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      Activities to Help Your Child’s Social Skills

      You want your kids to grow up confident and socially aware. In order to help your child develop vital social skills, it is important for them to take part in activities that allow them to learn confidence and how to interact with others. Here are 5 great activities to help your child learn the social skills they need to be successful.

      Number 1: Summer Camp

      There are hundreds of summer camps available across the country that teach children a myriad of skills. From summer writing camps to wilderness camps there is something out there for every child to lean new skills, make new friends, and learn how to interact with both other kids and adults. These camps can really boost confidence and help children learn how to navigate making friends and solving problems on their own. Summer camps can also teach children great skills that will help them succeed in life such as coping with homesickness, being a leader, surviving in the wilderness, and first aid.

      Number 2: Children’s Theater Groups

      Theater is all about being social. It teaches kid’s how to be part of a group, how to interact well with others, and how to read social situations more effectively. Children’s theater groups are a great place for kids to break out of their comfort zones, work off extra energy, and most importantly, to form lifelong friendships. Theater also helps children learn effective communication skills, and how to value the differences they find in themselves, and in others.

      Number 3: Community Sports Teams

      Community sports teams are a great place for children to lean important social skills like working with others, accepting disappointments, sportsmanship, and how to handle conflict. They also boost self-confidence, and can really help your kid’s learn how to work toward their goals. Sports also help children learn how to be responsible, healthy, and active in their social and personal lives.

      Number 4: Boys/Girl’s Scouts

      Scouts is a great way to help your children learn how to make friends, learn new skills, serve their community, and solve problems. Scouts is a great opportunity for many children who are shy become socially successful; it helps children gain confidence and be good team members.  Boy and girl scouts also help kids learn important skills that will help them become kind, skilled adults who are ready to work with others in their careers.

      Number 5: Martial Arts

      Martial arts is a wonderful sport that teaches discipline and respect. When children participate in these sports they directly interact with others, learn to control their bodies and their minds, and learn how to have respect for themselves and others. It is a wonderful way for children to learn how to be a good friend, a good team member, and gracious opponent.  Not only do classes like karate, capoeira, kung-fu and taekwondo teach confidence, discipline, and respect but they also teach kids how to respond to bullying in a healthy, non-violent manner. Children who are involved in martial arts learn how to be healthy in both their bodies and their minds.

      Being part of a team, or a group of children their age can help your kids connect to others in a way that a school setting cannot provide. These activities are a great way for your children connect to other people, gain confidence, and respond to negativity and conflict in an effective, healthy manner.

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      Great Activities for Kids in the Summer

      Summer Activities for Kids

      Summer vacation is any kid’s favorite time of year. Some of the best summer activities involve refreshing, tasty snacks. One activity you can do with kids is baking cooking for homemade ice cream sandwiches. Kids love them, and parents do, too. You can find plenty of easy recipes online to make it a fun, carefree experience. If you’re looking for something requiring a little more effort, you could host a Hawaiian luau in the backyard. Whip out the grill, distribute leis to guests, and have the kids put on a little hula show. This could also be a fun opportunity to learn about Hawaiian culture. If you want a simpler summer feast, take the kids to a picnic at the closest state park. Summer is the best time to experience nature.

      Speaking of nature, going to the beach is a classic way to soak up some summer sun. Kids love to play in the water and build sandcastles. If you don’t have any beach toys, you could even bring old Tupperware and buckets for just as much fun. To nurture kids’ curiosity, have them pick up interesting rocks and shells – they could even start a collection. Kids also love scavenger hunts, and outdoor hunts offer the best opportunities to explore. You could turn it into a literacy activity by having kids look for items that start with each letter of the alphabet.

      Benefits of Martial Arts

      Summer is a good time to try out a new sport or hobby. Martial arts practice is one the best activities for kids because it promotes a happy and healthy lifestyle which kids will carry with them into the future. Martial arts help kids feel more secure because they learn self-defense techniques. They also a learn a variety of other physical skills which are useful throughout the lifespan; these include coordination, balance, and overall fitness. Along with physical skills, kids learn more functional life skills such as maintaining focus, building confidence, respecting others, persisting in difficult tasks, and working on a team.

      You may worry that these types of sports are too violent for kids. Rest assured that kids learn both defensive strategies and non-violent conflict resolution skills. Most programs target specific age groups, so the skills being taught are age-appropriate. The integration of strength and character development is what makes this practice so effective. Kids learn the skills they need to succeed in school and in life. Martial artists are adept at self-control, a skill that many kids could definitely benefit from practicing. Kids also learn to set goals while working within the colored belt system, advancing toward the black belt. The black belt is a symbol of success and perseverance. Kids learn to set short, intermediate, and long-term goals. Martial artists are aware of their strengths and challenges and experience more peace as a result of this self-awareness. It is best to get kids started in practicing and developing these skills at a young age.

      Pat Morgan

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      How Martial Arts Help Children Focus

      Childhood Focusing Habits

      Children that have issues with paying attention often show symptoms that every parent should look out for. Getting distracted every now and then is a normal part of childhood, however, if your child often seems like they are in a world of their own, it’s time to introduce them to a more stimulating environment.

      Increasing your child’s focus is important because it plays a huge factor in the learning process. Being in a gym or dojo takes them away from distractions like video games and television. Children need to be able to pay attention to learn new skills for healthy mental and physical development.

      If your child is displaying behavioral issues such as blatant disobedience, fighting, or other problematic behaviors, they may be lacking an appropriate outlet. By involving them in a physical practice that requires their full attention, your child will experience a change for the better.

      How Martial Arts Help

      Martial Arts are practiced for reasons such as self-defense, fitness, and competition. Signing your child up for classes benefits them in numerous ways. It is a constructive activity that promotes good health all while having fun. Although physical activity is entertaining, it also requires a lot of hands-on practice and brain power.

      Through practice, students learn how to control their bodies by performing the same patterns until their form is perfected. Kids love learning things with their bodies because they have a lot of pent up energy after sitting at a school desk all day. Martial arts give your child the amazing opportunity to release that energy in a positive manner.

      With repetitive instruction from coaches/teachers, children are put into a state of constant focus that they will apply to all areas of their lives. Martial Arts have been shown to help boost grades, increase confidence, and better a child’s behavior overall. As a parent, you want to do what is best for your child. Sign them up for a class today and allow them to participate in this exciting opportunity.

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      Ways To Help Your Child Overcome Bullying

      It can be difficult for parents to know if their child is a victim of bullying and to take decisive action to protect him or her. Children are often ashamed at what they perceive to be their own problem, so they may not confide in their families. It is up to parents to identify the signs of bullying, provide support and take steps to help prevent the situation in the future.

      Common signs of a child who is bullied include:

      • Reluctance to go to school. When a child who previously enjoyed school suddenly begins complaining of frequent stomachaches or other ailments to avoid going, this could be sign of bullying.
      • Reluctance to get on the school bus. If the bus is the location of bullying, children may lobby for parents to drive them to school or even ask if they can walk or ride a bike.
      • Sudden withdrawal from friends. If a former friend is the bully, a child may not want to be part of a group anymore.

      Parents who suspect that children are being bullied have several options to help their child cope with the situation, including:

      • Enlist the help of school officials. Approaching teachers, principals and others in the role of seeking help rather than accusing can allow parents to gain allies. A good way to do this is to ask teachers what they have observed and listen to their responses.
      • See if there are other victims of the same bully. A little investigation can help uncover other children who are afraid of or dislike the bully in question, which may help parents determine what is happening or why their child is a target.
      • Assess the child’s strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what is setting the bully off may help parents uncover reasons for bullying. At the same time, parents can help children play up their strengths so that they have better self-esteem, which is often an antidote for bullying.
      • Create a safe haven for children to vent. Telling a child that he or she “should not feel that way” or that the child simply needs to “grow up” will likely shut down lines of communication. Children should always have a safe place to vent in their own homes.
      • Seek counseling. Some bullying problems are very serious. If a child shows any sign of depression or rage, counseling should be considered.

      Parents can be a child’s strongest ally in the fight against bullying. By following some commonsense tips, parents can turn a negative bullying experience into a positive growth opportunity for a child.

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      How to motivate your child to study more

      For many parents, motivating a child to spend more time studying can feel like an exercise in futility. From electronic distractions to schedules that are filled with sports practices and other extracurricular activities, finding the time and motivation to study can be challenging even for academically inclined students. These tips can help parents encourage their children to spend a reasonable amount of time each day on their studies.

      Maintain a Positive Attitude
      Even when a child is not up to a parent’s level of expectation, parents can do a world of good by maintaining an upbeat attitude. Encouragement and acknowledgement of small successes may help to motivate struggling learners.

      Incorporate Structure
      Children do best when they have a structured environment. For parents, this may mean creating new guidelines for activities and behaviors. A small rewards system, such as 10 minutes of social networking after 1 hour of studying may be helpful. The duration of study time can be built up as the child becomes more familiar with the household’s new routines.

      No Distractions
      The siren call of the smartphone is all too familiar to even the most disciplined of adults. If parents have trouble putting the phone down, they can only expect that children will have the same difficulty. Maintain a no distractions rule, with tablets and phones turned off and placed in a different room. Siblings should be given a different activity to do, such as playing quietly in their own rooms or reading a book with a parent.

      Demonstrate Balance
      A well-rounded child should have time allocated for studies, spending with family, socializing with friends and participating in physical activities or sports. Parents can keep this bigger picture in mind while staying current with what is going on in the child’s life.

      Step By Step
      For some children, studying may feel like a never-ending task. Helping a child to break down their studies into manageable tasks can boost their motivation to finish each chunk of work. Just like a book consists of words grouped into sentences, which are then grouped into paragraphs and chapters, so can study habits.

      When one strategy is ineffective at motivating a child, parents should try another strategy after a few weeks. What works for one child may not work for another. Patience and fortitude can go a long way in helping a child to succeed.

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      Discipline Mistakes Parents Make

      Discipline Mistakes Parents MakeAlthough almost every parent wants great kids, many parents aren’t sure how to get there. Here are three of the most common child discipline mistakes and how to avoid them.

      1. Treating children like pets, not people

      Starting in the womb, the entire journey of having children is often viewed as a fun new venture for parents, with a completely parent-centered approach to the process that forms a shaky foundation for future discipline.

      What makes this outlook so damaging is that it makes it unlikely that parents will do the uncomfortable things required in disciplining happy, well-rounded children. If the parent is unwilling to take the time to teach the child the unpleasant lesson that “Mommy’s voice can’t be ignored,” the child is left to the luck of the draw as he or she darts out into the parking lot as a toddler, or when he or she begins associating with questionable characters after school in junior high.

      2. Lack of foresight

      By ignoring negative behaviors when a child is small and could be easily taught lessons like “Don’t lie to Mommy” or “We don’t steal candy,” those bad habits can become ingrained.

      Instead of laughing off the cute antics of adorable little bold-faced liars, wise parents will envision the same children performing the same acts in 10 or 12 years. If a 3-year-old’s lie seems funny, the parent should hold back the smile and visualize the same child at 15, then an accomplished liar.

      Instead of indulging the cherub who refuses vegetables and demands only sweets, parents should picture the same child as an overweight, self-conscious 16-year-old. What can be done today to make his or her life easier then?

      3. Assuming discipline = punishment

      As health is more than medicine, discipline is more than punishment. Yes, punishment has its place, as does medicine. Still, optimal health means that medicine will rarely be necessary, just as wise discipline causes punishment to be a rare occurrence.

      Discipline means “the process of making a disciple.” That process involves a huge host of factors, only one of which is punishment. Other equally vital components of discipline include teaching honesty, respect, reverence, work ethic, health and scheduling.

      When parents ignore these other important facets of discipline, their over-emphasis on punishment can send children the unspeakably damaging message that they aren’t loved, which only exacerbates the problem.

      Punishment takes discipline, but discipline is more than punishment.

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      Great Healthy Snacks for Kids

      child-nutrition

       

      Finding great healthy snacks for kids is an ongoing challenge for every parent. With busy schedules, fixed grocery budgets and the discerning palates of children, making healthy choices is a process often pushed aside. Fortunately, parents and kids can work together to choose healthy options that are affordable and easy to find in the grocery store.

       

      Snacks with Cheese

      Adding protein such as cheese to a child’s snack helps the child to feel full while preventing the sugar high that sends kids bouncing off the walls. Most kids enjoy mild flavored medium-hard cheeses such as cheddar, Monterey Jack and Colby. Some snacks to try with cheese include:

      •Cheese paired with whole-grain crackers
      •Cheese and fruit kabobs
      •Quesadillas with cheese, refried black beans and salsa for dipping
      •Pinwheels made with a tortilla, cheese, and hummus or meat, rolled up and sliced into rounds
      •Cheese flowers, which are cheese shapes cut out with cookie cutters and put onto pretzel stick “stems”

       

      Peanut Butter

      So long as a child is not allergic to nuts, peanut butter is an affordable, filling and easy option for many different snacks. Some creative options include:

      •Spread on celery and line with raisins for “ants on a log”
      •Spread onto tortillas and drizzle with honey for an alternative to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
      •Use as a spread on mini waffles or rice cakes

       

      Yogurt

      Yogurt contains live active cultures that can help kids who are prone to belly aches. With so many styles of yogurt, including Greek yogurt, fruit-filled yogurt and mousse-style yogurt, there’s sure to be a flavor to please even the pickiest eaters. Parents can serve yogurt as a snack in these ways:

      •Mixed with pureed fruit and frozen into popsicles
      •Made into a parfait with layers of fresh fruit and granola
      •Mixed with frozen fruit and almond milk or apple juice as a smoothie

       

      Fruit

      Sweet fresh fruit is a staple in the homes of many families. To keep this snack affordable, stick with seasonal fruits such as apples in the fall, oranges in winter and strawberries in the summer. Some creative ways to serve fruit to children include:

      •Mixed into oatmeal
      •Added to cold cereal
      •Cut and ready for dipping into yogurt

      These great healthy snacks for kids are quick to make. They are also easy to bring while on the go, just put them into a reusable lunch sack.

       

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      Ways to Help Prevent Childhood Obesity

      Obesity has become a major health problem over the past few decades. While losing weight and getting healthy is difficult for adults, the problem is even more challenging when talking about childhood obesity.

      No person ever wants to be overweight, but unhealthful eating choices and too little exercise are firmly ingrained habits that are difficult to change. Some of the blame can be placed on parents who do not understand the health risks of obesity, but more often children gain weight because their parents lead a busy life and choose convenience foods over healthful foods.

       

      Combating Childhood Obesity

       

      Stock the Kitchen with Healthful Foodsavoid childhood obesity

      While most kids will gravitate toward snacks with too much sugar, fat and salt, they will enjoy more nutritious fruits and nuts just as much. It is important to limit between meal snacks so the children will be interested in eating the healthful meals that are served.

      It is also important that parents limit serving sizes and make sure children are eating a balanced diet.

       

      Limit or Eliminate Soda and Sweetened Drinks

      There is a high concentration of sugar in soda and sweetened beverages. Children should drink an adequate amount of water in addition to milk and natural fruit juices to get the nutrients they need while avoiding the sugars that can contribute to childhood obesity.

      Parents should not keep any beverages containing artificial sweeteners in their home because they are also unhealthful.

       

      Encourage Physical Activity in Children

      Young children have a natural tendency to run and play, but too much exposure to electronic devices such as computers and television can make electronic entertainment more tempting as they grow older.

      Parents who are busy working and maintaining a home may appreciate the peace and quiet in their home while the kids are watching TV or playing computer games, but these activities must be limited.

      Unfortunately, it is not always safe to allow kids outside to play with their friends, so parents should make it a point to get out with them and enjoy physical activities together.

      Parents must make healthful food and lifestyle choices for their children, and most of them will when they realize the importance of good health for their kids.

      The incidence of childhood obesity, diabetes and the development of heart disease can be greatly reduced when parents are able to help their children maintain a healthy weight. Obese children also suffer from poor self-esteem, and this can limit their outlook for a positive future and fulfilled life.

       

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      How to Respond to Verbal Bullying

      teen-attitude

       

      Verbal bullying is an all too common event that children face both in and out of school.

      This situation happens most commonly in school but it can also happen outside of school hours at sports events, parties and other areas where teens congregate.

      Knowing what to do and how to respond to verbal bullying is something that all teens, children and parents must learn.

       

      Leave the Situation

      Whenever possible, someone who is being verbally bullied should leave the situation if it is possible to do so safely. Leaving the area before the situation escalates can help to avoid serious physical injury.

      Walking away without saying a word may sometimes be the best way to respond to verbal bullying.

       

      Preparing to Respond

      When walking away from the bullying is not possible, teens may need to come up with a verbal response to the bully. Strategizing about what to say to the bully can help things go as smoothly as possible. Having a plan can help a teen prevent overreactions and can lead to enhanced self-confidence.

      Practicing ahead of time can help a teen when such a situation arises.

       

      The Response

      Maintaining a steady voice, making eye contact with the bully and speaking in a confident way are essentials for a good response to verbal bullying. Teens can try to diffuse the situation by using these types of responses:

      • Fogging. This is done to confuse the bully. Fogging responses include a single word or just a few words that are neutral or positive. Examples of fogging responses to a bully include “so?”, “who cares?” and “maybe.”
      • Agreeing statements. These statements confirm the facts regarding the verbal bullying. An example of an agreeing statement is, “Yes, you’re right.”
      • Comeback lines. These responses are meant to stump the bully and make him or her think twice about his or her actions. Comeback lines may include statements such as, “whatever you say.”

      Responses to verbal bullying should not try to incite anger or escalate the situation. Using a comeback line can be tricky; this type of response requires careful practice and assessment of the situation to ensure that the situation does not worsen.

       

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      Verbal Bullying: What it is and how to stop it

      bullying_1

       

      Verbal bullying is a serious issue that many children and teenagers face. In order to put a stop to this type of abuse, parents, teachers and members of the community must first understand what it is.

      Once a verbal bullying situation is recognized, a variety of strategies can be used to stop it before the situation worsens.

       

      What Verbal Bullying Is

      Verbal bullying is most often committed by girls. It may consist of rumor spreading, using words that demean or degrade the victim or using words that cause social exclusion.

      It may also be done as a way to dominate others. This type of bullying is just as damaging as physical bullying and can lead to serious effects for the victim, including an increased risk of suicide.

       

      Ways Kids Can Stop Verbal Bullying

      There are several responses and actions that kids can take that may help to put an end to verbal bullying. Some things to try include:

      • Using neutral statements. Responding to a bully’s verbal assaults with neutral comments such as “possibly” or “maybe so” indicates to the bully that he or she isn’t going to get a big reaction from the victim.
      • Using positive or agreeing statements. Examples of these include “who cares?” or “Yes, you’re right.”
      • Remaining civil. Don’t sink to the level of the bully. Doing so may escalate the situation.
      • Telling an authority figure. Bullying that interferes with a child’s social life, confidence, well-being and mental or physical health must be reported to an authority figure as soon as possible. An authority figure may be someone like a teacher, school counselor, school nurse, playground aide, tutor or parent.

      Once a parent, teacher or another authority figure is made aware of a verbal bullying situation, action must be taken. An authority figure may be able to physically separate the bully from his or her victim.

      The authority figure may be able to increase awareness of the effects of bullying and help others to identify such behaviors in the classroom, cafeteria and other places.

      Adults can also help to diffuse the situation by determining what the motivating factors behind the bully’s behaviors are.

       

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