Granddaughter and Grandfather at a WWII Memorial

For many kids today, the real meaning behind Memorial Day is lost. They know that they get a three day weekend, they may know about all the huge sales going on during this time, and they also know that school is about over when this holiday rolls around. However, Memorial Day is a lot more than just a day off from school and kids need to be taught about this day and the meaning behind it. Finding ways to teach kids about the significant of Memorial Day and how important it is to honor those who have protected the freedom of this country is important. Here is a look at some great suggestions that will help you teach your kids about this important holiday.

Teach Your Child the History of Memorial Day

The first thing you should do is teach your child about the history of Memorial Day. Many kids do not know the history behind the day, and you may even be rusty on the history that led to this day becoming a national holiday.

The history of Memorial Day goes all the way back to 1866, right after the nation was recovering from the Civil war. Both the North and the South saw soldiers coming home with serious injuries and many towns had lost friends and loved ones to this store. In Waterloo, New York, a drugstore owner named Henry Welles came up with the idea that on one day all the shops would close down to honor those who had been killed during the war. It was May 5th that everyone in the town went to the graves of those in the local cemetery and put out flowers and crosses on their graves. A similar ceremony was planned by Retired Major General Jonathan A. Logan, which was for soldiers that had survived the Civil War. He took veterans through town to decorate the graves of comrades with flags. It was a memorial, not a celebration, and it was called Decoration Day.

Decoration Day was proclaimed by Logan to be a day for decorating the graves of those who had died defending the country. These two ceremonies were joined together to be one in 1868. ON these days songs were sung, veterans would wear their uniforms and medals, veterans would go to cemeteries to remember the fallen, and town people would decorate graves with flags, flowers, and photos.

It was not until 1882 that the name Memorial Day was actually used and the day was made to be a remembrance to all soldiers who had died fighting for this country. President Nixon would then declare it a federal holiday in 1971, to be on the very last Monday in the month of May. Still today though, Waterloo, New York is considered to be the birthplace of this holiday.READ More on Teaching Children About Memorial Day

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Many Veterans will be away from their Families this Memorial Day. Lets not forget any of them, past or present.

Many Veterans will be away from their Families this Memorial Day. Lets not forget any of them, past or present.

For many of use, Memorial Day comes and goes, we have a barbecue, shop a few sales, and enjoy the beginning of summer, while forgetting the importance of this holiday. Memorial Day was created as a day to remember fallen troops and to honor troops serving today. The last thing we want to teach our children is to take freedom and the death of American patriots for granted. This year why not take this day and spend it with your family, honoring our troops. If you are not sure what you can do with your kids to honor our troops, here are some excellent suggestions.

As a Family Observe the National Moment of Remembrance

On Memorial Day each year, there is a National Moment of Remembrance. This occurs at 3pm your local time and lasts for one minute. Observe this as a family by saying a prayer or simply having a moment of silence.

Teach Children to Display a Flag Properly

Fly the flag at your home on Memorial Day to honor the troops. This is a great time to teach your child how to display a flag properly. Teach them how they should handle a flag when raising it and lowering it.

Make Thank You Cards for Veterans

Another great idea is to make thank you cards for veterans. Check with the Veteran's Administration for some information on finding local veterans. Make up these cards to say thank you, and then send them to veterans in your area.READ More on Memorial Day: Ways To Help Kids Honor Our Troops

by Dr. Sue Cornbluth

Another unexpected tragedy.  Another devastating Loss. Yesterday, Oklahoma City suffered one of the worst tornado's the country has seen. CNN reported that The vicious tornado that ripped across central Oklahoma on Monday killed at least 51 people — with about 40 more bodies expected to arrive at the Oklahoma state medical examiner's office, Amy Elliott of the coroner's office said Tuesday. Roughly half of the expected bodies are children. The official death toll will gradually rise from 51 as each of the bodies is processed, Elliott said.

Despite the woeful news, rescue workers clung to the hope of finding more survivors and scoured mountains of rubble where houses and schools once stood.

Tornado survivor: I just want to cry

At least 20 of those killed were children, including seven from Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore — the site of a frantic search Tuesday morning.  CNN Reference

At one point, an estimated 24 children were missing from the school, but some later turned up at nearby churches. It's unclear how many may still be trapped in the wreckage, and how many are dead or alive.

A father of a third-grader still missing sat quietly on a stool outside. Tears cascaded from his face as he waited for any news.

Even parents of survivors couldn't wrap their minds around the tragedy.
"I'm speechless. How did this happen? Why did this happen?" Norma Bautista asked. "How do we explain this to the kids? … In an instant, everything's gone." from CNN Article

Parents whose children are still missing, are most likely feeling emense anxiety and fear. There are no words that can comfort a parent in this time of shear disbelief. Numbness and hope take over.  As one parent asked, "How do we explain this to our kids?" The answer can be defined in terms of being honest and open with your children. When a tragedy such as this strikes, a parent cannot be expected to have all the answers. This is when parents need to turn to professionals for help. A natural disaster is as much a tragedy for a parent as a child.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers tips for parents and caregivers to help kids cope with the emotional toll of hurricanes and other natural disasters:

1) Try to remain calm and monitor adult conversations to minimize children's distress.

2) Shield children from viewing serious injuries and damage as much as possible, including media coverage.

3) Tell children about what adults are doing to help the community recover from the storm.

4) Be sympathetic to children's sense of loss over pets and special toys.

5) Let children help in the response, in age-appropriate ways, to boost their sense of control.

6) Repeatedly reassure children that they are safe.

7 ) Maintain daily routines and expectations for children as much as possible.

8 ) Spend more time with children at bedtime, when they may be more anxious about separation and the unknown.

9) Finally.  Be patient with children when they return to school. They may be distracted and have difficulty concentrating.

Dr. Sue is a clinical psychologist , professor of psychology at Temple University and a National expert in foster care and child abuse. She began her career in the field of foster care. It was there that  Dr. Sue learned how to connect with abused children through building a safe, trusting relationship with each child she counseled. Visit her website or find her on Twitter –>

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parenting styleWhat kind of parent are you – an encourager or an intimidator? The encourager stresses working towards a certain goal. The intimidator stresses winning. For this kind of parent, “It’s the results that count… not the effort, not the intentions.”  What type of parenting style do you lean towards? Or are you a bit of both?

Naturally, the one encouraged first is happy about the praises heaped on him or her. But when you give him or her the opposite, the reactions would be: disbelief, anger…and later, self-doubt. Somehow, all those discouraging comments get to you.

That exercise made us step back and examine the atmosphere you create at home. Is it encouraging or downgrading? Are you an encourager or an intimidator? Note that your targets are parent-volunteers, so they were aware that this was some sort of exercise, yet it affected their self-esteem. Imagine how a string of negative messages or put-downs can affect an insecure child?

Encouragement is not the same as pampering though. Pampering means regularly doing something the teenagers can do for themselves such as fixing their room, preparing lunch, or even waking up. Overindulgence makes a child irresponsible. Overprotection makes kids dependent on others.

Praising is not encouragement. Praise is a reward given for an achievement. It fosters competition and fear of failure. Encouragement is given for effort and improvement. It fosters cooperation and self-esteem. It inspires confidence and acceptance.

Of course, you should give praise when it is due. But encouragement does not thrive on praises alone. A child can tell empty praises from real ones. Besides, there is danger that a child hungry for praise will merely conform to please and won’t feel okay unless praised. Encouragement means emphasis on strengths and assets, other than faults. It is non-judgmental – accepting the level of accomplishment of each child.

Unrealistic expectations could be stressful to a child. If circumstances or physical inability prevents him or her from fulfilling certain expectations, then you can’t say, “You can do it.” The kid would be bound for certain disappointment. It’s just like saying “It won’t hurt” when an injection really hurts. You can’t fool children.

Sometimes, you have to help your children set realistic goals. When one of the kids wants to enter a contest, you’re all out rooting for him or her – whether it’s an art contest, a science contest, or whatever. Some kids start counting their prizes even before they submit their entries. In those cases, you explain the odds and make the project so much fun that it is the effort that counts.

Other discouraging family practices you learned at seminars are: permissiveness (which makes a child unconcerned about others’ rights), inconsistent discipline (results in feeling that life is unfair) and denial of feelings. A person who is not in touch with his or her own feelings can never relate to others.

“Poor you,” mothers often say to a child after bumping his or her head. Sometimes, parents even go to such lengths as spanking the object that caused pain to appease the crying child. It’s not funny. It’s stupid. Pity breeds a discouraging family atmosphere. It does not help build confidence in the child.

READ More on Parenting: What kind of parent are you – an encourager or an intimidator?

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By Julie Baumgardner, MS, CFLE

the family that plays together stays togetherIn a recent discussion with a group of parents about parent involvement, one of the group members said, “Define parent involvement.” As different parents gave their definition, it was clear that parental involvement means different things to different people.
“Being a homeroom mother.” “Helping children with their homework.” “Being home when they arrive home from school.” “Helping coach their sports team.”
Thinking back to your own childhood, what were the most meaningful ways your parents connected with you?
What does it mean to be an involved parent?
In a recent survey of more than 1,000 Hamilton County residents, conducted by Barna Research group, for First Things First, respondents were asked to define what they believe it means to be an involved parent and what it looks like. Those surveyed defined parent involvement as:
  • involvement – generally being involved in their lives, volunteering at school, coaching and asking children to participate in chores;
  • spend time together – specifically doing activities the child enjoys, attending their activities, listening to and talking with their child, reading together, having meals together, going on vacation together, and being there when they need you;
  • teach them/guide them – helping them with their homework and education, helping children discern right from wrong, guiding children through important decisions, teaching citizenship and life skills and developing the child’s unique talents and abilities;
  • know them – what is going on in their lives, paying close attention to where they spend their time and with whom, and knowing their interests and passions;
  • have the right mindset – being interested in the child’s activities, and loving them unconditionally; and
  • provide for them – food, clothing, shelter, give them a wide range of experiences. READ More on Parenting and Parental Involvement
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mother and ten year old daughterChildren go through various stages and each presents its own set of challenges. Tweeners, though, are a stage that will cause many parents, teachers and adults in general, no matter how streetwise or tough, to flinch. That stage between the ages of about 10 and 14 (middle school age) can cause parents to question their sanity at times. Many a parent of tweeners knows well the mantra, "13 only lasts a year." But in the next breath the child that was pushing all their parent's buttons turns into a sweet, loving angel. Parenting is stressful, regardless of the child's age, but once you understand your tweener you may find that parenting your tweener is easier and can even be fun. READ More on Parenting a Tweener: A Survival Guide

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Father and his sonDo you feel your preteen or tween needs much supervision? As surprising at it may sound, the majority of pre-teens and early adolescents behave in a responsible manner. They want to show you that they have an understanding of the rules and the common knowledge of right and wrong. On the other hand, we all know that they can also act irresponsibly. And for that reason they do need constant supervision still.

When your children are away from the home they are most often supervised. Most of the day they are at school where they are obviously watched by teachers and staff. If there are camps or afternoon organizations that they belong too then there is always adult supervision as well. Then the times when they are not supervised and out with friends are when they are most prone to getting into trouble. READ More on Parenting your Pre-Teen

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