Summer Swimming Safety

For most of us, summer brings to mind visions of splashing around in the backyard, trips to the lake, and long, hot days spent figuring out new ways to cool off. It’s also a time to be extra aware of swimming safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States. But, there are steps that you can take to educate your family about the importance of
swimming safety this summer.

As parents, we tend to grow increasingly comfortable with extending boundaries for our children as they become more mobile. But, keeping a close eye on your little one around the water is critical. Whether or not it actually involves swimming, any activity around a pool or body of water should be supervised at all times.

Yes, even children who have had swimming lessons.
Yes, even children who are wearing flotation devices.

If your home has a swimming pool, block access to it with a locked and gated fence when you are not present. There are even alarms available to monitor pool access for added peace of mind.

Teach your children swim survival. This can be done at a very young age, and while it should not be used an excuse to defer supervision, swim survival may mean the difference between life and death in an accident.

Make sure that all older children and adult family members in your household can perform CPR. You can enroll in a class as a family. And even if you never have to use the lifesaving skill on your own child, you may be in a situation to help someone else down the line.

So, relax and enjoy your summer around the pool. But, take care not to let your guard down.


How Your Child Can Help Prepare Meals

Cooking is a wonderful family activity that you can enjoy with even small children. It can help your child learn how to follow directions, in addition to creating quality time together. I still remember rolling out wonderful smelling dough to make cinnamon rolls with my grandma and stirring huge pots of family spaghetti sauce with my mom. Without realizing it, I learned lessons about wholesome nutrition that have shaped the way I eat today.

While it is important to keep basic safety in mind (keeping young children away from hot burners, for example), there are a number of tasks that children of all ages can help with in the kitchen. Choosing the recipe, shopping for ingredients, measuring, counting, cracking eggs, stirring, and tasting are all great ways to get kids interested and involved.

Choose the Recipe

From a very young age, children first learn their independence by making choices. This may become evident when your toddler only wants to eat crackers one day and applesauce the next. Encourage your toddler’s active participation in the family meal by giving them two choices for dinner and letting them pick. This idea extends to older children as well. They may even enjoy creating weekly meal planning menus.

Go Shopping

My two-year old loves grocery shopping. He is immensely interested in the list of things we are going to buy and will announce by memory what we get every week (milk, eggs, cereal, and juice!). He is always excited to point out the items and help me put them in the cart. When you are preparing a recipe at home, you can ask your child where certain ingredients are so that they can help, even if they aren’t old enough to measure or pour.

Follow the Recipe

Older children can learn valuable math and language skills by counting, measuring, and reading the recipe. Work at your child’s level and don’t be afraid to let them make a little mess. Practice makes perfect! The more your child is able to practice cracking an egg, the better he or she will be.

By following these relatively simple steps, you can enjoy quality time with your children in the kitchen. Buy kid-friendly cookbooks that can help improve their self-confidence and empower them to be great cooks one day.


Encouraging Your Child to Exercise

Thanks to new technology, today’s kids that are more screen-savvy than ever. At the touch of a button – or tap of an on-screen icon – thousands of books, games, apps, webpages, maps, photos, and other data are available almost instantly. While these advances allow for a world of information to be extremely easily accessible, they can also encourage a sedentary lifestyle.

Too much screen time at a young age can contribute to obesity and foster unhealthy habits. But, there are some ways that you can encourage your youngster to get moving and stay active.

Get Mom and Dad Moving

I’ve always wondered about parents that wished their children read more, but don’t actually read themselves. In the same way, the first and best way to encourage an active lifestyle in your kids is to lead an active lifestyle yourself. When kids are young, there is a natural tendency to want to do whatever mom and dad are doing. Use that to your advantage and go for a walk, get on your bikes, throw the football around, or hit the local park.

Independent vs. Team Activities

While enrolling your son or daughter in a local soccer league may seem like an easy way to increase their activity, it is important to keep in mind that organized team sports aren’t for everyone. Some kids thrive on independent activities such as track, cycling, rock climbing, or swimming. This point is especially important to remember if you have several children. What motivates one kid to get outside and play may not be the same for the others.

Instead of investing in a complicated reward system to limit screen time, simply encourage your child by participating in activities yourself and identifying the things that they most enjoy doing. Plus, being more active as a whole family is good for your health, too!


Reading Recommendations for Girls

Helping your daughter develop both her reading skills and an appreciation for the written word at a young age is extremely important. A love of reading could help your child succeed in school, in addition to contributing to quality one-on-one time. There a few tips to keep in mind.

Activity
Toddlers are generally very active. This may mean that story time in your house is not exactly a quiet time of sitting down and reading together. Your daughter may prefer to act out the story or sing songs as you go along. It is important not to stifle this creativity. Instead, develop the story into a format that she enjoys.

Topics
As with toddler boys, it is important to choose books with topics that are engaging to your daughter. Does she love a certain cartoon character? Maybe she likes furry animals? Finding a book with colors and pictures that are in line with your daughter’s interests can be very helpful.

Favorites
Some toddlers have a particularly favorite book and will ask to have it read again and again. While it might try your patience, it is important to indulge them in this phase. Your attention now could pay off down the road.

Often, building story time into your daily routine is the best way to ensure that your child reads every single day. This may mean that your daughter gets to pick out a book each night before bed. Or maybe you have time together after lunch. Whatever you choose, build your routine around her and change things up if it seems like she is growing bored or restless. Reading is supposed to be fun, and at this age, finishing a book or reading every single word on the page isn’t the most important aspect. Instead, focus on providing an interactive and creative experience for your child.

Some of our favorite books for toddler girls include:

I Know a Rhino” by Charles Fuge
Slide Already!” by Kit Allen
Stephanie’s Ponytail” by Robert Munsch


Reading Recommendations for Boys

Toddler boys can be tough to keep up with. Running, jumping, exploring, and just generally being loud seem to be high on their priority list during any given day. While many of us are interested in fostering a lifelong love of reading in our kids, some parents may wonder how to get their little guy to slow down long enough to get through just one book.

There are a number of things parents can do to get active toddler boys interested in reading. Spending time with your son and a good book is a great way to promote family time while sneaking in a few quiet minutes in the midst of a crazy day.

Theme
Choose a theme that your son is interested in. Is he obsessed with trains right now? Does he go bonkers every time you drive by the hospital helicopter landing pad? Does he chase frogs around your backyard or seem particularly impressed in spiders or other insects? If you focus on a topic that actually appeals to your son, you’ll find it easier to select books with photos and information that will capture his attention.

Reading vs. Pictures
Many toddlers don’t need you to read all of the words in a book in order to help them enjoy the story. At this age, it is often more than enough to simply describe what is happening in the picture on each page. Or you can ask him to describe what he sees to involve him in active story time instead.

Lift-The-Flap
Along the same lines as active involvement in story time, a whole series of “hide and seek” books have been developed for young children. These can help keep your son engrossed in the story with active learning.

So, plan a field trip to the local library with your toddler and help them establish a love of reading now. Some of our favorite books for toddler boys include:

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site” by Tom Lichtenheld
Freight Train” by Donald Crews
Cars and Trucks and Things That Go” by Richard Scarry


Dealing with Temper Tantrums

Whether in the middle of the grocery store aisle or in the privacy of your own living room, every parent dreads temper tantrums. Even if your toddler is mild-mannered, at some point, they are bound to throw a fit about something. So, what can you do to prevent this behavior, and how can you put an end to it?

It is important to keep in mind that most professionals and health experts believe that temper tantrums are completely normal and associated with healthy development of independent thought. But, those experts aren’t going to be there to help you deal with the kicking, screaming, and tears, are they?

It’s easy to be frustrated when you’re trying to deal with these outbursts, but there’s no need to feel like there’s nothing you can do about it. We all want to help our children successfully overcome this phase and support healthy emotional development. And while it would be nice to have a magic wand to make the tantrums go away once and for all, there are several practical tips and techniques to keep in mind that can help both you and your little one.

Triggers
Pay attention to the things that trigger a tantrum in your child, and try to avoid them. Do they become extra emotional when they are tired? Is there a particular activity that prompts emotional outbursts?

Time-outs
Placing the child in isolation for a few minutes (depending on their age and level of maturity) can often diffuse an emotional situation and help them to get over their anger.

Talk
For many toddlers, tantrums are a way to get attention. With older children, it can be helpful to talk about their feelings and learn why they are acting out. With a parent’s undivided attention, many toddlers quickly calm down and the situation can be easily resolved.

In the end, most experts will tell you that the best way to deal with tantrums is by avoiding them in the first place. Easier said than done, you say? By paying attention to triggers and enforcing immediate consequences for inappropriate behavior, you can help to ensure that tantrums don’t become a habitual way for your toddler to get your attention.


Is Your Child Being Bullied?

Bullying is perhaps one of the most heartbreaking topics in modern parenting. Whether you hear it directly from your child or from an authority at school, it is definitely a situation to take very seriously. Online and educational communities have recently opened up communication regarding bullying and the far-reaching effects it has on a child’s development, physical health, and emotional wellbeing.

Most of us can remember being teased about something when we were growing up. There are countless ways in which we differ from one another as children and teenagers. But, it’s important to acknowledge those differences in a positive way. If you suspect that your child is being bullied, there are a few things that you can do.

Talk
If your child tells you that they have been teased at school, it is important to talk about it. Let them do most of the talking, but feel free to ask questions to get additional information. Avoid placing blame and simply hear them out.

Observe
Watch your child for signs of teasing or bullying. Have they become more withdrawn? Do they do things to avoid going to school? Do they have any new health problems that could be stress-related?

Solve
While many parents would like to march down to the school and fix the problem themselves, it’s important to allow your child the opportunity to solve the problem on their own. Ask your son or daughter what they think might make the situation better. If they respond with an appropriate solution, support their decision and encourage their ability to handle the issue.

While teasing and bullying can be a difficult experience for children, parents can help turn it into a time of empowerment and an important life lesson.


Educating Your Child on Healthy Eating

Almost every parent of a toddler-aged child knows how difficult it can be to fight the food battle. Finicky eaters start to emerge as children gain their sense of independence and begin to test the boundaries imposed by mom and dad. You may be winning individual battles about broccoli during dinner, but losing the overall war to promote well-balanced, nutritious meals. In the end, every parent just wants their kids to make healthy food choices.

The best way to encourage healthy eating in your children is to eat healthy yourself. This is true of almost any behavior. On the whole, children are more likely to eat what mom and dad eat. Read on for a few tips for helping your kids learn how to make good choices.

1) Have healthy food on hand. If you want your kids to choose veggies, fruit, and juice over chips, candy, and pop, then you should have those selections accessible in your home. Avoid buying junk food regularly, and save it for special occasions, such as movie night.

2) Eat together. Sit down as a family to eat together as often as possible. This way, you can demonstrate to your kids how to eat slowly and enjoy each bite. You can answer questions about why you eat certain foods and help older kids with portion control. Desserts should be a mealtime treat that incorporate limited portions and healthy ingredients. Avoid TV during mealtimes at all costs, as it takes away from your ability to enjoy the food and engage in beneficial conversation with your kids.

3) Do the grocery shopping together. When exploring your local market, stick to the edge of the store (produce, bakery, butcher) as much as possible, and avoid the processed foods in the aisles. Allow your kids to pick out fruits, veggies, and other healthy snacks or suggest meal ideas that everyone could enjoy.

Through these simple and straightforward tips, you and your children can enjoy many years of creating and enjoying healthy meals together.


Helping Your Child Succeed in School

We all want to see our children do well and succeed in school. Watching a child struggle with a certain subject, peer involvement, or other aspects of formal education can be difficult for parents. It is especially frustrating when we don’t know how to help. The key is to identify potential problems early on and be supportive throughout the process. Children with parents who are involved and active in their education tend to be
more successful outside of the home.

Home Environment
Take steps to ensure that the atmosphere in your home supports fun ways to learn. There should be a number of items, including puzzles, books, and art supplies available for your kids to explore. Consistent daily routines when it comes to eating and bedtime are also crucial. Proper rest and nutrition can go a long way in aiding the educational process.

Read Every Day
Many parents find themselves attached to smart phones or computers for a large part of the day and night. Most of the learning that your child does in school will involve reading. It is important to limit TV and video game time and encourage reading of a wide range of materials. Whether you want to utilize electronic books or traditional paper books, allow your kids to explore genres that interest them. Read aloud with them and encourage their individual efforts.

Innate Skills
Some skills that are inherent in successful individuals include general organization, effective study methods, and participation in class. Most kids are not born organized. Teach them how to budget their time and use tools like binders, calendars, and notebooks to improve their methods. It is also beneficial to provide an area that is free of distractions for your child to study effectively.

In order to set your child up for success in school, do your best to be an involved parent. Encourage your child both inside and outside of the classroom. With your continued support, your child can achieve educational goals by being organized and confident in their abilities.


Encouraging Your Child to Read

A genuine love of reading has been shown to help children excel in almost every subject in school. It can, however, be hard to find the time to instill this interest in your child, as it is easy caught up in a variety of other obligations. With all of your daily responsibilities, it may seem impossible to find the time to sit down with your son or daughter and foster a love of reading.

But, there are few tips that can help.

Read Every Day
When you schedule time for something, it is easier to ensure that it gets done. Whether it is the first thing in the morning or the last thing at night, make it part of your family routine to read a book together. And as your child gets older, have them read to you.

Visit the Library
When it comes to scheduling fun field trips with your children, don’t forget to put the local public library on your list! Get a library card and browse the aisles with your children. As they get older and can pick out books for themselves, they are sure to enjoy the huge selection.

Encourage and Support
Avoid nagging when it comes to addressing your child’s reading habits. Learn which subjects interest them and offer them books with similar topics. Present a wide range of materials, including children’s magazines, online books, traditional storybooks, and novels. Remember that each child in your family is different and they will likely respond to your efforts in different ways.

In the end, you want your child to read regularly because they enjoy it and not because it’s something that they’re supposed to do. Keep this in mind and stay positive with your encouragement, suggestions, field trips, and recommendations. If you make reading fun for your child, they are more likely to stick with it.

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