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Category Archives: Behaviors

What to do with the after-Christmas blues

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Hopefully you all had a wonderful Christmas, and you’ve had a little time today to unwind! There should be a mandatory recovery period for this holiday! Christmas can be exhausting, and the day after Christmas can be a bit of a let-down, and kids can feel it too.  We’ve been anticipating this holiday since Halloween, so its natural to feel a little disappointed when its over.  Kids feel this too, and unfortunately, they don’t know what to do with those feelings, so they may act out in other ways – is there any sibling arguing, whining, or overall mopiness going on in your house?.  here are a couple of tips for helping your children deal with the after-Christmas blues;

First and foremost, talk with them, about their feelings, but also about Christmas.  Even the youngest children can listen as you tell them what you loved about Christmas this year, and share your thoughts for what your family can do to celebrate next year.  Hearing mom and dad vocalize their feelings helps kids to understand that not only are these feeling normal, but their parents feel the same way that they do.  You can have great conversations about favorite gifts, funny moments, and family traditions.  This helps kids practice sharing their thoughts and feelings, and helps parents understand which memories their children really value.

Another way to help children cope with feeling let-down after Christmas is to encourage them to help think of special traditions that can be carried on after the holidays, and throughout the year.  Have special pancakes for breakfast on the day after Christmas, set a special time where mom or dad gets to help each child put away all of their new things – this will give each child individual time with a parent, which is always special. Think about what your children love the most about Christmas, do they love making Christmas cookies? Talk about the next holiday that the family could make cookies for.  Do they love to decorate the house? Make some special decorations for New Year’s Eve, or Valentine’s day.

For older children, this is the perfect time to look at a calendar with them.  You could have them help you pick a special new calendar to hang in their room, or create one together with family photos or clip art.  4 and 5 year olds are naturally curious about the passage of time, they want to know when it will be Christmas again, when their birthday is, and how long it will be until summer.  These are all things that you can help them understand with a calendar of their very own.  Older children can also begin to understand the idea of goals and resolutions.  Help them make a short list of things that they can work towards this year, maybe they want to learn to write their name, ride a two wheeler, or tie their shoe, maybe they want to take music lessons, or play a sport, or a day trip that they would like to take.  all of these things could go on their list and you can help them work towards these goals throughout the year.

Hopefully these ideas will bring some harmony to your family as your recuperate from the holidays!

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Avoiding Thanksgiving Meltdowns

Thanksgiving is supposed to be time to relax and enjoy family, time to take a few minutes to recognize the blessings in our life.  You aren’t alone if your annual Thanksgiving celebration is anything less than stressful and overwhelming.  There is food that needs prepared, family members to please, extra furniture to set up, grocery shopping to do, not to mention arranging schedules to make sure that you are present at every family celebration.  In all of this, kids often get less to their own devices, and end up making messes that need cleaned up, and arguments that need solved.  By taking a few minutes to prepare simple activities to keep the kids busy, you can check one worry off your list! Here are some ideas and resources that you can use to entertain children – big and small – and bring some peace to the holiday.

    1. Thanksgiving pre-k pack and expansion pack from Over the Big Moon.  Download and print these packs – it will take 10 minutes and your children will be busy for hours.  There are puzzles, tracing sheets, coloring pages, patterning pages, sorting activities, writing practice, letter sound and vocabulary cards.  You may have to do some cutting, but if you have an older child ask them to do this for you. Place all of the pages in a gallon Ziploc bag with a couple of pencils and a box of crayons 
      and you are all set!
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  1. Coloring sheets that double as a placemat.  Our favorite Thanksgiving placemats are from paper and glitter.  Print enough of these for all of the kids at your celebration, and a few extras in case the adults want to join in too.Image
  2. This genius idea comes from TomKat Studio.  Set out small containers of nuts, dried fruits, and candy with bags or containers.  Ask each child to create their own Thanksgiving Harvest Mix, which they can snack on before the meal.  This will keep them out of the kitchen, and you won’t have to answer “can we eat yet?” over and over again.Image
  3. If you are hosting the celebration, gather a collection of Thanksgiving related books from your local library.  The children will enjoy the books, and older relatives will have just as much fun reading to them.
  4. Find ways to involve the children in preparing for the big day.  They can help set the table, ask guests what they would like to drink, put away coats when guests arrive, remove foil and plastic wrap from dishes and platters, refill bowls of snack mix, and make sure there are napkins in strategic places throughout the house.  Giving children a job will make them feel like they have a role to play, and will take your attention off of small tasks so that you can focus on preparing the meal and entertaining your guests. 

Taking the spooky out of Halloween

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Halloween is quickly approaching, and though many people enjoy the opportunity to be someone else for the day, for little ones it can be very scary. Not all costumes are kid friendly, and while you can do your best to make sure your child loves his or her own costume, there is no way of knowing what they may encounter other children (or young teens) wearing while participating in Halloween related festivities.

It is important to encourage your child to celebrate in the way that makes them most comfortable. Make sure to take the time to explain that they may see things that look scary (and even just the act of being out after dark, or seeing others run around outside in the dark can be scary), but this is a day that is all about pretend. Help your child that being scared is part of the fun, and make sure they know that they do not have to do anything that they do not want to do.

They may not want to dress up in a new costume, but you may get them to agree to a costume that they play with often, or you may even be able to borrow one of your child’s favorite dress up costumes from his or her teacher. If he or she does not want to go trick or treating, try to find another way to celebrate the holiday, they could help you pass out candy at your home, or you could find an age appropriate Halloween movie to watch, and a few fun games that you could play at home to celebrate.

Holidays are not about what the rest of the world does, they are about the traditions that you create with your family, so make sure that your celebration is one that your child feels comfortable with, and you will have happy memories for years to come.  

A trip to the museum

Everyone looks for quick trips to take with children in the summer, but most people quickly pass over the idea of taking the kids to an art museum.  An art museum is a great trip for even the youngest children, and there are art museums virtually everywhere, many of which allow children to visit for free or reduced rates.

Here are a few tips for making the most out of a trip to the museum:

Infants: Believe it or not, even the youngest infant will benefit from a trip to the museum. Viewing the colors, contrast, and lines will encourage brain stimulation and foster brain development.  It is also important to talk to infants while showing them paintings and sculptures.  Expose them to art vocabulary, just as you would expose them to any other vocabulary. This does not mean that you have to know anything about art, talk about the colors you see, what is happening in the paintings, how shiny or smooth the sculpture is.  A trip to the museum with an infant is about building your relationship with the infant, as much as it is about the art. Look into the programming that your local museum offers, some even have programs specifically for infants and their parents, where you can experience the art with other infants and parents.

Toddlers: The tips for listed above for infants also apply for toddlers, but toddlers are mobile and they love to touch everything.  This is how they experience their world, but not always acceptable at an art museum.  You want to make sure that you have prepared your child for this experience.  This is something that you can practice at home.  Have your child help you create simple drawings and hang them on the walls, then model how your child can walk up close and look, but remind them not to touch. Practice more than once, make it a fun game.  This way, when you do go to the museum your child will understand that they are not supposed to touch, and you will enjoy the experience without worry.

Preschoolers: A preschooler with be able to have appreciation for the art that you see at the museum.  Encourage them to talk about how the art makes them feel – is it a happy piece? Why do they think it is happy? What do they think the artist was thinking about when he or she was creating this piece? Their answers might surprise you.  A preschooler is also likely to be inspired to create their own art after a trip to the museum.  Make sure to stock up on art supplies before your trip so that you can come home and create with your child. Their creations may not be directly related to the pieces that they saw at the museum, but you can still talk about the process, and consider choosing a piece that they have created to frame and hang in their room, to help them understand that their art is important and valued too.

If possible, try to visit the museum in the morning, and follow it up with a trip to the park. After walking quietly through the museum the children will have some energy to use up!Image