Some back to school traditions create lasting memories by way of the senses. By having freshly baked cookies after the first day of school will evoke those sensory memories in your kids when they are older. Have some warm cookies waiting for them when they get home the first day. It gets them to stay and share a bit of their day with you.

Whether you mark the new school year with a simple photo or a fun family outing, the important thing is to take the time to create special memories for your kids. While even parents of young children know that time passes quickly, parents whose children are grown really realize how life speeds to fast forward once kids begin school. A back to school tradition can help your family hold on to that sense of togetherness and belonging, making even the everyday seem that much more special to them. See more on family traditions.

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Bake Some Memories

Baking with Mom

Write a Letter

Give your child a letter on the first day of school to be read on the bus or during a free moment at school. Your letter might offer encouragement or point out specific things your child did that made you proud. Consider saving a copy of each year’s letter for your child to reread at high school or college graduation.

A Simple Surprise

Give your kids a small gift. A simple tradition that affords an opportunity to reflect on the first day of school with your children and sets a tone for a positive transition back to a busier schedule. When my kids get home on the first day, I always have a first day surprise for them on their beds. Something small but special like a video game or a gift card or even a stuffed animal. Then we go out for dinner because I am just as tired, overwhelmed and missing summer as much as they are.

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Reading With Your Child

Read Together

Read a book with an encouraging message to reinforce to children that they survived the last big school challenge and that they will do just as well in the next new grade.

The Dr. Seuss children’s book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is a popular choice for high school graduates, but its message about the possibilities of a new beginning speaks to children of any age. The classic begins this way: “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

To create a lasting memory, ask your child’s teachers to sign the book, either at the beginning or end of each school year. When it is back to school time again, pull the book off the shelf and reread it with your child.

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Reading With Your Child

                        Read Together

Picture Them Coming and Going.

Capture photographs of all the special moments from the first day of school. Some parents pose their children in the same spot every year on the first day of school and snap a photo to show the progression of the kids’ changes over time. Some have a traditional picture taking spot in front of a tree, which also grows along with the child. What I like to do is take individual photos, then take a photo as a group and also snap a picture of all the neighborhood kids together at the bus stop.

Have a Special Meal.

Let each child pick the menu for a “last supper of summer” or a “back to school breakfast.” Be flexible and remember that anything goes on this menu, from a favorite home cooked meal to an outing at a favorite pizza place to allowing everyone to have dessert first, if that is what the kids requested. It is your tradition, so do what will make it a memorable day for your entire family.

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Back-To-School

Fun

Simple, memorable ways to mark the new school year.

Getting Back Into The School Groove can be stressful. Establishing fun back-to-school traditions can help you kids feel more secure as they advance to the next grade. Traditions also strengthen family bonds and create fun memories.

Having back-to-school rituals that carry over from year to year can be especially helpful for children who are nervous about starting the new school year. “Most kids feel better when they know what is coming, when they know what the expectations are”.

Traditions do not have to be complicated, time consuming or expensive to be special. They just have to be right for your family. In the upcoming posts will be some ideas for making memorable traditions when your kids return to school.

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Back-To-School

Fun

Whether it is the first or the tenth time, leaving your child overnight often evokes excitement for you, we all need the occasional break, after all, but also guilt and worry (“Will she be OK without me?”). Your 7 or 8 year-old may have the same kinds of feelings.

Children this age are becoming more independent in all aspects of their lives. They are better able to keep track of their belongings and follow through on expectations. Their circle of friends has widened and they require less supervision. Most children love this new found freedom.

But many feel ambivalent. The world is a big place and not all adventures work out the way they had hoped. As a result, 7 and 8-year-olds commonly engage in a “push and pull” with parental attention, needing it immensely at some points and shunning it at others.

This ambivalence can make it tricky to plan an adults only outing. But doing so allows your child a safe tryout into the world of being without you. It allows him to take on additional responsibility on a short term basis, to experiment with coping skills and to deepen bonds with another caregiver.

You can deal with the guilt you may feel by remembering that you are creating learning opportunities for your child. You may also want to choose a close relative as a caregiver, like an aunt, to ease your mind. Provide suggestions for activities to the caregiver, but leave the door open for her to come up with her own spur of the moment plans. Share details about bedtime or other routines in writing. Finally, try to project confidence in your child’s ability to manage without you and in your own ability to manage without her.

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Hanging With Your Aunt

I Love My Aunt!

Leaving your child in another ones care is a learning opportunity.

Enjoy Your Freedom. It is a good thing for your child to see that you have a life and a source of joy other than them. Your going away also gives your child the opportunity to get to know their caregiver in a new way.

Let Them Reach Out. Rather than call, which might remind your child how much they miss you, you should invite your child to call you when they want to touch base with you. You might also choose to text or email to keep the communication on the light side.

Leave A Love Note. Give your caregiver a note to give your child at breakfast or record your voice reading a bedtime story. This allows your child to know you are thinking about them without taking them away from the fun activities they will be doing in your absence.

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Hanging With Your Aunt

I Love My Aunt!

Saying good bye to that first baby tooth can be sad.

It starts with a wiggle and ends with a gummy smile and maybe even a dollar. Losing a baby tooth is an exciting rite of passage. Most children lose their first tooth between ages 5 and 6, but this can vary.

Children have different feelings about losing a tooth. Some will welcome that first wiggle, while others may feel anxious, wondering if it will hurt or if other body parts will suddenly fall off. Children can also feel self conscious about the hole in their mouth.

It is normal for children to have some worries about this much anticipated milestone. To alleviate your child’s concerns, let them know that losing a tooth will not be painful, that it happens to all children as they grow an that their new teeth will come in soon.

Regardless of your child’s reaction, losing a tooth is an event to celebrate. A gift from you or the tooth fairy will certainly be received with delight. Save the tooth or take a few pictures of your child’s new smile to look back on when they are older.

Brush Up. Buy your child a special new toothbrush to reinforce the connection between good dental hygiene and growing up.

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Wiggle It

Say goodbye to that first baby tooth.

One way to foster independence and personal power, while maintaining limits, is to offer your toddler specific choices whenever possible. Begin as soon as your child can indicate their selection to you, either by pointing, signing or speaking. Most children are ready to participate meaningfully in choice making by 10 or 11 months old.

There are certain times when providing choices can be especially helpful to you. It can ease the transition from one activity to the next, for instance. (“Do you want to carry your hat or your snack to the car?”). Choices can also help provide structure in an overwhelming environment like a large playground.

Finally, think back to your past power struggles over nap time, diaper changing or getting in the car seat. With a little forethought, you might avoid conflict next time by offering your child a choice.

Take a look at a child’s input.

Child's Input

The blue one, please.

Which sippy cup do your want? Which swing would you like to use? Should we cut your sandwich into rectangles or triangles? These are all small decisions, but giving your child a chance to choose will go a long way toward promoting their development and fostering harmony in your home.

After your child turns 1, you will notice that they increasingly make their own wishes known. In fact, communicating their desires is critical to developing autonomy and a sense of personal power, which in turn lay the foundation for healthy self esteem. Without the opportunity to make choices, a toddler may dig in their heels, which may lead to power struggles with you and tantrums.

Cap It At Two: It is difficult for toddlers to hold more than two choices in mind at the same time. By limiting your child to just two, both of which are acceptable to you, you can make it easier for them to choose.

Offer A Time Limit: Use choices to help smooth transitions between activities, but give them a time limit to make their choices. Decide if you want the blue or purple bowl while I get your cereal.

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Child's Input

The blue one, please.

Vacation is the time to work out the kinks in the daily routine. There were probably many school mornings when there was a frenzied dash to the bus with only a nibble for breakfast, not brushed teeth and trailing shoestrings.

You might prefer to relax the routine just about now, but if some structure to the day is not organized the very first week, you may find yourself like the parent in Phyllis McGinley’s poem Vacation Time:

“Breakfast served from eight till ten,

Lunch from eleven to three.

Dinner is also a staggered affair.

And who does the staggering? Me!”

Hold a family meeting to discuss vacation schedules and rules. Point out the priorities: everyone has responsibilities so everyone can enjoy the summer.

Your child can be responsible for keeping his room clean. There was not time during the year to really show him how and where to take care of his own things. Now is a good time to fully explain your criteria for a clean room and help him master one task at a time. If you teach him to see the whole problem, the messy room and how to identify, separate and deal with the parts on at a time, then by the end of summer, he will not br frustrated and you will not be disappointed when you tell him to clean his room. 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 on praising your child.

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Summer Time

Fun Time

Right! Left! Right!

Is your child now learning to tell her own left hand from her own right hand? She has been feeling the difference inside her for several years now. Her neuromuscular development has caused this feeling to become stronger each year. But getting the labels correct, left and right is another matter all together. By the beginning of second grade this skill should be securely established. Even though she may be giving her hands the proper labels most of the time, do not expect her to tell you which is your left or right hand. Her spatial concepts, like so many others are not matured sufficiently yet.

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Right, left, right.

Which is which?

Tweens: At this age, kids tend to be more focused on “stuff,” so your focus should be on differentiating between basic needs (clothes, food) versus privileges that kids have to earn (designer coat, new video game). For example, if your child decides they want a new video game or a second pair of boots, jointly come up with a schedule of chores to earn money. You can also offer a weekly allowance that is contingent on household responsibilities. This basic process not only helps children be grateful for what they have, but also helps them develop an overall appreciation for all the work that enables them to live comfortably.

Teens: Keep the attitude of gratitude going by encouraging teens to come up with their own ways of expressing thanks. For example, they might post a photo of something they are grateful for daily on Instagram or write one note of gratitude a day in a journal. At this age, becoming involved in a cause or volunteer project is an ideal way for kids to turn their appreciation into action and experience how showing your gratitude can really make a big difference. See this kids story book on showing gratefulness.

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Gratitude

Thank You

During the holiday’s, it is easy to be grateful for family, friends and everything we have, but how do you help kids give thanks year round? Use this age by age guide as your starting point.

7 To 8-Year-Olds: While teaching gratitude to younger kids is certainly important, this is the stage at which your child is really able to understand the concept on a deeper level. Make being appreciative a part of a child’s every day by making it fun. Start a weekly tradition in which you go around the dinner table and each person talks about one thing they appreciated that day. You can also create a Wall of Thanks in the kitchen or family room where everyone can write what they are thankful for on sticky notes, then post them. Check out this story book for kids on showing gratitude. 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.

Gratitude

Thank You

Make sure her hands are free. Before birth, babies suck on their fingers and thumbs to soothe themselves. If you leave your baby’s hands uncovered, she can use them to settle herself down for sleep.

Do not be afraid to ask for help. Both parents will need lots of assistance from the rest of the family during these first sleep deprived weeks. You will have your hands full with a new baby, but you may be able to catch up on sleep if you have help with cooking, laundry and caring for older siblings. Your sleep is important, too. Gradually, you will do less as your baby learns to handle the sensations of the world outside the womb on her own. At around 4 months of age, her sleep patterns will start to become more organized and she will be better able to soothe herself down to sleep.

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Drifting Off

Newborn sleep patterns

A newborn’s sleep patterns, usually the opposite of ours, have a way of confounding weary parents. But you can help ease your tiny tot into a rhythm that will eventually allow you both to get a better night’s rest. Try some of these tips:

Treat day and night differently with your baby. As you feed her, change her and hold her close at night, keep the lights low and limit noise and other stimulation. Save exciting interactions and play for daytime. Little by little, she will get the hang of it.

Create a soothing environment. Try to simulate the experience of the womb with firm support, dim lights and gentle swaying. Swaddling can also help, but take precautions against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by positioning your baby on her back and keeping her mouth and nose free of anything that might interfere with her air supply.

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Drifting Off

Newborn sleep patterns

A baby’s first smiles are just reactions to gas. Now that is just funny. If you have ever been around my kids you might think so. We can not be sure about the motivation, but babies are born with reflexes that cause them to imitate the faces they see. So when you smile, your baby reflects that expression back to you, without even knowing why you are smiling or what the smile means. Soon he will discover what smiling is all about and will do it on purpose.

When a newborn suddenly flails and jerks both his arms and legs, he is having a seizure. Usually not. These are startles. Startles happen when a baby has been abruptly disturbed, by a loud noise, for example, but they may also occur for no apparent reason. Startles may worry you, but they serve a purpose. When a baby is upset by a sudden disruption, the startle reflex sets off a chain of other reflexes, leading the baby to bring his hand to his cheek and then to his mouth. When he sucks on his hand or fingers, he is able to comfort himself and recover from the upset. Babies are wired to respond to life’s first discomforts in ways that teach them to soothe themselves.

Too much holding and handling will spoil your baby. Lots of affection will not spoil your baby. It strengthens the bond between the two of you and his sense of security. It is up to you and your family to find the balance between your baby’s need for closeness and the other demands of providing for him. When he starts showing signs that he is ready, allow him to learn to calm and entertain himself.

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Is It True

I can see you.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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