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Healthy Snacks

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A few simple tips can keep your family snacks low in fat, healthy and tasty:

• Lots of new/ different chips are available (potato, sweet potato, tortilla) in a variety of tastes. Looks for chips that have been baked, not fried.

• Popcorn is always a favorite (don’t add butter, margarine or too much salt.) Air-popped is best.

• Low fat or farmer’s cheese is good with crackers.

• Fresh fruit is sweet, good for you, and it provides fiber and vitamins. In-season fruits generally cost less.

• Check out recipes for low-fat veggie dips to go with colorful veggies for between-meal snacks. Carrot and celery sticks, broccoli and apples, too, are great for dipping.

• Tired of orange juice? Try one of the new fruit (and vegetable) juice mixes at the grocery store or mix your own.

• Low-fat rice cakes fill up hungry kids in a hurry. Experiment to find the favorite flavors at your house.

Building Self-Esteem

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Children need to feel loved just for being themselves. Here are some ways in which parents can enhance their child’s self-esteem by their love:

• Set aside a special time of the day or a special day of the week when you and your child can spend uninterrupted time together. This may include, for example, going together to the mall to select shoes or some item of clothing for your child, going to the post office together to mail some letters, or stopping by the library to return some books or take out some new ones.

• Keep records of your child’s development. This may include keeping a scrapbook with samples of your child’s artwork, or a special photo album or a home videotape of your child’s favorite activities. You may want to reserve a drawer where you can store mementos from your child’s life.

• Keep written records. Write down some fun things that happened along the way with the dates. Write down those funny, hard-to understand words. In later years, these will become treasured memories.

• On your child’s birthday or some other special occasions, write a letter to your child in which you indicate some of the ways in which your child is special to you. Be sure to keep these letters for your child’s future reading.

Many toys are good for all ages

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All children, regardless of age, need playthings to build physical, mental, language, emotional and social skills.

Some toys will appeal to children of all ages. These include music-re­lated items, plush toys and books.

For children two years old and up, a well-rounded toy selection should also include playthings from the following groups:

  • Pretend/dress-up play
  • Arts and crafts
  • Blocks
  • Science and nature play
  • Outdoor toys for active play
  • Puzzles, games, and construc­tion toys

Praise for the accomplishments of children

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A child needs to feel that the significant people in her life notice what she does and are proud of her accomplishments. This message can be given by a hug as well as with words.

A baby’s first step, the creation of a pretty picture, or blocks stacked into a tall tower are obvious times for praise.

Less obvious times are good too—for example, when a messy child shows the slightest sign of neatness. Or when she has completed a task without being asked to do it.

It doesn’t matter how the accomplishment stacks up in relation to other children. The important thing is that the child accomplished something.

A good rule of thumb is to praise children as often as—or more often than—you correct them.

A child needs to feel that the significant people in her life notice what she does and are proud of her accomplishments. This message can be given by a hug as well as with words.

A baby’s first step, the creation of a pretty picture, or blocks stacked into a tall tower are obvious times for praise.

Less obvious times are good too—for example, when a messy child shows the slightest sign of neatness. Or when she has completed a task without being asked to do it.

It doesn’t matter how the accomplishment stacks up in relation to other children. The important thing is that the child accomplished something.

A good rule of thumb is to praise children as often as—or more often than—you correct them.

Learning about Big and Little

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There are many experiences in daily life that you can use to help children learn the words and idea of size. For example, when you’re doing the laundry, ask your child whose clothes are bigger—hers or yours?

Get her help in putting all the big towels in one pile, and the small ones in another, or in separating all the baby’s small clothes from her larger ones.

When you’re shopping, ask her to hand you the larger of two boxes or the smaller of two cans of a certain brand.

When you unpack and put away the groceries, let her see if she can estimate if an item is too big, too small, or just right for a shelf before putting it away.

When putting her toys away on a shelf, have her trying lining them up from the smallest to the largest or put all the small ones on one shelf and the big ones on another in order of their size.

By your use of them, introduce her to the words and ideas of long and short, thick and thin, heavy and light, and so on, as more specific ways of looking at big and little, large and small.

5 Ways to Promote Social Interactions with Your Child Before Preschool

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Most parents monitor their child’s cognitive development in milestones from a very young age. For instance, you may remember the first day your child took a step or recited the ABCs. However, his or her social milestones may require more of an effort to gauge and even more of an effort to teach.

As a parent, you play a key role in your child’s social development. The social cues and exchanges you teach your child can make a huge difference in his or her life. Here are a few things you can do to help your child gain strong social skills before preschool.

Organize Playdates

Try finding a family in your area who has kids near your child’s age. Then invite them over for a playdate. It may help if the other children are slightly older than your child because older children tend to initiate friendships sooner than younger children do. If possible, choose a family your child has seen before to help him or her feel more comfortable. Keep the playdate to one or two hours. This will give your child a chance to meet new people but not overstimulate him or her.

When the other kids arrive, organize games and activities that you know your child enjoys. This will help you child feel more comfortable and confident. When possible, maximize positive interactions between the kids. You can start a game of hide-and-seek or an art project. Remember to keep the focus on your child. Get things going, and then hang back and let your child learn how to interact.  < /p>

Teach Your Child How to Socialize

Often kids rely on their parent’s example when it comes to learning social skills. To give your child the chance to see how to interact, invite your own friends to your home. Your child will see appropriate behavior from how you treat your friends.

You may also want to teach your child a certain trait, such as empathy. You could take food to your sick neighbor, make a card for your parents, or surprise a friend with a gift. Remember that the experiences your child has inside the home will influence their social interactions outside of the home.

Encourage, Don’t Pressure Your Child

Near the age of three, children begin to interact with other kids on a social level. Before this age, most children play side by side and imitate the others actions. Depending on your child’s age, encourage him or her to interact appropriately.

If your child feels that you don’t approve of his or her interactions or friendship skills, your good intentions may backfire. Your child may already feel insecure around other children, and the pressure can fuel this insecurity. Instead, encourage and teach, but never pressure social interactions. Set the stage for the interaction then leave the rest to him or her.

Allow your child to show you what kind of interactions he or she likes most. For example, you will see whether he or she prefer larger groups or one-on-settings. Perhaps your child tends to be the leader rather than a follower among peers.

Build Confidence

Help build your child’s confidence by pointing out his or her strengths. Show him or her that it’s okay to laugh at your own mistakes when relating with others. Your interactions with your child will both build confidence and show him or her how good friends should act.

As you play with your child, listen to him or her without criticism. Give compliments when you can and help your child look on the bright side. This will help build emotional control when it comes to social situations later in life.

Consider Buying a Pet

Most children feel shy and insecure when they first start to interact with other children. If your child tends to stay away from other children, consider buying a pet. Interacting with a pet away from parents will help your child learn social interactions in a nonthreatening environment.

Don’t worry if your child struggles with social interactions at first-most children do. Use these tips to prepare your child for preschool and enjoy his or her company while you can.

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