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Being a Stepparent

about Being a Stepparent

Falling in love with someone who already has children from a previous union is not insignificant. Quite often, it is more than a couple that emerges, it is a family… blended. How can you love children who are not your own? How can we find our place among them and ensure that it is respected? What role should they have in their education? To help you live your first steps as a step-parent, we explored the 5 main stages of this new life with psychologist Catherine Audibert.

Take time

You do not become a child’s stepfather or step-mother once you decide to make a life for yourself with one of your parents. “It is the common life of the new couple that establishes the place of step-parent,” explains Catherine Audibert, psychologist and psychoanalyst. But on the psychological level, one becomes a step-parent just as one becomes a parent: with the experience of this new situation.

“The encounters and moments spent together before the common life allow us to get to know each other gently, to discover each other. But it is the cohabitation that really marks the beginning of the step-parent experience. Sharing breakfast, bathing the youngest, watching a film with the adults… Only daily life really allows us to get closer to children, to take care of them, to protect them and therefore, to be attached to them.

Reconstructing a family requires time for adults and children alike. And to always keep in mind that a stepfamily is the result of one or two broken families. With what it can induce suffering and difficulties. Sadness, regret, guilt, anger… Each member of the family inevitably emerges changed and upset from its breakdown and the separation of the parental couple. And everyone needs time to be able to rebuild.

“The golden rule of recomposition, for Catherine Audibert, is not to want to rush things, to leave time to time. Taking a place as a step-parent is not done in a day, it takes a little tact and discernment for this place to be accepted. The hostility of stepchildren, which is common at first, should not be interpreted as an attack on the step-parent in his person, but in the place he takes as a result.

Finding your place as a step-parent

Substitute parent? Additional parent? Or not related at all? The place of the step-parent is not self-evident. “In most cases,” says Catherine Audibert, “it’s not about replacing the missing parent. Certainly, there is a place to be taken, but it is a place to be invented, it is “other”.

Whether the parent is removed by divorce, or even deceased, he or she will always remain the parent. “Thus, the place of the step-parent is determined by the investment that the step-parent is willing to make in his or her relationship with the child, but also by what the child (s) need to find with him or her.

“The step-parent can take a full parental role, in his daily involvement with the children with the parent present,” explains Catherine Audibert. Sometimes, in the event of the total disappearance of the other parent, the step-parent will be invested by the child or children as if he or she were the parent, especially when the children are small. »

However, the reality is not so simple, as Marie, Louis’ mother-in-law, tells us. “I had a hard time finding my place, because it was dynamited from all sides, with grandparents who were very hostile towards me.

I have the feeling that the role of the step-parent is very contradictory:

on the one hand, you have an obligation, linked to the situation, to take care of a child who is not yours, and on the other hand, you are absolutely bound not to leave your role, and above all, you have no right to make mistakes. “Because if in the media or films, the reconstituted family seems to have the wind in its sails (what a TV movie has not staged these families where everyone – including ex-boyfriends – shares the Sunday roast around a large and happy table), in reality, in-laws continue to suffer from prejudice. And more particularly mothers-in-law, according to Catherine Audibert.

“The mother-in-law is often dressed in the stepmother’s costume. It is difficult to see her other than as the jealous, the wicked, the witch, the child thief, even the whore. Stepfathers are more often welcomed as saviors. Thanks to them, the woman will no longer be alone and weakened by loneliness.

“No, rebuilding a family is not as simple as you’d like to think. No, not everyone finds their place in this new story right away. It is a long and complex adventure, which requires a lot of patience and love, especially within the new couple that is forming.
Be supported by your partner

To make your place accepted in the eyes of children, ex-parents, grandparents and even friends, it seems essential to be able to rely on the only person by whom the step-parent’s place in the stepfamily is legitimate: his or her partner.

Because it is above all as a companion of the parent that the step-parent integrates the family. “Your partner is the one who will allow you to take an adult place in the new family,” explains Catherine Audibert, “and allow you to have a role with her children. The trust he places in you, the acceptance to let you approach his children, are very important. »

But here again, as Mary testifies, it must not be forgotten that for the parent too, the breakdown of the nuclear family and the formation of a new tribe is a challenge: “My partner was too concerned about his own place with his son, a place he feared losing, and therefore was not of much help to me. It wasn’t easy for him either.

“Confusion of feelings, guilt, adults often find it difficult to give this new family clear contours. However, it is a necessary step to help children structure themselves and accept family changes. Thus, the new couple must not forget that the situation they are experiencing is indeed the result of their decision: that of loving each other, despite the difficulty. In retrospect, this was understood by Constance, mother of a first son, who rebuilt a family with her partner Eric and her two daughters.

“Everyone defended their son or daughter, anxious to protect them, feeling guilty for being at the origin of the separation, for not being able to offer them the best (implied, a life with their real parents). We added confusion to all this, and finally, by putting our children first, we put our relationship to the test. Then we talked a lot about the attitudes to adopt, the answers to give, the positions to respect, the words to find…

At the cost of frequent and painful conflicts, that is the only regret I could have. “Accepting that there will be obstacles and coming together to overcome them: what if this were the key to the couple deciding to reunite a family?

Understanding the feelings at stake

How many in-laws fear not loving their stepchildren as if they were their own, or feel guilty for not loving them as much as their own children? Yet, as Catherine Audibert explains, the difficulty of loving a child who is not your own is real and legitimate.

“If the parent prepares for parenthood long before having a child (we dream of becoming a parent), the step-parent has the particularity of not being prepared for that place that he improvises most of the time by taking on “his duties” and coming into the lives of children who have been dreamed of, wanted, conceived by others and who already have their own history. You have to accept the fact that love is not spontaneous to have a chance to see it being born between the step-parent and the child.

“A difficult awareness, which sometimes takes time, but often cleanses relationships, as Constance testifies: “My relationships with girls changed the day I realized that I was not under an obligation to love them.

According to Marie, it was above all the attitude of her son-in-law and her age that prevented the bonds from being created. “We could probably have built better relationships when Louis was a kid. But by adolescence, it is already too late. I thought that as I grew up it would change, but the desire was not there.

Nevertheless, as an adult, I have always maintained a clear line of conduct based on mutual respect. Do not force feelings, make sure that he does not lack anything like his brother and sister, prepare for him, as for others, dishes that he likes, beautiful birthday parties… But I gave up a compliment or a kind word from him. He doesn’t even wish me my birthdays. »

For Louis, as for other children who are struggling with recomposition, the pain of having to live with a parent who is not his own is sometimes very strong. And even more so when the ex, her other parent, has difficulty accepting the separation and the new life that is being built.

When the latter shows contempt or rivalry towards the step-parent, the child is often trapped in a conflict of loyalty. Fearing betrayal of one of his parents, it seems impossible to him to accept this other adult in his life, to show affection for him, to support him. How many children find themselves torn between their two families? Faced with the suffering of these children, however, it is indeed up to adults to take their responsibility: to protect them.

And even if it means putting one’s own suffering on the back burner for a while. Thus, when the difficulties are real, between mothers and mothers-in-law for example, it is their duty not to put children at the heart of their personal conflicts.
Define roles and rules
To go further

Catherine Audibert, psychologist and psychoanalyst, is the author of Oedipus and Narcissus in reconstituted families (Payot) and The complex of the stepmother (Payot).

While no obligation of love can be imposed on the step-parent towards his stepchildren and vice versa, an obligation of respect is nevertheless necessary to establish the basis for cohabitation and living together. The step-parent, as an adult in the reconstituted home, can hardly be completely excluded from the education of children, even if they are not his own. “His role is real in that he shares the lives of these children.

As an adult in the house, he has a duty to protect them,” explains Catherine Audibert. In some families, we see in-laws who only have a “green plant” place, who are not allowed to say anything to their stepchildren. This is a very infantilizing situation for these adults, who, let us not forget, are also at home, and who are in principle responsible people.

Legitimate parents are the decision-makers in the broad lines of education (hoping that they themselves will agree among themselves on these issues). But in the reconstituted home, the rules of the house are made by the two adults who form the new couple, and they must support each other so that the children respect these rules and respect their step-parent. »

Without ever forgetting the golden rule of recomposition: give time time to time. The time to discover yourself, the time to find your place, the time to be accepted, the time to love yourself.


Big Kids

How to Teach Children Problem-Solving Skills

Teach Children Problem-Solving Skills

Children face problems every day, either with their toys, with peers, or with a math exercise. But what is a problem?

A problem is the perceived difference between a situation in which an obstacle prevents us from progressing and a desired situation. It creates a state of dissatisfaction and imbalance.

Teachers are called upon to place students in problem situations that require them to connect new knowledge with familiar knowledge, so that they are active in the learning process.

Teaching through the problem-solving method will help students focus on the acquisition and processing of knowledge rather than memorization, and facilitate the integration and transfer of knowledge. In addition, it promotes the integration of learning into “life”.

Problem solving represents the higher level of learning activities: two or more acquired rules combine to produce a new ability that depends on a higher-order rule.

The more the teacher puts his or her students into real and complex problem situations, the more meaning they will find in what they learn.

How do you teach students problem solving?

Is there one method for all ages?

3 Strategies for Teaching Problem Solving at All Ages


A model is a representation (more or less simplified) of reality in order to be able to apply tools/techniques/theories to it. Modelling is the study and interpretation of a model.

Above all, you must realize that you are in a situation where you don’t know what to do. Describe the main problem by thinking aloud to help your child model the same problem-solving techniques on other concrete examples to put them into practice in his or her own life.

Ask children for advice

If you have a problem, ask your children for advice. They learn that mistakes and challenges are common. It also allows them to practice their problem-solving skills. In addition, when you show that their ideas are appreciated, children gain the confidence to try to solve problems on their own.

Don’t give “the answer.

Finding a solution is a difficult task, but allow your child to try, to try hard, to fail sometimes, and ultimately to suffer the consequences in order to gain confidence.

3 – 5 years old

Emotions are normal reactions, and are by no means a problem. Emotional coaching is concerned with the development of emotional intelligence, i.e. the ability to identify and respond appropriately to emotions.

To help your child to react correctly, it is best to follow the following process:

Step 1: Assist your child to ” label his emotions”

Children often have difficulty expressing their emotions because they do not always understand how they feel. We need to start by explaining to them that everyone has emotions and that being frustrated or angry does not make them “mean” or “bad. What matters is how they react to their emotions.

So it’s essential to help children put their feelings into words. By identifying their different emotions out loud, they will be better able to control their expression.

Step 2: Teach your child to react well

Your child needs to be taught to focus on reaction rather than emotion so that he or she understands that it is normal to feel emotions, but that he or she is responsible for how he or she reacts and the consequences of inappropriate behaviour.

Step 3: Problem solving

Think about solutions with your child, by listening more. This allows your child to practice problem-solving skills, and he or she will be better able to apply the solutions that he or she has come up with on his or her own.

Problem solving with creative play

Play is considered a natural activity for children and an essential stage in their development.

Before we can see how play is present at school, it is necessary to define it.

The Petit Larousse defines play as “an activity of a physical or mental nature, not imposed, not aiming at any utilitarian purpose, and which is undertaken for entertainment and pleasure.

Games are classified in three categories:

a -The playful game

It’s a free and spontaneous play of the child. He uses it without any goal or purpose, just for fun. He plays freely without any imposed rules, which allows him to explore and experiment without risk. It also evolves his creativity.

b -The educational game

The educational game has an educational value, but remains disinterested. They are games such as puzzles or construction games, for example. They help develop skills by reducing the effort of learning. It is used at school as an educational tool. The educational game would therefore be a balance between pure play and pure work.

c -The educational game

It’s an activity that keeps the richness of the game. The choice to play is imposed. The pedagogical game is close to an exercise because it is used to develop knowledge or skills. The goal of the game is clearly identified.

Examples of classroom games

The three games therefore allow students to learn how to build strategies, for example by teaching them not to always follow the same idea, but to explore all the possibilities.

Children often learn best through play. Playing with objects such as blocks, simple puzzles and dressed clothes can teach your child the process of problem solving.

Problem solving by reading stories .

Read age-appropriate stories with characters who have problems, for example :

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy; The story of two friends who want to play together but cannot find a game to agree on.

Curious George; A curious little monkey enters and leaves dilemmas, teaching children to find solutions to their own problems.

Ages 5-7

Teach students the steps of problem solving.

Create a simple problem-solving process for your child that you can apply at any time. For example, you can try the following five steps:

    Step 1: How do I feel?

 Help your child understand what he is feeling in the present moment (frustration, anger, curiosity, disappointment, excitement, etc.) Noticing and naming emotions will lessen their charge and give him a chance to take a step back.

    Step 2: What is the problem?

Guide your child to identify the specific problem. In most cases, help her take responsibility for what has happened rather than pointing fingers. For example, instead of “John got me in trouble at recess,” your child might say, “I got in trouble at recess because I argued with him.

    Step 3: What are the solutions?

Encourage your child to find as many solutions as possible. At this stage, they don’t even have to be “good” solutions. They are just brainstorming and not yet evaluating the ideas they have generated.

    Step 4: What would happen if…?

What would happen if your child tried each of these solutions? Is the solution safe and fair? How would others feel? You can also try role-playing at this stage. It is important that your child considers BOTH positive and negative consequences of his or her actions.

    Step 5: Which one will I try?

Ask your child to choose one or more solutions to try. If the solution didn’t work, discuss WHY and move on to another solution. Keep encouraging your child to continue testing until the problem is solved.

Problem Solving with Craft Materials

Crafting is another form of play that can teach children to solve problems creatively.

Give your child markers, play dough, cardboard boxes, tape, paper, etc., to use in the game. They will find all sorts of interesting creations and inventive games with these simple materials.

Open-ended questions develop the child’s ability to think critically and creatively, helping him to solve problems better:

    How can we get working together to resolve this problem?

    How did you get through it? Or how do you know?

    What was easy? What was hard?

    What would you do differently next time?

    Tell me about the things you built or made or created.

    What do you think will happen next?

    What would happen if…?

    What did you learn?

Open-ended questions do not have good answers and cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.

7-9 years old

Breaking down problems into pieces

This strategy is a more advanced version of “Show me the hardest one. »

As your child gets older, his problems get worse too. When your child faces a challenge that seems overwhelming or insurmountable, encourage them to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces.

For example, let’s say your child has a bad grade in history. Why is the grade so low? What are the causes of this problem?

As usual, LISTEN to your child’s brainstorming by asking open-ended questions to help her if she gets stuck.

If the poor grade is the result of missed assignments, perhaps your child can make a list of these assignments and tackle them one at a time. Or, if exams are involved, what makes it hard for your child to pass the exams?

Show “The video of the broken escalator”.

Discuss the importance of meeting challenges and solving problems independently with the “video of the broken escalator”.

In the video, an escalator breaks unexpectedly. People on the escalator are “stuck” and call for help. At this age, your child will probably find the video amusing and will immediately find a solution: “Walk! Get off the escalator! »

Explain to your child that this is a very simple example of the way people behave sometimes in challenging situations.”Why do you imagine they are not getting off the escalator?”(they didn’t know how, they were waiting for help, etc.).

Sometimes your child can feel “stuck” when faced with problems. They may stop and ask for help before even trying to find a solution. Encourage your child to take on challenges and solve problems instead.

Ages 9-11

Troubleshooting with prompts

Give your child materials like straws, cotton balls, wool, clothes pegs, tape, paper clips, sticky notes, sticks, etc.

With this material, challenge your children to solve unusual problems such as :

Creating a jump ramp for cars

Make a leprechaun trap.

Create your own game with rules

Making a device enabling two people to communicate with each other

It’s a fun way to practice critical thinking and creative problem solving. Most likely, it will take several attempts to find a solution that works and can be applied to almost every aspect of life.

Give them the means to do so

When your child asks for a new toy, technology or clothing, have him or her make a plan to get the desired item himself or herself. Not only will your child need to brainstorm and evaluate solutions, but he or she will also gain confidence.

Ask your child HOW they can earn money for the item they want, and encourage them as they work towards their goal.

Ages 12+

Play Chess together

Learning to play chess is a great way for children to learn how to solve problems. Players must have critical thinking skills, creativity, board analysis, recognize patterns and more.

Teach children about coding

Our teens and tweens are already familiar with technology and can use their problem-solving skills by learning how to code. Coding fosters creativity, logic, planning and perseverance. There are many tools and programs available online or in person that can enhance your child’s coding skills.

Encourage project initiation.

This project must make sense for your teenager, for example, launching a YouTube channel. Your teen will practice his or her problem-solving skills while learning how to broaden his or her audience, how to showcase his or her videos, and much more.

Apply the SODAS method

Are you looking for a program your teenager can use when faced with a problem? The SODAS method can be used for small or large problems. Simply remember this acronym and follow these ideas:






Encourage them to join problem-solving groups.

Does your teenager like to solve problems as a team? Invite them to join a group that will help them acquire skills in a variety of fields, from engineering science and automation to debate and business. Here are some examples of groups:

  Odyssey of the Mind

   Model UN

    Debate Team

    Scientific Olympiad

Problem-solving skills are the foundation of all areas of knowledge, such as mathematics, science and the arts. Whether it’s a child trying to figure out what the wet spot on the carpet is doing, or a scientist groping for a cure for cancer, the processes of thinking and problem solving are the same. And “through problem-solving learning, children build their intellectual capacity in these areas. Teaching children to solve problems also enhances their emotional, physical, aesthetic and social morals.

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Big Kids

kids Travel Tray

about kids Travel Tray

It’s always those times when you can’t devote your full attention to children that they find ways to wreak havoc, such as when they’re in the back seat of your car. Keep your toddlers well fed and entertained without wreaking havoc by using one of these travel trays. They provide a stable space for toys, crayons, colouring books, food and more.

Keeping Kids Happy on the Move

Adults without children may look at the parent boarding an airplane with a bag overflowing with activities for their child, perhaps wondering if the plethora of books, the multiple boxes of pencils and crayons, and the many toys and snacks may not be excessive. But what the experienced parent knows is that when it comes to traveling with children, the old maxim that “peace at any cost is no peace at all” disappears. The wise parent will make every effort to ensure that the travel experience is calm and quiet, and those who travel near the family should appreciate the efforts of anyone who does.

Travelling long distances with young children can be a distressing experience, and a bad travel experience can ruin any vacation, holiday or visit with family members. Whether you and your young child (or children) are travelling by car, train or plane, if you are travelling for many hours, you will need to plan ahead to make the trip as enjoyable as possible. If a child “decides” to throw a tantrum while you’re travelling, you have no chance of getting them out of the situation to calm them down; you’ll have to ride out the storm.

When planning a long-distance trip with your toddlers, you must, of course, first consider all of the child’s real needs. This means making sure that you bring with you or have access to plenty of food and drink that your child will eat without protest. Travelling intelligently also means bringing along things that your child finds engaging and that, ideally, they can engage with on their own and in relative peace and quiet (for example, colouring books, lacing cards, dolls or figurines). And it means having specialized items – certainly including medicines – such as a pair of emergency eyeglasses, a toy or special gift to reward or encourage good behaviour, or a special comfort item at hand.

One of the best ways to help a child stay calm and have fun on the trip is not only to provide them with things to play with and engage with, but also to provide them with their own personal play space. This can be achieved with the help of a good children’s travel board.

Choosing a children’s travel board for playing and learning

When considering which child travel tray will be right for your child, consider some of their favourite activities and use them as a starting point for your review. If you have a young artist in your family, then you should choose a children’s travel tray with a firm, sturdy top that can withstand the pressure of a pencil tip, pencil nib or a burst of coloured pencils. Some travel trays – especially those that fold flatter – have softer, more flexible surfaces, and while they are suitable for many uses, they are not ideal for the graphic designer, as they used to be.

On the other hand, many children’s travel trays that have softer surfaces are a great idea for use with smaller children who tend to wave their arms a little more wildly.

Always consider features beyond the surface of the children’s travel tray itself, looking for units with pockets that could accommodate the type of toy or size of book your child likes, for example, and for those with walls around their perimeters that can prevent objects from rolling away.

And don’t forget your own needs: some children’s travel trays fold up for remarkably easy transport and storage, while others are bulkier and less convenient for the parent or nanny who has to set up, remove and transport the units. And be sure to check the travel policies of airlines, railways and others before assuming that it is acceptable to use a child travel tray while travelling.

Choice of a travel tray for children

Children tend to be messy when they eat. This is especially true for infants and toddlers, and remains true for children through their preschool and primary years. Lack of refined dexterity when using utensils and a general lack of interest in trying to be a clean, tidy lunch combine to create a lot of spills, stains and general mess.

Eating without making a mess can be all the more difficult for each of us when we try to eat on a tray folded down on an airplane seat or eat on our lap in a car, bus or train. This is especially true for a child predisposed to disorder in the first place.

A travel tray is a great way to serve your child’s meal, as it keeps food within reach and close to his mouth. Many children’s travel trays also have accessories that have several different sections, which can be perfect for dividing different foods to make eating easier and prevent items such as peas or berries from rolling away.

Many children’s travel trays are made of plastic and can be easily cleaned after a meal, which is another advantage when you are away from home. The easier the cleaning process after meals, the better. Using the children’s travel tray in your family also helps prevent your child from touching many potentially dangerous and unhealthy surfaces.

A child travel tray is also a great “life hack” for a child’s mealtime, even at home or at a friend’s or relative’s house. On occasions when your child will be eating on the couch, or when he or she is sitting in a chair but cannot quite reach the table, a child travel tray provides their own eating area, even when you are not travelling.

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Big Kids

Toddler Behaviour FAQ

Toddler Behaviour

Does Biting Back Work?

Biting back as a form of correction or punishment is ineffective and a bad idea. Human bites are particularly dirty, and biting is never a good idea. If you bite a child who has just bitten someone else you are sending a very mixed signal. You are saying, “Biting is bad, don’t bite”, while at the same time saying, “ I am going to bite you to show you how wrong it is.” It really doesn’t make sense.

The reason some people do bite back is because they have heard stories of it working. It is true that if a biter is bitten hard enough by another biter, they will often stop. This is not the same as an adult biting a child as a form of correction. It is a spontaneous event that startles the child and makes them realize how painful and unpleasant it is.

What is Timeout?

Time out is removing the child from the opportunity for positive reinforcement. During time out the child should not be communicated with in any way. This makes time out inappropriate in most cases for toddlers. Generally a toddler will not remain in the designated area unless he is repeatedly spoken to, or physically restrained. Any discussion of the behavior leading to the time out should happen once the time out is completed.

How Long Should a Toddler Remain in Timeout?

Generally time out is given for one minute for each year of age. A two year old would have two minutes in time out. However, timeout is not normally the first option in behavior management with toddlers. Toddlers tend not to be reasonable, and getting them to stay in the designated time out area can prove difficult.

What is Redirection?

Redirection is a more positive form of the older version of “time out”. Although time out can be effective, it is often overused and loses its effect. Redirection just steers the child away from the situation in which the behavior arose, in effect giving a time out to that one activity, while allowing them to play elsewhere. It is far more effective than time out for toddlers. In older children time out may be more appropriate.

An example of redirection would be to remove a particular toy from a child if he is throwing it. At the same time as removing it he should be told something like, “If you cannot play nicely with that toy, you will have to play with something else”.

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Is There a Way to Stop Breath Holding?

Is There a Way to Stop Breath Holding?

This tactic is very scary for anyone who hasn’t seen it before. Sometimes babies will breath-hold until they are blue, but occasionally some can hold on long enough to pass out.

There are a couple of different strategies for dealing with this, mostly based on the baby’s age.

For babies under the age of 3 months, try blowing into the face. Babies don’t like wind in their face and will generally catch their breath.

For children between 3 and 6 months of age try hugging the baby close, but don’t shake or make shushing noises as that just makes them scream more.

For older children just ignore the behavior. This is particularly true of children who can communicate but choose not to. Let him know that if he calmly tells you what the problem is you will try and come up with a reasonable solution. If you do have a screamer, and he tries hard to communicate then you should try hard to reach a compromise on what ever caused the problem.

If this occurs in public, ignoring him is not always an option. If he continues to act out in public but stops at home, where he is being ignored, let him know he will no longer be going out.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Parents must constantly be aware of safety issues and changing safety standards. Whether it is safety at home, or out in the car, a parent wants what is best for his child.

Tips for Safe Outings
If you have multiple children, or just one boisterous child, going out for the day can prove traumatic. Here are some tips to help you have a safe and relaxing day out.

Keeping Your Teenager Safe
Teenagers believe they are immortal and untouchable. Dire warnings of danger and death are not likely to have any effect. The best way to keep your teenager safe is to ensure he is armed with all the facts, and to have an open and honest relationship with him.

Preventing Drowning Accidents in Infants and Young Children.
Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental deaths in children in the US. In most cases the accidents can be prevented by following some simple safety rules.

Coping in An Emergency
No matter what safety precautions we take emergencies still happen. How would you cope in an emergency situation?

Hazards associates with Second-Hand Cribs.
If you purchase a brand new crib, you can expect it to meet all the latest safety requirements. Unfortunately, second-hand cribs may not come up to the same standards. Find out what hazards you should be looking for.

Crib Placement and Safety
Once you have bought a crib that you know is safe, and purchased bedding, that is also safe, you still have a few things to consider to ensure your baby is as safe as possible when she is in bed.

Sun Protection for Kids
In recent years people have become aware that too much sun causes problems later on in life. Learn what measures you can take to protect your child from permanent sun damage.

Car Safety for Children
Everyone knows that children should be properly restrained in an automobile. The problem lies in deciding which type of seat to use and how to install it in the best way.

Keeping Your Teenager Safe

Most parents worry about the safety of teenagers. Younger children are easy to protect; they are constantly supervised and are unlikely to get themselves into sticky situations. Once a child reaches the age where they go out with their peers, things become a lot more difficult to control. Setting rules is a start, but most teenagers view rules as something to be bent or broken.

The keys to keeping teenagers safe are honesty and information. Honesty ensures that you know what your teenager is up to, and information means that you both know and understand the dangers and risks posed by certain behaviours.

If you are totally honest with your teenager, and teach him to be totally honest in return, then the battle is almost won. Most teenagers run into trouble because their parents have no idea what they are up to.

Eventually the parents will tune into problems, such as dropping school grades, erratic behaviour, illness or aggressive tendencies, but by then the damage has been done. It is important to teach your teenager to think responsibly and discuss anything that may be bothering them.

Lectures on the dangers of certain behaviours will sometimes work, but more often fall on deaf ears. Teenagers tend to believe they are immortal, and telling them that drugs can kill, or smoking kills will probably not get you very far.

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The best way to make your teenager aware of the dangers and risks involved in certain behaviours is to make sure they have all the information available. That means presenting both sides of the coin. It is no good telling your teenager about the evils of teenage pregnancy, if the only method of birth control you are prepared to discuss is abstinence.

Discussing birth control does not mean that you approve of teenage sex, it just means that you are prepared to accept that teenagers will do things you cannot predict.

Hand in hand with honesty and information, you need to be fair. Something that all parents forget at some point is that every child is an individual. Just because you allowed one child to do something at a certain age, doesn’t mean that you must allow another of your children to do it then.

Age is not some sort of magic key that allows certain freedoms. Responsibility is the key to open all doors. A child who proves themselves honest and responsible should be given more freedoms than one who is irresponsible and less than honest, irrespective of age.

The last key is trust. Trust works two ways. If your child accepts you are fair and is honest and informed of risks, then you can trust him to make the right choices.

Teaching Honesty

Teaching Honesty

Honesty is something that needs to be taught from a very young age. All parents know that children will lie, and most accept it as normal. However, lying is a very early symptom of troubles to come. If your child lies, you need to work out why.

The number one reason for children lying is that they are afraid of getting into trouble. Your child needs to know that honesty will be rewarded. When a child admits to having done something you don’t approve of, stop and think before responding. Which is more important, to deal with the underlying issue, or to praise the child for coming clean?

Remember, the underlying issue can be dealt with at a later stage, it isn’t going to disappear. The opportunity to praise your child for being honest will reap huge benefits in the long run. If you must deal with the underlying issue immediately, lessen the punishment, and tell your child you have gone easy on them because they were honest. Make sure they know what the punishment would have been if they had attempted to lie, or conceal the truth.

Children also learn honesty from their parents, teachers and other authority figures. If you make a mistake, admit it. If your child knows that you are willing to admit to mistakes and be honest about them, they are far more likely to do the same.

Unfortunately, not every adult has the same ethos. Many will never admit making mistakes. Whenever you see an example of another adult admitting a mistake, point it out. Tell your child how you admire the person’s honesty.

When you see an example of someone refusing to admit a mistake point that out, too. Show that you are disappointed that they were not brave enough to admit it. Use every opportunity you find to show that you value honesty.

Teaching your child to be honest also means that you must always be honest, yourself. Driving over the speed limit, hoping you won’t get caught, teaches your child that it is OK to be dishonest sometimes.

Unfortunately mixed signals will not help your cause. If you want your child to be honest, your life must be open and squeaky clean! That isn’t to say that you have to volunteer every bit of information about yourself, but you must be prepared to answer honestly when asked.

The trickiest part is talking about things you did as a teenager. Sometimes, admitting your mistakes can be helpful, and at other times it may seem like a green light for your child to copy you. Only you can decide what is relevant, and what is better deeply buried. However, you need to remember that deeply buried means it can never come out. If it comes out you are proved to be dishonest.

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Big Kids

How to Encourage Creativity in Your Kids

Encourage Creativity in Your Kids

All children have some type of inner gift. Whether it is drawing, writing, making people laugh, or some thing else, child psychologists say it is the parents’ job to nurture that talent as soon as it is recognized. 

“Being encouraged to do something they like, and praised when they do it well helps with self esteem, which is one of the building blocks of success later in life,” says Kristi Stoll, co-owner of PlanetGiggle, an online company with resources that encourage kids to find their inner gifts and talents.

Stoll and business partner, Gidget Clayton, have made it their missions in life to encourage others to follow their dreams. Both left the corporate world after deciding to do just that. 

“My dream, for a long time, has been to create a world of people who know that life is meant to be fun and full of laughter,” says Stoll. “Last summer, Gidget and I packed up all our stuff and took an RV across the country seeking out kids with inspirational stories everyone should hear. We’re in the process of writing a book called “KidVision,” and have posted portions of the stories online already, along with resources we have found for helping other kids achieve their goals.” 

Stoll credits her parents with helping her achieve her dream. “They taught me I could do anything I wanted to do and that nothing stood in my way,” says Stoll. To help other parents lead their children down paths that will help them develop their inner gifts, Stoll and Clayton have come up with some thought provoking, creativity building activities they can try. 

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* Host an Art Contest Party 

If your child enjoys coloring or drawing, you may want to host an art contest party. Gather all the pens, pencils, crayons, markers, paint and paper you can find in the house, or go out and buy supplies, such as PlanetGiggle’s Artist Dream Box. It includes an assortment of acrylic paints, brushes, canvasses, pencils, drawing paper and a journal. 

Once you have your supplies on hand, come up with a theme. Have the kids design a piece of artwork that fits that theme, using any format they choose. To make the contest enjoyable for all the participants, make sure each drawing receives a prize, such as most abstract work, most lifelike work, or most colorful piece of artwork. 

* Treasure Hunt 

To encourage your kids to explore the world around them, parents can initiate a treasure hunt. “Make it exciting for them,” says Clayton. “Send them outside in search of a particular kind of leaf, a pine cone, lady bug or butterfly.

They’ll have just as much fun finding all those things as they will studying them when they get back.” On a rainy day, the game can be played inside. Stoll says you can send the kids in search of socks, paper clips, or a particular book, but don’t feel limited to just those kinds of things. Be creative. 

* Host a Story Writing Party 

If your child enjoys writing, encourage them to invite friends over, and have a story writing party. Pass out blank books to each person with as many pages as you have people. Set a timer for ten minutes and have the kids start writing. After ten minutes, have them pass the book to the person sitting to their right, and reset the timer for another ten minutes.

Keep doing it until everyone at the party has had a chance to write a page in each of the books; then hand them back to the person who started the story and let them see what their idea evolved into. 

“They’ll have to play off each other, which naturally encourages creativity,” says Clayton. Parents can make the experience even more enjoyable by providing their kids with fancy paper and writing instruments, which they can find for purchase on PlanetGiggle’s Web site. 

* Perspective – How Do You View the World Differently Than Others? 

To open your kids’ eyes to the differing views around them, have them play interviewer for the day. For this game, have them write down their answers the following questions, then go out ask the same questions of five other people: 

What is your dream? What is your biggest fear? Name two people you admire most and why. Name two places outside the United States where you would most like to visit and why. Name three famous people — living or dead — you would want to meet and why. Do you like your school? Why or why not? 

After they have interviewed all five people, look over all of the answers, and talk about how they differ from one another and from yours. For another way to explore the concept of differing perspectives, log onto www.planetgiggle.com/illusion/htm and have your child try out the ten optical illusions posted online, then get five friends to tell them what they see. 

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How to Encourage Creativity in Your Kids

* Community Service Day 

For kids who always seem to be stepping in to help others, seek out a community project that will be of benefit to your neighbors. “A good way to get the ball started is to call all the kids in your neighborhood and invite them over for a planning party,” says Stoll. 

Chances are good one of the kids who comes to the party will know of an elderly neighbor who needs help painting their house, or of a vacant lot that needs sprucing up. Once you come up with a project, pick a date everyone agrees upon, then come up with up a list of everything you’ll need to get the job done. Have the participants pledge to bring at least one of the supplies so expenses won’t get too out of hand. 

After the project is done, write up a story about your experience and submit it to your local newspaper. You can also submit it to PlanetGiggle.com. 

* Have a Giggle Party 

And remember, laughter is the best medicine, so when people are feeling down, hold an impromptu party where the guest of honor is laughter. Stoll says you can invite as many people as you want, and ask each of them to bring along something they think is funny.

“Once everyone has arrived,” she says, “have them sit in a circle so they can see each other, and then start by having the host stand up and make the silliest face they can think of. Continue around the circle until all of the guests have also had a turn, then have everyone show off the funny thing they brought to the party.” 

During the party, hand out smiley face stickers, sit down on a whoppie cushion, or spray silly string into the air, all items available in the PlanetGiggle Giggle box, which you can buy online. “Do whatever it takes to set the mood. Happiness is what makes life so fun,” says Stoll. 

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Big Kids

Nurturing Love in Your Child

about Nurturing Love in Your Child

There is much debate as to which plays a more important role in development: nature or nurture. Nature describes the effect of a person’s genetic make up on development while nurture describes the effect of their environment and things that happen to them during their life.

Over the ages there have been theorists that hold that nurture is solely responsible for development (Locke, Watson, Skinner) and those that hold that nature is solely responsible (Darwin).

It is now widely accepted that the two affect development and that both are involved in most characteristics. Thus nature and nurture affect a child’s ability to learn to speak. A child must have certain physical and mental abilities in order to learn to speak (nature).

The age at which they learn speech is affected by outside influences (nurture). A child who is in an environment with plenty of adult interaction will learn to speak earlier than one who has very little interaction with adults.

Perhaps love is the most important part of nurturing your child. A child who is loved feels secure, and a secure child has confidence to face new challenges.

There are many different ways of showing love for your child. Love is not just about hugging your child and saying, “I love you”. There are many children who rarely hear those words yet they are secure in the knowledge they are loved.

Here are some waysyou can show your child just how much you love them:

Spend Time

Dedicate a part of every day to your child. The amount of time is not as important as the quality of the time you spend together. When you have more than one child try and give each some individual attention. Just five minutes of your undivided attention demonstrates that you are prepared to give of yourself.

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Next time your child asks “why” or “how”, stop and explain. Very complicated explanations aren’t necessary but try not to water it down too much. Children enjoy a challenge, but goals should be reachable. You know you have it right when two minutes later they pop out with another related question.

Set Ground Rules

As odd as it may seem children enjoy ground rules. They understand them. When rules are simple and immovable they have no problem sticking to them. Children who have rules that change every day, no rules or too many rules have behavioral problems.

Constantly correcting a child can make them feel insecure. A well-behaved child is generally far more secure. When a child asks the reason for a rule you should always have a reasonable answer ready. “Because I said so” may often be the easy answer but it confuses children.

Give Appropriate Praise

Children thrive on praise. When a child does something well or behaves well praise them. However, avoid some of the more common pitfalls. When you praise a child vary the language you use. Saying “great job” twenty times a day rapidly loses its meaning. Avoid constantly praising one child in front of another unless you are praising both.

Never compare children. A child who constantly hears words like “Jimmy is such a good boy, why can’t you be like him?” begins to feel insecure and unloved. Qualifying praise can be a good thing if it is done correctly. Instead of a simple “That is a great picture” you could say something like, “That is a great picture, you are getting so much better at colouring in the lines”.

The qualification encourages the child to keep trying. However, saying. “That is a great picture but you still coloured out of the lines, you need to try again” is negative. The child feels that you are disappointed.

Ask Questions

Children like to be asked what they did at school, how they liked things, and what they think about things. Asking a child these questions shows you care about them and value their feelings and opinions.

Share Your Feelings

Encourage your child to let you know how he is feeling. If he is angry at you find out why. Don’t be afraid to apologize or back down if his anger is justified. Parents are humans and can make mistakes, too. Let your child know how you feel.


Some children are just not the hugging type, and all children go through a phase of not wanting to be hugged. You should respect your child’s wishes, but always remember children are fickle. They may have not wanted a hug yesterday, but are dying for one today. Pay attention to the signs and always hug a child who wants a hug, no matter how unhugging you may be!

Children who are loved stand out in a crowd, when the going is tough they find inner strength. They know that no matter what they do, they will be loved.

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Comparing Children: Is it harmful?

Comparing Children: Is it harmful?

As parents we feel an instinctive need to compare our child with every other child we meet. On the surface it is a “mine is prettier, taller, fatter, thinner” type comparison, and makes us feel good. Deeper down it is a comparison of abilities, skills and development, and generally makes us uneasy.

This instinct to compare can get us into hot water with other parents as well as with family members. It can also get us into serious trouble with our own children. A good example of this is saying something like “Look how smart little Johnny is, he can already say three words”.

Two years later along comes little Jimmy, and we are saying much the same thing. All of a sudden comparison doesn’t seem such a good idea. If we compare our own children, the danger is that we will find at least one of them lacking, and probably all of them lacking at something.

Many children are faced with comparisons every day. Repeated comparisons can have a detrimental effect on self-esteem. A child constantly praised and told how much better he is than others, may become arrogant, over-bearing and a bully.

If, as undoubtedly will happen, he is beaten at something, he feels he is a failure. A child constantly told he is lacking, and falling behind his peers/siblings may become withdrawn and aggressive. He will probably also become an underachiever, since if he is always outclassed by someone else, there really isn’t much point in trying.

The truth of the matter is that every child is an individual and has the potential to be great. How he develops and where his individual talents lie will vary. When he learns to walk or talk, or potty train is not what makes him great. What makes him great is his convictions, character and sense of worth.

Next time someone compares their child to yours, just smile sweetly and say, “Aren’t kids great?” Then hug your child and be grateful for every last bit of him, great or otherwise.

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Big Kids

Helping Kids Stay Tidy

about Helping Kids Stay Tidy

All parents know that kids are messy. However, there are degrees of messiness. It is not abnormal to see clothes on the floor at night, the odd cup or plate lying around and a few toys out of the toy box. That is a level of untidiness that most parents are willing to accept.

What most of us cannot tolerate are clothes knee-deep on the bedroom floor, plates and cups that are growing mould, and broken parts of toys scattered throughout the house. Unfortunately, not coming to grips with the first scenario often leads to the second.

Let’s deal with the clothes first. By the age of five most children are able to dress themselves without help, and will choose what they want to wear. This is the point that you must lay down the law.

Clothes removed from the cupboard or drawers must be worn or returned to the correct place. At the end of the day, a little supervision is required. When your child undresses for bed she must be helped to decide what needs to go into the washing basket and what can be worn again. I have a set of pegs along the wall in the bedroom.

They are marked with days of the week. Clothes that do not belong in the washing basket, but which have been worn go onto the appropriate peg. You cannot add more clothes to a peg after the end of the day. You cannot get clean clothes out of the cupboard if you have clothes on the peg for that day.

So if you take your clothes off and hang them on the peg on Monday, the following Monday, if they are still there you must wear them again. Initially this means you have clothes on the pegs every day. However, they soon learn that they will run out of clothes if they do that, so they will recycle, using Monday’s clothes on Wednesday, for example.

Of course, the alternative solution they may come up with is to put everything in the washing basket every night. At that point you have to decide whether you will accept that, or whether you will decide what goes on the pegs. Whatever happens don’t let clothes go on the floor.

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On to the cups, plates and various eating utensils. This is generally a problem with slightly older children, the 10-16 year old age group is particularly bad with this one. There are various ways of dealing with it. One is to insist that all food is eaten at the kitchen table, and that all plates, cups etc, are put immediately into the dishwasher.

If you don’t have a dishwasher or a kitchen table, things become trickier. Even if you can convince your child to take his plate into the kitchen, he will probably just dump it beside or in the sink. Eventually you have dishes piled to the ceiling and no crockery in the cupboards.

The solution comes in colour coding plates, bowls and cups. Each child is assigned a colour and they may only eat from utensils of that colour. They are forbidden to eat without a plate or bowl, and they cannot borrow from anyone else’s pile. A good supply is two cups two plates and one bowl per child. If they have no clean cup they must wash one, and the same applies to the plates and bowl.

If you are particularly sneaky, you can add the rule that anyone washing up his own dishes must wash a communal dish, or a younger child’s dish. Pretty soon the dishwasher will be redundant and you will not have to wash a dish.

Toys and gadgets are another source of endless mess. Younger children will scatter toys about, and misplace parts of games in the mess. Older children will leave various electronic gadgets, keys, CDs and other paraphernalia of teenage life lying around.

Helping Kids Stay Tidy

For the younger ones the best solution is to limit the number of toys they have by packing some away and putting them in the garage, shed, loft, or on top of a cupboard. Rotate the stored toys with the in service toys on a regular basis.

This ensures parts of toys stay together and means you can easily identify broken toys. Most children don’t even miss the toys which are stored, and are excited when the swap round occurs.

The black sack is the next weapon in your arsenal and works on young and old, alike. Ask once for things to be picked up and put away. Failure to do so results in the black sack appearing. Once the sack has been brought out give the child a reasonable amount of time to clear up the mess.

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The amount of time required depends on the extent of the mess and the age of the child. After the time is up the child must leave the room and you gather all remaining mess into the black sack and confiscate it. The sack is returned after one week.

At that time the child is given the same amount of time as he was initially offered to put the toys/gadgets away. Provided you are firm and do not return the items before the week is out, you will only need to confiscate them once or twice.

Problems may arise with school items. If a child refuses to pick up school books, bags, uniform and pens, you cannot really confiscate them for a week. You can, however, confiscate them for a day. Let the child go to school without whatever is required for a single day. They are unlikely to leave school items lying around again.

Although these tips are very simple, they are effective. The most important thing to remember is to be consistent. Do not let the rules slide, or you will have a hard time reinstating them.

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