Out of Work and Stressed Out

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Guest post by Erik Fisher, PhD, AKA Dr. E… www.DrEPresents.com

For millions of Americans, being out of work one more day is an all too familiar situation. The jobs that people once had have been eliminated, bills are due, part-time jobs aren’t paying well, families need to eat, and unemployment is running out. For those who were the bread-winners, guilt, failure, hopelessness and stress can feel overwhelming. So how do you take care of yourself if you find yourself in this predicament?

Don’t Let Your Career Define You

Too many times we allow our job or lack thereof define our worth and value. When we are out of work, we question who we are because we have placed our value in a dollar sign. When you feel this way, look around and see the other areas in your life where you add value – your kids, your spouse, your family… See how you are important to people around you in more than just your job and what they love about you. If you don’t see those things, then see if there are ways that you can add meaning to the lives of others. Furthermore, if you are in a relationship where you feel that people are putting a price on your worth, look at the relationship, get some help with it if you can, and if it isn’t working, it may be time to re-evaluate.

It is easy to get into a place of feeling sorry for ourselves when we feel down and out. Sometimes our thought patterns can keep us stuck in this. If you are stuck in these thought patterns, check your thoughts and redirect them to more positive thoughts.

Just Keep Swimming…

Do something positive every day to keep your mind and brain working. People out of work sometimes have a hard time getting out of bed, and that look at the Help-wanted section can be a dreadful reminder of your situation. Read, learn, do something to help look for work or advance your situation. Is it time to go back to school to get educated in something new? What hobbies do you have that you can engage in? If money is an issue, can you find a free hobby? Volunteer your time if you can. Giving to others can feel empowering and you never know whom you will meet or what you will learn along the way. Worry and stress can become quicksand for many, so find a way to keep active.

Exercise Every Day

Exercise releases endorphins. These can help you feel better. This does not just mean to piddle around the weight room and do a few curls. This means do some work. You need to get your heart pumping. Running, weightlifting, aerobics, Pilates… whatever you may enjoy that can get you and/or keep you in shape – this is critical to your physical and emotional health. Being in shape can also help in the interview process, as it can contribute to your sense of confidence, and appearance often matters in job interviews.

Sometimes We All Need a Hand

Sometimes people feel too “proud” to ask for help. Whether it is needing emotional support, part-time help, therapy… we live in a world of other people. Many people feel happy to help. Never think that you have to do everything on your own.

I put the quotes around “proud”, because that is what people call it. I call it arrogance. Pride is when we feel good about who we are. No matter what is going on around us, we can still feel proud of our efforts and who we are. Arrogance is a shield of false pride. It hides shame, guilt, inadequacy… When people can’t ask for help when they need it, it is often because they are hiding these emotions. Arrogance can bring down the people around you as well. You and your family can suffer.

Remember that you are not alone. So many people are going through the same situation. I believe that there is always something to learn in every situation and that life happens for us not to us. If there is something more you can do, then take a hard look at yourself and do it. If you are doing your best, then feel proud of your efforts and keep going. Appreciate those around you and let that love in. It’s the most important ingredient.

About the author: Erik Fisher, PhD, aka Dr. E…, is a licensed psychologist, author and contributing correspondent on The Better Show. Dr. E… has also been featured NBC, CBS and FOX, and is a regular expert on CNN. Visit him at www.DrEPresents.com.

Halloween Freebies and Fun

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Halloween is a blast. With each age and stage the kids go through, Halloween changes – but it never gets less fun. Here’s a roundup of a few Halloween Freebies and Fun to add more ghoulish delight to your family’s celebration…

15 Hauntingly Healthy Halloween Snacks
It’s always a challenge to find treats for the kids’ classroom Halloween parties that are festive but not full of sugar. Family Fun has some creative, and healthy Halloween snacks. We love these apple “bites,” as well as the other healthy ideas they’ve come up with.


Free, Spooky Halloween Music

Back by popular demand and refreshed to include new tracks and themes, Pandora’s Halloween stations offer a fun approach to getting in the spooky spirit this Halloween. The eight new stations deliver a wide range of music to enjoy throughout the holiday – - everything from a mix of upbeat Halloween-inspired hits to a melodic collection of spooky instrumental compilations to a variety of kid-friendly classics – and are accessible via http://www.pandora.com/#!/genres/halloween.

“You’ve Been Boo’ed” Sign and Instructions
We’ve been boo-ing our neighbors for years. Each October, we buy a bucketful of treats for a couple of families, then the kids deliver them anonymously. This involves leaving the treats on the recipient’s doorstep, knocking on the door, and trying not to fall as you dash madly away and into hiding. Squeals of glee are virtually guaranteed. In fact, this is my kids’ favorite Halloween tradition after Trick or Treating. There are a number of Boo printables for this purpose on the Internet, but none as lovely as this one I found for free download here, from TomKat Studio.

The weirdest (and most adorable) Halloween Costumes for Kids
A photo slideshow. Behold the weirdness, and add your own!

Halloween Drinks – Halloween Punch Recipes
Need to brew up something spooky for guests this Halloween? Here are four fun and festive Halloween punch recipes – 2 for kids, 2 for adults


Free Pumpkin Carving Templates

Choose from four cool and creative pumpkin carving patterns from PumpkinMasters.com. Just download and print.

More Free Pumpkin Craving Stencils
30 more printable stencils to choose from, categorized into Easy, Intermediate, and Advanced designs. Courtesy of Hersheys.com

Printable Halloween Masks and Decorations
A great collection of printable masks, decorations, iron-ons and more.

Halloween Treats for the Adults- Vanilla Cinnamon Apples
Halloween brings plenty of tempting treats for kids, but what about the adults?This Vanilla Cinnamon Apples recipe, courtesy of Nielsen Massey Vanilla, adds an element of sophistication to this year’s festivities and are sure to have guests lining up for seconds.

Pumpkin Patch Finder
This site can help you find a pumpkin patch, corn maze, hayrides, trick or treat streets and other Halloween fun near you!

Lots more Halloween Articles on Momscape >

 

Have You Hugged Your Kids Today?

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By Erik Fisher, PhD, aka Dr. E…, www.DrEPresents.com

Our kids bring us so much joy. Sometimes it is hard to believe that we can love someone that much. However, just as can happen with a marriage, the same can happen with our kids. We can begin to take them for granted. It is so easy to get wrapped up in life and become distracted by work, and other life stressors. It is important to remember that our kids need to feel loved and need to know that they are loved. My goal with my daughter when she was born was one million kisses before she turns five, and I make a point to tell her I love her at least once per day—and it feels so good to hear her say in her 3 year-old voice, “Daddy, I lub you so much.” Do I keep count of the hugs? No, but I do know I am well on the way.

In working with kids, adults and parents, there are so many times that I have found that parents don’t tell or show their kids how they feel about them. Some of the reasons that I hear as to why parents don’t “love on” their kids are:

* As their children get older, they don’t think they need the reassurance
* They were never loved on when they were kids
* They don’t feel comfortable loving on their kids when they approach adolescence
* They didn’t realize that their kids felt unloved
* They just aren’t that type of person
* Whenever they try to love on their kids they squirm away or don’t respond in return

Our kids often give us our best opportunities to stretch ourselves. Sometimes we have to push ourselves to get out of old habits and to begin new patterns. What we don’t realize that what we are missing out on when we don’t share love with our kids is how we feel inside. Sometimes parents need to face their uncomfortable feelings and the boundaries that they put in place not just between them and their children, but between them and other people. Sometimes parents can face their fears of rejection from their own kids, that if they don’t love them too much, their kids can’t push them away. Sometimes it is just a matter of learning to love and share in the process with someone else.

Our kids offer us the best opportunity to make an investment in loving them without expecting something in return. When I grew up, I was not someone who felt comfortable saying “I love you.” My mom told us all the time, and my dad showed us through service. It wasn’t until we all went off to college that my dad realized the power of sharing how he felt with words. Keep in mind that even though you know how much you may love your kids, they don’t often understand the things that you do, but they do hear the words that you say and the number of times you hug them and even sit with them with your arm around them.

Take the time to hug your kids and tell them that you love at least five times a day. Even if your kids might squirm or act like you have the plague, keep doing it. Neither of you may be used to it. But I don’t hear many troubled teens or adults who said that they behave like they do because their parents gave them too much love.

About the author: Erik Fisher, PhD, aka Dr. E…, is a licensed psychologist and author of two books whose work has been featured NBC, CBS, FOX and CNN. Visit him at www.DrEPresents.com to learn more about his new show, Off The Couch with Dr. E… .

Masters of the Airbrush

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By Erik Fisher, PhD, AKA Dr E www.DrEPresents.com

Your kids are inundated with images every day, and the degree to which these images are valid representations of the human form will subtly and obviously affect how they view the world and themselves as they grow up. Some of you may feel that banning ads such as those in Britain is absolutely overblown and a violation of rights. While this was seen as a truth in advertising issue, it is a psychological health issue as well. To many kids and adults, they may not think twice about these ads. To others, they may bring up intense feelings of inadequacy and self-hatred. The fact that we accept these images as acceptable is a sign of our numbness to the alternate realities that are created by the media and advertising.

I remember when doing my graduate research that I felt that surely in 20 years, our society would grow beyond this obsession with our bodies and appearance. I was teaching about airbrushing, and the degree of eating disorders in the modeling industry, and I taught about the excessive pursuit of the male stereotype in body builders. I had believed that we would educate our kids and ourselves about how to feel better from the inside out, but instead, the problems have become worse, in some ways, and not only do young women have to look fit and thin, but even older women are still focused on the same pursuit of physical perfection at the cost of their self-esteem. Just look at the rate of plastic surgeries on everything from facelifts to calf implants, and the age range on these procedures is widening.

Jump on the Bandwagon, Guys

Men and boys are not immune to these issues. Their physique is just focused more on muscular aspects. Realize how the images that they see sell a muscular body that is often unachievable through reasonable means. Even men are going under the knife for various plastic procedures, including pectoral implants.

Imagine if we took the time energy and funds we spend on the way we look outside and focused it on improving our inner beauty? Don’t stay numb to these cultural phenomena that are influencing our kids. Let’s get real.

Here are some tips to pay attention to if you feel concerned about your kids and their body image.

1. Be aware of your and your spouse’s body image issues. Do you talk about your body and how you feel about it in front of them?

2. Do you notice your kids talking about how they look and/or are they preoccupied with their appearance or specific body features?

3. Are their friends focused on their body and/or do they make comments about others’ appearance?

4. Are you and/or any of your kids obsessed with dieting and/or exercise?

These are just a few questions to look at these issues in your family. Often parents, without realizing it, feed their children’s issues, no pun intended. Talk to them, and if you don’t feel equipped to do so, get some help to talk about it before it goes too far.

About the author: Erik Fisher, PhD, aka Dr. E…, is a licensed psychologist and author of two books whose work has been featured NBC, CBS, FOX and CNN. Visit him at www.DrEPresents.com to learn more about his new show, Off The Couch with Dr. E… .

Learn more about Dr. E.’s books:

The Art of Empowered Parenting: The Manual You Wish Your Kids Came With
The Art of Empowered Parenting: The Manual You Wish Your Kids Came With
Price: $16.95
The Art of Empowered Parenting provides a unique look at the impact parents have on their children’s behavior by challenging them to first understand themselves. Information and advice blend with practical tips and exercises to both educate and help parents apply new techniques. Dr. Fisher’s well-known perspectives on power and emotion, as well as discussions on temperament, attachment, and their strategic interaction, provide the basis for a new look on empowered parenting that can make raising any child an easier journey.

The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict: Understanding Emotions and Power Struggles
The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict: Understanding Emotions and Power Struggles
Price: $43.95
We all have power struggles affecting each of us in every stage of our life, nearly every day. We all get wrapped up in conflicts, but often have no idea how to resolve them. This book dicusses the “hows” and “whys” of conflict and provides easy-to-use solutions for most situations. The focus is on the role of emotion. Conflict results from the way in which we view our own power, and our views on power are largely influenced by our emotions. So we must begin by looking closely at our emotions. Fisher and Sharp guide us to pinpoint those and see how emotions move us into playing one of the classic roles in conflict – Victim, Persecutor, Instigator or Rescuer. And we learn how emotions can play productive purposes; how they can be used to minimize and remove serious conflict in our lives. The text includes vignettes, anecdotes, personal inventories, illustrations and concrete exercises. While general readers will find this text of interest, it will also provide valuable information for students of psychology, sociology, business management, human resources and family studies.

 

3rd Grade Games

Today, we started our regular summer routine in which I insist the kids do some reading and math before they go outside to play. While I’m not a homeschooling mom by any stretch of the imagination, I do try to keep a routine during the summer months that includes at least a bit of writing, a pinch of reading and a dash of math.

To that end, my youngest child’s teachers have shared some great educational games and resources over the past year for my soon-to-be 3rd grader, and I wanted to share them with you, too. Most of these resources aren’t exclusively for second/third graders but have different levels for different ages and grades.

Please feel free to add your own favorite educational games and websites in the comments section:

3rd Grade Math Games

Mathfactcafe.com
Printable math fact tests, organized by grade. Plus generators for math drills, flashcards, time, money, and more. A great resource!

Second and Third Grade Reading & Grammar

Grammar Gorillas

Help with Verbs

Beginning Sentence Building

More Advanced Sentence Building

Related 3rd Grade Game Products

Carson-Dellosa File Folder Games Set, 3rd Grade Math
Carson-Dellosa File Folder Games Set, 3rd Grade Math
Set includes preprinted game boards so that you only need to cut and laminate game pieces. Storage is made easy with the re-ealable tote. Each set includes 6 games that meet state, national and provincial standards with grade-level-specific skills. From Office Depot. Office Depot.com coupons are here.

Carson-Dellosa File Folder Games Set, 3rd Grade Language Arts
Carson-Dellosa File Folder Games Set, 3rd Grade Language Arts
Set includes preprinted game boards so that you only need to cut and laminate game pieces. Storage is made easy with the re-sealable tote. Each set includes 6 games that meet state, national and provincial standards with grade-level-specific skills. From Office Depot. Office Depot.com coupons are here.

3rd Grade Math Games & Puzzles
3rd Grade Math Games & Puzzles
From Borders.com

Baby Food Recipe – Coconut Curry Sauce Cubes

Here’s a new baby food recipe from Fresh Baby’s Cheryl Tallman: Coconut Curry Sauce Cubes

Yellow Curry Powder is often associated with Indian cooking. It’s a blend of spices, which vary by region, food, and cooking style. Most Indian curry powders contain turmeric, coriander and cumin. At the market, choose a curry powder labeled “mild” for this recipe.

This recipe uses coconut milk which can be found in the Asian section of your supermarket. Coconut milk sometimes separates into a thick layer of white coconut and a watery liquid. Shaking the can before opening can recombine it, but if that doesn’t work, pour the contents of the can into a blender and whirl it, or pour it into a bowl and use a whisk to blend it together.

Ingredients:

* 1 (13.5 oz) can Coconut Milk
* ¼ cup Chicken Broth
* ¼ cup Onion, chopped
* 1 Garlic Clove, chopped
* 1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
* 1-2 Tsp. Curry (mild) Powder
* ¼ tsp. Cinnamon
* 1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar

Place all contents in a blender and process to smooth texture. Pour into a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour the sauce into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze until ready to use.

Serving: Remove a sauce cube from the freezer, defrost and combine it with pureed or mashed beans, meats rice or vegetables. When first introducing the sauce, try a small amount and work your way up to more. Here are some delicious combinations for awesome coconut curries:

* Lentils, Carrots and Apples
* Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower and Beef
* Brown Rice, Spinach and Chicken

About the author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food and the new book So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips.


Products and books by Cheryl Tallman:

Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food Kit, 1 kit
Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food Kit, 1 kit
Price: $37.99
Designed for babies making the transition from breast or bottle to solid foods (babies about 6 months old), the Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food Kit takes all of the guesswork out of making baby food. This all-in-one kit includes a cookbook, freezer trays, DVD, and nutrition tips card. The cookbook covers introducing solid food, includes over 40 recipes, hundreds of serving suggestions, and is all organized by age. Freezer trays are designed for storing baby food in pre-portioned one ounce servings to simplify mealtime and reduce waste (2 trays and 2 lids, spill-proof, stackable, dishwasher-safe). The How-to DVD offers step-by-step instruction – from selecting the right produce – to making baby food – to serving it. The nutrition tips card gives you tips on the best sources of nutrients, introducing foods by age, first aid for choking, and more. Colors and styles may vary. Styles are selected at random when shipped.
Available at Buy.com (All the latest Buy.com coupon codes are here.)

So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
Price: $7.16

So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years
So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years
Price: $4.69

Summer Reading

Today is the first day of summer vacation for my kids. After school yesterday, we took part in our annual last day of school tradition, namely, going to Starbucks for Double Chocolaty Chip Frappucinos and making lists of things we want to do before the school bell rings again in the fall.

I’ll tell you what I want to do: inspire my kids to read. It’s not a problem for the 10 year old. With her, we have the problem of trying to get her to take her nose out of a book on occasion so she doesn’t trip on curbs as she walks down the street.

I want to get each of my kids fired up about reading, and – failing that – at least read enough so they don’t backslide by next year.

Here are some ideas we’re going to try to institute:

1. Start the ‘summer learning adventure’ by heading to the local library. (Though we’ll probably wait until next week. The kids have declared today – the first day of summer break – Kid’s Day, which probably means we’ll ride bikes to the nearest ice cream shop and then run around the neighborhood.)

Many public libraries offer reading programs each summer that challenge your child to read. They may have flyers and contests and giveaways to help your child stay on track and reading suggestions divided by age group.

2. Help your kids share their enthusiasm with younger kids. If you have a middle schooler, for example, you could invite the younger kids over for a storytime in which your older kids read to the little ones. Then serve some popsicles.

3. Tie in books about your vacation destination or the region in which you live. Find a children’s book or middle grade novel that ties into a summer vacation location. Read about the history of an area or read a historical novel that ties into a place you are going to visit.

4. Have a family reading time. Whether you replace an hour of television each night, or start off with a book in the morning, choose a book that everyone will enjoy and take turns reading the story aloud. Make the book come alive by reading the parts with different voices.

5. Let your kids choose whatever they want to read. Let them choose a comic book instead of a chapter book, for example. Some children, especially those that are struggling, prefer comic books because the text is large, the sentences are short, and the entire story isn’t that long. They feel they actually can read and understand comics better because the artwork helps tell the story.

Or choose a book that’s just for fun. My kids have each devoured the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series -though one was introduced to it when it was a bit high for his reading level, and the others were introduced to it when it was too low. They each related to Greg Hefley, and I enjoyed reading parts of it aloud, as well.

6. Use gadgetry to your advantage. If your kids are into screen time, let them borrow your ereader or download a book on their ipod.

7. Find educational computer games and games for video game systems that let your kids have fun while helping them hone their basic skills. (Of course, too many computer games – educational or not – will reduce your child’s activity level, so keep it in moderation.)

Here are a couple to try:

Readingeggs.com – This site is paid but comes with a free trial. Online games and activities, songs, with golden eggs and other rewards, which help kids feel proud of their reading and motivate them to keep learning and exploring.

Hooked on Phonics also has a variety of Reading Solutions for Kids, perfect for summertime. These programs are for kids ages 3 to 12.

Hooked on Phonics can help Pre-K children get a head start on reading before entering kindergarten in the fall. It can help children who struggle with reading catch up over the summer and be ready for the new school year, and it can help children who are on pace with reading have a fun summer learning activity that will also prevent learning loss over the summer.

In addition, here is Momscape’s list of Fun and Educational Sites for Elementary School Students

As well as more ideas on helping your kids learn all summer long.

Here are more ideas for Summer Reading:

Summer Reading Program Fun
Summer Reading Program Fun
Price: $27.54
Make your summer reading program fun with an innovative approach kids will love. Choose one game to plan your summer reading program or try them all, and you have 10 years of programming!

Summer Reading Renaissance
Summer Reading Renaissance
Price: $45.0
Discover a new approach to summer programs that doesn”t involve counting hours and books, giving rewards and awards-just reading, learning, and fun.

7 Tips for Raising Confident Kids

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Photo Credit: superman by scottfeldstein, on Flickr

We want our kids to look to the future with more excitement than apprehension; more exhilaration than nervousness.

Here are few everyday tips and tools to help you raise your child’s level of confidence.

1. Be a confident mama. The best way to raise confident children is to be confident yourself. Show your children that you are confident in your own abilities – even if that means you don’t always get what you want. Let them see you struggle toward a goal.

Talk openly with your kids about the obstacles you faced and how you overcame them, or what you will do differently in the future.

It’s okay to let your kids see you fail. Kids need to understand that failure is a part of success.  When they realize you can feel confident in your own abilities no matter what the outcome, they can adopt the same attitude.

2. Make sure your kids have sufficient responsibility. One way to build self-confidence in your children is to begin giving them some important responsibilities, commensurate with their age and ability level. This doesn’t mean you have to give them huge tasks. Kids as young as three can put their clothes in a hamper and pick up their toys. Here are some good suggestions for age-appropriate chores, from about.com.

Give your kids age-appropriate tasks which you can know they can accomplish successfully. Then create routines in which they are asked to do these tasks. As your kids get older, ask them to do jobs that take more responsibility. They will see how your confidence in their abilities has grown; their own confidence in their abilities will grow in kind.

3. As much as possible, allow your kids to make decisions of their own. Very young children can be asked something as simple as which type of cereal they would like to eat. As kids get older, you can give them more important decisions to make. Guide them into making wise choices and you’ll also encourage their self-confidence to grow.

4. Praise your children often but be careful how you do it.
Some parents go overboard by praising everything their child does, and that can give them a false sense of identity. Kids might think they can’t do wrong. But if you praise your children for the effort they put forth, not necessarily for winning or succeeding, they may be less deterred by setbacks.

5. Tell your children – often – that you believe in them and their ability to make good choices for themselves. Choose your words carefully. Tell them “You’re doing better at . . .” or “I appreciate how you . . .”

Apply encouragement liberally. Really slather it on. Put notes in your children’s lunchbox to encourage them. Write them notes on their birthdays – and throughout the year -  with specific examples of good decisions that they made. When you believe in them, they will be more likely to believe in themselves.

6. Take time to listen to what your children have to say. Your kids need to know that what they say matters to you. Help them learn to express their fears, frustrations and emotions. Support them as much as possible, but correct them if they’re wrong.

7. Allow natural consequences. Rather than always trying to spare your children from pain or heartbreak, let them experience what happens when they make mistakes. Teach them to “own up” to their mistakes and to learn from them. Allow them to see you do the same.

More information on raising confident kids:

Parents Do Make a Difference: How to Raise Kids with Solid Character, Strong Minds and Caring Hearts
by Michele Borba

Momscape articles by Dr. Michele Borba:

Simple Secrets that Create Happy Family Memories
Research has found that doing simple rituals enhances our feelings of togetherness and family belonging by almost 20 percent. And those home traditions and customs also increase our kids’ social skills and development. Here are nine simple, no-cost secrets moms are using to create happy memories.

Teaching Kids How to be Appreciative Even if They’re Disappointed
Dr. Borba on teaching kids how to accept gifts graciously.

Ten Ways to Tell If YOU Need a Time-Out

By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

A time-out is something one takes or is given when one needs a break from their surroundings. A time-out is what we need when we’re sad and want to be alone. It’s useful when we are feeling hurt and don’t know what to say. A time-out is valuable when we’re confused and don’t know what to do. A time-out is an opportunity to reenergize and get ready to effectively address the situation at hand.

Children need time to calm their minds and relax their bodies when they’re frustrated. So do adults. Adults as well as children can use a break from the world around them when they are angry or frustrated. They need an opportunity to get themselves ready to learn a new skill or face a problem. They need time to get back into a solution-seeking mind-set.

The concept of taking time out as it was originally designed was an attempt to give children time to cool down. Its purpose was to provide a safe space and time for a child to calm herself.  Adults need that safe place to calm themselves as well. This can be achieved by taking a walk, riding your bike, or closing the bathroom door. It can be created through gardening, mowing the grass, or hiring a babysitter for an hour.

But how do you know when it is time for a time-out? How can you tell when it would be helpful to enter time-out mode? Check the following guidelines. Here you will find ten ways to tell when taking time out would be helpful.

1. Are you yelling? Is the volume of your voice escalating rapidly? Have you forgotten that increasing the volume of an ineffective verbal  skill only makes it a loud, ineffective verbal skill?  When you hear yourself yelling, be assured that it is time for a time-out. Yours.

2. Are you feeling anxious?
Do you have knots in the pit of your stomach? Is anxiety racing through your body? Do you feel your stomach muscles tightening as you prepare to deal with the latest behavior chosen by your child? If so, you could benefit by granting yourself permission to take a time-out.

3. Do you have a strong need to be in control? Are you regularly bossing your children, ordering them about, and telling them what to do? Are you having trouble letting them do it their way? If so, you are overfunctioning and need a break. Give yourself a time-out.

4. Have you noticed that you are not mentally present when you are physically present? Have you been thinking about other things when you play with your children? Are you preoccupied with your adult agenda when you are with them? Then it is time for a time-out.

5. Do you find yourself coming up with new ways to keep your kids occupied, distracted, or entertained? In other words, are you creating or buying things they can do so you can keep them out of your hair? Parental expediency—doing what is easiest for you, what meets your needs—does not always meet the needs of your children. It is a sign that a parental time-out is in order.

6. Have you been hearing any sarcasm come out of your mouth lately? Sarcasm is not funny. It is not a joke. It is a thinly veiled putdown that mocks your child and prevents them from receiving honest, open, descriptive feedback. It is a sure sign that you could use a timeout.

7. Have you struck your child recently? Hitting—yes, this includes spanking—is a major indicator that the time is ripe for you to be in time-out. If you are hitting children, you need to get a grip, get yourself under control, get your temper in check, take control of your runaway ego, and move from the animal part of your brain to the frontal lobe, where reasoning, solution-seeking, planning, and listening can occur. Time out is a good place for that to happen.

8. Are you playing the blame game? Are you good at finding fault in your children without looking inward to see what role you played in creating the current situation? Blaming exhausts your present moments and keeps you from searching for solutions. Take a time-out and use it to reorganize your thinking.

9. Are you using inappropriate language? You know what words we mean. The ones that you don’t want your children saying, the ones they get in trouble for using at school. Watch your language. When you hear yourself use one of these inappropriate words, take a turn in time-out. Use that time effectively by coming up with appropriate synonyms.

10. Have you been engaged in the exact behaviors you want to eliminate in your children? Do you threaten them to stop threatening their sister? Do you tease them about their teasing, hit them so they will stop hitting, yell so they will talk more softly, or bite them to show them how it feels to be bitten? Stop. Proceed immediately to time out.

Use time out to calm down, get centered, and relax. When you can see things differently, from a new perspective, you are ready to return. Focus on solution-seeking, listening, and creating mutual understanding. Take a teaching stance first. If consequences are called for, use them with an open heart. Come from a space of love and caring. Leave anger, annoyance, and frustration back in time-out. Let the child be the child. You be the adult.

Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
are the authors of The Only 3 Discipline Strategies You Will Ever Need. They are two of the world’s foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free Uncommon Parenting blog. To obtain more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their website today: www.uncommon-parenting.com.

Simple Toys – Healthy Minds

A Simpler Time

A Simpler Time. Photo courtesy of The Photography Muse

We moms know that our kids derive more benefit from playing with some toys than others.

The more simple the toy, the more I seem to relish watching my children playing with it. Seeing my son’s face as he makes something “just so” with clay or watching my daughter as she deliberates over her next chess move. You can almost see the neurons firing and connecting in new ways, making their brains bigger and better than ever.

That said, I do have to admit that there’s a time and a usefulness to other kinds of toys, too. Sometimes, we all just want to zone out for a few minutes and watch something dance across a screen. Those modern toys that spoon feed our children with entertainment without enhancing any particular skill have certainly not been banned from my home. In fact, I’ll be the first to admit that they are used daily.

Still, when you want to find something for your children to engage with that encourages greater creativity, you have more options, it seems, than ever before.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing toys that encourage healthy mental development and motor skills.

First, let’s look at the downside of some of today’s toys.

* Toys based on movies might limit kids to using pre-fabricated plots and characters.

* There is growing concern over the toxicity of the plastics used to make toys. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is environmentally toxic to produce and contains chemicals (adipates and phthalates) that can leach into foods and, of course, into your child or baby’s mouth.

* Every toy has a life cycle, and when its time is up, it usually ends up in the landfill. More and more evidence points to the environmental toxicity of these plastics as they release harmful toxins into the environment. Of course, you can reduce this environmental impact by giving toys to other children when your kids have outgrown them. (Especially those giant chunks of plastic.)

* There is so much technology today. It’s a digital world, and children get caught up in it. Children can end up viewing the world through a screen.

What Kinds of Toys Enhance Cognitive Development?

Solid, simple toys are consistently shown to be wonderful for a child’s development. Here are some of our favorites:

* Legos. Can I tell you how much I love legos? Oh mercy me. Yes, they are plastic but might just be the best toy ever invented. I actually think that playing with Legos is how my kids meditate. If my 7- and 9-year old have a crazy day at school, they will shut themselves up in their rooms for 10 minutes and play Legos and – just like that – order is restored to their universe. It’s magic.

* Art supplies. Is there anything better than a well stocked art cabinet? (Here’s a checklist of essential art supplies for kids. ) Now that my daughters are 9 and 11, I would add a couple of things: namely, a hot glue gun and some popsicle sticks. You wouldn’t believe the number of afternoons my kids have creatively wiled away making jewelry boxes and dollhouses – of their own design.

* Basic wooden toys - also known as “folk toys” – are gaining popularity and are more widely available. A huge variety of wooden toys are available, such as wooden trains, airplanes, marble chutes, trucks, cars, and others. Not associated with any media, children are free to imagine with these toys and create their own world of make-believe.

* Simple wooden blocks put your child literally in touch with her environment. Various shapes, sizes and colors (although plain wood is fine, too) help your child learn how to manipulate his environment, create, and solve problems.

* Marbles have been a favorite of older children for decades. These attractive glass spheres can be used to play the game of marbles. They can also be run down creative chutes.

* Wooden or porcelain dominoes are excellent for teaching and reinforcing math skills. Setting them up carefully and then knocking them down at a prescribed moment enhances fine motor coordination.

* Chess, checkers, and board games
are timeless, fun toys for older children. Card games, too.

Here are a more Momscape resources to give you ideas:

Family Fun Ideas at Momscape

Lots of creative games, crafts, and activities. No batteries required.

Old Fashioned Children’s Games

A Momscape product pick

Back to Basics Toys
An online store and catalog company specializing in old-fashioned toys. They have Daily Deals and frequent coupon codes, which we are proud to publish here.