Me in a Tree

34 d

Rich communication is filled with open and consistent dialogue. Families who exhibit great communication styles often talk about everything and anything.


A roadblock that many parents experience is not knowing where to start the conversation. These questions and tips will help you begin those conversations and deepen your relationship with your child.


  • What are the three most interesting things about you?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What scares you the most and why?
  • What is your biggest goal this year?
  • If we had a special day together what would you want to do?
  • What do you think makes a family close?
  • What is your favorite family tradition?
  • What do you think the biggest problem in the world is? How about in our country?
  • How do you feel when someone is angry with you? How do you act?
  • Do you think there is a such thing as peer pressure? Do you ever feel peer pressure? Do you think some people are more susceptible to peer pressure than others? Why do you think that is?


For more ideas on conversation starters, check out this list on Family Huddle.



36 d


As a parent, you don’t want to think about your child stealing. However, children tend to have poor impulse control; when they want something, they will take it. As a result, stealing can become an issue for parents.


Kids steal for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:

  • Poor impulse control,
  • To impress friends,
  • Envy,
  • Embarrassment,
  • Risk-taking,
  • Revenge, and
  • Stress

For a description of each reason, visit Family Education.


However, the hard part, as a parent, is to decide how to handle the situation when your child gets caught stealing. Here are a few tips:


Make it clear that stealing is an unacceptable behaviour. It is not okay, and you will not tolerate it.


Try to find out the reason your child is stealing. Talk to him or her. Discover the motivation. Be careful not to interrogate, ridicule, or embarrass your child. This will only cause your child to shut down and become silent. To create a positive discussion, talk with, not at or to, your child.


Use this as a good opportunity to reiterate the importance of values, ethics, and morality. Keep it short and to the point. Don’t make this a lecture.


Enforce the consequences of your child’s actions. This may require repayment or return of the item.


Take a step back and assess the situation. Does your child have a history of stealing? Are there stressors in your child’s life that are causing him or her to steal? If stealing is combined with other types of misbehaviour, you should consider seeking professional help.


green lunch


It seems like yesterday when your children were celebrating the beginning of summer. Now, you are preparing for another busy school year ahead. With the start of school, there are challenges that many families face regarding organization. Homework and after-school activities fill up your family calendar, and it can be difficult to keep abreast everything. Here are a few ideas to get your family organized and ready for the new school year.

Ease in to the school year schedule. Begin to get your children prepared for the school year routine by adjusting bedtimes that are indicative of the school year. Also, plan meals and snacks to orientate your child to the new routine.

Create and calendar. Having one comprehensive document, like a calendar, in a central location is a great way to keep track of all the events and activities that inevitably come up during the year. This way, everyone has access to it, can add to the calendar, and keep themselves organized.

Plan before you shop. An informed shopper saves money and time. Be prepared with your children’s clothing sizes, school supplies list, and any other items they may need for the school year.

Practice. There’s nothing wrong with a little dress rehearsal. Before the school year starts, do a practice run with your kids, going through the routine and getting your kids to school on time.




Summer means, sunshine, sandals and sprinklers. The expectancy of summer is palpable, especially with school-aged children. Unfortunately, the excitement dwindles, and children can become bored during the summer months. To beat the summer boredom and heat, here are five activities that your children will love and won’t break the bank.


  1. House swap. Taking vacations aren’t always a possibility for families. From hotels to eating out, going out of town can be quite expensive. A fun way to take a vacation that is budget-friendly is to swap houses for a week or two. Find friends or family to swap houses with, or connect with other vacation-savvy families on home exchange websites.
  2. Rainy day crafts. For the days when the weather isn’t nice, find activities that allow your children to use their imagination and creativity. There are craft stores, such as Michaels, that offer inexpensive classes so you and your children can spend the day making wonderful art and crafts.
  3. Art walk. Children love to draw, paint, and sculpt. Find a local art walk and spend the day exploring the different colors and styles. It’ll be a fun and educational activity for you and your children.
  4. Make frozen treats. Prepared frozen fruit pops or ice cream can not only be expensive, but loaded with sugar. Stock up on seasonal fruit, chop up fruit, place them on skewers and freeze them. You can get your children involved. And, when you need to beat the heat, you have tasty and healthy frozen treats on hand.
  5. Go outside. Children today have too much screen time, especially during the summer months. Turn off the TV and encourage your children to go outside. Encourage them to get active and entertain themselves in other ways such as playing games or reading.



gift of time

Over the summer, kids lose much of the information they learned during the school year. Summer should be a break from school, but not a break from learning. One of the best ways to help your child continue to learn and grow academically is to encourage them to read as much as possible during the summer. Here are a few tips to make summer reading educational and enjoyable for your children.


  • Read aloud with your children. This is a great opportunity to bond and make memories.
  • Choose a fun location to read: the park, patio, beach, or just in the house.
  • Make sure reading time is distraction free, and turn off the TV when it’s time to read.
  • Have a variety of reading material around the house.
  • Let your kids choose what they want to read.
  • Create a family book club. Read the same book as your child every once in a while, and then discuss it.
  • Get the experience of reading books while you are on the go. Many libraries have voice recordings of books.
  • Take your child to the library regularly. Aside from having an extensive selection of reading material to choose from, libraries will often offer summer reading clubs or other events and activities.
  • Subscribe to magazines that your child would be interested in.


Reading is a great way to keep your child’s mind active during the summer months when they are away from academic learning. Take the time to make reading fun, and your child will reap the benefits of reading.


letting go of reins

For teenagers, summer is a time to take a break from the fast-paced life, to hang out with friends, go to the beach, or find other activities. However, the summer is also a breeding ground for bored teenagers. Here are a few tips to keep your teen from getting bored.

  1. Schedule activities. In a calendar, pencil in your family vacation, summer camp, or any day camps that your teenager will attend. If there are major gaps of free time, find some fun activities to fill them.
  2. Get a job. Gaining work experience is so important, especially or a teenager. Whether working retail at the local mall or scooping ice cream or babysitting, a summer job will not only teach your teen responsibility and work ethic, but it will also be a fun way to spend the summer.
  3. Volunteer. Engage your teenager in activities that are meaningful. There are many opportunities to volunteer in your area: serving meals in a soup kitchen, organizing a charity fundraiser, reading to children.
  4. Join a sports team. Summer is a great time to get outside and get active. There are many sports clubs and teams that provide teens with an outlet to get active and having fun. You can tailor the activity to what your teenager enjoys: baseball, soccer, basketball, dance, etc.
  5. Leave some free time. Teenagers can’t be on a schedule all the time. Allow time for them to do activities that they want to do, like reading, drawing or listening to music.

Me in a Tree

With the coming of summer, you can say good-bye to all the school-related responsibilities like parent-teacher conferences, school projects, or homework. And, you can say hello to an entirely new set of responsibilities like summer sports, camps, and “free time” management.

When kids are out of school, they have more free time; however, try to retain as much structure as possible because kids thrive when they are aware of expectations and events. Of course, the key is to include enough structured time and free time to achieve the elusive balance.

A great way to think about adding in some structured balance is to think of a sandwich. The morning is like the bottom bun, a sturdy, structured routine to start the day. Get as many tasks and chores as you can done in the morning, so that you free up the middle of the day to play with friends, read a book, or spend free time however you like.

The middle of the day is like the filling. You can do what you like. Change it up from day to day. Go to the museum, park, zoo, or your local pool. Let your kids choose the activity for the day.


And you top off your day with another set of routines, like the top bun. Family dinners are great routine. They allow for better connection between the family members, but studies have shown that meals tend to be more balanced and healthy, among other benefits.



new 30

We are nearing the end of winter – even though it is technically spring – and with the warmer weather, it is time to think about getting your kids outdoors for some playtime. The unfortunate reality is that we live in a tech-saturated world, and we get more screen time than play time. As a result, kids are not getting the proper amount of physical activity and obesity rates have increased among children. Here are five tips to get your kids off the couch and in to the sunshine.

1.       Completely turn off the technology. Send your children outside empty-handed – no video games, cell phones, or iPads. Plug out of technology and plug in to their imagination.

2.       Don’t give in to protests. You may be met with screams and fits at the suggestion of going outside to play. Be firm, and send them out the door to play. Suggest getting together with a neighbour for a play day or give them an hour to do whatever they want, as long as it’s outside.

3.       Establish a routine. Build playtime into your children’s schedule every day. When playtime becomes part of a routine, it will be less of a struggle to get them outside.

4.       Set the example. Children learn best through imitation. If you set aside one hour a day for your child to unplug and go outside, do the same. Play with your children. Play a game of hide-and-seek or tag. Whatever activity you choose to do, be sure that you practice what you preach.

5.       Get them involved in the community. There are plenty of community resources that give children the opportunity to play outside. From soccer leagues to gymnastics to summer camp, there is an activity for every type of child. Ask your children what kind of activity they would like to do, and sign them up.


nesletter 30

Our culture is saturated with media technology. From televisions and telephones (well, cell phones) to video games and virtual realities, we are constantly surrounded by technology. It pulls us in many directions, distracts us from the moment, and it can make our lives much easier. There are many positive and negative influences that media can have on our lives. Here are some pros and cons.

Pro: Technology allows us to learn in new ways. With a few keywords and a click of the mouse, we can learn about new cultures, foods, places, people, and so much more. When used in balance, there is so much educational potential of media technology.

Con: There is a fear that technology is replacing traditional play: the imaginative and physical kind. Added to that, children are not getting the appropriate amount of exercise per day when they are engaged with media technology based activities.

Pro: Media technology can lead to more connection. Because the Internet, particularly, is such a widely used medium, it can connect people from all over the world. You can get involved in causes that you wouldn’t otherwise geographically be able to. You can participate in forums and let your voice be heard. Even children can enjoy these benefits, with careful monitoring by parents.

Con: The pervasiveness of technology could be hampering developmental skills like social skills, emotional connection and empathy for others. Studies have been done to measure this concern, and the research has shown that as children get older, they are having difficulty identifying with other people’s emotions. Too much media is a major part of the reason.

Pro: Technology can actually promote development. Video games, for instance, teach collaboration, logical thinking, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and language skills, among others. As with the other points here, this must be used in moderation. Too much and you risk losing the benefit.

Con: The concern that when children view violent behaviours either on the television or in video games, they will display those behaviours in real life is strong. Viewing inappropriate content can desensitize them, reducing their ability to show compassion and care for others.


newsleter 3o

Imagine this situation: you are going on a three day business trip. You are ready to leave, and are saying good-bye. As soon as you are ready to walk out the door, your child begins to scream and cry. This intense emotional reaction is known as separation anxiety. This is completely normal in childhood. However, if your child continues to experience this anxiety as they grow older, and it affects their schoolwork or friendships, it may be a sign of separation anxiety disorder. Here are a few tips to help you ease separation anxiety for your children.

·         Practice separation. Hire a babysitter and leave the house for brief periods.

·         Develop a ritual. Children thrive on ritual and schedules. Do the same thing, such as a goodbye kiss or special wave, every time you say good-bye to ease the stress and reassure your child.

·         Keep your child’s environment as consistent as possible. When you hire a babysitter for the night, the babysitter will come to your house.  If your child is staying at Grandma’s house for a few days, bring a couple items that will remind your child of home.

·         Speaking of babysitters, keep a consistent one. It is worth the extra effort to vet a great babysitter, and then keep them for as long as you can. The sitter will become familiar and make good-byes easier.

·         When you leave, leave. Don’t dawdle. This is like ripping off a band-aid. It hurts for a little bit, but then the pain goes away. When you leave, leave quickly. Let your child know that you will be back, but don’t spend time stalling.

·         Be firm. Do your best to assure your child that he or she will be okay. You are only leaving for a little while. Setting those limits will allow your child to adjust to the separation.