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Girl says thank you

In this age of entitlement and materialism, it can be difficult to feel that your child appreciates or is grateful for anything. However, there are some ways to try and curb this unattractive fad in your home and raise children that not only say thank you but also mean it.

Be a Model of Gratitude

It’s a proven fact that children learn from experiences. The same is true when it comes to their attitudes. If you as a parent are continually showing an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness, your children are likely to do the same. However, if you spend a lot of time talking about or making money, shopping, watching TV, etc., you are showing them that you value materials more than thankfulness. They are likely to follow your example.

Reduce Exposure to Contrasting Models

You are not the only person who your child learns from. Materialistic models are found by the multitudes on TV and online. If your child is exposed to these models on a regular basis, they will begin to emulate their ideas and values, ones that you may not want in your home. It is suggested that children 2 and up have no more than two hours of screen time per day (TV, computer, video game, and smartphone included).

And when they do come into contact with those values be there to talk about the intentions of the ad and how unrealistic many of them are. This will help to discourage your child’s desire to be that way or want a certain product.

Encourage Intrinsic Values

Happy Family

Research has shown that intrinsic values starkly contrast those that are taught by materialism. This means that if you teach your child to understand and appreciate ideas like having good and healthy relationships, trying to leave the world a better place, and following your own interests and curiosity for personal growth they will be less likely to think selfishly about themselves and what they want and do not have.

Expose them to Suffering and Beauty

When your children are allowed to see true suffering and beauty, they begin to see what they have in comparison and be grateful. Take your child to the local soup kitchen and serve a meal, volunteer your family for mission projects where your children will see others in need. You will be amazed at what they learn from those experiences.

True and deep beauty can have much of the same effect. Museums and nature are great places to start when looking for beauty. This can open their eyes to some of the vastness of the world and life. Typically, this sense of awe and wonder can start a conversation about gratefulness and contentment.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the many advertisements screaming for our attention and that of our children. However, we must remember that the impact of those may have a resounding effect on our youngsters, one that isn’t very desirous. Try at least one of these tips in your home and see how your child is affected. Start small and work your way up. You may just find that your child is genuinely more appreciative.

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Make A Gift Day

In case you hadn’t realized, Christmas is almost here. A time spent with family and friends, eating your favorites dishes and exchanging gifts. When it comes to those exchanged gifts, the goal is usually to give something heartfelt, something that will be appreciated, and something that shows the recipient just how much they mean to you. Nothing does this quite like a handmade gift. It's also a great way to maybe save some money or make use of old and/or forgotten items. And then there is always that gift you forgot to get and now have to improvise for.

History of Make A Gift Day

This is an unofficial national holiday, which means that it is pretty much celebrated nationally on the same day every year but no one really knows who came up with the idea or when it came to be and no documentation of it can be found in presidential proclamations or congressional records. However, it makes sense for this holiday to be around this time, as Christmas is just around the corner and the gift-giving season is in full swing.

With that being said, handmade gifts have been a huge success for years, especially before the time of commercialized stores and ready-made products. For hundreds of years, people always made their own gifts, not to mention everything else. If you wanted to give your sister a new dress for Christmas or your brother a new toy, you had to make it yourself. This is a day to bring that back a bit and to get in touch with your creative side, even if you don’t think you have many crafting skills. After all, it’s the thought that counts right?

How to Celebrate

Homemade Gifts

There are so many countless ways to celebrate and enjoy this holiday. The idea is to just get out there and try. It doesn’t matter what you make or create. This is also the perfect opportunity to teach your children about the gift of giving to others and how much a heartfelt, homemade gift can mean. So, get together with your children and make something.

It could be as simple as a handwritten card or letter, a cupcake, or a batch of cookies for their teacher or grandparents. Start small and work your way up. Make a collage using some of their art projects from the past year or a personalized mug with their picture or artwork on it. There are so many options and ideas to choose from and the sky is really the limit. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be the most beautiful creation in the makers’ eyes, the recipient of such a gift will absolutely love it.

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Baby Saying No

As parents, we always want our children to be happy. This can make it difficult to say No when necessary. However, teaching children to tolerate not getting their way is one of the most important lessons we teach as parents. Though it can be a struggle, there are some simple strategies that can make it easier to set boundaries with young children.

Give Them Clear Options

When children are learning to communicate, it’s natural to ask them questions and let them formulate their own answers. However, this can make it more difficult to say No when children express a desire for something they shouldn’t have. For instance, if you ask your son what he wants for dinner, and he says ice cream, then you have to say No and explain that ice cream isn’t an option.

An alternative is to start out by giving children a choice between the available options. Instead of saying, “What do you want for dinner,” you can say “Would you rather have potatoes or spaghetti?” This gives your child control over what he eats, but sets reasonable boundaries about what he can choose.

Set a Clear Time Limit

Anyone who’s ever argued with a child knows that children can go on forever trying to get their way. A five year-old can give you 73 reasons why he should be allowed to wear his superhero pajamas to school. If you don’t set limits, the arguments will never end. This is why it’s important to communicate when decisions have to be made and stick to your deadlines.

If you’re in the store picking out clothes, and your daughter asks for something she can’t have, make clear that you only have a certain amount of time to shop. Whatever you agree on in the next ten minutes is what you’ll buy. If you can’t agree on anything, then you’re going home with nothing. Don’t let children’s protests hold you hostage. It’s okay to walk away.

Enforce Consequences

Perhaps the hardest part of saying No is sticking with it when children insist on getting their way. Even when our children behave poorly, we ultimately want them to be happy. But it’s important to set expectations, and let young children know that there are consequences for their behavior. So if you tell your son that he has to behave or he doesn’t get to watch TV, be sure to stick to it. Don’t back down when you see how bored he is. No matter our age, we all learn from the consequences of our decisions. Even when it makes them unhappy, children learn valuable lessons from the small privileges they lose for misbehaving.

While saying No to our children may always be a challenge, it is vital to teach children to respect the boundaries that we set for them. By having a plan for how to approach this difficult lesson, we can make it much easier to impart the values we want our children to have.

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Puppy gift for Christmas

Photo Credit : Rhaul V. Alva via Unsplash

One of the most requested Christmas presents among children every year is a new puppy. Pets teach children important lessons and growing up with a loving companion animal can be a great experience for any child. However, as adorable as pets can be, it’s important to consider the long-term requirements of adopting a pet. When Christmas morning has passed and the excitement of the holiday season is over, the everyday care of a pet can be a daunting experience. Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking of getting a pet as a Christmas present.

Can You Afford It?

Adopting a pet doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can be. It’s possible to find someone who’s pet has recently had puppies or kittens, and who’s happy to send them to a good home for free. However, more often, adoption shelters have fees that help to cover the cost of caring for the animals in the shelter and facilitating their adoptions. Adopting a dog from a shelter can run between $100 and $150. Cats tend to be slightly less expensive.

Once you have your new pet at home, there are costs associated with caring for them long term. The Anti-Cruelty Society advises that you should plan to spend about $1,500 in the first year of caring for a dog. This includes vaccines, veterinary appointments, food, bowls, toys, bedding, and miscellaneous supplies. There are lots of hidden costs in bringing a new pet into the home.

Is Your Home Pet-Friendly?

One of the biggest surprises people encounter in adopting a pet is the number of ways a cat or dog finds to eat, chew, scratch, stain, or otherwise damage everyday household items. Nearly everyone who brings home a new dog, for instance, will have to replace a pair of shoes or favorite scarf that the pup decided to sample one day while he was bored.

Dealing with this inevitable learning curve requires patience. Are you prepared to teach your pet their new surroundings, and train them over time in what to do and not to do? Can you deal with a pet that occasionally marks the house, and needs time to be housebroken? These are things to consider before you bring an adorable animal friend home for the holidays.

Do You Have Time for a Pet?

Cats are largely self-sufficient creatures. They don’t need to be walked and they don’t necessarily want to play fetch. Dogs are a different animal. Most breeds require some measure of exercise and they’ll need your help to get it. Can you commit to walking a pet on a regular basis? Will you or your child have energy to play with him at the end of the day? Remember that pets who are socialized properly are happier and healthier and show fewer destructive behaviors. This means that the more exercise your pup gets, the less likely she is to nibble on your favorite pair of shoes.

Of course, adopting a pet can be a wonderful experience at any time of year. The key is simply to think it through and make sure you’re prepared for the responsibility. Though it seems like an especially sweet gesture at Christmas, bringing home a family pet is a big commitment. As long as you approach it thoughtfully, it can also be thoroughly rewarding.

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Pouring Water into Cup

Not many children or teens actually enjoy doing chores, in fact neither do many adults. However, these are activities are a must and so we do them. For teens, they can be an invaluable way to teach some very crucial life lessons, as well as prepare them for life as an adult. Below are a few common household chores most teens are very capable of completing on a daily or weekly basis.

Do Their Own Laundry

This is fairly simple. Teach them load and use the washer and dryer in your home. Washing their own laundry, including towels and sheets will help them to prepare for college life. This should also include folding and/or putting away the laundry, and even using an iron.

Sweep and Vacuum

They aren’t too young to walk behind the vacuum in the living room or sweep the kitchen with a broom. Depending on your teen and your typical cleaning schedule, you could have them do one room at a time or make it a larger project.

Take Out the Trash

Most families have a weekly trash pick up day. Your teen is old enough to go room to room emptying trash baskets and collecting them to be taken out each week. While this helps keep the house tidy, it also serves to teach your child some responsibility about making sure tasks are completed before a specific due date.

Tidy the Bathroom

You know that toothpaste residue that the sink always seems to be caked in? Your teen is now old enough to scrub it out himself. This is part of teaching them to pick up after themselves. They can also clean counters, mirrors, and even the toilet.

Take Care of Pets

If your family includes a few four-legged members, having your teen clean the litter box or feed and water them are simple tasks they can handle. You might even allow them to take them for walks or give them a batch occasionally.

Washing Dishes

Washing Dishes

Now is the perfect age for your teen to learn how to load, run, and unload the dishwasher. You can help them out by completing part of that task or give them the entire daily task, depending on your teen. They can also learn to scrub pots, pans, and items that might not be dishwasher appropriate.

Making Dinner

At this age, your teen should be perfectly able to prepare some simple and well-balanced meals. This does not mean mac-n-cheese out of a box. This will ensure that your teen doesn’t starve when he moves out of your home for college. Spaghetti is a good starting point and is easy to master.

Start instilling these life lessons in your teen today and soon you will find that not only do you have a shorter to-do list but your child will have learned some responsibility and be well on their way to a successful adulthood.

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Thanksgiving Games

Thanksgiving is a fabulous holiday. It’s an excuse to get together with your family and friends to eat, spend time with all that you are thankful for. However, most family Thanksgiving dinners are, well, just that. They are dinners and sometimes a little on the boring side. And for those of us with children, it can seem even more boring. This year, why not make it a little different? Here are some family-friendly activities and games for every age and to put a fun spin on your large gatherings.

Traffic Yam

Supplies: metal spoons, uncooked yams, and painter’ tape (or anything to make a straight line on the floor)

Each player is given a yam and a metal spoon. The yam is placed on the floor on one end of the room. The players must then race to get their yam across the room to your tape line and back to the starting line. The yam can only be moved with the spoon. No hands. Whoever gets across the finish line first wins. Players can play defense as well and push other people’s yams.

The Feather Float

Supplies: Small, light feathers

This one is super simple and can be played individually or on teams. Each player gets a feather. Players must blow their feather in the air, keeping it afloat for as long as possible. You could also give a time limit and the players have to keep their feather in the air for that amount of time.

The Mayflower

Thanksgiving Games

Supplies: small corks, fake flowers, Large under the bed containers, plastic straws (optional)

Fill the under the bed container with water. Attach a fake flower to the corks and give one to every player. To play, each person must place their cork in the water at one end of the container and then blow it to the other end. The first boat or cork to reach the other end wins. Players can use a plastic straw to blow if they would like.

Corn to the Copia

Supplies: empty cornucopia, small fake corn, blindfold

This is a team game with two players on each team. One player stands on one side of the room and gets blindfolded and the empty cornucopia. The other stands about ten or so feet away and has a bucket of the fake corn. The player with the corn must hike the corn like a football to their teammate with the cornucopia. The idea is for the blindfolded player to catch the corn as it is hiked.

Try out a few of these ideas for your Thanksgiving gathering this year to make things a little more fun and encouraging for all. From all of us here at Best Brains, Happy Thanksgiving.

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Math Practice

When we talk about teaching math concepts and ideas, repetition is the most common method used. Children are given sheets of the same type of problem to figure out, having them repeat the same actions over and over again. But is this the best way to learn such things?

Repetition and Simplest Form Learning

It’s a proven fact that learning happens as synapses fire. The brain does change structurally when we revisit ideas and learn deeply but repetition is not the only way to learn. Recent studies show that practicing the same functions over and over is, in fact, not helping you to learn the concept as a whole.

Those who are taught primarily this way learn to apply those concepts to one situation type only and it typically causes students to dislike the subject altogether. They learn to produce mindless and impractical answers and relationships, instead of being able to connect and reason as a whole.

This is further complicated by the fact that many teachers and/or text books only offer the most simplified version of the concept in isolation to anything else. These simplified versions are then practiced and drilled, causing boredom in most students as they learn to just accept the concept and repeat it, instead of learning the why behind it and where it might actually be used in the real world.

This can be seen when we look at how simple shapes are taught as well as mathematical equations and more complex ideas.

For example, students were asked to name the following shape.

Hexagon

It is a hexagon (a six-sided polygon), but most students couldn’t give this answer because they were taught that the proper shape of a hexagon looks like this.

Regular Hexagon

They were taught the simplest form of this concept and not to relate it to any other form. Over half of all students who took part in this study couldn’t give the correct response to this and other questions about similar shapes and concepts. When students only learn these simplest versions, they are not given the opportunity to really learn what the concept or idea is all about and easily form misconceptions about it.

Non-Example Learning

Teaching a variety of situations and definitions is important to learn and master each concept. So is the teaching of “non-examples.” These are definitions of what a concept is not. For example, when teaching the concept of the above-mentioned hexagon, teachers should also include examples of other polygons or shapes that are not hexagons. When teaching about mammals, giving examples such as a sparrow and teaching why it is not can be much more efficient than simply showing many examples of dogs and cats.

Giving students a more comprehensive and comparative learning method teaches them to differentiate between what is and what isn’t in a realistic way. They can then learn to apply that method to multiple situations and not just the simplest form or a perfect model.

Let’s make sure to teach in a way that gives children realistic expectations of what they can apply these important math concepts and ideas to. To learn more about Math help click here.

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Group of Children’s

Whether you have children or not, it's nearly impossible to see that they are our future. In just a few short years, those that are right now playing tag with their friends in the schoolyard or learning to tie their shoes and button up their shirts will be leading our nations, teaching in our schools, and tending the sick and dying. They will be in charge of making important decisions, leading their own children, and making the world a better place. So why shouldn’t we celebrate them? This day is made to honor all that they are right now and all they can be.

History of Universal Children’s Day

In 1954, the General Assembly of the United Nations first announced this day. They had two goals in mind. First, it is meant to encourage children to spend time together; learning from one another, getting to know each other, and understanding their differences, races, and religions. It is from this learning and understanding of each other that peace is built upon.

Secondly, this day is meant to bring awareness to the problems that face today’s children in governments worldwide. If we can change someone’s mind or allow them to see children who are struggling with certain issues, maybe changes can be made to better their future and the future of the world.

Since its inception, this holiday has served many honorable causes such as making sure children everywhere are given a good education and access to schools. It as also helped the commitment to stopping HIV/AIDS and other diseases that all too often affect children.

How to Celebrate This Day?

How to Celebrate Universal Children’s Day

While the United Nations has announced this day to be on November 20th every year, almost every nation celebrates this holiday on a different day. For example, in Cuba, it is held on the third Sunday of July, in South Sudan they celebrate “Children’s Day” on December 23rd, and in Poland on June 1st. Nearly every country has their own established day to celebrate the joys and gifts of children, however, the goal is same everywhere: to promote peace and concern for the future of our world through our children.

Some towns and areas may hold large festivals, while others celebrate in a much more informal and private way. Many simply spend the day with their children or the children who most influence their life.

If you have children of your own, this is a good day to spend with them, enjoying their presence, doing something they enjoy, and making memories together. It won’t be long before these young and care-free individuals will be grown and making independent choices without your help or guidance. Use this day to teach them of other cultures, environments, and different parts of the world, so they are better prepared for their future and all the wonders it may hold.

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I Love to Write Day

Writing is a huge part of education. During your child’s academic career, they will have written tens of thousands of words. These may be simple answers to everyday questions. They may be poems, short stories, letters, essays, and/or and thesis papers. And for school purposes, most do not like the task of completing them.

However, if you can instill in your child a love of writing or even a mild tolerance, you will be amazed at what they can create. I Love to Write Day is to use this and expand it. While it's not every child’s dream to write for a living, everyone does have dreams they want to see unfold. Many times, writing them down helps to solidify those aspirations and make them come to life.

History of I Love to Write Day

This day was started in 2002 by John Riddle, a non-fiction and self-help, Delaware-based author. John has been writing for over thirty years, with a total of 34 published books in his name. As many authors do, he has a great love of writing and the creativity it creates. Also, like many authors and writing-lovers, John would like others to take part in and learn to enjoy his passion as well.

That is why he created this day. It is a call to action; however, it is not meant to be overwhelming or too audacious. John stated that his goal for this day is to simply get all peoples from all ages and walks of life writing. It can be any length, any genre, and anywhere. Just something that puts your thoughts onto paper or in a computer and gets you writing. Who knows, this could be the start of your New York Times bestseller.

How to Celebrate the Day?

History of I Love to Write Day

Many different organizations including community centers, churches, schools, and even stores celebrate this day and use it to strengthen a child’s skills in writing and putting their thoughts into words.

Celebrating this day for yourself and your children is just as simple as it sounds. Write something. Don’t put limitations on it, such as length, style, or genre. Don’t think too hard about it, just write. Start a journal, write a poem, a letter, or a simple greeting or thank you card for your child’s teacher.

And don’t worry if it doesn’t sound amazing. Everyone has to start somewhere. J.K. Rowling didn’t imagine everything in her Harry Potter series in one writing session. She didn’t submit her work and get immediate approval. And she didn’t become a world-renown writer overnight.

If you or your child has big dreams, they will take time and effort before they may come to light. But the time to start is now, with just a line or two. Get those creative juices flowing. Before you know it, you may just have a masterpiece in your hands.

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