Wednesday, January 8, 2014
10 GREAT THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR CHILDREN!
How to have a great kid? Well, let's see. Here are some things that have worked in my family and they just might work for you.
I have three amazing kids. My daughter, Jeru , is 22, Aaron is 20 and Jacob is 11. Without a doubt, I love everything about my kids. They'll share that my parenting style has never been conventional and maybe crazy at times, but I am so proud of them. So, if my ideas seem interesting, try them out. I'm sure you've probably began many of these. There's nothing new under the sun and even I'm still learning.
1- Play with your sons and daughters
Yes. Play with your kids and I mean play with the action sounds and effects, the language and the drama. If you're playing with your boys, then you have to get in there and do what they do. My son Aaron usually either made me be the bad guys with his action figures or I'd get the ugly one with missing parts. I've been the Hulk and Juggernaut without a head. Just saying, join the imagination inside your child.
Don't say, "Yuk!" when they're having a backyard adventure and discover ants, slugs and earthworms. Science time! Make it a learning moment. Use every moment to play with them and help them learn as well. Board games are great teaching tools for colors, counting, patterns and vocabulary.
Many parents think that all girls want to do is be a princess and have a tea party. Well, some girls actually want to be president, a secretary, throw a party and decide who will marry either Ken or Spider man all in one night. Girls have great imagination and they come up with narratives just like the boys do.
Dress up time is fun! I loved playing dress up with my daughter. But, girls also love to play school with teddy bears. They love to play with their brothers and then come yell that all their soldiers killed all her Barbie dolls. Teachable moments are always all around us as parents. Just remember to sit on the floor with them and have fun!
2- Set limits on video games
Some parents have given the Play Station and X Box their babysitter of the year award every year since their child was born. The moment their child completes homework, weekends and vacation time is spent in pajamas, in front of their TV and playing game after game. I don't find this fun. I think it's sad how parents just surrender their kids to do this without time limits.
I try really hard to put a schedule and a limit to the game time in our home. You may think I'm a bad mom but the truth is that there are so many other ways to spend daily time. To show my kids that playing videos is ok, I play with them every now and then. Everyone takes turns. There's only one TV with the game console on and we usually play as a family, (I usually watch because I'm so bad at playing). All I'm saying is, children grow up very, very, very fast. If you never do anything else besides take food to them while they're playing video games, you're letting precious parent and child time pass away.
3- Listen to your children
When Aaron was little, he was an amazing storyteller. He would tell you these amazing adventures about his Aunt, the brave and adventurous explorer and world traveler and how she would be visiting and bringing him something from her many trips. Anyone who visited the house, got a taste of Aaron sharing about this "Aunt". Some people would say, "Wow, I can't wait to meet her." "You will. She's coming next week." Aaron would reply, and continue sharing. There was no such Aunt. All these stories were created in his imagination.
We listened and laughed as he shared these great stories. I learned early on that it's not enough to hear your child's voice when they're hurting or have an emergency. We need to take time to listen to their questions, their day at school, their anger at a playmate, or their made up stories.Validating those sharing times create more sharing times. I remember the kids coming to my room and sitting on my bed, to share funny stories, tell me a new joke, or something that happened at school. If we as parents don't make listening time meaningful, they might think no one is interested in what they have to say.
4-Give, Read and Talk about books
I think one of my favorite gifts of all times is a book. No matter the occasion, I always found a book to give my kids. I gifted them but I also read them. Soon, they were able to read to me and then one day, I'd walk into the room and they'd be reading on their own. Books become best friends and allow children to go on journeys, escape to a magical place, or find a story/character to connect with in their many moments as children.
Having book talks at home with our children was a big time for me. I wanted to know they were really understanding, imagining, making connections and grasping the themes in the stories. I knew life would demand so much from them one day and being able to read and share about it would be important.
Today, my kids say I turned them into Book Worm Nerds. We have given books away over and over again. When my two older children were on chapter books and novels, I decided to donate all our elementary books. God surprised us with the birth of Jacob. What do you think I did? You're right! I went out and bought all our favorites, all over again. How could I deny him Eric Carle, Steven Kellogg and Kevin Henkes?
5- Cheer them on!
I would say, find out what your child is interested in when it comes to sports. Don't force them to play. Guide them to try sports. If you see a definite "don't want it" sign, leave them alone until maybe later they tell you they want to play on a team or just for fun sports.
If your child loves sports, then by all means, cheer them on! They need you not to be an extra coach, but to encourage and motivate them as they learn, fail, try and succeed. Let them play, get dirty, fall, and have fun.
Join with them and have family sports time too. Here's where you can share what you know or your expertise in the sport. Help build up their confidence. Don't embarrass them. Let your child enjoy running, bouncing, tackling and kicking.
6- Sing Out Loud!
I am blessed to come from a musical family. Saturdays mornings, my uncle's visits included hot buttered bread from the Spanish Bakery on Graham Ave, sugar donuts, mom's coffee and his guitar. My mom and my uncle opened up my ears to what harmonizing and singing beautiful sounded like. Later on, my brothers and I would learn to play instruments and sing not only at home, but in church.
Filling my home with music and singing was important to me when I had my first child. I put my baby to sleep with soft classical music, instrumental worship and praise, and I'd stay by her side singing to her as well. Bringing children's songs through finger plays and games was very important to me as well. My children loved singing time. I brought every genre of music into my home, not just Spanish or English. As long as the lyrics were not filled with cursing, songs from my mom's teenage years to mine, and especially songs that taught my kids about God's love, filled our home. Sing with your children. It's a beautiful gift that never stops giving.
7-Dance and then dance some more!
Oh, if you gave birth when the Wiggles were popular, then you just had to do the Hot Potato. When Barney was king, we danced with Barney and friends, and when any kid show was on and they started to dance, we all got up, even my mom, and we rocked the night away.
What was the results of all this madness? Happy kids. I had a home filled with kids laughing and saying, "Not like that mami, like this." We jumped, wiggled and did the break dance moves only my kids will ever see me do. When my youngest, Jacob, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, I would put on the party jams, blow up balloons, and dance, jump and move until his high blood sugar was normal. Later on, he was placed on insulin to help him but we kept on with the dancing as a form of exercise. Dance away with your baby or little one. Have fun. I'm telling you, it's a great thing to do.
8- Art Time
You don't need a lot of money to create a small art space in your home. I just had a crate and a small basket with art supplies, paint, brushes, paper, glue, etc and when I placed that on the table or the floor, that space became our art time space. Children will develop their natural talents. Share a few rules but don't go crazy with the rules because if you do this with your kids, it will get a little (or a lot) messy. I promise you. One thing I did was buy a large plastic table cloth and put it on the floor or table to help keep the mess to a limit. Hey, artists are a little messy. Love them anyway.
I discovered my daughter had an amazing gift painting still life, nature scenes and fashion. I saw my sons develop from simple cartoons to out of this world drawings. They loved having clay and forming it into whatever they wanted. There are so many things children will do when given time to draw, paint or create. Try doing something artistic with your child. It's a great way to see if this is one of their learning styles.
9- Pack and Go!
From scheduled play dates and time playing in the park, to family visits and planned vacation time, you have to invest in some kind of big or small get away with your kids. I look for ways to save a little so that I can take them out and see the world, at least what I can afford. I love date nights with my kids because we plan these moments to enjoy time together.
You don't need to do something that breaks your budget or is very luxurious and expensive so then you can brag about it on face book. No. Do something that will be memorable and meaningful for your children. They're the only ones that need to remember it. Don't go so crazy with the instagram and face book updates when you go away that you forget to sit down and enjoy the ahhs and ooohs your kids make when moved by what they experience.
10- Give Love Away
My mom has always been a very giving person. She'd take what she had and share with a hundred people. I'm serious. She gives with her heart.
This was important for me and when I had my kids, I didn't just want to help others, but help my children experience giving. We didn't have much and many times, we've struggled financially in the past. But, the Lord has always blessed us in such great ways that we could always bless someone in some way. I remember the Angel Tree Christmas Project in church. At first, I'd just buy the gift and give it to the program. As my kids got a little bigger, I realized they understood getting a gift. So, I made the project a family project and had them help get the gift with me. My daughter began to bake when she got older and began to gift goodies.
If someone had a need, because we knew the blessing it was to receive when we needed something, we were open as a family to see the needs in others and look for ways to bless them. Groceries, back to school packs or their own toys were gifted to others. It is a great thing to teach charity to our children.
Helping them see the needs of others in the world gives way to adults who later on have a heart, compassion and giving lifestyle. For this, I have to say, "Thanks, Mom. You led by example."
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