Thursday, June 30, 2011

Five Fun Things to Do With Water!

Summer’s here and I don’t know about where you are, but it is H-O-T in Texas. Here are five funtabulously fun things to do with water with your preschooler (besides the obvious- swimming). Enjoy!

1. Make a water xylophone – Fill several drinking glasses with different amounts of water. Using a metal spoon, gently tap on each glass to hear the different sound it makes as a result of the differing amount of water. Tap out a song! Add some food coloring for an extra colorful instrument!

2. Washing Dishes Helper – While you’re washing the dishes, give your child a few clean tupperwares or plastic plates to ‘wash’ alongside you. It will get your child involved give him some fun sensory experiences.  

3. Experiment with Colors – Use food coloring, juices, or anything soluble that can turn the water different colors. Mix colors, mix materials, just have a go at it and create your own science experiment. Then see how things turn out when you try and use your creation as paint!

4. Paint the Sidewalk – with water. Grab an old paintbrush, fill a bucket with water, and ‘paint’ the sidewalk or the driveway. I used to LOVE doing this as a kid. It’s relaxing and it will help your toddler or preschooler work on fine motor skills.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Depression and Your Parenting Style: What it May Mean for Your Child

In a fascinating study that came out last month in the journal Psychological Science, researchers from the University of Maryland found that preschoolers with depressed mothers became more stressed out during mildly stressful experiences than children without depressed mothers, but only if their mothers exhibited a negative parenting style.

Let’s break it down. The researchers put preschoolers in mildly stressful situations when they participated in the research experiment, like interacting with a stranger or giving them a locked transparent box with a fun toy inside but no way to open it. They measured cortisol, a stress hormone, both before and after the stressful experiences. When we’re stressed out, our cortisol levels increase. The researchers found that the cortisol levels increased the most in kiddos who had moms who 1.Were depressed and 2.Displayed a negative parenting style.

What is meant by negative parenting style? I’m so glad you asked. In the kind of work I do, negative, or hostile, parenting is defined as parental behaviors that express anger, frustration, and/or criticism toward the child. At the extreme end, think put-downs, yelling, blaming. At the milder end, think sarcasm or frustrated insistence that a child do a task a certain way.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Physical Therapy: Warning Signs and What Parents Can Do from KidsCare Therapy

It is with such sadness that I introduce our final post in our KidsCare Therapy series. I've had such a fun time working with KidsCare to bring you valuable information about in-home Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy, what to look for as warning signs with your children, and how to help your children along developmental milestones. All good things must come to an end, I suppose, but I've let KidsCare know that they are welcome back 'round these parts anytime :)

KidsCare Therapy has bittersweet feelings about being back this week for the final post of our series with Avant Garde Parenting for the second half of information on physical therapy. We are so happy that after today we will have provided you with the last bit of information to help enable you to keep the kids in your life developing, but we have enjoyed sharing our passion so much that it is sad to see it end!

In our last post we covered the general overview of what a pediatric physical therapist scope of treatment includes. So what do you think we are going to discuss for this week?  That’s right – we are going to tell you all about the specific diagnosis our physical therapist see in children, as well as potential warning signs and some things you can do with your children to ensure they continue to develop on target!

Physical therapists most often see children with developmental delays. While they also treat many patients with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome and Neurological Impairments, as with speech and occupational therapy they are really treating a list of common symptoms in these diagnosis, which we discussed in our last post. In order to know if your child could potentially need physical therapy services, we have provided a list below of potential warning signs in a child.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Parent of the Week: Danny Tanner

This past Sunday was Father’s Day and I can’t think of a better dad to celebrate than Danny Tanner himself. I mean, seriously, raising three girls on your own PLUS letting your deadbeat starving artist musician brother Uncle Jesse, his wife and twin babies, AND your creepy (did he ever really date anyone?) quirky best friend Uncle Joey live with your family in your amazing San Francisco town home? How did he do it? And what did he do for a living again? (Oh yeah, he hosted a television morning show. I just Wikipedia-ed it. I guess they could afford that house...)

ANYway, Danny was an awesome dad and the last five minutes of every show make me confident of this. Why, there was the time DJ went on a crash diet so she could be skinny, the time DJ got drunk at a party...man, DJ had a rough go of it. But Danny was always there for a quick 5 minute heart to heart, complete with compelling background music. And shoulder pads. For both of them. And a swinging kitchen door. What is it with 80’s/90’s sitcoms and swinging kitchen doors? Did any real people actually have these in their homes?

I digress. Again.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Teens who Feel Responsible to Parents Fare Better in School

In a fascinating new study, researchers find that teens who feel a sense of responsibility toward their parents tend to do better in school. Interesting, huh? I know what you’re thinking – this website is about preschoolers. But preschoolers grow up to be teenagers. And parents are always concerned about how to help their children succeed in school. So I thought this was relevant J

The study followed children from 7th to 9th grade in both the United States and China and asked kids questions like, ‘How much time do you feel you need to spend with your parents?’ and ‘Do you try to do well in school in part to please your parents?’ When students were in 7th grade, both American and Chinese students felt equal respect and responsibility toward their parents, but something interesting happened as they got older: American teenagers began to feel less responsible to their parents. This was not true, however, for Chinese teenagers. This is likely a difference between cultures.

But here’s where it gets really interesting. For both American and Chinese teens, those who felt a high sense of respect toward and responsibility to their parents got better grades and showed better attitudes for learning. Why? Well, we don’t know for sure, but it may have something to do with those teens and parents maintaining a close relationship with each other. One of the authors of the study suggests the importance of parents being involved in teens’ lives, which was also linked with teens’ feelings of responsibility toward their parents.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Children and Mistakes

I'm excited to bring you a guest article from Alina Tugend, author of Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong. Goodness knows that I'm wrong. A lot. I'm so excited to read this book and learn about how we can actually benefit, and help children benefit, from learning from our mistakes rather than dwelling on them...enjoy!

Children and Mistakes
by Alina Tugend,
Author of Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong

It's crucial that we, as parents, allow our children to make mistakes and fail and figure out how to recover from them. We can't rush in and fix every problem, whether it be forgotten homework, an awkward social encounter or not getting a part in the school play.

We know from research that building children's self-esteem and self-worth is much less about praise and gold stars and trophies for everyone and much more about creating resilience. Children who know how to screw up and fail and try again.

"While we do not want our children to face ongoing failure, to attempt to overprotect them and rush in whenever we fear they might fail at a task robs them of an important lesson, namely that mistakes are experiences from which to learn," writes Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein in their book Nurturing Resilience in Our Children. "It also communicates another subtle or perhaps not-so-subtle message to a child: We don't think you are strong enough to deal with obstacles and mistakes."
It's not that resilient children don't feel bad about their mistakes and failures, but they don't see themselves as failures. Too often children who think that messing up means they're losers quit tasks, blame others and deny responsibility.
But, as we know, nothing in parenting is black and white. It's fine to theoretically say that all children must make mistakes and fail, but when it's our children, all that great insight can go out the window. Or as my sister said when her nine-year-old was having a particularly tough baseball season, "I just don't want to be there when he strikes out."
What parent hasn't felt he or she would do anything to stop the tears? Or even worse, knowing there's something we can do and chose not to because our son or daughter has to learn a lesson.
So here are some thoughts that I keep in mind during the treacherous journey of parenthood:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Parents of the Week: Dr. And Mrs. Huxtable

Oh, you didn't think I forgot them, did you? Not a chance. Just waiting for the right moment.

Cliff and Claire Huxtable rocked the mid-late 80's with style, humor, and romance- not to mention raising five children! That family had everything- a kitchen with a swinging door, living room furniture with fancy wooden feet, and even a hunky older brother (Theo) with a cool hairstyle (flat top). Just saying.

Really, though, Cliff and Claire were great parents. Sensitive and loving with clear boundaries. Supporting each other's decisions. Parenting with humor and not taking themselves too seriously. The way Claire would sit down and have a heart to heart with the kids, the way Cliff could make anything not seem so horrible...could you ask for more from parents?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quality of Parent-Toddler Relationship Linked with Childhood Obesity

A recent article suggests that the quality of parent-toddler relationships could affect children's risk for obesity...what?! Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Let me explain.

In this fascinating study, the authors looked at the attachment relationship between parents and children. The attachment relationship is a special bond between parents and children. In short, it's based on the consistency with which you respond to your child- do you comfort her when she's upset? Do you pick him up when those precious arms are reaching for you? Do you snuggle her when she's sick? All of these behaviors foster the attachment relationship and send the following message to your child: "My parent will be there for me when I need her/him." They become securely attached.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

An Inside Look at Physical Therapy from the Folks at KidsCare Therapy

KidsCare Therapy is back, for our third and final month to tell you about another great therapy service for children. Thus far we’ve covered occupational and speech therapy, and during the month of June we are going to tell you all about the third discipline we treat –physical therapy. As with the other disciplines, we will start out this month by giving you a general overview of a pediatric physical therapist’s scope of treatment in this post, and then follow it up in a couple of weeks with specific diagnosis, potential warning signs and some treatments. After this month we hope that you will all be well versed as to how to identify a child that may be in need of speech, occupational or physical therapy, as well as how you can help to ensure you keep a child in your life healthy, and on target!

By definition physical therapy is a branch of rehabilitation that uses specifically designed exercises to help patients regain or improve their physical abilities.  Physical therapists work with many types of patients from infants all the way through adulthood to assist with that which limits a patients ability to move and perform functional activities as well as they would like in their daily lives. This differs from occupational therapy (which we learned about in April) because physical therapy deals more with large body movements versus the fine use of the hands. Physical therapy is helping mobility and strength, while occupational therapy assists more with the fine motor skills involved with performing each task. While both of these play into one main goal, which is to help ensure a child develops into a fully functioning adult, with all of their motor skills intact– each of these disciplines have different ways of obtaining this goal. A physical therapist would describe “success” as being able to facilitate improvement of functional skills and independence, but also strength, coordination and balance for increased mobility.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Parent of the Week: Adri

Today we honor Adri. Adri is A-mazing. She's just full of joy and it comes across in her words and photos. She's also a singer- she wrote a lullaby for her baby girl and gave me permission to print the lyrics!! (They're at the bottom of her post). Okay- enjoy!

REMEMBER: If you’d like to be a Parent of the Week, or if you’d like to nominate someone, simply email me at deluna.jamie@gmail.com. It’s that easy!

Tell me about your children.
I have two step-sons, Sephiroth (11) and Sebastian (10). Then, there is Serena, better known as "Critter". Critter is 11 months old and walking, practically running. The boys dote on their sister and she lights up when they come into the room. Seph is good with electronics, engineering, robotics. He's a wiz kid as long as he's doing a project that he thought of and not an assignment the teacher gave him. Sebastian is great with writing, video gaming, and make believe. He has such an imagination and writes incredible stories. Serena has been a constant blessing in an often stressful world. She loves to sing, dance, and beat out a rhythm. But, it is the three of them together along with their dad that bring deep joy to my life.

How did you meet your husband? Robert and I were good friends in the youth group at our church. I met him when I was 13 and he was 15. When he turned 18 we went our separate ways. It was in 2003, I was 23 and he was 25, that he came back to that same church and I was there...again. We started dating almost immediately and in 2007 we were married. It hasn't always been an easy road, but with God's help, everything that we have gone through has made our marriage stronger and everyday I love him a little bit more.

I would also like to take a minute to point out that my husband is a stay-at-home dad. He is incredible with Serena. From the moment she was born, he had stars in his eyes. For the first few weeks he was the only one that could calm her down when she got upset, which was rare because she is happy 95% of the time! Most mornings, Robert brings her to me (in bed) and I get to snuggle with her and then feed her and put her back to bed for her morning nap before I have to get ready for work. He knows how important that time is to me. Then, while I’m away, he sings the ABCs with her everyday, reads books with her, gets down on his knees and plays with her in her nursery, keeps her out in the yard while he gardens or straps her on his back when he cleans up around the house, and then spends time with both of us every evening when I get home. He has been with her everyday for the past 11 months and I do believe our family routine has contributed to Serena’s early development.

Friday, June 3, 2011

CBS 11 clip- Traveling with Kiddos

Totally forgot to post my CBS 11 Clip from this week! Here it is:

Wow, I look really happy in the still. (I was really happy. I LOVE the people at CBS!) Read more...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Question for Parents

What is your child interested in? How do you support that interest? Could you be doing more? Read more...

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