Friday, April 04, 2008

Cooking With Kids - What You Should Know

At what age should kids be allowed to participate in the kitchen? If the thought of letting your kids loose in the kitchen conjures up visuals of sticky spaghetti mashed into the floor and accompanying sauce spray patterned on the wall, let me give you some advice. It's not all 'mess and clean-up'.

In the (sometimes) mad rush to get meals on the table on a regular basis, we can sometimes forget what a fun activity cooking can be. It's pleasures are certainly not lost on children though, who embrace the process of creating something special with a simple list of healthy ingredients that they can enjoy eating as a finale.

From a very early age, children pretend to cook – they make mud pies in the sandpit, hold elaborate tea parties in the bath. They enjoy the process of choosing a recipe, planning the process, assembling the ingredients (creativity), measuring with cups and spoons (maths), and chopping and peeling tasks that require and develop their concentration skills. Guiding and assisting your children in the kitchen will help develop and reinforce these learning skills. Kids love projects that have a beginning (preparation), a middle (messy, creative fun), and an end (eating and enjoying what they've made).

Learning to cook is not only fun for children but a skill that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Involving your children in cooking teaches them important life skills and if you guide them in choosing the ingredients wisely, can give them the appreciation of good nutritional food rather than fast unhealthy takeaway food.

Helping your child to feel confident with cooking has many benefits:

. Contributing to the household duties helps them to feel important.
. Learning to work together as a team to get the job done.
. Learning to plan and make responsible choices.
. Developing and practicing their creativity and imagination.

A cooking party is a perfect way to celebrate the birthday of a young eager-to-learn child. Not only does a cooking party provide an invaluable hands-on activity to entertain them and their guests, but it concludes with a meal for them all to enjoy. Even fussy eaters will be thrilled to eat something they have made with their own hands. There's something about creating a meal themselves which makes them more likely to eat whatever they had a hand in making.

It may take longer to prepare the meal but the moments with your children will be priceless.


. Always make sure children are supervised in the kitchen.
. Never leave children unattended in the kitchen.
. Keep it fun and age-appropriate.
. Let your child get involved in choosing a recipe everyone will enjoy.
. Have patience. Don't worry about flour on the floor or spilled milk.
. Choose recipes that don't involve sharp knives or the oven.
. Choose easy recipes - dips, pizzas, meatballs, icing cupcakes.
. Make sure the children tie their hair back and wash their hands.

Here's an easy child’s recipe for starters:


1 tspoon Salad Dressing
1 pkt Cream Cheese

Combine (to taste required) salad dressing with cream cheese
and place in a small bowl. Cut and wash celery, broccoli and
carrots. Arrange cut pieces of vegetables around the bowl of
dip. (The vegies are for dunking into the dip).


Related resource:
Cooking With Your Children Can Teach Them Confident

About the Author: Mary-Lou Halvorson is a mother of two children and creator of Mary-Lou offers many ideas for Kids Birthday Parties including kids novelty birthday cakes with photos and instructions. Check out for more information.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Getting Teenagers To Talk

A sullen, non-communicative teenager. A frustrated parent.

Is that the way it is in your home living with your teenager?

Parenting teenagers is a demanding job, no doubt about it. Teens have the natural ability to challenge us on every level. Whereas once they simply accepted our authority as parents, no more.

Many parents fight against this normal developmental phase. As a result, their homes become tense battlegrounds as they stand ready to defend their positions at a moment's notice. Usually, in this environment, a teen starts out yelling and ends up silent.

Because he or she has found somewhere else where their voice can be heard. And appreciated.

While some teen frustrations are firmly rooted in parenting issues from the child's younger years, if you have an otherwise well-adjusted teenager who simply has stopped talking to you, there are practical things you can do that will help.

I am currently parenting my third teenager and these communication tips are what we use in our home everyday to keep talking alive and well.

-- Listening comes first.

Trite but true, your teenager will tune you out if you never *really* listen to what she has to say.

You want to get your teen's attention? Then learn to listen with your whole being. Use your body language and lean closer when he's talking. Make eye contact. Repeat back what you hear so you're sure you understand every ounce of what your teenager is telling you. Ask clarifying questions. Empathize. Give him your undivided attention (no cell phones, newspapers, no half-hearted 'uh-huh's').

In other words, listen to your teen the way you wish you were listened to.

If you do this one step regularly, your teen will seek you out, yearning to talk to you.

Imagine that.

-- Respect is king.

It's easy to be condescending when parenting teenagers. As parents, we know more than they do, right? We've been around the block numerous more times than they have. Heck, compared to them, we are wise!

However, here's the real deal. If teens don't feel respected by us, they don't accept our influence.

And all that wisdom goes down the drain.

That fact is not limited to teenagers, by the way. That's the way we're all wired as human beings. And it helps a lot to remember your teen is perilously close to being an adult and feeling the way adults do. Your teenager is not all grown up yet, but close enough to give you clues as to what they need.

Like respect. Earn their respect and they will trust you with their lives.

-- Teamwork means everything.

Teenagers often feel like they're carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. It's easy for us who are parenting teenagers to look at their day-to-day lives and say, "that's nothing! Wait until you have MY responsibilities!" But what we as parents forget, is that our teen is new at these types of responsibilities. So problems that we can see obvious solutions to, our teens find overwhelming. Challenges that would slide off our backs, they get lost in.

As a person, it's humiliating to admit you're overwhelmed and lost. So you don't. And neither does your teen.

Teamwork changes that. For example, a parent who's noticing their teen is struggling with academics has two choices. Yelling (ever noticed how often yelling works?). Or leading the way providing training on how to make a positive change.

A parent could say something like "I see you're finding your current schoolwork challenging. That's good because it means you have the chance to learn something new here. I have some methods that have worked for me when dealing with challenging work and I'd be glad to show them to you. When's a good time for you?"

For some teens, that conversation is all they need in order to acknowledge they need help. Others will take more coaxing. Still, the point is valid. Don't just tell them what to with them, empathize with their frustration, show them how to set a goal, overcome obstacles and come out the other side. Then celebrate with them. They've earned it! And you've earned their respect.

-- Show them you understand...them.

While parenting teenagers, we often lecture as opposed to discuss. That's only natural for us as parents. Usually we can see their glaring error in judgment and we realize it's our duty to correct them.

Right idea. Wrong method.

Humility works big time with teenagers. Have you ever made a mistake that your teen seems to also be making? Probably more frequently then you would like to admit. Well, admit it. When you explain the boundaries you are placing on their behavior, let your past example (mistake) be the "here's what I've learned from this problem myself" part of the conversation.

Believe me, you'll have their attention when you admit to not having it all together. 'Cuz guess what. Everyday your teen ACTS like he has it all together to cover up the fact that he KNOWS he doesn't have it all together. And he's worried and scared.

Your admission you've been where he is and you found a way out will be welcome news. That you cared enough about him to share your vulnerabilities won't be lost on him, either.

Obviously, this parenting tip only applies to age and situation-appropriate confessions. But do you get the point here? Your teen is longing for someone who knows her and is willing to be on her side. Ideally that needs to be you.

Parenting teenagers effectively means building relationships with them, listening when it's convenient for them (not you), working with them to help them overcome challenges, earning their respect so it's YOU they think of when they need to talk.

This will take patience, an open heart, thick skin and daily time. Things that all prove to your teenager that you think they're worth it.

And they are.

About the Author: Colleen Langenfeld has been parenting for over 26 years and helps other moms enjoy mothering more at Learn more today about parenting teenagers at

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

3 Gifts We Must Give Our Children

Parenting is the most difficult, the most challenging, and the most important job we will ever have. So many of our children's future successes and problems can stem from our success as parents. Yet fortunately we do not have to go it alone. We can learn from the successful parents around us, if we are fortunate including our own parents, and also learn from those less successful as well. In addition, we can learn many important lessons about parenting from our own children. If we only listen and pay attention they tell us so much about what they want and need from us as parents. While we can so often get caught up in the little details and daily grind of parenting, if we keep sight of three main goals then the rest will take care of itself. All our children really need from us are these three all-important gifts: our love, our care, and our time.

Love is the easiest and yet the most overlooked of the gifts we must give our children. We love our children. It is such an overwhelming emotion for us that we often forget that our children may not realize its depth and breadth. It is true for many of us that we did not realize how much our parents love us until we too became parents. Demonstrate through your actions and choices that you love your children. Show them and tell them how much you care. Do this with little gestures and big ones and do it every day. One certainty our children should possess as they grow and develop is that they are loved as this gives them a foundation and confidence that nothing else can.

Care is something we do all the time, so much so that it is often on autopilot. Folding clothes, picking up toys, packing lunches, and washing dishes. One of the ways to cope with these tasks is to put them in perspective. These boring, repetitive tasks are one of the ways we care for our children and by doing them we are showing our care. But do not neglect the emotional and cognitive care along with the physical care. It is easy while making sure our children are fed, clothed, and washed to overlook the emotional care and cognitive care children also need. Teach your child how to handle emotions like fear and jealousy by talking things through and modeling good emotional behavior. Make sure your child is challenged intellectually through conversation, games and books.

Time is the most precious of all gifts and yet so many parents short their children of their time. Time is spent at work and at various life activities from home maintenance to recreation, but simply giving your child the gift of your time and attention every day can reap tremendous rewards. Giving your child your time and attention is the surest way to demonstrate to your child that he or she is loved. You can multi-task while spending time with your child if the task is something that the child can be involved in or adjacent to -- and the task is something mindless so you can focus on the child. For example, children can help with household chores or can talk or read to you while you fold laundry or wash dishes. Simply making a point of spending time with your child every day where your primary focus is on the child can reap tremendous rewards today and tomorrow.

There are no perfect parents, so striving for perfection is setting yourself up for failure. All you can do is try your best and give your child the gifts of love, care, and time. If you do then you will be a good parent. It really is that simple.

About the Author: Renaissance Woman Deanna Mascle shares more parenting tips in her blog at - The Safe Way to Buy & Sell Tickets Online

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

5 Tips To Teaching Your Children Good Spending Habits

Something interesting to share about my niece. She just started preschool this year and her school is about 10-15 minutes walk away from home. My sister considered letting her takes the school bus to school everyday and then thought otherwise; since she is not working anyway, she can walk her daughter to school every morning. One morning my sister asked my niece if she wants to take the school bus to school and my niece replied, "Mommy, since you are not working, we should not waste money on the school bus. We can walk to school every morning and we can exercise too." Can you believe that she is only 4 this year? Don't you agree that she is such a darling.

I agree with the author's point on "Learn to Earn", meaning to teach them not to take money for granted and that money is something that is earned. I also second the last point on "The Cash Stash." I remembered reading about something similar to this point in the book, The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. In his book, it was mentioned that one should always keep a part of what one earned. And not only that, one must learn how to properly managed this money that is put away and make this money grow.

If you are one of many who believe that children really do imitate what they see, then it’s important to start early in teaching your youngster to practice good spending habits. When he/she matures and enters college or the workforce, the habits that they learned as a child will remain with them through adulthood.

Learn to Earn.

When they are young, it’s important that children learn to earn their money through chores and other similar activities. Whether it’s a lemonade stand or helping the neighbor to plant a garden, it’s a good idea to teach children that money is something that is earned and not given freely. If an individual learns the value of a dollar early, he/she may be less likely to participate in frivolous spending later on.

Saving for Tomorrow.

When it comes to the latest doll or video game, children often have a large wish list. With the exception of holidays, birthdays and other gift-giving occasions, it’s important that a child learn to save his/her money for the things that are high on their list of wants. You can either match their payment for an item, which means they come up with 50% of the purchase price and you match that with the other 50%, or you can suggest layaway. Either way, your child will learn that saving their money is a good way to get the things that are important to them. Later in life, this may help them to avoid debt by excessive spending on items that they may not be able to afford.

The Perks of Prepaid.

Whether it’s a prepaid cell phone or credit card, it’s a good idea to teach your mature child how to prepare themselves for independence. Even with years of learning the proper spending habits, a young adult is faced with many challenges upon entering the ‘real world.’ As they prepare for college or the workforce, it may be a good idea to explore the world of prepaid cell phones and credit cards. This will regulate his/her phone calls, which will prevent an excessive phone bill and will also teach discipline in how phone time is used. A prepaid credit card will teach a young adult to spend only within their means and to stretch their dollars as much as possible.

The Debt Dilemma.

Teach your child the potential concerns dealing with credit cards, high interest rates and the importance of maintaining a good credit score by paying their bills on time and not spending unnecessarily. Without the proper credit history, obtaining a future home or auto loan may be difficult or even impossible.

The Cash Stash.

Teach your child to save a portion of his/her allowance, earnings or other money with the help of a savings account. If your child can learn to tuck away 20% of their incoming cash, this trend will likely follow them throughout adulthood. A good rule of thumb is to have enough savings to carry you through six months, which could be needed as a result of an illness, relocation or job layoff. For these and other reasons, it’s a good idea to save money whenever possible.

It’s never too early to start instilling good spending and saving habits into your child’s behavior. Throughout his/her life, these tendencies will play a large role and you can take great pride in knowing that you prepared your child for a prosperous financial future.

The information contained in this article is designed to be used for reference purposes only. It should not be used as, in place of or in conjunction with professional financial and/or parenting advice or recommendations.

Read also Teaching Your Kids Good Money Skills

About the Author: Leslie Gerard consults for a and a hobby shop offering children's toys at

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cooking With Your Children Can Teach Them Confidence And New Skills

Cooking with children? Hold it! Did I hear you wrongly? You heard me right and this is what this article that I read is all about. Most people will regard the kitchen as not a safe place for children; sharp knives, boiling water, fire etc. Even for me, it was a straight 'NO' to children in the kitchen before. To certain extent, the kitchen is indeed one of the places in the house where children must be kept out - especially when there are no adults around. Some may say, "I don't want them to mess up my kitchen. Hold your horses now. Before you make a firm decision whether or not you should cook with children, probably you want to read this article.

Personally I agree with the author that cooking with children is a good way to teach them about good and healthy food and which are the food to avoid or to consume less. What will be a better way to teach them about healthy food then a personal hands on experience for them. With you around looking after them, you can ensure their safety.Cooking with children can also teach them to be responsible. I have previously posted an article, 'Gardening with Children' that mentioned about teaching children responsibilities through garden.

Not only that, I am sure it will be a great bonding activity with your children and at the same time, it can give their confidence a great boost. Just remember to always practice extra care and cooking with children can very well be an enjoyable experience for both you and your children.

If you're not a natural cook who has a passion for experimenting with food and you don't go crazy about having the right kitchen utensils and equipment in your kitchen, then cooking is probably something you feel you have to do and if someone else offers to cook for you or you can eat out, you're more than happy to do the latter two options. Because cooking can be a real chore if you're not that fussy about what you eat and how it's cooked. However, if you have children you not only have to do it every day but you also have to think about their well-being in terms of what's healthy for them. Have you thought about cooking with your children?

When you think about cooking with children, you would more likely come up with special occasion scenarios where your kids will help you with putting the buttons on the ginger bread men while they try to lick the chocolate sauce - like in the movies. But to cook with them every day sounds almost a scary feat. You don't have to do it every day but try once a week and see how many days you and your children can handle.

Okay, granted, the cooking process would take a little longer and depending on how co-operative and helpful your children are, it could be frustrating at times. But managed properly, cooking could possibly be a more enjoyable experience for you and a more educational experience for your kids. It's also a way to connect with your children making a mundane chore into a sharing experience.

If you can get your children interested, they'd naturally become curious and ask you lots of questions. And if they do, take this cooking experience with them as an opportunity to teach them about which foods are good and healthy and which foods should be used or eaten moderately. The fact that the obesity rate of children are at a high in the United States and other prospering countries is another good reason to make sure your children gets a good head start by explaining to them why it's better to use Extra Virgin olive oil in cooking or eating salad is better than having sugary desserts every night not only sets an example but also gives them the logic behind why you dish out certain types of foods.

Whilst cooking, your children can help you with measuring quantities of various food stuff that you're using and if you can devise a game where your child can help you count solid foods before peeling and asking them to add more or take some away will help them to become more confident at counting. You'd be able to entertain the younger children and educate them at the same time. The older children would find measuring liquids in a jug or flour on a scale a little more challenging especially if you ask them to halve the quantity or double it. Even some adults still find that sort of task challenging. Sometimes providing a little incentive, something that they can win can make them ever so excited to go along with the cooking games.

If your games are devised in a way that makes it so that your children gets things right most of time, this encourages them more to participate in the cooking process making it easier for you and making them more confident about speaking up, joining in and build on their arithmetic and creative abilities.

At the end of all the cooking, praise them for what they've done, show them what their contribution in the cooking process has created. Let them feel as though they were responsible for making dinner for you and your partner which will further help their confidence, build their sense of pride about contributing within the family. And when eating the food, the fact that everyone is enjoying the food they help made really gives them a sense of accomplishing something worthwhile. Of course, you get to feel like you've been a good mother!

About the Author: Penny Roberts writes articles for various websites. The Little Cookbook is one of them.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

When Kids Lie

An interesting article. Although I might not agree with it totally, it gave me a new perspective and thought about kids lying. Like most people, when I see my 4 years old niece lying, I will do my best to explain to her why it is not good to lie so on and so forth. Come to think of it, there are indeed positive points to note on kids lying if we see from another perspective. As mentioned in the article, when the kid is lying, it shows that the kid understands the situation and the rules (like certain things he/she cannot do) and thus it may not be such a bad thing.

One thing that has definitely come across my mind is that the world itself does not appear as just black and white; it is full of colors. Even as adult, there are a lot of time when we have challenges differentiating between right and wrong. How can we expect or is it even fair to expect the kids to know? It really takes time and experience to know what is right and what is wrong, not to mention that what is right in one situation might not be right in another.

“Help! My sweet, nice, lovely 3-year-old has begun lying to me. What should I do?”

First thing you should do is feel pleased, maybe even proud that your child is learning how to lie.

“Whaaat? You’ve got to be kidding”

No, I’m serious. Lying is a milestone in cognitive development. It indicates 3 things:

1. Your child understands what you’re thinking. (i.e. Mom doesn’t like it when I eat a cookie before dinner.)

2. Your child knows the rules and understands what is likely to happen if she breaks them. (i.e. Mom will yell at me.)

3. Your child has the ability to create an answer that’s different from the truth. (i.e. No, I didn’t eat the cookie; the dog must have eaten it.).

“But I can’t be pleased about her lying. She doesn’t even show any remorse when I catch her in the lie. I’d hate it if she grew up to be a liar or to have no moral compass. Don’t I have to drill morality into her while she’s young, so she understands it from the get-go?”

Slow down. A young child’s lies are based on logic, creativity and fun – not morality. If your 3-year-old son lies about brushing his teeth, he thinks it makes a lot of sense. If Dad believes him, then he won’t have to do something he doesn’t want to do.

If your 3-year-old daughter insists she had a peanut and jelly sandwich (no, not peanut butter, but a big giant peanut - so big she could hardly bite it), she is not lying. She is exercising her creativity and having a bit of fun with you in the process.

At some point, of course, parents need to teach their children that they shouldn’t lie. But don’t expect kids to get the concept in its entirety. For kids, lying is a tricky, contradictory notion – even though parents tend to present it as a black and white matter.

Learning about the “rights” and “wrongs” of lying takes time.

First, kids have to learn and appreciate the “pro-social” lie that is typically encouraged by parents. (“Even if you don’t like it, it’s nice to tell Grandma you like the toy she bought you.")

Second, kids must deal with the lies they hear you tell (“I don’t want to take the call. Tell him I’m not home.”)

Third, kids need to discriminate between manipulative lies (those that can cause great harm) and little white ones (those that cause no harm.)

Fourth, kids need to know that telling a lie to take unfair advantage of a situation is different morally from telling a lie to protect yourself.

Fifth, kids need to differentiate between an honest or careless mistake and a manipulative lie.

And sixth, they need to appreciate the difference in character development between a person who tells a lie on occasion from a person who lies indiscriminately.

So parents, if you think that your parenting skills are not up to par because your child tells a lie on occasion, relax. All kids lie. Indeed, a kid who always has to tell the truth – and all details of the truth – has a greater problem than a child who understands the complex nature of lies, and can differentiate between social lies, white lies, malicious lies and lying indiscriminately.

Copyright 2008

Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For comments or questions, contact her at

About the author: Linda Sapadin, Ph.D., psychologist, author, and motivational speaker, is known for her sharp insights and exceptional ability to provide timely yet timeless advice. Her specialty is helping people build competence, overcome procrastination, master fear and vanquish self-defeating patterns of emotions and behavior.

Dr. Sapadin has had extensive media experience, appearing on the Today Show, National Public Radio, Voice of America and a host of other TV and radio programs. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Newsday, The Washington Post, Prevention, Redbook, Men’s Health, and many other publications.

Dr. Sapadin has been an invited speaker to the Smithsonian, the American Psychological Association, and many other business and educational organizations. She is the author of PsychWisdom, a weekly advice column published online. To subscribe, visit

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Nurturing Your Child’s Greatest Asset

Do you remember when we were young, the sky wasn't the limit? I would like to share a quotation by George Bernard Shaw (Irish literary Critic, Playwright and Essayist. 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1856-1950), "You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'" Our imagination is only hampered by the limitations we created in our minds. If we put our imaginations to good use, our possibilities are limitless!

Imagination is one of the greatest traits human beings possess. From creative minds come works of art and advances in technology and science. In fact, imagination touches every aspect of our lives whether we realize it or not. But much like other characteristics of the human mind, imagination must be nurtured and practiced before its full potential can be reached.

Nurturing imagination takes place early in one's life, especially in children around the age of four or five. Can you think back to your own childhood and remember playing “cops and robbers” or “house?” When you took part in these pretend games and reenactments, you were allowing your mind’s creativity to expand and flourish.

Pretend play in children is a beneficial way to help a child learn to expand their understanding of who they are and what they like. It also helps them better grasp the knowledge of the world around them. Pretend play even helps children with communication skills, either with adults or with their own peers.

Pretend play’s earlier stages occur in the infant and toddler years. Babies are learning how to develop motor skills and react to bodily sensations. Toddlers are beginning to comprehend objects and what their functions are in the world. As time progresses a child is able to build on these learning experiences and expand their play. They do this by incorporating the personal and symbolic experiences they have seen in their short lifetime into a pretend scenario.

When children take part in pretend play, they tend to recreate family-related themes. If a child is playing with peers, roles are usually assigned and conflicts may be created and resolved by the participants. Pretend play can also be a solitary experience for the child. Instead of role playing, the child uses miniature cars, people and houses to recreate situations of all kinds.

Whether a child is playing with peers or alone, the scenarios recreated often represent a child’s interpretation of the world around them. Seeing conflicts among adults or other peers can be incorporated into pretend play. A child may try to resolve the conflict and produce his or her own desired outcome.

Adults play an active role in a child’s pretend play. Being around to supervise younger children is a good idea to make sure play time is always safe. Sometimes conflicts can arise among children, and adults need to intervene and keep things under control. Adults can also provide materials children can use for pretend play, making sure they are safe and age-appropriate.

By engaging in a child’s pretend play, adults help convey to kids how important playtime is and encourage imagination. Adults can help give children ideas on how to expand on their pretend play and let them explore all sorts of fun and creative possibilities. And because play can encourage communication, adults learn a great deal about a child just by watching or interacting in their pretend play.

Pretend play is important for a child’s development, and there are countless tools and toys to help children explore their own creativity. Encourage your child to take part in pretend play and watch imaginations take flight.

About the Author, Veronica Scott: Learn more about the fascinating world of miniatures. Visit today for a great selection of wooden doll houses and dollhouse accessories from top miniature companies.

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