Parenting Tips

Advice for raising well-balanced children

When you left the hospital to take your newborn home for the first time, you may have hoped that the baby bag contained some kind of manual giving parental advice on how to handle the next 18-plus years. Then you remembered that babies don't come with a set of instructions for parents on how to teach a child values, resolve a conflict with a sibling or help a child study for an upcoming test. Our tips for parents can help prepare you for various situations, as well as provide ideas for activities that you can enjoy as a family.

  1. Celebrate Spring’s Wonders: Nature Activities for Your Kids

    Nature Activities for KidsSpring is a beautiful time of the year that’s all about celebrating new beginnings. Feeling warm sunshine for the first time in months or splashing through shower puddles are moments that parents and kids look forward to as winter passes. Now that spring is starting to awaken, it’s a great time for curious young minds to be outside and explore Nature’s gifts.

    Enjoy teaching your children about the wonders of springtime with these low-cost and creative nature activities for kids:

    Start an outdoor or indoor garden

    Most kids like playing in the dirt. They’re also enchanted by unusual things. Creating an outdoor garden can be a fun way to enjoy both while teaching them about plants. At your local nursery or home and garden center, look for seeds or starter plants with interesting names such as Moonflower or Snapdragon. Add varieties that can be fun to touch, such as Bunny Tails – an ornamental grass whose blooms resemble powder puffs. Your little ones may also enjoy “Tickle Me” plants, which curl up when touched, or scented herbs such as mint that smell and taste like peppermint, chocolate, orange and other flavors.

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  2. Your Personal Cupid This Valentine’s Day

    Valentine’s Day Quiz

    Love may be blind, but it can certainly see the joy of making that “someone special” feel extra special on Valentine’s Day.  With that in mind, this issue can become your personal Cupid, providing lots of information and ideas to help you have a fabulous February 14!

    Remember, too, that love is also patient. So, before you start reading this issue, take this short quiz to get your heart and your head ready for Valentine’s Day:

    1. According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion Valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. For what holiday are the most cards sent?

  3. A Date at the Movies – How Not to Become the Main Attraction

    Valetine’s Day Movie Date IdeasSome parents spend Valentine’s Day at the movies – without the kids – as a rare treat that may happen only once a year or less. It’s a good idea to brush up on your movie theater etiquette:

    • Turn off the ringer on your cell phone before the movie starts. If you have kids at home, it may not be feasible to turn off your phone. However, since every cell phone has a vibrate option or can be set to “meeting mode,” there’s no reason for a blaring ring tone after the movie preview ends. If a call arrives during the movie and you must respond, leave the theater to call the person back. If you absolutely need to answer the phone inside the theater, be sure to answer “hold on a moment” and then go to the lobby to continue the conversation. If you answer “hello,” you’re going to start a conversation inside the theater, which of course would not be considerate or respectful of the other movie goers.

    • Arrive on time. Don’t risk arriving late and then stumbling in the dark as you try to find two seats next to each other, which isn’t fun for you or anyone else in the theater. Best bet: Arrive at the theater at least 30 minutes before the movie’s start time.

    • No chit-chatting, please. No need to annoy your seat neighbors. If you absolutely must say something (such as how much you love going to the movies with your spouse), keep it no louder than a whisper – and in only a few words.

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  4. Your Children Know You Love Them, Right?

    Ideas to Show You Care About Your Child

    Valentine’s Day is the perfect time for love, but the other 364 days are great for that, too. As a parent, you have the double-duty of wanting to make your spouse and your kids feel special – and all the more so on Valentine’s Day.

    To embrace your kids with Valentine’s love, try these three powerful ideas that will leave no doubt they’re the apple of your eye.

    • The power of kind words
    Despite what’s said about “sticks and stones”, words can have a huge impact on how children see themselves. Think about the potentially negative impact of a phrase such as, “You are always doing stupid things!” Or, “You act more like a baby than your little sister.” We all know that raising a child can be frustrating (our words sometimes reflect that frustration), but let this Valentine’s Day serve as a reminder of the positive power of our words. Make a commitment to use your words to develop your children’s self-esteem. Praise their accomplishments, no matter how small. Let them know you’re proud, for example, of the A+ they got on their spelling test or the improvement they’re making in whichever subject. Talk about the beautiful colors they used in their drawings. Tell them how excited you are to see them when they arrive home from school.

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  5. How the World Celebrates in December

    Holiday Celeberations in DecemberDecember is filled with festivities and celebrations worldwide.  Here’s how various people around the world enjoy this glorious month:

    Chanukah

    For eight days in December, this year starting December 21, Jewish people around the world celebrate Chanukah, the “festival of lights.” They light a menorah – a special candleholder – in remembrance of an ancient miracle in which one-day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in their temple. As part of the celebration, they eat potato pancakes called latkes, sing songs, and spin a top called a dreidel to win “gelt” – chocolate coins.

    St. Lucia Day

    December 13 is St. Lucia Day, a holiday that celebrates this third-Century saint, in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Bavaria, Italy, Malta, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovakia and St. Lucia, West Indies. Many girls dress up as “Lucia brides” in long white gowns with red sashes, and wear a wreath of lighted candles on their heads. They sing songs and offer coffee to their family, along with twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.” 

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