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Welcome to the July 2016
“News for Parents”
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PARENTING PRESS NEWS FOR PARENTS
Skill building books and ideas for parents, children, and teachers
- WHAT’S NEW?
- COMING ATTRACTIONS
- Summer’s Not Over Yet!
- Preparing for New School Responsibilities
I. WHAT’S NEW?
Temperament: What Is It?
When school’s out and families often spend more time together, our different temperaments sometimes become very, very obvious. “Where did he get that temper from?” you may wonder, or “Amazing how persistent she’s become all of a sudden.” Visits with extended family occasionally also result in criticism of your parenting, as if it’s the cause of a child’s clinginess or fearfulness.
It’s true that how a child is nurtured—by family members, teachers and others in the community—can affect how he behaves, but it’s important to recognize that temperament is inborn. “Children differ from birth, and they remain different,” emphasizes Helen Fowler Neville, the pediatric nurse and temperament specialist who wrote Temperament Tools: Working with Your Child’s Inborn Traits (Rev. Ed.).
Understand, she says, that some babies are very sensitive to clothing texture, to flavors and to temperature. Some are intense, others calm. As they grow, they may be persistent, or easily frustrated; some will be shy, others outgoing, curious and fearless. Cultures—even some families within the same culture—differ in which traits they support and which they discourage.
Neville encourages parents and caregivers to strive to understand children’s temperaments and to work with the inborn traits rather than against them. She also explains how events in a child’s life—an illness, a developmental stage, a reaction to personal, family or social stress—can affect temperament and cause unexpected behavior. These are times when parenting will require more work.
Although temperament sometimes seems to change over time, researchers now believe that while inborn traits do not change, children can learn to manage them better. With appropriate parenting and guidance at school, for example, the emotionally intense child will learn to use words rather than hit or bite. “Experience is also important,” says Neville. “Many toddlers who are cautious or shy are much less so by elementary school, because so much more of the world is familiar.” And, of course, they may demonstrate caution later, when there are more significant life changes, such as the transition to a very large middle or high school, or the question of where to attend college.
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Sharpening Small Motor Skills as School Prep
If you have a child who’s heading to preschool or kindergarten in the fall, or one whose last report card mentioned a weakness with small motor skills, summer is a terrific time to introduce activities that will pay off come next semester. And they can be fun, too!
Using scissors is a skill that some parents say is the most challenging, so why not create a blizzard of paper snowflakes? Fold a sheet of paper in half, and give kids a cardboard template to trace around and then cut out. Start very, very simple, and then progress to paper with more folds and more intricate patterns. Your flakes don’t have to be white—use colored paper, newspaper, and pages from the catalogs that probably show up in your mailbox. Everyone’s favorite flakes can be saved in an informal mobile: use clothes pins to attach them to wire clothes hangers that are suspended from door handles or picture hanging hooks.
For just as much fun with scissors, show kids how to make simple paper chains—hearts, trees, houses, perhaps. Chains of paper dolls can start out with legs, arms and heads and then add pigtails, top hats, coats or skirts. Once cut out, they can be colored or painted.
To also help kids learn to grasp and pinch pencils, pick up some simple dot-to-dot and maze books or download puzzle sheets from the Internet. Kids can both trace images in their favorite picture books with lightweight paper, and color in worksheets available on many websites. By using large, simple stencils, they can also practice guiding a pencil.
Older preschool kids and those of kindergarten age can probably also use large sewing or craft needles to “embroider” crochet thread or lightweight yarn onto shapes you’ve already outlined with pencil on sturdy construction paper, lightweight cardboard or lightweight fabric that’s clamped in an embroidery hoop. With young children it’s wise to supervise use of needles. The same goes for use of hammers, if you have some large-headed nails and scraps of soft wood that kids can pound together.
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Online Safety for Parents and Kids
How much do you know about what your kids are doing online? If they’re toddlers or preschoolers, you probably know what games they’re playing on your phone or their own iPad. But what about your slightly older kids who are using social media? (Yes, the websites do ask them to verify that they’re at least 13, but most of us recognize there are workarounds for that requirement.)
As parents, we at News for Parents are also concerned about what gets posted to social media sites maintained by school classrooms and clubs, soccer associations, baseball teams, scout troops, by the parents snapping photos at the birthday parties and other events they host for their kids and their kids’ friends—even by your relatives, proud to show off videos of the gymnastics competition or the latest cute baby photos.
That’s why we were pleased to receive a copy of Outsmarting Your Kids Online: A Safety Handbook for Overwhelmed Parents, by Amber Mac and Michael Bazzell (outsmartingyourkidsonline.com). It has the usual horrific stories about social media posts that have gone viral and resulted in abuse, injury or death; they are too common, but still rare. For those of us who aren’t cyber-sleuths, what is especially valuable about this new book are the how-to’s for online research. These tips can be used when you’re monitoring what your kids are doing online, what their friends are doing, and what kind of groups the kids are involved in, both online and in the real world. If you’re concerned about a coach, youth group leader, class chaperone or the parent of one of your child’s friends—or someone you’re considering as a babysitter or nanny—you’ll also find Mac and Bazzell’s advice helpful.
For example, you may have tried typing someone’s name into the Facebook.com search box. Especially when names are common, you’re unlikely to be able to quickly see everyone who has a Facebook account in that name. (Remember, many people use aliases, misspelled versions of their names, or only their first and middle names. And some have multiple profiles.) So do as Mac and Bazzell recommend with a custom website address. The example they use is for someone named Tom Johnson: www.facebook.com/search/str/tomjohnson/users-named. Of course, you’ll replace “tomjohnson” with the name of the individual you’re researching. (You’ll need to be logged into Facebook to use this example.)
The News for Parents crew sticks to basic business posts on Twitter, so we also appreciated how Outsmarting Your Kids Online spells out such terms as geotagging and how mentions can result in the poster being engaged in an online conversation with whoever (or whatever organization or brand) was mentioned. The chapter “Twitter concerns” also provides how-to’s for searching what your child may have deleted from the post history, if by chance he or she is trying to hide something from you.
You’ll find a similar introduction to Instagram, such online video sites as Vine, the privacy issues with online streaming, and Snapchat. Besides tips on monitoring what your kids are doing, or what is posted with their names, addresses or photos, the authors provide resources for reporting predators, scams, bullying and other abuse. And, on a positive note, they also list sites and apps your family may enjoy, from those created by Sesame Street and Bill Nye to news sites appropriate for different ages.
Overall, we’re impressed! We’re glad to recommend this up-to-date guide to the ever-changing technology that now so often dominates the lives of both adults and children. Especially if you’re not tech-savvy, Outsmarting Your Kids Online provides both an overview and the specific URLs to use in your research.
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Tips for the month
Each Saturday, Parenting Press posts a new parenting tip and the previous week’s tip is moved to the archive. If you’d like the tips emailed to you each week, just let us know with a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you put “Weekly tips” in your subject line and include the email to which the tips should be sent.
This month, with school vacation in full swing, kids may be begging for more freedom, and parents may be struggling with the gaps in supervision that often result from summer programs that start after parents leave for work and end before they arrive home. That’s why we’ve selected some tips about safety from our archive.
July 2 — Commonly-Held Beliefs That Put Our Children at Risk
July 9 — Monitoring Your Child’s Cyber Safety
July 16 — Teach Your Child Fire Safety
July 23 — Making Abuse Prevention Part of Your Everyday Parenting
July 30 — Teaching children safety skills
Family Fun Ideas — Sand Castles and Food Trucks
Food trucks have gotten fancy and mainstream! No longer confined to industrial parks for coffee breaks and pre-packaged lunches, food trucks show up at farmers’ markets, street fairs and even wedding receptions. And menus are fabulously varied, too: fish tacos, stir-fry, and crepes as well as more traditional fast food. Even better, some park near beaches, so you can eat there after spending a day in the sand, building castles and moats, guiding driftwood bits down ditches your kids dig in the sand and watching sand crabs, gulls, ducks and geese.
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Community Service — Independence Day Events
Our goal with this column is to suggest ways that you can model the concept of sharing and giving back to your community. Children also learn to work as part of a team. There are practical advantages to community service, too. Kids can use these projects to meet school or youth group requirements for community service and to start building resumes that they’ll use when applying for first jobs or college. You’ll find dozens of ideas for family-appropriate community service projects in our downloadable book Teaching Your Kids to Give Back and our Qwik Sheet Community Service for Kids.
This month, consider asking your neighborhood or community groups whether they need help with Fourth of July celebrations. If there’s a parade, perhaps the sponsors need help at the registration desk, or with clean-up (especially if there will be mounted drill teams or the sheriff’s posse). In some communities, civic groups sponsor pancake breakfasts or barbecues, and older kids can be helpful in posting signs, setting tables, keeping trash bins empty and cleaning up afterward.
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Special of the month — Coping with Symptoms of Autism
This special has expired.
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