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Family traditions

With the holiday season fast approaching, many families will be thinking about their family traditions. Traditions are meant to be passed through the generations, of course, but they have to start somewhere. If your family could use some new traditions, check out The New Book of Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Everyday. As the title suggests, these aren’t all big traditions that require a lot of work. Some are traditions that only take a minute or two but are meant for everyday. One of the traditions my family adopted was talking about what we are thankful for or happy about – not just for Thanksgiving, but at every meal. My kids are young, so they just call the ritual “Good things.” Each person (even my 19 month old!) says one good thing that has happened or will happen that day. For my son, it might be playing with a friend. For my daughter, it is often dancing. It’s a great practice to get into, and we started it because I flipped through this book. Well, I flipped through it digitally. I downloaded a copy of it from the Sunflower eLibrary through Manhattan Public Library. (Ask a staff member if you want help downloading ebooks.) The library also has it available in print.

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Understanding thankfulness

It’s the season to talk about and celebrate thankfulness, but how can we help instill a grateful attitude in our young children when our culture often promotes self satisfaction and instant gratification?  The Zero to Three website is an excellent resource for knowledge and advice.  Their article on Raising a Thankful Child has some good tips, such as not giving a child too many gifts at birthday parties and holidays, and helping others within your community to encourage empathy and giving with hands on experiences.  Reading books about the topic can help children understand the concept of thankfulness beyond the usual prompting they get from parents to have good manners (“And what do we say when someone gives us something? That’s right, thank you.”)  Some from our collection that I like are The Most Thankful Thing by Lisa McCourt, The Thankful Book by Todd Parr, and Thank You, World by Alice McGinty.  Some books to spark discussion about gratefulness or generosity include A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams, Stone Soup (multiple authors), The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, A Castle on Viola Street by DyAnne DiSalvo, or All the World by Elizabeth Scanlon. 

 

 

 

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Tips for new kindergarteners and their parents

A few tips from Parents’ Press about those exciting,  but stressful first few weeks of school:

“Entering kindergarten is a big step, and children know it.  Even children who have attended preschool sense that starting “real school” is not only important, but also different from their past learning experiences.  Children who have not attended preschool face their first separation from home and family, an adjustment to a whole new world without on-the-spot parental support.

Some children are eager to get on with it, while others find the occasion overwhelming to the point of tears.  All children, however, are a little nervous.  Parents’ support and understanding of the magnitude of this milestone in their children’s lives can go a long way toward making the first year of school a positive experience.  According to child development experts, parents play an important role in shaping a child’s attitude toward school now and in the years to come.  A balance of enthusiasm and matter-of-fact acceptance is your goal.

Children are filled with questions about school. Answer all your child’s questions honestly and in as much detail as possible.  Sharing details can curb a child’s anxiety and help him or her cope with the stress.

If possible, visit the school with your child before opening day.  Some schools offer an orientation session for new students.  Meet your child’s teacher if possible, and walk through the school hallways.  Show your child the lunchroom, the principal’s office, and of course, the bathrooms.  If you can’t visit while the building is open, at leasat walk around the school and let your child investigate the playground.  Share your own memories of kindergarten. If your child will go to an after-school program (even if just across the school yard), walk over the route ahead of time, and visit if possible.

Start the “school day” routine about a week before classes begin, with early bedtime, awakening, dressing, and breakfast.

Remember that entering kindergarten is stressful.  Plan extra quiet time and rest for the first month; keep family activities simple and familiar.  Try not to begin other new activities and classes during this time.  More free play time at home helps to balance the more structured environment at school.

Review the kindergarten day’s schedule with your child.  Make sure your child knows where to meet you after school, or how to go to his after-school program.  Make sure your child understands basic traffic safety rules and follows them.

Make it a point to get to know your child’s teacher and the school.  Ask about current and upcoming activities, and plan to attend parent-teacher conferences.  Volunteer to help in the classroom and get involved with the parent-teacher organization; if you can’t get away from work, ask about other ways you can help.

When the time comes to say “goodbye” for the first time, go!  Give a final hug or kiss, a reminder that you will be back by a certain time, and a firm goodbye.  Some children do cry and cling when it comes time for a parent to leave, but it seldom helps to stretch out the goodbyes.”  For a humorous take on the first day of kindergarten, check out Mrs. Beekman Go Home by Anne  Redisch Stampler.

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Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children by Tom Sturges

This book puts an interesting spin on the sometimes difficult world of parenting. Topics vary from trying new things to having simple manners. From these 76 rules, children will learn more from, behave for, and respect you. This book uses simple strategies like “smiling when your child walks into the room” to encourage children to be the best they can be, while, at the same time letting Parking Lot Rulesthem know that you, as a parent, will always be cheering for them. These parking lot rules offer great parenting suggestions for your already busy and hectic life.

 

Reviewed by Brian

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Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky Bailey

Easy to loveLet’s be honest here. Every child goes through a stage (or five) where they are easy to love, but difficult to discipline. Every parent gets tired and stressed and just wants the kids to cooperate. Here are some strategies for how to make that happen.

As much as I would love to say that it offers some magic words that will turn a tantruming three year old into an angel, it doesn’t work quite that easily. First the parents have to stop having tantrums. Most adults don’t think they have tantrums, but they do. It just looks different. Instead of screaming, they say, “Right now, Mister! I mean it!” Instead of kicking their feet, they point and shake their fingers. If parents can’t handle their anger and stress without a tantrum, how do they expect to teach their child to do it?

Bailey offers insight into what skills you need to help yourself and then to help your child. You can’t teach skills you don’t have, and you won’t get cooperation if you don’t offer it to the child first. I’m starting to use the ideas and skills with my family, and I am already seeing some positive changes. Yes, I had to carry my three year old out of the library tonight hanging upside down, but that was better than carrying him out kicking and screaming. I offered him several silly options for leaving the library (hopping? waddling? upside down?), and that little bit of control got him to cooperate.

I’m hoping that as I practice the skills I will become a better parent to my children. That is my real goal, after all – not to leave the library at the exact minute I planned, but to have a better relationship with my children.

reviewed by Jessica

 

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Using Books to Help Talk about Anger

I Was So Mad by Mercer MayerIt can be difficult to deal with a child who is feeling very angry, but every child gets that way sometimes.  It’s helpful to allow children to talk about or imitate angry feelings when they are not in the heat of the moment.  Choose a book like Little Critter’s I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayor or That Makes Me Mad by Steven Kroll to read at a time when everyone is feeling happy or content.  As you read, you can ask your child how the characters in the book are feeling. Ask them, why do you think he feels that way? How can you tell he is mad?  What would you do if that happened to you?  But keep the conversation light – it’s not necessary to relate the story back to the child’s actual experiences or to use it to teach the child the “right way” to respond. Children might have fun acting out the story afterwards, giving them a chance to pretend to be mad when they are not.

No one likes to feel like they have lost control of themselves, and yet that often happens to children (and adults) when they get very angry.  SWhen Sophie Gets Angry by Molly Bangome books about this more intense angry feeling include When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang and Angry Dragon by Thierry Robberecht.  Reading these stories during a calm time can open the door for children to talk about how they feel when they get that mad.  If children cannot put words to those feelings, it’s a great time to bring out some paper and markers.  Allow children to draw what it feels like to be angry, to be happy, to be sad, etc.  Then give them the chance to talk about their pictures if they want to.  Both of these books use a lot of red to represent anger. Ask your child about his/her color choices, wavy lines versus straight lines, etc.  It doesn’t have to relate back to emotions, but sometimes it is surprising what children will reveal when they describe their artwork.

My son’s preschool teacher turned me on to Becky Bailey’s website about “conscious discipline” and her humorous videos under the Managing Emotional Mayhem section that show both bad and good ways to respond to a child’s emotional outbursts. In the end, each video gives an example of a parent “coaching” her child through the emotional experience – being present, coaching the child with her feelings and finding a helpful solution.   Her newest book, Managing Emotional Mayhem, is on order for the library and should be here soon. Jane Nelson’s positive discipline series is another popular choice for parenting without “blame, shame or pain” and recognizing emotions as a normal and important part of ourselves.

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Working Mother magazine

We recently added a new magazine subscription at the library, Working Mother. Articles focus on ways to balance your time between family and work, tips for dealing with situations with your kids, teachers, spouse or boss, and a variety of other related issues.

In the first issue we received, I enjoyed “The Almost Perfect Mom,” which set out some realistic goals for working moms who feel almost perfect but not quite, and reminded us not to compare ourselves to our own mothers and what they seemed to do perfectly.  In the regular “LOL” column titled “Sick Day,”contributing writer Kari Richardson lamented the paradox of wanting to care for sick children and not wanting to miss important work opportunities.  “We long to be close to pour ginger ale and whisper soothing words, even as we dread emailing the boss that we can’t make it in today…again.”  She ended with an experience when an executive in her company cut a meeting short so she could go home to take care of her daughter. “It’s nice to know some things are as universal as the common cold.”

Amidst the usual ads, recipes and quippy pieces that accompany all magazines for females, this one appears to have some funny, pertinent and useful content for moms who split their time and energy between job and family.

Working Mother magazine will be housed in the Children’s Room in our Parents’ Shelf section, which is a really useful nook to know about.  Other magazines in this corner of the room include Homeschooling Today, Mailbox (“the idea magazine for teachers”), Parenting, Adoptive Families, Family Fun, Fit Pregnancy and more.

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Learning to Bake Allergen Free

Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts
By Colette Martin

My kids have a lot of food allergies. Really, you don’t want to know how many. This book has been useful for me not only for recipes of *what* to bake, but also for teaching me *how* to bake. I was never a baker before my kids were diagnosed with food allergies. I never thought twice about using white flour and eggs for cookies. Then my son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, but wheat wasn’t among them. While I had a lot to learn, my baking wasn’t too different. Just use Ener-G egg replacer and a milk alternative and the rest of the recipe would be fine. But then my daughter was born. My sweet girl had hives on the first day of her life, and so began my real food allergy challenge.

Suddenly I had to figure out how to make my own bread with gluten free flours and starches. Many gluten free recipes wouldn’t work because of her long list of other foods she’s allergic to. I had to substitute for the substitutes. My rolls could pass as hockey pucks. My breads never rose properly. I was baffled at what I was doing wrong. People have told me that baking is an art, but it seemed like you would have to be Picasso to pull off allergen-free baking!

Then I opened Learning to Bake Allergen-Free. It has recipes, of course, and they’re really good recipes. Equally as important for me, though, is that it has explanations. How to get your bread to rise correctly. Why you have to use xanthan or guar gum. What to do if Ener-G egg replacer isn’t an option (hello, corn allergy!). The first section of the book is dedicated to how to replace certain ingredients. The second section is full of recipes and “Crash Courses” on different baking topics. She also talks about the many gluten-free mixes on the market and how to use them

The first recipe I tried was Basic White Bread. It was good! So good, in fact, that my son kept snatching pieces of it off the counter while it was cooling – something he usually reserves for cookies! Other recipes vary from pizza crust to muffins to scones to cakes.

If you are struggling with food allergies or intolerances – one or many – this book is definitely worth your time. And if you really just need somebody to talk to about it, come find me in the children’s room!

reviewed by Jessica

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Beyond the Sling

Beyond the Sling: A Real-life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way
by Mayim Bialik

Attachment parenting has gotten a lot of mixed press lately. Many people are confused about what it entails, what effect it has on kids, and what effect it has on parents. Mayim Bialik offers an open, honest view of what attachment parenting looks like in their family. She states upfront that she isn’t implying that the reader needs to follow all the ideas and that they may not work for every family and situation. She is merely saying, “This is what works for us.”

Mayim Bialik is best known for her acting – she was Blossom as a teen and is now Dr. Amy Fowler on Big Bang Theory. Her celebrity may be why many people pick up the book, but unlike many celebrities who write books, she actually is an expert on the topic. After her teen acting career, she pursued a PhD in neuroscience with a focus on attachment. What she learned through those studies convinced her that attachment parenting is the best way to raise children. When her own children were born, Bialik returned to acting so she could have a more flexible schedule.

It was refreshing for me to read a parenting book that didn’t come across as “if you don’t do this, your kids will be messed up and telling their therapists all about it as adults.” So many parenting books claim to know what’s best for your family. Mayim Bialik only claims to know what’s best for *her* family. She acknowledges that her life looks a lot different than most people’s lives, but says she doesn’t have a nanny, cook, maid or any significant hired help. Most of the ideas in the book could be used, at least to some extent, by any family, if they so choose. (But she won’t be reporting you if you choose not to!)

reviewed by Jessica

 

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Transitioning to a “Big” Kid Bed

Bye-bye Crib

Moving from a crib to a “big” bed can be a big change for little ones.  Here’s some advice on knowing when the time has come and how to make it easier for your child.

Some clues that your child is ready for a toddler bed are if your child is climbing out of the crib, if your child is being potty trained, if your child is too big for the crib, if your child asks to sleep in a big bed.

There are some things you can do to help your child get excited about moving out of the crib. Move the bed into the room prior to the switch so that your child gets used to it. Read stories about moving to a “big” bed. Use the same blankets from the crib on the big bed so that things remain as familiar as possible. Let your child help select the bed.

Books about Switching to a Big Bed:

My Big Boy Bed by Eve Bunting

Your Own Big Bed by Rita M. Bergstein

Bye-bye Crib by Alison McGhee

A Big Bed for Jed by Laurie B. Friedman

Other Resources:

Parents Connect: http://www.parentsconnect.com/parenting-your-kids/kids-sleeping/good-night-sleep-crib-to-bed.html

Parenting Magazine: http://www.parenting.com/article/reality-check-making-the-big-kid-bed-transition

Baby Center: http://www.babycenter.com/404_how-and-when-should-i-move-my-child-from-a-crib-to-a-bed_4598.bc

Baby Corner: http://www.thebabycorner.com/page/2434/

Baby Zone: http://www.babyzone.com/kids/kids-and-sleep/transitioning-to-toddler-bed_205643

Posted by Melendra

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