Question & Answer Weekly Column, Issue #10
By: Ed Kemper
Welcome, oh readers, to this week’s Q and A. We have several good questions this week. But first I’d like to thank everyone who has sent in their questions and comments. Remember to keep them coming at QandA.CCMagazine@Eudoramail.com.
Q. How can I talk with my child about sex?
A. One of the biggest things to remember is to relax. Next thing to remember is take a good look at your child’s age. Keep in mind that children learn a lot of things earlier now than you might have when you were young. Don’t insult their intelligence. If you look at your 14-year-old son and start with “Mommy birds…,” they will feel highly insulted. The chances are they know more about the subject than you could ever believe they did. The truth is children often learn about sex from classmates, friends, and overhearing the “bigger” kids speak. You must begin their education much sooner. Check out the following sites for more information about speaking to your children about sex.
Q. My son watched a very upsetting story on the news concerning rape. How do I speak to a 7-year-old about such things?
A. The news is a tough avenue for any child, especially if they understand what they see. However, you can’t simply ignore this, or cut your child off from the real world. You must deal with the issue. There is an excellent site run by Children Now that has a section dealing with your child and the news. I suggest you check it out. The second article is about using television as a tool. This one is a must see, as well.
Q. A friend told me that the company recalled one of my child’s toys because it wasn’t safe. How do I know for sure?
A. Check to see if that company has a web site. Companies often put alerts on their site about recalled products. If you can’t find a web site, try calling the company. Many companies have a toll free number that you can find out by calling toll free information. The following site also keeps a listing of recalls and product complaints. The second site often posts recall notices.
Q. My friends accuse me of being an overprotective parent. How do I know if I am?
A. You have to make sure you don’t blanket your child in a zone that smothers them. If you don’t let them make a few mistakes, they won’t learn from them. The following site has an interesting quiz to help you determine if you’re overprotective.
Q. I am a single father. I have a lot of difficulty finding resources just for the single dad. Could you please help me?
A. Sure can. Father web sites are still few compared to general parent sites. However, the number is growing, as people become aware of the number of single fathers out there. The following sites are excellent starting points for you. Be sure to check them out. After you check out the site, you can check out their links to find even more great sites. If you still run into dead ends, try the search engines.
Well, my friends, that’s all for Q and A this week. Be sure to stay tuned next week for more of your questions to be answered. Remember to keep them coming at QandA.CCMagazine@Eudoramail.com. Until next week, have fun!
Ed Kemper, Q and A Columnist
Safe Childcare, Part 1
By: Danielle Westvang
Childcare safety is one of the most important issues that there is when
caring for children. Often, the topic is overlooked because people have the
philosophy that "it won't happen to me." Not preparing for what "could"
happen until it's too late is more common than one might think. The question
you must ask yourself then is why take such risks?
There are many elements in childcare that require checks and double checks to
ensure the safety and well being of the children. This is one area where
turning a deaf ear is not an option.
I have been an advocate for safety in childcare for several years. When I
worked for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, I saw many situations that
were dangerous and potentially hazardous. When I began working for the club
I worked in a satellite program at a community school. It was my job to train
the new staff. I was then transferred to the main club where I oversaw
several hundred children and 20 staff members. When I took over the position
as Director, I was amazed at how few policies were in force to protect the
The majority of injuries took place because of poor judgments, lack of
supervision and the lack of common sense. With a few simple rules and
procedures in place, you can ensure the well being of the children you care
This is probably one of the most important elements to safety in childcare.
Being an active participant and supervisor in the children's activities will
prevent the majority of accidents. Making sure that you follow the state
guidelines for ratios is crucial.
Making sure you know where each child is at all times should be common sense
but you would be surprised how many providers don't keep tabs on all the
kids. I receive
e-mails from people all the time with scenarios that would make the hair
raise on your arms.
The most common scenario is one where the childcare provider leaves the
children unattended. Either by sending them out to play alone, or having too
many children in care at one time without assistance.
Supervision is one of those areas where you need to stop and really think
about whether or not you should be a childcare provider. If you are not
willing to supervise the children in your care, then maybe you need to
reconsider your choice of careers. Being a childcare provider is not an easy
job. It takes a lot of dedication, patience and stamina to handle the day to
One procedure that I always implemented when hiring new staff was to have
periodic kid counts. Where all children had to be visually seen and counted.
Especially on field trips. I would give each staff member a clipboard with
a grid-like form with the children's names in their group imprinted on it.
At set times the kids had to be visually counted and a check mark had to be
placed on the grid.
The physical count of each child prevented any kids from wandering off. The
buddy system also helped keep the children together in the designated area.
This may seem a bit tedious, however, on 4 occasions in one 6 week summer
program the procedure saved children from being lost. On one occasion the
procedure prevented an abduction of a child in a city park.
FIELD TRIP SAFETY
During the summer, field trips are more common than during the school year.
This is to be a fun time for both the children and the childcare provider.
Taking a few minutes to perform safety checks will ensure that the children
as well as yourself have an enjoyable experience.
If you are going to take a field trip to a location that you have personally
never been to, take a quick trip to that location before your scheduled trip
to check for potential safety hazards. Also locate parking, a telephone, and
what amenities that site has in case of an emergency.
Prepare permission slips which the parents/guardians will be required to fill
out before the day of the trip. Include in the permission slip lines for
emergency contact telephone numbers for both the parent and an additional
person. It is important to stress to the parent that the numbers provided
must be for someone who will be available.
Nothing is more frustrating than needing to make contact with a parent in
case of an emergency and not being able to contact them. In most locations
emergency personnel will not touch a child unless they can obtain
authorization from a parent. Even with permission slips there certain
situations where parental authorization is required.
Day of Fieldtrip:
Have the children dress in the same color shirt if possible. In the club I
worked in each child was given a "camp shirt" that they were to wear on
specified field trip days.
The shirts can be a very simple T-shirt from Walmart. We customarily had
shirts silk screened inexpensively with the Club name, and telephone number.
It is important not to have the children's names affixed to the shirt itself.
The reason for this is simple. Abductors when hunting around for children
will want to find anything out about a child that will bring familiarity to
the child. If a potential abductor sees a child with his/her name on his
shirt it is easier to approach the child.
Have each child wear suitable shoes for walking. If possible have each child
wear a backpack with a change of clothes in it. Especially if you are
attending a park or beach.
Make sure that you have a first aid kit with you at all times. You can pick
up a first aid kit rather inexpensively from most stores. The kit should
include bandages, sterile pads, pads for cleaning the wounds as well as an
insect bite kit.
Whenever possible recruit volunteers to attend your field trip. Ask parents
if they would be able to attend with your group. Many parents would welcome
the opportunity to take the day off work to go with you.
Having additional chaperones on your field trip, you enable you to divide the
children into smaller groups for ease of supervision.
Its always best to have one person maintain the list of children and
permission slips. Each adult volunteer would then be given names of the
children they are responsible for. You will find that being organized on
your field trip will cure a lot of headaches and frustrations that can come
with taking a field trip.
This last step might seem a bit obvious to some, but you would be surprised
how many people leave a fieldtrip area without a child or two.
On the news lately there have been reports of parents, and providers leaving
children in vehicles and forgetting to take them out. If you perform checks
and double checks when you leave and return from a fieldtrip such tragedies
can be avoided. It takes just a few minutes to conduct head counts of all
the children, those few minutes could prevent a problem.
Part 2 of Safety in Childcare will cover playground and water safety. Please
feel free to email me if you have questions or comments about this article.
Do You Have the Baby Blues?
Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression
By: Sharon Wren
No one ever said giving birth was easy, either physically or mentally. Pregnant women are at least somewhat familiar with the physical challenges, but the mental challenges often come as a surprise. According to the
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 70% of women experience what is called baby blues after giving birth. Contrary to what this sounds like, baby blues are not a range of possible colors for the
nursery. The symptoms include:
Feeling sad and weepy;
Feeling anxious or moody;
Having trouble eating, sleeping or making decisions;
Feeling angry towards a significant other, the baby or other children;
Wondering if you can handle the responsibility of a new baby.
These feelings may be scary, but they subside without treatment or counseling in a few hours to a week or two, as the mother gets used to the new little person in her life, and more importantly, gets a little sleep.
Postpartum depression is a different story. It sounds like such an innocent thing; taken literally, it sounds like being down in the dumps after giving birth. It’s not as simple or as innocent as it sounds. About 10% of women who give birth experience postpartum depression. According to Linda Sebastian, author of Overcoming Depression and Anxiety, the symptoms include:
Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day;
Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities most of the day, nearly every day;
Significant weight loss when not dieting, or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day;
Insomnia (inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much) nearly every day;
Agitation or slowed movements nearly every day;
Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day;
Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt;
Diminished ability to think and concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day;
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide;
There are no simple reasons why some women experience postpartum depression and others don’t. One theory is that all the physical changes and surging hormones involved with pregnancy can affect a woman even after delivery. Stress and a lack of support from family and friends can also be a contributing factor.
Interestingly, this isn’t a condition reserved only for first time mothers; it can occur after any pregnancy. Being diagnosed with postpartum depression isn’t a sign that a woman is weak or won’t be a good mother. It doesn’t mean that she will be committed to a mental facility; that is reserved only for extremely rare, extremely severe cases. It is also a condition that won’t go away by itself. Women who experience the above
symptoms should contact their doctors immediately. If they delay, the results can be tragic. Women who suffer from this have been known to take their own lives or those of their children. Right now, there is a woman in a Texas jail who has been charged with drowning her five children, allegedly because she suffered from postpartum depression for years.
Fortunately, there is help for women who suffer from postpartum depression. A combination of medication and therapy seems to work best. Joining a support group can be invaluable. Groups like Depression After Delivery (http://www.behavenet.com/dadinc, 1-800-944-4773) and Postpartum Support International (http://www.postpartum.net) can offer information, support and referrals to a mental health care professional. A search at Web MD (www.webmd.com) will also turn up a great deal of information, including an article on some of the medications used to treat the disorder.
Family and friends can make a big difference in a woman’s chances of having postpartum depression. Helping a new mom with everyday chores like cleaning, cooking and shopping will go a long way towards relieving stress.
Sometimes just being a friendly, reassuring ear when she’s upset can make all the difference in the world. Don’t tell her to ”just snap out of it” because that won’t help and will only compound her feelings of depression and stress.
Postpartum depression is a serious medical condition and should not be taken lightly. With proper care it is treatable, allowing the new mom to get to know and enjoy the new little one she’s been waiting to meet for so many months.
Work At Home?
By: Jenifer McCrea
When my husband and I were dating we discussed having children. Really! Not only that but I told him flat out that I wanted to stay home if and when we did have children. “Sure,” he said, all lovey dovey, “of course you can stay home.”
Lo and behold it is three years later, we are married, and in the process of purchasing our first home. I had a recurring stomach virus that just would not quit. A neighbor convinced me to get a pregnancy test. I was less than pleased to see two little pink lines. My husband – let’s just say he was surprised.
I reminded him of the conversation we had so long ago. He reminded me that we were buying a house and if I quit my job, we would not qualify for the loan. Lovey dovey had given way to pragmatic and logical. So, I kept working through the first part of my first pregnancy. We bought the house and I took short-term disability from my job, thinking that I might go back after the baby was born. Hedging my bets so to speak. When I held that tiny creature in my arms, it was love at first sight, and I knew there was no way I could drop him off with anyone – ever.
Fast forward two and a half years and I still have not ever had a babysitter. He just goes along with us wherever we go, or now, he goes for a play date. He is starting preschool soon, three mornings a week, and I can feel the tears already. Mine I mean. Preschool brings me to my point. My husband wants me to find some way of making some money here at home. Anybody else in the same boat? I am sure that my husband thinks that I watch soap operas all day and the bathrooms clean themselves. The time Alex is in preschool is just bonus downtime for me – yeah right.
So here’s the plan. I want to break this up into a couple of parts. Next week, I will discuss at length some of the online work at home websites. You know, the signs you see on telephone poles at the corners and at stoplights as you’re driving along. The week after we will talk about the ads in the back of magazines – if you get Parenting, American Baby, Child; any of the parenting type magazines, you will have seen these ads. I’ll call them and get the information. It’s going to put me on every god-awful contest list and mail fraud there is, but that’s what my recycle bin is for.
What about this week? Jenifer, did I read this whole column just to have you ramble on about what’s coming up? Sort of. Did you notice I mentioned mail scam? There’s a boatload of it out there, along with online and phone scams. So I will reward you with this, dear reader; the following are some of the caveats of finding a work at home program.
If they ask for money up front – it’s probably a scam. Have you ever had to pay a fee to apply for a job? No? Me either. Whether they ask for $1.00 or $35.00, don’t do it. What the company is doing may not be technically illegal, but they are walking a barbed wire fence.
If you do get information on working at home, and it is in any way based on you getting people to work ‘below’ you to make your profit, don’t do it. While there are some legitimate businesses out there that work that way (Tupperware, Creative Memories) there are ways to make profits from those businesses without getting people to work under you. These companies sell real products, and they don’t ask you to pay money just to get the information about the business. Besides, the whole idea of working from home is to get away from a standard work environment. You don’t really want employees, even if they are masquerading as ‘independent associates.’
If someone calls you with an offer of home employment/investment/any other phone offer, and they say it’s a limited time offer and they need a decision now – fuggedaboutit! While there are many legitimate telemarketing companies out there, there are many con artists too. Unfortunately, the scammers can purchase the same lists as legitimate businesses – or they can use a phone book. Legit companies can give you addresses and telephone numbers to contact them, scammers won’t. The legitimate companies will also be willing to mail you information, and won’t ask you for a credit card number. This brings me to…
… Don’t ever give out your credit card, social security number, or any other pertinent personal information to anyone soliciting you over the phone, computer, or through the mail. If you start calling 1-800 numbers in magazine ads, or online, chances are you will get on spam and scam lists. If an offer sounds too good to be true- it probably is.
If you are already on a bunch of telemarketing lists that you don’t want to be on, you can contact via snail mail:
Telephone Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
P. O. Box 9014
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014
The files are updated four times a year, and it will take you off lists of telemarketing companies who choose to do business with the Direct Marketing association.
To get off mail lists contact:
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
P. O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008
This will take you off, again, company lists that choose to do business with the Direct Marketing association. It will not take you off lists of companies you normally do business with – keep that Lillian Vernon catalog coming!
Tune in next week – same bat time, same bat channel. We will thresh out the wheat from the chaff and start making some money at home!
Nannies Working for Two Sets of Parents
By: Elizabeth Pennington
With the divorce rate skyrocketing, splitting her time between two different households is not an uncommon occurrence for today’s nanny. More and more nannies are finding themselves in such circumstances....same children but different homes. Different sets of rules. Different schedules. Different routines. Different employers. In these situations, it is not just the parents and the children who have major adjustments, but the nannies as well. I nannied for a divorced family for two years, and believe me, it is not something I care to relive.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the children with all my heart and I would nanny for them again in a New York minute. The consequences of their parents’ divorce are what I could easily do without. Being a child of divorce myself, I knew what those children were going through...bright and funny on the outside but torn and scared on the inside. The situation I found myself in was particularly difficult because these children spent half of the week with one parent and the other half with the other parent. The transition took place mid-week. Total torture. Twice a week found the children schlepping their clothes, school books, odds and ends of toys or games back and forth from one household to the other. Their ages were three, eight and nine. Certainly much too young to be able to make sense of it. Not only was I their nanny but their counselor and confidante as well.
I think it is fair to say that the majority of divorces are not entirely amicable and that many times, the children are slapped square in the middle of their parents’ squabbles. Afraid to rock the boat and make things even worse, these three children hid their anxiety and fears from their folks and, instead, shared their world, what was going on inside of their hearts and minds with me. I look back and find myself feeling privileged that I was their anchor in such turbulent times.
But, this privilege did have its price. I found myself struggling to be the liaison, not only between the divorced parents, but between the children and their parents as well. Naturally, I was that link, the adult connection from one household to the other. I was privy to what went on inside each home and privy to the interaction of children and parent. I had to weed out the useless yet sticky information, or “noise” as I call it, and figure out what was damaging to such young hearts. I didn’t ask for this, but as a nanny in such a circumstance, I took it on as part of the role I played in their lives. I was their friend.
Twice I found myself in court in child custody battles. Different families, different situations, but me in the middle of all of it. Whining and complaining is not my purpose here. My purpose is to remind divorced parents to be mindful of the role your nanny is playing in your lives. More than likely, she is the glue that is keeping your relationship with your children intact. She is a wealth of information for you and a great source of comfort for your children. Remember that.
Munch and the Expressionist Movement
By: Christine L. Pollock
Should I? Or should I not? It was a great debate in my mind about whether or not I should write about Edvard Munch this week. He was, without a doubt, one of the greatest artists that Norway has yet produced. That was clear. However, most of his works and his life were not, in my opinion, the sort to be studied by young children.
I finally decided that I would write about him and focus on one painting that could be studied with the children. The rest of the article I will gear more towards the providers.
I have not taught the children in my care about Edvard Munch yet. When I do, I plan to say that he was an incredibly gifted man who could put his thoughts into pictures. He has a lot of bad things happen to him and that made him sad. That is why he drew a lot of sad pictures. I will show them the picture entitled “Street in Åsgårdstrand” (http://sunsite.dk/cgfa/munch/p-munch14.htm) to discuss. I will also talk about he used many types of art to of express his emotions.
Edvard was really a man tormented by the events of his life. He was born on December 12, 1863 and died in his sleep in 1944. His childhood was spent in Oslo, the capital of Norway. When Edvard was 5, his mother died of tuberculosis; when he was 14, his sister Sophie (who was 15) also died of the same disease. He found these deaths extremely difficult to deal with. Later on in his life, his father also passed away and that affected him as well since there were several unresolved issues between them.
Although the popular art of his day was focused on light, happy scenes, Edvard’s works focused on death, grief and sickness. It is said that he was one of the first painters of the Expressionist movement.
Expressionism is a form of art where the artist puts emotions into a picture rather than making it look realistic. Therefore, the final product is often distorted. An example of this is a very famous painting that Munch did entitled “The Scream” (http://sunsite.dk/cgfa/munch/p-munch12.htm ). As you look at the picture, you get an immediate sense of agony. The emotion portrayed is more important than the image.
Edvard’s entire life was filled with torment from his perspective…from the deaths of family members to his ill fated love affairs. He had a few art shows that were shut down because the viewers could not handle seeing the raw emotions that his works portrayed.
He had a problem with alcohol and was unstable mentally. A fact that made him a rather unique artist was that he had many different mediums. He did quick sketches, etching, lithography, painting, sculpture and even did some writing. His art went through many phases from naturalism to landscapes to expressionism.
So, with all this said, why would I choose to write about him in a child care magazine? I am doing it because there is a very important link to emotions and art. Children are so natural with their feelings and we tend to praise the “rainbow” pictures and discourage the violent or sad ones. This is something that we, as child care providers, really need to watch out for.
The children can communicate with us in their drawings and art in a way that they might not be able to express verbally. We need to be attuned to their subtle messages. We can also use their art to talk about serious issues.
A writer from Kosovar tells how they use art as therapy with the child victims of the war. She writes that it is not the children who draw guns and violent scenes that worry her, it is the ones who don’t let their feelings out and act as though everything were normal. Her article can be seen at http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/1999/06/04/art/.
When the children and I start to look at the work of Edvard Munch, I will probably:
1. Show the children the picture entitled “Street in Åsgårdstrand” (http://sunsite.dk/cgfa/munch/p-munch14.htm) and talk with the children about what they see. What emotion do you see in the little girl’s eyes? Why do you think she is sad?
2. Read books about emotions like “Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day” by Jamie Lee Curtis and “When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry” by Molly Garrett Bang.
3. Since Edvard Much used so many different mediums, I would talk about this and have the children experiment with different kinds of art (torn paper pictures, water color, crayons, chalk, mosaic, etc.).
4. Make sculptures with clay (or play dough).
5. I would talk about how the way we feel can affect the work we do. I would demonstrate this by having the children draw a person. Next, I would ask them to talk about how they felt when they were really angry. How would they draw a person then? Would they use darker colors? Bolder lines? Scribble? I would do the same with silly moods, calm moods, etc.
We are in a very unique position as child care providers and educators. When we watch the little ones draw their pictures, it will be our reactions that encourage or discourage them. If we criticize their work, the children might keep their emotions bottled up and this could damage their psyche.
It is interesting that Edvard Munch’s work became popular even though it unnerved the general public. It is even more interesting to realize that his works have gained popularity over time and still reach a multitude of people, gripping them with their exaggerated emotions.
PRIME TIME PARENTING -- Three Secrets
By: Deb & Dave Graham
It is no secret that some methods work better than others. The trouble
is -- when it comes to raising children -- there are so many to choose from
that we sometimes have difficulty recognizing the ones that are best. It is
also true that certain things which work well for one person, will not always
have the same effect on someone else. Personalities differ. Times change.
But as we have said over and over in this column…
Human nature never changes.
No matter how old you are, no matter how wise you are, no matter what you
like or dislike; there are a few basic things that will ALWAYS get to you.
Along with anyone else that's human. So, why don't we know these things?
Why aren't they the first things we learn in life and the last things we
forget? Go figure.
It's a mystery. A new age. And these little secrets to life continue to
whirl around in the cosmos with the same accuracy and precision as the
planets making their perpetual orbits in the sky. And like the planets, you
can learn a lot about them by simple observation and contemplation. Only
there is precious little time for the observation and contemplation of
anything in this day and age beyond what you're having for dinner tonight,
and which choice will cost less and go farther in the long run. Especially
if you have kids. Which is why the passing along of secrets has become
integral to the success and survival of every age and generation since Adam.
You do not have to believe in Adam to know who he is, which just goes to show
how far some tidbits of knowledge have been passed down. Without even the
aid of a social security number, which most of us wouldn't be caught dead
without, nowadays. Especially dead. That's because identity is very
important to us humans. Unlike the animals that glory in WHAT they are, we
humans are more glorified in WHO we are. We spend most of our lives just
trying to establish that fact. Which leads us to the first of our three
If it is so vitally important for humans to seek identity, then to
acknowledge that identity meets an immediate human need. Every time. You
can acknowledge anyone by a look, a touch, or their name spoken out loud.
And in this list, the strongest comes last. Let's look a little closer at
each of these.
EYE CONTACT. A look means you have given someone your attention, which is an
immediate form of acknowledgment. It does not mean you approve. But you
know they are there and you are aware of what they are doing. There is
always a positive gratification in this, which is why some children (and some
adults) will "act out" just to receive it.
TOUCH -- as we have said before -- is the immediate transfer of emotion from
one person to another. It is an intensely personal thing, and therefore no
doubt about who it's aimed at, whether negative or positive. It "makes a
bond" which is a stronger form of acknowledgment than a look, which merely
makes a connection. You do not give much of yourself away in a look, but by
touching someone, you are conveying an instant message as an enemy or friend.
And there is seldom any doubt, which is which.
To SPEAK SOMEONE'S NAME is the highest form of acknowledgment there is. For
good, or for bad. It singles them out from the crowd and proves that they
are somebody. A name is the first (and last) thing we humans have that is
ours and ours alone. What we do in our search for who we are, will always be
kept within the confines of our very own name. Because of this, it is very
potent. It is the actual essence of who we are. So, to acknowledge someone
by using their name in a phrase or sentence when speaking to them makes what
YOU are saying more important, simply because you are giving them positive
reinforcement each time you repeat it. The same is true if you are looking
directly at, or touching the person you are speaking to. Do you want
someone's full attention? Then look them in the eye, touch them in some way,
or say their name along with whatever you're talking about.
The second secret is recognition. Personal recognition goes beyond
acknowledgment for the simple reason that it ALWAYS ELEVATES THE RECIPIENT
and never puts them down. To catch a blunt object in mid-swing along with
the remark, "Put that thing down, Junior, before you hurt somebody!" will
probably not be remembered past tomorrow, much less as one of our treasured
childhood moments. On the other hand; to stand Junior on a chair before the
rest of the kids, give him a "napkin hat" for a crown, a ladle for a scepter
and say, "I present to everybody King Junior, who ate all of his alphabet
soup, today!" -- will go down in family history. To be formally recognized
(no matter how informally you do it) means you not only ARE somebody, you
have actually accomplished something. It strengthens your name. Which is
where you keep everything that's you. In the same way, the "welcome
courtesies" signify that a person is important enough to be formally
recognized, when they are coming or going or introduced to a new crowd.
Hello and good-bye, good morning and good night, and even "See ya, sweetie!"
all fit into this category.
To add these little secrets of recognition to your communication skills makes
YOU more important. Why? Because that's human nature. And he next time you
think a handshake or personal greeting doesn't mean much -- just look at the
politicians. The ones who get out and "greet" the most people get the most
The third secret is listening. A good listener never lacks friends. But how
can you tell a good listener from a bad one? A good listener always responds
to what they are hearing. Here are the most important listening responses:
Look the speaker in the eye while they are talking.
Encourage them to continue with occasional verbal agreements such as "Yes…
is that right?… Really… Hmmm… etc."
Nod your head at intervals.
Every once in awhile, repeat something they said back to them. For
example, "The dog ate your homework?… Chewed it to little bits, huh… spit
it out on the floor?"
Being a good listener to others will make others respect YOU more. People
will seek you out in order to have someone to talk to. Before you know it,
they will start asking you questions and coming to you for advice. The role
of a "counselor" (one who listens and confides) is a very coveted position in
the society of human relationships, even though ANYONE can become one by
practicing these few social skills. It's just that most people don't. The
truth is, you can give your children a head start in life by teaching them --
from an early age -- to practice social skills. And remember -- what
children learn early, they learn well.
Here are a few ways to practice social skills in your home:
BE A GOOD EXAMPLE. If you practice these things with your children, they
will practice them with you.
DO IT OVER. If the first thing out of Jimmy's mouth in the morning is,
"I'm hungry!" -- have him come in again and try, "Good morning, Mom. May I
have some breakfast, please?" If he's not ready to do that, he's probably
not ready for breakfast… so, encourage him to keep trying.
DON'T ALLOW RUDENESS to be acceptable in your home. If Sally calls her
brother a "pickle-puss" and sticks out her tongue; don't just say, "No name
calling!" Have her apologize and say something nice about him.
LET THEM PRACTICE. When company comes over, introduce your children the
same way you would another adult. Encourage them to shake hands, look the
visitor in the eye and say, "Hello," or "Nice to meet you." Even if you only
have toddlers. No age limits, here… everybody's human.
PRAISE THEM for practicing these things. Verbal acknowledgment,
recognition, and attention from YOU, is worth more to them than anything… so
use it to THEIR advantage.
A person does not have to be feeling good, kind, wise, or even "in the mood"
to practice good social skills. We just need to make them a habit. In the
same way a good driver does not need to constantly be thinking of the rules
of the road wherever he goes, a good communicator does not have to always be
thinking about manners. Which is really what we're getting down to here. We
are living in a time when manners are pretty much optional for daily living.
But the fact remains that good manners win out over bad manners -- or, even
no manners -- EVERY TIME.
Giving your children a skill that will give them an edge every time they
use it, will not only build self confidence in them, but will build other's
confidence in them, as well.
And that's the biggest secret of success there is.
Seeing is Believing
By: Bernie Knox
When we are little children, part of our manners training is not staring at people with handicaps. Of course, that mandate includes other people who may look funny to us, not only those with visible handicaps. Some of us have to be careful about those of other races, too, or those from other countries who dress according to a different model than we are accustomed to seeing.
Why would we stare? Because we have never seen anyone like that before. What we see is a novelty. A freak show. Not exactly not-people, but not exactly people, either. People have conversations with other people. They eavesdrop They argue. They cut in front of each other in line, complain about how long this person is taking to get to their business and get out of the way. They gossip about each other. Staring is done sometimes, but for communication. A stare is a powerful statement.
People. Some are mean or rude; others are kind and polite. Most are a combination of both. That is how you see a handicapped person, when you grew up together. You see them as exactly people, and you treat them the same way you treat any other people. You may still be inspired to stare, because they may have some kind of device or mannerism that would be fascinating to watch. You may still have to avert your eyes at such times, not having the nerve to strike up a conversation, but striking up a conversation will occur to you.
That is why The Americans with Disabilities Act requires schools and day-care facilities to provide "reasonable" accommodations for children with disabilities. The accommodations required may be expensive, but unless the school or business can prove that these expenses are an "undue" hardship, they must comply. Said expenses, in the case of a day-care facility, are to be considered "overhead," just like any other normal costs of running the business, and must be divided among the customers on the same basis as all other overhead. In the case of a school, they are the responsibility of the taxpayers. In other words, the parents of the disabled child or children cannot be required to bear the expense of special equipment, supplies, and staff that must be added to accommodate the particular child or children.
America is very big on segregating its population by age. From infants to the elderly, that is what we do. Children go off to school at five or six, where they get divvied up by age through the next twelve years. After that, they go into the work force, where everyone is between eighteen and sixty-five. Elderly people get warehoused, so that the young will not have to see them, clean up after them, listen to them, and otherwise put up with them. Of course, there are plenty of situations where none of those things apply, but it is the norm. It has been the trend for about as long as the nuclear family.
Today, age-segregation among children begins earlier than ever before, as parents utilize pre-schools to keep them safe during the work day. The children with whom they spend their days are most likely, also, to come from a very similar economic background as themselves, and be of the same race. Anything that adds some variety to such a bland mix has got to be beneficial.
The handicapped population, on the other hand, has been shut away from the mainstream, grouped together according to their particular special needs. But now, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, they are showing up everywhere. You see them on buses, in restaurants, at concerts. Most of those you see all around today are adults, but their presence is important to all children and adults. When you see someone a lot, you get used to them. When you see someone similar to yourself doing something, you begin to think that maybe you can do that, too. Stereotypes are starting to break down. Stereotypes that are often as much internal as external.
In America, where I live, it is not a simple thing for parents to take their children anywhere. Pretty much everything is set up for adults, and only adults. There are a few places that make a special effort to accommodate children. Ambulatory children. Children without any special needs. So the ones with special needs are not seen around much - unless you look in the schools.
A child who spends the day with quicker, smarter, more agile people has to work to keep up as best he or she can, while the quicker, smarter, more agile child must learn to slow down, make room, help. Besides, that is where they all get to see each other, get used to each other, learn to see people, instead of novelties. A good thing for everyone. A good thing for the world. Expensive, though. But that is another subject.
Soothe Your Stress with Aromatherapy
By: Heather Haapoja
“The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day.” -
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, 4th century BC.
Aromatherapy is not a new idea, though it has enjoyed a surge in popularity due to the recent general interest in alternative medicine. The use of scent in healing is actually documented to as far back as 2000 BC.
There are many products on the market claiming to be “aromatherapy”, from bath oils to candles, but while these are certainly enjoyable, most do not contain the essential oils necessary to be considered true aromatherapy. True aromatherapy involves the use of extracted plant essences, or essential oils, for therapeutic purposes.
For managing stress, there are many useful essential oils and various combinations and methods for their use. Among the oils most helpful for stress are, bergamot, chamomile, geranium, lavender, lemon, neroli (orange blossom), rose and ylang ylang. Among these, the most versatile and often recommended is lavender.
Lavender is considered by aromatherapists to be the one essential oil that every home should have on hand. Aside from its many healing properties, it calms, soothes and relaxes quite effectively. For anyone suffering the effects of stress, lavender would be an excellent choice to begin with.
There are many methods for using essential oils. Here are a few favorites to try with lavender or your choice of essence for a soothing escape from stress.
As massage oil – When essential oils are applied directly to the skin, as in massage, drops are added to a base oil, as the essential oils are highly concentrated. There are many base oils to choose from, among them, almond, apricot kernel, corn, jojoba, olive, peanut and wheat germ oil. The general rule is to add five drops of essential oil to one teaspoon of your base oil and massage your tension away.
In the bath – Add a maximum of eight drops of essential oil to the bath. Soak for at least ten minutes, relaxing and breathing deeply.
On a tissue or handkerchief – One drop of essential oil on a tissue can be sniffed any time of day when you need a lift or a soothing break.
As a room spray – Add four drops of essential oil to a cup of warm water in a plant spray bottle. Spray around the room and enjoy the aroma.
For my (wink, wink) research, my very tense neck and shoulders were massaged with a combination of lavender, neroli and lemon grass in a base of wheat germ oil. The effect was very relaxing. I may have gone a bit heavy on the lemon though, the kids thought I smelled like Fruit Loops. My more mature sense of smell appreciated the delicate blend of lavender and citrus, a combination that I would definitely recommend. Just be sure to resist the urge to use more than the recommended number of drops, as they really are highly concentrated. Really.
Aromatherapy is a complex science involving the various healing properties of each oil and effective combinations, uses and methods of use. If you are interested in delving into the world of aromatherapy, I recommend The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood. It thoroughly covers every aspect of aromatherapy, from beauty and first aid to pet care and home use, as well as therapeutic uses for men, women, infants, children and the elderly. It also includes an extensive section on many forms of stress.
For an excellent Internet source of both information and oils, visit Birch Hill Happenings – Aromatherapy, Essential Oils and Supplies at http://birchhillhappenings.com/aroma.htm. This site includes lots of information about aromatherapy in general, the basic oils and their uses as well as “do’s and don’ts” in the use of essential oils. They also offer a large product line of quality oils and convenient Internet shopping.
Remember the old Calgon commercial? They really had the right idea!
“…Lavender, take me away…”
That’s stress help for this week – see you next time!
Gardening with Tiny Green Thumbs:
Sewing the Seeds of Poison Prevention
By: Emily R. Bridges
Gardening can be a fun and delicious experience for you and the tiny green thumbs that you have around the house. Nature provides an awesome array of educational experiences in gardening, using such concepts as cause and effect, responsibility for a living thing and sequencing.
As I prepared myself for our first real daycare garden this year, I reasoned, “It will be a great learning experience for the children to watch the melon-bearing plants emerge from the soil and produce a crop that we can enjoy together.”
Truth be known, it was an up and coming experience for me, in finding that our garden planning hadn’t cultivated their agricultural interests after all, but had unearthed their real planting interests that lay solely in playing in dirt and water. Through our garden’s passage to maturity, the children have thoroughly enjoyed many horticulturist’s tasks like weed pulling, monitoring the growth of the fruits, and determining ripeness; but none quite so much as the periodic task of watering the plants, especially when it involved a sprinkler and a swimsuit.
Despite their ulterior motives, I would certainly encourage gardening as a daycare venture. The older children came to understand the cause and effect of planting and reaping, while the younger ones, at the very least, found enjoyment in a healthy outdoor hobby – specifically one that encouraged eating nutritious foods (which they were much more likely to eat knowing that they had grown them).
But wait, I have a serious seed to plant in your head. A word of caution is appropriate in selecting your plants. For example, I would’ve planted tomatoes – a more prolific plant with faster results (hence, to my way of thinking, the children were more likely to make the cause/effect association), but to my surprise, the greenery of the tomato plant is toxic, as is potato plant greenery.
It isn’t limited to tomatoes and potatoes, either, the greenery of many common plants are actually toxic. Some of the more common culprits are Elephant Ears, Iris, Azalea, Morning Glories, and even carnations! I have listed two links below to web sites that do a great job of shining light on common poisonous plants. It’s worth your while - check them out!
You diligently insert plug covers, lock away medications, and gate your stairs. Yet, you may not realize that a significant risk for poisoning goes unnoticed in your front yard. Yes, toxic plants are probably in your yard at this very moment. A good example is “snake berries.” Thriving in most any yard, it seems as though for each one plant you stomp, three more spring up. My 2-year-old daughter recently came to me and announced that she had eaten a snake berry. My first thought was, “Ah, it probably won’t hurt her, it’s only one,” next was, “Where did she find it, anyway?” and lastly, “Gosh, I don’t THINK that it will hurt her….hmm…will it?”
I dialed our local poison control number and it was, in fact, toxic. The poison control operator treated the incident very studiously. The operator informed me that if she had eaten as few as 3 berries, that poison control would be very concerned. The operator was very helpful and knowledgeable, and I was instructed to watch her carefully and give her liquids. Furthermore, they called back in one hour to check to see how she was and if she had experienced any symptoms such as stomach upset, etc.
Because so many common plants are toxic, take the time to find and post the poison control number for your area now. The American Association of Poison Control Centers makes this information readily available simply by entering your zip code. Check: http://www.aapcc.org/findyour.htm.
Regardless of whether you brave gardening with your little dirt-lovers, it would be worth your time to find out what plants are hazardous. If you are planning a garden, check PioneerThinking.com at: http://www.pioneerthinking.com/toxicg.html to rule out choices that may be toxic.
Also, check http://www.pioneerthinking.com/toxich.html to see if the plants that you already have are toxic - chances are you have some in or around your home right now.
The results will surprise you!
Saying Goodbye, Saying Hello: Separation Anxiety 101
By: Karen Lehmann
Parents, childcare providers, and teachers are often tearfully reminded that young children are not always happy about being left at playgroups, daycare or preschools! Anyone who has witnessed the heartbreaking scene of a Mom or Dad saying goodbye to a child who doesn't want to be left
behind knows that this can be one of the greatest challenges of the early years.
"Separation Anxiety" never really begins or ends. It is an ongoing process of learning what it means to fully exist separately from the people we love most. Those first good-byes at the health club "drop-in" nursery, the neighborhood playgroup or the daycare center set the stage for many more of life's partings and reunions. From the first day of kindergarten to the first day of college, from the first overnight stay at a friend's house to the longer sojourn of summer camp, good-byes don't come easy.
The anxiety that accompanies farewell is experienced most intensely during the very early years of childhood, when we are learning to cope with the complicated interweaving of dependence and independence that is at the center of love and family relationships. The parent/child relation is the very first in a long chain of interdependencies with others that we all experience during our lives. Further, it is the model upon which these others are based. We can choose to see it not just as another "stage" to "get through" - but rather as a unique opportunity to teach our children about
trust, loyalty and self-sufficiency. On the flip side, when these early episodes are consistently traumatic, children may absorb less desirable lessons about betrayal, abandonment and unhealthy dependency.
There is a delicate balance that adults need to maintain when dealing with this aspect of our interactions with children. An overemphasis on the process of saying "goodbye" (and "hello" again!) may itself encourage insecurity (Mommy & Daddy make such a big deal out of dropping me off, there must be something frightening about it!). But we must not underestimate the importance of the separation dynamic or pretend that the issue doesn't exist ("Just distract her with the marble game and I'll leave quietly."). Parents, grandparents, teachers, nannies, day care providers, babysitters: we can all help to foster a loving attitude of trust in our children's hearts.
Here are some tips on handling Separation Anxiety:
Always say "goodbye" (or words to that effect) as you leave. "Sneaking out" is not a good way to foster trust!
If there are tears - well, why wouldn't there be? It IS sad to say goodbye to those we love best. If there is anger - why not? It IS irritating to be left out -Mommy's going to swim in the pool, (do the shopping, go to the office, go to school, etc.) - why can't I go too? Acknowledge your child's feelings - and reassure in a gentle, firm and brief manner, that you'll always be back.
Let your care providers know what to expect, and what kind of behavior you are willing to allow your child. For example, "She may cry at first - or for a while - but I think you can work through it and would like you to try. Sometimes it takes her 20 minutes or so to work
things through. If you feel that there is a serious problem, call me and I'll come and pick her up."
When saying goodbye, tell your child clearly (but not exhaustively) where you are going and when you will be back. As a general rule, the longer you stick around the harder it will be for your child to transition from his time with you to his social or school time. Remember, your child will model his behavior and attitudes about separation after your behavior! Hanging around with tears in your eyes or peering through the schoolyard fence to "see if she's okay" communicate the message to your child that this temporary parting of the ways is something really big, something to be worried about, something traumatic. If you are troubled by the process of separation, talk to your child's teacher or caregiver or ask your pediatrician to recommend one of the many good books on Separation Anxiety. You may need to figure out appropriate behavior for yourself before you can model it for your child.
Never use distraction as a method for the avoidance of separation anxiety. The message behind this behavior is that emotions are to be ignored, covered up, replaced with bright lights and sparkling toys. There are better ways to both allow the child to experience how "goodbye" feels and simultaneously engage them in productive play! Have the person staying with the child read to them, a book that expresses the sadness and hope inherent in partings. "Are You My Mother?" (P.D. Eastman, Random House ISBN 0394800184) is a good one.
Even through their wails, many children will come around by the end of this simple tale about a baby
bird that misplaces his mother for a time. The book and pictures validate the child's feelings of loss while the story imparts a strong message of hope and the certainty of joyful reunion. What's more, the baby bird has some grand adventures along the way! Just like your child will, during the time that she is away from you.
Pass the Passy, Please!
By: Deb Di Sandro
My daughter is fast approaching her third birthday.
"You know what happens when you turn three?" I said, preparing her for the moment. "Of course it doesn't have to be on the exact day of your birthday," I added, dreading the occasion myself. "The day after will be soon enough for one of the most traumatic experiences of your young life."
"What?" Jenna asked.
"No more passy. Three-year-olds don't use pacifiers," I reluctantly informed her.
"Oh," she said while sucking on her passy and contentedly rubbing the threads of her ruffled blankie."
Since she has very little concept of time, the thought of giving up passy doesn't phase her right now. But it will, oh yes, it will, which is why she still has a passy at three when all the experts say babies should give
them up by nine months, or 12 months, or certainly by the age of two. And then there are those extreme passy-fists who believe babies should never use pacifiers.
But none of these experts were around at 3 in the morning when my daughter wouldn't stop wailing. I know because I tried to call them!
Personally, I don't think it's any big deal. It's not like she's addicted to it or anything. Besides my baby only uses her passy for bedtime. Honest! Okay, long car trips, too, which includes any trip past the corner. But that's it, really! That and the occasional video. Well, of course, when she gets a boo, boo, there's no question and I wouldn't step foot in the mall without it, oh and if she misses her nap, well, who could blame . . . Okay! I admit it. She's a crazed sucking passy-head! There, I said it.
But withdrawal is like so. . . hard! I remember when my first-born, Marcus, turned three. He bravely tossed his pacifier into the garbage can and went down for his nap without a single cry of protest. I was amazed at how easy it was. Had I known, I would've done it sooner.
But then the garbage truck rumbled up the block and my son crumbled to the floor in a quivering heap.
"My Binky is gone forever!" he cried. I suppose he thought, that as long as the pacifier was in the garbage, he could always retrieve it, if life got too tough. But the garbage truck crushed his hopes along with his binky. Ten years later, he still can't look at a garbage truck without whimpering.
Of course the longer you wait, the more attention you draw to the situation. And enforcers from the pacifier patrol are sure to comment:
"What's a cute little girl like you, doing with that thing in your mouth?"
"I can't understand you when you're sucking on that piece of plastic."
"That big plug covers your whole face. But it's not your fault, it's your mommy's fault."
It used to offend me, but that was before I discovered the truth. They're just jealous. They're suffering from "passy envy". I know because I've felt it myself.
In the midst of one of those extremely stressful days, I glanced over at my daughter, sucking on her passy. She looked so relaxed, content and sublime, like a little Buddha, at one with her passy, that I couldn’t help thinking, "Boy, I could sure go for a passy right now!"
And why not? Maybe the passy is wasted on the young? I can imagine passy bars, where adults could stop for a passy break. A passy could get you through a traffic jam, your kid's piano recital, and that moment when the doctor tells you to turn your head and cough.
For taking the edge off, a passy would be so much healthier than a drink or a smoke. Just think, this new trend could have the potential to ultimately wipe out harmful addictions as we know it!
Oh, there is that one tiny problem the experts keep bringing up. Extended passy usage could mean we'd all wind up with teeth like Austin Powers.
So . . . give it up, baby!
Spatial Relationships: Tutorial #9
By: Noreen Wyper
Stand in front of the box, behind the box,
Jump in and out of the box like a fox.
Around that box I like to go,
First real fast and then real slow.
Spatial Relationships: Tutorial #9.
- a child’s comprehension of basic, directional language.
The basic language a child should be able to comprehend by the end of kindergarten is as follows:
above/ below, near/ far, in/ out, over/ under, across/ around, up/ down, through/ beside, high/ low, big/ small, short/ tall, wide/ narrow, here/ there, top/ bottom, on/ off.
From the Kitchenlab here are some fun ideas to teach and reinforce spatial relationships.
Using the table have the child place his/ her hand on the table, under the table, trace their finger around the edge of the table, draw it across the table and so forth.
Using a kitchen chair have the child walk around the chair forwards, then backwards. Have the child sit on the chair, get off the chair, crawl over the chair like a caterpillar and wiggle under the chair like a worm.
Using the doorway into the kitchen have the child hop through it like a bunny, stand beside it like a soldier and tiptoe across it quietly like a mouse.
Have the child stretch out his/her arms and measure the width of the table, frig, stove, countertop and smaller appliances like the toaster. If the child decides it is wide then he/she stretches out his/her arms and legs. If the child decides it is narrow then he/she makes his/her body narrow. Repeat this activity using the language of big versus small and short versus tall.
Place an orange in the child’s hand. Direct the child to raise that hand up high over his/her head. Now place the orange down low on the floor. Place the orange near the frig. Then place the orange far away from the frig.
Play “Simon Says”. Simon says to come here beside me. Simon says to go over there and touch the frig. Simon says to turn the light switch on. Turn it off! ( The child only follows the command if Simon says. Otherwise, they should just stand still and wait for the next command.)
Create an obstacle course on the kitchen floor with cans from the cupboard. Direct the child over, around, beside, in front of, behind the cans, etc.. Use the basic language list to create this course.
Use the basic list to guide your child through a daily activity such as setting the table for a meal. For example: Place the placemats around the edge of the table. Set the plate in the middle of the placemat. Place the knife beside the plate on the right side. Now place the spoon beside the knife on the outside. Place the fork beside the plate on the left side. Fold a serviette in half and place it under the fork. Place the glass at the top of the plate. Be very specific with your directions and only give them one at a time.
With many of these ideas you could follow your child through these activities and have lots of laughs. Just remember that your child is the leader.
Next Week: Non Standard Measurement.
New Client Interview Log, Article
By: Victoria L. Pietz
It is a good idea to use a log to get pertinent information. When you sit down with the parent(s) or guardian(s), you will be sure to go over the initial information. It is very easy to forget things when so many initial forms are needed. It’s just like having an outline for a speech; it reminds you of the next thing in line and keeps the flow going.
I have prepared a simple Interview Log. As we get more forms on the web site for you, it would be a good idea to make a checklist of all the forms that need to be filled out and given as information.
When you are first contacted about a new client, you should start the Log. Fill in the names and interview date and time. Make sure you schedule the interview when you will not be distracted by other children. You want your new clients to feel that you are organized and will give them and their child individual attention. This makes you appear much more professional.
New Client Interview Log, Form
By: Victoria L. Pietz
Interview scheduled? Yes______ No_______ Date________________ Time_________
Home Phone Number______________________________________________________
Work Phone Number______________________________________________________
Child(ren)’s Names and Ages
Parent(s)-Guardian(s) Hours Worked
Hours of Care Needed for each child
Days that care will be needed for each child. Will the hours be the same every day of the week?
M T W Th F
M T W Th F
M T W Th F
Start Date Needed for each child___________________
Are there any special needs for the child(ren)? If so give full details_______________________________________________________________________________
Did I go over the charges?
Will there be any need for extra charges? If so, list specifics_________________________________________________________________
Did I give the parent(s) or guardian(s) the enrollment information?
Has the Contractual Agreement been filled out and signed?
Is the Parent(s) or guardian(s) still checking other child care facilities?
If so, you will need to follow up with the client within a few days to a week. It shows your professionalism.
Any specific notes?