All about children!

Posts tagged ‘parenting’

4 tips for a stress-free holiday!

Could this be possible? To have a stress-free holiday? Well, I am all about being positive  but I really don’t think there’s such thing! Stress-free means that you are not doing anything and during the holidays there are lots to do. However, we can plan to have a fun holiday and not let the stress ruin the day. So, I guess the title of this blog should’ve been How to enjoy your holidays (even though there’s a lot to do!), but it was too long. So, here are my 4 tips…

  1. Plan ahead: Is there anything you can do before the holiday season starts? If you know you are having guests for Thanksgiving or Christmas, start preparing in October. You can buy and wrap presents, and who said you couldn’t decorate the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving?
  2. Clean the house: One of the main things we like (and ought) to do is clean the house. Start earlier (see tip #1) and tackle one room at a time. Make it fun and involve your kids. Have some drinks, some cookies, put on some music and clean away!
  3. Make a list: Make a Christmas list, a shopping list, a cleaning list, a guest list, etc. After you finish a task from each list cross it out, put a check mark, or highlight it, and reward yourself! (Starbucks, anyone?)
  4. Small Steps: If you start early (tip #1) and know what you need (tip #3), then you can do everything in small steps. Another main reason people stress during the holidays is that they want  to accomplish everything in 1 or 2 days… before the holidays! Don’t commit to something impossible, it leads to frustration.

Well, as I write these I am writing my first list: My Thanksgiving dinner guest list! How exciting! How about you? 

photo: iStock

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How do I raise a bilingual child?

I know many parents, who are bilingual, that are asking themselves that very same question. Some parents speak a different language than their partner and there are some people who are not bilingual but would like their children to be bilingual. The same question, however, the way each family addresses the bilingual education is very different. So, how do we raise bilingual children? Let’s review a few approaches. 

  • One parent-one language approach. Here each parent speak their native language to the child. That way the child has daily influence of both languages. This really help the child acquire both sets of words at the same time.
  • Time-based approach. Here, both parents have to be bilingual (if possible), and as a family choose when to speak each language. It could be by month (one month one language, then the second language and keep switching), or weekly or even daily (e.g. Spanish in the morning, English at night). This approach reinforces learning both languages with both parents.
  • Home language-community language approach. Here parents speak a different language than the dominant language in the community. For example, Spanish-speaking parents living in the United States. With this approach (very common in the United States, by the way), the child hears the first language (or Native Language) at home and will usually start learning the second language (community language) when he/she goes to school. In this situation the child might have a strong language background to support the second language learning.
  • Mixed language approach. Here both (or one at least) parents are bilingual and the child is exposed to both languages all or most of the time. This approach is slightly different from the one parent-one language approach because the child learns to speak both languages with both parents and does not have to choose a language for a specific parent. 

Things to consider when choosing your approach: When choosing a style of bilingual acquisition, take into consideration that growing up, the child will use more the language that is NEEDED the most. If the home-language is different from the community-language, as they grow, they won’t use the home-language as much, because they realize that they NEED the community-language to “survive”. However, if the home-language is reinforced by all (or most) members of the family as much as they can, the home-language will become “important” as well to “survive” (at least at home!)

Also, consider exposing the child as soon as possible (in the womb, remember?). Early exposure of both languages, will help the child acquire language similar to monolingual children.

I think I will choose the first and second approach for my kids. What do you do? Any other suggestions?

photo: iStock

The battle of the homework!

The new school year is in full motion by now. Students know where to go and they are getting more comfortable with their teachers and peers. And now… the battle of the homework begins! For some students, it is hard to focus and do their homework at home. Parents also struggle because many want to help make this task easier but nothing seems to work.

Here are a few tips to help the homework battle be less… work!

  • Find a place for homework: Having a specific place (and time) for homework, makes it a routine, therefore, there is less struggle. It is simply something we must do. No arguments.
  • Review the instructions: Discuss with your child what the homework is about. This is also a great opportunity to tell your child that if they don’t understand something they should ask their teacher. This will teach them be responsible!
  • Start with the most difficult task: At the beginning of homework time, they might have more energy, so start with what’s more challenging.
  • Take breaks: This is especialy important with younger kids. Have frequent breaks and make sure that you also schedule some time for questions.

See? homework should be something they do everyday, it should be expected and not be a struggle. Homework time could also be a good time to get to know what kind of student your child is and maybe you’ll learn what is his/her learning type!

What other homework strategies have worked for your family?

photo: iStock

Back to school! Are you ready?

In the next few weeks most kids will go back to school! Woohoo! Time to make new friends, learn new things and have new adventures! But…

…going back to school can be challenging and stressful as well. For both children and parents! There are many things that can be stressful for children: new environment, new teacher, new peers, new routine, homeworks, tests, etc. But parents can help children feel less stressed about the challenges and changes that come with the new school year. Here are some ideas:

  •  Be positive! Every time you talk about school do it in an exciting/positive way. You can talk about the excitment of meeting new friends, wearing cool clothes, and even the new cool school supplies!

 

  • Encourage them to talk to you, when something is not ok. Kids need to know that they can come to you for whatever reason they don’t feel comfortable or something is happening at school. This will make them feel less anxious about the new experience!

 

Also, start adjusting the routine before school starts. Did you know kids need to sleep 9 or more hours? Lack of sleep will impact school performance in a negative way (and will make them grumpier!). Also, make sure you change your schedule to be more available the first few weeks of school.

Do you have any other ideas? What has worked for you?

Moving with your children: The new home!

A few weeks ago, I talked about tips to help parents when relocating with children. Today, I want to give you some ideas of how to make the transition to a new home easier.

As we talked before, moving can be stressful for the children (and the adults). But there are few things you can do to make this transition easier for them (and maybe for you too!)

So, what can you do once you are settled in your new home?

  1. Maintain their (and yours) daily routine as much as possible – This helps them (and you) feel more settled. It minimizes the impact of the change.
  2. For younger children, keep the new room as similar as possible to the old room. – This gives them a sense of continuity and they won’t feel scared to be in a new place.
  3. With older children, they can be part of the decoration of the new room – They will feel part of the decision-making. Plus, who doesn’t want to buy a few new things for their bedroom? (I do!)  

      

4. Walk around the neighborhood together – Go to the park and participate in community activities as a family.

5. Help them meet new friends – Maybe join a club or a sport team.

6. Take some classes – Another oportunity to meet new friends. This is also helpful for the adults.

7. If possible, visit their new school before the first day of class – This alleviates worries and anxiety.

Although moving to a new home can be a stressful situation, it can also be fun! It is also an opportunity to grow closer as a family. Expect your children to be more comfortable after a few weeks, maybe few months.

Have you ever moved into a new home with your children? What would you have done differently?

photo: iStock

5 things you should plan for, before a family vacation

There’s nothing more exciting than Family Vacations, especially for children! At least that’s how I felt when I was younger…No, I still feel the same!

The planning, the anticipation, the packing, it’s all part of the fun! However, for some parents this can be an overwhelming situation. Depending on how old your kids are, this could mean, packing diapers, milk, and plenty of entertainment. Then we also have the changes in routine, nap time, meal times and bedtime!

Many parents prefer to have a stay-cation (vacation at home). But family vacations can be a great opportunity for the family to do something different, learn about another city or culture and to bond as a family. Does this mean that you can’t have a family vacation until all of your children are 18 and older? Absolutely…NOT! (plus, they won’t want to go on a family vacation by then!)

To make sure your family vacation is a success you must…

1. Plan ahead– The better prepared you are, the less stress you’ll have. So, give yourself plenty of time to plan, even if it’s a weekend trip! If you are staying at a hotel, make sure you know the amenities and places to eat around it. Plan what you might be doing for each day. That way you’ll know what you’ll need. Also, plan with your spouse how to discipline. I know traveling is supposed to be fun ALL the time, but in case a situation arises, you both have to be on the same page as to how to discipline your child during the vacation.

2. Plan the entertainment – Check for kid-friendly entertainment and places to visit. You don’t want to take them to many places where they are totally bored. Also, make sure you have entertainment for the plane/car/train ride. You can give them a camera, journal, books, cards, magazines, comic books, etc. to have fun while on you way to your destination.

3. Plan meal times – make sure you pack healthy snacks in your bag/purse that can alleviate the hunger until you find a place to eat.

4. Plan for bedtime– If at all possible, keep bedtime as close as to the real bedtime at home.

5. Plan to bring 1 or 2 personal items – With younger kids, make sure they can bring a special item, but not the most important one! You want them to feel secure, but if something happens to that special item, the vacation can be over in a second!

Always remember, the less stressed you are, the more fun you and your family will have. And that’s the point of a vacation, isn’t it?

Have you traveled with children? Are there any suggestions you can add? Help us!

photo: istock

11 ways to REALLY listen to your child

 A few days ago I read this (I can’t remember where!) “We were given two ears but only one mouth, because listening is twice as hard and important as talking”. Well, it’s true! And then I thought about children and kids have lot to say… a lot! Sometimes adults don’t think that children have anything important to say or that they can’t learn from children. So often times they do all the talking, they lecture, preach or, worst of all, ignore them!

Listening to your children will help them grow up to be adults with increased self-esteem because you will make them feel like what they have to say is important. However, children are not always sure how to communicate their feelings, so they might be saying or acting out completely different from how they actually feel. Active listening can help you, help them figure it out. So here are some tips to REALLY listen to your child when they have something important (or not) to say:

1.    Stop what you are doing– Don’t be distracted doing something else.

2.    Look at your child-Sit at his/her level.

3.    Pay attention to your child’s nonverbal language-Does the child look happy, sad, afraid?

4.    Be silent. It might be hard, but it is important that they have time to express themselves. It will also give you time to understand the situation before reacting.

5.    Use simple acknowledgement responses that show you are listening- For example, “I see”. “Oh”. “Uh-Huh”. Hmmm.”

6.    Use door-openers; phrases that encourage further talking- “Tell me more”, “Go on”, “How do you feel about that?”, “I know what you mean”, “Then what?”

7.    Listen for and name the feelings you think you hear from what your child is telling you-“That made you pretty mad, didn’t it?”, “You seem really happy about that!”

8.    Use problem-solving phrases when needed- “What do you wish you could do?”, “What do you want to happen?”, “What do you think will happen if you do that?”

9. Don’t feel that you must advise or help your child come up with a solution all the time- The value of listening is in the listening itself.

10.    Let them know you are available.

11.  Don’t try to deny, discount, or distract the child from the feelings they are expressing.

Listening helps parents and children avoid the power struggle cycle. Instead of arguing, listen. Show your understanding while maintaining your position. Listening builds stronger relationships,  shows respect and helps the child explore his/her own feelings and thoughts on a deeper level. It builds their sense of empathy.

Are you ready to listen to your child?