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'children' Parentelligence posts

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:

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.

Hey, Baby, What's Your Sign?

When a baby is 9-months-old and waves bye-bye, they are using the sign that you’ve taught them. The baby has the motor skills to sign and communicate but not the verbal skills yet.
Using sign language with babies can greatly reduce the frustration that is felt by both the parents and the child.

There comes a time when your child wants something but they can’t verbalize what it is. They will usually point and whine. Then we play the guessing game.

Mom: “Would you like juice?”

Child: shake of the head, more point and whine.

Mom: “Would you like a snack?”

Child: stomp the foot, more point and whine.

Mom: “Ugh, I don’t know what you want. Would you like a cookie?”

Child: (Through body language) Oh? A cookie? Sure, why not!

Mom: Whew!

Child: (Learns that point and whine will get me either what I want or a cookie. I’ll need to do that more often.)

Starting at about 6 months of age, you can expose your child to signing. By about 9 months of age, they can communicate their needs.

Signing will not slow their speech; in fact, by showing them that communication goes both ways, they can learn to speak sooner. You’ll want to show them the sign and say the word with it, so they learn to associate the word with the sign.

Here are a few basic signs that are easy to teach, but very helpful:

Which car seat should I get?

Picking out a car seat is one of the most daunting chores when having a baby. I can tell you the least important aspect of which car seat to buy is the color. The baby doesn’t care what color, and in a crash it won’t matter.

When expectant parents find out I’m a car seat technician, the most common question is “Which seat should I buy?” I will not deny that car seat technicians all have their favorites. There are some car seats that are easier to install than others, but I am always apprehensive to name a specific seat. There is not one seat that fits every situation. (The examples I have in this post are just examples, not endorsements or recommendations.)

Ease-of-use is a huge selling point. It can mean that parents are more likely to use it properly.

For newborns, there are two ways to go. You can start a baby in either an infant-only/rear-facing only car seat with a carry handle, or you can start them out in a convertible that typically stays in the car and will eventually turn forward-facing.

The features to look for in a car seat for an infant (either type) are:

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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