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New Year's Resolutions for Parents of Young Children

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Saturday, December 23, 2017

For some, January 1 is a new beginning: a time for us to refresh, set new goals, or make a short list of resolutions for the coming year. Instead of getting stuck in the diets-always-start-tomorrow mentality, this is a perfect time to choose a reasonable goal and begin right away. In my work, I focus on creating strong parent-child relationships. Why not create some resolutions around improving your connection with your young child? Here are three ways to get started:

1) Listen more, talk less.

Parents often complain that their children aren’t listening to them. In truth, most of the time it’s more of a non-compliance than a non-hearing issue.

What’s the problem? Here are some common child-friendly reasons: “I’m not ready to stop playing,” “I’m nervous about that new food on my plate,” “I’m scared of being in my bed at night.”

My suggestion is to “listen” to your children’s behaviors—not just their words—and let them know you hear them by validating their feelings: “You’re not ready to stop playing,” “That’s not a familiar food, is it?” or “You feel afraid in your bed at night.”

Once your children believe you understand them, they are more likely to listen to your strategies for overcoming a roadblock to compliance (i.e., invent a new transition game, move the new food to a separate plate, provide some additional comfort items in bed).

2) Match your expectations to your child’s developmental readiness.

Young children cannot control their impulses. That’s just a fact about their brain development. Expecting them to stop playing with the remote control, stay off the dining room table, and resist the temptation to grab the cookie off the plate is unreasonable. That’s why we child-proof our homes.

If you’re fighting the same battles all of the time, change the environment. Put the remote control on a higher shelf, create a climbing area in your living room or backyard, and keep the cookies out of sight until it’s time for a treat.

“Clean up your room” is not an age-appropriate request. Cleaning up a messy space involves executive functioning skills not yet developed in a young brain. It involves categorizing, sorting, classifying, and breaking down a large task into smaller tasks. Instead, ask for a specific clean-up task: put the cars into this bin, the book on the shelf, the dolls go on the bed.

3) Find something to enjoy about every developmental stage.

Sometimes parents get overly excited about the “next” stage of development. Our children barely sit up before we wonder when they might crawl. Standing up means planning for mobility. Learning to recognize one letter means they’re ready to learn the whole alphabet.

Take time to enjoy each growth milestone. Even negative behaviors can be respected and appreciated. The first “No!” is a hearty embrace of the process of individuation. When a child hits or stomps in frustration, it’s a sign of learning to accept and cope with strong emotions. A crying, clingy child is learning to separate. Find five times per day to verbally—or, non-verbally, through a smile or a high-five—appreciate your child’s developmental triumphs and struggles.

Posted with permission from Parent's Place

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Nine Ways to Enjoy Nature this Winter

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Winter solstice is this Thursday, December 21! Here are some ideas of how to best enjoy the darkest and coldest part of the year.

Many of us are somewhat removed from nature in our everyday lives. This is especially so during the winter. Yet despite winter’s chillier and shortened days, along with busy school and extracurricular schedules, most families can find some time during a typical week to enjoy the outdoors.

Nature play
 has been linked to many aspects of physical and psychological health for people of all ages. In addition, getting outside is just plain fun. Nature experiences help families bond and add richness and wonder to our lives. Here are some ideas for getting out and enjoying nature this winter.

Keep a moon diary

Taking note of the moon’s phases and rhythms as it moves through its cycle is a fascinating exercise and a great way to observe nature’s rhythms. It can also help younger children understand the monthly calendar. 

Look at the moon each night after it has risen and record its phase, in writing or drawing, as it makes its monthly rotation around the earth. The amount of moon we see is really the amount of sunlight that is reflected on it during each phase. The moon always follow this pattern: New, waxing crescent, first quarter waxing gibbous, full, waning gibbous, third quarter, waning crescent, new. Learn more about the moon by reading 10 Surprising Lunar Facts.

Gaze at the stars

Despite chilly nights, winter skies can be the clearest of the year and the richest in stars. Begin to get to know the winter night sky by locating a few key constellations, such as the prominent Orion. Orion’s Belt is made up of blue-white Rigel at the top end and reddish Betelgeuse at the bottom. If you follow a line from Betelgeuse, down and to the left, you will locate a bright star called Sirius, or the Dog Star. Use these key stars to locate still more as you continue to observe the night sky. Consult a star chart, or this astronomy site

Play tag in a park or playground

You don’t have to go far to have fun outdoors. Sometimes the “nearby nature” of a local playground or park provides the perfect setting for family exercise and fun. 

There are so many fun tag games so you needn’t limit yourself to basic tag. Teach your children tag games you remember from childhood, or try this variation:

Blob Tag

Once a player is tagged by the person who is “it,” the two join arms and become a blob, which chases players together to try to tag them. Other players who are tagged also join arms and become part of the blob. Some play a version in which a blob of four splits off to become two new blobs. The last person standing alone becomes the new “it.”

Make a Valentine bird feeder

Sometimes we forget to feed birds and other wildlife in the winter, which can be precisely when they need food the most because it’s less plentiful in the environment. This is a fun, easy project that encourages bird watching. Experiment with different kinds of seeds to see which birds each attracts. Or ask for advice at a plant nursery or pet store. Oil sunflower is a particularly nutritious winter seed that a lot of birds like.

You’ll need:

  • Cardboard
  • Heart template, optional
  • 2-3 ‘ ribbon or string
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening, peanut or other nut butter, suet, or lard (plus, cornmeal or oatmeal, optional)
  • 2 ½ cup mixture of birdseed (chopped nuts, dried fruit, optional)
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Plate, shallow dish or pie tin
  • Scissors
  • Spoon or butter knife
  • Cut a heart out of cardboard, using a template or free hand.
  • Poke a hole toward the top and run the string through it. (If using a ribbon, you might want to string it after the mixture has dried a little, using a hole to poke through the hole, as needed.)
  • In mixing bowl, combine peanut butter or other spread with optional meal.
  • Spread that mixture over the both sides of the heart with the knife or spoon.
  • Pour the birdseed and feed ingredients onto the plate.
  • Place the heart into the seeds.
  • Hang your Valentine from a tree branch or window eave that offers some shelter from wind and weather and a view of visiting birds.

Observe and monitor birds

Do you enjoy observing nature and have 15 minutes to spare? If so, you can be a citizen scientist. Over the past few years, citizen science has really taken off, allowing ordinary people to help scientists and organizations track the count and behaviors of birds, butterflies, bees, wildflowers, weather, and much more. Researchers can’t be everywhere, and many of us have habitats in our backyards and neighborhoods that can help others gain important information about nature. Don’t let the name intimidate you. All you need to participate in citizen science is the desire to observe nature to the best of your ability for a period of time and record what you see.

Two current projects allow people to observe and track birds during their winter migrations. Cornell’s Project Feeder Watch runs from November through early April. The Great Backyard Bird Count occurs over a long weekend, February 14 – 17. Both also offer public events for families and opportunities for learning and seeing real-time results from other participants. Want to monitor other wildlife and natural phenomena? There are many other wonderful citizen science projects that can use your help.

Take a photography or poetry walk

Sometimes the act of recording your observations with a camera or journal causes you to look around in a different way and notice things and make connections that you might not have made otherwise. Photography and poetry can help us quiet ourselves and focus our time in nature.

If your child is struggling to record thoughts, try asking open-ended prompts: “What does the hawk’s flight remind you of?” or “What do those rustling leaves feel/smell/look/sound like?” If they’re taking pictures, try to encourage them to stop and notice small things, like bugs, footprints, buds in bloom, interesting colors, or angles of light. You may be surprised at some of the things everyone observes once they are quiet in nature.

Make pine cone folk

On your next outdoor walk, collect pine cones and make fun pine cone people.

You’ll need:

  • A variety of pine cones
  • Acorns with caps intact, for heads
  • Glitter, pipe cleaners, twigs, small pieces of yarn, popsicle sticks, toothpicks, fabric, felt or lace scraps, beads, markers, paint, paper, and other decorative items
  • Hot glue or craft glue

Glue the acorn head onto the pine cone body and let dry slightly.

Decorate as desired. Here are some ideas:

  • Glue twig or pipe cleaner arms, approximately 2” each, to the pine cone.
  • Draw or paint a face on the acorn, or glue on beads for eyes and a nose.
  • Decorate the pine cone with a glitter, beaded, or lace “dress.”
  • Make a hat out of a cone of paper.
  • Wrap a piece of yarn around the neck for a scarf.
  • Attach felt shoes to the bottom of the pinecone and felt mittens to the pine cone’s arms.
  • Glue two Popsicle sticks to the bottom of the pine cone for skis. Cut two small disks of felt and pierce each with a toothpick. Glue the toothpick ski poles, with the felt toward the bottom, to the pipe cleaner arms.

Create ice art

If winter’s freezing weather has you thinking you can’t play outside, think again. There’s simple fun to be had by creating ice sculptures or ice art. Gather a variety of empty containers with large openings, such as milk cartons, juice boxes, and disposable cups and bowls. Collect rain or water in your containers and color with food coloring, if desired. Leave the containers of water outside to freeze. Carefully remove your containers to reveal your ice sculptures.

Not cold enough where you live? No problem. Have fun making ice sculptures in your freezer! Here are some more ideas for ice art.

Make a root viewer

For many, the roots of a plant can be just as fascinating as the parts we see aboveground. This simple root viewer lets budding botanists view the magical processes that happen below the surface of growing things.

You’ll need:

  • Clear plastic cups, bottles or jars
  • Seeds and dirt
  • Fill the containers most of the way with dirt.
  • Plant the seeds close to one side, one or two per cup.
  • Put them in the sun and water gently.
  • Watch as roots form and plants sprout.

Enjoy the wonders of nature in winter.

Susan Sachs Lipman (Suz) is the author of Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains 300+ activities for family fun and grew out of her blog, Slow Family Online. Slow Parenting and the book were named a 2012 Top 10 Parenting Trend by TIME Magazine. Suz has written for the New York Times’ Motherlode blog, the Christian Science Monitor’s Modern Parenthood blog, and many other outlets. She is the Social Media Director for Parents Place, as well as Bookboard digital children’s library.

posted with permission from Parent's Place

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Meet our Board Members: Member-at-Large, Shanna Gazley

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Tuesday, December 19, 2017

After joining PAMP at the 2016 Rummage Sale, Member-at-Large Shanna Gazley decided to expand her contributions to the organization by joining the 2017-2018 PAMP Board of Directors.

“I was a last minute addition to the PAMP board,” says Shanna. “I am also involved with the MOMS Club in Sunnyvale. I spoke with one of the former board co-presidents about some of the ways in which I think PAMP could improve upon its offerings and sense of community based on my experience with a neighboring parents club.”

Hoping mostly to assist the new Events Chair, Shanna says she enjoys the strategy aspect of her board responsibilities and is eager to volunteer at events and pitch in wherever she’s most needed.

Her main goals for this term is to increase member retention, begin a speaker series, expand on PAMP member discounts, increase the organization’s use of Facebook for better member interaction and possibly working with local businesses to find a place for parents to gather.

“The board seems very motivated to grow and retain membership,” she says. “I’d love to see more companies sponsor membership for their employees.”

A resident of Mountain View, Shanna has a 4.5 year old daughter who had a blast at the recent Jump Into Summer event held in June. Shanna says her daughter is a “big science nerd,” and the pair enjoy watching Dinosaur on PBS Kids, Daniel Tiger and Zou, a short French cartoon dubbed in English on Sprout. Before having kids, Shanna could be found exercising, reading and spending time with friends, but now she says her biggest hobby is getting extra sleep whenever possible. “I would love to encourage other parents to improve self-care, as I try to motivate myself,” she says.

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Holiday Service Ideas for You and Your Family

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Tuesday, December 12, 2017

At this time of year it is easy to for us, and especially our children, to focus on our list of wants and the material things that come along with the holiday season.  But this time of year also gives us the opportunity for us to teach our children, from a young age, the purpose of giving and of service.  There are many ways that you can give of your time and serve as a family that will make this time of year more memorable for everyone.

Service teaches our children, not only to be grateful for the things which they already have, but also teaches them empathy and compassion for others.  These attributes will help your children navigate through relationships  their entire lives.  Also, service allows families to bond together in ways that traditional family outings will not.  

Many people would like to volunteer with their children but don’t know where to go or what to start with.  

Here are a few suggestions that are family friendly ways to get involved in your community and to have a more meaningful holiday season with your family.

  1. Choose a name off of a giving tree and shop as a family for the child.  Choosing a name of a child that is a similar age to your own will help them relate and make it more special for your child.

  2. Bake cookies and deliver them to a neighbor who may not have many visitors or treats this holiday season.  

  3. If children are a bit older, visit a rest home.  Arrange a small group to sing carols and to visit with the residents. Make sure to call ahead and schedule a time for your visit.

  4. Write and decorate holiday cards and send them overseas to the troops.  This website can tell you how.

  5. Have your children choose some of their own gently-used toys to donate to a local charity like Salvation Army.  When they are giving of their own toys, they learn the joy of sharing with those who are less fortunate.

  6. Stuff new, warm socks or a resealable bag with granola bars and water bottles or other non perishable items to give to homeless men and women that you pass.  Keep these care packages in the car so you will have them handy when needed.

Make sure that you explain the activities to your children and explain what you learned and enjoyed about the activity.  Most of all have fun and celebrate the experiences.  By doing this your children will learn to love to serve and make lasting holiday memories!

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5 Ways to Avoid Family Pitfalls this Holiday Season and Make the Connections you Want

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Monday, December 11, 2017

The holidays are upon us, and for many families that can mean fun, relaxation, time with beloved family and friends, but also stress, anxiety, pressure, disappointment, and irritable and exhausted kids!

Holiday time often brings out the best—and the worst—in us parents, as well as in our children and all those around us. This can seem inevitable as we give up normal routines and structure, try to please and accommodate the needs of many people, put expectations on ourselves to create wonderful experiences and special memories, and sometimes travel long distances to be with those we love.

mom and kids making cookies

It is possible to avoid some pitfalls and make this season truly satisfying for your family with some planning and awareness. Let’s try to focus on and implement some helpful and proven strategies this year:

  1. Have one or more family discussions to review plans, making sure your children fully understand and are prepared for what activities they will be participating in, who they will be with, and any expectations you have for them. At the same time make sure that they have some choices, and that each child has the opportunity for input on some part of the plan.
  2. Maintain bedtime schedules as rigorously as you possibly can. Confirm with your children that in order for them to have the most fun, they will be keeping their regular bedtime even though that means sometimes stopping or leaving an activity before they are ready and willing. If time changes are part of your plans it is even more important to get your kids on a schedule quickly and firmly, even though it might require sacrificing some fun time.
  3.  Simplify by lowering your expectations dramatically. Focus on one to three family traditions that you want to continue or establish, and let go of the rest. This might require some explaining to grandparents or other family members who are extremely disappointed and perhaps judgmental, but it is a good opportunity to remind them that you are doing what is best for your own family now. Holidays can be a wonderful opportunity for practicing setting boundaries!
  4.  Create opportunities for your children to be generous as well as to be helpful and feel competent. This can take many forms, from purchasing and wrapping gifts to donate, working at a food bank or soup kitchen, or making cards and gifts for family and friends. Helping to decorate, cook, serve, and clean up should all be part of their responsibilities no matter their age, or whether you are hosts or guests. Making sure your children are an integral part of the activities and festivities helps them feel connected, important, and grateful.
  5.  Whether or not you practice a religion, or are affiliated with a congregation, this time of year gives us a precious opportunity to create rituals and traditions that exemplify our values and spiritual beliefs. Our children want to know what we think about the big questions, what we hold dear, and what we strive for—in our homes, community, and the world. Sharing these with our children is the true gift of this season!

As we end this very tumultuous year when so many of us have struggled to maintain a sense of hope and optimism for our children, let’s create holidays that are simple, meaningful, and compassionate, for ourselves and those we care for.

Karen Friedland-Brown, MA is the Director of Parents Place on the Peninsula.

posted with permission from Parent's Place

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From the Vault: Four Stress Release Tips for the Holidays

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Monday, December 4, 2017
It's official -- the holiday season is here-evidenced by all those commercials. Does just thinking about all the shopping, entertaining, and decorating and your ever-shrinking budget send you into a tizzy? Relax. With a bit of thoughtful preparation and some helpful parameters, you can achieve the look and outcome you want for you and your family-without being so stressed you can’t enjoy the season.

What are the tips to reduce stress and still enjoy the holiday season?

1. Spend Smarter
Consider a budget. Don’t get caught shopping until you’ve given some consideration to how much you are able to spend. Think of those credit card bills in January-what can you honestly handle? If you love to shop, it may seem to take some fun out of it, but being faced with big bills in the New Year isn’t fun either.

Be specific. Once you’ve put a realistic limit on spending, you know what you have to work with. Are you getting just a few high quality gifts or would it be better to get a number of less expensive gifts so kids and family have more to open? You decide what works best for you. Encourage your extended family to draw names instead of everyone getting gifts for the whole family.

Make a list. You can make it very specific or general. Coming up with ideas of what your family would like gives you a starting point and helps you estimate how much you plan to spend on each person.

Use only one credit card. This will help to keep track of purchases.

2. Shop Shrewder
Start early. Don’t run the risk of being frustrated because they have run out of what you wanted. If you enjoy the hustle and bustle of last minute shopping, save it for small gifts such as stocking stuffers or little treats. Get the bigger items out of the way first.

Go online. You are savvy enough to know this can lead to finding things at a lower price. You can also research where to find something if you want to buy in person and save time driving from one mall to another.

Negotiate. It may surprise you to know that it is possible to ask for a lower price. You never know until you try. If you are buying in bulk, one or more could be slightly soiled, or you are in a small store that is owner owned and willing to bargain. They want the sale. Give it a try.

3. Entertain Effortlessly
KISS: Keep it simple sister! As much as possible simplify the event. Make part of the menu take-out items from your favorite deli. Ask some guests to bring their specialty- most likely they will be happy you asked. Invite a family member or friend to co-host. If a fine dining experience is a must, hire some help. Plan to do as much as you can in advance. Setup the table the day before and prepare as much of the menu ahead of time.

How about January? Some social events could be delayed until January. Consider which ones can be postponed. People’s schedules are generally more open mid-January. You may find more people can make it and you will have a better time because you aren’t so tired.

4. Downsize Decorating
Get the whole family to help. Rethink how you want the house to look based on the ages of your children. What can they do so they can be a part of the celebration as well? If much of your decorating is complicated and time consuming, perhaps you want to pare things down a bit until your children are older. The point is to have FUN! And it’s no longer fun if you are up late at night working on hanging, arranging, etc. after everyone is in bed.

Rein in. Count how many boxes you’ve taken down from storage. Sort out those items that you are tired of looking at or that simply look a bit tired. Donate them to a shelter or retirement home. They won’t think they look tired and will greatly appreciate new items to liven up the place. Decide to use some of the boxes and put the rest away. You won’t miss the decorations you didn’t use.

This year make your resolution BEFORE the holidays begin: More fun, less stress!
Use these tips to keep stress at a minimum and enjoy the holidays. Would enjoy hearing from you on any tips you found helpful. Enjoy the holidays!

Janada Clark, MA is a parent educator and teaches Love and Logic at Stanford and public and private schools. Her parent education classes are a well-respected resource for parents. Join her Facebook community and get your parenting questions answered within one day.

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Meet Our Board: Legal Chair, Lisa Liu

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Monday, December 4, 2017

Like many of the 2017-2018 Board of Directors, Lisa Liu joined in 2016, right after her son, Max, was born and soon after her family relocated to Menlo Park. She was interested in getting more involved in the community and thought joining PAMP was a great way to do so.

Now a mom of 2 (her second son was born in July 2017), Lisa, a corporate and business transactions lawyer, will handle all legal issues and questions, including updating agreements, reviewing agreements and tending to ad hoc legal issues.

“I’m really excited to get to know other fun moms and get to work with some pretty cool and talented ladies,” she says. She looks forward to building on the success of PAMP and connecting with other PAMP members.

When not working or tending to her two boys, Lisa says she loves cooking and exploring various culinary experiences, saying the Bay Area is a great place for foodies. Although Max has shown minimal interest in books, television and films thus far, Alice says her absolute favorite childhood book is Kay Thompson’s Eloise.

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Kick Off the Holiday Season with Tree Lighting and Visits with Santa

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Monday, November 27, 2017

December will soon be upon us and with that comes lots of holiday activities to enjoy with your family.  Many local communities are already kicking off the holiday season with tree lightings and visits from Santa.  Here is a rundown of just a few of the events happening soon on the Peninsula!

Half Moon Bay Night of Lights
Head to downtown Half Moon Bay, for tree lighting and parade. Fri., Dec. 1. 6-9 p.m. Main Street, Half Moon Bay. 

Redwood City Improvement Association Tree Lighting at Hometown Holidays
This holiday celebration includes a parade, live entertainment, special musical performances, a visit from Santa, real falling snow and a tree lighting. Sat., Dec. 2. Event runs 10 a.m.-8 p.m. with tree lighting at 5:45 p.m. Courthouse Square, Redwood City.

Menlo Park Holiday Tree Lighting
Visit Fremont Park for the Holiday Tree Lighting presented by the City of Menlo Park and the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce. This holiday favorite event brings the Menlo Park community together to ring in the holiday season. Come enjoy live entertainment, free hot cocoa, and the lighting of the holiday tree. If you have been good boys and girls, Santa just might make a special appearance.  Friday, Dec 1, 5:30-7pm.

Menlo Park Breakfast with Santa
The annual Breakfast with Santa event takes place at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center. Don't forget to bring your camera so you can get a great photo of your child with Santa. Bring an unwrapped toy for the Fire Fighters Toy Drive and receive $1 off your ticket price. Saturday, Dec 2, 7:30-11 am.  

Cupertino Tree Lighting
Enjoy a countdown to light the tree, music, refreshments and a special visit from a friend from the North Pole. Fri., Dec. 1. 6-8 p.m. Quinlan Community Center, 10185 N. Stelling Road, Cupertino.

Mountain View Community Tree Lighting Celebration
Head to Mountain View for live holiday music, refreshments, children’s activities, free photos with Santa and a holiday tree lighting ceremony. Mon., Dec. 4. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Civic Center Plaza, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. 

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Hassle- Free Holiday Shopping with Kids

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Monday, November 27, 2017

The season is upon us! For many busy parents with young children, it is sometimes necessary to bring our young ones with us to the mall. With this reality in mind, we offer the following suggestions on having successful outings. Whether it is holiday shopping or long car trips to see relatives, preparation is the key to success!

family Shopping
The following suggestions come from the Triple P Positive Parenting Program which offers concrete strategies on how to set yourself up for success in potentially challenging situations.

  1. Pick a good time! While it might seem that the only option is a pre-dinner Target run, you may be setting yourself up for failure. When you or your children are tired and hungry you’re all more likely to be ill mannered, and you’re more likely to give into your child just to keep them quiet and avoid a tantrum. Be strategic and realistic about how long your child can be successful. If there are no other options at least remember to bring along some healthy snacks to tide kids over.
  2. Review expectations in advance. Remind your kids about staying close to you and not touching things without permission. If this is a shopping trip for gifts for others then make that clear in advance and then don’t cave in when your children beg for items that aren’t “on the list.”
  3. Don’t forget to catch your child when they’re doing well. It’s easy to ignore good behavior when you’re focused on getting through your list but whatever behavior gets the most attention is likely the one you’ll see more of. Attend to them when they’re doing well with smiles, hugs, or even stickers and they’re more likely to keep it up.
  4. Avoid escalation traps. If children are rewarded when they begin to act up or get loud, they learn that behavior is the best way to get their needs met. While it may feel daunting in the moment, make sure not to give in to your children when they are at their worst. If you do, you’re much more likely to see that behavior again in the future.
  5. Involve your child in the experience. Ask your children for their opinion on gifts, or for young children, build in games such as “I Spy” or “Count how many red things you see.” Let children help choose gifts for others so they feel the joy of giving and are less focused on themselves.

If you are interested in learning more about Triple P workshops and individual consultations, please contact us at Parents Place.

Happy holidays and good luck shopping!

Rebecca Wood, LCSW, is the Director of Parents Place in Marin County. Contact her for in-person or phone consultations to address challenges and concerns about your children.

Posted with Permission from Parent's Place

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Screen Free Ways to Entertain Your Children while Traveling!

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Sunday, November 19, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Traveling for the holidays?  Many of us enjoy traveling to see family and friends during this time of year, but traveling with children can also be stressful and hard.  How do we keep our kids entertained, especially if you we don't want to let them use screens the entire time?  We've compiled a list of simple ideas, that do not take a lot of preparation, but will help keep your little ones busy and happier during your trip! 
  1. Wrap little toys from the dollar store or happy meal toys and let you kids unwrap them.  If you are on the plane, make sure you only bring toys that you don’t care if they are they get lost or end up under someone else's seat.

  2. Tin foil-  Let your children be creative and make their own creations.

  3. Tape- Don't underestimate the amount of fun a little person can have with a roll of tape.  This a inexpensive and easy way to keep their hands busy.  

  4. Fill a wipes box with little scraps of fabric.  Little ones will love pulling all the pieces out one by one.  Try to find materials with different textures for a more enjoyable sensory experience. 

  5. If on a plane (and have a window seat) purchase window clings from the dollar store or Target and let them decorate.  This would also work in the car if the window is an easy reach from their carseat.

  6. Bring new or special snacks that are special for this trip (if the food takes a long time to eat, that is an extra bonus)

  7. Clip coloring pages or just plain paper to clip boards and let them color and draw.

  8. Books! Don’t forget that these are good entertainment in cars and on the plane.  Bring books that have flaps or lots of interesting things to talk about, keeping them engaged as long as possible.  

  9. Collect monopoly money, old gift cards or business cards and fill an old wallet.  Kids will love a busy wallet!

  10. (If you are driving) Bring a kid’s book on tape or the soundtrack from your kid's favorite movie and sing at the top of your lungs!

  11. (If you are driving) Download a free road trip app that tells you where along your trip that there are play areas in restaurants or interesting pitstops on your way.  Try apps like PlayPlaces or Roadtrippers to help you plan your rest stops. 

Hopefully a few of these ideas will keep your little ones occupied and happier during your travels this season.  

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