Newborns can not see. Of course they can see. Babies love to look at faces. Newborns show more interest in looking at pictures of two triangles and a circle arranged like two eyes and a mouth than at the same shapes jumbled up in any other pattern. They can only focus up close. Anything further away is just a blur to them.

Newborns can not hear. Babies begin listening from inside the womb a few months before they are born. A mother’s voice resonates straight through to her baby, but the baby’s father’s voice can be heard through her belly, too.

Babies do not remember anything before birth. It is not clear what or how much babies recall, but we know this: If you read the same nursery rhyme over and over during the last months of pregnancy, your newborn will recognize it and distinguish it from ones she has never heard.

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Is It True

I can see you.

Want to make a lasting difference in the global community? These are some organizations that offer ideas for hands-on projects or interactive financial donations.

To Help A Child

  1. Samaritan’s Purse: Under “Operation Christmas Child,” you can fill a shoebox with gifts, send it in with a $7 processing fee and track it as it travels to its destination. Samaritanspurse.org
  2. Rising Star Orphanage: Identify and sponsor a child at this home and school for children in India whose parents are affected by leprosy. For as little as $30 a month, your family can literally change a young child’s life. Risingstaroutreach.org

To Help The Planet

  1. Arbor Day Foundation: Trees not only make neighborhoods beautiful, they also help improve air quality and invite wildlife. You can find planting opportunities with a local Arbor Day Foundation partner. Arborday.org/programs/volunteers
  2. World Wildlife Fund: Love pandas? Crazy about crocodiles? Your family can symbolically adopt an animal. Your donation of $50 or more helps protect the species you choose and you receive a toy and certificate to honor your good deed. Worldwildlife.org

To Help A Family

  1. Family-to-Family: Gather birthday party supplies, collect seed packets or pack a box of groceries and mail to a family in need. Family-to-family.org
  2. Heifer International: Financial gifts that help families worldwide become more economically stable, $20 buys a flock of ducks in China, for example; $30 buys honeybees in Ecuador. Bonus: Games that teach kids about hunger and the environment are available on the website. Heifer.org

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Every Bit Counts

Make a lasting difference

Before selecting a seedling, find the significance of your Giving Trees.

Materials:

  • mini aluminum buckets (at hardware stores and craft stores)
  • tacky glue, glitter and felt
  • soil, a seedling and moss
  • Popsicle stick and paper

Coat the bucket in glue (we suggest using a small paintbrush) and cover in glitter. Allow to dry.

Draw a leaf shape that represents the seedling you are planting onto the felt, cut it out and glue it to your bucket.

Plant your seedling in the bucket and cover the soil with moss.

Cut out a small rectangle of paper for the sign. Write “Family” or “Family Tree” on it and decorate it as you choose. Glue it to a Popsicle stick, allow to dry and insert in the soil. As your tree grows, it symbolizes the growth of your gratitude for each other!

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

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Earth Day

Giving Trees

Do boys and girls learn better in separate schools? Or do they need to be together to learn to get along? There is no right answer. But more and more kids are going to single gender schools. The authors of a new report in Science magazine looked at the research about single gender schools. Their report does not support this type of education. The authors say single gender schools cut back on boys and girls opportunities to work together. They also point out that there is no scientific evidence that single gender schools lead to better learning. Do you think boys and girls learn better together or apart? Let us hear your thoughts.

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Single Gender Schools

Single Gender

Single Gender Schools

Single Gender

Single Gender Schools

Single Gender

The twin spacecraft will fall out of contact with Earth one day. But even then, their work will not be over. They will continue to serve as earthly messengers.

Gold-plated copper disks known as the golden records are attached to each ship. The 12-inch disks carry messages. They are designed to work like a time capsule. The disks contain pictures and music. They also have recordings of greetings from Earth in 55 languages.

The disks were mad when the Voyagers launched. The work like old phonograph records. In 1977, CD’s were a thing of the future. If the golden records are found one day, CD’s too, will likely be a thing of the long-distant past. See more on the Voyager.

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Infinity an Beyond

Blastoff

Here are some activities that can supplement a child’s speech or language therapy program.

Stuttering: A child experiences a break or disfluency in their speech, manifested as repetitions of words, syllables or prolonged sounds.

Activity: During conversation, resist completing your child’s phrases or words. Be patient and let them work through a sentence or thought. Then, rather than correct any “broken” words, repeat back to your child what was said. This shows them that you are listening carefully and provides a relaxed and correct model of the words.

Frontal lisps: The most common form of a lisp. In this type, a child pronounces an “s” sound more like a “th” than an “s”.

Activity: Games that give you an opportunity to model the “s” sound and your child to practice it back. Play Bingo using words that start with “s”. Or use the card game Go Fish with words with “s” sounds instead of numbers. Also, check out Superduper publications for books and games that work on articulation and phonological skills.

Auditory processing or receptive language deficit: A child has trouble processing a conversation or understanding what has just been said.

Activity: Promote situations where your child must listen and follow directions in order to get a reward. A good option is the game Twister, which requires your child to listen to directions and then translate them into an action.

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Communication Confidence

Stuttering, Frontal Lisps, Auditory Processing or Receptive Language

We do not know exactly where the solar system ends. The edge is about 12 billion miles from the sun. That is more than twice the distance from the sun to Pluto.

So , scientist always knew there would be a lot of flying to do before the little ships left the solar system. But the ships are getting close. Voyager 1 is about 11 billion miles away from the sun. Voyager 2 is about 9 billion miles away from the sun. Since we have traveled a billion miles every 3 years, it should be soon that we reach the end of the solar system.

How have the ships gone so far? It is because of their tiny nuclear power plants. They were built to keep the ships going for about 50 years. Power is expected to last until the year 2025.

See how the Voyager got started. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Keep praising your children.

Infinity an Beyond

Blastoff

After spending a long 34 years in space and a total of 20 billion miles, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are set for their greatest adventure to date.

The two Voyager spacecrafts launched in 1977. They had a big mission: Fly to Jupiter, then on to Saturn and then maybe swing by Uranus and Neptune.

Voyager 2 made that grand tour. It flew through the solar system. In 1989, it visited Neptune. It is still the only spacecraft to have visited the outer planets of Uranus and Neptune.

Voyager 1 visited Jupiter and Saturn. It spun past Saturn’s moon Titan. Then the craft traveled toward the edge of the solar system.

The Voyagers were more successful than anyone had expected. And they continue to soar through space. Now, the Voyagers are set to leave the solar system. What will they find?

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Infinity an Beyond

Blastoff

There are valuable life lessons to be learned in those weekend trips with the kids.

Amusement Parks: An awesome place to give the older children a quick course in time management. Look over the map with your child and ask them to estimate how much time it will take to get from one ride to the next one. Plan a very loose itinerary, give your child a watch and appoint him the Clock Master to keep the group on schedule.

Miniature Golf: This is a lesson in where everyone can practice patience (as you are waiting for the group in front of you to move to the next hole) and also a lesson in taking turns (as each person in your group steps up to putt). Pick a fair but simple rule about who will go first. I like drawing straws. Keep a few silly conversation starters or word games on hand to pass the time while you are waiting.

Farms: This is where your child can exercise compassion as they greet each animal and learn how farmers take care of the cows and bunnies and pigs. While you are there you can start a conversation about healthy eating and where different types of food in your kitchen comes from.

Indoor Play Spaces: This is the ideal environment for lessons on perseverance. When your young child yearns to follow their big sister up the rock wall, encourage them to go for it, carefully! If on the first try at rope swing ends with a crash landing, help your child find the courage to give the challenge another try.

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Family Field Trips

Field trip at the farm

Wildlife inspectors check shipments at airports and at our borders with Mexico and Canada. They commonly find smuggled pets. But many animals still make it past their security. The people who sell the animals are willing to risk a fine or even some jail time because it is a big business. While the poacher may make pennies, smugglers typically sell wildlife at a much higher price.

Smugglers are sneaky. They put animals in false compartments in suitcases and cars. They put illegal birds into cages that also hold legal birds. Some will even try to mail reptiles.

These are criminals who do a great deal of damage. When a poacher catches and removes animals from the wild, the population of that species will drop. It can be harder for the remaining animals to find mates or to keep away predators.

So what is a pet lover to do? Stick with a common type of critter. It is better for the animals. And it is better for you.

Here are some Power Words for you to learn:

Poacher (po-cher): A person who hunts animals unlawfully

Smuggler : A person who carries things into or out of a country unlawfully.

Learn some information on unfair trade here. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your friends. Remember to always praise your children.

Smugglers and poachers

Smuggling in suitcases.

The U.S. is one of the leading buyers of illegal turtles, snakes, birds, apes and monkeys. People who want to own these animals make the world’s wild animal trade possible. It is a cruel business. Captive creatures often die during the transport. They may be too hot or cold. Or the containers they are transported in may be too small. Sometimes they are not given any food or water.

Bringing wild animals into the country can also spread diseases. Wild birds can carry germs. Tiny turtles can carry a dangerous bacteria. Exotic wildlide can make you and other people sick even when you never touch or see the animal.

See more on Pet Problems in the US. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends.

An Unfair Trade Practice

This is not the ocean.

Wild animals are being illegally caught and taken out of their natural habitats. The animals are then sold as pets. It is a dangerous business.

Tourist often bring back snacks to share with their friends and family. But when a couple of foreign smugglers landed at an airport in the US, they were hoping the U.S. Fish & Wildlife agents would think that they were tourist. However, the agents thought that the 2 were carrying more than just tasty treats. The agents then found around 50 live turtles and tortoises stuffed inside snack food boxes in their suitcases. Among the reptiles found were Indian star tortoises and rare turtles. The agents had been working on an a project called “Operation Flying Turtle” for over a year.

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Smuggling Turtles

Pet Problems

This is a delicious and healthy snack that is great for the kids after school or for a late night snack for parents. Get creative and use different nut butters and toppings. Have fun together and enjoy!

Supplies

  • Cutting board
  • Apple slicer
  • Small spatula
  • Apples
  • Granola
  • Raisins
  • Nuts

Steps

  • Core and slice apples.
  • Spread peanut butter on top of apples.
  • Sprinkle toppings over the peanut butter.

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Apple Sundaes

Healthy Snack

When your outgoing tweener turns inward

If your excitable kid has suddenly changed into a shy tween, do not freak out. This type of personality change is common for this age group and will usually pass. In the meantime, you can take steps to help your child find their voice and confidence again.

The toning down you now see is often self imposed, adopted as a protection against the hurtful tactics of classmates and your child’s own self-doubt. The tween years can be difficult as children begin to notice and judge themselves and others on matters such as school success, looks, possessions and athletic ability. Coping at the same time with changing expectations and uncertainties about friendship, some tweens follow the “safe” option and hold back, becoming more risk averse to try to avoid making a mistake that could lead to teasing.

The best way to help you tween return to full power is to rebuild their confidence and self belief. At home, encourage them to join in and express their views during family conversations. Listen respectfully so they can speak up confidently and comfortably.

3 Tips to help your child

  • Make New Friends. Try a club with kids from outside their school. They will be more likely to let loose around people they do not see every day, as there is less at stake if they make a mistake.
  • Boost Confidence. Praise your child for their good ideas and actions to help them feel good.
  • Personalize It. Share a story about a time you have felt shy and how you dealt with it.

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Shy

Shy Kid

Be Supportive. Encourage your child to give up sucking their thumb by praising their efforts. Be nonjudgmental and respectful if they slip. Try using a rewards system with a sticker chart to monitor your child’s progress.

Prevent It. Identify the times (tired, hungry) and places (car, TV room) that your child sucks their thumb rather than concentrating on the physical action. Try to anticipate their comfort needs ahead of time and give them extra attention.

Distract Them. Provide an interesting activity that requires their attention and keeps their hands busy. Play a board game with them. Have them turn the pages in a book instead of sucking their thumb while you read to them. Involve them in manipulative activities like coloring or squeezing play dough.

See more posts on taking comfort. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Praise your child often.

Taking Comfort

Taking Comfort

React Quickly. Calmly remove them from the situation immediately, saying “I can not let you hurt your friends” or “Gentle hands only.” This helps them learn that hitting does not solve problems.

Use Your Words. Model how to ask and then wait for a turn. Encourage your child to “use their words” rather than physical force.

Offer Independence. Let your child choose their own clothes or decide where to go first at the park. Giving them this freedom can diminish their need to exert control in other situations.

Try Signing. Research shows children communicate sooner and more effectively with signs than with words. Learn a few common signs such as “stop.” Check out resources at SigningSmart.com

Here you can also take a look at tips for biting. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your friends. Remember to always praise your child.

Kids Hitting

That is Mine!

Why threes and fours love to suck their thumbs

Everyone has ways to help them relax. For you, it might be a warm bath, meditation or reading. Young children, too, adopt personal habits or rituals that make them feel more comfortable when they are stressed or upset. Some children stroke a security blanket or twist strands of hair, but many choose to suck their thumbs.

The thumb is really a perfect security tool for threes and fours, as it goes everywhere they do and never gets lost. Whether a child is dealing with mom leaving them with a caregiver or sitting through a long car ride, a good thumb suck can cure boredom or help them relax.

Once preschool begins, however, many parents become concerned if their child is still sucking their thumb. It may bother you that your daughter is not giving up “babyish” habits and you may fear that she is putting germs in her mouth. You may also wonder if the habit will affect incoming teeth or her speech development. This is not a big concern in children under the age of 4 and most children outgrow thumb sucking by the age of 5.

However, a child should cease thumb sucking by the time their permanent teeth come in, around 4 or 5 years of age. If the intensity of the sucking is aggressive, this could affect the development of the child’s teeth and roof of the mouth. Passive sucking is less likely to cause problems, but this situation should be discussed with your family dentist.

Check out more posts on thumb sucking. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Praise your child regularly.

Taking Comfort

Taking Comfort

It is part of normal toddler aggression, as is hitting and scratching.

The bloodcurdling scream of a child who has just been bitten by another gets our attention in a hurry. It feels so disturbing. Animalistic, even.

Toddler aggression comes in many forms: the 1-year-old chomping down on a new friend they just met at the park, an 18-month-old scratching their best buddy in the sandbox, a 2-year-old hitting their sister in the playroom. These acts, while seemingly cruel, are rarely rooted in a desire to inflict harm purely for harms sake. In fact, they are normal and often a sign of social and cognitive developments.

The issue typically begins after age 1. They not only start to notice other children as peers to play alongside, they see them as obstacles to getting what they want. They will seek more independence and spend more time experimenting with way to assert themselves and get their needs met.

When these advancements outpace their limited language skills, they are unable to verbalize their desires or get the results they are seeking. It is no surprise, then, that so many 1 and 2-year-old kids interact with peers through physical means. For example, your child will notice another child playing with the truck they want. They will try to assert their desire by first stating, “Mine,” and then grabbing for the toy. If that does not work, they may next resort to biting or pushing.

Sometimes aggression goes too far; if your child is hitting most of the time, if other children are afraid of them or if you have not been able to help them make changes to their behavior, talk to your pediatrician. The doctor might recommend a child psychologist who can help you work through it. But keep in mind that your child will likely outgrow their aggressive tendencies.

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What Is With The Biting

Bloodcurdling Scream

When spending special time with a son, dads can try activities based on the child’s interests, not just his own. This allows the son to be the expert who can explain a new skill to an eager audience. The sense of power, competence and confidence a child feels when helping a parent learn something is immense. It also lets the child see his father strive. In watching Dad learn, your son is learning how to face struggle or failure, how to practice something new and how to demonstrate the fortitude and perseverance necessary for success. See our post on Follow His Lead.

Offer Support. When your son knows you are truly interested in learning his passion, he will open up in new ways. Use the opportunity to talk about his friends, school struggles or other worries.

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Follow His Lead

Father and Son

Most dads look forward to raising a son-they imagine a time when they can play baseball or build a go-kart together, for example. Indeed, fathers play a crucial role in kids’ lives. They tend to engage in more active play than mothers, which helps kids learn to regulate their emotions and resist the urge to act aggressively. Fathers typically encourage their child’s independence and achievement, balancing out the mother’s emphasis on nurturance and protection.

Fostering the father-son bond is important for 7- and 8-year-olds. It has been shown that boys who have strong attachments to their fathers make stronger connections with peers, express more confidence and emotional security and get better grades.

Join The Fun. Follow these steps: Notice your child’s interests; while sitting nearby, watch how he extends his own activity; participate in the activity without taking over; and follow the inclinations and interests of your son.

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Follow His Lead

Father and Son

Make a paper model to help orient your child to the clock. Show them the minute and hour hands and explain that there are 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour. Help your child “feel” how long a minute lasts by counting out loud together while clapping your hands for each second. Next, teach them to tell time on the hour. Then, move on to the half hour, quarter hour and minutes.

Learning to read a clock can be difficult. If your child is not ready to tell time, focus on games and try clock lessons again later. Do not worry if it takes a while for them to fully comprehend; that is expected since there are a lot of complex components involved.

Explain In Context. To foster their understanding of the concept of time, use a stopwatch to time how long it takes to sing their favorite song or do ten jumping jacks. Or explain that their favorite show is half an hour in length.

Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Praise your child daily.

Tick Tock

Tell Time!

In today’s world of touch screens and cell phones, teaching your child to tell time the “old fashioned” way with an analog clock might seem so last century. But knowing how to read a clock can help your child develop math skills and a sense of independence. Before you begin teaching, they should be able to recognize the numbers 1 to 12, count to 60 and count by 5’s. They will also need to grasp the basic concept of time.

Combine Tools.

Kids learn best with a combination of teaching tools. Games, books and online resources are fin and effective ways to reinforce lessons on time.

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Tick Tock

Tell Time!

Double leg hop. Place five throw pillows or for younger kids, empty paper towel rolls in a row, with space between each. Have your child hop over the objects, keeping their legs shoulder width apart.

Frog leap. Have your child squat down (like a frog) with their bottom toward the ground and knees out. Then have him leap up into the air and land in the crouched position. Do this up to 10 times.

Single leg hop to the side. Stand with both legs shoulder width apart. Lift the left leg (so only the right leg is touching the floor) and hop to the right side. Reverse legs. Complete five reps on each side. You can even set up a hopscotch board for this so they can do side jumps and forward jumps.

See more bone building exercises for young children.

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Bone Building Bonanza

Child’s Workout

Yes, dietary calcium is essential to bone growth for kids. But so is weight bearing exercise. These workout ideas are well suited to a child’s sense of play.

Start strong. First, fuel up with bone building foods. String cheese, cottage cheese, pudding or even smoothies made with frozen yogurt are great ways to add calcium to your child’s diet. Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli are also high in the nutrient. Once the kids have digested their snack, clear a spot in your playroom for this fun workout circuit.

Jumping jacks. These will get your child’s heart rate up while providing some light impact on the bones, making it a good way to start a workout. Have younger kids count aloud to 20 jumping jacks; challenge kids older than 10 to do as many as they can in a minute.

Drop hop. Have your child stand on a bottom stair and keeping legs shoulder width apart, hop down to the ground. Both feet should land at the same time and make sure they bend their knees as she hits the ground to absorb the impact. Do this 10 times.

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Bone Building Bonanza

Child’s Workout

Agree on a think it over period. Most children go through a phase when they don’t want to do something. If your child says she is serious about quitting, tell her that she can as long as she agrees to think about it for a month or so before making a final decision.

Who is really benefiting? Is it you or your child? It is often difficult for parents to let their children quit an activity in which they have personally invested time and money or to which they have a nostalgic connection. Resist pointing out that you played the clarinet through college or how much you enjoy socializing with other parents on the sidelines. Help your child make her own decision.

Time to move on post. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends.

Time To Move On

I don’t wanna!

At some point she may want to quit a once loved activity, like soccer or piano. Should you say yes or no?

Get to the root. If your child claims not to like the activity anymore, watch her practice and then talk about what part of the activity she does not like. She may still enjoy the activity itself but need a smaller instrument or more time to relax between school and lessons.

Beat boredom. Consider whether your child is improving if he tells you he is bored. Are his skills growing? Is he tackling new challenges? A different instructor or higher level may help him get the satisfaction he needs without switching activities.

Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your friends. Always remember to praise your child.

Time To Move On

I don’t wanna!

Choose a freshwater fish. Though ocean dwellers tend to be more colorful, their saltwater tanks require much more maintenance.

Want more than one? Guppies are great; they are small, beautiful, inexpensive and friendly. Goldfish are also a popular choice, but they are a bit messier and can grow too big for a starter tank.

Buy a 10-gallon plastic starter tank with a filter. It will hold a few fish and the filter processes waste; clean water is essential for proper breathing.

Consider a Betta. Also known as Siamese fighting fish, they are stunning and do not need much care. You don’t even need a tank with a filter. But Bettas will fight, so only one per bowl!

Don’t overfeed your fish. It is very important to know exactly how much and how often your fish should be eating. Improper feeding can cause serious health problems.

Talk to an aquarium store employee if you have any questions. They tend to be more knowledgeable about fish than the average person working at a regular pet store.

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Starter Fish Tank

Fish Tales

Set up a meeting with your child’s teacher. Provide her with an idea of what you would like to discuss so that she has time to prepare.

Be polite. Just like you, the teacher want the best for your child. It will be easier to communicate clearly if everyone is calm.

Explain the issue and what you have already tried. For example, “My child has trouble seeing the blackboard or whiteboard. She wears glasses, but it is not enough.”

Focus on solutions, not problems. Come with a few ideas of your own (“A seat closer to the front of the room might help.”). With the teacher, create an action plan that you can both set in motion when the meeting is over.

Approach the principal if you feel that the teacher is not hearing your concerns. If you know other parents with similar concerns, you might approach the teacher again together. You have the right to make sure that your child is getting what she needs at school.

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I am here for you

Let’s work together.

Pediatric dentist know that all children are not alike. Every service is tailored to your child as an individual. Nitrous oxide/oxygen may not be effective for some children, especially those who have severe anxiety, nasal congestion or discomfort wearing a nasal mask. Your pediatric dentist will check your child’s medical history, level of anxiety and dental treatment needs and tell you if nitrous oxide/oxygen is recommended for your child. Pediatric dentists have comprehensive specialty training and can offer other sedation methods that are right for your child. Looking for more posts about nitrous oxide?

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Nitrous Oxide

Pediatric Dentist

Learn and laugh with new takes on the sweet art of storytelling.

Try a progressive story. One person starts telling a story and family members take turns adding scenes to it. Mix it up by including silly props. Everyone picks one and incorporates it into their part of the story.

Get spooky with it. Halloween may be long gone, but a good ghost tale can stoke the whole family’s imagination at any time of the year. Try setting the mood with flashlights and spooky music. Tell a creepy tale while the kids add sound effects like cackles, howls or a hissing wind. Be sure to end with a funny twist so kids do not leave scared.

Put on a play. Place fun character ideas on slips of paper in a jar. Before dinner, each family member pulls out a slip of paper and then acts like the character selected during the meal, eating, talking and reacting as they would. Guess who is who at the end of the night.

Share your history. Telling your children stories about your own life, especially from your childhood, helps draw the two of you closer. Flip through photo albums together and tell your tales. Then, ask your kids to tell you about their own baby photos!

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Art of Storytelling

Get spooky