Traveling with KidsBy Kate Hayes

Whether you are taking your kids across the country for a summer vacation, or simply planning a trip to the museum across town, learning to make the most of each adventure can make a big difference in what your preschoolers remember about the experience. And I know that you want them to remember the experience, or you wouldn’t be doing it! In my family’s travels through 15 states with a five year old and a two year old (including a long-distance move from St. Louis to Boston), I have gathered a few travel tips that I’d love to share:

1)      Build connections (and excitement) before you go. Don’t you always look forward to visiting a place more when you have some kind of” connection” to it? Perhaps you know someone who lives there. Or maybe you have seen it in history books or in a movie. Being a child of the eighties, I was most excited about my visit to Astoria, Oregon because it was the town from the movie, “The Goonies”…and I got to see the actual house where Chunk did the “Truffle Shuffle!”

Well, put yourself in your preschooler’s size 8 Crocs. They are freshly hatched. They don’t have connections to most of the places that we take them to, unless we provide some for them. A great way to do this is to read a book about the place that you are going to visit several times before you go. For instance, I read the classic, “Make Way for Ducklings” to my kids before we visited the Boston Public Garden and rode the Swan Boats. When we went, my five-year-old daughter was thrilled to see live duck families along with the statues of the ducks from the book. She felt like she already knew them. More recently, we just read “Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl,” as part of our preparation to visit Plimouth Plantation.

If there are no books about the place that you are going to visit, let your child look through the brochure or travel guide. Another fun trick that I have tried is letting my daughter cut out pictures of things that she would like to do in the area we are visiting and paste them on a collage. Then, when we actually get to see and so some of those things, she is super excited about them.

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Kids Fighting: Why Can't Kids just get along?by Dr. Michele Borba

Arguing. Quarreling. Yelling. Door slamming. Crying. Hurt feelings. Arguments are a big part of why kids can’t get along and how their friendships break up. Of course, conflict is also a part of life. In fact, a national survey found that 43 percent of middle school students said they have conflicts with other kids at least one or more times a day.

As parents, one of the most essential friendship quotient builder skills you need to teach your child is how to handle conflicts so he can survive the social jungle. Learning how to deal with all those problems that crop up is a big part of growing up and an essential life skill. The key point is that not only must your child learn how to solve problems, but do so in a peaceful, calm way so that all the kids involved feel like they’ve won. That’s called a win-win scenario and it’s the best way to reduce arguments and restore friendships. Doing so will not only dramatically boost your child’s friendship quotient, but also improve harmony on the home front. And wouldn’t that be ever be a plus?

  • Be sympathetic. Arguments amongst friends are tough for everyone – but especially so for kids. Chances are that either your child, the friend, or both are hurting. Keep in mind, your goal isn’t to solve the problem – that’s up to them–but you can acknowledge the hurt. “I can see why you’re upset.” “Arguments are never fun. They get everybody hurting.”
  • Teach kids to call for time outs. Even a few seconds can be enough to stop a big quarrel so help your child come up with a few things to back off from an argument ready to blow. “When you feel like you and your friend are starting to argue, try to cool things off. You could say: ‘You know I’m too mad to talk right now.’ ‘Give me a minute to cool off.’ ‘I need to take a walk.’ ‘Let’s go shoot some hoops.’”

  • Stress compromising. The best way for kids to learn how to get along is by watching others. So be the model! Anytime there is a conflict (which game to play, hich TV show to watch, whose house to go visit) between kids, the skill of compromising can be a goldmine. “You choose this time. I choose next time.” “Let’s find a TV show we can both agree on.” “Let’s play Monopoly for 30 minutes then Clue for 30 minutes.” Model it until your kids can pick up on it.

  • Help them work it out themselves. Ask the kid involved what they plan to do to solve “their” problem. After all, real life practice is the best way for kids to learn skills. “I know you two can solve this. If you need me, I’m in the other room, but don’t leave the table until you can work this out fairly.” “Let’s see if you two can work this through calmly for three minutes. You’ve been friends far too long not to solve this.”

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Parents and Child enjoy time togetherThere are unique benefits and challenges to parenting an only child. While you have the ability to be more involved in your child's life if you only have one child, finding the right balance with your child can be tough. An only child has a personality all their own, and as a parent, you need to learn to work with your child's unique characteristics in a way that will help them develop into a successful and responsible adult. To help you better parent your only child, here is a look at some of the characteristics often found in the only child, as well as some effective parenting tips that you may find helpful.

Characteristics of an Only Child

An only child can have an interesting variety of characteristics. In many cases, an only child will display characteristics of an oldest child mixed with some youngest child characteristics as well. Often they are perfectionists; they have great organizational skills, and lofty goals for achievement. On the other hand, they may be carefree, funny, creative, and a bit self centered, much like a youngest child. It is this mixture of characteristics that can make raising your only child such a challenge.

Effective "Only" Child Parenting Tips

Now that you know a bit more about the characteristics that an only child often displays, you have information that can make you an even better parent. The more you understand your child, the better you can work with them to help them develop into a wonderful adult. The following are a few effective parenting tips that will help you as you deal with your only child.

Tip #1 – Help Them Build Friendships with Others

One of the most important tips for raising an only child is to help them build friendships with others. Your child doesn't have siblings to interact with, so you especially need to draw them out socially. There are many great ways that you can help socialize your child. Consider preschool for your child. Schedule some play dates. If they are older, get them involved in after-school activities. Focus on social skills with your child as well. Teach them to compromise, be considerate of others, and to share. These are important life lessons that you'll need to focus on, since they won't be learning them with siblings.

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Lemonade Stand for Charity

Kids Can Make a Difference Spending Their weekends this summer raising money for Charity

Within the past few years, many people have been spurred to give more to charity after seeing the pain and suffering that is a result of war, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters. Great tragedies have spurred greater generosity, and passing on the idea of charity to your children is just as important as giving yourself. Summer is here, the kids are home from school, and this gives you the perfect opportunity to begin teaching your child about charity. Of course, you want to teach your children that charity is much more than a one-time thing. It is important that you teach them that giving should become a way of life for them. Are you unsure where to begin? Here is a look at why teaching charity is important, how you can set the example, and tips for teaching your child about charity. And Remember, it is important to stress KIDS CAN and DO Make a Difference!

Why is Teaching Charity Important?

You may be thinking that your kids are simply children right now. Why is it so important that you teach them charity? There are a number of reasons that it is very important to teach your children all about charity and get them involved in helping others. First, many children today grow up being very self centered – they never think about the pain and suffering that others go through. Teaching charity will help them to look beyond their own wants and needs.

Another reason that you should teach charity to your children is to help them develop compassion for others. No doubt, you want your child to grow into an adult that is loving and compassionate. Teaching them about charity can help. You will also find that teaching your child about charity can help them deal with the tragedies that they often see on television. For example, children are often disturbed and upset of the images shown on television of animals hurt by the recent oil spill. Getting children involved in a charity helps them to feel that there is something they can do to help.READ More on Charity Ideas for Kids

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While every child you raise will present challenges, there are new and unique challenges that come along when you are raising your youngest child. No matter how many children you have already been raising, you'll find that things are a bit different with your youngest. Often the youngest child is seen as a bit of a rebel, and these children need plenty of affirmation and attention because they are competing against the rest of their siblings.

Although you may not realize it, birth order definitely plays a big part in the expectations and personality of your child. If you take the time to learn more about the specific needs of each child, it gives you the ability to raise your child to be confident and well rounded, as they grow older. Here is a look at some of the common characteristics displayed by the youngest child and some specific parenting tips that can help you to best deal with the special needs of "the baby" in the family.

Characteristics of the Youngest Child

To parent your youngest child effectively, you first need to understand your youngest, how they think, and the traits they commonly display. In most cases, you will find that your youngest is a lot different from your older children. Usually the youngest child is funny and more socially outgoing than your other children are. They may act carefree, since they usually don't have many responsibilities. Often the youngest feels driven to compete or follow in the footsteps of their older siblings.

Youngest children are often outgoing, creative, and they are more likely to take risks. They get bored easily, they can be self-centered, and they like being pampered – after all, they are used to being pampered as "the baby." You'll also notice that they have a great senses of humor and can be quite competitive as well.

Effective Youngest Parenting Tips

Now that you have a better understanding of the youngest child characteristics, you have a better idea of how to parent them. When you understand what drives a child, you can find ways to work with those personality traits to raise them to be well-adjusted and responsible adults. Here are some specific tips that can help you parent your youngest child effectively as they grow up.

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Bedtime StoriesIf you are looking for a fun bedtime ritual for you and your children, reading to your kids is a great option. Reading is not only good for them educationally, but this time together is a great time to bond with your child too. Of course, there are many different bedtime stories out there to choose from. Which ones should you choose to add to your children's library? Here is a look at some great bedtime stories for kids and a look at the stories they tell and lessons that they teach.

Bedtime Stories for Kids

The Going to Bed Book

One of the best bedtime stories for kids, this book by Sandra Boynton deals with bedtime routines. The animals in the book take a bath, put on their pajamas, and brush their teeth getting ready for bed. It's a great story that will help your child learn about bedtime routines and going to sleep at night.

Goodnight Moon

This book by Margaret Wise Brown is another excellent bedtime story to read to your kids at night. The rabbit in the story says goodnight to the moon, air, stars, and everything else in the room. It's great for teaching kids to prepare for going to bed.

Guess How Much I Love You

An adorable story by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram, this is about a Little Nutbrown Hare that is trying to find ways to tell his father about how much he loves him. The trick is that he really is trying to put bedtime off a bit. This story will help you show your child how much you love them at the end of a busy day.

Moon Rabbit

The Little Rabbit is captivating in this tale by Natalie Russell as she tries to find if there is another person like her. It teaches friendship among people, even if they are not like you, since Little Rabbit finds the Brown Rabbit and they become the best of friends, even though they are different.

Good Night, Gorilla

A humorous story by Peggy Rathmann, this bedtime story will have kids laughing as they see the zookeeper in the story go through the zoo telling all the animals good night. The twist is that the gorilla in the book gets the keys and lets the animals all out. They follow the zookeeper to his home, and soon the lights go out, and everyone says goodnight.

Goodnight Lulu

About a small chick, this book by Paulette Bogan is a great bedtime read. It deals with monsters in the night and is filled with endless questions from Lulu to her mom about monsters. A great book to deal with the fear many kids have of the dark and monsters.

Tell Me Something Happy Before I go to Sleep

In this book by Joyce Dunbar, little Willa isn't able to go to sleep because she is scared she'll have a bad dream. So she asks Willoughby, her brother, to tell her about something that is happy. This wonderful book teaches kids that morning will come soon and that there is happiness and joy waiting for them. It also helps kids get over the fear of having a bad dream at night.

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Birth order has a lot to do with the personality of a child. While not every child shows all the traits associated with their birth order, in many cases, birth order will accentuate some of the traits they possess already. The middle child is the child that is sandwiched in between other children, and these children come with their own set of characteristics. There are specific challenges that come with raising a middle child as well. It's easy to lose the middle child a bit in the shuffle of family life. To help you out, here is a look at some of the middle child characteristics and some effective parenting tips to help you do the best job raising that middle child.

Characteristics of the Middle Child

In most cases, the middle child has the largest variety of traits. In many cases, you will find that they are totally opposite of the oldest child and they work to be unique. Usually the middle child is very easy going and flexible. Often they are the ones that try to make peace in the family since they are more likely to see all of the sides to a situation. The middle child is usually quite social. Their friends are important because they may feel like they don't have a place within their family.

They may keep secrets and don't usually open up about their feelings. Avoiding conflict is another trait, since they like life to go smoothly. Often the middle child is inventive, but they may try to please everyone, making them become codependent. Some middle children even feel unloved and that life is not fair. If you discourage your middle child, there is a chance that they will become a bit of a problem child.

Effective Middle Child Parenting Tips

Now that you know a bit more about the middle child characteristics, you may be wondering how you deal with these characteristics. How can you use them to help your child develop into a wonderful adult? Here are some great tips to help you better parent your middle child for great results.

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