1. Fall Family Fun

    The arrival of fall can sometimes mean less time to spend together as a family. With kids in school, parents back in work-mode, and the days growing shorter, this time of year can indeed be a lot busier than summer. But that doesn’t mean you should let this magical season slip by without doing some fun stuff as a family. Here are some ideas for activities that will make your family “fall” in love with the new season:

    Get Outdoors: Crisp weather and foliage in transition make fall one of the best seasons to take advantage of the great outdoors. Whether you go apple picking, hiking, or just enjoy a campfire on a brisk evening, make sure to spend some time outside. And don’t forget that the weather can change quickly, so take along quality kids’ outerwear.

    Tailgating: Even people who aren’t huge football fans can appreciate the cooking, comradery, and excitement of a fall tailgate. If NFL tickets are out of your price range, check out the local collegiate or semi-pro team for some great deals.

    Make a Halloween Costume: Halloween is the highlight of the season for many youngsters. Rather than cramming all the fun into the week before October 31st, starting now will give you and your family the chance to create some truly incredible costumes.   

    Fall Cooking: Fall is a great time to do some family cooking. The bounty of in-season items at your grocery store can inspire budding cooks and help you expand the palates of picky eaters. Traditional favorites like spiced cider and chili are simple to make and can be stored for weeks of future enjoyment.

    Fall Crafting: Show off fall’s vivid colors with some seasonal crafting. Dry leaves, pinecones, Indian corn, and other seasonal bounties can make for eye-catching crafts. Take a trip to the park to collect items, then combine them with the crafting supplies you already have at home. Better yet, invite some craft-savvy friends over to share in the fun. 

     

  2. Trend Alert: Jogger Pants

    Jogger pants for boys and girls are quickly becoming the top kids clothing trend of fall 2014. What are jogger pants? Most joggers feature an elastic waistband, skinny cut, and fitted cuffs – basically, a tapered, tailored pair of sweatpants.

    Athletically inspired materials, such as fleece or French terry, create all-day comfort, but as the popularity of joggers expands, materials like denim and canvas are finding their way into the mix. Check out some of our favorites – for boys and girls: 

    The fleece construction and elastic waistband make these comfy for all-day wear, while faux leather paneling and a skinny cut up the trend factor. 

    If she likes edgy denim, this pair of joggers is her pick. The unique stone wash is sure to earn her the right kind of attention.

    Canvas construction and an edgy print make this pair of boys’ joggers truly unique. Try dressing them up with his favorite button-down for a memorable look. 

    These silky joggers for girls pair a floral print with silky construction for a comfortable and casual look that’s still totally on-trend. 

     

  3. The Best Ways to Praise

    There’s a lot of information online, in parenting books, and elsewhere about the right way to discipline kids, but what’s the right way to praise them? Meting out praise can be tricky. Check out these guidelines to ensure you praise your child in a way that nurtures their developing talents.

    Parenting experts agree that you should praise your child for the effort they put in as opposed to the end result. If your child is naturally good at math and doesn’t need to study much for tests, you may want to hold off on showering them with math-related compliments. Instead, encourage them when they tackle the subjects they find challenging. This promotes hard work and lets your child know it’s okay to leave their comfort zone and try things that don’t come naturally.

    Be as specific when as you can when complimenting your child. If you see them working on their layups before a big basketball game, compliment them on layups after the game – better yet, let them know exactly why their layups were looking so good, and in what ways their layups have improved since last week. Vague compliments can leave your child confused about what exactly they did that warrants praise. Highly specific complements let kids know you were really watching, sound more sincere, and help your child identify their unique skills.

    Whatever you do, don’t praise kids only for succeeding. Praising kids for trying and failing is important because sticking with things is a sure way to be successful. Anything from a new hobby to tying their shoes for the first time can be a chance to praise them for taking on something new. This will help them develop both perseverance and open-mindedness.

    When it comes to rewarding a job well done, avoid giving a material reward, especially money. It’s important for kids to understand that not all work yields a tangible reward. Instead, spend some quality time with your child eating ice cream, doing something fun, or just unwinding together. Let them develop personal pride in what they accomplish – that’s a quality that will stay with them forever.

     

     

  4. Beds for Big Kids

    As we wrote about here, the transition from crib to toddler bed can be scary for your little one. Letting them help select their big kid bed can help them overcome any anxiety. Who is their favorite character? Spider-Man? Dora the Explorer? We carry a range of character themed toddler beds, each one with a guard rail, low to the ground design, and other kid-friendly features. Check out some of our favorites:

    This canopy bed is truly fit for a princess.

    SpongeBob Squarepants keeps the positivity level high on this bed.  

    This Mickey Mouse tent bed can replicate the cozy feel of a crib. Include his favorite pillow and blanket for extra security.

    Elmo can watch over your big kid every night with this bed. The bright and colorful design makes this a welcome addition to any child’s room.

     

  5. Student-Teacher Conflict: What’s a Parent to Do?

    With a new school year comes new teachers. Getting to know a new teacher is usually fun and exciting for kids, but every now and then teacher and student clash, and the results can be troubling. What do you do if your child doesn’t get along with their teacher? When and how do you, as a parent, step in to mediate?

    First off, take time to determine how serious the conflict is. Kids tend to report on teachers in vague terms, something like “My math teacher hates me,” or “Mr. Smith is mean to me.” Ask your child to name more specific mistreatment. Determine if the problem is related to schoolwork, or has more to do with the way your child and their teacher interact personally.

    Once you have an idea of what your child’s take on the situation is, talk to the teacher. Schedule a one-on-one meeting and bring your best non-confrontational language. Open the discussion with something like: “I know my child is having a hard time in your class. What do you think we could all do to change that?” There’s a good chance the teacher has considered the problem and can offer some specific and thoughtful advice.

    If the problem is serious, parent, teacher, and student should come together to discuss the issue and make a plan to move forward. It can be worthwhile for your child to be present, just to let the teacher know that they want to make an effort to get along. And for the most part, kids walk away from these kinds of meetings with a much clearer idea about what they need to do to move ahead.

    Avoid taking sides in a student-teacher conflict. Taking the teacher’s side alienates your child and doesn’t validate their potentially serious claims of bias or mistreatment. Siding with your child may boost their confidence, but it won’t help them solve their own problems or learn to work with people they don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with. With older kids, it may be wise to let your child settle their student-teacher disagreement on their own. Here, try to offer advice from your own experience. Ever have a disagreement in the workplace? How did you get over that?

    Student-teacher conflicts present teachable moments and promote inter-personal skills. It may be the first time your child comes into contact with an authority figure, but it won’t be the last. Only your guidance can help them find a solution to their conflict – and make sure they develop the conflict-resolution skills for a harmonious life.

     

  6. Bye, Bye Baby Bed!

    One of the first milestones of toddlerhood is making the transition from crib to big kid bed. It’s a switch everyone makes, but how do you know when your child is ready? And how do you make it easier for them?

    Most kids make the switch between ages 2 and 3, when they are about 34 to 36 inches in height. When they can stand in their crib and potentially get out, you know it’s time.

    The first part of a smooth transition is making sure the idea appeals to your child. Toddlers tend to crave the familiar and are just starting to assert their individuality, so you don’t want to just surprise them with a big kid bed out of the blue. This is especially true if the crib is being vacated for a baby sibling. Let your toddler know they’ll be getting a big kid bed soon. Let them get involved in choosing the bed and bedding; it will up the excitement. Tell them about all the benefits: more space, no more bars, fun characters on the sheets and pillowcase.

    Don’t get rid of the crib the moment the toddler bed arrives. Having both the crib and the bed in the same room can lead the child to naturally make the move, whereas seeing the crib gone can create a bit of a shock. If your child is hesitant at first, have them simply use the bed to nap before transitioning to using it for a full night’s sleep. Move the crib out of the room only once you’re sure your child is comfortable in their new bed.

    Besides the new bed, try to keep the rest of the bedtime routine familiar. Too much change will overwhelm your toddler. Sing the same songs, read the same stories, and otherwise stick to what you have always done to get your little one in the mood for sleep. Your child may be resistant at first, but after a few weeks (at most) the crib will be a far off memory.

     

  7. These Prints Are LOUD!

    Adventurous dressers are sure to enjoy the new trend in pants: loud prints. For too long girls’ pants have been limited to conventional solid colors and classic prints, even as cuts and styles have evolved. Now children’s clothing designers are experimenting with vivid prints designed to turn heads and get attention. Girls can use these prints to create everyday looks when paired with simple shoes and tops, or go all-out with a loud-on-loud outfit. Check out some of our favorites:

    Part punk and part glam, these pants offer an edgy look. The simple cut lets the print speak for itself.

    Dazzle the eye with the turned-up pueblo print on these Coogi skinnies!

    Lavo serves up their unique take on the acid wash with these high-waisted skinnies. 

     

  8. Keeping a Journal

    Journaling can be both educational and therapeutic for kids. It’s more than just a way to practice writing; it allows kids to reflect on their emotions, an important process and something they might not ordinarily do.  

    Getting a kid to start a journal, especially if they aren’t crazy about writing, can be a tough sell. Emphasize the open-ended nature of the project. It’s their journal and they can fill it with anything they want. If they want to write about things they saw on TV or their favorite videogame, let them. It doesn’t have to be full sentences. There can be doodles. No limits or minimums on entry length. The only rule? Date all entries.

    When first introducing the idea of journaling to your child, it can help to show them a few inspiring examples. There are many great children’s books on the subject of journaling, and even more fiction books, for all reading levels, written in diary format. If you kept a journal as a kid, dig it up and show it off to your child; it might be more inspirational than you think. Also, having a cool journal can be a booster to get started.

    Although you should encourage your child to share their journal with you if they want, be sure they know they can also choose to keep it private. Part of growing up is deciding what problems to share with parents and which ones to tackle yourself. A journal is a safe space to grapple with those problems and deliberate over solutions. It’s also a space for thoughts they might never say aloud to anybody, not even a parent. If a kid fears their journal may become public, they will not be honest, which defeats the point of journaling.

    One of the best things about journaling is that it can become a lifelong project. Some people start keeping a diary in first grade and by the time they graduate college have a thorough record of their lives. Other people return to journaling in times of stress, as it helps them work through difficult times. Even if your child doesn’t keep a diary every day for the rest of their lives, you will have taught them an important lesson on recording and organizing their thoughts and emotions. 

     

  9. Brand Alert: Under Armour Is Here!

    Few brands are as synonymous with athletic performance as Under Armour. Unlike brands that cater to a specific sport, you can find Under Armour on NASCAR racers, NBA ballers, and Olympic skiers. What features make Under Armour the go-to pick for so many athletes? One reason is the performance Heat Gear fabric, designed to keep you cool and dry under pressure. All Under Armour products are designed to take a lot of abuse without wear and tear, making them ideal for your young athlete. Check out some of our favorites: 

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    It doesn’t get any more classic than this Under Armour T. He’ll feel great wearing it on top of a pair of jeans or under his school team’s uniform.

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    These pants deliver sporty comfort that gives him confidence whether he’s making new friends or leaving it all on the field. 

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    He’ll shine bright in this glow-in-the-dark Under Armour T, the right pick for night cycling, after-hours practice, or early morning workouts.

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    The bold logo on this Under Armour T lets the world know he means business.

     

  10. Let’s Make Back-to-School Better

    Making the transition from summer to back-to-school season can be stressful for your entire family. The change in scheduling, navigating a new academic environment, and other stressors often add up to a tense situation that puts everyone on edge. But back-to-school doesn’t have to be stressful. They key to success is giving your kids the right kind of support at the right time. Here are some helpful tips for easing them into a new school year.

    With younger kids, especially those starting in a new school or building, help familiarize them with their routine and surroundings before the first day. Drive or walk by the new school and point it out them. If possible, go inside. Show them where their classroom, lunchroom, and closest bathroom are located. They’ll be more confident on the first day if they’re already familiar with their environment.

    As a parent, you also need to project confidence. Being nervous on behalf of your kids is only going to make things worse. Tell stories about how much fun you had starting a new grade. Emphasize the perks of being older, having more responsibility, and going on to bigger and better things academically.

    Though we’re biased, we recommend getting back-to-school shopping done 2 weeks or more before the first day of school. This not only gives you ample time to find exactly what you need, it also give your kids time to mentally prepare for the new school year. The moment you take them shopping, back-to-school ceases to be a far off specter and becomes a tangible event. Plus, if you go early, the hottest new trends aren’t sold out yet.

    Make sure to schedule any dental or medical appointments for at least 2 weeks before school starts, and ensure your child is up to date on their vaccines. Discovering medical issues before the start of school allows you to deal with them before your family starts juggling back-to-school responsibility. It can also help your child avoid getting sent to the school nurse’s office on the first day.    

    A successful back-to-school season is all about making kids feel excited or at least comfortable about the transition. Make the most of what remains of summer with your kids, and let them know that you’re there for them no matter what may come during the school year.