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
Morning – the most important part of the day but sometimes also the most stressful. Let’s face it, if we have a hectic morning full of chaos, it can ruin or at least put a damper on the rest of the day. If you’re tired of having to nag the kids to get ready for school, frantic last minute searches for car keys or lost homework, and feeling like you are always running late then you need these tips for calming the morning chaos!
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Tip #1: Plan and Prepare
The number one most important thing you can do to make the morning run smoothly is to spend a little time each evening preparing for the next day. Take time to ask your kids for any papers that need to be signed and returned to school and check for important school event dates. Keep a family calendar where everyone can see it and add events, activities, & appointments and check the calendar each evening for the next day so everyone knows what to expect. Post it where you and your kids can see it and add activities and important dates as needed.
Also, make sure kids are going to bed early enough to get a good night’s rest so they are easier to wake up in the morning. That also goes for mom and dad too – if you don’t get enough rest, it will be much harder to get going the next day.
Tip #2: Prepare for Lunch the Night Before
You can also save time by packing lunchboxes the night before. If it needs to be kept cold, put it in the refrigerator. Packing a lunch the night before allows more time for kids to choose what they want to take and for parents to make a healthier lunch than pre-packaged boxed lunches. If they are eating the school lunches, check the lunch menu frequently so there are no last minute requests to take a lunch when they don’t like what the school is serving.
Kids can do many things themselves to help tame the morning chaos if they have a morning routine to follow.
Tip #3: Post a Routine for the Family to Follow
First, post a routine of all the steps each kids needs to do to get ready for school. For kids too young to read, you can use pictures.
Tip #4: Choose Outfits the Night Before
Each night have them pick out their outfits for the next day, including underwear, socks and shoes. Put these all together and ready to go for morning. Lay them out on a chair or put them all together on one hanger for each child using a plastic baggie to hold underwear and socks. If they have dresser drawers instead, you could fold and stack outfits together instead of separating shirts, pants, etc.
Tip #5: Create a Launch Pad
Finally, have your kids create a “launch pad” where each night they can put everything they need for school in one place and ready to go out the door the next morning. If possible, have it near the door you will leave out of each morning. This will eliminate those last minute searches for any needed items.Pin It
All of our children will be faced with confrontation. Whether it is in school, their neighborhood, college, work, even in marriage, as they are older. It is important to prepare them to deal with confrontation now.
Start talking to your children when they are young. When appropriate, find ways to bring up the subject of bullying so conversations can ensure.
Don’t just talk, listen. Our children will drop little hints when there are bullying problems. We will miss the cues if we don’t actively listen to what they are saying.
Role-play with your children. THIS IS A MUST! Give your children different scenarios and teach them how to handle the situations. (“What do you do if someone calls you a name…takes your backpack…etc)”. Answers to these questions are going to be slightly different for each family, depending on how you want to handle things in your own house. There are some things about the answers that will be the same:
- Responses should be confident, direct, and void of emotion. (Emotion conveys weakness). Children should speak with their bodies as well as their mouths. Shoulders back, standing straight and tall, using a firm voice.
- Instead of “…that hurts my feelings… the response should be “…knock it off”.
- Instead of “I don’t like that…the response should be…quit it”
- So much of successful response to bullying is in the delivery. Practice directness, confidence, and strong body language.
- Go through each situation and teach them what to say and do. It will empower them, and when they are faced with bullying they wont be as intimidated because they will have had experience and practiced what to do. They will know just how to respond if necessary. This also gives your family the opportunity to teach your morals and values when handling these types of situations.
Talk to your children about conflict resolution. Talk to them about managing their anger, communicating, compromise and being patient. This is done through role-play and everyday situations. As conflict happens in your home between siblings, use it to teach. Be sure that as adults, we are being good examples of conflict resolution also.
Talk to your children about violence. Fighting is not the answer. Teach your children that it is not okay to fight, UNLESS there is a need to stand up for them selves in self-defense. They should know that if they need to defend themselves because they are being, or going to be physically attacked, then they do. And, that if they do have to fight in self-defense that you will understand and not get mad at them because things turned physical.
Research teaches us that helping our children build their self-confidence is one the best defenses against bullying. By talking to our children about conflict and role-playing challenging situations, we can build our children’s self confidence so they feel more prepared when faced with bullyingPin It
As a nursing student I had to sit through more than one nutrition class and frankly, I found them boring. I know healthy nutrition is important and understanding about all the different components of food and how they affect the body is a part of learning to make wise nutritional choices. But still, I wished for a better, more entertaining way to learn about eating healthy foods versus eating junk foods and what makes a food healthy or bad for you.
Enter a new app from Field Fresh Apps, LLC called My Food Fight!
The Field Fresh Apps website describes their new app this way:
“MY FOOD FIGHT!® is a fun interactive journey to combat the health enemies that we each encounter daily. Focused on nutrient density in food, players are rewarded for their consumption of high nutrient dense and organic foods.”
Great for kids and adults alike, this app is a game that rewards healthy food choices and makes learning fun! The creators, Eric Quick & Roger Cardoza wanted kids to learn how food affects health and impacts our lives. What better way to make it interesting and entertaining than to create an educational game app? Best of all, it’s free!
Currently the My Food Fight! app is only available for Apple devices but I believe they are working on an Android version too. Check it out and let me know what you think. And if your kids are getting bored during summer vacation, give them this game and they’ll be having so much fun they won’t even know they are learning!