1. Fear No More!

    Was Halloween a little too scary for your little one? Or does your child have fears that extend past the season of ghouls and goblins? Small children tend to be more afraid of things not based in reality, such as monsters and ghosts, than older kids. Big kids aren’t immune to fear, though; their fears often reflect real circumstances, which can be even scarier. So what can you do to help your child conquer their fears? Check out the tips below!

    First and foremost, remember not to label feelings of fear as ‘wrong.’ As trivial as monsters seem to you, they might feel very real to your child. Make sure to talk to your child about their fears in an understanding and sensitive way. Don’t assume you know how they feel. Instead, ask what they think will happen or what exactly they’re afraid of. Gently correct any misconceptions, and then offer assurance.

    Ignoring a child’s fear in the hopes that they’ll just get over it can make things worse.  Statements such as “big kids aren’t afraid of the dark” can shame kids into silence, and won’t fix a fear of the dark. Instead, try validating kids’ feelings: let them know it’s permissible to have and to express fears. Let them know that these feelings make sense, and that it’s OK to feel whatever they’re feeling. 

    But validation doesn’t mean catering to a fear. If your child’s fear is dogs, don’t cross the street deliberately to avoid one. Instead, use an encounter with a fear as a teaching moment. Suggest coping strategies like taking deep breaths or saying “I can do this” out loud. Ask your child to approach a feared object only one or two steps at a time, acting as a home base your little one can retreat to if they become too scared. Handle things like fear of the dark in steps, transitioning from a big lamp to a small nightlight until your child is comfortable trying lights out.

    Lastly, the way you handle your own fears has a great influence on your kids. When a parent is afraid, kids sense it, but the example you set by managing your fear shows your child what a positive response looks like. Think hard about what you might be afraid of, and how you face it. Share this experience with your children. Once they see that Mom and Dad are scared of things too, not only will they feel okay about their fear, but they’ll know that if you can handle it, nothing is stopping them.






  2. Tutoring: Success without Stigma

    Maybe it was a few bad test grades. Maybe they’re in a big class and not getting the attention they need. Whether your child is struggling in school or just looking to boost their academic performance, it might be time to consider tutoring options. There are now lots of different ways kids can seek help outside of school, perhaps more than when you were a student. Check out these helpful ideas.

    If your child shows signs that they’re not as confident in a subject, don’t wait to start a tutoring program. Just like adjusting to a new teacher, it can take time to develop a relationship with a tutor, so the earlier you choose your child’s tutor, the better. Finding a tutor when your child is already failing a class can sometimes cause more stress.

    Should you or another family member be your child’s tutor? Maybe. But keep in mind educators today may teach a subject very differently than the way you learned it. Also, though you may not mean to, parents can put pressure on kids about grades, and this can be discouraging for a child whose personal goal is just to “get it” not necessarily to get an A. Sometimes it’s best to leave tutoring to people outside your family, because outsiders are more likely to teach the subject in a no-pressure kind of way. 

    For older students and complex academic subjects, professional tutors might be right. Just know, they can be expensive, so you may want to save this option for serious academic problems. If you wish to hire a professional tutor, make sure they’re from an accredited service. Not sure about which tutoring service is best?  Ask your school or local library about programs and methods they might recommend – perhaps there’s even a free community group or afterschool program you didn’t know about.

    Many kids find peer assistance the right solution. College students make great tutors and mentors for teens, and high schoolers can help middle school kids. Consider the older kids in your family’s social circle, especially ones your child looks up to. If you think one of them might make a good tutor, don’t hesitate to ask them. They might do it as a favor to you, but consider giving them a fee (could be money, could be dinner) for their tutoring assistance – just to let them know it means a lot to you and your child.

    If your child finds other classmates who are struggling with the same subject, they might prefer group work or “study dates” to more formal tutoring. Be sure to give this a chance, because some kids really work better in a group. Just make sure that if kids say they’re doing work, video game breaks are kept to a minimum.     

    Whichever tutoring option you choose, keep apprised of your child’s progress. Make sure to check in with them after their tutoring sessions. Be patient, but if progress is really slow, don’t hesitate to try another tutoring option. Most importantly, make sure your student knows you’re proud of them for giving some extra attention to their studies. It can take guts to say, “I need help with this class.” Make sure they get the help that’s right for them.   \






  3. Avoiding Gender Stereotypes

    It probably started at your baby shower. If a girl was on the way, you got piles of pink; if a boy, you got bundles of blue. And from the moment your little one was born, their gender has influenced how people treat them. Studies show that adults describe a newborn wearing pink as “sweet” or “feminine”, but that same baby in blue is “sturdy” or “vigorous.” But your little one is unique, so how can you make sure they aren’t defined by narrow gender stereotypes?

    Remember, kids are learning from you at all times, which means the biggest influence on kids’ ideas about gender is what they see at home. If you and your partner enact traditional gender roles, get creative! Show your child that men cook and women fix things. Spend time with friends whose households are different from yours. Comment positively on people who do jobs not typical for their gender, such as male nurses. And ask your child what they think: “That boy grew up to be a nurse. What do you think you’ll grow up to do?”

    When it’s time to play, consider gender neutral options. Keep toys like blocks and crayons in rotation with dolls and trucks. Read books together with a child of the opposite gender as the main character. Invite a child of the opposite gender over to play – both kids will be amazed how much they dig each other’s stuff!

    Did you know that the compliments you give kids can affect how they perceive gender? Girls in particular receive a lot of specifically feminine encouragement. Adults are more likely to compliment a girl on her looks, clothes, and hair than they are a boy. Similarly, boys are often encouraged to be less emotional because “big boys don’t cry.” Try to compliment children on what they do or say rather than how adorable they are (that’s the hard part!), and help them feel safe sharing their feelings. As kids get older, they’ll probably be thinking a lot about what being a boy or a girl means to them. As always, encourage them to be open and honest with their feelings and questions.

    Shopping trips can be a great opportunity to explore what kids feel good wearing, regardless of the garment’s “intended” gender. Some stylish choices, like skinny jeans, can even walk the line between genders. Keep in mind many kids clothing brands offer unisex styles – check out our selection! And remember, it’s great to be a tough guy or a girly girl if that’s what your kid desires. It’s all about encouraging them to be whatever they want to be.


  4. Saying Sorry…And Meaning It!

    It’s a tale as old as time: your toddler borrows her older brother’s toy truck without asking, and – whoops! – breaks it. Tears flow, shouts fly, and finally your angry son declares his sister can never, ever play with his toys again. As the adult, you know she needs to apologize and he needs to forgive. But these are big concepts for little ones. It takes effort on your part to teach kids what goes into a sincere apology and what forgiveness really means. If you put in the time now, these skills will help your children resolve conflicts for their entire lives.

    As anyone who’s received a half-hearted apology can attest, there’s a lot more to apologizing than just saying, “I’m sorry.” An apology is most effective when it comes from a genuine understanding of how the other person’s feelings may have been hurt, and a willingness to accept responsibility. For the person granting forgiveness, accepting a sincere apology is the healthiest way to release negative feelings and move on.

    Talking with your children about how their actions affect others is an important step in developing the empathic attitude required to apologize and forgive. Make your child aware of others’ feelings by asking questions like, “How do you think your brother feels?” and, “Why do you think she did that to you?” Being constantly considerate of others’ feelings is the surest way to prevent the kinds of situations that require an apology.

    But everyone has to apologize and forgive at some point. Whether you’re playing the role of mediator, or talking with kids about these situations afterwards, be sure to give the right advice. Apologizers should know that accepting responsibility is the most important step, and forgivers understand that when apologizers really mean it, forgiving is the right thing to do. Also, remember that it’s okay for kids to be temporarily angry, or sad, or frustrated. Letting these feelings out is healthier than bottling them up. But screaming and yelling is rarely a clear way to get feelings across, so let tempers cool before the process of apology begins.

    Asking someone for forgiveness can be risky. It means admitting you made a mistake, and opening yourself up to further hurt or embarrassment. But holding onto resentment or anger can be emotionally draining and make it difficult to form healthy, long-lasting relationships. As your children get older, understanding their responsibility in any given situation, and knowing how to let go of negativity, will help them stay sincere, increase their confidence, and lead to stronger, more fulfilling connections with family and friends.   






  5. I Can Do It

    Stumbled upon this by DeepRootsPhotography:

    From the photographer:

    "I actually like this “photostory” because it shows how independent children tend to be…no matter if they need help or not. 

    I hope this moves you the same way it does me every time I see it.”

    While simple, this photostory brings up an important part about growing up - developing independence.

    What comes to mind when you see this?