Ten Reasons to Tell your Kids Stories

In today’s busy world, many parents have lost the
art of telling their stories to their kids. Here are
ten reasons why these stories are so beneficial:1. Use them to teach lessons about life.Stories will stimulate conversations with your
kids more effectively than lecturing or “trying to
get them to talk. There are a lot of issues happening
for your kids these days, and stories give them a
chance to reflect on them.2. Stories connect your kids with previous
generations.In a society that seems to have families spread
out all over, it’s vitally important to have ways
to have your kids feel connected to their extended
families.3. Stories stimulate your kids’ imagination.One of the best ways to prepare your kids for the
world is to engage them in vivid stories that stir
their imagination. Kids who are exposed to these
kinds of stories will be the creative
problem-solvers of the future.4. Kids who are exposed to stories will continue
the tradition with their own families.Knowing that your family traditions and stories
will be carried on by future generations is very
comforting.5. Stories can encourage your kids when they’re
discouragedChildhood can get pretty discouraging sometimes.
Kids are encouraged by knowing that Mom or Dad
have gone through the same kinds of things and
have survived.6. Telling your stories has you remembering your
own childhood.Telling your kids about your childhood is a great
way for you to remember and reflect on what was
important about your younger years.7. Telling stories helps to create depth and soul
in your kids.In a TV and media-crazy culture, telling stories
can capture your kids’ attention and convey real
meaning. It’s a way to show your kids what’s really
important in your life.8. Telling stories to your kids tells them they’re
worth the time.Is there anything more important than conveying to
your kids that you want to spend intimate time
with them? They’ll remember it forever.9. Telling stories is a great chance to convey your
values.Your kids will be getting quite a few messages
from their friends and from popular culture.
Stories are a great opportunity to sneak in a few
of your cherished values for your kids to hear.10. Well-crafted stories create a wonderful
mind-set for your kids before they fall asleep.Kids will fall asleep faster and with healthier
images when you tell them your stories.Don’t pass up the opportunity to connect with your
kids, at the same time you tell them what’s
important to you.It will be a huge gift to your kids, and a huge
gift to you.

How To Find Kids Eat Free Nights in Your City

Who said “There’s no such thing as a free lunch?” It’s not true – at least, not if you are a kid! Better yet it’s dinner and they call it Kids Eat Free (or at least Really Cheap Anyways). That’s good news for parents of picky eaters and kids that eat, and eat (and eat!). From national restaurants chains to mom and pops all across the U.S. more and more Kids Eat Free menus are popping up.Kids meal promotions will run on various days of the week which is nice because there is usually something every night of the week. Many restaurants will use their less busy days (i.e. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday). The following guidelines should help give you a better understanding of how your kids can eat for FREE:Not all franchises require their franchisees to follow specific operating guidelines. You might find that one national restaurant in your area runs the promotion while others do not. It’s always best to call before making big plans.
Most kid’s nights will run during the week. The best day seems to be Tuesday, although you should be able to find a restaurant for every day of the week.
Check to see how many kids can eat with each paying adult. Usually it will be one to two children per adult entrée.
Be sure to ask the age limit. At many restaurants, children are considered to be ages 10 and under. At other restaurants you will find that it is 12-13 years old (but don’t tell your tweens that).
Check to see if the restaurant has a specific time for the offer. Some eateries will run kids meal deals all day, while others are just dinner hours.Examples of where you might find a kids night deal in your area include Monday night at Quaker Steak and Lube, Back Yard Burgers or Ihop; Tuesday night at Beef O’ Brady’s, Denny’s or Lonestar; Wednesday night at Damon’s, Luby’s; Thursday night at KC Masterpiece. Friday night at The American Café; Saturday night Denny’s and Sunday check Planet Sub, Hooters and Salsaritas.Some restaurants run their Kid’s Eat Free night a little different. They aren’t free but you will be able to order from the kid’s menu at a discount. Generally the prices are between $.99 and $1.99. One of the favorites is Golden Corral Buffet which runs their Kids Eat Cheap night on Tuesday. Kids eat for $1.99 and little ones 3 and under eat free. Buffalo Wild Wings offers a $.99 Kid’s Menu on Monday’s, and Picadilly’s has kid’s meals on Saturday’s that range from $.99-$1.99.This is just a small sample of restaurants that offer Kids Eat Free menus throughout the week.

Teach Your Kids to Safe – Surf the Net With Kids Browsers!

At any given time, on any given day, you will find a great number of children and teenagers surfing the internet, chatting with their friends, playing games and sometimes even doing their homework (but unfortunately, this is not the norm when it comes to kids). What are you doing to teach to them about how to protect themselves from predators, pornography and other internet dangers?An effective way to teach your kids about the dangers, other than lectures, which everyone knows just bore kids to tears and don’t usually have any effect, is to let them surf the net with a special browser for kids. These browsers allow your kids to have all of the advantages of the internet, without any of the dangers.When your kids are using a kids browser, you have the option of setting the browser so that it is the only browser they can use, and others, such as Internet Explorer, are blocked. Kid safe browsers ensure that your kids are only looking at the things that they should be looking at and are not coming into contact with online predators.We all know that kids will spend all day and all night on their computers if we let them. In order to combat this, you can control when and how long your kids can be online, and you will be able to see how long your kids have been online each day. This is wonderful for working parents who can’t be home in the afternoon. They can set the kids browsers to only allow kids to be online during the times when parents know they will be home.You may even want to take advantage of kids email as well. Kids email is essentially an email service for both families and kids. Your kids get access to a safe email account and parents are aware of all correspondence that their children send and receive. This way, you get to decide who your kids can and can’t send and receive message with, and filter all incoming and outgoing emails. With kids email enables kids to learn about technology and be safe at the same time. You need to know what your kids are doing online in order to protect them from the numerous dangers that are facing them every time they surf the net.When you set limits on your kids’ internet usage with kids browsers and kids emails, you need to explain to them why you are doing this. Let them know about the dangers that are out there. If they are old enough to use the internet, they are old enough to be taught how to use it safely. When they understand why you are setting so many restrictions, they will be more apt to accept them.Talk to them on their own terms, and don’t lecture them. Keep things light hearted, and let them know that you are always there if they have any concerns or questions about anything they see, and not just on the internet. The world is filled with many dangers to kids, and it is your job as a parent to let them know what can happen when they visit websites that they shouldn’t and chat with people that they don’t know. The more they know, the safer they will be, and the better you will feel about letting them use the internet.

What to Do When Your Step-Kids Disrespect You

Over the years, many parents in blended families have come to me to talk about the subject of disrespect. In some cases, their step-kids didn’t respect them, and in others, their biological child did not respect their new spouse. The truth is a child may never respect his step-parent, but he does have to know that he can’t get away with being rude or obnoxious to them. The only way to achieve the desired behavior is to be certain you and your spouse are united in making sure that your kids treat you with respect.Lay Down the Ground Rules from the StartIf you haven’t done so already, sit down with the kids in your blended family and lay out some ground rules. Start by saying, “In our family now, this is what a parent is.” And, “In our family now, these are the expectations on every child.” I recommend that you tell your step-kids from the beginning, “You don’t have to call me Mommy, but you have to be respectful and follow my directions.” And both adults need to do this with all the children in the family.What if Your Step-kids Disrespect You?Naturally, step-parents become very upset when their step-children are disrespectful to them. I’ve had parents come to me in difficult situations where the kids were really being rude or obnoxious, saying things like, “You’re not my father, I don’t have to listen to you!” Let me be clear: parents have to be careful, because once that kind of behavior gets entrenched, it’s very difficult to stop. By being rude, kids protect themselves-and they train adults what not to ask of them and what not to expect of them.The answer here is that you and your partner have to decide ahead of time how the kids in the family will talk to each parent. You set the expectations together, and then you remain consistent; you hold each child accountable.Here’s an example. If one of your step-kids says, “You’re not my mom; I don’t have to do what you say!” You can say, “No, I’m not your mother, but you have to do your homework anyway.” Or, “We’re not talking about me being your father. We’re talking about when you’re going to start your homework.”Now, the consequences for that kind of behavior should be swift and clear. The kids in the family should know that if they disrespect their step-mother or step-father, they will lose their cell phone privileges for the rest of the night, for example. In other words, there should be no tolerance for that kind of disrespect. When it comes down to it, both adults work hard for the family, both adults are struggling, both adults are making sacrifices-so the rule is that the kids have to treat them both with respect. They don’t have to call them Mom or Dad unless they want to, but they have to be respectful.Don’t try to read your step-child’s mindKnow that as a parent or step-parent, you cannot read your step-child’s mind. In other words, if this child doesn’t like you telling him what to do but he does it anyway, don’t challenge him on what he’s thinking. Don’t worry if he’s giving you “that look.” When you tell him to go do his chores, if he does them whether he likes it or not, that should be enough. So, don’t try to read kids’ minds to determine if they really don’t want to do something, or if they really don’t like you. You have to let that go until everybody gets to know each other.Here’s the bottom line: if you carry yourself with respect, kids will find things to like about you. This is because kids want to like people that they respect. Know that he or she may never get over the loss of his mother or father, or that of his original family. But there’s nothing you as a step-parent can do about that besides accept it and avoid getting into fights about it.When You’re Parenting, They’re All Your Kids Some parents wonder how they can be fair while still maintaining the trust of their biological child. Know that it’s natural to feel a stronger connection to your own child, a special love for and commitment to them.But in a blended family, you have to keep those thoughts in a separate compartment from parenting. Understand that when you’re parenting, they’re all your kids. And believe me, they’re all watching the way you behave yourself, the kind of role model you are, and the kinds of things you do. So when the kids are acting out and the television is taken away for the evening as a consequence, it’s not taken from the biological kids or the non-biological kids-you don’t get into those distinctions. It’s taken away from all the kids. And so it also becomes, “When we’re going to the zoo, we’re all going to the zoo-the whole family.” Or “When we’re watching a movie, we’re all watching a movie.”You’ll always feel that special connection with your biological child, don’t get me wrong. But part of the thing that you’ll struggle with, sometimes every day, is that you have to treat these kids the same. Don’t worry that you will lose that connection with your biological kid by doing so-that will never happen. There may be anger, there may be disappointment, there may be separation, but that connection is there by nature.When Your Child Challenges YouOften in blended families, it’s very common for the biological kids to challenge their birth parents. They’ll accuse them of being unfair, or say things like, “You’re treating them better than me.” Or, “He treats his kids better than you treat us.” And you might also hear, “He treats his kids better than he treats us.” And parents have to work very closely together to solve those problems.When your child comes to you and says something unfair happened, the kind of question you have to ask is, “If I was there, what would I have seen?” So, let’s say your child says, “Today she treated her kids better than us.” The question you have to ask is not, “How did you feel,” or “What happened,” because those things get distorted. Rather, parents should be asking the investigative question: “If I was there, what would I have seen?”Let’s say the answer is, “You would have seen her give three cookies to her kids and two cookies to us.” That’s something they can see, not what they felt. So find out what they saw, what they heard, what was done. That’s the most effective way to investigate these kinds of statements. That’s also one of my key questions when parents tell me their kids are acting out at home. One of the things I used to ask them in my office was, “If I was there, what would I have seen?” And then they’ll say, “You’d have seen my son punching a hole in the wall and threatening his sister and calling his brother names.” I want to know what I would have seen there because that’s how I can investigate what they need to do differently.So again, you’re asking for facts now. It’s the parent’s job to say, “Okay, I’ll look into it,” and then talk to the other parent in private.Structure Time to Do Things Together: Establish a “Family Day”If you want to come together as a family, I think you have to make rules about doing things together. So you can make the rule, “On Wednesday nights we all watch a video.” This rule is in place whether the kids like it or not. Let them know that if they refuse to watch the video, then they will lose their electronics for the rest of the night. But the deal is, “We all watch a video. We all go to the zoo. We all go to the beach. We all go to the park.” Don’t overdo it, especially with teenagers. But doing one activity as a family per week, not including church, can be helpful in this kind of situation. Sit together in the living room eating popcorn and watching a DVD. Or go to the park together, go to the beach and find seashells. Whatever it is, find one thing a week to do together.By the way, I say don’t overdo it with teens because developmentally, their job is to start to break away. So we just want them to participate without being abusive, disrespectful or nasty. If one of your kids is 17 and doesn’t want to go along, let them bring a friend. But the rule is, “You’re going with us.”Instituting a family day gives kids the message that “This is important to us, and it’s so important we’re going to make it happen.” They learn that you do things as a family and that you respect each other when you’re doing them. With younger kids, having a night where you just play board games is really fun. Older kids may resist it at first, but younger kids will love it. If you start when they’re small, that becomes part of their expectations for family night-and it also becomes their way of understanding how families operate.Empower the Children in Your Family to Express ThemselvesOne last word about kids: children have to be empowered to express what they feel and think, and those thoughts and feelings have to be accepted at face value. When two adults decide to blend their families, kids have no choice. They can feel powerless, threatened and overwhelmed. The idea is to give them appropriate ways to express themselves so they don’t have to act out their feelings behaviorally. This doesn’t mean they get to make decisions about how the family will run, but they should certainly have input in an appropriate way.This input is usually best received by the child’s birth parent. If you try to do a family meeting without getting the input first, it’s very likely that people will get defensive or feel threatened. But if birth parents can talk to their kids about their concerns, it is much easier to work them out, and it’s much easier for the two adults to come to an agreement. So the idea is not to squelch kids, the idea is to set up a situation where they can express their feelings safely and appropriately.Remember, no rule or situation has to last forever. Before you put any new plan into place, I recommend that you sit down with your kids and ask these questions:
How will we know this is working?
How will we know something isn’t working?
What will we do if something works?
What will we do if something doesn’t work?
If you analyze the decisions you make this way, you’ll always have the ability to measure if you’re accomplishing what you sought to do, as well as change what you’re doing if necessary.One of the key things that a blended family needs is two adults who are mature; you’ve really got to grow up as a parent. It’s hard to see your step-child when they come back from a holiday with their other set of parents, and they have better presents than you gave them, or when they’re bragging about the things they did together-or when they’re sad about the things they used to do before their original family split up. But you’ve got to be able to handle that. Without a doubt you may have feelings about it, but you have to have mature ways of dealing with those emotions. So, if you’re hurt or frustrated-and it’s normal and human to be hurt, frustrated and confused in this situation-you need to be able to talk to your partner or call your friends. If you need professional help, go to a counselor. The main thing is, you need to be able to work toward accepting the situation and not trying to control it. It’s not that you shouldn’t feel things-it’s the way you deal with the things you feel that is important.

The Ultimate Guide on How to Achieve Great Success With Kids Party Food for Your Kids Theme Party

I think one of the most daunting things for parents when it comes to planning and organising their kids theme party, is the party food.Firstly, the most important thing to remember when planning and organising your kids party food, is to not stress out as you need not be an amazing cook. You will find on the party day that food is not the focus, because kids are much more interested in just having fun and playing the party games and activities.However, to make your kids party food a huge success, there are a few things to consider.1) Deciding the Kids Party MenuThe time of day your kids party is being held and your party guests, can help determine the type and quantity of kids party food you serve. Lunch and dinner parties will require more substantial food menus, but snacks will be fine if the party is at other times of the day. If guests’ parents are invited to stay at the party, it’s a good idea to have some suitable food for the adult guests as well as some extra food stored away just in case.Do not forget to check with parents whether any of your little guests have food allergies, that way you can cater your child’s party accordingly and avoid anything bad happening on the party day.Remember to also ask your child what food and drinks he/she would like served at the party, as it makes your child feel very special that they are actually helping you plan their party.To make life easier for you, plan a simple kids party menu that your party guests will still be able to enjoy. Try to have a variety of savoury food and sweet treats, and include in your menu familiar party favourites that are child friendly, quick and easy to prepare.Some examples of popular kids party food include chicken nuggets, fish fingers, hot dogs, mini hamburgers, pizzas, wraps, sandwiches, fairy bread, chicken wings, pigs in a blanket, lasagna, spaghetti Bolognese, mini pies and sausage rolls, nachos, French fries, potato wedges, popcorn, potato chips, pretzels, jelly etc.Children also enjoy other healthy food such as strips of carrot, cucumber and celery, cherry tomatoes, cocktail franks, cheese cubes, crackers and creamy cheese dips, as well as fresh fruits. Many kids are fussy eaters so they’ll probably like these more than any gourmet food that you may have to slave for hours in the kitchen to make.All kids love sweet treats but try not to overdo it otherwise you will have some very hyperactive children running around at your kids theme party! Favourites such as cupcakes, cake-pops, biscuits, lollipops, chocolates and lollies are highly sought after by kids, but something that both adults and children really look forward to at a party is the cake. You can either bake or buy your kids party cake. Whichever options you choose try to match the cake to your kids party theme. Go online to find some inspirational ideas for cake decorations.If you plan to bake the cake or make your own cupcakes, cake-pops, biscuits etc., make them a day or two before the party so that you have plenty of time to bake and decorate to your heart’s content, creating a masterpiece for your child’s party! Get your child to help out for added fun and it’s fantastic to have a few friends or family members over to help as well. Remember to store them properly though so that they will remain fresh for the party day.When ordering a cake from a bakery, most places usually like at least 2 weeks notice. Lately though quite a few popular specialist cake places actually request a few months notice, hence make an early booking so as to not miss out. Also, order the cake to be picked up the day before the party so that you have one less thing to do on the party day. When you pick the cake up, ask the bakery for proper storage instructions, again so that it will remain fresh for the day of the party.For kids party drinks you can serve juices, cordial, soft drinks, water, milkshakes, fruit smoothies etc. You can even make fruit punch a few days in advance and freeze them as ice-cubes. Then on the party day all you need to do is add some fresh fruits to the gradually melting ice-cubes of punch in a punch bowl.2) Keep the Kids Party Food and Its Presentation Related to Your Kids Party ThemeWhen planning the kids party menu try to incorporate the party theme you have chosen, so that everything fits in perfectly with the theme. Decorate cupcakes, cake-pops and biscuits according to the theme. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches, fairy bread, pizza etc. into fun shapes that match the theme eg. Dinosaur shapes for a Dinosaur Theme Party, Tiaras for a Princess Theme Party etc.Also, set out the kids party food on serving ware that matches the party theme and put a theme twist to the food name when labelling each of your dishes eg. place chicken nuggets in a treasure chest and call them “Golden Nuggets” for a Pirate Theme Party, use toothpicks (remember to break off the sharp ends to make them more blunt) to pin four round slices of either carrot or cucumber to the sides of hotdogs to turn them into “Hot Rods” for a Cars Theme Party etc.In addition, set up a cake and present table with your kids party theme in mind, and this will be the focal point of your child’s party. Balloons, tablecloths, pom poms, lanterns etc. are fantastic when it comes to helping you set the theme.3) How to Save Money and/or Time With Your Kids Party FoodThink about what kids party food you can make from scratch quickly and easily yourself. This is because anything that can be home made, will save you a lot of money.If you decide to make all or most of the party food yourself, what ever you are able to prepare prior to the day of the party, do so. Freeze, refrigerate or store appropriately whatever you’ve prepared in advance, so that on the party day all you need to do is quickly cook, re-heat or simply just serve. The less you have to do on the party day, means less stress and more time for you to relax, enjoy and have fun with your child and guests.However, if you are short of time, you can also purchase ready made and/or frozen party food from the supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants etc. that you can quickly whip up or just serve on the day of the party. Place your orders at bakeries and restaurants in advance so that you can either organise pick up or home delivery for the party day (ask a friend or family member to help you with the pick ups).If you have no time whatsoever, you can even get the whole party catered and even have waiters and waitresses serve the food and drinks for you. I was so surprised when I found out how really affordable this option is. Just go online and search your local area for caterers and wait staff, and get a few quotes. You will probably be as surprised as I was. This option definitely takes all the hassles and stress out of the food aspect of your kids theme party. You can also ask them the cost of clearing up during and after the party. You will then have lots of time to relax and enjoy before, during and after the party, as there won’t be much cleaning up leftover for you to do.In conclusion, if you decide on the kids party menu early, work out a shopping list, get all that you need and prepare as much as you can in advance, then planning and organising the kids party food for your kids theme party will be a total breeze and a lot of fun too.

Young Kids and Money

One of parents’ frustrations is kids wanting things without understanding that “money does not grow on trees”. The dilemma of whether or not to explain to kids about money, bills and finances grows as the kids develop and have more requests and greater needs.Unfortunately, handling money is not something we learn at school. Just like many other life skills that we find necessary in adulthood, money management is also neglected while lots of energy is wasted on high levels of math.If you examine the curriculum your kids are covering from prep to year 12 you can understand why many of them will go to university or get tertiary education but only one kid per class will be wealthy. Are you ready to make sure it is your kid?Handling money is something we all need long before we leave home. When friends have brand-name shoes or a computer game and your kid wants them too, your kid’s ability to understand money is going to be very handy. So if you wonder when it is the right time to learn about money, my answer is: the minute your kid can count to 10.Children can be taught at a young age that money is their way to get the things they want in life. It is, after all, your way of getting the things you want in life.Tips to teach kids about money
A bit of historyThe first thing you need to do in order to teach your kid about money is to explain the history of money. Tell them about how people used to trade with their neighbours: “I will give you apples and you will give me carrots”. Then they realised that some things take longer to grow, so they decided that some things are worth more. This evolved when they came to the market to trade for the things they wanted. Money came to be when people weighed pieces gold or silver and would trade for it by weight (just think of the British currency called “Pound”, or the Israeli currency called “Shekel”, which means “something that is weighed”). Explain to your young kid that money was a great thing that happened to us because we can buy whatever we want and not just what our neighbours grow.Pocket money – weekly or in return for choresDecide if you want to give your kids pocket money every week or as a reward for doing chores. Stick to at least once a week, because young kids’ perception of time is not fully developed and 7 days seems to them like a very long time.Some believe that giving pocket money should not be a reward. Others think that it is a good way to teach kids that money does not just fall from the sky and that we need to work for it. If you have difficulties finding chores for young kids, remember that small things like making the bed, helping clear the table after dinner and helping with the laundry can be fun chores that will teach kids responsibility and sharing.Whatever you choose, stick to your schedule and always, always hold a ceremony of giving your kids their money.Emotional choresIf you do choose to give money based on chores, remember you do not have to reward your kids for things they do for you. You can always reward them for things they do for themselves. “Emotional stretches” are a good reason to reward young kids (and older kids and teens and even adults…). Give them coins each time they manage to do something that was hard for them. Being nice to a sibling, doing their homework without being told, taking a shower by themselves, waiting patiently when mum or dad are on the phone… Every time they do something that is hard for them, reward them to promote their good behaviour and personal growth.Pocket money rulesWhen you choose to give pocket money as a reward, remember that the rules must be understood by everyone involved. Kids must understand how much you give and for what. If your child can read, make a list of the chores (and/or emotional stretches) with their matching reward amount. If your child is younger, draw pictures or cut them from a magazine and draw circles to represent the coins they will get for each task. Having an understanding will prevent bargaining and allow both parents to handle the situation in the same way.Money managementKids must know what falls into the category of what they need to purchase and what comes out of mum and dad’s budget. Think about this before you start teaching your kid about money. You must be clear with yourself whether you pay for food, for snacks at school, for sweets, for treats or for anything else the kids ask for. Whatever you decide is good, as long as you have a good explanation for yourself and you stick to it.Piggy bankGet your child a box to put their money in. Any piggy bank that does not allow the kids to take the money out is a cruel thing for your kid. It does the exact opposite of what money management is all about. Money is not there to keep. It is there to use wisely.Less is sometimes moreYoung kids find it hard to understand that a $1 coin is worth more than 20 coins of 5 cents each. It takes a while for them to understand that the value of the money is not measured simply by the number of coins. Therefore, always use the smallest coins to give them money, to give them the feeling they have plenty of money. Around the age of 6, when they learn the arithmetic of money at school, they will learn the value of each coin. When they do understand this, start exchanging single cents for 10 cents, 10 cents for 25 or 50 cents and 50 cents for dollars, etc.WalletGet your kid a wallet to take with them whenever you go out. When a young kid takes a wallet with them for shopping, this is the greatest lesson about money management. When you go shopping and your kid asks for you to buy them things, refer them to their wallet and explain what they can buy with the money that they have. Always show them the options, “This costs this many coins, the other thing you want costs that many coins”, and teach them to choose. When they see the money going out of their own wallet, they are not so enthusiastic about buying things, and if they are still enthusiastic, the feeling disappears after the first time when they realise they have no money left in their wallet.LoansIf you go with your kid somewhere and they did not bring their wallet, use the opportunity to teach them about lending and let them borrow some money until you get home. Only lend them amounts they can return and make sure they give you the money back the minute you get home. If they have their wallet with them, but not enough money and they ask for a loan, make sure they understand what this means. Again, time is not something they understand and if you tell them, “That means that next month I will not give you your pocket money”, they might not understand. Just like in real life, teach them that things that require loans also require more time to think about. In these cases, not giving them the loan, or giving part of the loan is better for your kids than being nice and giving it to them whenever they want.SavingsThe first time your young kids ask you for a loan, be happy, because now you can teach them about savings. Only when kids want something beyond their financial means can you explain why saving money is a good idea. Teach them to always put 10% of their money aside. At a young age, they will not understand what 10% is but tell them it is a tiny piggy bank in the piggy bank of money you keep there for emergency. This is the money you keep for something big or special that you want later. Tell them to put 1 out of every 10 coins in the tiny piggy bank. Saving is a good lesson in waiting, something that is hard for young kids, because their perception of time is not fully formed.Young children can learn about money from as early an age as 3. Having a healthy attitude towards money is important to help your kid grow with skills that school is not going to give them. They are going to need them desperately the minute they leave home. If you think they are too young to know about money, remember that one day they will have to pay for your nursing home…

Best Cruises for Kids: A Smart, Small List

When it comes to the best cruises for kids, few cruise lines can match the level of excellence provided by Princess, Norwegian, Disney or Royal Caribbean. This article will briefly explore innovative perks and novel features of some of the best cruise lines for kids, and look at how each cruise line makes cruising with kids such a pleasure.So without further ado, let’s get right to our short, sweet list of the best cruises for kids.Princess CruisesPrincess Cruises may be the most ideal option for trips involving children of different age groups, or multi-generational families. Few cruise lines are as versatile as Princess-you can seek out any experience you want aboard a Princess cruise, and be assured that the kids are having just as good a time as you are.Princess has several bustling kids’ clubs that are sure to keep the youngsters engaged in exciting activities. The line’s Crown series of ships, along with the recently upgraded Grand Princess, are among the best cruise ships for kids. The line offers a diverse range of age-based activities and its ships are loaded with innovative perks.Princess is one of the best cruises for kids, and perhaps even more so if you add toddlers, teenagers and grandparents in to the mix. The cruises have to offer something for everyone, and this is what makes this line such a huge hit for multigenerational families. You get to sample the traditional along with the modern, and experience the best of both worlds.To give an example of the diverse nature of onboard and shore activities, you can attend a formal art auction, play bingo, indulge in high-tech spa treatments and even go to an authentic wine tasting. Vacationers traveling in large parties may consider Princess the best cruise line for kids and adults alike, and with good reason.Norwegian Cruise LinesNorwegian Cruise Lines may offer what is arguably one of the best cruises for kids, particularly for the hard-to-please teen demographic. The Norwegian Epic is considered one of the best cruise ships for kids, and is chockfull of great features to keep kids 13 and over engaged for the entire trip.Apart from the great cabins and plush decorations, teens will love the rock climbing walls and one of the most intense water slides on any cruise ship. Another teen-friendly feature is Entourage-a teen only (13 to 17) enclave that lets teens do what they do best. It’s a great place to hang out, with large flatscreen TVs, plush couches, contemporary furniture, and teen-friendly games and entertainment such as foosball and air hockey. And it all adds up to one of the best cruises for kids.Onboard dining options are another plus. The ship has an excellent buffet laid out by the Garden Cafe, and the best part is that it’s open most of the time. The free O’Sheehans Pub (we’re not sure if that’s a wordplay on ‘ocean’) and round-the-clock pizza delivery are also great for nighttime cravings. A trip where the adults enjoy themselves as much as the children? That’s the hallmark of some of the best cruises for kids.Disney Cruise LineDisney has successfully taken the concept of family cruising, splashed it with the typical (read whimsical) Disney charm, and taken it to the next level.Disney’s most beautiful and elegant ships include the Disney Magic, the Disney Wonder and the newly-added Disney Dream. The line has some of the best cruise ships for kids, and delivers an enchanting onboard experience your kids will remember for a long, long time.There are so many things that make Disney one of the best cruise lines for kids. The ships’ cabins are well-furnished, and clearly designed with the needs of kids in mind. The line sports a unique split-bath layout that’s perfect for families with children-one bathroom features a sink and tub-shower and the other has a sink and a toilet. In addition, families can dine at different themed restaurants in a rotational dining system, and the theatrical performances on evenings are as close to Broadway as any cruise line. It’s not hard to see why Disney cruises are considered one of the best cruises for kids.And just because it’s a Disney trip does not mean parents are not looked after. If anything, parents may have even more fun than the kids. There are beautiful and well-equipped adults’ pools, boutique eateries and other upmarket dining options, and beautiful spas to keep the adults happily engaged. The line also offers several uber-sophisticated shore excursions for adults; on a Mediterranean cruise, adults can rent classic cars from the 60s in the sublimely beautiful Villafranche, or take daylong cooking classes and have an authentic Tuscan wine-tasting experience.Royal CaribbeanRoyal Caribbean’s cruises are among the most fun-filled for kids and families. The line’s Voyager, Oasis and Freedom series have some of the best cruise ships for kids, and offer loads of exciting activities for young and old alike.Royal Caribbean consistently ranks as one of the best kids’ cruises, mainly due to the diverse onboard experiences available. Children are grouped according to age and encouraged to partake in age-appropriate activities. Whereas many other cruise lines group children in larger age brackets, Royal’s groups are smaller, meaning that kids get to hang out with other similar-aged kids and take part in activities that are tailored specifically to their age group.Royal Caribbean’s onboard features are completely attuned to family needs, and this is what allows the line to offer one of the best cruises for kids. The line’s suites are family-friendly, and with connecting rooms, offer a great accommodation option for families with kids. You don’t have to cramp your style in a small cabin with drop-down beds. And for dining, you can either go with the pre-set dining system as with many other cruise lines, or opt for the more flexible restaurant-style dining.

Where To Have Your Next Kids Birthday Party

The perfect kids birthday party location can vary widely depending on where you live and the type of party you are throwing. Here are our suggestions and ideas to help you throw the best kids party in the perfect location.When picking a children’s birthday party location take into account your theme, your child’s favorite places and the predicted weather for the time of year you’ll be throwing the party. In addition consider budget, accessibility for guests and any safety issues.You can base your locale on a number of different criteria we’ve picked a few of our favorite kids birthday party locations.Birthday Party Locations for a Summer PartyThe Park – This is a great outdoor party location. Choose a park that will allow you to rent space. A park is a perfect place to have a rented ball pit or rented carnival games. Remember for a park party be sure the park provides park benches and tables for seating and food otherwise you will need to provide your own. Also, if you choose to barbeque as opposed to bringing ready made food then be sure the park has barbeque pits. And if they don’t have bbq pits then you’ll need to confirm barbqueing is allowed before bringing your own.Amusement Park – The amusement park is a great party location, because there is so little for you to do. Most amusement parks will provide a party area with tables and benches. Often, they will provide the party food as well. And of course the rides and games are all the entertainment you need.Zoo – Just like an amusement park the zoo will usually provide the party area and food. Often the zoo will also provide a tour for the kids.Dude Ranch – If you have a Dude Ranch near you take advantage of it for your child’s next party. This is lots of fun for the kids because they get to interact with the animals. For many kids this may be their first time on a horse or even petting a horse so this party is a special treat for them. And as an added bonus Dude ranches are set in a western theme and all kids love cowboys!Kids Birthday Party Locations for a Winter PartyRoller Skating Rink, Ice Skating Rink or Bowling Alley – These are all great party locations anytime of the year but particularly in the winter when the kids can’t be outdoors. Having a party at any of these locations makes the planning process simple for you, most rinks and bowling alleys are equipped for kids parties. They’ll provide party areas and food or permit you to bring your own food. They’ll also have special packages for kids parties so the kids can have a great time skating or bowling.Gymnastics Center – Kids like nothing more than tumbling and flipping. Check out some local gymnastics centers and find out if they allow parties. Some may not provide food or decorations but they will provide all of the activities in the way of balance beams, uneven bars and mats for tumbling. They’ll also provide a trainer to help the kids on the equipment. This type of party will keep the kids active the entire time and they’ll go home pooped!Karate Center – If your little one is into martial arts then throw a karate party. Many karate centers allow parties and provide a trainer to teach the kids some moves and do a few demonstrations.Indoor Playground – Indoor playgrounds are extremely popular. These playgrounds seem to be popping up everywhere so there is certain to be several near you. Some popular playgrounds are Gymboree, Chucky Cheese and Jeepers.Some Other Fun Kids Birthday Party LocationsChildren’s Museum – The popularity of these museums for kids has sky rocketed and they typically cater to kids parties. They’ll provide party space but may or may not provide food. Either way you can’t beat this location as the activities are all right there providing hours of fun for the kids.Your Club House – We often forget about that club house our condo association fees pays for. If your house isn’t large enough and if you have a Club House in your community take advantage of it. Yes, you’ll have to bring in all the decorations and food but typically the space will be bigger and more open than at home. So don’t forget to check it out next time you are throwing a party.Bead Store – Search your area for a bead store that allows kids to design their own jewelry. Typically if they provide in-store activities for kids they will allow for parties. You’ll be surprised how many beads stores have kid parties. Often you will have to provide the food and decorations, but they provide the space and activities!Miniature Golf – Sometimes your local miniature golf course will provide party space for kids. I’ve even seen some that provide the food! If your little one likes golf check out your local miniature golf courses and let the kids putt around!

What Are the Best Gifts for Kids That Are Age Appropriate?

If you’re planning to attend a kid’s birthday party, or if Christmas is around the corner, you may need to start thinking about finding the best gifts for kids that are age appropriate. Below we have listed a brief summary of the two best gift ideas for kids aged between one and eight years old to take a lot of the hard work out of the selection process.Best Gifts for 1 year olds:The two best gifts for kids of this age are Plush Toys and a Bucket and Spade. The important features to look for in Plush Toys are softness, short fur, flashing lights, special sounds, and preferably a big smile with engaging eyes on the toy. The talking Elmo is often the most popular of the plush toys, but is at the more expensive end. In terms of a bucket and spade, go for a small set at this age with a short handle on the spade, so they can dig little holes and build sandcastles. If sand is flying in every direction from the spade, the kit will usually have a small rake in it as well which you can swap for the spade. A bucket and spade is one of the best value gifts that you can buy for kids, typically costing under $10.Best Gifts for 2 year olds:The two best gifts for a two year old are a Kid’s Car and a Bubble Machine. A small plastic kid’s car where children can open the door, sit in and push around with their feet is a big winner. Hopefully there is also a horn for kids to toot, a key to start the car and a petrol cap for when they feel it’s time to refuel. Kids will have a year or two of fun with this, whereas many other toys for this age group are played with for only hours. The second idea of a Bubble Machine is an inexpensive present (<$20) that gets lots of kids active chasing bubbles around the outdoors. Most kids will like to pick up a bat or stick for extra reach to swat the higher bubbles. Just make sure you have plenty of bubble mixture as it can run out quickly. Great for kids parties, Christmas events as well.Best Gifts for 3 year olds:The two best gifts for a three year old are Duplo and Play-Doh. Duplo is quite possibly one of the best kid’s toys of all time as it engages the creative mind of the child, keeps them busy for hours, never breaks and is scalable, as you can never have too much Duplo. One of the best activities is to build a tower so tall, such that they can no longer reach to put more bricks on top. They will then marvel at their creation and no doubt tell their parents about how high they have built their tower. Play-Doh is a little messy, but it stimulates the senses with bright colors, soft texture and has lots of add on toys that help mold, cut and craft the Play-Doh into various objects. Some of the best add-ons are the Play-Doh Spaghetti factory and the Play-Doh fun factory. Adults will also have fun creating different types of spaghetti.Best Gifts for 4 year olds: The two best gifts for a four year old are a Bike and a Train Set. The feeling of riding around on a Bike is hard to beat for kids, but it may be worth investing in a set of training wheels, which can be detached once they have mastered riding. Don’t forget the camera, because riding a bike is one of those milestones for kids that you will like to reflect upon in years to come. A helmut is also a must have given accidents happen in the most unusual ways. The second idea of a Train Set works well for both girls and boys and will see them making different track routes for hours with bridges, tunnels, mountains, etc. The good news is that this toy can be easily disassembled and stored by the kids as well. Most trains now need some batteries to power themselves, so check the packaging when you purchase a train set.Best Gifts for 5 year olds:The two best gifts for a five year old are Mobilo and a Dollhouse. Mobilo is one of the best building and construction toys available with innovative connectors that join and spin the parts to make cars, planes, trucks and lots more. The colors are fantastic and the parts fit easily together and are much larger than lego which makes it far easier to assemble and clean up. Dollhouses are the ultimate classic gift for kids and will keep them entertained for hours and allow them to engage their imagination. Don’t forget to include plenty of toy furniture, staircases between levels, tiny beds where figurines can sleep, a kitchen where they can cook and hopefully a lock where the dollhouse can be packed away.Best Gifts for 6 year olds:The two best gifts for a six year old are a Remote Control Car and a Scooter. Adults will love the fun of a remote control car just as much as a six year old. You just need to make sure you buy an indestructible car as they will run into plenty of walls. A great tip is to make an obstacle course with a few jumps as the kids will spend hours trying to navigate the car around the course. Scooters are high-speed fun and develop coordination, balance as well as fitness. A helmut is an absolute must as kids find different ways to fall off a scooter that you didn’t think was possible. To extend the fun, teach the kids a few tricks like a bunny hop, a nose manual, a no-comply or if they are really good, try a tail tap. It’s well worth buying yourself one as well so you can keep up with the kids. Just don’t try those trick discussed before.Best Gifts for 7 year olds:The two best gifts for a seven year old are Jenga and Roller Blades. Jenga is essentially a skillful stacking game consisting of 54 blocks with the winner being the person who doesn’t knock the blocks over while deftly removing a piece and stacking it on top of the tower. It’s more fun than you think, so give it a try. Provided the kids have the correct safety gear, roller blades will be a lot of fun and materially improve your kids fitness, balance and strength. They may even learn to skate on one foot, master turns, skate backwards and execute some small jumps. If they really want to get excited, show them a few of the roller blading professionals on YouTube.com.Best Gifts for 8 year olds:The two best gifts for an eight year old are an iPad and a Skateboard. Not much more can be said about an Ipad other than its one of the best inventions of all time and will be an addictive present for the kids with thousands of free games, music and photos to name just a few features. Don’t forget the already installed camera function with kids trying to film themselves with the camera doing crazy things. Skateboards are for older kids given the skill required to master tricks and speed. However, eight year olds can still learn the basics and have plenty of fun with their friends or on their own. If they can master an Olly, they will be hooked and you won’t see them for days.So that is our list of the most age appropriate gifts for kids. We thought it might also be helpful to list the most common mistakes made when selecting kid’s gifts.Below are the top 6 things to avoid:
Try to avoid clothing as kids often don’t appreciate these gifts and parents may have a certain style they like for their children. Disappointment is a high probability if you pick something here.
A bargain is often a good buy, but be aware that buying something cheap can leave you feeling awkward on the day the gift is opened.
Unfortunately bigger is usually better particularly for younger kids.
Stick to the recommended age for gifts on the package. They are often there for reasons unknown until you have opened the present.
Remember the batteries for an electric toy. Most toys come with batteries not included.
Re-gifting a bad kid’s gift that your child received, while environmentally friendly, often just passes the problem onto someone else and may leave you with an awkward feeling. More often than not, this is a bad idea.
If you still not sure that what you bought is right, take the receipt with you as a backup. Parents take gifts back all the time. Yours will not be the first one.
Hopefully this list has given you lots of ideas and plenty of tips, so you can select the right kids present that is exciting and minimizes the risk of heading back to the toy store for something else.

When Kids Get Violent – “There’s No Excuse For Abuse”

Violence is the extreme end of aggression. Remember that not all kids who are aggressive become violent. When children and teens use violence to get what they want-whether it’s punching a sibling in the stomach or punching a hole in the wall-it usually involves a scenario where they’re being told “no” to something they want to do, or they’re being told they have to do something they don’t want to do. What actually happens is that the child gets frustrated and angry and hasn’t learned any other way to deal with these feelings than to strike out-often at the adults involved.One way of looking at this is that your child’s frustration, disappointment and anger are problems that he solves by being violent. Another way of looking at this is that the kid’s use of aggression and violence has worked successfully so far. It’s become his primary problem-solving technique and a means for gaining power in the home. When he hears the word “no” and feels frustrated and powerless, he hits someone or something and the adults in the situation back off, give in and don’t require him to comply. Striking out gives him back a sense of power.If kids are gaining power by being violent, the first thing that you have to do is take away the power by not tolerating the violence. Now, there are different levels of violence in people’s houses. And there’s different power that kids get from it. I can’t answer every level of violence in one article, but it should be understood that if it gains power in a family, that family is in a lot of trouble and may need outside help. Violence is a seductive shortcut to power. And once it works, it’s hard to get kids to accept alternative ways of getting power. Many times, parents need a comprehensive behavioral program to manage this problem.As the parent, you have to teach kids problem-solving skills so that they have an alternative way of dealing with these situations and feelings. The following are steps you can take to help your child:Set Limits. Accept no excuse for abuse. Write this on a piece of paper and put it on the refrigerator. Let “There’s no excuse for abuse” become the motto of your household. Hold your child responsible for his or her violent behavior no matter what the justification. Remember, being verbally provoked does not justify a violent response.Hold Kids Accountable and Give Consequences: Make sure there are consequences attached to those limits that you set. And make sure those consequences are set up as learning experiences.Monitor the Media in Your Home: Not all kids can listen to violent rap or metal music and then come down and be nice at dinner. Monitoring and excluding violent media, including TV, videos, music and computer, gives the whole family the theme that violence is not going to be glamorized in your home.Be a Role Model for Your Child: As a parent, you need to be a role model. If you and your spouse are hurting one another or hurting your children to get your way, don’t be surprised if your kids mimic that. Kids watch parents for a living-it’s their job, it’s what they do. If parents model shortcuts and poor problem-solving, it’s natural that the kids are going to follow suit.Let me be very clear: if one parent is behaving violently, it’s the other parent’s job to protect that child. I’ll say it again-accept no excuse for abuse. This is my nice way of saying if you’re locked in a relationship where your partner is being violent with your children, it’s your job to protect your children no matter what the cost to that relationship. There are cases where parents will cross the line into violence when they’re frustrated and angry because the techniques they’re trying with their kids are not working. Sadly, that’s no excuse. Children who are treated violently often grow up to be violent adults.If parents find themselves crossing the line, that’s a sure sign they need outside help. My advice to them is to seek it as soon as possible. Also, parents should understand that if they become violent because their child is unmanageable or out of control, it is still against the law. If there’s a child welfare investigation or they go into court, the parents are going to be blamed for all the kid’s problems whether their violence originally caused the issues or not.Violence in Younger KidsIf you have a younger child who is displaying violent or destructive behavior, think of it as a warning sign. First of all, be very aware of violence in younger children, because kids who are five, six and seven who use violence to get their way have an extraordinarily high rate of being violent as teens and young adults. Violent behavior at this age would include hitting other kids, biting, and kicking on a consistent basis to get what they want. It’s very important to hold young children accountable and to teach them social problem-solving skills they can use to replace violence. With younger children, a system of consequences and rewards that you use consistently can be very helpful in curbing violence. Many kids are under-socialized and need extra patience and teaching to learn these skills.The Threshold between Roughhousing and Violence: When to Draw the LineMany parents know the line between normal roughhousing and physical aggression as well as they know the line between teasing and verbal abuse, and for those parents it’s very simple: listen to your gut reaction. Don’t forget, we’re not trying to figure out where your child thinks the line is, our job is to teach them where the adults think the line is. Kids are excessive and need adults to set limits on both the intensity and frequency of physical roughhousing or verbal teasing. So for those parents, the answer is really simple: If it doesn’t feel right to you, don’t let them do it. A lot of today’s entertainment seems to raise the level of tolerance for violence and abuse in our society, but I don’t think this is a good idea and I don’t think parents should be very tolerant of physical aggression or verbal abuse masquerading as play in their home. By the way, the issue of verbal abuse and threats is also very real, and I intend to address that in an upcoming article.For parents who are uncertain about the threshold between roughhousing and violence, here are some guidelines: If one child wants it to stop, and the other child doesn’t stop, that has crossed the line. It’s not playing if both parties don’t have control over how far it goes. If someone gets hurt it has to stop, even if both parties want it to continue. If the physical roughhousing is in retaliation for something, it should be stopped. If the physical roughhousing is designed to dominate a younger, smaller child, it should be stopped. If the roughhousing is done at the wrong time or in the wrong place, it should be stopped. If parents sense that it crosses the line between playfulness and meanness they need to step in right away. Don’t forget, we’re not judging kids by their motives, we’re judging them by their actions. So if one kid says, “I didn’t mean to hurt my brother or sister,” that’s irrelevant to us as parents. You need to say, “You did hurt your brother, and it has to stop.” Hold them accountable and give them consequences for these behaviors.Kids with Learning Disabilities or DisordersIt also happens that kids with learning disabilities and neurological problems don’t develop the problem-solving skills they need and may also become violent. Remember this: if someone has a disorder such as ADD, ADHD or ODD and manifests trouble dealing with educational material such as math and English, the same learning disability affects their ability to take in non-educational information such as how to accept limits read social situations and solve social problems. Parents should understand that when kids are diagnosed with a learning disability, that same learning disability affects that kid globally, not only academically. What that means is that kids who can’t learn academics because of a learning disability will have trouble dealing with more complex topics like social problem-solving, getting along with others and reading social situations. Keep this important fact in mind: Often, when an adult and a child look at a social scenario, they don’t see the same picture. Children with a learning disability or with behavioral disorders react differently to a situation than adults do, because they perceive and experience that situation very differently.Violent and Destructive Behavior at SchoolWhen your child is behaving violently at school, it’s very important to work with the school to find out as much about the situation with your child as you can. This will help you decide how to respond to the behavior at home. Is there something that triggers your child’s violent or destructive behavior that you can help him learn how to manage? Next, set limits. If your child is violent or destructive in school, there have to be consequences at home. A lot of school misbehavior can be dealt with by just letting the school give consequences, but if violence or destruction is involved, parents have to also hold the child accountable at home. Teach problem-solving skills and connect using those skills with access to privileges. What this means is that the things your child enjoys, like television, video, computer, or cell phone, should all be connected to his or her violent or destructive behavior that day in school. Unfortunately, many kids who are violent in school are also violent at home. So parents may have a double-edged sword that they have to face. If this is the case, parents will need external help in the form of parental training or family therapy to get the support they need.Should I Call the Police?My experience is that the police are most helpful when dealing with pre-teens and teens. Parents may also need to call the police for younger children because the situation has become physically unmanageable. Know that with much younger children, calling the police will not have the impact that it has on older children. The police should be called when parents do not feel they can manage the violence or property destruction that is occurring in the home. I personally would not hesitate to call the police when the crimes of property destruction and violence are committed in my home.I think that services outside the home, such as the police or therapy or social services, will be needed when kids reach the stage of violence. Parents hear horror stories about kids involved with the juvenile justice system and are often afraid to contact them. I’ve found that the wheels of justice turn really slowly. Getting the police involved and pressing charges for violent or destructive behavior is a slow process before the child gets to court. In that time, if that child wants to demonstrate change, he’ll have plenty of opportunity.My experience is the courts do not want to remove kids from their homes. The government simply does not want to pay for the care and treatment of children who can be managed in their homes, and they will look for any viable alternative. Sometimes this can mean that services which the family cannot afford are provided through the courts or social services. A colleague of mine encourages parents to call police when things are calm to get an idea of what the authorities will do if they’re called into a violent situation. I think this is a good idea. Also, parents must understand two things: first, violence and destructive behavior is a blatant sign that the child cannot solve the problem appropriately, and is not responding to parental authority. At this point, a more powerful authority may be needed to maintain appropriate behavioral limits. Secondly, violent and destructive behavior becomes criminalized and gets teens and adults into severe legal trouble. The earlier a successful intervention is made, whether using outside authorities, treatment or education, the more it enhances the chance that the child will change and save himself and others a lot of grief.”Is There Hope for My Violent Child?”Of course there is hope. But hope is a tricky word. I believe hope without an observable change in behavior or action is misguided. Parents can hope for change in all kids, but if change doesn’t happen in the home, my experience is that that hope is fruitless. If you have a child or a teen who is using violence to get their way, you need help to learn how to do something about it. There are behavioral management programs which are available to parents, as well as cognitive behaviorally-oriented therapists who can work with families. Without outside help or intervention, my experience is that excessive hope is unfounded.