1. 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. 

     

     

  2. Let’s Get a Pet!

    Getting a first pet is a monumental occasion in any child’s life. From the moment you bring that animal through the door, your kids will love it. Most parents eventually find themselves enamored with the family pet as well. All too often, however, families choose pets that they can’t handle, and those pets get sent back to the stores or shelters from which they came. It’s a sad event for both the pet and the family. How can you ensure your family chooses a pet that will be with you for a long time to come?

    The first thing you need to do is research. What kind of pet best fits your family’s lifestyle? Do you have the time and energy to devote to a dog? Are you home enough for a cat? How much responsibility will the parents shoulder? What about the kids? These are all things you need to figure out and discuss before you make any trip to a shelter or pet store.

    Dogs are the most popular American pet. Most dog owners view their pet as part of the family. If choosing a dog, make sure to factor in age, breed, and disposition. Does your family have the time and space necessary for a big, high-energy puppy? Maybe you would be more comfortable with a smaller dog that needs less exercise? Keep in mind you will need to take the time to train any dog so it can adjust to life with your family.

    Cats are the second most popular American pet. Many people assume that if they get a cat and put out a litter box and food bowl, the rest will take care of itself. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Although cats require less effort than dogs, they still need play and attention every day. Also, a family that travels a lot needs to make sure someone can take care of their cat when they are gone.

    If you aren’t ready to jump headlong into pet ownership, consider a starter pet, something that doesn’t require too much attention. Good examples include hamsters, goldfish, mice, and finches. These pets are a good way to make sure your family has the time to clean, feed, and care for an animal. If things work out, you’ll know your family is ready for a long term commitment.

     

  3. Closet Cleanup!

    Kids have a hard enough time keeping their room clean. When it comes to keeping a closet neat, most are at a complete loss. Things that don’t have another place tend to end up in the closet, which results in a huge, disorganized mess. This stops you and your children from maximizing the closet as an actual storage space.

    The first thing you need to do is thoroughly clean out the closet in question with your kids. Chances are there are a lot of things that you can throw out. Other items can be moved into a more permanent storage space like under the bed or in the basement. Once the closet has been thoroughly cleaned out you can decide what items you’ll store there.

    It’s important to have a system in place for the closet. Cleaning out a closet is a good start, but the mess will slowly begin to accumulate again if there isn’t an organizational system in place. Designate different places in the closet for various items. Make sure your child knows what specific items go in the closet and where to put them.

    Maximize space in your closet with organizing accessories. Get a shoe rack or door hangers to make use of door space. Stack shelves or milk crates on the floor to get the most out of the floor area. You can find many more ideas for how to get the most out of every inch of closet space online.

    Cleaning the closet should be part of your child’s room cleaning routine. Once a system is in place, they’ll have no excuse for not keeping their closet organized. It may require some gentle reminders at first, but once a routine has been established it will be easy.

    Once your child’s closet is organized you can clone your success in every closet in the house! Don’t be afraid to get rid of things you never use. The key to success to creating a system and sticking with it. What will you do with all your extra storage space?

     

  4. What Is Tricot?

    Originally designed for athletic use, tricot is one of those magic fabrics that belongs in every kid’s wardrobe. It’s breathable and easy to clean, and because it has a natural shine to it, it seems to add pizzazz to just about any outfit.

    If your little one likes to stay active while looking great, check out these tricot picks!

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    It doesn’t get any more classic than these Fila track pants, a practical choice that looks equally fresh at the gym or at the mall.

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    This Coogi outfit mixes up a tricot jacket with jeans and a T for a taste of retro style.  

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    This Puma 2-piece is game day ready. Plus those fun colors are sure to keep a smile on her face! 

     

  5. New Year’s Resolutions

    What are your resolutions for 2014? The New Year is traditionally a time for self-improvement, emphasis on self, but what if you include your family in your goals this year? When you share your resolutions with your family and others, they’re more likely to keep you honest, and you have a better shot at success.  

    Instead of just setting goals for yourself this New Year, make 2 sets of goals – some for yourself and some for the whole family. Good examples of family goals include eating healthier, saving money together, or spending more time together.

    Making individual goals is not just for the adults. Talk to your kids about the ways they want to improve themselves in 2014. Try getting your child to set 2 goals. One can be a suggestion from you, something like getting better grades or eating more vegetables. The other can be entirely up to them. Let them know that they will have your support for achieving their goals, and think about how you can motivate them.

    Once your goals are set, write them down. As simple as that may sound, putting goals down in writing goes a long way towards ensuring your family doesn’t forget or waver from them as 2014 wears on. If possible, create a visual model to chart progress. Note improvements in GPA on the fridge or make a graph to show how much your family is saving month-to-month on bills and other expenses.

    Make sure to reward yourself, your partner or spouse, and your kids for reaching milestones in your resolutions. If your family is cutting costs in 2014, maybe you could all agree that part of what is saved will go towards a vacation or something that the whole family can appreciate. The same is true of individual goals. If your child is trying to improve their GPA, tell them they can finally get that Xbox or iPhone if their grades improve by a full point in the coming academic semester. Another great way to boost yourself and your family as you reach milestones? Tweet it or share it on facebook. There’s nothing wrong with a little bragging for motivation – just don’t take it too far!

    Working together as a family can make all the goals you set for 2014 achievable. All you have to do is work together, keep each other motivated, and stay strong even as the months go by. Good luck on achieving your 2014 resolutions, and Happy New Year from CookiesKids.com!

     

  6. Ankle Boots for Boys

    We know that getting boys into dressier shoes can be a challenge. If it seems like he can’t wait to get out of those clunky dress shoes, it might be time to try out ankle boots.  

    With an ankle-length cut and minimal construction, ankle boots have been a staple on the menswear scene for a while now, and they’re popping up more and more in boys sizes.

    They’re an appealing choice for boys who are used to sneakers, because they’re easy to lace, usually come with some tread on the sole, and offer extra support because of their high cuff.

    They also come in splashy colors, like this pair:

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    These Florsheim ankle boots are genuine suede – very luxe.

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    These opt for a more toned-down look. The slightly pointed toe makes them extra sleek:

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    Even infants can get in on the trend!

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  7. Birthdays on a Budget: Having a Blast without Breaking the Bank

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    The cost of a child’s birthday party can add up fast. Food for friends and family, appropriate entertainment – and don’t forget a present for the birthday boy or girl! Unfortunately, many parents find that spending more doesn’t necessarily mean getting more. Before you start booking the magician or renting the arcade, look over our affordable birthday solutions. You’ll find lots of ways you can give your kids and their friends a unique and memorable birthday without spending much at all.

    For spring and summer birthdays, a day on the lake is great fun. A quick internet search will reveal the parks in your area. In most cases, reserving a site with a fire pit and lake access is under $20. Some sites are free, but in those cases you’ll need to arrive early to stake your claim. Then all you need is a cooler full of hotdogs and any outdoor play things you have around the house. The parents can relax while the kids run around, swim, and make their own fun. As the day ends, gather everyone around the fire to sing Happy Birthday, open presents, and eat some birthday s’mores!

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    If the weather doesn’t permit, or you’re not around any lakes, you can organize a scavenger hunt. If you plan this properly it can cost you a total of $0. You can organize a scavenger hunt around your neighborhood, if weather permits, or at the local mall. Just create some clues based on your chosen location, split the guests into two or more teams with a few parents per team, then let them loose to solve the puzzle. Look online for inspiration; you’ll find lots of clues and riddles to incorporate into your hunt.

    Chances are there are some fun, low cost cultural institutions in your area. Museums, zoos, and historical sites are all affordable options. Call and ask about group rates or reduced rates for kids. Many such places will also have free days every now and again, though they do tend to become crowded on those days. Make sure to bring enough parents on your outing. Keeping track of so many rowdy kids in a crowded place can get tricky.

    When planning a birthday on a budget, it’s important to take advantage of all the resources available to you, from other parents to local attractions. With enough planning and creativity you can deliver a birthday experience your little one will never forget.  

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  8. Flu Season Tips for the Whole Family

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    At its best, the flu can be a few days in bed with a sore throat and other unpleasant symptoms. At its worst, it can require hospitalization. As with many illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. How can you prevent your family from getting the flu this season? Check out these no-nonsense tips!

    The best line of defense is a flu vaccine. Although everyone should get a flu vaccine, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) highly recommends the elderly, children between 6 months and 6 years, people with a preexisting illness, pregnant women, or anyone who works with the aforementioned groups get vaccinated. You can get a flu vaccine at your doctor’s office or pharmacy, usually at little to no cost.

    The typical flu vaccine prevents against the 3 major flu viruses. The antibodies it spurs your body to create, however, can help prevent many other forms of the flu. But even though the vaccine dramatically reduces your risk of contracting the flu, it doesn’t offer 100% protection. Vaccinated individuals will still be susceptible to certain forms of the flu virus. There are also a host of non-flu viruses that can cause similar symptoms.

    What else can you do to reduce the risk of getting sick? Scientist have found that people who have healthy habits overall are better equipped to fight the flu, and are sometimes able to get rid of it before symptoms appear at all. What’s your family doing to stay healthy? During flu season, take extra care that you and your family eat nutritiously, sleep enough, and exercise. Not only will this kind of behavior make you less likely to get the flu, it will make your case of the flu less severe if you do end up falling ill.

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    Another effective preventative measure is hand washing. Make sure to wash your hands constantly during flu season. Get your family in the habit of washing up before meals or after interacting with large groups of people. Use hot water and soap with at least 30 seconds of rigorous scrubbing, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

    People who do get sick, especially those who get a milder strain, tend to go about their daily lives and not stay home. The CDC warns against such behavior. The high communicability of the flu means interacting with people who aren’t sick puts them at risk. Your coughs and sneezes can infect people up to 6 feet away! The best thing you can do if you’re sick is stay home and minimize contact with others. And make sure your kids stay away from you, too – we know it’s hard not to give them hugs sometimes, but it’s for their own good.  

     

  9. Family Fun: Fall Edition

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    Although fall marks the end of trips to the beach and water balloon fights, it also brings new and exciting ways to have fun as a family. Check out some of these activities!

    October’s here, which means Halloween’s on the horizon. Dressing up in coordinating costumes with the rest of your family can be a great way to get everyone in on the fun. The cast of your favorite TV show, a flock of Angry Birds, a coven of witches – discuss some options with your kids and see what sticks. Even if you choose not to do a family costume, your kids will probably be dressing up, and you should consider getting in the spirit, too.   

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    Thanksgiving presents lots of other opportunities for family bonding. It may be a food-centric holiday, but the good times don’t have to revolve around the Thanksgiving Day meal. Get your kids involved in the whole process. Have them make hand turkeys to show guests, or cut leaves out of craft paper to decorate the house. The festivities will be all the sweeter if your whole family played an active role in making it happen.

    The fall is the last time your family can spend a significant period of time outdoors before winter’s cold sets in, so don’t squander the opportunity! Go apple picking, spend time in the park watching the leaves change, or go to an outdoor event. But make sure your kids have warm clothes to suit the season – if they don’t, check out our selection of jackets, sweaters, and accessories

    Fall also features a selection of unique culinary treats. Cook up a batch of mulled cider or a pumpkin pie for your family. The fact that these treats are seasonal makes them all the more special.

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    The great thing about fall is that so much is happening. No matter what your family’s interests, you can find something awesome to do. Sport fans? Fall is prime tailgating season! Craft masters? Try your hands at making pine cone bird feeders! Nature lovers? Take a hike! And when the air really starts to cool, build a fire.

    What will you do this fall?

     

  10. One More Game?

    Is your smartphone moonlighting as your child’s favorite portable gaming device? Has your living room become a zone for video gaming and little else? Advances in technology have made playing video games easier, more portable, and more fun than ever before, so it’s critical to ask – are your kids playing too much?

    There are many reasons why kids love video games: they’re an important piece of social currency among their peers, and provide a shared experience that can strengthen friendships and help develop new ones. Mastering a difficult level or mission provides a healthy boost of self-confidence – who hasn’t felt a rush of pride at finally defeating a particularly challenging level boss? Gaming can teach important skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and eye-hand coordination. And for some kids, it can help shape their identity, much like how sports, the arts, and other pursuits have defined many a childhood.

    But like so many pleasures, moderation is key. It’s fine for them to spend an hour or so plotting ways to collect the maximum number of stars in a tough race on Super Mario Kart; it’s not okay for them to lose track of how long they’ve been playing. Studies have shown that playing video games excessively can lead to irritability, decreased social activity, and shorter attention spans. The rush that comes from playing a game well is an addicting one, and it’s easy for children to want to skip homework and chores in favor of racking up points on a global scoreboard.

    Establishing clear guidelines from the start is the best way to stave off problems. Try instituting a ‘no playing until homework is done’ rule, or ‘chores are done, time for fun’ policy. Making video games a reward will help your kids keep their gaming in perspective and help you keep tabs on how much they’re really playing. Setting time limits can work too, but be aware of how long it takes to complete a mission or level. Location is another tool in your monitoring arsenal; try keeping the console in the living room or other family area to prevent your kids from becoming too isolated during play. Multiplayer games, especially those on the Wii, are an excellent way to turn a solitary effort into one that encourages family bonding.

    It may not be as traditional as playing sandlot baseball, but kids develop fond memories of their experiences with video games. Trying a hundred different ways to attack a heavily protected fortress on a screen can keep the smiles coming and even teach kids a thing or two. Being aware of your child’s motivations for playing, and taking steps to keep their play fun and social, will help make their gaming adventures healthier and more rewarding. 

    Sources

     http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/parents/video_games/videogame_play_at_home.cfm

     http://www.npr.org/2012/04/18/150879193/what-can-we-learn-from-video-games

     http://www.pamf.org/preteen/parents/videogames.html