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5 Unique Father’s Day Gifts

June 14, 2016

By Jessica Vician

5 Unique Father’s Day Gifts | This Father’s Day let your kids get Dad a unique gift or take a family outing that speaks to how special he is. | A father hugs his daughter.

Forget the ties, money clips, and grilling tools. Father’s Day is about more than cliché gifts for Dad. It’s about saying ‘thank you’ for all that he does for you and the kids, and about creating an experience he’ll remember for years. This Father’s Day let your kids get Dad a unique gift or take a family outing that speaks to how special he is.

For the Bearded Papa
If Dad has or wants to grow a beard or mustache, elevate his look with a beard or mustache wax. It gives the facial hair more control and can soften the beard for better face-to-face cuddles with your child (and you!).

For the Hands-on Dad
DIY isn’t just for moms and kids. When Dad starts dreaming of carpentry and making his own chair or side table, encourage him to do it right with a woodworking class. If he already has basic skills, he can take a specialty class, like wood carving.

Bonus points for classes that are kid-friendly, so both Dad and his daughter and/or son can watch and help with the little things. If your child is a teenager, sign both of them up for a class so they can learn to build together.

For the Rockin’ Daddio
Help him learn a new instrument or a new musical style with a music class. Local colleges and music schools offer classes for children and parents, as well as solo classes just for adults.

Register the novice for introduction to guitar or the advanced guitarist for a Beach Boys ensemble and he’ll keep the tunes rocking at home. And if guitar isn’t his thing, schools may offer classes in piano, harmonica, drumming, songwriting, and more.

For the Social Pops
If Pops is a social guy who likes having his friends and family hang out together, organize a mocktail party with your kids and invite family friends.

The kids can make the invitations and help you choose a menu with alcohol-free Bloody Marys, piña coladas, punches, and fizzes. Let them pick out napkins, plates, plastic glasses, and swizzle sticks from the party store. Serve cheese and crackers and a few easy-to-make appetizers, turn on Dad’s favorite tunes, and celebrate!

For the Sports Dad
For a Father’s Day the sports lover will never forget, take the family to the Father’s Day baseball game in your nearest city. Many ballparks have Father’s Day games with special giveaways for kids. Get a picture near home plate and savor the memories for years to come.

Do you have a unique idea for Father’s Day? Share it with us in the comments below.

Tags :  fatherhoodactivities
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6 Summer Activity Ideas for Every Age

June 7, 2016

By Jessica Vician

6 Summer Activity Ideas for Every Age | Once your child finishes school for the summer, it’s time for less traditional and more fun learning. Keep your child’s mind stimulated throughout the summer to prevent them from losing the knowledge they gained over the past year with these activities.

Once your child finishes school for the summer, it’s time for less traditional and more fun learning. Keep your child’s mind stimulated throughout the summer to prevent them from losing the knowledge they gained over the past year.

To avoid the summer slide, ask your child’s teacher for a list of learning outcomes they accomplished this year and think of ways to incorporate that knowledge into your activities throughout the summer.

Your kids can also try these activities for additional stimulation this summer.

For toddlers

  1. Plant seeds and watch them grow. 
    Teach your child how plant life begins.

    Buy a packet of seeds—try an herb that you cook with frequently (basil, mint, and cilantro grow quickly with minimal human effort)—and some soil. Follow the directions on the seed packet and they’ll be growing in no time.

    This activity teaches your child that plants need food to grow just like kids do. The seeds need soil and water to nourish them, like kids need water and healthy foods to nourish them.

    Get excited with your child when the first sprouts break through the soil—it’s a big accomplishment for both the plant and your child!

  2. Develop their fine motor skills.
    Fine motor skills involve the movement of muscles in smaller actions. According to Baby Center, “it's equally important that kids work on their fine motor skills—small, precise thumb, finger, hand, and wrist movements—because they support a host of other vital physical and mental skills.”

    To help your young toddler develop these skills, prompt your child to stack toy blocks, sing songs with hand movements like “Wheels on the Bus,” and go to the playground and let them figure out the play equipment.

    For more activities that will develop your child’s fine motor skills, read this article.

For elementary students

  1. Join a summer reading program.
    Your local library likely has a summer reading program for your child’s age group. Encourage him or her to be social and read by enrolling in a free or low-cost program.

    You can also create an independent summer reading program. Challenge your child to read two books a month (at his or her reading level) and offer a reward, like a family dinner at your child’s favorite restaurant. Remember Book-It? It still exists and you can set up an at-home version.

  2. Create a DIY summer. 
    Teach your child how to make common things like lip balm, lotion, exfoliating scrubs, and even household cleaners. The American Girl YouTube channel has great video tutorials and Pinterest has an endless supply of ideas and directions.

    Your child will learn math skills, like how to measure and a practical application of fractions, as well as learn what goes into these products.

    Supervise your child and use natural ingredients instead of potentially dangerous chemicals, as there may be an unexpected reaction combining different liquids and solids.

For teens and tweens

  1. Learn an instrument.
    Enroll your child in a music class this summer. Learning to play and read music can teach your child valuable emotional and academic skills by engaging both the right and left sides of the brain. It also helps him or her learn to focus, improves critical thinking skills, and nurtures your child’s emotional maturity, according to VH1 Save the Music.

    If your child already plays an instrument, register him or her for a class in a different musical style. For example, if he or she knows how to play guitar, enroll in a blues or jazz guitar class, or a class modeled after your child’s favorite artist. If your city or town doesn’t offer those types of classes, find YouTube videos that focus on learning new songs.

  2. Learn to code.
    Your child should learn to code for many reasons. For one, there are so many jobs out there that require a minimal knowledge of HTML and CSS. And like learning a foreign language, it increases brain mass.

    Let your teen learn and invest in his or her future this summer with these free online resources that teach coding.

Do your kids have favorite summer activities that keep them learning in a fun way? Share them in the comments below!

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4 Ways to Manage Your Child’s Anger

May 24, 2016

By Nikki Cecala

4 Ways to Manage Your Child’s Anger | Teach your child to manage his or her anger and channel it toward a productive outlet.

Dealing with an angry child is one of the most frustrating and difficult parts of parenting, but you can teach your child to manage his or her anger and channel it toward a productive outlet.

After all, anger turns into aggression, which can lead to harmful behavior such as hurting someone or destroying property. According to one study, one in seven kids who show signs of aggression early in life have a higher risk of school failure, adult unemployment, physical violence, and mental illness.

Help your child manage his or her anger by communicating that anger is a normal emotion. Accept your child’s anger—do not deny or repress his or her emotions. Then, try a combination of these four suggestions.

  1. Let it out
    Communication is one of the best ways to understand what is really going on. Let your child vent and vocalize his or her anger or frustration. Listen to your child for a few minutes before responding, as it will help you understand the problem and decide what to do next.
  2. Bring in reinforcements
    Ask a close friend or family member to come over or speak with your child by phone. Ask someone your child trusts, like a godparent, aunt, uncle, close family friend, or even a favorite babysitter. If your child won’t talk to you about the problem, he or she might talk to another trusted adult.
  3. Provide physical outlets at home and at school
    Encourage your child to journal, exercise, meditate, talk to someone, listen to music, or take a walk. Depending on the situation, your child might need 10 minutes alone to collect his or her thoughts and calm down. Teaching these coping mechanisms now will help your child manage his or her anger later in life, too.
  4. Always model positive behavior
    Children observe how their parents react to situations. Parents must be aware of the powerful influence their actions have on a child’s behavior. If you curse or even punch a wall when you’re angry, don’t be surprised when your child does it. Children mirror our behavior, so always set a good example and deal with your anger the way you want your child to.

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to help your child grow and respect him or herself. This vital process takes years of patience but pays off in the long run, as it helps your child become a happy adult. The earlier in life you teach your child how to manage anger and share his or her feelings, the more outbursts you can help prevent.

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5 Fixes for Your Toddler’s Temper Tantrum

May 17, 2016

By Nikki Cecala

5 Fixes for Your Toddler’s Temper Tantrum | Tantrums are a normal part of a child's development, but that doesn't mean they're fun. Here are 5 ways to deal with them.

According to my mother, my 3-year-old son is exactly like me when I was a toddler. She doesn’t say this with pure joy in her voice—it’s more of a warning. I was a climber, a talker, and had a whirlwind of temper tantrums growing up (and can still throw some minor fits).

Despite the term, "terrible twos," temper tantrums can start as early as 12 months and continue beyond age four, though they occur most often during a child’s second year. While not fun, tantrums are a normal part of a child’s development. Through the process, they learn to cope with frustration.

When encountering a tantrum, first rule out the basics. Is your child:

  • bored? 
  • uncomfortable? 
  • hungry?
  • over-stimulated?

If it’s one of the above, then address that problem immediately.

Otherwise, take a moment to look at the bigger picture of what is causing your child to throw a tantrum. Get creative and find a tactic that works for you and your child when entering Tantrum Town.

  1. Calm down
    When my son gets hysterical, I tell him as calmly as possible that he needs to calm down before we move forward with anything. I ask him to breath slowly and hold my hands. There will be times when you think you can’t keep your composure, but it’s critical when telling someone else to calm down. Yelling solves nothing.
  2. Give them your undivided attention
    One morning, I was driving my son to daycare in bumper-to-bumper traffic. We were running late and I was listening to the traffic report on the radio. Suddenly, my son started making an angry whining sound. Already short-tempered, I asked him what was wrong. He was angry that I wasn’t hearing him point out all the things he was seeing out the window.

    I quickly realized that he was trying to share things that were exciting to him while I was busy stressing out. When you notice a tantrum starting, get out of your head and take a moment to appreciate what your child is trying to share with you. Sometimes they just need a little attention.
  3. Check yourself
    Are you having a rough day and taking it out on your child? We try not to, but sometimes it happens. Kids can pick up on those negative vibes and will poke at it until they share the same unhappy feelings. Leave the drama from work, relationships, or anything else at the front door. If you bring it home, you’re asking for a tantrum.
  4. Ignore them
    During certain situations (e.g. a tantrum in line at the grocery store) you need to remain strong. We’ve all tried bribing them with candy or toys just to get them to be quiet, but that only lasts for so long.

    Instead, explain that their behavior in public is unacceptable. If your child is still not listening, ignore them and wait until you get outside to have a more personal conversation about the behavior.
  5. Communication is key 
    It’s a simple concept: talk to your child and pinpoint what the problem is. My son has excellent verbal skills, so when he starts whining and making noises I ask him to use his words so I can understand why he is upset and fix the problem.

    It’s easy to think you are already listening to your child, but if the TV is on or you’re texting someone, you aren’t 100 percent listening, are you? Give your child the same respect you desire and get to the cause of the tantrum. The more you practice, the easier it will be for both of you to settle down, cope with your child’s emotions, and move on.

What are some ways you address your child’s tantrums?

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3 Sex and Pregnancy Topics You Must Cover with Your Teenager

May 10, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Prep Teens For the Future | 3 Sex and Pregnancy Topics You Must Cover with Your Teenager

It’s the part of parenting you dread: the sex talk. Yes, you have to do it. No, sex ed at school is not enough.

Your teenager needs to know your expectations of them regarding sex. Even if they disagree with your stance, they need to know it. Do you discourage sex at a certain age or life stage? Will you help your daughter get on birth control if she asks?

They especially need to know how to protect themselves and their partners. Because if we know anything about teenagers, we know they don’t always listen to their parents, but they care about themselves a lot.

Appeal to those selfish qualities as you educate your teen about:

  • Respect for themselves and for their partners, both in body and mind.
  • Protection for themselves and for their partners
  • Myths about sex and protection.

Respect.
When it comes to any kind of sexual activity, from kissing to intercourse, your teen needs to respect themself and their partner. That means not doing anything they’re uncomfortable with and not doing anything their partner is uncomfortable with.

How can you encourage this respectful behavior in your teenager? Talk to them about what they want in life. What kind of job or home do they want? Do they want a family? Then talk to them about how they can achieve those goals.

They’ll need an education and to work hard to have the career and home they want. And they’ll need to wait to start a family until they have reached certain milestones in getting those other things. Putting life in perspective may help them shift their priorities.

Protection.
Waiting to start a family leads us to protection. Birth control and condoms are critical when anyone is engaging in sexual activities; birth control helps prevent pregnancy and condoms help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy.

While it may be uncomfortable talking about protection with your teenager, it’s important to teach them the importance of protecting themselves and their partners. That protection is part of respecting themselves and their partners. Talk to your daughter about protecting herself from pregnancy and STIs and talk to your son about protecting himself from STIs and getting a female partner pregnant.

Myths.
While teenagers have access to more information via the internet than their parents ever did, rumors still hold strong. Here are some popular myths that have stood the test of time:

When you talk to your teenager about the myths of protection and sex, present the facts so they are properly educated. If they won’t listen to you, you can always share the above links and ask them to research these facts on their own.

While an uncomfortable conversation, educating your teen on respect, protection, and sexual myths is an important parenting step. After all, it will greatly impact their present and their future.

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