Looking for ways to keep your kids busy and entertained during summer vacation? Consider volunteering as a family. There are many opportunities available for adults and kids to volunteer together to support a cause or make a difference in the lives of others.
Volunteerism has many benefits for families and especially for children. Spending time volunteering as a family promotes togetherness and family bonding as you all work towards a common goal. Through helping others, kids learn selflessness, compassion, empathy and responsibility. They may also learn more about the world around them and the rich diversity of our society. Volunteering can also teach new skills and give kids the opportunity to share their talents and abilities.
When my kids were younger, they enjoyed creating cards and pictures for hospice patients. A family friend is a hospice social worker and would deliver their creations to her patients. The patients loved them and it made them feel good that someone was thinking of them and cared about them in their time of need. My children felt good because they were bringing some joy into the life of someone who was in distress. My oldest also spent 3 years volunteering at a therapeutic horse riding facility that worked with children with disabilities and special needs. The experience of volunteering with these children inspired my child to learn sign language to better communicate with the children who were hearing impaired. It was an amazing experience that taught my child many lessons; such as, looking past disabilities to discover a person’s abilities, empathy, responsibility for the children and taking care of the horses, communication, teamwork, and much more. Our family has also enjoyed volunteering at a local food bank packing boxes for Christmas for children in third world countries. It was a good way for our kids to learn appreciation and gratitude for all the things in their lives they took for granted.
Volunteering can also be a therapeutic way to help children cope after a tragedy or disaster. Here in my home state of Oklahoma, we’ve been hit hard by several devastating tornadoes and severe storms in the past couple of weeks. The destruction and loss of life has left many feeling anxious, sad, and helpless. I was feeling that way myself and it helped me greatly to go volunteer to help victims. While children may not be able to help with clean up efforts after a natural disaster, they can volunteer in many other ways. For example, a preteen girl in Tulsa has partnered with Build-a-Bear to raise funds to give bears to children whose homes were destroyed. Some young girls had a lemonade stand to raise money for storm victims. A teenage boy has started a book drive for the two elementary schools that were hit by the Moore, Oklahoma tornado. These are just a few ways kids are getting involved and volunteering their time and abilities to help. Volunteering can help kids feel less anxious and give them a sense of empowerment and community in times of tragedy. It can also help them learn what happened and show them how people come together in times of trouble to care for each other, which may offer them some reassurance and comfort.
I was asked last week to speak on this topic on Fox 23′s Great Day Green Country show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here I share more tips for volunteering as a family:
If you want to volunteer as a family in your area but aren’t sure where to start, check out VolunteerMatch.org for opportunities for all ages.Pin It
Whether you call it potty training, toilet training, or toilet learning, teaching a child to use the toilet instead of diapers is a big task for both the parents and one that can cause a lot of frustration if you aren’t prepared ahead of time. MomRN recently shared several tips for potty training success on Great Day Green Country (Fox 23, Tulsa).
First, you should have plenty of patience and time! Some kids learn quickly, others need a long time to learn, so don’t rush it! They will learn eventually, trust me!
When to start potty training
Most kids are developmentally ready to start training somewhere between 22 and 30 months of age. Every child is different though so look for these signs that your child is ready to start the process:
- Your child is interested in using the potty or in wearing underwear
- Your child is able to tell you when she’s about to pee or poop, or shows signs that she is going
- Your child wants to be changed right after going in his diaper
- Your child is able to stay dry for at least 2 hours at a time
- Your child is able to walk to the bathroom on her own, pull her pants down and sit on a potty chair or climb up on a toilet
Even before a child is developmentally ready to start, you can do some pre-training by talking about using the potty as you are changing a diaper. Kids learn best by example, so your toddler can watch you or the other parent or an older sibling use the potty. Pretending to have a doll go potty is also a great way to introduce the concept.
A potty chair that sits on the floor is ideal, so your child can easily sit on it without assistance. If you prefer to use a potty seat that fits on top of a regular toilet seat, make sure you have a step stool to help them climb up and down and to rest their feet on, as it will help your child feel more secure and comfortable. There are some great potty training books and DVDs you can share with your child to help him learn. I used Toilet Training in Less Than a Day by Drs. Nathan Azrin and Richard M. Foxx and found it very helpful when my oldest child was a toddler. I did not follow it exactly and chose to spread out the process longer than a day, but I used many of their suggestions and the process went pretty smoothly, so I used it again for my youngest child. We also had a potty training video called It’s Potty Time by Learning Through Entertainment, Inc and Duke University Medical Center. It had fun songs and skits about potty training and my kids and the children in my daycare loved it. It is available on DVD now and I highly recommend it.
“Big Boy” or “Big Girl” underwear with your child’s favorite cartoon characters or other fun designs can make potty training more appealing. Cheerios can be used as “targets” for little boys to help them learn to aim and to make potty training fun. There are also flushable targets you can buy in bright colors and fun shapes. Stickers or other small rewards can be used to encourage your child to go to the potty. A doll that drinks a bottle and “wets” can also help teach your child.
When to wait or stop the training process
If you and/or your child are getting too frustrated or upset over the potty training process, you may need to put it on hold and wait a few weeks, then try again. Otherwise it could become a big control issue or battle of wills and may take much longer for your child to become potty trained. It’s also not a good idea to start potty training during a stressful time in your child’s life, such as a move, divorce, or the birth of a sibling. It’s better to wait until things are more stable. And setbacks and regression are common if stressful events occur after a child has been potty trained. Be patient and understanding if that occurs. If you are concerned about your child’s potty training problems, consult with your pediatrician or family doctor.Pin It
The bond between mother and child gets a lot of attention, but what about the ties between fathers and their children? Research out of Pennsylvania State University and the University of California has shown that father-child interactions are central to everything from a child’s ability to regulate emotionally to the capacity to maintain strong, fulfilling social relationships later in life. Here, simple ways for dads to get closer to their sons and daughters.
Show Your Love
Mothers and fathers provide different kinds of physical stimulation and comfort, and those differences help kids stretch their capacities both emotionally and physically. But physical connection isn’t just about wrestling on the floor or playing catch; it’s about showing your child how much you care. Hugs and kisses for younger kids, arm around the shoulder or pat on the back for older ones — physical contact make kids feel loved. “Saying I love you is not enough,” says child psychologist Steven Richfield, author of The Parent Coach: A New Approach to Parenting in Today’s Society. “Demonstrating that in heartfelt ways — with tangible physical displays of affection — is very important.”
Engaging in a ritualized activity with your child day after day, month after month, lets your child feel loved and special. Ethan Barker of Farmington, Mich., plays a pretend game he calls “Let’s Go” with his daughter most nights before he puts her to bed. “She became interested in the globe in her room, and so we made up a game where we spin it and pretend we are going to go wherever our finger points when the globe stops spinning,” he says. “We have a make-believe suitcase, and talk about what we’d like to bring and what we might do when we get there. She really gets excited about it each night, and so do I.”
Find Your Inner Child
“Fathers can have closer relationships with their kids if they’re willing to regress in the service of the relationship,” says Dr. Richfield. “They need to have a real capacity to enter the child’s world.” With younger kids that may mean playing make-believe or singing silly songs; with older ones it might be playing video games or watching music videos. It’s not enough to stand back and watch; you need to get involved in whatever’s capturing your child’s attention and imagination.
Hit the Books
While mothers purchase upwards of 90 percent of the parenting literature, fathers could benefit from some book learning as well. “You have to do a little reading. I think fathers are in the dark, especially during the first six or so years,” says Dr. Richfield. “You have to become educated to develop a bond with your child. Learning what boys and girls need at any given age — and these needs are pretty much the same for both sexes when they’re young — helps fathers become closer to their kids. To be able to give them what they desire, you really have to know about their world.”
This topic is one of my favorite opportunities for laughing at myself. My first mistake was asking my older two children to meet our new baby at the hospital. Not only did they not want to go, they begged their father either to send back the baby or to leave us both at the hospital. Right away, I learned the value of letting the older siblings have their own feelings rather than forcing mine upon them. It was either that or knowing that they would act out in ways I’d rather not imagine. After all, what was in it for them? They now had to share a room, as well as the time and attention of their tired and cranky parents.
My challenge was to convince them that while having a new sister was non-negotiable, they could have some adventure along the way. They arranged and decorated their new room in an outlandish manner, complete with “BABY KEEP OUT” signs and booby traps, since baby couldn’t read. Their father logged in overtime on surprise excursions that Mom would never have approved of and that Baby would never enjoy. They acquired extra paid jobs around the house. They got special individual time with both of us, and we still managed to keep up with their busy lives. Luckily, their sister was irresistible and won them over in no time.
Nothing cures the common cold, so the best you can do is relieve the cough, sore throat and stuffy nose that come with it. But you don’t need to buy over-the-counter products — and shouldn’t in the case of children, who may have serious, even life-threatening reactions. The jury is still out on zinc and Vitamin C, but many of the homemade cold remedies your grandmother used to push really do help relieve cold symptoms. Here are a few to try the next time you get stuffed up:
A nice cup of tea is more than just soothing when you’ve got a nasty cold. It can provide immediate and lasting relief from all of the major cold symptoms — runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chills and fatigue — according to a 2008 study from Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre.
Drinking fluids won’t flush the cold virus out of your system, but it will help loosen congestion and prevent dehydration, according to the Mayo Clinic. Water, juice, clear broth, and warm lemon water with honey are good options.
Research has shown that honey has properties that fight bacteria, but it works wonders on viral cough symptoms, too. A 2007 study by Pennsylvania State University’s department of pediatrics found that children with coughs due to colds experienced less coughing and better sleep when they ate small amounts of honey before bedtime. (Note: Honey is not safe for children under 2.)
Gargling three times a day with warm salt water can temporarily reduce sore-throat pain, according to a study in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine. (It also cuts your chance of getting a bacterial infection by 40%.) Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water.
Spicy Food and Antacids
Dishes that contain hot peppers or horseradish may help clear sinuses, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. And if they should happen to give you indigestion, a teaspoon of liquid antacid can do double-duty as another of our homemade cold remedies. In addition to soothing your heartburn, it can help soothe sore throats due to post-nasal drip by coating the throat and neutralizing the acids in mucous.
Yup, it works … and science has discovered why. Chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties that stop the movement of white blood cells called neutrophils. Neutrophilic activity causes the release of mucous, according to research by University of Nebraska Medical Center. So it’s no wives’ tale that Grandma’s favorite recipe really does soothe sore throats and other cold-related ailments — at least as well as anything from the store would.