1. Overcoming Jealousy

    Jealousy is something we all experience. In many ways it can be helpful, as it can drive us to achieve on the same level as someone else. However, as with most negative emotions, kids often need help managing their jealous impulses. How can parents be of assistance?

    Jealousy can take many forms, and the first step in dealing with your child’s jealousy is identifying its nature. Many younger children get jealous of others’ possessions and privileges. Siblings will often fight over who gets to use Mom’s iPad or who gets to control what’s on the TV. In many of these cases, it’s your role to step in as the impartial referee. Put a simple system in place and enforce it: time sessions on the iPad to ensure fairness, and alternate control of the remote on the breaks between TV shows.

    If you find yourself refereeing huge numbers of showdowns, you may need to plan some activities that will encourage your kids to work cooperatively. You should also ask your children whether the object of their jealousy is really appealing, or whether it’s just appealing because a sibling or friend owns it. This can open their eyes to the role jealousy plays in distorting their feelings.     

    As kids get older, they often experience jealousy towards their peers. You may hear your child say something like “I wish I was as good at math as Clara” or “why is everyone on the baseball team better than me?” These are great times to illustrate the power of hard work to your kids. If they express dismay at their inability to do something, help them practice it. Let them harness that jealousy and turn it into self-improvement. Plot a practical path to improvement with them – and cheerlead along the way.

    But what if your little baseball player really has no hope of getting as good as the other kids?

    Jealousy regarding things one cannot change, or jealousy regarding inadequacies, real or perceived, can be the hardest to overcome. These jealousies don’t stem from wanting what someone else has as much as low self-esteem. In these situations, parents should try to help their children build self-esteem and confidence. Praise them, but praise them honestly. Remind your kids about the things they are good at, and ask them whether it really matters if they’re not as good at something else.

    Lastly, ask your child to try and accept the things they truly can’t change. This is the last and most important step in overcoming jealousy, and a major milestone in their maturity. 

     

  2. Toys that Teach

    Savvy parents are always looking for new and engaging ways to educate their kids. Whether your child is pre-school age or struggling in an academic subject, a little boost to enhance their learning experience is always beneficial. But how do you make it fun? 

    Many parents and kids have already discovered the value of learning through play. When you teach with toys, that most dreaded school subject becomes a lot less intimidating. Here are some of our favorite teaching toys:

    Scientific Playsets: Many of today’s great scientists can trace their interest in the natural world to a childhood science playset. Not only do such toys inspire young imaginations, they allow children to get some firsthand experience with the scientific method. Kids get to collect and record data, observe change over time, and begin to grasp the forces at work in the world around them. A science playset could turn your little one into a lifelong lover of science.

    Arts & Crafts Sets: Unfortunately, many of today’s school curriculums underemphasize arts education, so parents must take it upon themselves to develop their child’s creativity. A set of markers, paints, jewelry making supplies, or other artistic supplies can give your child a wonderful creative outlet. With the right art set, they’ll develop eye-hand coordination, the ability to think outside the box, and an eye for form and color.

    Building Toys: Industrious kids love Legos, blocks, K’Nex, and other building toys. These kind of toys involve some creative thought and some analytical thought, making them a versatile educational tool. Kids get to explore their imagination while learning about physics, engineering, and material science. What structures will your kids dream up?

    Adventure Kits: These toy sets are designed for exploring the outdoors. They often contain a camera, binoculars, a compass, walkie-talkie, and other adventuring equipment. Your child can observe nature, snap some pictures, and get some fresh air – all while having a blast!

    Word Games: Games like Scrabble and Boggle are a great way to expand your child’s vocabulary and improve spelling. They also force players to think on their feet. Your kids may be hesitant at first, but after a few games with you they just might get hooked. Before you know it, they’ll be the ones teaching you new words!

     

  3. Time-Out Alternative: Time-In

    When it comes to dealing with a child’s bad behavior, the time-out is one of the most tried and true tools in a parent’s kit. The prevailing wisdom is that it gives kids a few minutes to cool off, reflect about what they have done, and realize that their actions have consequences.  However, there are lessons a time-out doesn’t teach, like regulating your emotions, cooperating with your parents, or deescalating. Some parents are doing the exact opposite of the time-out and using a technique known as the time-in.

    A time-in is when you sit your child down calmly to comfort them and talk about the bad behavior. As opposed to a punishment, the time-in lets you find out what pushed your child to a certain behavior and create a cooperative plan to stop it from happening again. Most negative behavior doesn’t come from nowhere, so a time-in can help a parent understand what is going through their child’s mind. It also helps children reconcile and further examine their negative emotions.

    Many kids, when left to their own devices during time-out time, will blame others as opposed to really thinking about what they have done. Kids can have trouble sorting out their actions and their emotions. A time-in lets you, the parent, take control and say “Emotion X is okay, action X is not” and from there move the conversation to “What is a more productive way to deal with emotion X?”

    Another problem with the time-out is that it loses its effectiveness after a certain age. Are you really going to give your teenager a time-out? Probably not. By getting into the habit of talking through problems now, you establish a lifelong habit of talking through your child’s inappropriate behaviors.

    Many parents are skeptical of the time-in because they don’t want to feel they are rewarding a bad behavior. The first thing to remember is that a time-in is not a punishment, but it’s not a reward either. It’s simply a different, more proactive tool for dealing with problem behavior. Try it out – you may be surprised at the results. 

     

     

  4. 5 Ways to Maximize Family Time

    Spending more time with loved ones often tops a parent’s priorities list. It’s a simple goal, but how do you take practical steps to make it happen? Here are five easy tips for any parent looking to make more family memories.

    Family Meals

    Whether it’s a weekend brunch or a Tuesday night spent gathered around a pizza, mealtime can easily become family time. Gathering around food is never a tough sell, just make sure to inform all you family member ahead of time to clear their busy schedules for a sit-down meal. Maybe you’ll even get some mileage out of that dining room table!

    Charity

    Getting involved with a charity as a family can be greatly rewarding. It’s also a nice balance of family time and social time, allowing your family to spend time together while meeting others in your community. Scheduling can be difficult at first, but once you make it part of your routine, your family may find charity to be the most joyous part of the week.


    Chores

    No one wants to do chores, but they have to get done. And as the old saying goes, “misery loves company.” And even if chores aren’t exactly miserable for you, they’re a lot more fun if you do them with family. Try breaking off into teams to tackle various tasks. Put on some motivational music or just chat while you get to work.

    Rotating Activities

    If you designate a few hours a week for a planned activity, you can rotate which family member gets to decide what to do. You may find yourself playing your son’s favorite videogame one week and getting amateur dance lessons from your daughter the next. Don’t worry – you’ll get your chance to share your interests with your family as well.

    Sharing Screen Time

    Many parents complain that when they get home everyone in the household is glued to one screen or another. Why not all watch something together? With so much media at your fingertips, it should be easy to find a TV show or movie everyone can agree on. Whatever you end up watching, make sure to engage your kids in conversation after – that can be the best part. 

     

  5. Summers Plans Start Now!

    Summer is a few months away, but smart parents know that now is the time to start planning. During the school year everyone is busy with schoolwork, sports, and a host of other activities. Summer grinds all that to a halt. Many families enjoy the change of pace as it allows for more family time. But if kids don’t have stuff to do, they get bored. And if they get bored, they get cranky. And if they get cranky…well, you know the rest. No one likes spending summer days cooped up at home, so check out how you can start planning an activity-packed summer for your kids!

    When the temperature starts to rise, any place with a strong air conditioner is a treat to visit. If there’s an art or history museum in your area, chances are they have a program for children. These programs often reasonably priced, since most museums are non-profit organizations. Local libraries often put together reading and other activity groups for kids. Even if your child doesn’t like the idea of being in a “class” over the summer, encourage them to check out the list of programs with you. Many are way more fun than what they’d be doing in school, and can encourage their interests in a more personalized way than school.     

    Local pools, lakes, beaches, and other waterside attractions are perennial summertime favorites. But, like anything, if you do watersports, it’s worth doing the right way. If your children don’t swim yet, now is the time to sign them up for lessons. Look online for local pools and classes. Your children will thank you when they’re outswimming their peers.  

    Whether going on a hiking trip in the mountains or a jaunt to the beach, summer is the time to plan trips with the family. There are many low-cost options for outdoor trips, but whether it’s gas for the car or a new tent, family trips all end up costing something. If you start planning summer trips now, it’ll allow you to budget more effectively – which means extra money for ice cream.

    Even if you plan summer trips every weekend, you’ll still probably end up at home a lot with your kids. Stocking up on books, movies, video games, board games, and other in-home activities our kids can do when you’re not around is a smart move. What’s more, now is the time to get summer wear at the biggest discounts of the year. Swim trunks, anyone?

     

  6. Let’s Get Gardening!

    Though spring’s full bloom is yet to come, those of us with green thumbs have already started gathering the tools and supplies we will need for our gardens. But did you know that gardening can be a great teaching tool for kids? Gardening lets them see firsthand the connection between the food they eat and the natural world around them. It also helps them develop the skills to care for another living thing.

    If kids become interested the biology and climate science of gardening, it can become a great tool for teaching science. Other kids are more enticed by the colors and flavors of plant life, which gives you a great platform for teaching about cooking and healthy eating. Gardening also teaches more general skills like responsibility and seeing things through. It’s a great way to show that a bit of effort and care every day will produce something worthwhile.  

    Besides the educational benefits, gardening is a fun way to spend some time as a family. Kids take great pride when the whole family sits around the table and eats something that has herbs or veggies they helped grow. Try letting your kids name the plants – that way, it’s easier to see them as living beings with distinct characteristics.

    And don’t think that gardening only applies to suburbanites with backyards; apartment dwellers can beautify their home with plants just as well. Anywhere with some space and sufficient light in your apartment can become a miniature garden. Windowsills, fire escapes, and roofs are all popular spots. Many herbs, such as mint, basil, oregano, and tarragon, and some vegetables, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, don’t require any specialized gardening skills to grow. All you really need is a bit of space, a planter, dirt, and a watering can.

    If gardening is not an option in your home, look into community gardens. These local cooperative food gardens are springing up in communities across the country, and have been endorsed my Michelle Obama and others. They’re a great way to dip your feet into the gardening world, meet some other parents and kids, and teach your kids some valuable lessons.

     

  7. Brand Alert: Yoki

    It’s almost springtime (officially, at least) and that means we’ve had an avalanche of new inventory here at CookiesKids.com. Perennial favorite brands like U.S. Polo Assn., Baby Phat, and Levi’s all released their spring collections in the past few weeks.

    But an abundance of new inventory means it’s easy for smaller brands with limited collections to get overlooked. That’s why we’ve started the Brand Alert section here on the CookiesKids.com blog. Check back here for up-and-coming brands you may not have heard of before.

    Yoki

    There’s something about Yoki that just seems more mature than many other girls clothing brands. Their designs are classic, but always include something unique to make you look twice.

    This trench gets a boost from a dramatically flared hem and overlap stitching on the back.

    Ruffles at the sides add a kiss of femininity to this revved up motorcycle jacket.

    Versatile jackets like these really come in handy in springtime, when temperatures can jump all over the place.

    When it’s time to accessorize her look, Yoki comes to the rescue as well. This purse comes with a western accent, courtesy of fringe trim.

    Skulls = “don’t mess with me.”

    So far we’ve only seen jackets and purses from Yoki, but we hope there’s more to come. We’ll keep you updated! 

     

  8. The Diaper Bag Checklist

    Sunshine. Snacks. Smiles. Outings with baby can be a dream. But if you go unprepared, they can quickly turn into a nightmare. 

    Never fear, though. Our no-nonsense guide puts together a checklist of diaper bag essentials, and some tips for carrying it all.

    First, let’s break down everything a successful diaper bag should have:

    Diapers: at least one diaper for each hour you’ll be out of the house. 

    Wipes: not just for diaper changes, but also for dirty hands. Hand sanitizer is also a good idea.  

    Changing Pad: luckily, almost all the diaper bags we sell include one. 

    Plastic Bags: to store dirty diapers and other things you don’t want floating around unsealed in your diaper bag. Rather than buying new plastic bags, collect old grocery bags or get some biodegradable bags.

    Bottles, Sippy Cups, Snack Keepers, Snacks & Drinks: for bottles, go for whichever is baby’s favorite. For sippy cups and snack keepers, look for ones that are designed to prevent spills.

    Blanket: you can use a blanket to bundle baby up, provide a changing area, or create some shade on a sunny to day. The plusher the better!

    Extra Clothes: a light jacket is always a good idea. 

    Sunscreen: a sunhat might also come in handy.

    First-Aid Kit: because you never know.  

    Sounds like a lot, right? So how’s a mom supposed to carry all this stuff?

    First off, choose a diaper bag that’s comfortable for you. An ergonomic choice like this will help with heavy loads.

    But it’s also important to take a load off sometimes. Don’t ever hesitate to enlist dad, big brother, and big sister to help out with toting the diaper bag. Hint: they’ll be a lot more amenable to tackling this task if the diaper bag doesn’t look too embarrassing on their arm. Check out some of our more gender-neutral diaper bags, like this and this.

    Spring is on the horizon, and that means you’ll be able to get out and see the world with your little one – but only if you’re packed up and ready to go!

    Source: http://www.babycenter.com/0_checklist-what-to-put-in-your-diaper-bag_10328766.bc

     

  9. Limiting Sugar Intake

    Parents want their kids to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Eating fruits and vegetables, limiting fat intake, and keeping tabs on portion sizes is an excellent way of doing this, and standard procedure for most parents. One thing that frequently sneaks under parental radar, however, is sugar. According to Forbes magazine, the average American child consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar a day. The American Medical Association suggests no more than 9 – and that’s for adults!

    Should you limit your child’s sugar intake? The answer is an unequivocal yes. Refined sugar has no nutritional value. Sugar has been linked to obesity, nervousness, acne, fatigue, diabetes, and a host of other conditions. The less sugar any person takes in, the better, but for children, sugar is doubly damaging because they’re learning eating habits now that will follow them through life.

    Most parents are aware that sugar is not something they should be feeding their children. So how does so much make it into our kids’ diets? The two biggest culprits are sugary drinks and sweet snacks. Most parents would not knowingly let their kid eat 10 teaspoons of sugar, yet one can of Coke contains precisely that much. Sport drinks, fruit drinks, and flavored waters are equally as saccharine.

    As a parent, it’s a good idea to check the labels. Even seemingly healthy foods like kids’ yogurts and sorbet can contain tons of sugar. It doesn’t mean they can’t be part of your child’s diet at all, but it’s up to you to monitor overall sugar intake, and that means cutting down wherever you can.

    If you decide to limit your child’s sugar intake, it’s a good idea to do it gradually. A slow taper from sugary foods to healthier ones has a better chance of succeeding than a crash diet approach. Try replacing sodas with water, seltzer, or homemade drinks. Ice tea is great because you can choose a flavor your kids will love and limit sugar to one teaspoon per glass. If your child has a sweet tooth, point them to naturally sweet snacks like fresh and dried fruit.

    The earlier you start your children on the path of monitoring and limiting sugar intake, the healthier they will be for the rest of their lives. Having less sugar food in your home will be a boon to everyone’s health, including your own. 

     

  10. Kids & Social Media

    Social media confounds many parents. Parents who don’t have experience with social media are at a loss, and many parents who do are unsure how they should monitor and interact with their kids via these channels. The news is full of stories involving kids misbehaving and getting into trouble on social media, so how can you make sure you’re setting the right rules for your kids?  More importantly, how can you proactively protect your kids on social media?

    The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t done it already, is create social media accounts. Join Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other network that your kids are a part of. Connect with your kids. Just the fact they know that you can see what they are doing online will make them think twice before posting a questionable picture or less than thoughtful comment.

    Some parents want to know their kids’ passwords so they can see firsthand everything they’re doing online. That certainly makes it easier to monitor your kids, but for some parents it’s a case of too much information. Password sharing depends strongly on the level of privacy you afford your kids, and ultimately on their level of maturity.

    No matter how much privacy your kids have, there are certain things you should review with them. Make sure they understand that a lot of the same rules that apply to strangers on the street apply to people on social media. They should never give out their personal information and immediately report any harassment – whether from peers or from strangers. When it comes to their personal conduct, just remind them that you are on the same networks they are. Anything they wouldn’t want you to see shouldn’t be online at all.

    It’s important for parents to look past some of the negative characteristics of social media to see its true value. If you use social media as a way to monitor and interact with your kids, it’s an invaluable window into their lives.