Active parenting to foster a love of reading from infancy

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Unlike earlier generations, children in the 21st Century have gained exposure to a world of books more like their own increasingly complex lives. Writers, therefore, must remain aware and sensitive to the evolving needs of the young consumers. At the same time, parents can do their part in being aware of, monitoring and selecting the right kind of material for their children. To meet the demands of the cultural shift in the world of children’s books, it is important they have authenticity. To accomplish this, writers must impress, inform, and inspire with material free from their own personal biases. Here are some ways parents can help to keep that objectivity:

Historically, children’s book authors have used anthropomorphized personification to appeal to their readers through nature and animals. Children will relate to the human elements in these animal characters and respond accordingly.

However, every child is not of the same background and not familiar with the same things because of different experiences. Although this is the case, there are common traits to which most children will relate or can recognize that are universally popular.

In the other instances where traits are different, parents can help to explain cultural nuances. Similarly, they can explain when real people are involved in performances.

One important tricky aspect is to avoid the use of stereotypes. In a multicultural society, people have different characteristics—speech, manner, appearance, habits, and preferences.

Writers must portray characters accurately to remain authentic.

Parents should be responsible to ensure children receive the information correctly without including limiting biases or bigotry absorbed from previous generations.

For instance, are there realistic examples, such as homeless people in the stories? Are they portrayed realistically as people without homes?

Do the speech patterns vary because people are not equal or because they have different origins? Can men and women do the same jobs?

Does the writer use appropriate language to describe the identities of the characters or is there cultural or gender-bias?

The more realistic portrayals writers include in the books, the more authenticity will be present. Parents can do their part to inform and impress their children objectively, so that they develop valuable learning experiences while heightening their self-awareness. The more authenticity the children absorb from neutral writers combined with personal reactions from trusted parents, the easier it can be for children to develop positive and wholesome personal enhancement from the stories.

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“Kids: They dance before they learn there is anything that isn’t music” ~William Stafford

musical child

child listening to music


Music is an artistic form of communicating by hearing, rather than visually. Parents have used chimes or other musical toys to babysit while they prepare a bottle. Music can interrupt a crying baby, and instantly convert a tearful face to one with smiles. Babies are naturally attuned to sounds, patterns and tones and will respond with movement before they can stand on their own. I often sang to my babies to get them to sleep.

During your child’s developmental years, you can help to enhance his imagination and reading skills by introducing him to a variety of sounds. Because music is “right brain” friendly, it makes sense. A creative child can learn the alphabet by singing songs that are associated with the letters even before he can see the letters. He will memorize in the same way he does books before ever learning to read.

My friend’s preschooler listened to New Age and Semi-Classical music. Before he could speak he was able to get his favorite CD and hand to his father simply because he knew what he wanted to hear. Mozart, the great classical musician, was credited for the effect of listening to classical music. Researchers claim that listening to classical music patterns developed more neurons in the brain that would increase logical thinking, as complex rhythms led to complex understanding. On the other hand, music that had consistent repetitive patterns would have a lesser effect.

For years, researchers have tested the response to music as it relates to learning and a healthy mind. Without any pressure, your child can learn in a fun way through musical aids. The message music sends may be subliminal; however, students have listened to music on their headphones when preparing for tests or when exercising.

As an artist, I enjoy painting as well as cooking to music because it sets a very inspiring tone. With music, we can help our children to develop their creativity from as early as the cradle.notes

As a parent, one of your responsibilities is to ensure the proper development of your child. Your goal is for your child to grow up healthy not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. You can help your child become healthy physically by making sure he eats nutritious foods, engages in sports and other physical activities that can strengthen his bones and muscles, and sees his pediatrician regularly for checkups and vaccinations.

On the other hand, you can help your child become healthy emotionally and mentally by starting with helping him develop a healthy self-esteem. Parents want their children to be self-assured; after all, a child with a healthy self-esteem is a child who is secure, happy, confident, well-adjusted and successful. These children are able to deal with the problems they encounter. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure you build your child’s self-esteem by providing him with your nurturing care.

So how do you help your child build a healthy self-esteem? First of all, make your child know that you accept him for who he is, flaws and all. Let your child know whenever possible that it is okay to make mistakes, as long as he realizes what he’s done and learns from his mistakes. Instead of scolding your child when he does something wrong, hug him and in a firm voice, tell him what he did was wrong, and in a much gentle voice, tell him you love him.

Children who have a healthy self-esteem are able to learn from their mistakes and put those lessons to use later on. Children with low self-esteem resort to self-depreciation, often calling themselves stupid and resolving never to try something like that again (whatever it is they failed at or did wrong).

Encourage your child to pursue his interests and develop his talents. Don’t hold back on your praises. Praise your child if you see him improve in his abilities or skills, and praise him for his natural traits. Give your child opportunities to make positive choices. Create an open atmosphere in your home, one that invites your child to have honest dialogs with you and discuss possibilities, as well as the advantages and disadvantages and consequences of his choices. When you help your child learn the skills for making positive choices while he is still young, he will be well-equipped to face the tougher choices when he is older.

Spend quality time with your child despite your busy schedule at work. Quality time does not necessarily mean an hour or more spent with your child. Your work days may be hectic, but you can still squeeze in some quality time even if they are only for a few minutes. For instance, you can talk to your child while you’re driving him to or picking him up from school, loading the dishwasher and he is doing his homework, putting away the groceries, washing the car, or preparing food. Your child’s self-esteem is greatly helped if he knows you care enough to know what is going on with his life, are there to listen to what he thinks and feels, support him in what he does, and encourage him all the time to make the right choices.

It is quite customary for children to be open with what they feel although you may not know exactly what it is that bothers them by merely talking to them. You can only take a hint from their behaviors. Children may find difficulty in verbally expressing their feelings and emotions but they do communicate through their actions.

For instance, sad children are usually quiet and say very little when talked to. If they feel guilty about something, they avoid the company of other people and prefer to isolate themselves. Angry children often manifest their anger by acting out; they throw tantrums, intentionally start breaking their toys, or go into screaming fits.

Keep an Eye Out for Signs of Anger

If you are a parent, you should watch out for the signs of anger in your child. Your child could suddenly throw a tantrum, roll on the floor or burst into fits. Your child’s message is that he is angry and he does not know how to deal with his feelings, and that he needs help.

Know this: a child left alone to his anger could grow up with anger issues that are difficult to resolve. It is best to start children on anger management so they could learn how to control their temper and manage their emotions.

Finding Information on Anger Management for Children

It is not difficult to find pointers on anger management for children although there will have to be some research as well as experimenting on the suggested techniques. If you are worried about your child’s behavior, particularly when he is angry, you can easily check out the many resources available including books, movies and online information.

Anger Management Programs Specially Designed for Children

There are special programs designed to help a child deal with his emotions, and your child may benefit from one of these programs. Your child will not benefit from the regular anger management support groups or anger management courses because these are geared primarily for adults who can readily talk about what and how they feel.

On the other hand, children find it difficult to describe their feelings as they may not even understand what is happening in them. Even a counselor will not be of any help if the approach is limited to conversing. Details on the specific cause of your child’s anger can only be uncovered through especially designed activities or anger management tools for kids.

With Kids, One-on-One Sessions Don’t Work

At times, it may be necessary to kids to take part in specific activities created to elicit a response from them. Instead of going on one-on-one sessions with anger management counselors, children are allowed to play games so they can learn indirectly about positive values and the kind of behavior that is acceptable to society.

Children are provided with working papers; they color pictures, solve puzzles, and answer quizzes thereby making their anger management module more fun and interesting. Without realizing the impact of their activities, the children are actually participating in learning courses.

Keep in mind that anger management is a complicated subject that children cannot easily comprehend. The children are not aware of exactly how they feel since their logical thinking process has not yet been developed.

Helping Your Child Learn Anger Management Skills

As a parent, you will appreciate the value of your child learning anger management skills. At a young age, your child needs to learn about acceptable behavior in different situations. He should understand that although anger is a perfect human feeling, he ought to know that the emotion and tension building up within should not be expressed negatively.

As the adult, you must help your child learn anger management skills during his formative years to help him develop a more wholesome personality. Repeated activities and practicing behavioral responses to different situations will help your child imbibe anger management and eventually apply the learned skills in his daily life.

Are you frustrated that you have to ask your children not once, but several times, to do their chores and still they don’t get them done? You’d think your children have developed hearing problems or they have learned to tune you out. It may be time for you to try a new strategy.

Have you ever thought of using a chore chart? You can use it to prod your children to do their chores and teach them a few valuable things in the process. You can assign your children chores such as cleaning their room, taking out the garbage, doing yard work, doing the dishes, and folding up their clothes.

Give your children their own chore chart that lists the chores they need to accomplish each week. Let your children know that they only need to do each chore on their list once or twice each week. Each time they complete a chore, they can check it off their chore list. At the end of the week, you and your children can have a “meeting” and look over their chore charts and see what they have accomplished. Praise your children’s accomplishments. Your children will learn to take pride in their work and in completing what they have been assigned to do for the week.

Before implementing the chore chart, sit down with your children and explain your plans and how you need their help. Talk to them about the rewards for each task they accomplish. Rewards can be monetary or non-monetary. Give your children the option of choosing what kind of reward they want to receive for accomplishing their chores. This will make them feel more motivated to participate.

If you are going to pay your children for completing their chores with non-monetary incentives, make sure they understand the rules for getting the non-monetary payment. For instance, they can spend two hours playing video games each weekend only if they successfully complete all the chores in their list. If they don’t, they don’t get to play. You can even make it more fun for your children if you issue their rewards as coupons that they can redeem when they want.

As for monetary rewards, be sure that the amount of money your children receive is age appropriate and given regularly. For instance, your children can earn 50 cents per year of age. Thus, you can pay your 6-year-old daughter $3 per week if she completes all the tasks in her chore list and you can pay your 9-year-old son $4.50 per week if he completes all the tasks in his chore list. Again, make sure your children understand the rules for getting the monetary payment. If they do not complete their chores for the week, they do not get paid.

If you are paying your children money for completing their chores each week, know that this is a wonderful opportunity for you as a parent to teach your children the importance of the three S’s as they pertain to money: Save, Share, Spend. You can teach your child to divide their earnings in thirds. They can save a third, share another third to others, and spend a third for themselves.

Some parents would “pay” their children for every task they accomplish. However, this strategy is not going to teach your children the value of completing tasks that have been given them. It will only teach them to become selective in what to do for the week since they know they will get a reward, monetary or non-monetary, even if they only manage to accomplish one or two tasks from their chore list.

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If your child’s school schedules do not include extra curricular activities, you may still find other ways to provide your child opportunities to gain more knowledge and have fun. Your choice of after-school programs need not be limited to structured plans that are similar to school courses that are taught by professional teachers. You may want to consider even the informal after-school programs as long as they can provide enhancement and support to the academic, social and physical development of your child.

Children should realize the importance of giving priority to their school attendance to include the need for doing their homework. Similarly, they need to devote time for their daily assignments on reading or writing. As they study different subjects, children are apt to develop particular interests and preferences.

When you have identified the specific field that fascinates your child, you may want to seek for a related program in a nearby college or a community center where she can go to for supplemental studies. Alternatively, your child can search the Internet for relevant information. Help your child develop an inquisitive mind by encouraging her to undertake independent research so she can expand her knowledge even without going through any formal course.

If you observe your child to be deficient in social life, you can convince her to join a club. Although it is not necessary that your child makes friends with other children within the same age bracket, a reading club will be a good idea. See if your child will be interested to visit public libraries or the theater. Or, explore the possibility of doing a parent-child book reading. It would be great if you can get together with other parents and children who are also looking for an after-school program.

And if you can’t seem to locate any organized group activity, you may check with your local community. Most children are interested in getting involved with social problems. They get to understand about suffering, the concept of charity and the means of community help by getting involved through volunteer services. By participating in clean-up sessions or adult education programs, children get to learn some realities of life.

On the other hand, if you are worried about your child’s lack of physical activity, you may want to enroll your child to take up dancing lessons. Or at least, get her to enlist in a gym where she can meet new friends and learn to like the treadmill.

It is not necessary for your child to take part in an organized activity to reap the benefits from after-school programs. There are many different ways that you can explore. If your child is enthusiastic about daily household activities, encourage her to explore the different aspects of the activity like cooking or gardening and the like so she can fully enjoy the extracurricular experience. Joining your child in the activity will provide an opportunity for extra bonding within the family. 
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There are children as young as 6 to 8 years of age who are interested in exercise and weight lifting. If you must decide for your own kid, know that there are contradicting schools of thought on this as some are for while others are against children exercising.

Generally speaking, exercising and weight training will benefit your child; there is no doubt about it. However, there are several factors that you ought to know, understand and consider even before allowing your child to engage in those types of activities.

Do remember that children are not mere smaller versions of adults. The difference lies in emotional development, anatomy and physiological processes. Thus, exercise methods that should be used by growing children differ largely from those employed by adults.

The immaturity of the children’s skeletal systems makes them highly susceptible to deformities if they are subjected to age-inappropriate activities. Human bones get to mature only at the age of 14 to about 22 years and before that, they should be allowed to develop normally.

Also, be aware that there are growth-related medical problems that arise from overuse of bodily parts. One such condition is the Osgood Schlatter disease that causes knee pain in young athletes. Another thing, the body temperature regulation systems of children are still developing which means that they are risking injury if they engage in strenuous activities without the proper warm-up.

Children perspire much less than adults do making them more prone to suffer from heat exhaustion and possible heat stroke. They also have difficulty developing speed and strength because of their low muscle mass and still developing hormone system. Further, children differ greatly from adults in terms of breathing and heart response during exercise and this greatly affects their capacity for physical exertion.

Adults grow stronger because they build more muscles while training with weights. On the other hand, the strength gained by young people in lifting weights can be traced mostly to neurological changes rather than muscle development.

Therefore, when considering programs for your child, be sure to seek prior medical clearance from his pediatrician. To design a program for children, try to set the repetition range to 8 – 12 while limiting the work load suitable for the said range.

Plan the schedule of workouts so they are spread out over the week. Make sure that the child will be able to rest for at least a day or two between workouts. The important thing for your child’s workout is the form of exercise he engages in and not on how much weight he is lifting.

You should oversee your child’s preparation before weight training and that should include warm up and stretching. Let your child start off lifting light items and then adjust the loads gradually. Limit exercise sessions to three times a week and they should not be done in consecutive days. Further, make sure that your child drinks plenty of water before the session, while exercising and after the workout. Water intake is necessary as children can easily get dehydrated while exercising.