children playingIf you have more than one child, you know that each own has a temperament all their own. There are those kids that are very verbal and interact with others whenever they get together. On the other hand, you have those that are quiet and more reserved, and just want to play by themselves. Even though your child may be born with a preference to be social or not, much of a person's social ability to interact appropriately with others is based on what they are taught. You, as their parent, have a wonderful opportunity to help your child thrive in social situations. Helping them to succeed socially will give them confidence and the ability to adapt to situations all throughout their lives.

When teaching your child social skills in life, it is important to remember that these skills include many facets. Not only are social skills based on behavior, but also on the child emotions, intellect and ethics. These are all areas that will need to be strengthened as our child grows, so that they will have the ability to interact with others and achieve the goals they set for themselves.

Tip 1: Encourage Emotions

Emotions are a part of every day living, and in experiencing these emotions, children will have to learn what is appropriate and what is not. Some emotions are naturally easier to express than others. Most children can express themselves just fine when they are happy and excited. Once a child gets angry, hurt or rejected, they may not be able to express those emotions in a proper manner. These are times when a parent must reaffirm to the child that these feelings are normal, but there is an appropriate way to handle them. If you teach your child the skills they need to cope with these feelings and emotions, they will be able to be resilient and able to handle the hurts they will encounter in life.READ More on Weekly Parenting Tips – Encouraging Social Skills

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haiti-port_au_princeLast Tuesday, when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake occurred in Haiti on January 12, 2010, it shook the entire world.  As more and more information comes in and we get a better picture of the tragedy, our children are affected as well.  A disaster of that scope is very scary and your children may be afraid and even uncertain about their own safety and the safety of their family and friends.

Why Talk?
It may seem easier to ignore difficult or tragic events. You may get wrapped up in your own concerns, your own pain, fear and anger.  However, your child is aware of what is happening around them and when those events turn scary, they may become concerned and afraid.  Your child needs you; they need to hear from you that their feelings are normal, that their reactions are normal.  It also helps for them to know that other people feel the same way that they do. It is very important that your child knows that there are people who are working to help people who are victims of disasters.  It is also vital that they know those people are working to make certain that they are safe.

Gather Information
The first step in helping your child deal with a tragic event is to gather correct information from reliable, valid sources.  Knowing the facts can go a long way in helping them feel at ease.  Sit them down and talk to them.  Try to answer their questions and find the answers to questions that you can't answer.  Sites that are excellent sources of information include:

http://fema.gov
http://www.whitehouse.gov/haitiearthquake_embed (this site includes links to other agencies' sites)
http://www.fema.gov/emergency/reports/index.shtm
http://www.redcross.org/

However, don't inundate them with information.  Allow your child to guide the discussion.  Offer the resources and some information; then let them ask questions while you answer or you look for the answers together.READ More on The Haiti Earthquake: Talking to Your Kids and Helping Them Understand

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Valentines Day is About Giving from the Heart

Teaching Kids Valentines Day is About Giving from the Heart

Valentine's Day is a special holiday when we think about love. Although you may be planning something special for you and your spouse, make sure you include the kids in this special day as well.All kinds of love can be celebrated on this holiday – it doesn't just have to be about romantic love and passion. Wondering how you can make this day a special one for the kids this year? Here are some unique Valentine's Day ideas for kids that you can use to make it a wonderful time together as a family to celebrate the day.

Let Kids Make Valentine's Surprises for Family Members

One great idea that you can use is to let the kids make Valentine's Day surprises for family members. Maybe get them involved in making a special surprise for your spouse, their siblings, grandparents or other family members. Need some ideas?

–  Decorate Picture Frames and Include Photos of the Kids – A great project that makes a special surprise for a family member is to allow your kids to decorate picture frames and include photos of the kids in them. Take pictures of the kids together and have some printed out. Get plain photo frames and allow your kids to decorate them with ribbon, flowers, and more. Add in the pictures and they make a great gift for Valentine's Day that they made all by themselves.READ More on Unique Valentine's Day Ideas for Kids

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By Patricia Dischler

girl-painting-a-picture

Nurturing Creativity, Curiosity & Courtesy is just as important as Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

Parents naturally want the best for their child academically, so when research comes out illustrating how the early years have a tremendous impact on future intelligence, the pressure is on to teach those "3 R's: 'Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmatic" as early as possible. The unfortunate result of this has been children who are being fed facts and solutions for memorization, without any basis for their own problem solving or sense of exploration of the information they learn. Early childhood programs feel the pressure as well and are getting caught in this same trap: teaching children the preconceived answers without teaching the process that lead to the answers in the first place. It is no surprise then that many children are struggling in schools, and that children in higher grades are being found to have little or no problem solving techniques and additional problems with social interactions. The missing link? Teaching the 3 Cs. Instilling in children a love for learning and a process for making decisions and solving problems while working with others begins with encouraging in them a sense of creativity, curiosity and courtesy.

Sparking creativity in children opens the door to learning in every developmental area. When children think creatively they look beyond what is in front of them to see what could be. They explore from many different angles and engage all of their senses. This creative exploration can lead to successful problem solving, a broader understanding of topics taught, and a sense of appreciation for the world they live in.READ More on Teaching the 3Cs: Creativity, Curiosity & Courtesy

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dad-and-son-at-the-moviesAnother year has come and gone and as 2009 passes, it leaves behind memorable movies for our young and old audiences alike. Our children had a particularly fun year with the multitude of top kid movies that came out in both 2-D and 3-D. By extension, 2009 movies can include re-releases, I-Max editions, VHS and DVD releases (or Blue-Ray) but any way you look at it 2009 was a blockbuster year. Movies that are rated G, PG and PG-13 are good children, kid and family movies respectively.

Top Animated Kids Films

Films like G-Force, Ice Age: The Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Monsters vs. Aliens, Open Season 2, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel, A Christmas Carol, Ponyo, Astro Boy, Coraline and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs did very well in the theaters, rental and retail stores.

Pixar is probably the best animation studio next to Disney (Pixar and Disney have now merged) when it comes to kids movies and they were hard at work. Although Bolt was officially released in 2008, the DVD came out in 2009 and is a stellar kid's film. John Travolta does the voice of Bolt who is a dog that stars with a little girl in a TV series that he thinks is real. UP was a big hit in theaters. A 78 year old balloon salesman takes a wild ride to get away from his annoying neighbor kid who becomes a stow-away on the old man's trip.READ More on Best Kids Movies 2009: A Year in Review

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babysitterMore than likely at some point in time you are going to need to find a good baby sitter. Maybe you need someone to watch the kids while you go to a doctors appointment or perhaps you just want some time with your spouse away from the kids for the bit. While in some cases you may be able to get a bit of help from family, there may be times when family can't help and you actually need to choose a baby sitter for the children. Of course, this isn't a decision you can take lightly. You have to find someone that you can trust with your children, and that's not always easy. Here is a look at some of the things you need to look for when it comes to finding the right babysitter for your children.

Ask Around

When you're looking for a good babysitter for your kids, one of the best ways to find one is to simply ask around. Ask good friends or your family members if they know of anyone that they would recommend. Another option is to check at your church or at a local school or community center that you are familiar with. When a babysitter comes recommended by someone you know, it's often easier for you to feel comfortable with them staying with your children.READ More on Tips for Choosing the Right Babysitter

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by Stephanie Partridge

Mom Really Listening to Her Teen Son

Mom Really Listening to Her Teen Son

In my high school drama teacher's classroom, he had a large banner over the blackboard that said, "In order to be a good conversationalist you must first learn to listen."

It has stuck with me and I have tried to apply it in my own life.

But what I hear from kids so often is that they feel their parents don't listen to them – and they wish they would.

The art of listening, it seems, is dying a slow, agonizing death.

And it's our kids who are bearing the brunt of it all.

As we move into the new year, why not make listening one of your new year's parenting resolutions.  Resolve to bring the art of listening back to life.  Resolve to listen to your kids.  It is an endeavor well worth pursuing.

Listening, though, is not a natural skill.  Listening has to be learned.  It is not necessarily natural or instinctual.   But, it was Epiictetus, the Greek philosopher, who said, "God gave man two ears but only one mouth that he might hear twice as much as he speaks."

Our kids really need our two ears.  We really need to listen to them.

Try these tips for being a better listener:

Take Time

Listening takes time.  Set aside some time so that you won't be interrupted.  It is also important that your child knows that he or she is important enough for you to give them your time and undivided attention.READ More on Parenting and The Art of Listening

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