Monday, November 16, 2009


I just wanted to submit a huge thanks to Nikki for the suggestion of theme day. I planned on doing orange today, but Lee really wanted red, so all day long we had a "Red Day Party." Everyone in our family wore red, I found some raspberry jell-o in the cupboard and made it for lunch, along with spaghetti. All morning long Lee would come running to me as excited as he could saying "Look! Red! Look! Red!" After lunch we had a "Red Day Party Parade" and found red things to make into hats, red things to bang on, and red things to wave as we marched around the house singing made up songs about the color red.

The kids loved it, I loved it, and it was an overall great day. A few things that I found out while trying this today: -This would be a fantastic way to help a kid figure out things that they might be struggling with. Like that one letter they can't quite nail down, or that color they never seem to identify correctly...or even a behavioral concept, like "sharing day" or "sitting in the car day." Making a party out of it and getting your kid super excited for it helps them identify with that topic in a new and fun way, and all the repetition of focusing on just one thing all day long gives them the extra boost they need to remember it. -This also helps me as a mom be more creative. I didn't pay a single penny for our party today, but I did think about red all day and what more I could do. Like I said, I remembered that I had red jell-o. I made up songs. Lee suggested the parade. I tapped into my inner feminine desire to create good and special things, which helped me feel like a better person, and consequently, a better mom.

I love it when we have successful days like this. It wasn't hard, it wasn't expensive, and it worked SO well. I will definitely be doing more theme-day parties in the near future.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Theme days: Colors

When my oldest two kids were under three we often had "theme days."  I felt like choosing a theme like specific colors made the planning easy.

I remember a blue day when we had blueberries with our breakfast and blue milk, blue hard boiled eggs (from Easter egg coloring kits- but you could just use food dye and follow the directions on the box), colored with different shades of blue crayons, pointed out blue objects around the house, and even dyed the bubble bath blue with food coloring. 

I think it was after several days of different colors that we had an activity one day with colored water teaching our primary colors and secondary colors by mixing them.

If you're feeling adventurous you can even make your own playdough in your theme color.  I like to use this recipe posted about here.  I don't usually add the glitter though.  I personally don't like the smell of store-bought playdough.  So if we're not making peanut butter playdough than this is what we use. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Positive Parenting

I'm often kind of shocked at how many different parenting self-help books and strategies are out there. Some are really out there. But one "method" really rings true to me.

It's called "Positive Parenting." To get straight to the gist of it, the goal is to give your children so much positive praise and attention that they won't resort to poor behavior to get the attention they need, and when it comes to discipline, the removal of that positive attention is more of a punishment than the time-out or whatever discipline you use. To be really successful at this, you need to praise your child for nearly every good behavior, even tiny babies. At first it is difficult to remember, so put a pebble in your shoe or turn all your clocks sideways or something so that you are reminded to give your child positive praise. Kids just starting this method will need a lot of praise to get accustomed to it--around 100 positive notices a day. After a few weeks, when the child and yourself have built a relationship around all this praise, it doesn't have to be quite as much, around 50 times a day, but the more the better.

Now, I'm not an expert on positive parenting, nor do I get all my needed praises in, but whenever I notice my kids doing something right--from using a spoon, to sharing toys (even if they're not sharing perfectly), to helping in the kitchen, to simply NOT making a scene in the middle of the grocery store, I try to let them know that I appreciate their good behavior, that I think they are smart or cute or well-behaved, or a good sibling, or just a good kid.

There's all kinds of what-if situations with this parenting method, so I could write a novel on it; but other people already have, so I won't here. This is just to remind me, and to give all of you, my favorite ideas on parenting. I love how happy our home is when I search all day for good things my kids are doing, instead of grumping about their poor behavior. The kids aren't perfect. But the smile my son gets when he knows he's done something right is priceless. And my daughter's happy little laugh--nothing better.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Floor Time

Floortime is special.
During floortime, get down on the floor so you are playing within the child's focus or interest and at his or her level.

Floortime helps each child:
*become more alert and develop a longer attention span
*take more initiative during play and have fun learning.
*become more flexible and tolerant of frustration.
*become a better problem solver.
*learn communication and relationship-building skills.

5 Steps to floortime

1. Observation
*Tune in to your child
*Notice your child's state of awareness and general mood.
*What is your child interested in? What are his or her favorite toys and/or play activities?

2. Approach
*Fit your approach to your child's level of energy.
*Open the communication circle by asking to join your child's play or by letting your child choose what to play with.

3. Follow the Child's Lead
*Join your child's play.
*Imitate the child; do what he or she was enjoying doing.
*Take turns.
*Help the baby be successful. Do not take over.
*Smile and support your child in play.

4. Extend and Expand the Play
*Take your child's imagination and ideas one step further.
*Extend the play by changing it slightly.
*Try something new with the same toy or activity.
*Then wait for the child to try and imitate you.
*Support his or her attempts to try new things.

5. Close the Communication Circle
*Be aware of when the child is tuning out.
*Let the child be in charge.
*Has your child had enough or wants a different activity?
*Wait to see if the child will re-engage.
*Then jouin your child in his or her next interest area.