8 Tips for Step Parents

Good Afternoon,

I believe I have the two BEST step-parents in the entire world.  It absolutely goes without question that I am their child and they love me as if I were their own.  It has not been easy or fun at times, but the hard work and commitment to our family and to each other has been 100% worth it.

Let me make clear the statement, “not easy or fun”.  I was not easy or fun.  The truth is that I was rotten.  I pulled out all the stops when it came to bad behavior.  My parents both remarried the same year and in a matter of months I went from being the oldest child to the third at my mom’s house and the oldest at my dad’s house, with a step-mom who had no kids and had never been married.  It was a little rough.

Let’s fast forward a few years and get to the part where we are a happy family.  Most importantly, I’d like to explain how we got here.  As I mentioned, it wasn’t easy and it took several years, almost 10, to patch up the old hurtful feelings and move on.

The list I have compiled contains the most important aspects of bringing a family with step-parents together.  Read it, digest it, and use the strategies offered.

1.  Time.  It is unrealistic to build a solid relationship or to patch up the past quickly.

2.  Communication.  I believe communication is the key to successful relationships in families and otherwise.  Talk it out, share your feelings, listen to others, and match your body language to your words.  Be explicit and clear with your words and motions.

3.  Plan.  Whether it’s moving in, talking to the kids about marriage, changing the rules, or anything else, thinking ahead and making a plan of action will relieve lots of stress in the moment.  Family meetings are a great way to get everyone on board and committed to the plan going forward.

4.  Be Flexible.  Taking things one step at a time will help to reduce hurt feelings and push-back regarding a new plan.  If things don’t go well the first time, re-evaluate and try again.  Assess the situation from your families’ perspectives and needs and go from there.

5.  The Other Parent.  Be respectful of your child’s other parent.  Talk about them in a neutral or positive light in the presence of your child.  Do not argue, bicker, or bring up old baggage out of respect for your child and the relationship they have with that parent.

6.  Collaborate.  The most important member of your team is your child.  The other members of that team need to collaborate in order for your child to succeed.  Make that happen.  Extend an olive branch to grandparents, teachers, coaches, friends, neighbors, ex-spouses, etc.  Put your pride aside and do what’s right for your child.

7.  Commit.  It takes a huge commitment of time, effort, and heart to make it work.  Juggling all the components listed above while living it day-to-day is difficult.  Commit to your kid, commit to yourself, commit to your partner, and focus on the future of your new family.

8.  Goals.  Set some guidelines and goals to help you along the way.  Make a plan of action and go for it.  Start small and take baby steps in the beginning.  Personal, couple, and family goals are all good components that help keep the ball rolling in the right direction.

Looking back on the first few years as a new family and knowing where we are now, I never thought it possible.  I look back on the time spent trudging through the mud together and think of how awful it felt in the moment.  How angry I was, the horrible things I said and did, and the silent treatments I thought would really work.  Thankfully they didn’t work.  We were in it together and we stayed in it together.

Image  My step dad and dad walking me down the aisle.

Good Luck,

Katherine

Ways to Foster Honesty through Conversation

Listen to your kids

Listen to your kids (Photo credit: Bindaas Madhavi)

Good Afternoon and Happy Halloween,

So many newsworthy events have been happening lately.  The East Coast weather is on everyone’s mind, the elections are in their final days, and the holidays are just around the corner.  These three things don’t usually have much in common, but as I started thinking about this week’s post all three came to mind for the same reason: talking to your kids honestly.  There are numerous situations where you just wish your kids would stop asking questions, or you hope that they don’t notice something, or you thought they had forgotten about a certain topic.  Unfortunately, this is not usually the case.  Today I would like to offer strategies that help you talk to your kids in a comfortable way when you are in an uncomfortable situation.

Communication During a Crisis

The goal of communication during a crisis situation is get the most information out with the least amount of effort.  There are dozens of different types of crisis situations.  You may have time to prepare and plan, or you may have to act at a moment’s notice.  Being mentally prepared can help in all crisis situations.

  • Talk in an assertive but non-threatening way using the simplest words possible.
  • Keep your voice at the lowest volume possible when giving directions.
  • Give directions in short clips instead of a long train.
  • Give information about the situation that is honest and to the point.
  • Allow your kids to tell you their feelings and ask questions, if there is time.
  • Identify with their emotions in yourself, “I am also feeling scared.”
  • Give them honest reassurance.
  • Model behavior that shows leadership and logic

Communication about Adult Matters

Kids are smart and curious.  They want to know about the goings-on in their parents lives.  Over the past several months there has been lots of conversations about the elections, the economy, women’s rights, finances, health care, etc.  Kids are barraged with ads on TV, mail at the house, conversations they overhear, and billboards all over town.  It is not surprising to me that they are interested and curious to know more about these topics.

  • Decide what information is appropriate for your child to know.
  • Allow them to ask questions in an environment that is non-judgmental and honest.
  • Allow them to have opinions that differ from yours.
  • Ask them follow up questions to further the conversation.
  • Talk about adult topics in simple ways.
  • Relate information back to their personal experiences like earning an allowance, being sick and seeking medical care, incentives that are important to them, etc.
  • Talk to them about what it means to be president and how our country is different from other countries in this way.
  • Encourage conversations about character and what it means to be a leader.
  • Practice the, “no thanks,” conversation to have with phone and door-to-door solicitors.

Communication around the Holidays

Holiday time is usually very stressful.  Tension and anxiety are high, positive communication breaks down and behavior tends to follow.  Lots of families have had a tough year financially.  Hosting guests for the holidays and the spirit of giving can add to the feeling of being overwhelmed.  Having a plan in place to talk to your kids about these things now can save you time and frustration later.

  • Talk to them about budgets and money.
  • Reinforce behavior with conversations and reminders of expectations.
  • Practice conversation starters to use with guests as well as follow-up questions.
  • Practice honest ways to show appreciation towards others, especially in uncomfortable situations.
  • If you give to charities, talk to your kids about why you choose that charity and why it is important to give to others.
  • Start conversations about family traditions, what they mean, and how they got started.

Building a relationship with your kids that is both open and honest is a huge job.  What it boils down to is showing what honesty looks like through your actions towards them and others.  Kids are going to ask lots of questions either way, having those questions directed towards you is the goal.

I would love to hear from you! 

  1. How do you teach your kids about honesty?
  2. What are some situations where you felt you did or did not handle the conversation correctly?
  3. How do you mentally prepare for uncomfortable conversations?

Also, I have started an account on Pinterest just for my readers.  I invite you to check it out and follow me as I add helpful pins for all areas of parenting.

Good Luck,

Katherine

Sharing a Bedroom

Good Morning,

I spent time with some friends the other night.  One of them discussed  how she and her husband were in the process of making their son’s room ready to share with the new baby.  How were they going to tell him?  How should they divide the room?  Was it even fair to force their son to share his room?  I would like to answer these questions and give some suggestions if you are in the process of combining rooms or planning on this transition in the future.

  • Communicate with all children involved.  If you are bringing home a new baby, talk to your older child early in the planning process.
  • Make it exciting for them to share their room.  If they are old enough to help, invite them to pick paint colors, decorations, and setup of the room.
  • Make your child feel like a part of this decision.  If they feel like they are a part of the process they will more easily share with their new roommate.  “It will be really exciting for you to show the new baby your room!”
  • For older kids who are sharing a room, have them decide how things should go.  Give them time to talk it out and determine how they want to organize the room, without your involvement.  Things will go much more smoothly if they are in charge of how the space is split up and whether they want two sides of the room or bunk-beds.  If choosing all the details is not realistic, give them choices where possible.
  • Seek help by talking to others who have kids that share a room as well as look online for pictures and do-it-yourself tutorials about how to decorate a shared room.
  • Hold your kids to the plan.  Have written reminders for a while to help them stick to what they agreed upon.  Have consequences for breaking the agreement.  Discuss respecting others’ possessions, space, and preferences before creating a shared room scenario.
  • Be patient with your kids as they work out sharing a space.  It is easy to get frustrated with someone when you share a confined space.  Older kids get tired of sharing a space and their belongings with younger siblings.  Help them by listening to their frustrations and mediating between siblings.  Give them the power  to work out their issues in a responsible and mature way.

I believe that you can solve most issues surrounding sharing a room by planning the presentation of this topic.  Whether it be sharing a room with a new baby or with an older sibling, getting your kids involved in the process from the beginning will help things go smoothly.

Sites to check out:
The Ups and Downs of Siblings Sharing a Room
A Room of One’s Own?
4 Advantages of Making Siblings Share a Room

If you have found this information helpful please subscribe/like/tweet/pass along.

Good Luck,

Katherine

Online Use and Safety for Kids and Teens

Good Morning,

Teaching Kids to Use Computers

Image by IvanWalsh.com via Flickr

I have noticed lots of technology-based charter schools and preschools popping up around my city.  My family didn’t purchase a computer until I attended high school, and I learned how to use the internet in college.  Today, I can’t imagine my life without email or online newspapers.  So much has changed in such a small amount of time…it is truly amazing.  How do parents stay on top their children’s online usage and keep them safe?  For many parents, the computer is a household necessity for their family’s academic and social needs, but are they spending the time upfront to prevent unwanted habits and predators?

Safe Surfing Strategies

  • Start early in life.  Play age-appropriate games and check out kid-friendly websites together.
  • Bookmark pages for your kids so they can reach them easily and without hassle.
  • Set boundaries for time, websites, and online chatting.  Set up parental controls and passwords to protect against sensitive materials and inappropriate sites.
  • Have one family computer set up in a community space.
  • Talk to your children honestly about the dangers of chatting with strangers and online bullying of school mates.
  • Teach your older kids how to use search engines and online catalogs correctly.
  • Let your kids know that you are monitoring their online activities.

Here are some great kid friendly websites to check out:
Smories
Starfall
Bembo

PBS Kids

Disney

KidZui

Sesame Street

Other sites for parents to check out:

Google Family Safety Center
Kids Rules for Online Safety

Social Media and Your Children
(video)

If you found this information helpful please subscribe/like/tweet/pass on.

Good Luck,

Katherine

Time Out Method for Kids

fearfull and crying child before dental treatment

Image via Wikipedia

Good Morning,

For many parents, one of the most difficult days experienced is the day they realize that they need to start a more structured, more serious discipline plan.  As I mentioned a few days ago, it is important that you and your partner go into a discipline plan with a method that you have agreed upon.  Tailor your plan to your child’s needs and be sure both of you are able to consistently enforce the plan.

There are numerous discipline plans.  Today I am focusing on the time-out method.  I have always liked and followed the plan offered by Love and Logic.  Today, I aim to give you the best parts of their method in addition to adding some strategies of my own.  I believe that this method is very effective if you remain consistent.

Follow the below steps when using the time-out method of discipline:

  1. Communicate with your child that you will be using a new plan starting today.  Let them know that when they make a bad decision you are going to put this plan into action.
  2. Designate a cue word or phrase.  I like to use the word “bummer.”  I simply say the word “bummer, ” and they know that they are going to time-out and that they have made a bad decision.
  3. Remove your child from the situation.  Designate a place in your home, like their bedroom, or a corner for them to sit in.  If you are out of your house, simply remove them from the situation where they cannot be distracted by their friends.  Allow your child to sit alone for a few minutes.  If they are throwing a tantrum, let them work it out on their own.  It is very normal for them to be angry at themselves for making a bad decision.  Calmly and authoritatively escort them to the designated area and leave them for a few minutes.
  4. Allow them to sit and calm down or think for a few minutes.  Do not let them get up or leave this area until you let them.  You may need to close the door and keep it closed by force (if necessary).  Do not talk to them or interact with them in any way until they are out of time-out.
  5. When you are both calm, open the door and have a quick chat about the situation and why they were in time-out.  “It is dangerous when…,”  “It is never acceptable to hit/kick our friends,”  “I need you to listen to me the first time I ask you to…”  Tell them what response you expect in a situation, and ask them if they would like to try it again.
  6. Finish with some positive words.  Tell them that you know they will make a different/better decision next time, or that you love them no matter what and will always help them in stressful times.  Let them know that you care about them and their well-being and move on.
  7. Allow them to make the situation right.  They can clean up a mess, apologize to a friend, show you that they know what to do.  When they make the right decision, praise them.

Other tips to make it work

  • Act immediately upon the situation.  Do not wait until you get home or until there is someone else to enforce the punishment
  • Use the time when your child is in time-out to regroup and calm down.  A child’s misbehavior is equally frustrating for the parents.  Give yourself a chance to make the best decisions for your child in a calm and controlled way.
  • If you choose to give a warning, stick with it.  No discipline method will work if you are not serious about acting upon your words.  I think it is great to allow your child to make a good decision right then, but if they do not, stick with the plan.

Give your child a structured and controlled environment to live in.  For many kids, guesswork leads to mistakes.  As their environment and decisions become better-defined, their behavior improves.  If you provide well-established boundaries as well as the consequences for straying outside the lines, they are more likely to choose to stay within those lines.

More information regarding the time-out method of discipline:

The history of this method at Wikipedia
Easy to follow plan from the University of Minnesota
The Center for Effective Parenting has a ton of information
Time-in or Time-out at WebMD

If you found these tips helpful please subscribe/like/pass along this blog!

Good Luck,

Katherine

A Preliminary Conversation about Toddler Discipline

Good Morning,

It is very rewarding for a parent to be complimented on the behavior of their child.  There are two prerequisites for creating this situation.  First, you will put in countless hours working with your child, teaching them right from wrong.  Second, your child will have to remember and execute what you taught them about behavior.  Once this has happened, you are well on your way to receiving compliments on your child’s demeanor.  Way to go!  It feels great to get public recognition for your hard work.

Discipline needs to start early in life and remain consistent.  Kids who listen and follow directions have parents that put in a significant amount of time and effort to ensure that their child can play safely with others, be appropriate in a public setting, and function without a parent nearby.  Yesterday, this blog talked about helping toddlers become social.  I believe that the goal of many parents is to see their children grow into functional adults who are accepted and liked by their peers.  Today I would like to offer some things to think about that may aid you with any method of discipline.

  • Start early and be consistent.
  • Practice good communication skills with your kids and your partner.  Take the guess-work out of behavior.
  • Have a conversation with your spouse and other caretakers to ensure that everyone is on the same page and able to execute the same discipline methods.
  • Be willing to tweak current practices to grow and accommodate your child’s needs.
  • Tailor ideas to fit your child.
  • Find a standard with which you and your spouse are comfortable and stick to it.
  • Remember that not all kids are the same and you may have to change strategies for each child.
  • Remember that your friends may utilize a different structure.  That’s ok.  Their child may need an alternate strategy.
  • Practice staying in control.  A method will only work if you are able to keep your emotions, words, and actions under control.
  • Once you choose a particular ideology, seek advice.  It is amazing what other people have experienced and what you can learn from them.  Start with the professionals (your doctors, books, etc.) and move to parents who have actually put a certain set of steps into practice.
  • Do not fall back solely on what your parents did.  That may not work well for your child, and it may not work all that well for you.  We often feel that something “worked for me when I was growing up” so it must work for our children.  Fight that urge!  Do some research to find out what options are available, and select a strategy that you feel will match up best with your family.

I plan to cover some popular disciplinary methods over the next few weeks.  I welcome questions and comments regarding discipline.  I recognize that this is a hot topic for many parents, and I would love to start a dialogue on the subject!

Take a few minutes to check out these great sites:

Le Top Blog offers some secret tactics
Mommyfriend
has been there
20 Commandments of Toddler Discipline

Good Luck,

Katherine

One-on-One Time with Your Child

An icon illustrating a parent and child

Image via Wikipedia

Good Morning,

I was reminiscing the other day about growing up.  Specifically, I was thinking about special time spent with my grandmother.  When I finally obtained my license, I would swing by my grandmother’s house.  As I remember it, she was always pulling fresh corn bread muffins out of the oven.  She always seemed to have a pot of chili on the stove.  We shared a love of onions.  We would sit and eat chili with raw onions until we were stuffed.  There are so many wonderful memories that I have about my grandmother, but this one is my favorite.

Looking back on when I was young, the moments that stand out most are the times that I shared with someone I loved.  Dinners out, going to the movies, driving in the car together, the list could go on forever.  The things that seemed important then aren’t nearly as important as the memories I now cherish.

Today’s blog takes a look at the importance of spending one-on-one time with the children in your life.  Whether they belong to you or not, making shared memories is more valuable than you know.  There are lots of reasons to hang out together, and I would like to offer some inexpensive ideas as well as some explanations.

One-on-one time means that you are alone with one other person.  It was always a treat to spend time away from my siblings and talk about the things that I wanted to talk about, or see the movie I wanted to see.  It was great because I didn’t have to compromise.  Many parents find it hard to schedule hours to spend with just one of their children, but it doesn’t just have to be with mom or dad.  Grandparents, aunts and uncles, older cousins and siblings, respected neighbors and older friends, even teachers can all pitch in here.  Below are some common scenarios that many folks find difficult, along with some easy ideas to help mitigate the problem.

A new sibling is born
Many times, when a new sibling is born, the older sibling is confused and sometimes angry.  Spending time alone with them shows them that they are still your baby.  Younger kids especially have higher rates of tantrums and exhibit behaviors that require discipline.  It is hard for them to go from being the only child to sharing your love and attention.  Going out for ice cream, playing at their favorite playground, and watching their favorite movie are easy ways to spend time together.

Moving to a new school or city
Moving is not easy on any family member, and is especially difficult for children.  Making new friends, learning a new set of rules, and figuring out a different culture take their toll mentally, physically, and emotionally.  What better way to acquaint yourself with your new city than to go exploring together?  Take a bike ride and see where you end up, or search online for a great hangout.  If your child is at a new school, pick them up one afternoon and go for a special treat, take them on a picnic, or bake cookies to get them talking about how things are going.

Difficult situations
We all go through tough times and for kids, it makes it easier to cope when they have help from an adult.  Being able to ask questions, put names to emotions, and share the physical presence of another person feels good.  Sitting and talking, reading a book together, going out to eat, and taking a walk all help ease stress.

As an incentive
When I was a teacher, I would offer my lunch time as an incentive to the students.  The student with the most points at the end of the week could join me for lunch.  This meant time to talk, play games, and pick from the prize box.  Using one-on-one time as a reward is an inexpensive way to incentivize your child.  You pick the skill or behavior to work on, they pick the person and the activity, everybody wins.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to spend alone time with your child, and allowing other people in their life to do the same.  I think every adult has a favorite memory involving one-on-one time with a loved one.  Make time to create positive memories that will last a lifetime!

More articles related to this topic:

Spending Quality Time with Kids

4 Ways to Spend Time with Your Kids when You Have No Time

Beginning Planned One-on-One Time with the Kids

One on One With Your Children

Good Luck,

Katherine

Communication Basics: Couples Time

Couple in love

Image via Wikipedia

Good Morning,

Yesterday I wrote about taking personal time for yourself and allowing the same for your children, along with some of the benefits of doing so.  While I was researching related articles for that post, I came across numerous sites related to couple time.  Couple time entails time away from your kids, with your partner.  It may mean a vacation, date night, or some time together when the kids are at school.

Couple Time Activities

  • Sleep in
  • Intimacy
  • Plan for future situations, vacations, and conversations
  • Evaluate the state of the family
  • Vent about your kids and get some feedback
  • Be around other adults
  • Do adult activities
  • Have an extra glass of wine
  • Pamper/Treat yourselves
  • Talk about different parenting strategies
  • Communicate in an adult way with your spouse

The most important benefit of spending time with your spouse is modeling good relationship behavior to your kids.  Often, after couple time, you will find yourself refreshed and with a renewed commitment to positive communication with your partner.  Communicating effectively to each other while showing respect and empathy goes a long way when teaching your children how to manage their own relationships.  Being in a long-term relationship/marriage is hard work and should be rewarded with a date night here and there.  One of my girlfriends said that when she was young, her mom would fix a stiff cocktail for her dad and sit and talk in the living room for an hour when he got home from work.  The kids were not allowed to bother them for any reason.  This seems old-fashioned to me, but they found a time and made it work.  I also know of parents eating by candlelight together after the kids go to sleep or getting up early together to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning.  There are lots of reasons to spend time as a couple, but the most important reasons are your own relationship and modeling good communication for your kids.

More articles related to this topic:

Budget Friendly Date Night Ideas

Top 10: Ideas for Valentine’s day (or other date night)

8 Thrifty Back to School Date Night Ideas

Good Luck,

Katherine

Communication Basics: Personal/Me Time

forest of solitude.

Image by Casey David via Flickr

Good Morning,

Today’s communication blog discusses one of the most important, often overlooked aspects related to communication: personal time.  Many people realize good communication takes practice to execute properly.  Relationships must be fostered to encourage good communication.  We need time to evaluate our own communication skills when putting new strategies in play.  However, realize that taking some personal time to use communication effectively and thoughtfully changes the game completely.  It can reset a bad mood, turn around an unpleasant situation, and calm fires.

Today I would like to emphasize the importance of taking time for yourself, as well as some ways people fit personal time into their very busy lives.  As mentioned above, taking time for yourself allows you to evaluate your communication skills as well as rest your body and mind.  I am not saying that you need to spend hours dissecting a conversation,  analyzing every word or gesture, but it is important to think about meaningful conversations from your life and learn from them.  I think it is fair to say that parents want to give their families the best they have to offer.  People require time to recharge, refuel, and rest so we can perform optimally.

The Value of  Adult Personal Time
Personal time provides an opportunity to be by yourself or away from your family and kids.  You may choose to take advantage of this time in many ways.  It may allow you to:

  • Evaluate a situation
  • Practice better communication skills
  • Spend time in silence, without any stimulation, especially noise
  • Physically rest your mind and body
  • Catch up on other relationships
  • Write, sing, read, or other cathartic activities
  • Pamper yourself
  • Relieve emotional strain that you would not otherwise show your kids
  • Be physically active, like working out
  • Take part in hobbies

The Value of Personal Time for Children
Personal time for kids is time away from parents (and sometimes siblings).  It is very natural for kids (toddlers and older) to go into their room or play area and close the door.  This is their way of telling you that they want to be alone.  Respect their wishes and leave them alone for a period of time.  This time is an opportunity for them to:

  • Physically and mentally rest
  • Practice words, phrases, and sounds
  • Stop negative behavior, or evaluate a negative situation, e.g. time out
  • Spend time alone and away from parents and siblings
  • Play with toys of their choosing, without sharing
  • Experience silence and a stimulation-free time

It is very hard to fit in alone time when you have a family.  The needs of the group often come before the needs of any individual.  As I said earlier, it is extremely important to recharge your batteries to give your family and partner your best.  I know a mom that loves taking her kids to sports in the afternoon because it means an hour to sit and read alone.  I also know parents who wake up early to get in a workout or a cup of coffee before the rest of the family wakes up.  Girls’ night out, football games with the guys, and date nights are all ways to pamper yourself and get some time in with your friends.  I like to clean up after dinner alone.  Even after a huge party, when everyone wants to help, I keep them out of my kitchen.  A friend of mine goes into work early to read the paper.  He doesn’t do work or clock in, just sits and enjoys some quiet time.

A great gift for your partner is some alone time.  A night to themselves or a weekend day to do whatever is always appreciated, and hopefully they will reciprocate the gift!  It gives them a chance to unwind while you get an opportunity to spend some one on one time with your kids.  The next time you find yourself alone think about how great it is for you and how great it will be for your family.

More articles related to this topic:

The Importance of Alone-Time

Get Some Alone Time

The importance of time away from your kids

Parent Map

A Parenting Vacation

Good Luck,

Katherine

Communication Basics: Singing

Happy Children Playing Kids

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Good Morning,

After last week’s vacation, I am back this week to provide additional blogs in the communication series.  It is no surprise that singing to and singing with your child offers numerous benefits.  Many parents are aware of the link between child development and singing.  Families have been singing together for thousands of years.  There are numerous examples throughout recorded history of people using everyday items, along with their voices, to communicate through music.

I remember my mother singing to me as a young child, her voice soft and comforting.  Many mothers sing to their children everyday, which is wonderful!  However, there are several easy ways to get more bang for the buck when it comes to singing to your child.  When I worked in the classroom I was constantly playing music that connected to the lessons.  As a Special Education teacher, I was continually surprised my first year by how much the students enjoyed learning through song and dance, and how much they retained.  Many of the best teachers incorporate singing or music into their daily schedules.  Shy students come out of their shell, struggling students take part with ease, and kids with attention issues have an avenue to get out their wiggles.  Singing in and out of the classroom is so much more than words and rhythm.  For many kids it is a link between academics and fun.

Below are some supplements to the ways that many of you already utilize singing with your children.  Making this time with your child really special, and fun for both of you, is the goal.  Practicing language, math, and motor skills is already built-in.  Singing is a way to communicate without formality and allows people to connect on a different level.

Music extensions:

  • Join a music class, invite friends and neighbors to join you
  • Host a kids cd swap at your house or play group
  • Make a playlist or cd with your child’s favorite songs to have in the car or give to friends
  • Make up your own movements to songs
  • Pull out scarves, hats, or costumes to act out songs or twirl while you sing and dance
  • Make up different words to songs
  • Sing before bed time instead of reading a book
  • Reward your child with new music or instruments
  • Sing bath songs in the bath with bath toys/instruments
  • Sing songs for getting ready, eating, going to bed, picking up toys, etc.
  • Put on a recital with your friends with songs and dancing
  • Use songs to help with academics, concentration, relaxation
  • Use different voices/inflections/accents like opera, country, robot, or create your own funny voice to change it up
  • Play electronic games like Rock Band, American Idol or Guitar Hero
  • Put on some quiet or peaceful music to relax after a stressful or angry situation
  • Attend local concerts and music shows
  • Play games in the car- whistle and name that tune, or stop singing and they finish the phrase, drum a song that they identify, etc.

Singing is an easy way to get in some fun time with your child regardless of the weather.  Plan time in your daily schedule during the winter months to play music or sing and dance.  There are many good websites where you can buy kids music.  Ask your child’s teacher what songs they are learning in class so you can practice at home and in the car.  Singing has far-reaching value for your child’s development as well as emotional and physical well-being.

Related articles:

Sing with Your Child with Confidence
How Singing to your Kids Improves Development

The Benefits of Singing to your Baby

The Songs Our Toddler Sings

How the Young Child Learns Music

Good Luck,

Katherine