Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It’s Time Your Child Sleeps in His Own Bed

What an exciting time - your child finally grows from his crib into his big boy bed. Or, so you thought. Maybe he could climb out of his crib, but getting out of his bed is simple and fun. Here are a few tips to keep him in his bed all night:

1. Remind him that he has this way cool bed because he's a big boy now. Responsibility comes with that....that means a few rules. One rule is that he must call for you if he wants to get out of bed. At first, he may call for you a lot, but the first step is that he's not allowed to get out of bed without you.

2. If he starts calling for you excessively, explain that the next rule is that there are only certain times when he can call for you. If he's having a bad dream or feels afraid he can certainly call for you. Or, if he has to go to the bathroom, although be sure he uses the bathroom before bed to help avoid that problem. Give him a small drink before bed so he doesn't wake up thirsty.

No doubt, he will cry for you in the middle of the night and tell you he's scared, because he wants to come into your bed. At all costs, try to avoid that. It's easier at times to let him, but once he enjoys the comfort of snuggling with Mommy and Daddy in bed, it will be very hard to wean him of the privilege. Of course, there are special circumstances, such as a loud, scary storm, where you welcome a family bed, but you have to put your foot down on most other occassions.

3. When he calls you, go into his room and ask him what's wrong. If he says he had a scary dream, let him tell you about it and reassure him that it was just a dream and he's very safe. A nightlight by his bed is often important so he can see his surroundings. Tell him you'll stay with him for five minutes until he falls back asleep, but you are very tired and you need to go back to sleep too. If he doesn't fall asleep in five minutes and starts to cry when you try to leave, tell him that you will wait out in the hall for five more minutes, but then you are going to your own bed by yourself. It is helpful to have a clock by his bed so you can show him exactly what five minutes means. You have to follow through on what you say. If he still calls for you, tell him that you are going to bed, he is safe and you both need your sleep. Then, you have to let him cry.

I know that it is so much easier to give in, but if you nip it in the bud right away, he will understand that he has no choice. Then, on the special occasions when you allow him in your bed, he will recognize that it is truly a special occasion.

I have also had parents tell me that they allowed their child in their room, but the child had to lay on a blanket on the floor. This worked for them, although I don't really see the distinction between the floor and the bed. The point is to set the boundary that his room is where he sleeps and your room is where you sleep.

If you have any other suggestions, please hit comment below and pass them on!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why You Must Make Time for Family Meals

While your kids are still toddlers, you probably have the time to enjoy meals together as a family. Soon enough though, they’ll get involved in sports, art class, religious school, and the list goes on and on. The more kids you have involved in things, the harder it becomes to carve out a half hour for dinner when everyone can be included. It’s really hard sometimes, but you must make a family meal a priority.

Research has proven that kids who eat family meals do better in school and are less involved in dangerous behaviors. The time spent talking, debating, and even arguing over the dinner table, helps forge stronger relationships. When you show that you are interested in what your kids have to say, you will be amazed at the things they choose to share. Not only will you learn more about them, and them about you, but you get the chance to demonstrate that you value their opinions.

I pulled this off the Department of Health and Human Services Website:
*By eating with your children, it is more likely that meals will be healthier and more balanced.

*Compared to teens that have frequent family dinners, those who rarely have family dinners are three-and-a-half times more likely to have abused prescription drugs or an illegal drug other than marijuana.

*Girls who have five or more meals a week with their families are one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits, which can range from skipping meals to full-fledged anorexia or abusing diet pills.

*Parental influence and involvement is an important tool in preventing substance abuse. Regularly sitting down for a meal with your children is one way to connect with them and be involved with what is happening in their lives.

What Should We Talk About?

*Ask everyone to share their favorite part or biggest challenge of the day.
Plan and then let the kids pick tasks for the next day's menu, preparation, and cleanup.

*Exchange memories about your favorite family pastimes.

*Discuss an activity the family can do together and then put it on the calendar.

*Talk with your children about a book they are reading or a movie they have seen. It might turn into a family book club or a regular movie and popcorn night!

*Ask the kids about their classes, homework, teachers, and upcoming assignments. Find out if they would like your help or want to brainstorm on an assignment.

The importance of regular family activities to share ideas and find out "what's happening" is a great way for a parent to be involved, discuss rules, monitor activities and friends, and be a good role model. The benefits of eating together will last long after your meal ends, especially if you make family mealtimes a regular activity. Take the family meal off the endangered species list and move it back to the VIP list!

SOURCE: http://family.samhsa.gov/get/mealtime.aspx

Monday, December 6, 2010

Saying Thank You to Your Child’s Teacher

I am blessed to work in a school filled with generous parents. Each winter holiday and every end-of-the-year party brings lovely gifts. Yet, as much as I enjoy the gift cards to fine restaurants and great stores, it’s the words accompanying the gifts that mean the most.

Most recently, a parent presented my teaching partner and me with our class gift. Her words were precious. As a first time mom, she said she was constantly amazed by how much her child was learning. At three years old, she thought he’d learn to play with others, but that was just one small part of what he’d accomplished.

Academically, he could point out numbers in the food store aisles, and read the names of every child in his class. But just as important, he started saying thank you when someone held the door open for him, and was proud to clean up his own toys. She couldn’t imagine how rapidly he was growing and learning. She thanked his teachers for lovingly guiding him down this path.

I am always amazed by how much toddlers learn. They are little sponges who are eager to soak up knowledge. I adore my students but I also appreciate when their parents tell us how they feel. I’ll enjoy a good dinner anytime, but it’s their words that make my job worthwhile.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sending Your Kids to Sleepaway Camp for One or Two Weeks

Sleepaway camp can be a wonderful experience for children, making new friends while leaving the comforts of home to spread their wings. It is also a big business. Over six million children attend camp each summer, and of the nearly 10,000 camps in the U.S., about 60% are residential, according to The National Camp Association (NCA). Traditionally, kids have spent four or eight weeks at an overnight camp, but economic realities and lifestyle changes have forced many camps to add shorter sessions to their schedules.

“About two years ago, as a response to what families were telling us they needed, we decided to implement two week sessions,” says Dee Billia, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Appel Farm Arts Camp (www.applefarm.org) in Elmer, NJ. “It’s been a resounding success.”

The downturn in the economy forced some families to cut back on the amount of time they send their kids to camp. Four week sleepaway camps range in cost from $1,700 to $7,000, according to the NCA, while two week sessions run between $1,000 and $4,000. Beyond the economics, shorter sessions are also attractive to younger and first-time campers who may be nervous about leaving home for too long. “It’s an easy way to introduce a child to camp,” explains Billia.

Family obligations, including vacations, have also made shorter sessions popular. “From the parents’ perspective, they are trying to do more in their summer, and shorter sessions facilitate this,” suggests John Jannone, Director, Ballibay for the Fine and Performing Arts, (camp@ballibay.com), in Camptown, PA.

Camps have adapted their programs to make shorter sessions valuable to campers. Appel Farms specializes in the arts, from theater and dance, to recording and photography. Their two-week sessions are offered at the front end of each four-week session, and are tailored to a shorter curriculum.

Yet, not all programs can be carried out successfully in shorter sessions. Jannone points out that two weeks is too short for a completely individual-choice program, or a program that puts on full-length theater and musical theater. “But for focused art, dance, and rock programs, it is a very good length,” he says.

Shorter sessions are trend that is here to stay. “It’s an extremely positive experience,” concludes Billia. “Any time spent at camp is a great way for the children to learn and grow.”