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'kids' Parentelligence posts

Lunchbox Battles

In order to be successful in school, our children need fuel. School lunches can be tough. We have to balance what is healthy and what our child will eat. There’s also the distraction factor.  They have 20 minutes and a cafeteria or gym full of other kids who are all talking and eating.  The distraction is enough to delay nutritional intake past the time when lunch is over. (To see what I'm talking about, Try to fit in a lunchtime visit to your child’s school sometime. Prearranged with your child and the office. You'll be amazed.)

So, we need something tasty and quick and easy to prepare, but nutritionally sound and easy for our kids to eat quickly.

A birthday and a backpack

As school starts, I am reminded of my youngest child’s first day of kindergarten.  The poor child had 5 stitches in his right heel from an unfortunate accident with a metal door plate.  He turned 6 years old a few days before school started and he was using a walker which gave a little extra stability than crutches.  He was standing in line with the other kids outside the kindergarten room.  All the parents were standing a couple of paces away from their kids  anxiously awaiting the bell to ring.

My husband and I were old hats at this as he is our third child.  The backpack was full, the emergency card was signed and his lunch was packed.  We did our part and now off he went.  I had a moment of misty-eyed “My baby is growing up” motherly emotions, but it passed and off we went to spend the day alone, childless and enjoying it.

In the afternoon, we returned to pick him up and the teacher was standing next to him.  As we walked up, excited to see him and hear how his first day of school went, the teacher stepped up to talk to us.  (Now after two other boys, I took this as a sign that there was a ‘talking to’ in my youngest son’s future.)  The teacher hugged me and said, “Thank you so much for preparing him for school.”  She had spent the day with kids yelling, misbehaving and jumping on the furniture.  My son, confined as he was because of his foot, was patient but helpful.  He waited until someone was available to help him to get his lunch or binder.  He waited until he was called on.  We couldn’t have been prouder of our son.

I hear so much about schools needing to do better.  They have tests to measure how the teachers are performing and there’s more and more scrutiny on the schools’ performance.  But what about the parents?  Where is the accountability for the parents to prepare their children?

We’ve created Head Start to try and catch the kids earlier in order to better prepare the kids for school, but preparing for school starts years earlier.

Here are a few things that parents can do to prepare their children for school:

What's life without a little song?

Most of us have heard about the studies that show kids who study music:

      Can score higher on standardized tests, such as the SAT;

      Can help develop problem-solving and math skills;

      Develop their brains in areas that non-music studying kids don’t;

      And a whole slew of other beneficial things...

But music also releases serotonin and dopamine to give us the same sort of feeling of pleasure that come from eating chocolate.  It can make us happy.  There’s nothing like that good feeling when the perfect song pops up on the radio or on our iPods/MP3s.

This is important in our stressed out world of today.  We’re stressed about work, chores, bills, economy, blah, blah, blah.

So how do we get more music into our children’s lives?  And how do we cultivate an appreciation for music, not just a rebellion?

Rules and Chores

Everywhere we go, there are rules. The mall, at school, at work, at other people’s houses, etc. Our children learn early on that rules of acceptable behavior changes from place to place. We can yell and scream at the park but not at the grocery store. We teach our children to use ‘inside voices’ at the appropriate places and when it’s okay to run and play. The child whose parents have not taught them how to behave in the classroom (by taking them to the library) can have a rougher start at school. Ask any kindergarten teacher.

There seems to be a trend in parenting nowadays, where the parents want to give the child what they want, because they fear that their child will not like them.

Will not ‘like’ them? We’re not talking about Facebook ‘like’, we’re talking about genuine “my child won’t like me if I make them clean their room”.

Knock. Knock. Helloooo, parents? I’ve got a secret.

Shall We Play a Game?

Do you remember asking your parents to play a game with you when you were young? We would play dominoes and card games, like Gin Rummy and War. The cousins would get together a play epic, marathon games of Monopoly and Risk. The parents and grandparents played Canasta. (That was the only game I ever heard my sweet, adorable grandmother cheat at).

My kids enjoy games as well. We play cribbage, chess, and Cranium games. We also play video games together. Recently, I’ve heard a few parents tell me they don’t play video games with their kids. I think they’re missing out. We’ve had some rousing games of Super Smash Brothers Brawl or Wii Sports and Wii Play. There are more times than I can count where we’ve had to pause the game because everyone is laughing so hard that we’re crying.

When I play, it gives them the chance to teach me something:

What's Your Favorite Excuse?

 When it comes down to the choice of rear-facing and forward-facing, there are lots of ‘reasons’ why parents don’t want to keep their child rear-facing longer, but there’s only one reason that counts for keeping them rear-facing, and that’s nearly eliminating the risk for spinal cord injury for your child.

As car seat technicians we hear all kinds of reasons why parents don’t want to keep their child rear-facing.

Domesticated Pedestrians.

At what point did we stop teaching our children about road safety? As I drive around, either near work or home, I find there are people walking to and from completely ignoring the crosswalks or signals. Sometimes they have their headphones on and couldn’t hear a car coming even if they wanted to. Sometimes they are talking on their cell phone. And sometimes they’re even running with their kids across a busy street, teaching them this dangerous activity. I find these incidents disconcerting.

I’ve come to call these people domesticated pedestrians because they’ve lost their fear of cars. It’s sort of like when someone feeds squirrels or any other wild animal and they get so used to the food source that they lose their fear of people. This is not a healthy practice to get into.

These domesticated pedestrians may be kids or adults.

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