Make Quality Time with your Child Count

Juggling Career/familyIn today’s busy world, work, household chores and social activities all put a strain on your time with your child. But as you well know, it’s imperative that you spend quality time together. It helps strengthen the bond between parent and child, and lets your child know you can be trusted and counted on. Children who spend quality time with their parents often do better in school, and excel in extracurricular activities, hobbies or sports. And though it can be ‘scheduled’ to a degree, it’s something that happens when you least expect it. Therefore it’s important that you do spend as much time as possible with your child in a relaxed atmosphere and do things together that you both enjoy.

But you’re asking yourself, “Where am I going to find the time? My schedule’s crazy enough as it is!” Well, for something as important as your child, you need to start digging around in that crazy schedule and find the time. Prioritizing is the key.

Here’s some helpful suggestions on how to make the most of your time and find quality time where you least expect it.

choresLook at your household chore list and decide which ones can be left undone or be done imperfectly in order to make more family time. You might also want to consider leaving certain things until after your child has gone to bed to make the most of your time together.

Turn some of your everyday routines together count. Sing some favorite silly songs on the way to daycare, or make that drive to and from school a great opportunity to discuss what’s happening in your child’s life.

If you have more than one child, realize that each of them needs your individual attention. You may really have to juggle things around to make this happen, but try to be flexible and creative when spending time with each of your kids. And no matter what, don’t skip those individual times with each child. By doing so you show them they’re lower down on the priority list than the dry cleaning or the grocery shopping.pic 3 kids

Children thrive on stability and routines, so plan your quality times so that they can takeplace regularly. Maybe you can walk the dog together on weekend morning, take a shopping excursion together, have a scheduled night each week for a sit-down dinner together, or make a trip to the park.

Can creativity and discipline live in the same house?

What comes to your mind when I utter the word “Creativity”?

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Let us check what happens with discipline.

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The two seem like irreconcilable opposites.

Scene 1

Now I imagined a world with creativity but no discipline – how life would be.

I would have a lot of freedom. Lots of fun. Do what I like, when I like. No one can order me around. It feels great when I enjoy  all these.

But then every one around me too will enjoy these same benefits of creativity without discipline.

How will that affect me? Will I like that?

I go to a restaurant. There is no one to take my order.  So I go to the kitchen. The chef is busy practising on his guitar. His assistant is in deep meditation. The two waiters are playing chess.

I ask the chef about the menu and he says, “I have not made up my mind. I want to do something different.”

“When will I get something to eat?”

“It all depends…. on when I decide. After that, we will buy the necessary things..”

“Will it take a couple of hours?”

“Maybe more..”

“Should I go somewhere else..?”

“It is your choice, sir.”

“Thank you.”

“Have a nice day. Hope you get something to eat fast.”

 

Scene 2

Let’s stick with the food analogy and consider a world with only discipline and no creativity.

I come home. My mother is waiting for me. I tell her I am hungry. She is ready to serve me lunch. I sit at the dining table. There is dal, rice, some bhindi and some roti.

“Mom, again the same thing?”

“Bhindi is good for you.”

“I don’t want bhindi every day.”

“This week is bhindi week.”

“What about the dal?”

“I have made it for the whole week. I save a lot of time this way. For the next week, I will make what you want.”

“It will be the same for the whole week?”

“Yes. That is the most efficient way.”

“But it is the most boring thing to do.”

Luckily, life is a happy mix of both. There is space for creativity and there is space for discipline.

Consider, as an example, the film production business. The time to be creative is when we are thinking of a movie plot. It is has to be fresh, different, surprising and appealing. Tried and tested won’t do. Once the plot, screen play and dialogues are finalised, we need the discipline to follow the shooting schedule, minimise retakes, control costs and finish production on time and on budget. If we don’t do this, we will go broke.

Interestingly, if we are disciplined but are not creative in the initial stage, then too we will go broke.

In my view there is no room for debate on creativity vs discipline. Especially while bringing up kids. I would err on the side of more creativity and less discipline. I would like my child to be able to imagine possibilities. Have an open mind to explore many options. Have the freedom to use her gut feel. When it comes to doing things I would like my child to be smart (combining creativity and discipline) and be able to think of doing the right thing at the right time. It requires imagination to think of different options, it requires rigour to choose a smart solution, and it requires discipline to execute the solution well.

It is some what like a diagnosis and treatment. One might do all the various tests and logically arrive at what is the problem then prescribe medicines. However, experienced doctors might creatively connect the dots and quickly diagnose the situation and start treatment. It saves a lot of time and agony. And, it requires discipline on the part of the patient to follow the prescribed course of treatment.

Verdict: Creativity and discipline, not creativity versus discipline. You can’t do without either.

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

Encouraging Play to Encourage a Child’s Development

child-playWe’ve all heard the term, “Oh, that’s child’s play.” It implies something is easy, frivolous and unimportant in the overall scheme of things.  But to a child, child’s play is essential to their mental, social, emotional, and physical development. We all know that children like to play. But what we may not know is the importance of play in a child’s life. Play is essential to every area of a child’s growth and development.
Play provides a means for energy to be put to use. It strengthens and refines small and large motor skills, and it builds stamina and strength. Sensory learning develops mostly through play. Play is significant to physical development in that without it the body could not grow and develop normally.

Children possess a natural curiosity. They, explore, learn and make sense out of their environment by playing. Parents and educators alike can support this learning activity by ensuring age-appropriate toys, materials and environments are available to the child. Play enables children to know things about the world and to discover information essential to learning. Through play children learn basic concepts such as colors, counting, how to build things, and how to solve problems. Thinking and reasoning skills are at work every time a child engages in some type of play.

Children learn to relate to one another, negotiate roles, share, and obey rules through play. They also learn how to belong to a group and how to be part of a team. A child obtains and retains friends through play. Play fulfills many needs including a sense of accomplishment, successfully giving and receiving attention, and the need for self-esteem. It helps them develop a strong sense of self, and is emotionally satisfying to them.  They learn about fairness, and through pretending learn appropriate ways of expressing emotion such as anger, fear, frustration, stress and discover ways of dealing with these feelings. So encourage your child’s play.  Color pictures, make finger paintings, build buildings and imaginary cities with blocks, and built a tent in the middle of the living room and go camping! And as we all know, childhood is fleeting, so let them enjoy being a kid while they are one!

Chores Can Help your Child Learn about Teamwork and a Strong Work Ethic

Chores can help develop a sense of responsibility and self worth in your child.  It should be understood by all family members they are expected and necessary to a household running successfully and efficiently.  They can help create a sense of unity and family and is a great place for your child to learn about teamwork.  Parents should take special care to handle the delegation of chores to children so they don’t become a source of frustration or create arguments.
Allow your child to have an active say in the delegation of chores.  Give them choices.  We all have household chores that we don’t like to do, but if it’s a chore the child enjoys doing then there’s less likelihood it will create a battle in the end.  The child will most likely appreciate having the chance to be heard and having a choice. child-chore
It’s imperative that you set parameters early on for the successful completion of a chore.  They may not perform up to snuff when they first start performing the chore, but show them where improvement is needed and praise them for a strong effort.  Also make sure the child understands there will be repercussions if they only put forth a minimal effort.

Ensure the child understands the need for the chore’s effective and efficient completion. Set consequences for substandard completion as a team.  Make sure they see that if they don’t perform their chores, it affects the other members of the team. Spouses must work together and be a strong example for their children by completing their own chores each day.  And don’t allow a child to undermine your authority by battling with you over a designated chore.

Stand your ground and don’t give in, and emphasize the consequence and negative effect an uncompleted chore has on the family.
And keep an open mind when a child wants to discuss their thoughts or express their opinions about chores.  Make sure the conversation stays positive and on target.

The Process of Negotiating the Rules with your Child

We all know as parents that discussing and negotiating the rules with our children is never easy.  Children are all very different, and what might need to be a rule for one, may not even be an issue for another.  That being said, there are many parameters that we set as parents that are the hard and fast rules – those with no ‘wiggle room.’ Those are the rules set forth to protect our child’s health, safety and well-being.  These rules and their consequences should be very clearly defined and it should be understood by all involved that they are there for a very important reason and that they are ‘all or nothing.’
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Rules that keep our children safe are of the utmost importance.  These could include everything from teaching youngsters not to touch the hot stove to teaching your school aged child the importance of obeying the laws while riding their bicycle.  Children need to understand these rules are to be followed to the letter and there is no room for negotiation here.

For adolescents and teenagers, such rules should include expectations about drinking, the use of illegal drugs, or safe defensive driving.  These rules are also imperative to a child’s health, well-being and safety.  There should be no room for experimentation or relaxing the rules in specific social situations.

There are rules that can be fairly and equitably negotiated with your children as well.  Rules regarding how many hours per week can be spent on video game playing, what time a child is expected home for dinner, what time each night homework is to be completed, or how late a teenager is allowed to stay out on weekend nights are all rules that can be discussed openly and honestly between you and your child. These should also be consistent, however.  Don’t’ allow 11 p.m. one weekend night and then tell your teenager 9:30 the following weekend night when going out with the same group of friends.  If your teenager broke the 11 p.m. curfew the weekend before, the consequence of losing the privilege of going out that weekend should be strictly enforced.  Don’t bend the rule just because your teenager seems genuinely sorry and promises never to do it again.  Consequences should be consistent, fair, and always followed through.

Get Involved in your Child’s Activities, Hobbies and School

It’s probably no secret that children who have involved parents are more happy, healthy, and well-adjusted and excel at their educational and extracurricular pursuits.  It can increase their cognitive development, keeps them motivated, strengthens the parent-child relationship, and has a direct positive influence on their overall academic achievement.  In turn, it can also help parents achieve a positive outlook on their parenting, increase their own self confidence and self esteem, and will most likely feel more satisfied with their child’s educational experience at school.

But where do you get involved?   With today’s busy schedules between home, work, and school, it may feel that the average family has very little quality time to offer.  However, different options and levels of commitment are available to fit every parent’s availability, and with some careful planning and dedication, you can make ifile9141338162937t a positive experience for both yourself and your child.

First of all, discover what your child is most passionate about.  Maybe you’ve thought about volunteering for the school bake sale to raise money, but your child is actually more actively involved in her local Girl Scouts troop.   If that’s the case, then get together with the other Girl Scout parents and see what you can contribute to help the troop.  Maybe you could organize a bake sale to benefit their next summer outing.

It’s also important to consider what skills, talents and abilities you can bring to the table.  Maybe your child’s school is in desperate need of your help organizing a fundraiser, but your skills in sewing and designing might better serve the school if you were to help in making the costumes for the school play.  Remember, you want this to be a positive experience for both of you, and if your child senses that you’re not happy with what you’ve chosen to become involved in, then they likely will not be happy as well.

But the bottom line is get involved and stay involved.  Children of involved parents are less likely to get into mischief, have emotional problems, or have problems in school.  You benefit by connecting with and staying connected to your child.  It’s a win-win situation for you both.

How to Treat Your Baby’s Cold

Baby ColdYour baby’s cold can be just as hard on you as it is on her.  But you can help ease your baby’s discomfort and keep the infection from worsening by ensuring she gets sufficient rest and liquids, which would include breast milk or formula if she’s less than four months old.  Older babies can have a little water, and by six months she can begin drinking juices.

To relieve congestion, try squeezing some over-the-counter saline solution drops into each nostril, then suctioning with a rubber bulb syringe after a few moments to remove the mucus and liquid.

This works well about fifteen minutes prior to a feeding if it’s difficult for your baby to breathe nasally while nursing. A bit of petroleum jelly to the outside of your baby’s nostrils can help reduce irritation.

Sitting with you in a steamy bathroom while the hot water’s on in the shower for about 15 minutes, or using a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to increase the moisture in your baby’s room should also help provide some relief for her.  A warm bath could also work, and might provide her some additional comfort.

Sleeping at a slight incline may also help relieve postnasal drip. However, don’t use pillows in her crib to accomplish this; the risk of suffocation is too great.  Try placing a couple of rolled up towels between the crib springs and mattress, or you might also want to try allowing her to sleep in her car seat in a slightly upright position.

Be sure to contact your pediatrician at the first sign of any illness in an infant less than three months old, especially in instances of a fever of 100.4 degrees or if she has a cough.  Your pediatrician can give you guidelines about what constitutes a fever in older infants.  If baby’s symptoms don’t improve within five to seven days, her cough worsens, she’s wheezing or gasping (possible pneumonia or respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV), or tugs at her ear (possible ear infection), your pediatrician should also be notified immediately.

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What is Homeschooling?

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The term ‘homeschooling’ basically refers to the process in which one or more children of not more than 2 families are instructed by parents or legal guardians, or a member of either household. The laws that define homeschooling vary from State to State. The legal requirements for establishing a homeschool also vary with the State.

For most children, the actual process of learning begins much before school. Many children already know their alphabets, the names of animals, colors and other more complicated stuff before they reach school. This is mostly due to the hard work of a member of the family who has taken the time to teach the child. Homeschooling is just a natural progression from here. Instead of sending their children to a public school, parents make their own curriculum and teach their children in ways that best suit the child. This is homeschooling, in its most simplistic form.home sch 1

Before you decide to go in for homeschooling, there are certain important matters for consideration. First off, meet with parents of other homeschoolers. Find out the pros and cons of homeschooling. Then ask yourself why you would want to adopt this method. This is a very important aspect, as the success of the program depends on the clarity and sincerity of your purpose.

Next, it is time to consider the expenses of homeschooling. It may cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand every year. More importantly, you are also effectively shutting out any job opportunity for one of the parents. It is only obvious that one parent will have to stay at home full time to manage the homeschool. A home-based business however is a great alternative.Are you qualified to take on homeschooling for your children? Teaching is a continuation of your own learning process. With the advent of the internet, information is aplenty. There are various books and resources for those interested in homeschooling. Go through the various methods of homeschooling and choose one that is most suited to you. It helps if you know what kind of learning style your child has. Also, find out what your child feels about before you start.

Every state has its own laws regarding homeschooling.For instance, in North Carolina, you must first file a ‘Notice of Intent’ to start a home school. In this you have to mention if the school is a ‘Private church’ school or a ‘qualified non-public school’. The persons providing the education are required to have at least a high school diploma. You have to maintain an annual record of the child’s attendance and disease immunization. Every year, the child is required to undergo a standardized test. Each student attending the eleventh grade has to take a nationally standardized test. These are the requirements in North Carolina, but it is enough to give you a good idea of what homeschooling entails.

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Homeschooling may seem like a lot of fun and freedom from the outside. However, things are seldom as simple as they seem.Homeschooling is a lot of added responsibility and hard work. But, if successful, it will forge a strong bond of love and respect between parent and child, while providing your child with the best form of education he needs.

 

Celebrate your Child’s Uniqueness

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Just like a snowflake or a fingerprint, every child is unique in their own special way. Every child has a unique way of feeling, thinking, and interacting with others. Some children are shy, while others are outgoing; some are active, while others are calm; some are fretful, while others are easy-going. As a loving and nurturing parent, it’s your job to encourage them to embrace their uniqueness and celebrate their individual qualities. 
Allow your child to express themselves through their interests. They may find a creative outlet in theatre, dancing or art, or they may be exceptionally talented in the sciences. Encourage them to embrace what they like to do, what interests them, and what makes them happy. Help them realize that they don’t need to worry about being ‘like everyone else.’
Teach your child to make positive choices, and praise them for good deeds, behaviors and positive traits they possess. Encourage them to become actively involved in their community, and introduce them to activities that promote a sense of cooperation and accomplishment. Be firm yet fair when handing down discipline for misdeeds or misbehaviors, and make certain the rules and consequences for breaking the rules are clearly defined. Show a cooperative, loving and united front with your spouse when it comes to discipline.
Accept and celebrate your child’s uniqueness. Remember that your child is an individual. Allow your child to have his or her own personal preferences and feelings, which may be different from your own.
And finally, encourage your child to be true to themselves by doing the same. Show your child how to make positive choices with the choices you make, and that nobody is perfect and you too make mistakes. Show your child that mistakes can be a great learning experience, and that they should not be ashamed or embarrassed about making them. 

Computers for Kids

image 3 computersGoing to kindergarten in this new age is a lot different than it was when we were children.  Modern children are more aware of the adult world, more sophisticated and certainly more aware of technology and the internet than was imaginable even a few years ago when that youngster was a newborn.  So we have to take that into consideration when we begin to prepare a child for kindergarten because there is really no level of schooling that is untouched by computers and technology.

The first step for finding out how much your child needs to know about computers and the internet day one in kindergarten is to visit the school and talk to the teacher.  It really isn’t a matter of kids being forced to learn about cyberspace.  Schools are simply using the internet for teaching because kids are showing up already knowing all about it.  As you look around any modern kindergarten class, you will see dozens of computer kiosks so the kids can connect to the internet and use the internet for anything from research to communications to learning games to exploring the galaxies.

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So much is made about the dangers of the internet and those are certainly real.The next step is to find out just how much your little angel already knows about computers and the internet.  If you have a computer and you allow your child to wander around the internet already, she may know more than you imagined or wished she knew.  But by having a conversation with your child or by sitting online and exploring some basic web sites together, you can gauge her level of skill and knowledge.  It will be an unusual meeting between parent and child because its very possible that at times you will be teaching her things and other times she will be the teacher and you the student learning the most modern things that young people, even very young people like your child, already know about the online world. But there are tremendous resources that the kindergarten teacher will take advantage of to take that new class to wonderful new places using safe and carefully prepared web sites that can enhance the child’s education.

 Be sure when you begin to expose your youngster to the internet that you have also made sure the internet is a safe place for her to be.  You can create specific account on your computer just for your child that is heavily restricted. You can get some excellent tools that are often called “net nannies” which will keep your sweet innocent child from accidentally going to sites they should not see.  You can even set up a set list of web sites you will allow them to be on and restrict their browser so only those sites are authorized.

 Helping your child build internet search skills will jump start her into the modern world of school wonderfully.  But there are other computer skills that being online will help her develop to make her more efficient even in this very basic level of schooling at kindergarten.  If you can open the world of email, instant messaging and chat to your child on kid safe web sites where she will be talking to other children only, your five year old will actually develop fairly well developed typing skills being motivated by the fun of online conversation with other kids.

There are other computer tools that will of tremendous value to your child that she can begin to get exposure to in the months leading up to kindergarten.  The Microsoft office suite which is so useful to adults will be an important tool set for any student even in elementary school.  Learning to use the powerful resources of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint will give your child ways to accomplish their school assignments that are fun because they are on the computer and so much more efficient than the old pencil and notebook method.image 3 computers

By thinking like a twenty first century parent, you can start even at the kindergarten level to see your child’s school experience as one that will be heavily influenced by computer skills and the internet.  And by equipping your child to be ready to use those tools from day one at kindergarten, she is jumping into school way ahead in terms of being equipped to be a big success in her academic career.