Me in a Tree

Archive for April, 2014


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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.


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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.


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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.



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All parents want to raise their children to be successful people with character. But what is character, and how do you teach values that build character? Here are our four tips to help you.

Tip #1: Be aware of opportunities to teach your child, and take advantage of those teachable moments. Our lives are filled with moments that can offer us a lesson. They can come up in schools, meal making, in the media, or with friends. Often, these moments present values and priorities that you may or may agree with. Take advantage of these moments to discuss why you agree with the values presented or why you don’t agree. Ask your child how they feel about the values presented.

Tip #2: Use “what if” statements to elicit conversation about values. It’s hard to talk about values out of the blue, so create hypothetical situations to help create dialogue. To borrow an example, ask your child to imagine that they won $1 million. Ask them what they would do with it. Then, you can begin a conversation about the value of money.

Tip #3: Reflect on the deeper implications of values. As your child grows, they will start to lean on their peers to learn about themselves and the world, and the values they hold will be shaped in large part by those peers. There are four different processes that occur in value formation: external motivation, unconscious motivation, accepted values, and integrated values. When you talk to your child about the values they hold, reflect on which of these processes is taking place, and you will have a better, more effective discussion that will leave your child feeling independent, trustworthy, and in control.


Tip #4: Be aware of pressure points. There might be points in the conversation when your child might feel uncomfortable about the value in discussion. They might tend to ignore or avoiding talking about it. There might be values that your child might feel compelled to ignore because he or she is uncomfortable or feels too much pressure to conform. Talk with your child about how to relieve those pressures, and be mindful about stating your values in a firm, but respectful way.