December 25, 2011

A Christmas Memory

Growing up on the farm in Kansas, Santa would visit our home while my family was attending a worship service on Christmas Eve. The year I was four, after opening all our gifts, there was a knock at the door. My father opened the door and in walked Santa Claus!

After handing each of my family members an orange from his bag, he approached me to wish me Merry Christmas while giving me a hug and a kiss. His breath smelled of alcohol and he was wearing bright red lipstick. After he left, I noticed he had gotten lipstick all over the hair and face of my brand new doll. I spent the rest of Christmas Eve crying while my mother tried unsuccessfully to remove the lipstick.

It wasn't until I was a teenager that I learned the identity of Santa. He was the owner of the only restaurant in town and before he traveled the community that Christmas Eve, he had indulged in a few too many drinks. Mr. Blaske passed away many years ago but I will forever have a wonderful memory of the Christmas Eve I had a visit from Santa.

December 19, 2011

Awaiting 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.

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

* Even with all the extra events, keep your child's routine as consistent as possible.

* 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. 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.

December 15, 2011

Lasting Impressions

Can you list the gifts you gave or received two years ago? How about last year? It's not so easy to do is it?

We go in search of the perfect gifts each holiday season. Maybe expensive gifts are not the ones that have the most significance. Maybe something simple or handmade will make a greater impact upon the recipient. Quite often a child will have more fun with the box and packaging peanuts his gift came in than he will have with the electronic toy that's inside.

Here are some gift suggestions for young children:

* Buy a book and record yourself reading it. Wrap up the book with the recording for a special, one of a kind gift.

* Create a coupon for a special time for just you and the child. Choose an activity they would enjoy doing and include an object that symbolizes the time.  Could be a puzzle, the ingredients to make cookies, a new board game.

* Make home play-dough (recipe) and include cookie cutters, plastic knives, craft sticks and a six inch length of a 1 inch diameter dowel for a rolling pin. Put the kit inside a cake pan with a lid.

Simple gifts can create the fondest of memories.

December 13, 2011

De-Stress the Holidays

You're trying to wrap gifts, address holiday cards and bake cookies for the neighbors. When you add all of these tasks into the mix of your usual household tasks it can certainly be overwhelming. You might find yourself with little patience and feeling short-tempered. If you have children, they're probably picking up on your tension and reacting in inappropriate ways.

Resorting to telling them they'll be on Santa's naughty list might not be effective. There are some simple things you can do to ease the tension.

* Enlist your children to stuff envelopes and put stamps on holiday cards.

* Have them help bake cookies. They can stir in chocolate chips and add sprinkles.

* Involve them in wrapping gifts. Just be sure to have an extra roll of tape on hand because kids love to play with it.

* When a squabble breaks out, start singing a holiday song. What child can resist a chorus of Jingle Bells?

* At the end of a hectic day gather your children on your lap and read a cherished holiday story.

What strategies do you use to deal with holiday stress?

December 5, 2011

Uncertain What Toys to Buy?

A father recently told me that his young daughter brought him a toy saying it didn’t work and could he put new batteries in it. Upon realizing the toy was not battery powered he took a closer look at the toys his children play with. Until that close examination he realized he wasn’t fully aware of how many of the toys his children own and that only a handful don’t require batteries. He shared with me that if he could go back a few years he would buy more toys for his children that don’t rely on batteries to play with them.

Technology has become a big part of our lives and it's no different for children. We can’t ignore technology. It’s a part of our lives and our children’s lives and it’s not going away. I encourage parents to balance out the number of electronic toys they give their children with open-ended toys that encourage creativity and imagination and don’t require a scripted way to use them.

If you're purchasing toys for children this holiday season I'd like you to consider the following:

Blocks, Lego's, Tinker Toys, and Lincoln Logs. Traditional board games such as
Checkers, Chess, Candy Land, Connect Four, Trouble, and Jenga.  

Puppets, art supplies, puzzles, play dough. Think back to the toys of your childhood. Which ones bring back memories? Chances are your child would probably enjoy those same toys.

Once your child has opened their gift, get down on the floor and play with them. You'll be creating new holiday memories for both you and your child.

December 1, 2011

Pam's Parenting Tip of the Month

Managing Potty Training Resistance

Potty training, like eating and sleeping, is truly in the control of your child. All you can do is be supportive and encouraging and set the stage for success. Your child will probably be toilet trained when she is ready, NOT necessarily when you are ready. If your child is three to three and a half years old and you're meeting up with a lot of resistance it's time to re-examine the situation.

Reasons for resistance:

  • Being afraid to sit on the potty
  • A flushing toilet may have scared him 
  • Being pushed too early or fast before he was ready
  • Punishment for not using the potty or being forced to sit on the potty
  • Inconsistent training, especially among different caregivers
  • May have had a painful bowel movement from being constipated
  • May be stubborn and involved in a power struggle with parents
  • May enjoy the negative attention from not using the potty or from having accidents
 How to prevent resistance:
  • Make him responsible for using the potty
  • Don't punish for mistakes
  • Don't remind him to use the potty 
Potty training is a big process. Some experts feel that it is the first and biggest developmental step your child will take. Have patience with the process and trust your child to help lead the way.