December 29, 2009

Using Time Out Effectively

Time out is probably the most common behavior management strategy known to parents. I often have parents tell me that time outs don't work. They don't work because you're probably using it in a negative way instead of a positive way.

Think of how time outs are used in sports. The purpose is to stop the clock, take a deep breath, get a drink of water, regroup, take a look at what isn't working, and come up with a new game plan.

Is that the logic you employ when you put your child in time out or does it sound more like this: "I've had enough of this nonsense! Sit on this chair and think about what you just did!" You sit the timer for five minutes but chances are slim your five year old is going to feel remorseful. Instead she's probably spending those five minutes plotting how she will get revenge!

A negative time out is based on the idea that in order to get a child to do better we first have to make them feel worse. A positive time out is based on the premise that children "do" better when they "feel" better. Apply this to yourself. Do you do better when you feel worse or when you feel better?

A positive time out gives children and their parents time and space to calm down until they can once again think rationally instead of emotionally. When you're rational it's much easier to learn from mistakes, problem solve and make amends for any hurt or damage the inappropriate behavior might have caused. It's another way for parents to teach important skills that will last a lifetime.

December 19, 2009

Do You Buy Or Make Christmas Memories?

Do you remember the gifts you gave your child last Christmas? Better yet, do you think your child remembers?

From the moment holiday toy commercials air on TV children begin compiling their Christmas wish list. Parents determined to give their child the best Christmas ever rush out to purchase everything on the list. Unfortunately children live in the moment so their wish lists are always expanding and changing. Parents don’t want their child to be disappointed on Christmas morning so they rush back to the store or to and buy more toys. It’s not only exhausting but it’s also expensive. I’m willing to bet that’s not the meaning of Christmas you want to instill in your child.

If this scenario sounds familiar to you I suggest you ask yourself a few questions. Are you afraid your child might be disappointed on Christmas morning? Are you trying to avoid feeling guilty about not giving your child everything they want? What message do you want to convey to your children about the meaning of Christmas?

Perhaps it’s time to start a new Christmas tradition. Release yourself from trying to buy the Christmas your child thinks she wants and replace it with a Christmas that she needs. A Christmas with simple gifts and simple pleasures will make memories that will last a lifetime.

December 18, 2009

The Perfect Christmas Morning

If you're like the majority of parents you've been shopping for weeks to find the perfect gifts that you just know your children will love. You envision awaking Christmas morning to watch your children open their gifts with smiles and squeals of excitement. After the gifts are opened you imagine your family will spend the day reveling in the joy of the season and happy to be together making memories of the perfect Christmas.

The perfect Christmas. Is it possible?

The family cat has gotten to the gifts before your children and the perfectly wrapped gifts now look like they've survived a tornado.

Son number one opens all his gifts and begins to sob hysterically because he didn't get a green Bakugan. Son number two has already broken the door off his Zhu Zhu garage and is angry with you because you can't fix it. Your daughter's pile of new toys has already been discarded and at the bottom of that pile is a hot pink Snuggie you had hoped would replace her worn out blankie. She's now whining, while holding that blankie, because she's hungry and wants you to make pancakes.

You take a deep breath trying not to show your disappointment as you ask yourself, "What went wrong? Why can't we have a perfect Christmas?"

Society or more specifically the media has a way of convincing us that we can create perfection yet in reality no aspect of our life is perfect yet we continue to try and convince ourselves that we can achieve perfection on Christmas morning.

When you set your sights so high there is absolutely no way to achieve them so you end up feeling disappointed and defeated which leads to overlooking the small things that really make Christmas special.

Small things like your daughter giving you a kiss with pancake syrup on her lips. Your older son allowing his little brother to playing with his Bakugan even if it's only for ten minutes. The whole family, still in pajamas, sitting on the floor near the Christmas tree reading together The Night Before Christmas while munching on sugar cookies and candy canes.

Grab that digital camera Santa brought you, if you can figure out how to turn it on, and take some photos of these precious moments. They're the ones that you will look back on ten years from now with a tear in your eye, a smile on your face, and a tug in your heart longing to repeat that 2009 not-so-perfect Christmas that was perfect after all.

December 17, 2009

Don't Overlook Traditional Games When Buying Holiday Gifts

Whether you're shopping for a child or an adult don't overlook traditional games as that perfect gift. Many retail stores have lowered their prices this year on these types of games making them affordable gifts that can bring hours of family interaction and they don't require batteries.

Here are some games I recommend:

Yahtzee.....which I saw at Walmart recently for only $5.00

Trouble.....priced at many discount stores this holiday season from $9.00 -$10.00

Cootie, Don't Break the Ice, Don't Spill the Beans and Ants in the Pants all from Milton Bradley can be purchased for as little as $5.00

Twister is a great game to get your family moving and it will generate laughter.

Card games such as Uno and Old Maid, Kerplunk, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly, BINGO, Checkers. The list goes on. Think back to your own childhood and the games you remember playing. Chances are the children, and the grown-up children, in your life would enjoy them as well.

What traditional games will be found under your tree this holiday season?

December 13, 2009

Potty Training Wars

I often hear from exhausted parents that their child is potty trained to urinate in the potty yet won't have BM's in the potty.

Usually this is a control issue and it's sometimes related to things going in in the family, For instance, an addition of a new baby to the family could be at the root of it. Many well meaning parents want to get the first born completely potty trained by the time the baby arrives. That can put a lot of pressure on both parents and child.

I often tell parents that when a second child enters a family the first-born views it much like you would if your spouse said, "Honey, things between us are really great, but another woman/man is going to be moving in with us. She/he will be so much fun and you can do things together." Your response would probably be "I don't think so!" Your first-born has no control over a baby entering the family but he can control his BM's.

Parents resort to begging and bribing the child to go poop in the potty. This is giving your child negative attention and he's taking advantage of it. The more you push the more he's going to want to take control and then you've got a battle of wills.

Some parents will try to reason with their young child and ask them repeatedly why he doesn't want to poop in the potty. A child of three or four really doesn't know the answer to that question because they're not developmentally able to be rational about this like an adult.

When potty training has become a war between parent and child I suggest parents stop pushing. That will lessen the child's need to control the situation and reduce everyone's stress. He'll do it when he's ready.

Also ask yourself if you're giving your child enough positive attention. That may be what he's seeking because because by controlling his BM's he's certainly got your attention.

December 11, 2009

Parenting: Fair vs. Equal

As a parent have you fallen into the pattern of what you do for one child you do for the other? Do you try to ensure your children are treated equally when it comes to attention, time and things?

Perhaps it's time to look at treating your children fairly instead of equally. Fair and equal are not the same thing. Treating children equally means you treat them exactly the same. Treating children fairly means you take into account the individual needs of each child.

For example, your youngest child needs a new pair of shoes. The sibling says, "I didn't get a new pair of shoes. That's not fair!" It's important for you as the parent to point out that their sibling outgrew their shoes and needed a new pair so that was fair. Getting a new pair of shoes, when they're not needed, simply because a sibling received a new pair would be equal treatment not fair treatment and in our family we believe in being fair.

Using a fair approach instead of an equal approach might be something you are not currently doing or perhaps you are challenged with doing it as consistently as you would like. Take a close look at why you treat your children equally instead of fairly. Ask yourself some questions. Do I not want to hurt my child's feelings? Does it bother me to see my child disappointed? Am I afraid my children will think I love one of them more than the other? What message am I sending to my children when I treat them equally all of the time.

Are your children learning from you that they should expect equal treatment irregardless of the situation? Does that reflect how society treats us? Life isn't always fair and it certainly doesn't always treat us equally. That's an important lesson for parents to teach their children.

I encourage you to take small steps in changing the way you treat your children. Strive to treat them fairly and not equally. If you're unable to make this change on her own it might be time to enlist the help of a parenting coach or a counselor.

December 3, 2009

Managing the Holidays

As Christmas looms closer, your children may be bouncing off the walls in anticipation of holiday preparations, parties and the gifts they hope to receive. Even though they are exhibiting happy energy it can get out of hand. An over-eager child might break ornaments while helping decorate the tree. They might drop the plate of cookies you baked for the neighbors or give away secrets about what's in the packages.

Here are some suggestions for how to get things under control without curbing your child's excitement.

* Even with all the extra events, keep your child's routine as consistent as possible. This includes making sure your child gets enough sleep.

* Write down special events on the family calendar. This eliminates your child continually asking when events will occur.

* Enlist your child to help with gift wrapping, making place cards for the family dinner or even helping clean the house in preparation for guests.

* Suggest they play a board game or other quiet activity. Play a holiday CD. This will have a calming effect and bring their excitement level down a notch.

By helping your child find ways to channel all of their holiday excitement, things in your house will be much more manageable.

November 23, 2009

National Family Week, November 22-28, 2009

The Alliance for Children and Families has directed National Family Week efforts for more than 30 years. The Alliance is a nonprofit membership association representing child- and family-serving organizations in the United States and Canada. Member agencies provide an array of programs and services to all generations and serve close to 8 million people in more than 6,700 communities.

National Family Week premise Children do better when their families are strong and families do better when they live in communities that help them succeed.

To learn more go HERE

November 1, 2009

Why I Offer a Free Consultation

When a parent contacts me concerning my counseling or consulting services one of the first questions they ask me is, "How much do you charge?" When they hear I offer a free initial consultation they are often surprised. Once they hear why it's free they're usually interested in scheduling an appointment as they have nothing to lose but something to gain.

It's a courageous parent who consults with a therapist. The parent-therapist relationship is the foundation for effective child therapy and parents deserve an opportunity to meet me, ask questions and learn more about my approach to working with children and families. Spending an hour with me will give them a chance to decide if I am someone they would feel comfortable working with.

I use the consultation as an opportunity to support the parents in whatever challenges their family is currently facing. I emphasize setting goals and working with me collaboratively to achieve them. I want parents to leave the consultation feeling empowered to move forward positively with me as a part of their team. If at the end of the consultation I sense that therapy may not be what your family currently needs I can refer you to the appropriate community resources.

If you're a parent who is feeling stressed or overwhelmed you may benefit from a consultation. I have a flexible schedule to accommodate your busy life. Call me at 314-681-8272 to schedule a free consultation. I look forward to meeting you.

October 3, 2009

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) evolved from the "Day of Unity" in October 1981 conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children.

In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year marks the initiation of the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline.

Each year, the Day of Unity is celebrated the first Monday of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

If you are in danger, please call 911, your local hotline, or (in the U.S.) the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

For more information go HERE

September 29, 2009

All Behavior Has a Purpose

Most of the time children either get something or they avoid something by engaging in a particular behavior. Think of a problem behavior your child is currently displaying. What do you think your child is getting or avoiding by engaging in that behavior?

If your child uses a behavior to get something, try and identify what he is hoping to gain. It could be attention, something tangible, a preferred activity or control.

If the behavior is to avoid something ask yourself if your child is trying to avoid attention, difficult tasks, demands or activities.

Now take a closer look at what triggers the behavior. What happens right before, or what sets off the problem behavior. Also note any factors or events that set up the behavior This could be factors related to home or family, social or environmental conditions, biological or medical conditions.

Once you've established the above, ask yourself the following questions:

When is my child most successful?

When is the problem behavior least likely to occur?

Use the answers to these two questions to map out a plan to redirect the problem behavior. You may be able to eliminate the trigger(s). Make your child a part of the solution by enlisting his help in coming up with a way to change the behavior.

September 28, 2009

Want To Learn More About Parenting A Child With ADHD?

I will be speaking at the October 3rd support group meeting of the Gateway Satellite CHADD. I will be addressing some of the common behaviors that ADHD children engage in and how to deal with them.

Details on time and place are HERE.

September 13, 2009

ADHD Awareness Week

ADHD Awareness Week is September 14-10, 2009. Join with CHADD (Children and Adults with Attentions Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) to celebrate the progress that's been made and to assess how much work is still ahead. Go to the CHADD website for more information.

A support group, in the St. Louis area, for parents of children with ADHD has recently been organized. Click here for information about the Gateway Parents Satellite of CHADD.

September 3, 2009

National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month

Recovery Month is an annual observance that takes place during the month of September.

The Recovery Month observance highlights the societal benefits of substance abuse treatment, lauds the contributions of treatment providers and promotes the message that recovery from substance abuse in all its forms is possible. The observance also encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective substance abuse treatment for those in need. Each year a new theme, or emphasis, is selected for the observance.

Recovery Month provides a platform to celebrate people in recovery and those who serve them. Each September, thousands of treatment programs around the country celebrate their successes and share them with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues in an effort to educate the public about treatment, how it works, for whom, and why. Substance abuse treatment providers have made significant accomplishments, having transformed the lives of untold thousands of Americans. These successes often go unnoticed by the broader population; therefore, Recovery Month provides a vehicle to celebrate these successes.

Recovery Month also serves to educate the public on substance abuse as a national health crisis, that addiction is a treatable disease, and that recovery is possible. Recovery Month highlights the benefits of treatment for not only the affected individual, but for their family, friends, workplace, and society as a whole. Educating the public reduces the stigma associated with addiction and treatment. Accurate knowledge of the disease helps people to understand the importance of supporting treatment programs, those who work within the treatment field, and those in need of treatment.

August 30, 2009

Happy, Healthy, Well-Adjusted Children

Now that your children are back in school how has your family adjusted to their new routine? After a restful summer where schedules are often not as rigid as they are during the school year, it can be challenging to get everyone back on track. I'd like to suggest some things you can do to make your family routine less stressful.

Have a family calendar posted in a prominent place where everyone, even the youngest members of the family, can see it. Use a different colored pen to mark each person's schedule so you can tell at a glance who has a dentist appointment or picture day at school tomorrow. It's helpful to take a few minutes on Sunday evening to remind everyone of the upcoming events for the next week. That way when someone forgets it doesn't fall on mom or dad's shoulders. It teaches children to be responsible for their own schedule and hopefully they have a planner in their backpacks or in their rooms where they too can keep track of their activities.

Plan healthy meals and snacks. Children function better when they have a well-balanced diet. Include them in meal planning and preparation. Children are much more likely to eat foods they've helped prepare. You might even make an adventure of trying one new fruit or vegetable each week. There are so many varieties available that you can pick up a new one on your weekly grocery shopping trip. Don't forget to clip and use coupons to help control the cost of your food budget. Have your family clip the coupons from the Sunday paper and put them in charge of them when you shop.

Make sure your children are getting enough sleep. Many parents are not aware of how much sleep children require. Children who are irritable, overreact, have difficulty concentrating and wake often during the night may be sleep deprived. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following number of hours of sleep in a 24 hour period (naps are included):

Between Birth-Six Months, children need 16-20 hours
Between Six-Twelve Months, children need 14-15 hours
Between Ages 1-3, children need 10-13 hours
Between Ages 3-10, children need 10-12 hours
Between Ages 11-12, children need about 10 hours
Teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep per night

Getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and having a home with a predictable routine is a good foundation for raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted children.

August 2, 2009

Ways To Connect With Your Teenager

When your child becomes a teenager it can sometimes feel that you are no longer communicating with him or her. You try to engage them in conversations but they don't always respond. There are some little things you can do that might encourage your child to communicate with you.

Touch your teen gently on the shoulder when you say "good morning."

Slide a "thinking of you" note under their pillow.

Begin a "Positive Thoughts" notebook. Each evening jot down a few positive sentences into a notebook or journal. The sentences could be about something positive you saw your teen say or do, an encouraging word about an upcoming test they have at school, etc. Leave the notebook out in a general area, such as the kitchen counter or table, where your teen can find it the next morning. Encourage your teen to write a response to your comment. Even if your teen doesn't write a response don't give up. Continue writing on a daily basis. This will send your teen the message that this is important to you. Your teen will probably be reading your thoughts even if she doesn't respond.

Put your teens baby photos back out on the mantle. Reminisce out loud or smile without saying a word while thumbing through your teens baby photo album. Make sure your son can see and hear you. He just might come and sit beside you and begin reminiscing with you.

These simple ideas can result in a dialogue between you and your teen which in turn contributes to a much needed closeness between parent and child.

July 16, 2009

What is Theraplay?

Theraplay is a short-term, therapist-guided dyadic psychotherapy that focuses on parent-child relationships. It:

* Enhances attachment, self-esteem and trust in others through joyful engagement
* Is based on the natural patterns of healthy interaction between parent and child
* Focuses on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: structure, engagement, nurture and challenge
* Creates an active and empathic connection between child and parents
* Results in changed view of the self as worthy and lovable, and of relationships as positive

I will be attending a Theraplay training next month in my quest to become certified at facilitating Theraplay. I have already attended an introductory class which allows me to apply basic Theraplay principles in my work. I am eager to pursue this credentialing and be better able to serve families requesting my services.

For more information on Theraplay please see their web site:

July 8, 2009

Life is Full of Transitions

Getting married, getting divorced. A job promotion or a job loss. The birth of your first child, the first day of kindergarten. The day your baby graduates from high school. Transitions are a normal part of family life. Some bring joy and others bring sorrow. Right now I'm in the midst of the empty nest transition. It's a mixed bag of both joy and sorrow. I take it one day at a time and it's getting easier but it will take me some time before I've completely adjusted.

What transition is your family currently facing?

July 6, 2009

Summer "To-Do" List

The Fourth of July signals for me the mid-point of the summer. Now it's time to go back to that to-do list you made at the beginning of the summer and hurriedly try to tackle the items you've not find time to accomplish. I was able to clean the basement and have a garage sale and to convert a bedroom into a "hoffice" (that's my word for a home office). The items that have not yet been scratched off of my list include painting several rooms in my house, committing more time each day to writing and getting into a habit of walking at least four times a week. There are still several weeks of summer left and I'm focused on putting forth the time and energy needed to accomplish these things.

How about you? What's left on your summer to-do list?

June 23, 2009

Still accepting registrations for June 29th parenting class

Helping Children Understand Divorce:

Divorce is a difficult adjustment for children and parents. Each family member deals with a variety of emotions. Despite their own challenges with the divorce process, parents need to understand how divorce affects their children. This class will explain children’s understanding of divorce from various developmental stages. It will also offer suggestions on how to help children work through the effects of divorce.

Here's a link to the registration form:

Call me for more details. 314-681-8272.

June 15, 2009

Autistic Kids & Thomas the Tank Engine

Many children with developmental disabilities are fascinated with animated TV characters. A study conducted in the UK found autistic children were far more fascinated with the characters from Thomas the Tank Engine than with other fictional characters.

Picking up on this finding, Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) a non-profit that provides services to people with this development disorder has designed a Thomas The Tank Engine Emotions Game specifically aimed at autistic kids.

The game asks players to recognize which engine has a sad, happy or angry face. Each time the child plays they are presented with a different sequence of emotions. It can also be played to test a child's memory.

Here's the link to play the game:

June 10, 2009

Baby Brain Map

I'm a visual learner and the web site, Zero to Three, has an awesome feature that allows you to take a look inside your baby's brain as it develops.

Go to the Zero to Three web site: and select an age range from the pull-down menu. Depending on the age range you selected different hot spots on the brain will appear. Click on a hot spot to reveal questions to find out how a baby's brain develops during this period of brain growth. You'll also learn what you can do to enrich a very young child's development.

May 29, 2009

Growing Old With Autism

Despite the ever-increasing awareness of Autism and programs to assist children and their families, their is little assistance available for adults with autism. As the number of children with autism increases will there be services available to them when they are adults? This first-hand account in Time magazine addresses these concerns.,9171,1898322-1,00.html

May 11, 2009

Celebrate Children's Book Week May 11-17, 2009

Children's Book Week is the oldest national literacy event in the United States. This is it's 90th year. Go to the official web site to learn ways to help celebrate books and reading.

May 7, 2009


May 7, 2009 is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. This is a day to promote positive youth development, resilience, recovery, and the transformation of mental health services delivery for children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families. Awareness Day raises awareness of effective programs for children's mental health needs; demonstrates how children's mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience; and shows how children with mental health needs thrive in their communities.

The theme for this year's national event is Thriving in the Community, with a special emphasis on how high school youth who receive the services they need are more likely to have positive outcomes, such as better grades, and less likely to have negative outcomes, such as involvement with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

May 6, 2009

Online Depression Screening Website

This web site is sponsored by Mental Health America as part of the Campaign for America's Mental Health. The mission of this website is to educate people about clinical depression, offer a confidential way for people to get screened for symptoms of the illness, and guide people toward appropriate professional help if necessary.

Screening tests, such as the one on this web site, are not intended to provide a diagnosis for clinical depression. But they may help identify any depressive symptoms and determine whether a further evaluation by a medical or mental health professional is necessary. As with any other illness, you should see your doctor if you think you might have symptoms of depression.

May 4, 2009

Parenting Classes

I have finalized the dates and topics for my up-coming parenting classes. If you email me I can send you the flyer and the registration form. (I never share email addresses). The registration form is also available to download on my web site

Classes are for parents of children ages 3-12. Classes begin at 7pm and run for ninety minutes and will be held at my office in Ellisville. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Each class is $10.00 which includes handouts and light refreshments.

June 8 - Understanding Your Child’s Temperament
Every child is born with a unique temperament style that affects how they react and respond to their world. Parents who understand their child’s temperament have an easier time dealing with challenging behaviors. This class will help parents gain an understanding of different temperament styles and learn ways to adjust their parenting to their child’s temperament.

June 15 - Managing Challenging Behaviors
Parents are expressing growing concerns about challenging behaviors. Children often exhibit challenging behaviors when they don’t have the skills needed to display more appropriate behaviors. This class will help parents understand why challenging behaviors occur and offer strategies to better manage those behaviors.

June 22 - Helping Siblings Get Along
Bickering, fighting, and arguing among siblings is frustrating for parents. There are many reasons why sibling rivalry occurs but generally brothers and sisters fight to get their parent’s attention. This class shares some ideas to help you reduce your frustration and lessen the fighting.

June 29 - Helping Children Understand Divorce
Divorce is a difficult adjustment for children and parents. Each family member deals with a variety of emotions. Despite their own challenges with the divorce process, parents need to understand how divorce affects their children. This class will explain children’s understanding of divorce from various developmental stages. It will also offer suggestions on how to help children work through the effects of divorce.

April 28, 2009

Enter The Adoptive Families Photo Contest

Does your child have a winning smile? Prove it in the 2009 Adoptive Families Photo Contest. If your photo is chosen you can win great prizes and see your child on the pages or the cover of Adoptive Families magazine.

Go here for entry information:

April 24, 2009

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

This book explains to children that we all carry an invisible bucket that holds the way we feel about ourselves. When we're happy our bucket is full. When we're sad our bucket is empty. We can fill our own bucket and so can others. We can also dip into our bucket.

This book encourages children to express kindness and love on a daily basis.

Many schools use it and have found it to be successful. It would be fun to introduce this concept to your children and use it in your family.

What have you put in your bucket, or the bucket of someone special, today?

April 23, 2009

Helping Your Child Understand Sexuality

Children are maturing at younger ages. It's not unusual for a girl to begin menstruating as early as ten.

Parents often ask me what books I recommend to helping introduce this topic to their sons and daughters. Here are my recommendations.

These books are both available from Usborne Books.

April 20, 2009

April 20-26 is National Turn off TV week

Turning off the TV or cutting back on the amount of TV you watch can improve the health of you and your family members.

Not watching TV gives you extra time to become more physical, to connect with your family and do things you never seem to have time for such as reading, hobbies or having quiet time.

For more information check out the web site for Screen Time Awareness

April 16, 2009


The ad in the paper read, “For Sale: Year old female, registered cocker spaniel. $75.00.” I quickly dialed the number listed and with fingers crossed asked if she was still available. My heart skipped a beat when they said yes and I responded by asking if I could come by in the next thirty minutes to take a look at her. I grabbed my keys, told my husband and the children to get in the car and in less than 15 minutes we pulled into the driveway of the dog owners.

They were in the yard watching their three young children playing in a pile of dirt in the lot next door where a new home was being constructed. Then I saw her. A buff colored cocker spaniel romping around in that same pile of dirt. Her fur was dirty and she hadn’t been groomed in some time but I knew from that moment Minnie was going home with me.

The owners gave us a small crate which we put her in for the ride home. We were excited yet a little concerned because we’d had no time to prepare our home for a dog. When we brought her in the house she ran from room to room, sniffing and barking and trying to get away every time one of us opened the front or back door. Soon I heard my six year old son hollering my name. I raced up the stairway to his room and found him standing on his bed, pointing down at Minnie and yelling, “She’s scaring me!”

My son calmed down, Minnie settled in and our family began an adventure that only another dog lover could possibly understand.

In January of this year Minnie turned fourteen. That’s an advanced age for a cocker spaniel, especially one like Minnie who has had an array of health concerns over the years. A month later she had to have an eye removed due to a tumor. The tumor was cancerous. Her time with us is drawing to a close and our family has already begun processing our upcoming loss.

We have decided that instead of dwelling on what our family will be like without Minnie, we are going to focus on remembering all the joy she’s brought to our family in the thirteen years she has been with us. I’ve begun pouring through old photo albums and pulling out every photo of her that I’ve ever saved. My goal is to make a scrapbook. As I lined up the photos on the dining room table I realized they represented a virtual time line of not only Minnie’s life but of my children's lives as well. They’re pictured along side of her in many of the photos.

My son emailed me a dozen of his favorite photos of Minnie that he had taken over the years. My daughter made the five hour drive home to spend some precious time with Minnie.

We're enjoying each day that Minnie is still with us. Her hearing is virtually gone and her remaining eye is clouded with age. She still sits next to me rubbing her head against my leg begging me to scratch her ears. Her tail still wags when someone enters the room.

As we focus on the past we find we are recalling memories of Minnie that we had forgotten. Remembering brings tears but it also brings smiles. We hope it will ease some of the pain when the time comes for us to let go and say good-bye.

April 14, 2009

Catch Your Child Doing Something Right

Children love attention and they will do anything to get it. If the only way to get your attention is to do something wrong, it's not hard to figure out which behavior she'll do repeatedly.

Try to catch your child doing something right. Call your child by name when you see her doing something right. You might say, "Kelsey, I saw you help your brother put on his jacket. That's great!" After she gets over the initial shock of hearing her name followed by something positive rather than negative, she'll smile proudly, stand a little taller and make an effort to get caught doing something right in the future.

Stay away from generic praise such as, "You were good today." Find specific incidents which define good behavior. "Thank you for remembering to pick up your toys," and "You took turns with your sister," describe the behaviors you want from your child.

Praise and attention are powerful motivators. Catch your child doing something right this week and comment on it. Your child will love the attention and you will have added something new to your bag of parenting tricks.

April 13, 2009

Have A New Kid By Friday

Here's a great new book by noted Psychologist Kevin Leman, Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days

I just finished reading this book and I am recommending it to any parent who is looking for a no-nonsense approach to parenting. Dr. Leman's suggestions are straight forward and sensible. It's easy to read and gives you strategies you can implement immediately.

April 10, 2009

Campaign For Real Beauty

The Campaign For Real Beauty aims to change the status quo and offer in its place a broader, healthier, more democratic view of beauty. It's sponsored by Dove and the web site features videos and free self-esteem tools to download.

If you're a parent of a young girl or a teenager this site is definitely worth checking out.

April 9, 2009

Empty Threats

Your child’s Lego’s are all over the floor even though you have already told him three times to pick them up.

At first you were frustrated but now you’re angry and you blurt out, “If you don’t pick up the Lego’s I’m going to throw them into the trash!” Let me ask you a question. Are you really going to throw them in the trash? I’m going to assume your answer is, “No.”

It happens to every parent. In a moment of anger you make a threat that you won’t carry out. An empty threat means you’ve lost control and your child has won.

Children are smart little creatures. They know you won’t follow through so they don’t take your threats seriously. That means you won’t get the results you need. In the aforementioned example that mean your child is not going to pick up his Lego’s.

You can overcome making empty threats. How might the situation look if you said this instead, “Ryan, I need you to pick up your Lego’s. I’m going to set the timer for five minutes. If they’re not picked up when the timer goes off you will not be allowed to play with your Lego’s for a week.” If you’re not a parent who usually follows through on threats Ryan won’t think you’re serious so he won’t comply. What he doesn’t realize is that you’re using a different approach this time. This time you’re going to follow through on your threat.

You scoop up the Lego’s and put them where Ryan can’t reach them. He’s watching in total disbelief. He’s clinging to your leg begging you to give them back. You drag yourself and the attached Ryan over to the refrigerator where you pencil onto the family calendar the day the Lego’s will be returned. You pry Ryan off your leg and go about your business while he lies on the kitchen floor wailing and pleading. The tantrum is driving you nuts but you don’t back down. You followed through on your threat.

Feels good doesn’t it? It wasn’t easy but you did it. You were firm, yet matter of fact. You won. With consistency and perseverance you can become a parent who follows through more times than not.

How do you think Ryan will respond the next time you ask him to pick up his Lego’s?

April 7, 2009

Study finds 1 in 5 obese among 4-year-olds

CHICAGO – A striking new study says almost 1 in 5 American 4-year-olds is obese, and the rate is alarmingly higher among American Indian children, with nearly a third of them obese. Researchers were surprised to see differences by race at so early an age.

Overall, more than half a million 4-year-olds are obese, the study suggests. Obesity is more common in Hispanic and black youngsters, too, but the disparity is most startling in American Indians, whose rate is almost double that of whites.

The lead author said that rate is worrisome among children so young, even in a population at higher risk for obesity because of other health problems and economic disadvantages.

"The magnitude of these differences was larger than we expected, and it is surprising to see differences by racial groups present so early in childhood," said Sarah Anderson, an Ohio State University public health researcher. She conducted the research with Temple University's Dr. Robert Whitaker.

Dr. Glenn Flores, a pediatrics and public health professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, said the research is an important contribution to studies documenting racial and ethnic disparities in children's weight.

"The cumulative evidence is alarming because within just a few decades, America will become a 'minority majority' nation," he said. Without interventions, the next generation "will be at very high risk" for heart disease, high blood pressure, cancers, joint diseases and other problems connected with obesity, said Flores, who was not involved in the new research.

The study is an analysis of nationally representative height and weight data on 8,550 preschoolers born in 2001. Children were measured in their homes and were part of a study conducted by the government's National Center for Education Statistics. The results appear in Monday's Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Almost 13 percent of Asian children were obese, along with 16 percent of whites, almost 21 percent of blacks, 22 percent of Hispanics, and 31 percent of American Indians.

Children were considered obese if their body-mass index, a height-weight ratio, was in the 95th percentile or higher based on government BMI growth charts. For 4-year-olds, that would be a BMI of about 18.

For example, a girl who is 4 1/2 years old, 40 inches tall and 42 pounds would have a BMI of about 18, weighing 4 pounds more than the government's upper limit for that age, height and gender.

Some previous studies of young children did not distinguish between kids who were merely overweight versus obese, or they examined fewer racial groups.

The current study looked only at obesity and a specific age group. Anderson called it the first analysis of national obesity rates in preschool kids in the five ethnic or racial groups.

The researchers did not examine reasons for the disparities, but others offered several theories.

Flores cited higher rates of diabetes in American Indians, and also Hispanics, which scientists believe may be due to genetic differences.

Also, other factors that can increase obesity risks tend to be more common among minorities, including poverty, less educated parents, and diets high in fat and calories, Flores said.

Jessica Burger, a member of the Little River Ottawa tribe and health director of a tribal clinic in Manistee, Mich., said many children at her clinic are overweight or obese, including preschoolers.

Burger, a nurse, said one culprit is gestational diabetes, which occurs during a mother's pregnancy. That increases children's chances of becoming overweight and is almost twice as common in American Indian women, compared with whites.

She also blamed the federal commodity program for low-income people that many American Indian families receive. The offerings include lots of pastas, rice and other high-carbohydrate foods that contribute to what Burger said is often called a "commod bod."

"When that's the predominant dietary base in a household without access to fresh fruits and vegetables, that really creates a better chance of a person becoming obese," she said.

Also, Burger noted that exercise is not a priority in many American Indian families struggling to make ends meet, with parents feeling stressed just to provide basic necessities.

To address the problem, her clinic has created activities for young Indian children, including summer camps and a winter break "outdoor day" that had kids braving 8-degree temperatures to play games including "snowsnake." That's a traditional American Indian contest in which players throw long, carved wooden "snakes" along a snow or ice trail to see whose lands the farthest.

The hope is that giving kids used to modern sedentary ways a taste of a more active traditional American Indian lifestyle will help them adopt healthier habits, she said.

April 6, 2009

"Special Time"

When working with a family in my play therapy practice I will often encourage parents to schedule one-on-one time with their child on a weekly basis. It doesn’t have to be more than 15-30 minutes and it doesn’t have to involve something that costs money.

Simply spending time with your child without any distractions (phone, TV, other children) sends your child the message of how important they are to you and that you enjoy spending time with them. Let your child decide what you will do together be it a board game, reading to one another, etc. Don't engage in any passive activities like watching TV. Try to refrain from playing a video game.

I suggest parents put together a box of toys that are only used for this special time. You could include a deck of cards, a puzzle, building blocks, paper and crayons, toy cars, small dolls, action figures, a dish set. They should note this special time on the calendar just like other important events. Special time is unconditional and should not be taken away as a consequence for misbehavior.

Children want and need their parents undivided attention. Special time is easy to do and the rewards are priceless.

April 2, 2009

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day shines a bright light on autism as a growing global health crisis. WAAD activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of the autism epidemic and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe.

To learn more go to the official WAAD web site:

March 30, 2009

Got a Parenting Question?

Introducing a new feature that I offer called, "Ask Pam."

Parents often have a question or a concern that doesn't necessarily warrant an in-office consultation or therapy session. In those situations I like to give parents an opportunity to have their concern addressed anonymously.

I can offer you insights, suggest websites that you may find helpful and even refer you to other professionals.

You may contact me with your questions via this blog or by sending an email to

March 26, 2009

Experts say play time can relieve stress in bad times

By Janice Lloyd, USA TODAY
Stuart Brown appears to be lighthearted and hooked on playing. He made his office in a treehouse in Carmel Valley, Calif. He is tan and fit. The 76-year-old psychiatrist plays tennis with his buddies every week and recently took a cross-country ski vacation with his adult sons and older brother in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

But his message could not be any more serious, especially during these difficult economic times.

Find regular time to play — or else, he warns in his new book Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul (Penguin, $24.95).

Or else what?

A life of rigidity, lacking in creativity. A life without joy, minus sustained pleasure. The opposite of play isn't work, he adds, but depression. During his 40-year career, Brown has peered into the bubbling inferno, studying what goes wrong when people do not play. He has conducted more than 6,000 play studies on everyone from serial killers to substance abusers to career-driven CEOs.

And he is worried many adults are not finding time to play now as the economy forces them to work harder in offices with smaller staffs, then head home to help with chores and rest before starting it all over again. He writes that when we are in peril, "the drive to play will disappear." These are perilous times.

POLL: Mental stress spirals with economy

"Play is particularly important during periods that are sustainedly stressful, like now where we don't see an end to this economic downturn," says Brown, founder of the National Institute of Play in Carmel. The non-profit institute compiles research on play and provides speakers to discuss the importance of play with educational organizations and Fortune 500 companies.

"If we're going to adapt to changing economic and personal circumstances the way that nature armed us to do, then we have to find ourselves having some play time virtually every day," Brown says.

So for the play-challenged, Brown has advice on how to get back into the swing (maybe even the backyard swing).

Experiment, Brown says. Go back to thinking about how you played as a child. He writes about a woman who basically had a "turbocharged" day taking care of her family and her job as the CEO of a real estate company. Up at 5 a.m., she ran 4 or 5 miles on odd days and swam and lifted weights on even days.

She started to dread life. She set out to find a solution and remembered some of her fondest memories as a child involved horses. Now, she rides one day a week and is happier and more productive.

A state of mind

Matthew Calabria of Washington, D.C., has always loved playing hoops. He got tired of working out at the gym and paying his gym fees but did not want to go without exercise. It helps him blow off steam after days spent working at the State Department.

He posted an item on Craigslist in February looking for people to play pickup games.

"We're playing on a small court outside with 10-foot rims, but it suffices," he says. "It's really a kids' court, but we're just doing it for fun. I played in high school and missed it."

Brown lives near Pebble Beach and says he has played a few rounds of golf there. For most people, he says, it's "the highlight of a life, a special moment to play" on the famed course. But for others? "I've seen golfers who are ticked off when they tee off and are no different after 18 holes."

That's not play, he says. Nor is it play when a runner has high fitness goals or strives for fast times. That adds too much stress. Running for the pure joy of it or running with a friend and socializing is fun and relaxing.

There are all kinds of play; what's important is to find out what kind of play is right for you. Some are as simple as really playing with and enjoying the dog when you are walking it, rather than begrudgingly taking it outside. Play is not being cutthroat or winning at all costs. That's about domination, he says. And play can and ought to be involved at work.

A big part of the solution, he says, is opening up to the idea that play is a state of mind. Every day, there are opportunities to play, which he defines as "an absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness and sense of time."

But society pushes adults away from play, teaching them to think playful activities are for children, a frivolous luxury and immoral. Plus, Brown says, the economy has made it hard for adults to think they deserve to have fun or can afford fun.

Mental health professionals say that kind of thinking is a serious red flag — and they're seeing more of it.

"People say, 'I can't have fun when my 401(k) is down or I lost my job,' " says Nadine Kaslow, family psychologist and professor at Emory University in Atlanta. "What I say to people is you're probably not going to have as much pleasure as you did when things were better, but play is something that can make us feel better about ourselves and more engaged with other people."

One of play's benefits, says Penny Donnefeld, a clinical psychologist in Manhattan, is it reduces stress hormones in the bloodstream. Because continuously high stress levels wreak havoc on our bodies, she says, the health benefits alone should give adults motivation to play.

"If this is going to keep your arteries clear and keep you alive longer, maybe it's worth considering," Donnefeld says.

Not sure which kinds of recreation are right for you? Michael Otto has a tip.

No watch, no cellphone

"All of us end up being better at tracking what is going poorly than what goes well," says Otto, director of the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University. "One intervention is to ask people to keep a diary of moments of well-being. If you do that, you end up with a diary and collection of moments that helps you feel good, and it's a diary about what to pursue next week."

Ken Silverstein, 49, knows what works for him. The anesthesiologist lives in Wilmington, Del., and goes on a mountain biking trek every year with Escape Adventures. This will be his 10th year. "It's the last thing I'd give up if I had to save money," Silverstein says. "It's like oxygen, it's so important to me. There's nothing more liberating in the world than being on the bike. We take no cellphones, and you have to leave your watch behind."

Silverstein says he also takes time during the week to ride "almost no matter what. I'm very busy, work very hard and cycling is my outlet."

Sex is a refuge, too

Brown says it is no coincidence that people who stay sharp as they age are those who keep working and playing. And couples who stay together also play together, he says, especially when they have different play personalities that might lead them in different directions.

"I encourage couples to have a weekly date," Kaslow says. "They put something on a piece of paper that would be fun for them to do into a love jar and take turns pulling it out of there and doing whatever it is."

Sex counts big time in the world of play, Brown says, when partners try to draw each other out, they are in effect freeing themselves and relaxing.

ROMANCE: Nearly 80% says economy hasn't slowed frequency of sex

"Lovers can be so involved they shut out the rest of the world," Brown says. "For them, there is nothing but each other, the essential dyad."

Above all else, Brown says, remember play is not perfect. It has its trying moments, too. To sail, you need to take care of the boat. To ride your bike, you need to strengthen muscles.

Toward the end of his book, he mentions a bike ride along a steep winding road lined with redwoods and laurel near his home. He calls the ride up Robinson Canyon "play bliss."

"The uphill slog is slow, physically demanding, and my aching thighs and lungs beg for relief.

"The road opens to a panorama of ocean and woodlands. The light is different on every ride, the push worth it, and on the glide home my spirit is clear, happy, at one with body, nature, spirit."

March 25, 2009

The Best and Worst Restaurants in America

From Men's Health Magazine:

Eating out invariably raises a number of tricky questions: sit-down or drive-thru? Burgers or pizza? Thin or stuffed crust? Choosing one over the other could mean saving hundreds of calories in a single meal, and up to 50 pounds of flab in the course of a year and countless health woes over the course of a lifetime. That’s why Eat This, Not That! launched an investigation and put 66 major chain restaurants under the nutritional microscope—so that you and your family can continue to eat out, but do so knowing the types of insider tips and savvy strategies that can help melt fat all year long. And the good news is that many fan favorites scored top marks!

To separate the commendable from the deplorable, we calculated the total number of calories per entrĂ©e. This gave us a snapshot of how each restaurant compared in average serving size—a key indicator of unhealthy portion distortion. Then we rewarded establishments with fruit and vegetable side-dish choices, as well as for providing whole-grain options. Finally, we penalized places for excessive amounts of trans fats and menus laden with gut-busting desserts. What we ended up with is the Eat This, Not That! Restaurant Report Card, which will show you how all of the nation’s largest eating establishments stack up nutritionally.

March 24, 2009

How Optimistic Are You?

Find out by taking a quiz designed by Suzanne Segerstrom Ph. D

Click where it asks you to take a personality test.

March 18, 2009

Sensory Food Aversions in Infants and Toddlers

Sensory Food Aversions is one of the most common feeding disorders during the first 3 years of life, when young children are transitioned to self-feeding, and when issues of autonomy and dependency have to be negotiated between parents and child.

This article, by Irene Chatoor, MD, discusses "picky eaters" and the importance of distinguishing between children who experience minor food aversions and those for whom their reluctance to eat may become a serious feeding problem.

March 15, 2009

Is Your Preschooler a Picky Eater?

The USDA has a new web site where parents of 2-5 year olds can create a customized eating plan based on your child's age, sex and activity level. It can analyze his BMI and compare his height with that of other children his age. It also has great ideas for kid-friendly meals and nutritious snacks.

March 9, 2009

Talking smoke detectors wake sleeping children better than shrill, beeping alarm

Robert Thomas, Information Specialist, Extension & Ag Information, University of Missouri

The piercing 85-decibel alarm from smoke detectors will wake most adults with a start, but small children might sleep right through them.

That’s why parents might want to consider an alarm that talks to their children in case of a fire, said Karen Funkenbusch, a University of Missouri safety specialist.

“Don’t rely on smoke detectors to wake up your child. That may be a fatal error. Research has shown that many children do not wake to the shrill beeping of an alarm, but they will respond to the recorded sound of their parents’ voices,” said Funkenbusch.

A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that 96 percent of children woke up to the sound of their parents’ voices within five minutes, with half the children waking up within 20 seconds. Only 58 percent woke up to conventional smoke alarm tones within five minutes.

“The key to surviving a fire is getting out of your burning house in two minutes or less,” Funkenbusch said. “That means every second is precious.”

Using many inexpensive talking models on the market, parents can not only call their child by name but also give them a quick set of instructions on how to escape safely, she said.

More than 40,000 children are injured and hundreds are killed in house fires in the U.S. each year.

In addition to installing talking smoke alarms, parents should practice an escape plan with their children that identifies two exits from every room, especially bedrooms, she said.

If your house has more than one story or you live in an apartment, make sure there is a window exit with an escape ladder.

“Practice your plan with your children and repeat the lesson throughout the year,” Funkenbusch said.

March 3, 2009

Kids Prefer Veggies With Cool Names

By LiveScience Staff

Kids won't eat their vegetables? Rename them, scientists say.

In a new study, 186 four-year-olds were given regular carrots and, on other lunch days, they were given the same vegetables renamed X-ray Vision Carrots. On the latter days, they ate nearly twice as many.

The study suggests the influence of these names might persist.

Children continued to eat about 50 percent more carrots even on the days when they were no longer labeled as anything special.

The research, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was presented today at the annual meeting of the School Nutrition Association in Washington, DC.

"Cool names can make for cool foods," says lead author Brian Wansink of Cornell University. "Whether it be 'power peas' or 'dinosaur broccoli trees,' giving a food a fun name makes kids think it will be more fun to eat. And it seems to keep working — even the next day," Wansink said.

Similar results have been found with adults. A restaurant study showed that when the Seafood Filet was changed to Succulent Italian Seafood Filet, sales increased 28 percent and taste rating increased by 12 percent. "Same food, but different expectations, and a different experience," said Wansink, author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think."

The veggie study was conducted in pre-schools, but the researchers believe the same naming tricks can work with children at home.

"I've been using this with my kids," said researcher Collin Payne, "Whatever sparks their imagination seems to spark their appetite."

March 2, 2009

Celebrate Dr. Seuss's Birthday!

March 2, 2009 is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss.

Observe the day by getting out your child's favorite Dr. Seuss books and reading them together.

In my work as a play therapist I often use the book "My Many Colored Days" to encourage children to talk about their feelings.

February 27, 2009

How To Wean Your Child From A Pacifier

If your child has been using a pacifier for self-calming since birth it can be very difficult and even traumatic to wean him off of it cold turkey. I suggest you implement a gradual weaning process of three to four weeks and allow your child to be a part of the process.

Talk with your child about what day the pacifier will be gone for good and mark it on the calendar. Between the day it's announced and the actual day it goes away, allow him only specific times during the day or night when he can use the pacifier. He should have some input into when those times are. This will give him a feeling of control over the situation.

During the weaning process it's important to praise him for the times he can go without the pacifier and cheer him on toward his goal of getting rid of it completely. This is also the time to introduce more appropriate self-calming techniques he can learn such as listening to music, holding a stuffed animal, etc.

Once the day of "Goodbye Pacifier "arrives, there should be a special party complete with a small reward for having achieved his goal.

February 11, 2009

Teach your kids how to shop for groceries

With the state of the economy many families are looking for ways to cut expenses and stretch the family dollar. One way is to eat out less and do more cooking at home. You’ll not only be saving money but you will be able to ensure your family is eating nutritionally healthy foods.

Using the weekly grocery ads, have your child help you plan a weeks worth of menus and put together the shopping list. Explain to your child the importance of establishing a food budget and purchasing items on sale. Allow your child to select one item from the ad, of their choosing, to put on the list. If your child is not yet old enough to read, cut the food item pictures from the ad and glue or tape them onto a legal pad or into a spiral notebook to make a visual shopping list.

Your child can sharpen his fine motor skills by cutting coupons from the Sunday paper and magazines. Encourage your child to match the coupons to the items in the weekly grocery ad. Put the coupons into an envelope that can be attached to the legal pad or spiral notebook shopping list and you’re ready to go grocery shopping.

Allow your child to accompany you to the store and make a game out of finding all the items on your shopping list. Use this shopping experience as an opportunity to teach your child how to select fresh produce, how to comparison shop, and the importance of sticking to the shopping list in order to save money. If you think your child can tolerate the crowds, do your grocery shopping on a Friday or Saturday when the store is handing out free samples or offering items to taste. Don’t forget to take along your reusable shopping bags. Once the groceries are purchased and you’ve made your way back home, enlist your child’s help in putting the groceries away.

Every good cook needs cooking tools and children are no exception. Buy your child a kid-sized apron or to save even more money, make one using an old bath towel. Lay the towel vertically and cut a circular hole a third of the way down. The towel will easily slide over your child’s head for wearing and it’s easy to wash. Assemble some kitchen utensils that will be specifically for your child’s use. Make sure the kit includes pot holders, a wooden spoon, measuring cups and measuring spoons, a wire whisk and any other utensils that would be age- appropriate. Utensils can be extra ones you already have or they can be purchased inexpensively at a dollar store. Store the utensils in a kitchen drawer or storage bin that can be easily accessed by your child. Make sure teaching safety issues around kitchen equipment is a priority.

Talk to your child about his favorite foods and help him discover what foods he can make himself. Those foods might include cereal, a peanut butter sandwich, chocolate milk. Ask him what new foods he would like to learn to make. Purchase a cook book for your child or better yet save the money you would have spent on a cookbook by doing an online search for kid friendly recipes. There are many web sites that offer simple and tasty step-by-step recipes for a beginning cook.

Children who help with meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking are more likely to be interested in trying new foods. Meal planning, shopping for the ingredients and cooking your own meals provides opportunities for you to spend valuable time with your child. It also encourages healthy eating habits in your child that will last a lifetime.

February 6, 2009

No Cost Ways - Except For Your Time-To Send Love to Your Kids on Valentine's Day

Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make their toast or their sandwich.

Tuck a love note into their lunch bag or backpack.

Give your child coupons redeemable for things like a half hour of your undivided attention, their favorite dinner/dessert, playing a board game with them, etc. Send your child on a scavenger hunt around the house to find the coupons.

January 9, 2009

Winnie-the-Pooh in comeback after 83 years

LONDON (Reuters) – The first official sequel to the original Winnie-the-Pooh books will appear in October, its publishers said on Saturday, more than 80 years after the honey-loving bear first appeared in print.

"Return to the Hundred Acre Wood" is the follow up to A.A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" and "The House At Pooh Corner," which were famously illustrated by E.H. Shepard.

The new book, published by Egmont Publishing in Britain and Pengiun imprint Dutton Children's Books in the United States, will be written by David Benedictus, who produced an audio adaptation of Winnie-the-Pooh starring actress Judi Dench.

Mark Burgess, who has already drawn classic children's characters including Paddington Bear and Winnie-the-Pooh, is to provide the illustrations. Return to the Hundred Acre Wood will hit the shelves on October 5.

"We have been hoping for a good many years that we might one day be able to offer the world a sequel which would do justice to the original Winnie-the-Pooh stories," said Michael Brown on behalf of the trustees of Pooh Properties, which manages the affairs of the Milne and Shepard estates.

"The original books were one of the greatest celebrations of childhood in any language, but we believe that David Benedictus and Mark Burgess have captured the spirit and quality of those original books."

The story of Winnie-the-Pooh and the original illustrations are still popular today.

A collection of Shepard's drawings for the Pooh books fetched around $2 million at auction in London last month.

2009 Target FREE Family Nights at The Magic House

Some of the best things in life are free! The Magic House holds Target Free Family Nights every third Friday of the month from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm. These special nights enable a family (no more than two adults and four of their own children) to enjoy the more than 100 hands-on exhibits in the museum. Reservations are not required.

2009 Target FREE Family Night Dates
January 16, 2009
February 20, 2009
March 20, 2009
April 17, 2009
May 15, 2009
June 19, 2009
July 17, 2009
August 21, 2009
September 18, 2009
October 16, 2009
November 20, 2009
December 18, 2009