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The Three R’s of Parenting

By Michelle Saint Hilarie   Creating and establishing a healthy and loving relationship with your child is a key factor in supporting their development, learning and well-being. Children begin to develop emotional and social skills at a very young age. From the moment a child is born, they are dependent on caregivers to provide them with love and support to meet all of their needs. By responding to a baby’s cries, coos and cuddling with them, you are setting the foundation for building their emotional and social skills. As they grow and start to communicate with spoken words, their needs expand into making sense of their world by interacting with and watching the adults and children around them. To support their emotional and social needs, parents or other caregivers need to interact with all children in a respectful, responsive and reciprocal manner. The First R: RESPECT Respectful relationships are critically important in developing a child’s sense of belonging and how they interact with the world around them. Here are some ideas for creating and teaching respectful relationships with a young child: Give your child undivided love and attention. We live in a society with many distractions such as cell phones, social media and television. Other stresses such as work or relationships can also have an impact. Set aside time each day to show your child you care about them by respecting their needs and giving them some of your time. Model respectful relationships. Young children learn how to treat one another through the behaviors and interactions of the adults around them. When they see adults speaking and treating each...

New Year, New Attitude

by Christa Melnyk Hines   Want to bring more joy into your home this year? Try shifting your mindset. Not only can adopting a more optimistic attitude create a happier life, you’ll influence how well your kids respond to life’s daily challenges too.   “Children watch their parents. They pick up on moods and beliefs. A positive attitude is contagious–as is a negative attitude,” says Dr. Kristen Hensley, a family psychologist specializing in positive psychology.   Positively rewarding. A positive outlook boosts productivity, energy and motivation; helps reduce stress; enhances confidence and self-esteem; benefits health and even improves relationships with others.   “A positive attitude can also help us be more flexible in our thinking and make seeing solutions to problems easier,” Hensley says. “Looking for silver linings in life can help build mental resilience and general optimism.”   Practice self-awareness. Try tracking your moods to get a better sense of what you’ll need to do to better care for yourself each day.   Jessica Mostaffa, a early childhood mental health specialist and therapist who works with mothers suffering from depression, says this tactic helps her clients take a more mindful approach to their day-to-day emotional well being.   Make a happiness list. Brainstorm a list of activities that help you feel better when you’re feeling depleted. Your list might include taking a warm shower, watching a comedy, gardening or taking a walk with a friend.   “When moms start working on increasing time for themselves, it not only decreases depressive symptoms, but they also report having a better, more positive relationship and interactions with their children, partners and...

Raising Financially Fit Kids

By Kerrie McLoughlin   When I was a kid I thought that just because there were checks in my parents’ checkbook, there was plenty of money in the bank. How many kids these days think whipping out a credit card is the way to pay for items – any items – no matter the cost? I don’t want my own kids to be fiscal failures or money misfits. As parents, we have a special opportunity to teach our kids about money … and how they can handle it responsibly so they stay out of debt down the road and know how to save for their future needs and wants. Saving money. The elementary-age crowd is eager to soak up information about money as they are tiny consumers. Start with a simple piggy bank for very young kids and teach about saving money in the piggy bank until they have saved enough money to buy something special. For preschoolers, this may be a small toy. For older kids, they may keep their saved money in a wallet and eventually spend it on something like a nice doll outfit, a LEGO set or a Nerf gun. The allowance issue: yes or no? Some argue that allowance should not be paid, as children should be members of a family and contribute to the work in that family for free. Others, however, believe that allowance is a great tool for teaching children about money and how to handle it. Consider setting up a chore chart and giving a weekly allowance depending upon the age of the child. Then, have your child split their weekly...

Bed-Wetting Blues

By Teri Cettina   Inviting friends over to play at her home is one of Bethany favorite things to do. But when two girls visited on a Saturday, Bethany, 7, was uncharacteristically out of sorts. It started when she hid a headband inside her house and challenged her friends to find it. When her pals started searching close to Bethany’s room, her mom saw her tense up. “Don’t look in those two drawers under my bed,” Bethany anxiously ordered. “It’s not in there. Nothing’s in there.”   Actually, Bethany was hiding a big secret under her bed: her nighttime diapers. Bethany’s mom, Aileen, audibly sucks in her breath as she recalls the hide-and-seek game. “I saw then how much the bed-wetting was upsetting her,” she says. “It made me feel awful that, at this young age, my daughter already has an embarrassing secret. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about secrets.”   Nocturnal enuresis, the medical term for nighttime bed-wetting, is actually more common among school-age kids than you might think. While many children are able to hold their urine all night by age 5, up to one in eight first- and second-graders are still dealing with this embarrassing condition, says Howard Bennett, M.D., author of Waking Up Dry. The percentage drops steadily as children get older, but 1 in 20 10-year-olds still wets at night and 1 to 2 percent struggle with the problem until age 15.   For most kids, the problem is neurological. The child’s brain isn’t sending signals to his bladder to hold his urine while he’s sleeping. “It reflexively empties while he’s asleep, just as...

Make Your Voice Heard

How to make your voice heard on critical education issues   It can be easy to become discouraged about the political process and our system of government, especially after one of the most divisive presidential elections in recent memory. But it’s more important now than ever to become actively involved on behalf of the issues that make a difference. For instance, education is something that impacts all Arizona residents, whether they have school-aged children, or not. Strong classrooms are the key to strong communities. Education impacts our economy and overall quality of life – everything from property values, to crime rates, to health care costs. For example, according to a 2014 report, it’s estimated that the 18,000+ Arizona students who dropped out of high school that year will produce $7.6 billion less economic activity over their lifetimes than if those same students had graduated. This dollar figure includes lost earnings, increased health care and crime-related costs, lost economic productivity and lost tax revenue. There are thousands of teachers all over Arizona working hard to shape the next generation and prepare students for life and a career. But they can’t do it alone. You can be an advocate for education in your own home every day, but you can also lend your voice to education policies that have an impact in your community and statewide. For instance, do you know how your vote impacts education? Arizona’s governor and state legislators certainly make important decisions related to education funding and policy – but local school board members and county and state superintendents also play a huge role. You can learn more...

Winter Learning Activities

  Five ways to engage kids in learning over winter break Every parent has heard it. The dreaded exclamation of “I’m bored!” coming from their children. There may only be two weeks without school this winter break, but that won’t stop youth all over Arizona from relapsing to summer habits, such as too much screen time and staying up too late. But by engaging you children in common winter activities, you can help them be engaged in learning. Here are five suggestions for boosting kids’ brainpower this holiday break: Capitalize on things you’re already doing. While concocting your favorite family recipe, invite your child to help. They can practice fractions by increasing or decreasing the size of the batch, and older kids could even explore the chemistry of baked goods. On trips to the grocery store, discuss nutritional value and encourage your child to practice reading on food labels. Counting or sorting items in your cart is great for younger kids, who could also find colors and shapes around the store. If you plan to put up holiday decorations, ask your child to measure around the house to figure out what items could fit into various locations.   Make the most of family outings. Instead of heading off to see the latest blockbuster, consider fining a more interactive, educational venue to visit. For instance, a local museum or historical site could be engaging. Even a local city park is a good place to get your kids physically active, which is beneficial for brain development. If you need an idea of where to go, here are a few ideas.  ...

Holiday Traditions

Compiled by Michelle Talsma Everson   While I can remember some of the wonderful presents I received over the holidays as a child (I looked really cool in that “life size” bright pink Barbie car!), now that I’m an adult—and a mom—what really stands out are the holiday traditions. Big family breakfasts, opening new pajamas on Christmas Eve, baking cookies, these are all of the memories I pass along to my son year after year. Recently, we asked our readers on social media what some of your holiday traditions were and received many wonderful responses. Read on to see how other local families celebrate the holiday season and maybe find some inspiration to start some new traditions of your own.   “The day after Thanksgiving we deck our halls—outside lights, indoor décor, light village, etc.—and then end the day with a family viewing of Christmas Vacation while indulging in eggnog. It kicks the season off right!” – Heather   “When my sister and I were kids, my mom started this tradition with us. Every year on Christmas Eve we would get new pajamas and slippers or fun socks. She saved the gift bags and used the same gift bag for each of us every year so we knew which pair was ours. It was always a lot of fun to see what she picked out for us. My sister and I would pick out a pair for mom to wear so she could have new pajamas on Christmas morning too. After we opened our pajamas, we tried them on and took pictures in front of our Christmas tree. We...

The Busy Family’s Holiday Survival Guide

By Denise Morrison Yearian   If December seems like a month-long marathon of activities that leave you feeling frazzled and fatigued, restore the season’s peace, hope and joy with these 12 holiday survival suggestions.   Pencil in and prioritize. With calendar in hand, write in regularly scheduled activities—haircuts, housework, sports practices, etc. Then pencil in specific days for holiday to-dos. If you see a steady stream of busy days, replace low-priority items with rest and relaxation. Make popcorn and watch White Christmas with the kids, take the family for a post-dinner drive to see holiday lights or have a date night with your significant other.   Sweet options to social events. If you don’t want to attend a social event but fear you may offend the host, drop off a box of chocolates to say, “I appreciate the invite but . . .” When you purchase the candy, pick up an extra box for days you need a little personal appreciation.   Consolidate holiday obligations. Host a cookie exchange so you can visit with friends and avoid baking multiple batches of goodies. As you plan the event, reward yourself for this time-saving endeavor by indulging in a cup of hot cocoa with a peppermint candy cane stir and a dollop of whipped cream.   Wrap it up. Designate a specific holiday wrapping station in your home and keep the area stocked with supplies so you can wrap gifts without having to retrieve paper goods. Choose a specific paper print for each child so you don’t have to attach tags.   Stock up and save time. Purchase baking supplies in...

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