Respecting Your Child’s Privacy While Protecting Them from Online Dangers

Trust is one of the most universal components of modern society. Trust can permit someone a driver’s license, trust can build a relationship, and trust can end a war. Where trust matters most to the everyday person however, is in their personal lives. The expectation in society is that as a kid grows from a child to an adolescent that the amount of trust within the relationship will grow with it. This begs the question though, how far should this trust stretch? In the age of technology, it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to accept that they cannot control everything that their children do online. In an effort to take back that control, many say that monitoring kid’s phones is the best way to protect them. The underdeveloped state of a child’s brain, the potential for internet addiction, and the constant dangers of online and texting mistakes are reasons why some monitoring of a minor’s use of their phone is necessary.

On the most fundamental level, the brain of a child or teenage is still maturing. Their ability to think critically about a situation and make a good decision quickly is lacking and it can lead to devastating results. During these critical years of a young person’s life, their brain is creating more and more grey matter which is used to process information. Through experiences and learning, the grey matter will thicken and the child will learn to make logical decisions faster.

An example of this inadequate thinking ability could be seen in 2014 when a young girl was kidnapped on her way to school because of unsupervised usage of a messaging application on her phone. When twelve-year-old, “Jane Doe”, never made it to school one morning, her mother was quick to call for a search party. During the investigation, the detectives found that the child and her suspected abductor had been chatting for a while on the “Kik” application, a social media platform. Which, in a conversation with another person, Jane Doe says she couldn’t tell her mother about her scary conversations with her future abductor because “[She was] not supposed to have [Kik] so [she] would get in big trouble”. While in captivity, this girl reflected on how she had learned her lesson of using apps like that without her parents’ consent. Being so young, Ms. Doe did not think about the possible consequences in time to avoid this tragic event. Had her mother been active in monitoring her phone, Jane could have reduced the probability of harm from occurring.

Coinciding with the developing brain of a child is the higher risk for addiction. Not only has this been seen with drugs and dangerous substances, but also with technology and the internet. Children, teens especially, are at the greatest risk for addiction and research shows that the earlier a person begins to use an addictive substance, the more likely he or she is to develop serious problems. As much as a brain or apathy can be blamed for this problem, much of the problem can be attributed to the intent of app creators. From the design of the logo to the function of the app itself; creators of such apps intend it to be addictive. According to Tristan Harris, an Ex-Google Employee, smartphone applications are made to be similar to slot machines. “When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got. When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got. When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next”.

Allowing children to spend more than two hours every day in constant connection with the internet can lead to unfavorable psychological effects. Many studies have reported associations between Internet addiction and psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-efficacy, etc. among adolescents. It is less likely that you will see children playing kickball in the front yard and more likely that they will be killing enemies in Call of Duty, a popular first person shooter game. Along with monitoring what they do on their cell phones or online and controlling the amount of time they are on them can increase their chances at a happier and healthier life.

The purpose of keeping an eye on a child’s online and personal interactions is to protect them and should be done with their complete knowledge. To make all rules and provisions clear, many families have turned to the idea of a technology contract. These lay out specific guidelines that often provide reasonable expectations for both the child and the parent. By placing limits and rules for both parties, it will make the younger party feel more responsible and in control, which often leads to better decision making. The monitoring of a child’s phone and online activity should be implemented but with reasonable limitations and respect for their privacy.

 

How and Why to Give Kids an Allowance

coins-in-handThe days of paper routes are over, yet the market is flooded with gadgets and games kids insist they must have in order to simply exist. It’s a tough parenting world today. We want to teach our kids responsibility, work ethic and long term gratification. These values can be modeled, and they can also be instilled in the younger child. Once your child is eight or nine years old, it’s time to start.

Ground Rules

One of the ways to instill these values is through having your child earn an allowance. It’s a wide range here, given the huge maturity differences between eight year olds and fifteen year olds. Some basic pointers on establishing the ground rules and expectations for an allowance follow.

  • Select what works for your family and good luck!
  • Work together with your child to establish the the rules and expectations.
  • Decide on what chores will need to be completed and what the payment will be.
  • Will this happen on a monthly basis or weekly?
  • Can the child accomplish part of the list and receive partial payment?

The more you engage your child in this process, the greater sense of ownership they’ll have. If they suggest they don’t want to work for an allowance, that’s fine too. Just let them know they won’t be receiving any discretionary spending money each week. That may eventually begin to burn!

Quality control

Will you ensure that the chores are completed to the best of our child’s ability in a timely manner or will you ask your child to check behind himself? Remember, this is a learning process and won’t necessarily go smoothly out of the gate. Work together to look at the final product. This will reinforce the value of responsibility and pride in one’s work. It’s a slow lesson to learn and trait to develop, but you will be giving them a gift that will last longer than any of the latest must have gadgets on the market.

Encourage your child to set short and long term goals with the allowance he receives. Setting aside a portion of the allowance each week might result in a trip to the Disney Store for a favorite toy or figurine. A short term reward might be a trip to the ice cream shop. Encourage, empower and reward your child throughout the process. Establishing the foundations for an allowance will help develop the values of responsibility, work ethic and long term gratification that are so critical in all aspects of life. Good luck!

Building Your Kid’s Confidence

SONY DSCRaising children is not easy, especially in today’s challenging environment. So many things can affect your kid’s self-image that regular trips to hair salons just aren’t going to cut it. You need to boost your kid’s sense of self now to help them become socially adjusted and successful adults in the future. Here are some ways for building your kid’s confidence.

 

Make them feel loved

Kids always need to feel loved at home. It is how they develop a sense of worth. As parents, we often forget to show them how much we love them because we are working so hard to give them everything they need. The things we give or the fantastic yearly vacations we bring them on are not important. It is the five minutes at breakfast we spend asking them about their plans for the day, and the minute we take to tuck them in and kiss them goodnight. What matters is an encouraging nod when they are not doing well, sympathy when they fail, and acknowledgement when they succeed.

Give them structure

Rules give your kid a sense of security. It may seem the height of cool to be a friend to your kid, but young children need you to be a parent more than they need a friend. Give them rules to live by, and this will give them the structure they need to build upon. Explain to them the consequences of their actions when they break the rules, and follow through no matter what. Giving in to what your kid wants will backfire on them and you in the end.

Encourage them in their inclinations

Don’t impose your own ambitions and expectations on your kids. Give them the freedom to develop their own interests and support them in whatever they choose to do as much as you can.

Kids are resilient, and they are full of possibilities. If you do your job as a parent in developing a confident kid, then you should have nothing to worry about for their future.

US Swim School Association Helps Parents Detect If Their Kids Are Water Smart

Guidelines to evaluate if kids know the basic water safety skills after a summer in the pool

boy-in-swimming-poolDrowning is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. On average, 3,533 people die as a result of drowning each year, and most of those deaths are children under the age of four who drown in backyard swimming pools. The tragedy of these statistics is nearly all drowning deaths are preventable. Parents need to be aware of their children’s swimming capabilities as well as their knowledge of how to be safe around water.

To help parents determine if their children are knowledgeable of basic water safety skills, USSSA has created a basic safety guideline parents can use to evaluate their children at the end of the summer pool season. USSSA also reminds parents that enrolling their children in year-round swimming lessons is one of the first defenses in drowning prevention. Even if children can complete the following tasks, year-round lessons can help children maintain their swimming skills and build strength.

  • Flip and Float. Any time a child enters a body of water unexpectedly, he or she should know to first reach the surface then flip onto his or her back and float until help arrives.
  • Find the Side. If your child accidentally falls into a pool he or she should know how to swim to the side, and either pull them self out of the water or move along the wall to the stairs where they can safely exit.
  • Do a Clothes Test. Children might be successful swimmers in their goggles and swimsuit but if you have a backyard pool there could be a situation where your child falls into the pool fully clothed. To help your children know how to react and judge their skill level in a situation like this effectively, under your supervision, have them jump into the pool with clothes on and swim to the side.
  • Throw, Don’t Go. When asked what they would do if a friend or sibling is struggling in the water, children should know to not enter the water. Instead, they should look for a device that can reach into the water such as a pool noodle, a foam ring or even a large stick the struggling person can grab and hold onto while being pulled to safety.
  • Take a lap. If you have a backyard pool it is a good idea to test your child at the end of the summer to make sure your child can swim a full lap of the pool. This will inform you if your child can swim far enough to reach the side or a step to exit the pool no matter where he or she falls in.

For more information on USSSA, details on becoming a member of the nation’s leading swim school organization, or to find a USSSA affiliated swim school near you, visit: http://www.usswimschools.org

 

About US Swim School Association: US Swim School Association (USSSA) began in 1988 to fill a gap in the swim school industry. USSSA has become the largest and preeminent swim school association in the country with over 400 members providing swim and water safety instruction to over 500,000 students each year. Swim schools receive invaluable benefits as USSSA members, receiving the latest training in water safety, swim instruction methods and tools, invitations to annual conferences, and many other benefits that help establish and build each individual business. USSSA has partnered with Safer 3 Water Safety Foundation for its official water safety program. Through USSSA, parents and students are provided with a reliable and trustworthy resource when searching for a swim school and can rest assured they have chosen a top school when they choose a USSSA affiliated location. For more information, visit www.usswimschools.org.

 

Beautiful Moon

by Tonya Bolden

This book has just hit the top of my list for bedtime stories to read with my girls. I LOVE it. It tells the story of a little boy who almost forgot to say his bedtime prayers and then goes through the people and things he prays for. It is a great reminder for both children and adults not only to pray, but the types of things that are important to pray for (like the homeless and the hungry). The boy prays for several “mature” things but also for his teacher to read a book every day at school. It is delightful and sweet and the illustrations are beyond beautiful. Although we are Christians, the book actually doesn’t even mention God or who exactly the boy is praying to so it would be appropriate for different religions.

The Great Katie Kate Tackles Questions About Cancer

by M. Maitand Deland

This book is geared toward a specific audience of children dealing with cancer either in their own lives or in the life of someone they know. The Great Katie Kate tackles the Worry Wombat and answers a lot of the basic questions about cancer, treatment and common things that come up until children feel less worried about it. Author M. Maitand Deland has a whole series of The Great Katie Kate books that covers topics like diabetes, epilepsy and asthma. The illustrations are great and the characters are relatable and approachable. This is a perfect book for a young child diagnosed with cancer.

50 Below Zero

by Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko (Illustrator)

This is a silly little story that is a nice short read for young children. Jason’s dad is a sleep walker and ends up in the most unlikely places and on one particular, snowy night, Jason’s father’s sleepwalking wakes Jason up. Jason finds himself chasing his father around the house where he ends up having to bring him inside from the snow. Kids find it funny to see what silly places (and poses) Jason’s father will be in next! It is a simple board book that is perfect for a short, humorous read.

Bathroom Products For Kids

It is important for kids to have products that keep them not only interested in all of the hygiene-related activities that take place in the bathroom, but also safe from harmful ingredients. This round up is full of products that are made especially for your little ones!

little-green-kids-shampooLittle Green Body Wash: I’m not sure what my obsession is with baby/kid body wash and shampoo, but I absolutely love trying it out. I am always looking for brands that are extra safe with natural ingredients for my kids. I have come across more options tailored to babies than than kids, so I was excited to find Little Green Shampoo & Body Wash. It is tear free, with no parabens, allergens or sulfates, and it is gluten free. It has a unique, very pleasant smell and doesn’t dry out skin at all. I love the convenient pump bottle too! $15 for an 8 oz bottle, www.littlegreencares.com

FF_AngryBirdsReadyGoBrushOrangeFF_AB_MouthRinseStellaFirefly Angry Birds Anti-Cavity Mouth Rinse and Ready Go Brush: I never thought about using mouth wash for my four year old, but when I received samples of Firefly’s mouth wash I thought I would give it a try. My daughter was so excited when she saw the Angry Birds bottle and she couldn’t wait to try it. The bottle comes with a built in cup and a pump bottle to keep consumption to a reasonable level. One squirt fills it up the line so kids know they have enough. The sweet, yet sugar-free berry flavor was delightful to my daughter and got her more excited about brushing her teeth than I have ever seen her. In fact, she started asking if she could do it! Firefly also makes fun light up toothbrushes that time how long kids brush their teeth to help make sure they do a good job. My daughter really likes the one that flashes in different colors like a stop light to let her know that she is almost done and when she can stop. Anything that makes brushing teeth fun and something to look forward to gets a thumbs up from me! www.fireflytoothbrush.com

CapriClearCapriClear Spray on Moisturizer: People seem to really love coconut oil for all sorts of uses. CapriClear boasts just one supremely soothing and emollient component:  all natural, 100% fractionated coconut oil.  Also known as caprylic/capric triglyceride, this purest and most stable form of coconut oil offers all of the ingredient’s skincare benefits, without the overwhelming fragrance.  Hypoallergenic CapriClear is not only colorless and odorless, but is also free of preservatives, additives, dyes, fragrances parabens, sulfates, PABA and other potential irritants commonly found in skin care products. It comes in a convenient spray bottle and feels really smooth, but not greasy on your skin. I do not recommend using this on babies, however as it did cause my baby’s skin to flake/peel when I tried it on her. www.Capriclear.com

eyedoll chatterEyeDoll Chatter: This make up definitely surprised me! I wasn’t expecting such a beautiful, high quality product. Even though it is made for younger girls, I loved it for myself! They have shimmery, scented eye shadow and face shimmers, lip gloss and balms, and blush. The colors are soft, subtle, easy to to apply and blend and formulated especially for young girls. Surprisingly they are affordable at $4/.5 ml mini-jars or girls can create their own trio by picking any three items for $9. www.Eyedollchatter.com

allnaturalandorganicplaymakeupsetEcoPrincess: Little girls love makeup and I found the best “real” makeup for them. EcoPrincess, a 100% organic bath products and play makeup line for kids are all-natural, vegan and toxin-free. The next best thing about it is that it is easy to cleanup—all makeup and nail polish can be removed gently with soap and warm water! Each set includes two eye shadows, one blush, pink shimmer lip balm, water-based nail polish, two applicators and it comes in a handmade cloth purse and is priced at $24.99. www.organicbeautynow.com

handle-extender2Aqueduck Handle Extenders: One thing that every child has difficulty with for a period of time is reaching the bathroom faucet. We need them to wash their hands after they go potty (plus many other times) and the earlier they are able to do this task without your help, the better (for you and them!). Aqueduck makes brilliant faucet and handle extenders for your bathroom that make this possible for even very little kids. Attach a handle extender to the faucet handle so they can turn on the water and attach a faucet extender to the end of your faucet so they can reach the water and they are all set! Aqueduck has a brilliant design in the handle extender that prevents children from turning the water too hot or too cold. The wings of the duck keep the handle in the middle range for perfectly warm water. The design is functional and very cute with a friendly yellow duck. Kids will love their newfound independence! www.peachyco.com/handleextender.html#.U5kR16gaCwR

101 Fun Things to Do with Kids This Summer

by Ilene Jacobs, Care.com Contributor

summerSummer may be a time to relax, but tell that to kids who are bouncing off the walls or shrieking “I’m bored” every five minutes. How on earth are parents and nannies supposed to keep kids entertained, active and out of trouble for an entire summer?

The trick is to plan ahead. Brainstorm ideas for things to do now, so you don’t wind up spending the entire summer watching cartoons.

Jill Tipograph, summer expert and founder of Everything Summer, suggests that you: “Take advantage of those bright sunny days and warm summer nights and plan something new a couple of times a week. Outdoor adventures don’t have to be extreme — explore a new neighborhood or walk as a family to get a healthy after-dinner snack.”

Jesse Koller, mom and publisher of the parenting blog Play, Create and Explore, likes to keep kids entertained with crafts. Sheeven holds regular art workshops for local kids. “We have a blast focusing on mostly process art and projects, as well as some sensory activities.”

Start creating your summer bucket list today. If you need inspiration, we’ve come up with 101 things that will keep kids happy — and you sane.

  1. Bake cookies for ice cream sandwiches.
  2. Volunteer at a nature center.
  3. Make a photo journal or a family yearbook.
  4. Have a luau in the backyard.
  5. Visit the beach and collect shells.
  6. Make a fort out of cardboard boxes.
  7. Visit a farmer’s market.
  8. Pick berries at a nearby orchard.
  9. Have a picnic at a state park.
  10. Make ice cream. Tipograph loves using YayLab’s ice cream ball, which you fill with ice cream base and kick around until frozen.
  11. Go canoeing at a local lake.
  12. Build a sandcastle.
  13. Write and illustrate your own book and have it published into an actual hardcover book using IlluStory.
  14. Forget cooking — set up an ice cream sundae buffet for dinner.
  15. Clean up trash at a local park.
  16. Have a backyard campfire…or just use the grill! Roast hot dogs on sticks, pop popcorn and finish off with s’mores.
  17. Stage an A to Z scavenger hunt, where you have to find something that starts with every letter.
  18. Make homemade pizza.
  19. Print out a list of children’s books that have won Caldecott Medals. Visit the local library throughout the summer and try to read as manyas you can.
  20. Go for a walk and then make a collage from nature objects you find along the way.
  21. Take bread to a creek and feed the ducks.
  22. Have a water balloon fight.
  23. Practice your origami skills and make objects to hang from the ceiling.
  24. Go biking on a trail
  25. Interview an older relative about what life was like when they were young.
  26. Plan a picnic at a local park — or in your backyard.
  27. Set up a lemonade stand.
  28. Create salad spinner art: Place circles of paper inside a cheap salad spinner, dab tempera paints on top, cover and spin away.
  29. Practice making interesting shadow puppets and then put on a show with your characters.
  30. Plant a garden of herbs and veggies.
  31. Make a sidewalk chalk mural.
  32. Go ice blocking (sledding) in the grass with a towel-covered block of ice.
  33. Have an outdoor painting party using huge canvases or cardboard.
  34. Visit a fish hatchery.
  35. Plant a butterfly garden with flowers.
  36. Pretend to be pirates for a day — dress up in costumes, plan a treasure hunt and talk like a pirate.
  37. Make an indoor sandbox using colored rice: mix 4 cups of rice with 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and a few drops of food coloring and let dry overnight.
  38. Turn the backyard into a carnival — set up a face painting area and games like ring toss.
  39. Make totem poles out of paper towel rolls and decorate them.
  40. Visit a museum you’ve never been to.
  41. Make a giant hopscotch or Twister game on the lawn (with spray paint) or driveway (with chalk).
  42. String beads into jewelry.
  43. Make a bird house out of Popsicle sticks.
  44. Learn about stargazing and identify as many constellations as possible — see if there are any local astronomy groups for kids.
  45. Create leis with wildflowers.
  46. Go fossil hunting near a lake.
  47. Break out your baseball gloves and start a game, sandlot style.
  48. Make paper boats and race them in a kiddie pool using straws to propel them.
  49. Play mini-golf — or set up a course in your driveway by laying different size containers on their sides.
  50. Make your own colored sand and create sand art.
  51. Get a map of the United States and mark off all the exciting places you want to visit — create the ultimate road trip.
  52. Set up a net and play badminton and volleyball.
  53. Visit an amusement park or water park.
  54. Wade through a stream and search for minnows or tadpoles.
  55. Go zip-lining.
  56. Have a tricycle race at the park.
  57. Investigate an ethnic grocery store and make lunch using interesting spices and kid-friendly international recipes.
  58. Visit a fire station.
  59. Collect rocks and paint them to use as paperweights or pet rocks.
  60. Go roller skating.
  61. Visit a zoo or aquarium to learn about animals.
  62. Run through the sprinklers.
  63. Blend your own smoothie.
  64. Set up a bike wash and raise money for a local charity.
  65. Batter up at a batting cage.
  66. Let kids paint the sidewalk or patio with plain old water and sponge brushes. When their creation dries, they can begin again.
  67. Bake cupcakes in ice cream cones and then decorate them.
  68. Assemble a family cookbook with all your favorite recipes.
  69. Go horseback riding.
  70. Make popsicles in Dixie cups using fruit juices.
  71. Catch fireflies in a jar (and let them go at the end of the night).
  72. Stage your own Summer Olympics with races, hurdles and relays.
  73. Create a backyard circus — kids can pretend to be animals and dress up as clowns.
  74. Decorate bikes and have a neighborhood Fourth of July parade.
  75. Take a sewing/crochet/knitting class.
  76. Make Mexican paper flowers using different colored tissue paper.
  77. Go to a flea market.
  78. Volunteer at an animal adoption organization.
  79. Visit a retirement home and read stories to residents.
  80. Attend an outdoor festival or concert.
  81. Pick a nearby town to visit for the day.
  82. Visit a cave.
  83. Get a map of your area, mark off all the local parks — then visit them, take pictures and vote for your favorite.
  84. Take in a fireworks exhibit.
  85. Make crafts with recyclable items like stickers using old photos, magazines and repositionable glue.
  86. Make your own hard-to-pop bubbles with 1 cup of distilled water, 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap and 1 tablespoon of glycerin.
  87. Paint canvas sneakers with fabric paint pens or acrylic paint.
  88. Create three dimensional buildings using toothpicks and mini-marshmallows.
  89. Make bird feeders by covering pine cones with peanut butter and rolling in birdseed.
  90. Paint with ice by freezing ice cube trays with washable tempera paint.
  91. Create unusual s’mores by experimenting with ingredients like cookies, bananas, flavored marshmallows and white chocolate.
  92. Have a fancy tea party.
  93. Make a giant slip-n-slide with a painter’s tarp and shaving cream.
  94. Have a backyard camp-out.
  95. Let kids paint each other with washable tempera paint, then wash it off in the sprinklers.
  96. Visit a national park and help the kids earn a junior ranger badge.
  97. Go to a ballgame and teach your kids (and yourself!) how to keep a scorecard.
  98. Set up a tent in the backyard to use as a summer playhouse.
  99. Take a free kid’s workshop at stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot or Pottery Barn.
  100. Have a game night with charades, Pictionary and bingo.
  101. Take a boring brown paper bag and have kids brainstorm creative things to do with it — you’ll be surprised at how many things you can come up with.

Ilene Jacobs is a Contributor for Care.com (www.Care.com), the largest online care destination in the world.

The Benefits of Wheat Germ For the Whole Family

wheatFeeding your family healthy food can be challenging, especially when you are crunched for time. Wheat germ is a great thing you can add to things you normally cook to add more vitamins and minerals. Check out the list of how everyone in your family can benefit from wheat germ and try the easy recipes below to change things up a little!

5 Groups Who Can Benefit From Wheat Germ

  1. Prenatal women: Folic acid is critical for good prenatal nutrition, helping prevent birth defects. Wheat germ also contains zinc, which is necessary for proper growth and development.
  2. Athletes: Working out? You need to keep your body fueled, and not with empty calories. Wheat germ is a fast, easy and inexpensive way to get the nutrients you need to fuel up or recharge. Add to smoothies, yogurt or oatmeal pre- or post-workout.
  3. Children: Getting kids and toddlers to eat healthy foods can be a challenge. Wheat germ is a great solution because it blends so easily with the foods they already love. Add it to favorite foods like yogurt, cold cereal, mac ‘n’ cheese and, yes, even cookies! This gives children the boost in vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy and grow strong.
  4. Health-conscious eaters: Wheat germ is a perfect companion in the kitchen. Sprinkle it on everything from cereals to soups to boost the nutrition, or use it to replace less nutrient-dense foods in cooking, like breadcrumbs. Trying to slim down? When you’re cutting calories, wheat germ helps ensure you’re not also skimping on nutrients by delivering the essential vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and fuller, longer.
  5. Seniors: As we age, our eyesight begins to diminish. Wheat germ is an excellent source of vitamin E that can help promote eye health and may even lower the rate of cataracts. It also keeps brain function strong to possibly help ward off Alzheimer’s.

Here are a whole bunch of recipes you can try to include wheat germ in your family’s meals:

·         Double Berry Banana Smoothie

·         Berry Delicious and Easy Wheat Germ Pancakes

·         Baked Chicken Fingers with Honey Mustard Sauce

·         Kretschmer Wheat Germ Oven-Fried Chicken

·         Homemade Pizza with Wheat Germ Crust

·         Kettle Corn with Wheat Germ

·         Pumpkin Waffles with Wheat Germ

·         Key Lime Tarts with Graham Cracker Crust

·         Chocolate Truffle Pie with Wheat Germ Crust