Child sitting on the floor, intently doing puzzle

What are the best toys for children? One is…. Jigsaw Puzzles.

 

In my role as a Parenting Consultant, parents and grandparents often ask me about buying toys for their children or grandchildren. They want to know what are the ‘best’ ones. Obviously the age and ability of the child is a consideration, but 2 of my favourites are jigsaw puzzles and board games.

Puzzles can be introduced to toddlers around age one, with a toy which has balls to drop into a hole. This starts to teach them to hold an object, to position it, and then to let it drop through. The easiest shape to insert is a circle, as it will fit which ever way you hold it!

Next comes a shape sorter toy. You hold the container and let baby select a shape. Read more

Image by Woodley Wonder Works via Flickr

Music and Maths – an Unlikely Relationship?

This morning over breakfast I was listening to the radio, and was aware how the different pieces impacted on me – some more upbeat, some more gentle and calming. I don’t know about you, but I play different types of music for specific moods – if I’m feeling a bit ‘flat’ I put on something like “Pink”, and if I’m feeling hassled, I put on gentle classical music, or “Enya”. We can utilise this with children too – you can use music to enhance their moods, to help ‘lift’ them when needed, or to calm them at other times.

From an early age we use lullabies to soothe our babies, and often sing them to sleep – this is true whatever your cultural background. It’s the tone of your voice, which settles them. As they get older, they like things with a stronger beat – you’ll often see toddlers bopping to a beat. Toddlers also like nursery rhymes and songs, and will join in with the words and actions. Even a 1 year old will often wave their hands in the  air, to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

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Smiling young toddler eating breakfast

Our 5 Core Needs – for both Children and Adults!

As human beings we have core needs to survive, grow and thrive. Some core needs we are born with, some we develop. As individuals we needs these things in varying amounts – some people will need more of one than another person. We work in ways to have our needs met, so that we are fulfilled.

So what are these Core Needs? They are:

Survival;

Love and Belonging;

Fun;

Power; and

Freedom.

Let’s look in more detail…

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Image by scjn via Flickr

How to help our children learn about consequences

What happens when you pay your electricity bill late? – you get one reminder, and then a late fee is applied if you still don’t comply.

What happens when you bring your wife a bunch of flowers? – she shows gratitude to you!

What happens when you don’t prop the ladder correctly before climbing up? – it wobbles, putting you in danger.

All of these are consequences of our actions. As adults we know what the consequences are, and we choose to comply, or not comply, knowing there will be consequences.

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Superman as a 3yr old

Superman is a 3 year old!

You know how Superman wears a disguise, as the ordinary Clark Kent?

Yesterday I saw Superman in another disguise – as a 3 year old boy!

I was in a department store, in a very long queue of people, waiting to make our purchases. Ahead of me was a Mum, with her 3 year old son (aka Superman). She had a large purchase, with a few smaller items sitting on top and was pushing it along in the line. Superman was looking at all the items which shops insist on putting just at children’s eye level – lollies, chocolates, drinks and small items. He picked various ones up and carefully replaced them.

Then, waiting in a long line became less appealing for him, and he started playing a game with the soft drink bottles – pushing them over, one at a time. Mum noticed and asked him to stop. He promptly decided to ignore her, and pushed another couple over. At this point Mum said: “If you don’t stop that, you can’t have this toy” (the one about to be purchased). He continued pushing them over, and she said: “Okay, no toy.” At this point Superman had a mini-tantrum, which stopped quickly when no-one took any notice. Great work Mum!
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Lessons-from-the-Beach

Lessons from the Beach

I had a mini-holiday recently, in a beautiful little seaside town. Daily I would walk to the beach, to absorb the sunshine and heat, as well as hear the sounds of the waves crashing, and the smell the scent of the sea and the bush surrounds.

On the beach were so many families from India, Asian, the Middle East and Anglos. There were Mums with kids, families with cousins & Grandparents, group of friends, surfers, and couples walking hand in hand.

What they all had in common, was a day of fun. There were so many smiles and the sound of laughter, and it was wonderful to participate in this event.

It made me reflect on all the amazing messages which were intentionally and unintentionally being shared with the children present.

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Image by familymwr via Flickr

Maths is Everywhere in the Home

Maths is everywhere in the home, and without you maybe even realising it, you are setting up your child with a solid Mathematical grounding.

How?

Let’s look at some of these concepts within the home and play environments and how it happens…

Shape recognition – at an early age we start to point out shapes to our children – ‘The orange is round and your plate is round’. ‘Would you like square or triangle/ sandwiches today?’

Volume – when cooking  – ‘We need ½ cup of flour and one cup of milk – can you help to measure and pour them, please.

Conservation of mass – When you have one lump of play-dough , you can show your child how to roll it into many different shapes – a ball, a sausage, a dish shape, lots of tiny little eggs, but the mass doesn’t change despite the change in shape!

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Christmas Kids

All I want for Christmas is…

So want do you say to yourself at this time?

  • Yahhhh I love Christmas;
  • It’s so expensive;
  • I can’t want for it to be over;
  • I love watching the kids faces on Christmas morning;
  • Family disagreements – no thanks;
  • I love family get togethers, especially Christmas;
  • I love the excitement and special treats.

 

Which ever sentiments you have about Christmas, the reality is it is approaching fast! What can we do to make it a pleasant, positive experience for children and families? Here’s some ideas…

 

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crossing-the-road

Crossing the Road

In busy Sydney recently, whilst standing at the traffic lights, I was struck by the number of people who ignore the “Don’t Walk” sign. They dart in amongst the traffic,  in order to save about 20 secs off their walk, rather than wait for the “green man” to indicate that it’s their turn to cross.

I saw two important messages here for parents:

  1. MODELLING:

 

As an ex-Teacher and a parent, I can’t do this! I’m very conscious that my children (or yours, who might be standing next to me) are watching. At an early age they learn that ‘red’ = STOP, and I also know that they want to do what the adults do. So, if my Mum/Dad/Grandparents ignore ‘red’ signs, then I can too. So much of parenting is modelling – whether you mean to or not, children see and hear all that we do in their presence. Young children do not discriminate between the ‘good’ we do or the ‘less good’ we do – they don’t pass judgement, they just copy!

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Stress in children

Stress in Children

Stress is a part of our lives. We have positive stress – eg we have many things which must be completed today. The stress of that can give us the energy to not procrastinate, but to drive us to action, to complete the task. Negative stress can be when things happen which are out of our control, and we feel stuck or unable to deal with the effects.

We don’t like to think that our small children can experience stress, but they experience life as we do. A little stress, like having to wait for something is okay – it can teach them patience (eg to wait their turn) or to understand time and sequence (eg after the toys are away we’ll go outside), and that’s a good thing. Even the stress of seeing Mum and Dad angry once or twice (as long as there is no violence involved) is okay, particularly if they see that they make up and life continues as normal – this can help to show that conflict can be resolved. On-going major stress is not okay for children, and can cause later problems for that child in different ways. This article is about the daily stresses – which are different ones for everyone!

 

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