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Category Archives: Home and Family

Ways You Can help Your Child Learn to Speak a Second Language

1. Remember the earlier, the better. By the age of two, a child’s brain is sucking up and processing all the information he or she comes in contact with, so it’s an ideal time to start learning a second language. You may think, “But he hasn’t even mastered ENGLISH yet!” That’s okay! Believe it or not, children can easily juggle two (or more) languages at once without the difficulty that their adult counterparts may have if they try to learn the same language when they’re older. Learning two separate languages will also not hinder your child’s reading or speaking ability. In fact, it will actually improve and broaden their vocabulary as they get older, since many foreign language words are used in English as well.

2. It is better to teach your child with some simple words and basic greetings first. Learning a language does take time and repetition, so only move on when your child feels comfortable and confident in using what he or she has already learned. If you’re not completely fluent yourself, but still want your child to have the benefit of a second language, purchase a good dictionary and work book to reinforce what you already know so that you can teach it to your child.

3. You can try to make studying language to be a fun time by setting aside a special “Language-Only” time. Practice the language together with your child through music, books or videos and use this time to speak and play together using only the second language. It’s a great way to build up the child’s interest in another culture and will help him learn the language more completely and thoroughly.

4. If your significant other speaks a foreign language, consider having him or her speak only in the foreign language to the child, while you speak to them in English. This will quickly help the child understand each language’s structure and differences, and he won’t be as likely to get confused. Remember though, language learning is a slow by steady process. Let your child know not to worry about making a mistake or sounding silly. That’s the only way he or she will become confident enough to speak the language on a regular basis.

5. Whenever possible, immerse your child in the second language as often as you can. Taking trips to the place where the language is spoken is a great way to make a language feel “real” to a child. Children mimic what they see, so seeing others speak and use the language in their day-to-day lives will show him that he can do the same!

The most important thing of all is to treat learning a second language like a fun “adventure” rather than a tedious chore. If you keep these tips in mind, it won’t be long before your child is equally comfortable and proficient in both languages! Good luck!

 

Too Much Child Care

In today’s economy it is a fact of life that it isn’t always possible to survive on one income. All too often in a family, both parents have to work for a living. When children aren’t involved in the mix this isn’t too big a problem since even if just one of the couple were working they still wouldn’t see each other until the worker came home. But in the case of a child it’s a big difference. With both parents out of the house the child, depending on its age, needs to be cared for. Even a young teenager shouldn’t be left all alone day after day. Teenagers can get into a lot of trouble unsupervised, even for just a couple of hours.

But what about your small child, the one who needs care all day? Certainly finding care isn’t difficult, as there are many daycare centers available. But that isn’t the issue of this article. The issue is the question, “Just how beneficial is constant child care to your child?” This isn’t as easy a question as it appears to answer.

Sure, we can all agree that you can’t leave a 2 year old home alone all day. Yes, the child needs to be cared for if both parents are out of the house working. What needs to be addressed is the pluses and minuses of both parents working, making it necessary for the child to be cared for on a constant basis.

While the psychology of how a child will react to a stranger caring for him as opposed to how that child reacts to his own parent is beyond the scope of this article, it can’t be ignored. Studies show that children that grow up in a home environment with at least one parent caring for them, grow up better adjusted than children who are left to daycare for years on end.

“But we have no choice! We both have to work!” come the screams. Well, actually, you don’t have to both go to work. You choose to both go to work. Big difference. In a democracy like the United States, which is also the worst offender in this case, you are free to work or not work. But that isn’t the issue either. The issue is in doing what’s best for the child.

There are arguments on both ends of the spectrum. There are those who say that if the child is financially provided for and thus has all the “essentials” in life, this will make up for the lack of time that child spends with his parents. Others say that there is no substitute for a mother’s love and children who grow up in daycare centers grow up to be troubled teens.

The arguments will continue. But what the parents can do in order to help insure that their child does grow up to be well adjusted is to spend as much time with the child as possible, even if both have to work.

To balance out the care your child gets between the child care center and yourself, assuming that both parents have to work or in the case of a single parent, there are several things that can be done.

This isn’t always easy, but try to work out a flexible work schedule with your boss. If both parents work a day job maybe you can arrange to have one of the parents working either at night or a staggered shift, say starting at noon and working to 8 or 9. This way one parent will be home with the child most of the morning and the other parent can be home with the child all evening, leaving only a few hours each day that the child is actually in the care of a day center. This may not seem like much but every hour is something.

Another thing a parent can do is see if it is possible to take the child to work with him or her for at least a couple of days a week. Some work places actually have daycare facilities inside. While it is true that the parent will be spending most of the time working and not with the child, there is still the ride to work, lunch and break times and the ride home that they can spend together. Just this little bit of time to break up the day can make a big difference in your child’s disposition, especially if he is old enough to look at the clock on the wall and know that in a short time mommy or daddy are going to be picking him up for a nice lunch together.

If neither of those are an option then there is another alternative that is actually becoming very popular especially among mothers. That option is to become a Work At Home Mom or what is commonly referred to as a WAHM. A work at home mom is just what it sounds like, a mother that does her work out of the house. Today, with the advent of the computer, this is easy to do. There are many legitimate opportunities a mother can find on the Internet that can pay her for the work she does at home, from stuffing envelopes to typing ads. Of course she has to carefully check out each opportunity before getting involved, as there are many scams out there, but once she finds something with a good reputation, usually a company that is a member of the BBBOnline, she should be able to make a decent enough income to justify her staying at home. It may not be as much as what she would make in an office but when you factor in that there are no transportation costs, no lunches to pack, etc., the income may be more than enough to get the family over the hump.

The bottom line is this. We don’t have children to dump them in a daycare center. Children need their parents. There are ways to make that happen. It just takes a little effort and a little compromise.

 

Things You Should Expect From any Child Care Center

1. Open Access To Their Center – Parents must be able to call on or walk in on a daycare center at any time unannounced. The provider should also allow the parent to make any amount of reasonable phone calls in order to check up on their child. The provider and the parent should work out a schedule for those phone calls to find out the times that are best and also agree on how many phone calls in a day are reasonable.

2. Safety For Your Child – The daycare center where your child is staying should be in a safe environment. All possible precautions should be taken to make sure that your child is safe such as, plugging electrical sockets, keeping knives and sharp objects in a safe place and out of reach, closing off stairways and using only safe and well maintained equipment. If your child has to travel, the provider should also use safety seats and seat belts when traveling.

3. Honesty And Confidence – Providers should not promise things that they can’t do. They should be honest about the care that will be given. Also, there should be confidentiality about your child even being there. Nobody should be given any information about your child if strangers should call unless you specifically say it’s okay.

4. Acceptance Of Parent’s Wishes – Centers should make every effort to comply with the wishes of the parents such as the food the child will eat, activities the child will or won’t participate in and any special care that needs to be given to the child. If the parents don’t want people smoking around their child then the environment should be kept smoke free.

5. Advance Notice Of Any Changes – The center should give the parents plenty of advance notice of any changes that are going to take place that may affect the care of the child. This way the parents can make plans to have the child moved to another center if they are not happy with the proposed changes.

6. No Interference In The Child’s Family – The child care provider should not talk to the child about any problems the parents may or may not be having. It is not for the child care provider to meddle in the lives of the family. The first and only responsibility is to care for the child.

7. No Advice Offered And No Judging Of Parenting Practices – If a child care provider does not agree with some of the parent’s methods of raising their child it is none of their business. They are only to offer advice if asked.

8. Assurance That Everyone In Contact With Child Is Trustworthy – If it is a large center and there are many people there then each one should be certified to be trustworthy and safe. A center should take all reasonable precautions when hiring staff and should provide the parents with information on how workers are hired and what screening process everyone goes through.

9. Open Communication – The provider should keep the parents constantly posted of any instances at the center that they should be aware of including the child’s progress or lack of progress. The parents should be kept in the loop regarding all activities the child participates in and those the child has problems with. It should be as if the parent is right there observing.

10. Finally, No Surprises – This means that the provider should not suddenly tell you that they have taken a part time job elsewhere and their teenage daughter will now watch the child. Or if at a center you don’t want to hear that your child’s teacher suddenly disappeared with no reason given.

Teen Bedwetting

A rough count reveals that as much as one out of every one hundred teens occasionally wets the bed! This problem of not being able to control urination while sleeping is scientifically known as nocturnal enuresis, though in common terms it is dubbed involuntary urination or bedwetting.

Enuresis can again be categorized into two categories: primary enuresis and secondary enuresis. A person with primary nocturnal enuresis has had the habit of wetting the bed since he or she was a baby, whereas in cases of secondary enuresis the problem develops at least several months, or even several years, after the person learned to control his or her bladder as he or she grows from being a baby. In most cases teen bedwetting is a case of secondary enuresis rather than primary.

Next let’s try to understand what causes teen bedwetting. Looking into the human anatomy it is known that the urinary bladder is a muscular vessel, or a holding container, for containing urine. As urine enters it expands and gets larger and then contracts and gets smaller to force the urine out.

As a person develops normal bladder control the nerves in the walls of the urinary bladder sends signals to the brain as and when the bladder becomes full. After receiving these signals the brain sends back signals to the bladder to hold the bladder from involuntarily emptying the urine until the person is ready to go to the bathroom. However in cases of people with nocturnal enuresis there lies a problem that causes them to urinate involuntarily at night. The exact cause of nocturnal enuresis or teen bedwetting is not known to doctors, however some facts have been discovered.

One such discovery reveals that hormonal problems do contribute towards nocturnal enuresis, or in the case of this article more specifically teen bedwetting. The hormone ADH makes a person’s body generate less urine during the night. However, if the teen’s body does not develop enough ADH this control is not sufficient and hence the amount of urine developed is more and results in teen bedwetting via involuntary urination.

Some teens also have relatively smaller bladders that are not large enough to hold a large volume of urine, which often results in bedwetting as the amount of urine developed at night while the teen is sleeping is more than his or her bladder can hold handle.

The problem of teen bedwetting has also been traced down to genetics. Teens with problems of involuntary nocturnal enuresis often have a history of parents who had the same problem at similar ages. Certain genes can be identified that cause enuresis but the exact reason for teen bedwetting is still unidentified. Sleeping disorders or rather deep sleeping habits have also been identified as reasons for teen bedwetting.

Teen bedwetting can also be related to psychological problems. Family problems, shifting into new schools and social environments, or family tension can result in disturbed sleeping habits and patterns and produce the problem of teen bedwetting. Stress during teenage years can thus be strongly suspected as a cause of secondary enuresis.

Doctors may treat teen bedwetting differently depending upon the cause of it. In cases of illness the specific illness is treated. There also exist several behavioral approaches that are utilized for treatment. Primarily and most importantly, people with nocturnal enuresis are advised to prevent a swarming bladder by reducing the quantity of fluids they drink before going to bed. They are even advised to reduce the chances of wetting the bed by going to the toilet just before going to bed.

Overall it is a combined process of behavioral modifications, reducing mental tension, and in some cases incorporating a very mild medication that can help a person control teen bedwetting.

 

Birthday Party Menu for Your Princess

1. Keep it simple. The last thing you need on a busy day is for you to be running around like crazy trying to make cherries flambè(c) or tiramisu with crèème fraise. However, with a little creative planning, you can make something spectacular and still be able to take photos of the lovely girls eating your birthday dainties. There are SO many recipes available at your fingertips that are not only delicious but easy to make with items you probably have in the house or can pick up in your local grocery store at minimal cost (another key!).

2. Presentation is everything. Think about it, mom. A peanut butter sandwich is nice, but, make that sandwich and cut it with petite cookie cutters into various princessly shapes and you have something spectacular. Even just cutting the sandwiches with a glass into a circle and then cutting the circles in half would work. Display them nicely on a glass plate with some red grapes or flowers and it’s no longer just a boring sandwich but a delicacy that’s a delight to look at AND eat.

3. Throw the “no sugar” rule out the window. Ok, I’ll get hate mail for this one but c’mon mom! Your princess only has the bash of the century once a year, so break the rules a little and provide something sweet to eat. Balance it out with a lower sugar drink and other dainties that aren’t sugar laden.

4. Make the drink pink! Pink lemonade, pink Kool-Aid, pink soda… anything pink in a clear plastic cup and you’ll be the coolest mom on the block. Float a half of a strawberry in the cup and you may as well get a revolving door to your house. You’ll be the hit of the neighborhood!

5. Work with a timeline and schedule for the day of the party. A checklist of what you’ll be serving and when you need to pull it out of the freezer or fridge, what goes where, etc., and how long each thing takes will insure that you won’t forget any of the details and insure that you won’t go to open the fridge for a late night snack after your princess is in dream land and see the strawberries that you meant to put in the royal goblets.

The perfect, stress free Princess party menu is within reach, Mom. Just keep it simple, fancy, tasty and pink! Write out a checklist and you’re all set for the finest party menu for your princess and her royal maidens.

Tips to Keep Your Child Busy when You Work

First, you need to let your children know when you are not to be disturbed. Set up a schedule that includes playtime and work time and remind them that if they don’t disturb you while you are working, you will be able to give them your complete attention during playtime. As a reminder, use a do not disturb sign on your office door when you absolutely cannot be interrupted.

Of course, it is easy for your children to behave while you are working if they have something to do. Fill a box with games and toys that can only be used while mom is working. Make sure you add a new puzzle, coloring book, or small toy on a frequent basis, to keep your children interested.

If you don’t work on the phone, it is a bit easier to keep your children content when you are working. Set up an office space just for them, complete with a small table and chairs. Fill a lunch box with some of their favorite snacks and a few juice boxes each morning, so you aren’t inundated with requests for food and drinks. Add a children’s magazine, simple puzzles, coloring books, and art supplies. When your children are able to work along side you, the number of interruptions should decrease drastically.

For moms who really need peace and quiet, but have small children, a mother’s helper can be a great solution. Since you will still be in the house, you do not need a fully trained baby sitter to help out. Instead, look for a teen who has little babysitting experience, but likes kids. She will probably be happy to watch your children while you work for the cost of a few good after school snacks and a few dollars.

Finally, sometimes it’s just not possible to keep your children quiet and content while you are working. If your child is ill, you may just need to decide to take the day off. After all, the reason you are working from home is to have the flexibility to be there for your children when they need you!

 

Hire A Nanny?, Here Its Tips

In some parents’ eyes, daycares are less favorable than a nanny. Some parents feel the personal attention a nanny can give to their children is a valuable service many daycares are not capable of providing due to the number of children in their care. Another reason that families choose nannies is for the convenience of having the childcare available outside of standard daycare operating hours. A nanny will become an integral part of the family so choosing wisely is an important step to selecting the best nanny for your children.

What should you consider then?

1. Do you want a live-in nanny, day time nanny, full-time, part-time or on call? What is your budget? Will you want the nanny to clean the house, cook meals or transport your children to after school activities or play dates? What other responsibilities are you looking for in a nanny?

2. Will you allow smoking or visitors in your home during the care period? Do you care if the nanny speaks your native language or any other language? Au pairs are commonly younger women from foreign countries; is it important to you to have a caregiver from your locality?

3. What is the rate? Before you start looking for a nanny you should find out what the local rates are and determine if you can afford the care you are looking for. Perhaps making arrangements with another family to share a nanny will better suit your budget. If you choose to share a nanny you will also need to make a clear agreement with the other parents as to the responsibilities you both require.

Nannies can be found through agencies, personal references and by posting an ad in the newspaper. Wherever you go to find a nanny you will want to ask them for references (make certain that you are able to contact the references), a driver’s license or other ID, criminal check and child care experience or education depending on your personal requirements. Asking for a nanny with First Aid or CPR is also common.

It is better for you to ask the agency about their background and work experience. Arrange to meet the candidates in person and don’t commit to a hiring until you’ve had the chance to interview them.

 

Suggestions for Teaching Your Child about Life and Death

Talk With Your Children About the Cycle of Life – Consider discussing death with them at a time that you can naturally incorporate it into part of your conversation. Consider for example when the leaves change colors in the fall, and then die off only to grow back in the spring. Remember to keep things light and easy initially, offering your children ample opportunities to ask questions.

Acknowledge Your Own Feelings – In order for your children to accept death you must first come to terms with it. Children are very sensitive and likely to pick up on your emotional cues about death and dying, thus if you are uncomfortable with the subject they are likely to be too. Take some time to examine your own feelings and become comfortable with the subject before broaching it with your children.

Be Open and Honest About Feelings – Many parents have a natural instinct to shield their children from the grief associated with death, but this can actually be damaging. It is important that you allow your children to understand that death can be sad, and let them know that you are sad if it happens. It is important that children learn to express themselves openly and honesty and learn how to release their emotions when necessary.

Remember when teaching children about death and dying that their initial reactions may be very different from what you would expect.

Rather than focusing on the spiritual or emotional aspects of death they may want to know more about the technicalities, such as how someone is buried and where they go.

Remember that this is perfectly normal. Address each question honestly and age appropriately when they surface, and your children will come to have a healthy understanding of the death and dying process.

 

Tips to Teaching Student Drivers

Set A Schedule. Keeping teens on a schedule can be nearly impossible as they juggle their busy lives with after school programs, work, homework, socializing, etc., but it is something that you must do. Find a time that works for the both of you and go out no more than one hour each time for your lessons. Oh, by the way, make sure your driver in training has his or her driver’s permit on them at all times.

Simple Start. Keep the first lesson or two simple. Backing in and out of the driveway and driving around the neighborhood first are good starts. If you live on a busy road, then you should drive the car to a less busy area before allowing your student to take over. At the very beginning, avoid driving on days when pavement is wet – dealing with water on the road is a separate lesson for the more experienced student.

A Good Beginning. Thirty years after I first received my license, I remember in my lessons being told that there were four things that a driver must do before even starting the car: door, seat, seatbelt, mirror. In other words: close and lock the doors, adjust the driver’s seat for your personal settings, fasten your seatbelt, and adjust side and rear view mirrors. Then, put the key in the ignition, start the car, look all around, engage the transmission, and slowly step on the accelerator and get moving.

Moving Forward. Once your driver has a good feel for the car – no jackrabbit starts or hard breaking observed – step things up and start practicing using hand and turn signals, parallel parking, how to negotiate turns and curbs, etc.

Stepping Out. After several lessons of driving locally and practicing safe driver habits, it is time to take the student out onto a busy road. Keep this lesson short to allow the nervous student time to adjust to driving in traffic. At least initially avoid rush hour traffic, highways, and areas with excessive pedestrian traffic. Make sure your student understands road signs, traffic signals, stopping/yielding, and the myriad of other rules of the road. Repeat lessons as needed to help your student grow accustomed to driving in traffic. Once your student builds up their confidence, take them out on the highway.

Study and Review. While behind the wheel lessons are extremely important, knowledge about driving rules and regulations are important too. When driving down the road, point out road signs and ask your student what they mean. Discuss the fines and points that can be assessed by the Department of Motor Vehicles {DMV} for violations. All of these things will be on their written test.

Defensive Driving. If you live in a more northerly climate, learning how to drive on ice and snow is essential to being a safe driver. Even if your student learns how to drive and secures their license in warmer months, insist on getting back in the car with them when wet leaves, snow, and ice are on the ground. Also make certain that your student understands how alcohol can impair judgment, how a radio, cell phone, or other passengers can distract them, and how to drive around pedestrians, bicyclists, mopeds, etc.

Check Fluids. An important lesson apart from actual driving and preparing for the written test is maintenance of the vehicle. Your student should be familiar with looking under the hood, checking fluid levels, hoses, belts, etc. Also show your student how to check tire pressure, do a visual check of turn signals, headlights, and all other lights. Familiarization with the exhaust and suspension systems is important too.

Ready, Set, Test! Once you are certain that your student understands all the rules of the road, is exhibiting safe driving practices, and is a confident driver then take the test. Do not let a pending birthday or special event drive that decision as you want to produce a safe driver, not a reckless one.

Once your student has passed their test make certain that the information on their license is correct, your car’s registration is up to date, your insurance has them covered, and the car that he will be driving is road ready before allowing him to drive by himself.

Remember, driving is a privilege and not a right. Good driving habits are formed early on, but so are bad habits. Nip any problems in the bud early to ensure the safety of your student and everyone else who is out on our roads.

Teens Life

Perhaps all of this electronic gadgetry has you concerned and you are wondering just how you can extract your teen and involve them in an outside activity where they can expand their minds and refresh their bodies. Are you out of ideas? Let’s look at some options that may appeal to them and remove the worry from you.

Work on the Car

So, you think that a car isn’t a kid magnet as much as when you first learned how to drive? Think again. Today, kids arepimping their rides and expressing themselves through their cars. Custom paint, decals, blacked out windows, even faux aircraft wings are being attached to the outside of their cars. On the inside, it can be totally surreal: rear view mirrors wrapped with a studded belts, frilly seat cover trim, pushpin art attached to the headliner, decals everywhere, etc. Let them pimp your Camry or Explorer…that’ll keep them off the computer…and getyounoticed too!

Volunteer

Help your teen organize a group of his or her friends to clean up the neighborhood, paint an elderly neighbor’s house, teach younger kids how to ride bikes, or visit folks at the local nursing home. You remember when you were a teen and you heard the comments from your parent’s generation about kids not wanting to do anything or being “no good,” right? With a little direction, young people can do just about anything and are more than willing to help out if you believe in them. Rewards are nice too…be prepared to throw a pizza party after their time of service is over for the day.

Get a Job

Kids who hold a job while going to school learn how to handle their money and budget their time. Limit work hours to fewer than 20 per week to ensure that their grades are not adversely affected. If your student is involved in extracurricular activities too, make sure that this time is included with the hours that they work. Maintaining good grades is essential, no job or outside activity is worth it if it takes away from their schooling.

In all cases, show your teen that you believe in him or her. As you know, parenting is much more than providing for their needs…you want to guide your child from youth toward adulthood by showing them that there is much more to life than all things electronic. So, gently disconnect your teen and get them involved with other pursuits.