Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kindness in Children

Life this summer has been grand!  Call me crazy, extra crazy, but my girls and I are home alone this summer with no school whatsoever.  No Mom's Day Outs and no summer camps.  We are doing a few mommy-and-me music and art classes, but that's it.   Which means no break for mommy, but I am loving not having to be anywhere in the mornings, not having to pack a lunch for school the next day and not having to deal with drama getting dressed to go to school.  I've really enjoyed getting up in the mornings and enjoying breakfast with my girls and not having to rush out the door.

But with that being said, spending 24/7 with my preschooler and baby means more time for some temper tantrums and melt downs.  I was reading an article in one of my parenting magazines I read about teaching children Kindness and compassion and it really hit home with me. The article talked about modeling patience and kindness will really go a long way in how they treat others and (that kindness and happiness leads to success later in life).

So when my child is throwing temper tantrums, I need to remember to model patience and understanding.  Teaching her that when a person is hurt and upset, it's nice to be warm and kind to them so she knows how important compassion is.

I always go back to the How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk book too, because it is SO great and because it is the basis for everything.  The chapters on acknowledging feelings is so fundamental to life and raising children.  When my child is crying, throwing herself on the floor and having a temper tantrum, I try to acknowledge the feeling and respond, "it looks like you are feeling really mad right now."  And give a hug.  I know I've mentioned this before, but I swear 9 times out of 10, just giving her a hug and asking if she needs a hug, solves the drama right there.

It also takes paying 'attention' to what it is deep down they are needing.  Are they upset all of a sudden and don't want to take a bath?  Maybe last time they slipped in the tub and are afraid.  Are they crying because she doesn't want to go to school?  Maybe they are afraid of being away from you all day, or there's a child at school who scares them, etc. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Indoor Preschool Activities

We are in serious need of some indoor preschool type activities in our house.  Being in Texas, we have to beat the heat and find ways to enjoy the indoors!  Plus my toddler-turned-preschooler is out of school and I want her to have some fun, but educational type, stimulating activities.  It's been hard balancing play time with educational playtime.

And just a little side note about play and learning.  As a Play Therapist, I believe big time that children learn best through play.  In fact, when I was in college as a Child Development major, the main belief in our field was that preschool children learn best through play in school, not necessarily pushing the ABC's and 123's.  But the School of Early Childhood Education on the other hand, believed in pushing letters and numbers at an early age, and did not emphasize play as much as the Child Development school did.  Not that there is anything wrong with one vs. the other school of thought, I am just more of a play based girl and lean more towards that side.

But with that being said, now that I am a parent I can understand wanting your child to know her numbers and letters!  Who wants their 4 year old not to know what the letter 'A' is, right?  I am big in my child learning through playing and expressing herself in art and imaginative play, but it has been challenging to balance both play and wanting her to know her letters and 123's.

So I have come to terms with letting my child have free play and encouraging self expression with a few educational lessons here and there. So to refresh my preschooler's knowledge of colors, numbers and letters, and constructive play, here are a few ideas I have found:

1) Busy Bags! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Date Night

I recently came across a great idea for 'Date Night' planning from one of the blogs I read called blissfullyeverafter.  After reading about it, I knew it would be great to try and re-post on my blog.  Because the secret to being a great Mom, is keeping your marriage and relationships alive.  Now, I know not everyone who reads my blog is married, but you can be single, a single parent, married or whatever your status is and still have relationships that need blossoming you can use with this (make one for you and your children to do activities together, make one for you and your best friend that you see once a month, etc.)

Before I got married, I used to nanny and most of the moms would tell me that it's a must, to go on Date Nights with your partner once a week if possible- if not at least once every other week.  Lately my husband and I have not had the time or energy to put into finding a sitter and going on one, which is NOT the point right?  And couples date nights and parties are great, but still not the same thing as spending quality time with your significant other.

As a counselor, I of course believe strongly in nurturing your relationships in your life.  Taking the time to be with your children, and with your spouse and time to yourself is super important.  If any of those are out of balance, then the rest will suffer!

This activity will really force you to realize the importance of spending time with your spouse and dating partner.

How it works:
You can make a Date Night Jar with 3 different price points all color coded.  Then you pick one out of the jar a few days or weeks if it's an overnight stay, so you can plan and get a sitter.  Since it's color coded, you can pick one color depending on what your budget is that week or if you need time to plan.  I have a few ideas below for date ideas, but you can also sit down with your partner and come up with your own ideas you both agree on.

Then you can also make another Date Night Mason Jar of At-Home date nights when you can't get a sitter, your child is sick, or just a last minute date after the kids go to bed. 

Here is what you need to get your dating life back in order:
Mason jar/cup/or something cute to put your date night ideas in
“Tongue suppressor” size popsicle sticks you can buy colored ones on Amazon here Jumbo-Sized Craft Sticks - Pack of 500 - Assorted Colors  or you can use Craft paint or markers to make your own
Scrapbook paper
Permanent Marker
1. You will want your popsicle sticks to be 3 different colors to organize them into categories based on cost. (Or like I mentioned above, you can buy pre-made colored ones, or paint them or use Crayola markers, it may not be pretty but it saves time and messes, or just color code the top of the stick with a color :)

2. Once you paint your sticks you will take you permanent marker and write date night ideas on them based on the cost value associated with the date.  And you can choose whatever colors you want:
Color #1  = $10 and under
Color # 2 = $10-$25
Color # 3 = $25-$50+
Here are some ideas I have gathered from various sources:

Color of Your Choice $10 and under:
Dinner and a movie “He picks”
Dinner and a movie “She picks”
Walking around the lake
Coffee date
Garage Sales/Window Shop
Homemade Pizza Night+activity
Cruise in the Car, or 'Out for a Sunday Drive'
Picnic Lunch or Dinner
2nd Color of choice: $10-$25:
Dessert Only Date
Italian Dinner Night out
Mexican Dinner Night Out
Movie Date
Wine Tasting, local place
Burgers or American Cuisine Night Out
Take a Class Together such as a Painting Class
See a Show {play, inexpensive concert, comedy, etc.}
Local Sports Game {even highschool games count!}

3rd Color of Choice $25-$50+:
Beer Tasting+lunch
Wine tasting and lunch
Couples Massage
Concert or show and drinks of his choice
Concert/Show and drinks of her choice
Staycation Hotel stay (using points is even better)!
Her choice (wild card)
His choice (wild card)
Active activity, sports related
Dinner at a nice restaurant
Bed and Breakfast

STAY IN DATES, 4th Color of Choice, OR Make a Separate Mason Jar for These:
Take out dinner and Redbox, eat at nice dining room table with candlelight
Take out Dinner and Game Night
      Italian Night- Italian dinner, Italian Wine, Italian Movie
·        Puzzle & Pizza
·        Netflix TV Show Marathon
·        Living Room Camping
·        Homemade Pizza & Movie
·        Fondue Meal & Movie
·        Movie Marathon
·         “spa” at home date
·         Patio Picnic & Stargazing
·         Candlelit Bath & Champagne
      1,000 piece puzzle and pizza
      Popcorn and a chick-flick
     Here are a few other pics I found for ideas from Pinterest:

 Happy Date Night!  Let me know how this works for you, or if you've already tried it before!
Monday, June 3, 2013

Natural Consequences, Revisted

Remember my post about Natural and Logical Consequences almost 2 years ago?  My first born was only 10 months old at the time, so I hadn't really been able to practice them.  The post basically summed up how to use Natural and Logical consequences: if your child refuses an umbrella when it's raining out, they'll obviously get wet and learn 'naturally' to take an umbrella next time.

Fast forward to my now 3 year old and I am about ready to use them at every waking turn.

"Mommy, I need you to tuck me back in!"  After I have put my child to bed over an hour ago, and I have had to go in a tuck her back in twice.  Nope, not going back in there for a 4th or 5th time.  The natural consequence is to for her to figure out how to tuck herself back in, because she has to learn sooner or later (and mommy is tired of getting up).