Saturday, February 24, 2007

Teaching Kids Responsibility

I certainly agree with the author that when we are teaching our kids, we need to watch our own behavior too. I remember quotation which goes, "kids don't do things we tell them to do, they do the things we did.

Your garage sale is advertised to open at 7:00 and customers are lined up outside, but Lisa hasn’t arrived with the cash box full of change. Your grant proposal has to be in the mail today but the financials haven’t arrived yet. Your son’s church group couldn’t go to the concert they had planned to attend because two of the adult drivers/chaperones didn’t show up.

Irresponsible people are just plain irritating! Those of us who are responsible are left shaking our heads, cleaning up the mess, and saying to each other, “How can people behave like that?” One thing is for sure—we don’t want our children to grow up like this! We want them to be people we can count on—people who do what they say they’re going to do; who meet their family, work, social, and volunteer obligations; and who show up on time and prepared. And by teaching them to be responsible from a young age, we can help ensure they will grow to be responsible adults.

Teaching children responsibility can be a parenting challenge. It starts out with teaching your children how to do small tasks and chores around the house. Two-year-olds can do simple jobs like getting the newspaper from the driveway, taking their breakfast bowl to the sink, and putting clean socks in a drawer. And at this age, it’s delightful to have children help because they are so happy and eager to be of use! As children get older, you can increase their responsibilities. Older children can load and unload the dishwasher, take out the trash, make their beds, and put dirty clothes in the hamper. And teenagers ought to be able to do a load of laundry and make a simple meal.

Unfortunately, your two-year-old’s eagerness to help will soon dissolve into whines and attempts at procrastinations. It will help if you can work together on chores and rotate the “nasty” chores so no one is stuck with them all the time. Your kids may also respond to chore games or sticker charts as motivation.

Would it be faster and easier for you to do these jobs yourself? Of course! And they would probably be done better too. But then you would lose out on the opportunity to develop your children’s sense of responsibility and to teach them valuable survival skills.

Helping out around the house is only one aspect of responsibility children need to learn. They also need to learn to be responsible for themselves. Encourage young children to dress themselves as soon as they old enough to do so. When your children start going to school, expect them to be responsible for their own homework—both doing it and turning it in. Is it okay to occasionally take a forgotten math assignment to school? Sure—I have forgotten papers I needed before and my husband gallantly rescues me. Is it okay to do it every day? Absolutely not! That is a signal of irresponsibility and you need to work with your child to find out what the problem is and how to solve it.

Finally, you need to help your children learn to be responsible in dealing with other people. If they join a sports team and later want to quit it, remind them that they have an obligation to the rest of the team to finish out the season. If they have a group project at school, ensure they complete their part of the project. Help them learn to budget their time so they don’t take on responsibilities they can’t finish.

Don’t expect that your children will automatically know how to do all the tasks you give them. You will need to teach and reteach them how to sort laundry and pack their backpacks each night. You will have to give them gentle reminders to practice the piano or study for their math test. Be patient and confident that your lessons are sinking in, whether it seems that way or not. Your payback will come in a few years in the shape of a responsible adult.

By the way, as you work on teaching responsibility to your children, you better check out your own behavior too (isn’t that always the way?). No matter how much you talk about responsibility to your children, if they see you behaving irresponsibly, that is the message they will absorb. So, ask yourself the following questions:

- Do I do tasks in a timely way?
- Am I usually on time?
- Do I keep my word?
- Do I give projects my best effort?

If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, then work on improving your own behavior so you will be a better role model for your children.

Copyright 2007 More4kids Inc. -

About the Author: Stacey Schifferdecker is the happy but harried mother of three. a freelance writer, and Children’s Minister. You can view her many articles on
parenting at More4kids - a parenting and family resource.

Read this too Teaching Toddlers To Do Household Chores

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

How To Make Your Home As Relaxing As A Spa

When it comes to home spa design, some key factors are elements that soothe the senses: lighting, scent and sound. By making a few little adjustments in your home, you can render it just as relaxing--if not more so--than a professional spa!

* Lighting

The first trick in home spa design is subdued lighting. Too often, our homes are outfitted with bright, harsh overhead lighting. This is especially true of overhead fluorescent light fixtures; their lighting is glaring, unnatural and downright unflattering. Some people are even highly sensitive to fluorescent lighting; it causes them stress or upset. Try to completely avoid overhead fluorescent lighting except in garages or other utility areas.

You can install dimmer switches on certain ceiling-mounted light fixtures throughout your home. This is particularly helpful above the dining room table, as you have mood lighting at your fingertips. You can also use floor lamps or table lamps instead of overhead lighting; the fixed orb of light that they emit creates a cozy space. In the bathroom, avoid strips of movie-star dressing room bulbs above mirrors. The bright overhead lighting is great if you need to cake on a pound of makeup before going onstage, but that’s about it! Use low-watt bulbs if you have such fixtures. Better yet, install low-light fixtures beside the mirror at face level. They’ll make you look 10 years younger!

For all light fixtures and lamps, choose lower watt bulbs, especially in relaxation areas. Dim lighting throughout your home reduces overstimulation and calms the mood.

* Scent

Home spa design isn’t about stuffing as many synthetically scented candles into your home as possible! Avoid synthetically scented candles, potpourri and incense, as they can irritate nasal passages. Besides, you’re bound to eventually have guests who are “scentsitive.” Opt instead for all-natural scents.

Lavendar is a very soothing and calming essential oil. You can purchase it at your local health food store. You can buy an essential oil diffuser ring that fits atop a lamp light bulb. Simply pour some oil into the ring, and set it atop the light bulb before you turn on the lamp. You can also simply dab a little oil on your fingertip and smudge it onto the light bulb before turning on the lamp.

* Sound

Ever notice how there’s no TV blaring in the background at spas?

The same should hold true with your home spa design. The average American household has the tube turned on a whopping eight hours a day, which is not conducive to relaxation. Limit the time that the television is on; if no one is actively watching it, turn it off. When it is on, limit the volume. Set sound limits for all members of your household, especially children: using an appropriate indoor voice volume, and not blaring loud music or video games.

You can also purchase an inexpensive indoor fountain. The human body is 70 percent water, and the sound of trickling water is naturally soothing to us.

And of course, gentle instrumental music is more soothing than heavy metal or raging operas. You can even enjoy CD’s of nature sounds, such as birds or the ocean.

Lastly, the most relaxing sound in your home spa design is no sound at all! As they say, “silence is golden!”

By implementing these simple sense-oriented details into your home spa design, you will always be just as relaxed as if you visited a spa. After all, your home is the ultimate refuge!

About the Author: Savvy’s Beauty Editor covers the top
health spa products and wellness news. Visit Savvy Spa - because everyone needs a little pampering.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

5 Summer Decorating Tips For Any Home

In the past people decorated their home and it remained static for years, until it was time to repaint and buy more linen. Now, homeowners are leaving behind the old ideas of home decorating and creating different styles for different times of the year. It is now possible to give a home a one week face lift every season, without breaking the budget.

Summer decorating adds freshness to a home. It brightens the colors and opens the rooms up to light and color. The best thing about a face lift is that it doesn’t always require a complete home renovation.

A few quick and easy tips can help any home decorator to redesign their home, restoring the luster, and replacing winter’s sophistication and elegance with a breezy, youthful, and fun design.

Here are 5 easy, fast and cheap summer decorating ideas:

1. When people think of adding color to a room they think of painting. To save time and money, paint the focal wall in a room, leaving the rest. In most rooms, one wall can be painted in less than an hour. Another option is to sponge a wall.

A kitchen can be brightened by painting the wall under cabinets, adding peal and stick tile to this area, or adding ceramics, like large roosters and sunflowers.

2. Pillows and rugs are expensive. Instead of s new pillow covers and tablecloths, use no sew techniques. Wrap pillows with unfinished fabric on the diagonal like a present, and then secure with decorative ribbon or cord. This reduces the need for throw pillows. This can also be done with throw rugs.

Keep the summer rug stored under the winter rug. This gives the winter rug extra padding, and reduces the need for a place to store the summer rug.

A simple table runner can change the look of a table. Replace the formal tablecloth with a light runner in a bright pastel.

3. The fastest way to turn a winter room into a summer room is by removing all the clutter, artwork and knickknacks. The windows are open in the summer, removing the clutter also decreases the housecleaning and dusting time a room needs.

4. Remove the padded and layered window treatments. Replace them with mini blinds or sheers to retain privacy and light control. UV blinds are a great choice for rooms where sun shines on valuable furnit.ure or where the light may fade the wall paint.

5. Remove fabrics and woods and replace them with glass. The glass will reflect light, expanding the room and adding a touch of sparkle. Everything needs to be polished from the television screen and ceiling lights to the kitchen appliances and kick plates on the front door. In many homes a thorough cleaning, polishing the wood, and washing walls will bring new life to the room.

Whatever you do to bring the summer season into your homes, make sure that you pick a couple of ideas from this list, and give them a try. They are fast, easy and cheap, what could you lose?

About the Author: Patricia Taylor advises on home furnishings and decor from her web site at She invites you to get her FREE home decorating guide

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Deadly Indoor And Outdoor Plants Harmful To Dogs

Many dog owners don’t consider that harmless little house and garden plants may be a potential source of danger to your dog or puppy. Usually poisonous plants are more deadly to small puppies, but some plants, even in small amounts, can be toxic to dogs of any size. By taking the time to understand the various plants and their levels of toxicity for dogs you can avoid costly vet bills and even more serious conditions.

Depending on the type of plant either the leaves, stems, bark, roots or fruit can be toxic. Some plants are only toxic at various times in their growth stage whereas others are always poisonous. For information on each type of plant the internet, your vet, or even a plant and gardening book is great resource.

Garden Plants

Believe it or not some of the most common garden plants are also the most deadly. Tomato plants, both the leaves and the stems, can be toxic to dogs. St. John’s Wort, an herbal plant, is very toxic leading to vomiting and seizures. Other garden plants that can be problematic include:

· Apricot
· Avocado
· Black Cherry
· Black Walnuts
· Castor Beans
· Catnip
· Chokecherry
· Eggplant
· Garlic
· Mushrooms
· Mustard plants/greens
· Onion
· Peach
· Plum
· Potato
· Pokeweed
· Spinach

Fencing the garden area or monitoring if the dog is actually eating the plants within the garden is important. When in doubt completely isolating the garden from the area the dog is kept is a great idea.

Ornamental Outdoor Plants

Everyone loves to have their yard area looking great, but not at the expense of his or her animals becoming ill. Some of the showiest of the flowering plants are also the most deadly, including Oleander and many of the flowering shrubs. The list of the most common flowering and ornamental plants that are frequently found in gardens are:

· Amaryllis
· Baby’s Breath
· Bird of Paradise
· Black Eyed Susan
· Bleeding Heart
· Bluebonnet
· Boston Ivy
· Calla Lilly
· Chrysanthemums
· Cyclamen
· Daffodil
· Daisy
· Elephant Ear
· Easter Lilly
· Ferns
· Flamingo plant
· Geranium
· Honeysuckle
· Hyacinth
· Hydrangea
· Ivy
· Jade plant
· Lantana
· Larkspur
· Marigolds
· Morning Glory
· Peony
· Primrose
· Rhododendron
· Tiger Lily
· Yucca

There are many other beautiful garden flower that can also be deadly, so be sure to check with the nursery or garden shop before planting them in the same area that you are planning on keeping your dog.

Indoor Plants

Many of the houseplants including ferns, dieffenbachia, pothos, ivy, philodendron, and even poinsettias are very toxic to dogs. Corn plant, peace lilies and any of the ornamental tobacco plants can be very dangerous for both full-grown dogs and puppies.

If you think that your dog may have consumed a poisonous or potentially poisonous plant immediately get them to the vet. Bring a small amount of the plant with you, including the leaf and the flower, to help with identification.

About the Author: Kelly Marshall, more information can be found at Oh My Dog Supplies: - also shop for dog beds at

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Homework: The Power of 'Positive' Consequences

At a recent presentation for parents, I mentioned the importance of providing positive consequences to motivate students with homework. Afterwards, one mother approached and explained that her daughter has been having problems all school year. "Her teacher has been insisting that I provide a lot of punishment at home," she explained. "I think that might be the problem...that my daughter is turned off by her negative attitude." Wouldn't we all?

Don't get me wrong...punishment has its place and can be an important element of molding and managing behavior. However, we often overlook the power of being positive. As human beings, we naturally focus on the negative and are conditioned to dole out negative consequences first. However, providing positive rewards for good behavior is usually much more effective.

For starters, positive consequences cultivate positive attitudes...and you need as much of that as you can get when it comes to dealing with homework!

Secondly, they allow you to be much more specific about your expectations, which makes your children more likely to meet them.

For example, "Stop fooling around and get your homework done," is not as specific as, "If you can stay focused and finish your homework in 20 minutes, I will let you watch an extra TV show tonight." The latter statement tells the child specifically what they SHOULD do and this will always result in a better response.

Finally, punishment is often NOT motivating, especially for children who have fallen into complacency. Before long, there will be nothing left for you to "take away."

Action Plan

  • Determine realistic, yet motivating rewards. When you first start, you may need to provide rewards immediately. After a short while, start extending the time. For example, you might first offer stickers, extra time on the computer, or a small treat each evening. After a couple of weeks, change the parameters and offer weekly rewards, such as taking your daughter out to lunch on the weekend if she does her homework tear-free four nights in one week. Gradually, increase the time-span and slightly increase the value of each reward. You can guarantee motivation if you ask your children for 'reasonable' reward ideas.

  • Back up your positive consequences with negative ones. This creates a choice for your child. "If I do my homework on time tonight, I can go to a movie with dad. If I don't, I will loose my video games for the night." Which would you choose?

  • Be firm and ALWAYS follow through. The moment you do not enforce your expectations, you loose the game! Your children know if you do not always mean what you say and they will test you to the end of time. There are not shortcuts; only offer consequences that you are willing to enforce, and then ENFORCE them!

  • On a similar note, be aware of the "Three Factor." The first few times you introduce a new routine or expectation with children, they are likely to fight it. The first time will be bad. The second time will be awful. The third time may be unbelievably awful. By the fourth time, they will start cooperating because they will KNOW you are serious.

  • Rewards of your time are most motivating. This often surprises parents, especially parents of middle and high school students, but the opportunity to spend 'special time' with Mom or Dad is very attractive to students of all ages. Seize the opportunity while you have it.

  • In Conclusion

    As a parent, if your homework management strategy relies strictly on punishment, you are wearing away motivation and fighting a loosing battle. Turn the tides by using positive consequences and reap the benefits of happier and more successful children.

    Copyright © 2007 Susan Kruger, All Rights Reserved

    About The Author: Susan Kruger is the author of SOAR Study Skills; A Simple and Efficient System for Earning Better Grades in Less Time. Get Susan's FREE Homework Rx Toolkit, featuring 25 Ways to Make Homework Easier...Tonight!, at her website:

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    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    Great Ideas To Decorate A Boy’s Bedroom

    It can be difficult to determine a cost effective way to decorate a boy’s bedroom when you know that fads and tastes change quickly. When decorating a boy’s room, here are some tips that will help you spend your money more wisely. If you switch the décor in the entire room, you will find yourself spending a lot of money that will likely be short lived. With a few wise choices, you can spend less money and afford to change the room around more often.

    Because fads change so quickly and what your child likes for their room today may be something they are tired of in a year’s time. By choosing a few quick changes that are inexpensive, it can afford you the ability to change decorations and themes more regularly. Children take pride in a bedroom that reflects their taste so will be more likely to keep it tidy when they enjoy spending time there.

    Choose a neutral paint color and add wallpaper borders or decals. Adding a wallpaper border or decals makes it easy to redecorate your room inexpensively. By choosing a neutral color you can easily spend a minimum amount of money buying reposition able decals and wallpaper borders that can be put around the middle of the room at waist level or at the ceiling. This can allow you to change your child’s room around inexpensively and as often as a new fad strikes them with minimal effort required by you.

    If your child is a sports fan, NFL lockers are a popular idea. NFL lockers can be bought and this is something that can decorate your child’s room from a young age right until they leave for college. An NFL locker can not only hold storage items such as clothing, jerseys and other sports equipment but also can hold books and pictures and display your child’s sports related trophies.

    The NFL locker can display their favorite team with official logos and colors. The NFL locker is something that generally won’t go out of style for your child’s room. If your son is a sports enthusiast, he likely will be throughout his childhood. Fads with shorter phases such as cartoon characters or movie themed decorations tend to cost a lot and be out of fashion quickly. Sports themes can last much longer in terms of keeping your son’s interest.

    When you want to change the room, buying a new bedding set that matches the color or the theme of the room and a similarly colored throw rug for the foot of their bed can be an inexpensive way to match colors. Storage is always a concern for children’s rooms that become filled with toys and books and videos so a storage solution is important to help them keep their room organized. Something like the NFL locker helps them keep the room organized and is something durable that is likely to last for years.

    About the Author: Hunter Pyle, this article was written to talk about choosing the right gift for decorating a boys bedroom. With this said, I would highly recommend visiting
    Taylor Gifts to find out more about a wide variety of gifts for boys.

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    Sunday, February 04, 2007

    Decorating With Shades

    Roman shades are a popular addition to the window blind stable. They’re a great way to make a home decorating statement. Their graceful gathers really add visual interest to any room. When they’re raised, the fabric drapes into soft, tight folds. When they’re lowered, the gentle folds relax into looser folds.

    These shades can be lined to offer more insulation, and also more privacy and deflection of light. They can be used in any room in your home, from nearly any fabric. They look great as a foundation for a full window covering, as a backdrop curtains and valances. You might see them in cotton, suede and linen, among many other materials. They can be the focal point of the window covering, or they can be the background and supporting role for a bold curtain or valance. A cord that runs down the side of the shade controls the lifting and lowering. They can be raised completely to let light in and expose the entire window, or lowered to any level. The higher they’re raised, the tighter the loops of fabric get. It almost appears to be a balloon valance, when all the loops are gathered at the top of the window. It doesn’t matter how high the shade is raised, it always looks great. It never looks unfinished, or unkempt, or as if you should raise or lower it completely.

    It doesn’t take much talent to make Roman shades. Magazines, books and websites can walk you through the necessary steps. A visit to a craft store couldn’t hurt, either, since they’re full of ideas. Someone at the craft store can direct you toward the best resources. Once you make one set, you’ll be unstoppable!

    Once Roman shades are hung, the room takes on a completely different feel. The three dimensional curtain really draws your attention to the window. Which makes it even wiser to have a full display of window treatments. They can go with modern furnishings, or they can fit right in with a contemporary theme. They can have a casual look, or a more formal look. The material chosen makes all the difference. An ornately printed brocade would look much more formal than a light cotton. And the treatments around it can affect how it looks. A formal valance with a heavy drapery is much more formal than a light balloon valance paired with a sheer cotton panel.

    Whether you choose a formal look or a casual look for your shades, windows never looked so good!

    About the Author: Eric Slarkowski usually pens publications on information related to decorating and decorating. You can see his articles on
    roman shades over at
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    Window Blinds And Curtains

    Window blinds are versatile home design elements. They come in a variety of materials, fabrics and style to suit your tastes. We’ll look at several materials.

    1) Metal. These are the original blinds. For many years, aluminum was the predominant metal used in blinds. It’s durable, affordable, cleanable and flexible. The slats come in a variety of lengths and widths to fit any space or taste.

    2) Wood. This is a popular choice for window coverings for the warm touch it gives to a room. It’s not a great choice when the room is prone to humidity, such as in a bathroom or a kitchen. They’re not good choices in humid geographic areas either. Wood can warp, crack or swell, rendering them useless when they won’t open or close correctly, or the louvers won’t move. Wood is used in Venetian blinds and woven blinds.

    3) Cane. You’ll see this in woven blinds. The slats are very thin, and they’re only adjustable as an entire unit, not by a single slat. Light filters into the room through the thin slats, that are usually tied together with rope. They add a very natural look to a room.

    4) Vinyl. This is the most popular material for blinds. It can take on the look of wood, but it’s also very low-maintenance. It won’t crack or warp like wood, and it doesn’t attract dust like wood blinds do. Miniblinds are most often vinyl. They’re among the most popular type of blind, due to their thin slat and their versatility.

    5) Fabric. Sometimes you’ll see fabric backed with a stiff material to create slats. These are exceptionally nice when they complement the décor in a room. Fabric can be used to bring a room together.

    Blinds can be used by themselves, or layered with other window treatments. The severe lines of blinds can be contrasted with the softness of curtains or a valance, providing a polished, finished look.

    Blinds can work in any room with windows. They can be horizontal or vertical, small or large. They can be subtly colored, and offset with a bold curtain or punchy valance.

    Blinds are not only functional, as they keep light out and can act to obscure drafts from cracks around windows, but they’re decorative as well.

    Blinds can make a great addition to any room. They’ve advanced so much in recent years, that you can get the look of yesterday with the technological advances of today.

    Check out also : Decorating With Shades

    About the Author: Linden Walhard regularly creates long articles on news dealing with curtains and home design. You can see his writings on
    window blinds over at
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