Tag Archives: families

“Is the Game Over Yet?” How to survive team sports with your athletes siblings

  

After spending the morning cheering for my son and his lacrosse team, while observing a mom struggling with two younger kids, I decided to write this post.  The mom kept her cool, but I could tell she was aggravated with her other two children.  She spent most of her time telling them not to go anywhere, stop fighting, and no, the game isn’t over.  In all fairness, they brought a blanket and that was it. I’d be bored too. 

Now, I can look at this a couple of ways: how irritating to have the constant disruption for those of us trying to enjoy the game, and then there is the perspective of the mom who is trying to support one child while the other two are bored and behaving in a way that makes mom feel like people are judging her.

Bottom line: it made the morning kind of miserable for everyone, especially the mom with the two bored kiddos.  So, as a child care provider who is trained to prevent behavior issues ahead of time, here’s my two cents (or 20 since I tend to ramble).

1) set the expectations before your arrival. Just make it very clear to the children what they are to expect for the outing and how you would like them to conduct themselves. 

2) be prepared. Have each child pack a small bag of things to do.  This can include a frisbee, coloring book, or deck of cards.  Even a pair of binoculars will provide engagement.  Remind them that the bag is theirs to carry and keep track of. This builds a sense of ownership, responsibility and pride.  (And don’t forget snacks!)

3) include the siblings in the athlete’s activity in some way. Encourage the siblings to make a banner to cheer on their athlete.  Give them jobs like gathering a water bottle or cleats.  Remind them why you’re there, and engage their interest: “did you see how she kicked the ball?” Or “look how fast he’s running!”

4) give them a little freedom. There are many other families at these games, and plenty of other bored siblings.  Set some limits, but let them go play together on an empty field when possible.  Just situate yourself so your kids are in your sight line, and let them roll around in the grass with other kids.

I hope this helps! 

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Start the Conversation Early

 

 When thinking about your two, three or four year old, I bet the last thing on your mind is talking to them about drug and alcohol use.  I’ve just blown you away, right?   Here’s the thing: if you talk to them in response to their questions or comments about it, it means more to them than a lecture 12 years later.  

I’m not saying to sit your two year old down for a substance talk-that wouldn’t be age appropriate and certainly not effective.  However, when you hear a toddler, a very verbal two year old, say, “I have cigarettes from the store,” you are presented with an opportunity.  This happened with my program kiddos the other day while engaging in dramatic play.  I didn’t want to give it too much attention and/or judgement so I was thoughtful in my provocation. I simply asked her to tell me about them.  She talked about the smoke, and came around to coughing.  I asked if cigarettes were okay for her to have: “I’m not a grown up yet, I’m still growing so I can’t have them.” 

Seems like the conversation has begun at her house.  As a mom of a ten year old son and the granddaughter, niece and daughter of family members with substance problems, I think it’s important to talk with kids early about things like drinking and driving.  For me, teaching my son about responsible consumption is as important as teaching him how to tie his shoe or zip his coat.  If these values are ingrained early, he will be better equipped to make decisions as an adolescent and adult.

Yesterday evening, while out for a bike ride with his wife, a man I’ve known for many years was killed after being struck by a drunk driver.  He left behind two children and his wife.  He was a valued colleague to many and he was committed to making the community a better place.

I wonder if that drivers family ever talked to him about drinking and driving?  Maybe they did, and he still wasn’t responsible with his choice.  But maybe they never got around to it…

Please feel free to provide feedback…

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When I was in college…

So when I was a college student, I worked three and four jobs to pay my tuition and buy my own books. I had student loans aplenty and even a small scholarship. I chose a private catholic women’s college close to home, though I’m not catholic. But I felt like it was a great place to figure out who I was and still have a safety net.

And I did find my niche in the world, at least started the journey. It was a place to deepen friendships and learn my strengths. But after my second year, I started getting letters in the mail from my college asking to donate to their endowment. I was shocked and ticked off-I was already working my butt off trying to pay for school and they wanted me to give them more?! I didn’t get it, why would anyone give money back to their school when we’ve just spent a fortune to go there?

Five years after I graduated, my college closed it’s doors forever. I attended the last commencement which was a bittersweet occasion for all.

So while their timing stunk, I finally understood why I was receiving letters asking for money…my college was $14 million in the hole and they were grasping at straws.

The message here: if we want something great to continue, we all have to do our part to support it. That doesn’t necessarily mean financially, though that is often what is needed most. Sharing the mission and stories and memories of an organization, school, or club can accomplish so much as well.

And while yes, I’m in the midst of a fundraiser, that I will shamelessly plug right here, this post has been on my mind for awhile. And yes, I would love your support, but this post speaks to anything in your life that you care about whether it is your local church or your child’s soccer team, your local fire department or your favorite non-profit. We all have to work together to make sure they continue at the high level we have come to expect.IMG_8773-0.JPG

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Coloring Pages…Helpful or Hurtful?

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Some childcare providers provide coloring pages to the children, and it’s quite a debate among caregivers. Personally, I’m against them. Professionally, I’m against them. Let me tell you why.

-no imagination required. How sad… Creative expression is a stress reliever for children, as well as a coping strategy for children processing a life transition. It also helps build young amazing minds that can solve problems and think outside the box.

-coloring in the lines is hard for many children and leads to frustration. Skills develop in time, and children can feel pressure to have a “better” picture than they are capable of producing.

-they require very little collaboration between peers. Working together to create a beautiful work of art can be very rewarding.

-they aren’t open-ended, meaning the activity of coloring is the only choice. When you have blank paper, you can create anything, and use anything.

My experience has shown some benefits for some children on occasion. When you’re at a restaurant with three young children waiting for food, the coloring pages keep the kids occupied. But as early educators, our job is to keep the children engaged as opposed to busy. There’s a big difference.

Occasionally, children who are difficult to reach will migrate to coloring pages as a task. The structure and predictability of having all those lines can offer a sense of security. But of course, so can the presence of a caring educator.

This is not meant as a judgement, just advice. Please consider the intended use of coloring pages before you offer them, especially all of you early educators out there.

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Food Pouches…good or bad?

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One of the latest trends in baby and toddler foods are pouches. They offer a nutritious and highly portable option for feeding young ones. They require no specific temperatures for storage, and have a decent shelf life so they are great for travel. They are also a tidy alternative to messy baby food in a bowl. Many companies are offering these products made organically, and include super foods like kale and chia. And then there’s the independence that a pouch offers to a toddler who wants to do everything on their own.

So what’s the down side, you ask? They are expensive for one thing. Cost can be anywhere from $1.50 to $2.75 per pouch, depending on where you are located. The other downside is that while you can order your own refillable pouches, many of us don’t, and the one time use pouches are not recyclable in all areas. The other thing to consider is that more and more eating is happening on the go. Sitting down at the table is an incredible opportunity to connect with your family. In our hurry up world, we can’t afford to lose this critical family time. Besides, sitting down is the safest way for a toddler to eat.

Another drawback to offering pouches to older infants and toddlers is that they may develop a preference over solid fruits and veggies. What a shame for them to miss out on the variety of textures and flavors, not to mention the sensory experience that solid foods offer. Just think of the impact chewing food has on the jaw muscles. The muscles of the jaw need the workout and the sensory input.

I think it’s important to point out of couple of things here:

-most families willing to make the investment in pouches still value traditional sit down meals.
-many families still value the benefits of eating solid foods.
-many families who try to eat organic and whole foods are also the same folks who are trying to preserve the environment.
-pouches offer a nutritional option for travel and as a fast food alternative.

Bottom line, pouches can be a great part of a nutritious diet rich in variety and whole foods. Please use them wisely and responsibly. And please continue to offer solid foods as well.

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