Halloween Safety
23 October 10 02:18 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments
As we approach this 'spooktacular' time of year, once again I am taken back to when I was a child and would come home from trick-or-treating, excited about all the cool candy I got. Barring the few rogue pennies, apples and raisin boxes (which were always disappointing) I must say I always did well. But before I could get my hands on the candy, we always needed to do the standard candy check, because as we all remember, back in the day there was the whole razor blades in the apples, poison lacings and injections in the candies legends (or were they?). Although those legends may not still be around, it does bring up a good point; Halloween safety is always important.

When you go out, if you plan on going when it's dark, bring a flashlight or put a glowing or blinking light on your kids, so drivers can see them. Make sure you walk on the sidewalk (if there is one) or along the side of the road. Don't wander in the middle of the road with your group. If your child is embarrassed to have a parent with her/him, go anyway, but hang back a little. Stay close enough where you can still see your child, but far away enough to give them some space. Also, be aware of strangers that are too friendly. If you feel uncomfortable, just excuse yourself and your child and be on your way.

Some things to keep in mind after going door to door: Check your child's bag. Is there any open candy? anything s/he is allergic too? anything that you have a gut feeling is not safe to eat. If so, then throw it out. If there is anything homemade, unless it's from someone you know, it's probably best to throw that out as well. You never know what is in the food.

Lastly, have fun. Halloween may feel like a chore to some parents, but it's a very exciting night for children, so enjoy their fun too. One of the benefits of being a parent is getting to eat some of your child's candy... so just think about getting to pick out some of your favorites, because you may be to old to say 'trick-or-treat' but you are never to old to eat Halloween candy!

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Does your child behave appropriately at a restaurant?
01 September 10 11:42 AM | RebeccaL | with no comments

If you look at the top of the menu of a particular outdoor restaurant on Long Island you read that children must remain seated during their stay and that service is dependent on this. And a few years ago there was some contraversy over a sign in a Chicago coffee shop that read "children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven."

Some may get upset by this and some understand and appreciate these signs. Sometimes it seems to be a clash of those with children vs those without when it comes to things like this. Each parent though, actually each person, comes from a different school of thought. There are some parents who are more liberal with their children and feel everyone should agree with their views. It's kindof like politics that way. 

The point is, that when people go out to a restaurant, coffee shop or pizzeria, chances are they really don't want to listen to a screaming, misbehaved or whining child and like it even less when that child is running around. Most of us prefer to enjoy our time out...in peace. Especially since the reason we go out is for fun, to relax, to catch up with friends and dining out brings a certain mood that can easily be ruined by an unruly child. 

To avoid your child from fitting into the category of "that kid" (you know, the one describe above who everyone is staring at) here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Enforce appropriate table manners and proper in-seat behavior at home at your own table. When you are sitting down for meals, make sure your child is sitting too. Encourage him/her to sit quietly, with no yelling,  whining or bouncing around rules. Some squirming is to be expected but reinforce staying in the chair.
  • Bring something to do. Many parents go out for coffee or a meal with a young child and then expect that child to either sit there, or run around. Neither of these are good options and they are not fair to your child. Bring a bag full of crayons, coloring books, toys, books or dolls. Something that can fit on the table that your child enjoys playing with to keep him/her distracted.  
  • Talk to your child before going out about the behavior you expect. If your child is old enough to understand (about 2yrs and above) sit quietly with your child and tell him/her that you will be going out and explain exactly what you want to see. For example "we are going to the coffee shop and when we get there I want you to sit quietly with me and stay in your sit". If necessary offer and reward and tell your child they can pick out something yummy to eat, but that it is contingent upon the good behavior. 

Going out should be enjoyable for everyone. If you have to constantly scold your child or chase after them, then it means that you are not having a good time, and the people around you aren't either. Having your child be well behaved means that you can enjoy your time with your child, and it means your child will have a good time too. It also means that your child will be safe since running around can lead to falls, hot beverage spills and even running into the street if it's an outside place. A well behaved child is a happy child and by children of all ages behaving appropriately all will enjoy time out together.

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When to sign your child up for swim lessons
03 August 10 06:18 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments

We know you love your child. And we know you pack anything they need for the pool. We've seen your trunks. But we also know that if you could just get rid of the swimmies and the tubes you pack in the bag and lug to the pool you would be a much happier camper. 

When your child does not know how to swim, not only do you need to bring all the extra equipment, but you have to be in the water with your child every time s/he wants to be there holding him/her up...and let's face it... sometimes the water is just a little too chilly and the kids are a little too splashy for you to enjoy yourself. 

So, that being said, many parents pose the question: "What is a good age to put my child in swim lessons"? The answer is around 3 -4 years depending on how much your child likes water. Even though there are swim classes for children as young as 6 months, these are really there just to get your child adapted to the water and there is no need for you to spend your money on them. Children who are about 3 years old begin to explore the water more freely and experiment with going under water and kicking their feet etc. As they get closer to 4 years old most children who are not afraid of the water are ready to swim. If your child is one of those children who goes under water and loves to be in it, then you may want to consider finding some lessons.

The best thing to do is sign up for private swim lessons. Many parents put there children in group lessons where their children get about 5 minutes of personal time once you factor in the other 5 or more kids in the group getting a turn. It is best to hire a swim instructor that works at your pool and use your money for private lessons where your child will get personalized attention for 30 minutes. 

You should watch these lessons and listen in to all the key terms like "talk to the fish" and "listen to the fish"  so that when you practice with your child you use the same cues that the instructor uses.

Once your child is proficient in the water, if they are young, it may be a good idea to go in the water with them or at least be sitting on the side of the pool depending on the skill level just to be on the safe side. And as you sit there knowing you and your child are free from swimmies and floaties and tubes, you can bask in the sun and enjoy watching your water baby show off her/his new skills.

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Dr. Stanley I. Greenspan Dies at The Age of 68
27 May 10 08:02 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments
Anyone involved in some way with Autism knows Dr. Stanley Greenspan's name.  Amongst other accomplishments, he is best known for developing the 'Floor Time' method which involves getting on the floor with the child and following the child's actions instead of a more adult directed approach.

Dr. Greenspan died on April 27th at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., of complications from a stroke. 
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Linking the iPad With Education
18 April 10 02:54 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments
Today's technology is being used more and more in the classroom and to aid students in learning. Computer technology, various websites, Wii's and whiteboards are among some of the more common we hear about. Now, a recent article on eschoolsnews.com states that applications for Apple's new iPad include programs to help with science, math, languages, and research. With more than 150,000 application downloads at costs of $2 to more than $15 the iPad is sure to have something for students of all ages.

The educational applications include ones that can help teach periodic table learning in a different form than the one we are used to, as well as language learning apps. The recently released app from Hello-Hello.com offers access to the site’s entire Spanish course and allows access to social networking sites where students can chat with native speakers of the language they are studying. Some company's programs are available for free such as“USA Factbook" which describes the 50 and “States & Capitals" designed for students prepping for a geography quiz or exam.

Some children just learn better through technology. As the world of technology and education continue to integrate, these tools are good to keep in mind as additional supports for kids who have trouble learning the traditional way.

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Kate Winslet narrates "A Mother's Courage: Talking Back to Autism"
05 April 10 09:35 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments
April 2nd was Autism Awareness Day and was also the day when HBO  premiered a film called "A Mother's Courage: Talking Back to Autism" which looks at Autism through a mother's eyes. 

The movie which is narrated by actress Kate Winslet is about a mother from Iceland who does what she can to find out more about Autism and documents follows her efforts to find ways to help her severely Autistic son Keli as well as improve his life. The documentary  follows Margret as she travels to places in Europe and ends up in America to be closer to a treatment center in Texas which will prove helpful for Keli.

The documentary not only shares Margret's story but stories of families along the way and gives watchers a glimpse of the daily struggles and frustrations families with children who have Autism face. 

HBO will also air the show this Wednesday 4/7, Thursday 4/8 and Saturday 4/10. Since approximately 1 in 110 persons have Autism, the chances of you knowing someone who is affected in some way by this disorder is growing, so perhaps checking out this documentary which runs for a little more than an hour and a half or at least watching the trailer may be a good way to spend some time.   
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Shakira Meets with the President
21 March 10 07:15 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments
The famous Columbian singer Shakira went to Washington during the end of February to meet with the president's education staff and National Security Council. She reportedly spoke about early childhood development and US policy towards children. She also met with the President privately in the Oval Office saying "I wanted to see how I can be helpful to the administration in any kind of way to continue promoting early childhood development strategies around the world and within the U.S."
Shakira is not only an international superstar but she is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She went to Washington in support of the ALAS foundation which encourages early childhood development education in the Latin American world. ALAS is a "coalition of artists, intellectuals and academics and business leaders who have all come together to promote early childhood development initiatives, to defend the right that our children have in those first years, those first six years of their lives, to receive education and nutrition and proper care". 

Right on the heels of this meeting though, the government released a statement notifying Early Intervention Agencies of significant cut in rates of pay. With so much attention and focus on early childhood development, it seems unfortunate that the people who are in early childhood development, those working with the 0-3 year old population who have worked for more than 10 years with no pay increase, and increasing paperwork will have to suffer a decrease in wages. 

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New DSM-5 to Remove Diagnoses of Asperger's
16 February 10 05:30 PM | RebeccaL | 1 comment(s)
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders known as DSM will launch a revised 5th edition or the DSM-5 in May 2013.  This new manual will remove the diagnoses of Asperger's Syndrome as it's own disorder and place it under the Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

The reasoning behind this change is that Asperger's is already part of the Autism Spectrum but those with it are higher functioning and often do not have language deficits, but rather social difficulties are the main issue.  The news release by the American Psychiatric Association said this about the change:

   “The recommendation of a new category of autism spectrum disorders reflects recognition by the 

     work group that the symptoms of these disorders represent a continuum from mild to severe, 

      rather than being distinct disorders,”  

This change will supposedly make it easier for  school districts to give services and parents to get services for their child because the children will be classified as Autistic and therefore qualify to receive services more easily rather than having to decide which category/ diagnoses the child falls. Some states do not give Special Education services to children with Asperger's because they often have average to high IQ's and adequate language skills. This new criteria will make it more children eligible to receive services through Special Education.

To read more articles on this proposed change click here

To read the APA's news release click here

To read more about this and other proposed changes is diagnoses click here

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Pajamas...Not just for sleeping anymore
02 February 10 07:00 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments
What's the deal with all the kids wearing Pajamas everywhere these days?
I was recently at a restaurant when 2 pre-teen girls walked in and they both wearing pajama bottoms as pants. And they were with parents!

At what point did an item of clothing meant for lounging and sleeping become acceptable attire for going out to dinner? It's bad enough to see kids wearing their pajama pants on the weekend at Dunkin Donuts but it's even worse when it is at a restaurant.

Have parents stopped trying to instill standards in their children? Do they just not want to argue with their pre-teen or teenage child? Or have parents become so complacent that they just accept any new fashion and go with it?

Either way parents are not helping their children when they allow them to go out dressed in anything they want. They are not instilling a sense of self respect, or what appropriately dressed means. When a parent does not instill these values in their child, it can be hard for that child as s/he gets older. Will that child understand what is appropriate for his/her work place? Or for an interview? We are judged by the way we dress whether we like it or not and it should be important for children to understand how to present themselves well.

When we dress good, we feel good, when we dress in sloppy casual clothes, we tend to feel worse and be less productive. Helping a child look his or her best so that s/he can feel good about themselves, act better and be more productive as well as be dressed appropriately for the place they are going is an excellent lesson a parent teach do for their child.

How we present ourselves is a reflection on us. Next time your kid wants to wear pj's out and about ask yourself this... what if your child's teachers or doctors started wearing pajama pants to work. Would you really want them involved in your child's life or trust that they would be doing the best job they could? If it's not ok for people involved in your child's life, it shouldn't be ok for your child either.
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Babytalk: When does it go away?
28 January 10 07:35 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments
The other day I was talking with my friend when she asked me "when is the 'L' sound going to come? Are my kids ever going to be able to say Lion?". This was a very good question. Different sounds come in or develop at different ages. 'L' is one of the latest sounds to develop and can come as late as 6 years old. Some children are able to say their 'L's and even 'R's at a very young age, but other children take longer to develop these sounds so it is o.k. if a 4 year old still calls a lake the "Yake" for example.

Even though it's natural for children who are 4 and 5 to have some articulation errors, it is essential for them to hear the correct way that they should be pronouncing words. The important thing to keep in mind is NOT to imitate your child or speak the way s/he speaks...as tempting as it is to do. For example if your child wants his/her "Wed" ball, you say ok here is your "Red ball" and if you're going to see the "Yions" at the zoo please tell your child the "Lions" will be there. Otherwise your child may actually think s/he is saying the word correctly because that's how mommy or daddy say it and then continue to say the word wrong. By hearing the correct way to say words, as sounds develop at a natural rate, your child will begin to say words correctly.

If by about 6 years old you are still noticing many errors, and/or have difficulty understanding your child you may want to consult with the school's Speech Therapist to see if there is an articulation delay.

In the meantime if your 3 year old asks for a wed yayipop, don't stress over the fact s/he's not saying it right and enjoy a lollipop with your child while s/he is still talking to you because the terrible teens years will come along before you know it!
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I Love Green Eggs and Ham...
25 January 10 04:02 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments

Oobleck, Grinches and fish red and blue...and how to get to Solla Sollew. Dr. Suess is more than an author. With his vast assortment of books that fit the need of almost any child, whether it is a child with articulation difficulties that needs to practice the /s/ sound, or children learning opposites, basic concepts, or about troubles that life brings, the collection of Dr. Suess books is what you need to teach your children while keeping them (and you) entertained.
Have some fun in Seussville at: seussville.com

Hungry caterpillars, busy spiders and brown bears are just some of the exciting characters that Eric Carle brings to life in his books which do more than just entertain. They are amazing for language development offering children the opportunity to learn sequencing, counting, colors, animal sounds, etc. In addition, the repetition of sentences provides the necessary reinforcement needed when young children are learning new things and allows them the opportunity to join in the story. You can find a list of his books and more at Eric Carle's website.

With a big push on literacy... even in young ones, you can help prepare your child at home by reading to your child every day and exposing them to books, starting at a young age. Children as early as 18 months have the ability to point to pictures of objects you name in books. From 2 1/2 to 3 years old, your child can talk about the pictures s/he sees, remember some of the story and retell it while looking at the pages and learn so much about so many different things thanks to their interest in books at this age.

So whether it's with a fox, or in a box, with a mouse, or in the house, on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, grab a book and read with your child! You may have more fun than you thought you would.

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Important Information To Leave or the Babysitter
19 January 10 05:48 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments

The weekend is finally here and you've called your babysitter and are looking forwards to a night out without the kids. Sure you have your cellphone with you in case the sitter needs to get in touch with you and you've written down some other information, but did you leave enough info for the person you have entrusted to care for your babies? Some things may be obvious to you but depending on the age of your sitter, these things may not be so obvious to them. And since most likely the person watching your children is on the younger side, the more information you give and have written down the better. Also, if there is any sort of emergency, you want to make sure your babysitter is fully equipped to answer any questions that may come her way because no matter how old you are, it's easy to forget information during a crisis. As you prepare for your sitter to arrive, here are some things to keep in mind...

Things to have written down in a place that is easy to find:

* Your address. Don't assume they know it. Even though your babysitter knows how to get to your house, and may know the name of the street, she may not remember the number of your house. Also, if there was an emergency, it's very easy to forget information like that.

*All current phone numbers: fire, police, doctor,family or friend's to call if you can't be reached or are far away, your cell phone numbers and home phone number.

*Your children's information. Make sure your children's birthdays and ages are written down, as well as any known allergies they have. If there was a medical emergency with your child, one of the questions asked would be the age of the child.

*The number of where you will be. Just because you have a cellphone doesn't mean that your babysitter will be able to contact you. There are still many places with poor or no cell service. Leave the name and number of where you'll be so that the babysitter will be able to get through no matter what.

Tell the babysitter you are not expecting anyone and ask them not to open the door for anyone, even if it's the ConEd or UPS guy. Let them know it's ok to call you if there is a question about someone who has shown up at the house.

Things you should leave out (for day and/or night):

-Full bottles and enough of them. Or make sure to leave formula, empty bottles with tops and clear instructions out on the counter if it needs to be mixed.
-Snacks for the kids and sippy cups (if they are of that age).
-Diapers out or in an easily accessible place.
-Pajamas for each child, out on their beds so the babysitter knows whose is whose. If you are leaving your kids during the day, leave out at least 1 extra change of clothes, so the sitter doesn't have to bother with finding them.
-Some food for the babysitter. And have some designated food in the fridge/freezer that she can have as well. Be sure to explain what is ok to eat.
-Movies that your children like to watch and that they have permission to watch that day/night
-A list of t.v. channels your kids watch along with programs names. If possible, put the times of those programs too. If you have shows on the DVR, leave that list then.

When your babysitter arrives, if it's their first time, show them around the house, how to use the remotes and where everything they need is. If it's not the first time, you should still remind the sitter of some things, like to lock up after you leave and to call if there is any problem, etc.
Don't be afraid to ask the sitter to clean up after herself... and your child. Remind her to change your babies diaper before s/he sleeps...even if it is only a little bit dirty. It's helpful for younger babysitters to understand that you change a diaper often.

Once you leave, make sure you have fun and enjoy being out. Don't call every second. There is nothing wrong with calling once to see how things are going, but it is unnecessary to call over and over to 'check in'. Your babysitter knows to call if there is a problem, and you wouldn't have left such a precious package in their hands if you didn't think they could handle it, so go and enjoy yourself.
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Puppies Behind Bars
12 January 10 05:55 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments

Has your child ever asked you for a puppy? They are so cute and cuddly that we all can understand why a child would want one. Having a dog can bring so much fun and joy into our lives but they also require a lot of time and patience amongst other things. Kids usually do not think about or may not understand just how much work it takes to own a dog, which can be just one of the many reasons why a parent says 'no' when a child asks to get a puppy. But what if you want to say 'yes', but circumstances are such that you are not able to? Well...being a volunteer with the program Puppies Behind Bars may just be a solution to your problem.

Puppies Behind Bars is an amazing program in which inmates in correctional facilities in the New York Tri State Area raise and train puppies. These puppies live in the cell with their raisers who are responsible for caring for and training them. The puppies then go out 2-3 weekends a month with volunteers referred to as "puppy sitters" who as the website describes:
"take the dogs into their homes in order to expose them to things they won't experience in prison. These can be as simple as hearing doorbells or the sounds of a coffee grinder, and as complex as learning how to ride in a car and walk down a crowded sidewalk."

The dogs are golden retrievers and labs whose ages range about 5 or 6 months to about 10 months old. The goal is to have them graduate and move on to further training as bomb sniffing dogs or service dogs. Since these dogs are on such a strict regime, they are house trained and are much better behaved than most puppies. They are not allowed to sit on furniture, eat 'human' food, or bark.

Since my roommate was a volunteer for this program, I was able to see first hand how the program works and enjoy spending time with the wonderful dogs. As someone who has never had a dog before, it was a great way not only to learn what it would be like to own a dog, but to get out of the house and do something different. I will admit it was hard at times to say goodbye, but it was fun being with so many different dogs of all sizes and personalities.

Here is how it works if you are a volunteer: You must commit for one year to the program. After a few days of training, the volunteers then begin taking the puppies for either an overnight stay once a month or 2 weekend days a month. You only need to take the dog for a few hours during the day. The program allows you to request specific dogs but there are times you may not be given that dog. The volunteer is responsible for picking up and dropping off the dog and the correctional facilities.

Depending on if you think your child would be able to deal with saying good-bye to the dogs after a few hours or even an overnight stay with them, this program is a great way to have all the excitement that comes with having a dog without having to own one, and at the same time your child will be learning things like responsibility for caring for another living being. And you will be giving back to an important program.

Learn more about the program by clicking here. Even if you don't think the program is for you, check out the site anyway and pass on the info.

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Daddy's Little Girl
03 January 10 03:48 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments

It is in most women's nature to nurture; however for men this nurturing side may not come as easily. Sometimes fathers are not sure what to do with their children, especially when they have a daughter. Sure with a son it's different because boys will be boys no matter what age, so it may be easier for a father to relate to a son. But what do you do with a daughter? Play toy soldiers? Maybe. Play with cars? Eh.. not so much. Chances are she's more interested in her dolls and girlie things. You don't have to play Barbies with your little girl, but it's important to engage in some sort of play with her.

Fathers play a very valuable and significant role in the lives of their children. Remember that sometimes it doesn't matter what you are doing with your daughter; she is simply happy to get attention from you and spend time with you. I used to play catch with my father and although he used to tell me I threw like a girl (and yes I happen to be a girl) I loved every minute of my time spent with him. He balanced out the things I learned from my mother. My father taught me how to measure twice and cut once when we built shelves together, how to spackle, use a power drill, and how to catch a grounder and fly ball. These activities were so enjoyable for me, because I was spending time with my father & getting to do things he does.

If you are not quite sure what to do with your daughter, here are some suggestions: You can go to the park, look at books, dance to music, cut & glue, have her help with dinner, watch a movie she likes, or even play toy soldiers. Chances are, because she's your little princess, she'll be perfectly happy just to be doing something...anything with you as long as she's getting your attention, love and affection. Remember, the relationship between a father and a daughter is very special! That's why she's "daddy's little girl".

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Are You Spoiling Your Child With Too Many Gifts?
22 December 09 05:53 PM | RebeccaL | with no comments
There are some children in this world who are fortunate enough to be part of families who love them and have the financial means to shower them with gifts. Some of these children though, get so many presents for birthdays and the holidays that at times it can be too overwhelming for them. They go from present to present without really appreciating the thought and generosity that went into the gift. Dolls, mini cars, train sets, play kitchens, bikes... and more that was on the wishlist is now a wish come true. Even though your child wanted all these fun and amazing toys and will probably have a great time playing with them, are you helping or hurting your child by overwhelming them with too many gifts? So as the gift giving and receiving adventure ensues, there are some things to keep in mind. The first is this: If a young child has too many toys, it can be too distracting, and even create some difficulties in attention. Too many toys means too many choices and it's so easy for a child to go from toy to toy to toy, without any structure or meaningful play. They may not learn to sit and play with just one toy for a while because there are just so many to get to or because they just don't have to. The next thing to keep in mind is: What are we teaching our children when we spoil them with everything they want? Children need to be taught generosity and young kids don't really understand or appreciate all the gifts they get, especially if it's a common occurrence. A scene from a Harry Potter movie comes to mind when Harry's spoiled cousin gets upset because there were only 36 presents for his birthday when the year before he had 2 more than that. Sound like anyone you know? I hope not! This type of mentality is what we are trying to avoid in a child. Obviously babies have no idea what they get if anything, and toddlers are usually happy with anything they get. If you have a child who is more aware of gifts, think about whether or not your child already has too many of something already, and also think about the gifts they are getting. Are they over the top? Too expensive? Are they necessary? Does your child need that $200 play kitchen? or the $1300 doll house? or new bike? new PS3 or Xbox? Will s/he be able to go on being happy without these things or maybe with slightly less expensive or grand versions? You can also put some gifts away to be opened at another time. If your child is getting too many big gifts, then put some of them away, and give them to your child at a time when s/he may need a little pick me up or when s/he has done something extra special. As you think about what your child will be receiving or after all the gifts have been opened consider taking some inventory and cleaning out the old to make room for the new. Clear out old toys or toys your child doesn't use anymore, is too old for, or are broken or have lost pieces. Take the toys that are in usable condition and donate to those less fortunate and make sure you explain to your child exactly what you are doing and why. Also bring your child with you when you donate them. Most people go to Salvation Army type places but there are many preschools and elementary schools with large populations of children at the poverty level who would love the toys. Donating at this time of year gives you a great opportunity to explain to your child that not all children are as fortunate as your child is and some of these children don't even have crayons, books or even a teddy bear. This will help you teach your child about generosity, about others outside of his/her world and hopefully teach your child to appreciate what s/he has while you are helping those in tough situations. So as you celebrate your holidays, let us try to remember what this time of year really means... and it's more than just how much stuff we get. And even though it's fun for kids of all ages to receive gift after gift, there is such a thing as too much. Happy Holidays and Wishing you and yours a Happy and Healthy 2010.
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