesn’t mean that you have to cave in to all of his or her demands for sweets or junk food. Eating a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet is essential for your child’s growth.

If you struggle to serve your picky eater, here are a few suggestions to make meal times a little more manageable.

Offer Nutrient-Dense Nibbles

Young children are constantly on the go—they want to wiggle, walk, move, and squirm, which helps them develop essential motor control and build strong muscles. This makes it difficult for some children to sit still long enough to eat. So when your child does eat, you need to make sure every calorie counts.

Offer your child nutrient-dense snacks that will not only fill him or her up, but keep blood sugar levels from spiking or dropping (which can lead to temper tantrums and general fussiness). The following snacks and foods are good choices in small, child-sized doses:

  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Brown rice and similar grains
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Greek yogurt
  • Kidney beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Poultry
  • Squash
  • Tofu
  • Whole-grain pasta

Feel free to mix and match these foods to see what your child likes and doesn’t like. Keep in mind that tastes and preferences will likely change from day to day, so if your toddler doesn’t want a certain food one day, save it for later and try again.

Let Your Child Play with Food

Children learn by exploring their environment. Tasting, touching, seeing, and smelling all help your child understand how different things relate to each other and how they work. Even if your child isn’t particularly hungry, it’s a good idea to let him or her explore food at his or her own pace.

For example, let your son pick up and squish a grape. Let your daughter spread spaghetti noodles all over her face.  Let him smell your casserole, and let her listen to the sound of popcorn popping. Positive experiences now will help prepare him or her for eating the food later.

To make eating more fun to explore, cut food into small, fun shapes. Array a rainbow of fruits and vegetables that appeal to the eye, or try serving foods on colorful plates or with child-sized spoons and forks. Let your child help wash and prepare food for dinner.

Limit Sugary Drinks and Snacks Between Meals

Your child might not want to eat meals simply because he or she is already full. Snacking between meals and sipping on juice or milk will fill up those tiny tummies before it’s time for dinner. Food isn’t nearly as appealing on a full stomach, so your child may be more likely to pick at those vegetables and complain about their smell.

If possible, limit drinks and snacks between meals. Then give your child the option of picking his or her own portion sizes of foods you’ve prepared.

Relax—You’re Not a Bad Parent

These are just some of the tips that you can try at home with your child—but even if they don’t work, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Relax, be patient, and remember it’s not necessarily your fault if your child refuses to eat his or her broccoli. Simply try, try, and try again. Many children eventually grow out of being picky.

If you worry that your child’s picky eating behavior is affecting his or her health, don’t be afraid to talk to a nutritionist for advice.

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