By Small Talk Speech Pathology

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

FREE printable expressive language worksheets

Here are some fantastic resources for verbal and written expressive language.  
They were developed by a very generous clinician named Rebecca Visintin who has traveled the world whilst working as a speech pathologist.  

These sheets are great homework companions or for therapy use as they target syntax and verb tenses in both expressive and written language. Adapt the worksheets to suit your child’s goals and consider working on pronouns, the SVO structure and other language areas.

Consider using the worksheets for picture descriptions or story telling as a higher level language task.

Click here to print from Adventures in speech pathology

V & L

FREE printable Christmas stories

Leading up to the busy season, why not take a few minutes to share a Christmas story (or two!) with your child?  We have collated some lovely free printable stories for everyone to enjoy.

Click here to print stories from Activity Village

Click here to print from 20 Famous Christmas Stories

Click here to print from Reindeerland

Click here to print from All Things Christmas

Happy story time dear readers.
Vanessa & Lauren

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Wonderful Whimsical Christmas FREE Printables

We love the holiday season at From The Heart Up, and we particularly love finding gorgeous Christmas printables to share with you all. These are some of our picks this year. 

Letters to Santa

Make your own Santa beard.
Christmas photobooth fun

Ready to decorate ornaments.

Mr and Mrs Claus paper dolls.

Merry Christmas lovely readers,
love L & V

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

FREE printable artwork for summer

We are welcoming Summer here in Australia this week with some scorching temperatures. Here at From The Heart Up we suggest you: 
1. avoid the heat
2. turn up the air conditioner
3. turn on the printer
4. celebrate summer from the comfort of your home with these gorgeous free summer printable artworks.

 Click here at 30 Handmade Days to print

V & L

Sunday, 18 November 2012

How to teach kids about different types of weather

Extreme weather events can be scary and upsetting for young children.  
As we have experienced numerous thunderstorms across Brisbane lately, we thought it would be helpful to find some resources to inform children about various weather conditions.  

We stumbled across this great site : that was especially designed for kids to allow them to learn more about the fascinating world of weather. It’s also a wonderful educational website for teachers and parents to give them the right tools to explain the different types of weather to children.  They have many different topics including hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes with plenty of information to satisfy the most inquisitive little minds.  

What is a thunderstorm? 
A thunderstorm is a storm with lightning and thunder. Its produced by a cumulonimbus cloud, usually producing gusty winds, heavy rain and sometimes hail.
Cumulonimbus Cloud

You can help protect yourself against the effects of thunderstorms, which can cause flooding and dangerous lightning by having a disaster survival kit. A preparedness kit helps you to stay safe. 

What causes a thunderstorm?
The basic ingredients used to make a thunderstorm are moisture, unstable air and lift. You need moisture to form clouds and rain. You need unstable air that is relatively warm and can rise rapidly. Finally, you need lift. This can form from fronts, sea breezes or mountains.

When are thunderstorms most likely to occur?
Thunderstorms can occur year-round and at all hours. But they are most likely to happen in the spring and summer months and during the afternoon and evening hours.

How many thunderstorms are there every day?
It is estimated that there are around 1,800 thunderstorms that occur across our planet every day.

Are thunderstorms dangerous?
Yes, despite their small size, all thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes.

What is lightning? 
Lightning is a bright flash of electricity produced by a thunderstorm. All thunderstorms produce lightning and are very dangerous. If you hear the sound of thunder, then you are in danger from lightning. Lightning kills and injures more people each year than hurricanes or tornadoes; between 75 to 100 people.

What causes lightning?
Lightning is an electric current. Within a thundercloud way up in the sky, many small bits of ice (frozen raindrops) bump into each other as they move around in the air. All of those collisions create an electric charge. After a while, the whole cloud fills up with electrical charges. The positive charges or protons form at the top of the cloud and the negative charges or electrons form at the bottom of the cloud. Since opposites attract, that causes a positive charge to build up on the ground beneath the cloud. The grounds electrical charge concentrates around anything that sticks up, such as mountains, people, or single trees. The charge coming up from these points eventually connects with a charge reaching down from the clouds and - zap - lightning strikes!
How Lightning Forms

Have you ever rubbed your feet across carpet and then touched a metal door handle? If so, then you know that you can get shocked! Lightning works in the same way.
Static Electricity 

Click Here to see where lightning is currently striking across the U.S.

What causes thunder?
Thunder is caused by lightning. When a lightning bolt travels from the cloud to the ground it actually opens up a little hole in the air, called a channel. Once then light is gone the air collapses back in and creates a sound wave that we hear as thunder. The reason we see lightning before we hear thunder is because light travels faster than sound!

How do you know if lightning is nearby?
If you see dark clouds, then lightning could be present, but the best thing you can do is to listen for thunder. If you hear thunder, then you need to go indoors or get in a car. Don't be outside, where lightning could strike! If your hair stands on end or your skin starts to tingle, lightning maybe about to strike. Get down on your hands and knees and keep your head tucked in. Do not lay flat, because it can give lightning a better chance of strike you.

How far away can you see lightning and hear thunder?
Within those distant thunderstorms, the lightning bolts can be seen as much as 100 miles from us, depending on the height of the bolt, the clarity of the air, and our elevation. Thunder, in comparison, has a much shorter range of detection - usually less than 15 miles in a quiet rural setting and under 5 miles in a noisy city environment.

Can you tell how far away a storm is? 
Yes, you can use thunder to tell how far away a storm is. Next time you see a storm, count the number of seconds between when you see the lightning and hear the thunder. Take the number of seconds and divide by 5 and that will tell you how far away the storm is in miles. For example: If you counted 10 seconds between the lightning and the thunder, the lightning is 2 miles away!
Counting How Far A Storms Is

What is hail?

Hail is created when small water droplets are caught in the updraft of a thunderstorm. These water droplets are lifted higher and higher into the sky until they freeze into ice. Once they become heavy, they will start to fall. If the smaller hailstones get caught in the updraft again, they will get more water on them and get lifted higher in the sky and get bigger. Once they get lifted again, they freeze and fall. This happens over and over again until the hailstone is too heavy and then falls to the ground. 

What causes the wind to blow?
As the sun warms the Earth's surface, the atmosphere warms too. Some parts of the Earth receive direct rays from the sun all year and are always warm. Other places receive indirect rays, so the climate is colder. Warm air, which weighs less than cold air, rises. Then cool air moves in and replaces the rising warm air. This movement of air is what makes the wind blow. 

What is a gust front?
A gust front is the leading edge of the downdraft from a thunderstorm. It is usually marked by gusty cool winds, and sometimes blowing dust. You will feel the wind from the gust front before it starts to rain.

Thunderstorm Know the Lingo Thunderstorm
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH - A severe thunderstorm (damaging winds of 58 miles per hour or more, or 1" hail in diameter or greater) is likely to develop in your area.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING - A severe thunderstorm (damaging winds of 58 miles per hour or more, or hail three-fourths of an inch in diameter or greater) is taking place in your area. 

DOWNDRAFT - A sudden descent of cool or cold air to the ground, usually with precipitation, and associated with a thunderstorm or shower.

UPDRAFT - A warm column of air that rises within a cloud. If the air is sufficiently moist, then the moisture condenses to become a cumulus cloud.

Thunderstorm Know the Facts Thunderstorm
DotThe typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes.

DotThunderstorms happen in every state and every thunderstorm has lightning.

Click Here to see if there are any active warnings in your area.

Thunderstorm Thunderstorm Safety Tips Thunderstorm 
IF YOU’RE OUTDOORS: Keep an eye at the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of lightning, or increasing winds. Lightning often proceeds rain, so don’t wait for the rain to begin. If you hear the sound of thunder, go to a safe place immediately. The best place to go is a sturdy building or a car, but make sure the windows in the car are shut. Avoid sheds, picnic areas, baseball dugouts and bleachers. If there is no shelter around you, stay away from trees. Crouch down in the open area, keeping twice as far away from a tree as far as it is tall. Put your feet together and place your hands over your ears to minimize hearing damage from thunder. If you’re with a group of people stay about 15 feet from each other. Stay out of water, because it’s a great conductor of electricity. Swimming, wading, snorkeling and scuba diving are not safe. Also, don’t stand in puddles and avoid metal. Stay away from clotheslines, fences, and drop your backpacks because they often have metal on them. If you’re playing an outdoor activity, wait at least 30 minutes after the last observed lightning strike or thunder.

IF YOU’RE INDOORS: Avoid water. It’s a great conductor of electricity, so do not take a shower, wash your hands, wash dishes or do laundry. Do not use a corded telephone. Lightning may strike exterior phone lines. Do not use electric equipment like computers and appliances during a storm. Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches.
IF SOMEONE IS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING: Call for help. Call 9-1-1 or send for help immediately. The injured person does not carry an electrical charge, so it is okay to touch them.
Thunderstorm Thunderstorm Activities Thunderstorm
Thunderstorm Experiment: Here is a great way to teach kids how to track a thunderstorm. 

Thunderstorm Experiment: Here is a great experiment that shows kids how our weather works. It teaches them how thunderstorms are formed!

Lightning Experiment: Here is a great experiment that allows kids to make lightning in their mouth. It's a great way for them to understand how lightning works.

Lightning Experiment: Here is a great experiment that allows the kids to make lightning. All you need is a balloon and a light bulb!

Lightning Experiment: Here is another great experiment that allows the kids to make lightning. This teaches kids about the positive and negative charges and where they come from.

Static Electricity Experiment: Here is an experiment that allows the kids to learn about static electricity. This teaches kids about the positive and negative charges and where they come from.

Static Electricity Experiment: Here is another static electricity experiment. This teaches kids about the positive and negative charges and where they come from.

Static Electricity Experiment: Here is yet another static electricity experiment. This teaches kids about the positive and negative charges and where they come from.

Thunder Experiment: This experiment allows kids to make thunder, in a way that allows them to understand how it is made by lightning.

Pressure Experiment: Here is an experiment that shows how pressure is created in our atmosphere by sucking an egg in a bottle. This is a very cool experiment!

Make A Barometer Experiment: Here is an experiment that allows the kids to make a barometer.

Evaporation Experiment: Here is an experiment that shows kids how evaporation takes place.

Science Fair Project Ideas: Here is a complete list of science fair project ideas. Discover the science behind the weather that impacts us every day.

Keep calm & stay safe dear readers!
Vanessa & Lauren

Anxiety in Children: How Parents Can Help

Courtesy of

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal emotional state that we all experience at various times in our lives. It is closely related to fear, which is another normal and necessary emotion that everyone experiences. We need to be fearful of certain situations in order to protect ourselves from danger. Some words used to describe different states of fear include frightened, scared, afraid, panicky, and terrified. It is normal and beneficial for a person to experience fear when faced with real and immediate danger, for example when being chased by a dangerous animal.
Anxiety is usually associated with anticipated fear of something happening in the future. Some words used to describe different states of anxiety include worried, concerned, anxious, nervous, tense, shy, and cautious. Anxiety is normal and beneficial when we are faced with a difficult situation. For example, it is normal for us to feel anxious before a test or speaking in front of a group of people, and our anxiety helps us to prepare for the difficult task.

Anxiety Can be Overlooked in Children

Children experience various states of fear and anxiety from the moment they are born. Sometimes it is easy to tell if a child is anxious by their crying and clinging behaviors. But sometimes, it is difficult to identify anxiety in children. Some children hide their anxiety because it is too difficult for them to express it to others. Some children turn their anxiety into angry tantrums or defiant behaviors.

Sources of Anxiety in Childhood

Some children are born with an anxious temperament and seem to be anxious of many situations right from the start. It is believed that up to fifteen percent of infants are born with a more anxious temperament.
There are developmental sources of anxiety throughout childhood as well and all children experience fears and worries as part of their normal development. Most young children experience fears of the dark, monsters, separation from parents, animals, and strangers. As children grow, these fears gradually change to fears about social acceptance, academic and sports achievements, health, mortality and family.
Other sources of anxiety for children arise from normal life and family transitions. Children go through many changes and transitions as they and their families grow and mature. For example the birth of a sibling, starting school, moving to a new home, death of an elderly grandparent, becoming accepted by a peer group, and mastering tasks in and out of school can all be stressful and anxiety-provoking for children.
In addition, difficult or even traumatic events that are out of the ordinary can happen to a child with the likelihood that anxiety will increase for that child. For example, parental conflict and separation, illness or injury of the child or the child’s family members, the unexpected death of a close family member, extended separations from parents, family or community violence, and natural disasters are all difficult and sometimes traumatic experiences for children to go through.

How to Identify Children Who May Be Struggling With Anxiety

Children struggling with excessive anxiety may show the following:
  • Pessimism and negative thinking patterns such as imagining the worst, over-exaggerating the negatives, rigidity and inflexibility, self-criticism, guilty thoughts, etc.
  • Anger, aggression, restlessness, irritability, tantrums, opposition and defiance
  • Constant worry about things that might happen or have happened
  • Crying
  • Physical complaints such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Avoidance behaviors, such as avoiding things or places or refusing to do things or go places
  • Sleeping difficulties, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, nightmares, or night terror
  • Perfectionism
  • Excessive clinginess and separation anxiety
  • Procrastination
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Withdrawal from activities and family interactions
  • Eating disturbances

Impact on the Family

Overly anxious children can have a negative impact on the family. Highly anxious children can be demanding and can become very emotional if things don’t go the way they want. Parents can become confused about how firm they need to be with limits and if they should give in to the child to avoid emotional outbursts.

When Does Anxiety Become a Problem for Children?

When a child is very young, normal fears can be accepted. However, as a child grows, fears and anxieties that were considered normal at a younger stage of development may be less appropriate.
Some indications of excessive anxiety in a child include fear that is out of proportion to the actual threat in the environment or anxiety that is excessive for an anticipated future event. Also, children struggling with too much anxiety will often have difficulties in settling back to a normal state.
Anxiety becomes a problem when it prevents children from enjoying normal life experiences. For example, when anxiety begins to have an impact on school, friendships, or family, then parents or other adults may need to step in to help the child.

How You Can Help Your Anxious Child

Anxious children can benefit a great deal by support from their parents. The following tips will provide you with some ideas for helping your anxious child.

Routines and Structure

Establish consistent daily routines and structure. Routines reduce anxiety and regular daily patterns emphasize predictability. A regular routine will give a sense of control to both parent and child. Anxious children do not cope well with a disorganized, spontaneous family life style.
Take care of the basic needs of your child, especially to prevent fatigue and hunger. Establish a regular bedtime routine consisting of quieter activities (e.g. bath, reading with parent, talking with parent), which helps your child to gradually relax.
Provide opportunities for exercise. Exercise is helpful in relieving stress and helping your child’s body to relax.
It is important for children to have limits set and consequences for breaking the limits. Children feel secure when there are limits setting restrictions on inappropriate behaviors.

Help Children Identify Feelings

Help your child notice different feelings by naming various feelings she or others may experience. Explain how people show their feelings (through faces, bodies, words) and that showing your feelings is an important way for others to understand how you are feeling. Help your child notice how different feelings “feel” in his own body, for example tight hands, butterflies in stomach, etc.

Provide Opportunities for Communicating About and Feelings

It is helpful for children to talk about their feelings, however talking about feelings is not easy for children, especially when they are asked directly. It is important for parents to watch and listen carefully for the times when a child does express feelings, either directly through words or indirectly through behaviors. At these times, you can help your child by acknowledging and accepting her feelings through simply reflecting them back to her and refraining from providing advice or asking questions. When a child’s feelings are criticized, disapproved of, or not accepted by a parent, his internal sense of self is weakened.

Provide Soothing and Comforting Strategies

Comforting and soothing a child are very helpful strategies that parents can use in relieving anxiety. These strategies communicate to the child that she is safe and cared for. Verbal reassurances of safety and love, rocking, cuddling, holding, massage, singing, and telling stories are just some of the soothing and comforting strategies that parents can use. Parents may be surprised to realize that children may sometimes need comforting and soothing that seems to the parent to be too “babyish” for the child’s age. However, anxious children do need extra soothing experiences that relax and relieve the tension in their bodies.

Respect Your Child’s Fears

Children are generally not helped when parents tell them to stop being afraid of something. What is helpful to most children is an approach in which you acknowledge their fears and at the same time let them know that you will help them overcome these fears.

Model Brave Behavior

Children look to others for guidance on how to respond in unfamiliar situations. They usually watch for cues from their parents and use these cues to help determine if the situation is safe or not. If the parent’s response is fearful or anxious, the child’s response is also likely to be fearful or anxious.
Although it is important for parents to model appropriate cautionary and safety behaviors when appropriate, it is important for parents to act as confident and brave role models as well. If a parent is overly anxious and over-protective, this anxiety can be easily communicated to a child with the accompanying message that the world is too dangerous. As well, the child also receives the message that he is incapable.
Parents need to acknowledge and understand their own anxieties and make an effort to contain them when appropriate in the presence of their children. Sometimes, parents need to act brave even if they don’t feel brave. An important and helpful message for an anxious child to receive from a parent is that the parent has confidence both in the child and in the situation.

Encourage Brave Behavior

While children are generally not helped when parents demand that they face their fears all at once, they are helped when parents can gently encourage them to approach feared situations. This is because exposure to feared situations leads to desensitization and reduction of the fear and anxiety.
However, approaching feared situations can be difficult for anxious children since they would rather avoid them. One way of helping a child approach a feared situation is to go about it in small steps so that each step is achievable and gradually becomes a little more difficult. Another important strategy for parents is to reward a child for trying to approach a feared situation. A child will also find it helpful to be reminded that the fear will get smaller over time. In addition, children can be reminded of fears and difficult situations that they have overcome in the past.

Teach Relaxation Skills

Learning relaxation skills will help children feel better when they are anxious, worried or scared. It will also help them learn that they have some control over their own bodies rather than being controlled by their anxiety.
One way to help your child relax is to encourage slow, deep breathing. You can help your child practice this by getting her to imagine slowly blowing bubbles. Another way to relax is to ask her to alternately tense and relax her muscles. Additionally, some of the soothing and comforting strategies outlined above work very well to relax children.
You can also help your child use his imagination to relax. Help your child to imagine a safe and relaxing place and to notice the good relaxing feelings in his body. Or, have him imagine a container (such as a big box) to put his worries in so they are not running wild in his mind and bothering him when he needs or wants to be doing other things.

Encourage “Feeling Good” Activities:

When children are anxious, encourage them to engage in activities they enjoy such as playing with a favourite toy, doing a fun art or craft activity, doing something active outside, playing a game, reading a book, or playing with friends. Children will often need the assistance and attention of their parents to engage in these fun activities if they are anxious.


There are many children’s books available that deal specifically with anxiety, fears and worries. These books can be very helpful for children as the stories will often model various ways of coping with fears and anxiety. When searching for books, use keywords such as anxiety, worry, fear, scary, scared, shy, etc.

Teach Problem-Solving Strategies

Help your child with their worries and problems by teaching them how to problem-solve by defining the problem, brainstorming all possible solutions and their consequences, and choosing the best solution.
Be aware, however, not to jump in too early to help “fix” your child’s problems. Remember to give your child lots of time to express his negative feelings around worries and problems first where you are just listening and acknowledging feelings before helping him to figure out a solution.

Challenge Unhelpful Thoughts

Help your child to understand that the negative and pessimistic things she says to herself about herself are not helpful and can influence how she feels and behaves. For example, thinking (or saying), “I’m so hopeless, I’ll never do it,” can make her feel angry, hopeless, sad and ultimately even more anxious.
By changing the unhelpful thoughts with more helpful and positive thoughts, for example by saying or thinking, “If I keep practicing, I’ll get better,” or “Even if I make a mistake, I can learn and do better the next time,” your child’s anxiety levels will be reduced.
Again, remember to allow your child lots of time to express her negative thoughts around worries and fears first before helping her to figure out more helpful ways of thinking about the situation.
Copyright Kathy Eugster, 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Kathy Eugster, MA, RCC, RPTMA, Counselling PsychologyRegistered Clinical CounsellorRegistered Play TherapistChild and Family Counsellor

Thursday, 15 November 2012

FREE Printable Big and Small Worksheets.

We just stumbled upon these adorable free printable size sorting worksheets. Simply print, cut and have fun sorting into groups of big and small thanks to Activity Village.

Make the task easier by having only 2 options available at a time, or make it harder by adding in many more.

Big love,

L & V

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Simple ways to make your child feel special

Courtesy of  The baby center

by Rachel Sarah 

Last updated: September 2011
With our busy lives full of errands, work, appointments, and social events, it can sometimes feel like we need to make grand gestures to let our kids know they're loved and special.

But what makes your children feel special might surprise you. You don't need to spend $10,000 on a birthday party or a deluxe trip to Disneyland. You don't need to buy a Barbie Mustang or a tree house or let them have ice cream every night.

In fact, making your child feel special is very simple, according to Leigh Leverrier, a family life coach in the Washington, D.C., area, who says, "Children feel special when they are respected, noticed, listened to, and heard."

This can be as straightforward as hearing "what your child says and mirroring back what you hear to acknowledge his or her thoughts," Leverrier adds.

Doris Jeanette, a licensed psychologist in Philadelphia, says: "It's not the activities, but the energy behind the activities that makes a child feel loved."
In other words, making your child feel special is as simple as paying attention. Cuddling, play wrestling, and bragging about your kid works, too.

Create little morning moments

"The morning sets the tone," says Bob Lancer, author of Parenting With Love, Without Anger or Stress. "If there's strife, rushing, or power struggles in the morning, you have a child who feels less important than other elements of the parent's agenda."

Instead of giving in to morning impatience, Vanessa Pizzinato of Ontario, Canada, takes a few minutes with her 5-year-old every morning to gently walk her fingers over his legs and feet to wake him up. If that doesn't work, then she takes his feet, puts one up to her ear and the other in front of her mouth, and talks to his tummy and head "to find out when they think he will wake up."

Cara Mirabella, who runs TheHouseholdHelper, spends a little quality time each morning with her 2-year-old by having coffee together. (His "coffee" is milk.) "We watch Sesame Street, the two of us cuddling on the couch, enjoying our coffee," she says.

After taking five minutes for yourself "to enjoy the quiet of the morning before the stampede begins," says Patty Wipfler, founder of Hand in Hand Parenting, spend ten minutes with your child before anybody has to rush anywhere.

"First thing in the morning can be a wonderfully effective time to connect with children, especially when they're going to school and won't get to see you all day," she says.

Snuggle and cuddle

Karen Maezen Miller, author of Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhoodsays that physical touch is essential to making your child feel connected and special. 
"Take every opportunity to impart security and steadfast love with the pure joy of your physical touch: a hug, a tickle, a single finger to hold onto. Get close," she says.

"Set the alarm 15 minutes early," suggests Wipfler. "Turn the snooze alarm into the snuggle alarm."
For Kelly Stettner, of Vermont, special time with her daughter means cuddling up on the couch for a movie, during which "I gently stroke the sides of her neck. She's 9 now, and it's just a little ritual we have that makes her feel completely connected and so special."

As a single parent with no ex in the picture, this writer understands what it means to go-go-go. I know how challenging it can be to slow down, between packing school lunches and washing the dinner dishes. Here's the truth: My child still sleeps with me sometimes. But this is the only time during the day when I stop running. This is when I put my arms around my daughter. This is our snuggle time. It's so worth it.

Make up special stories

Children love being the center of our attention. If your child has the chance for just a moment to be the hero in her own story, it will likely become her favorite bedtime story.

Shara Lawrence-Weiss, mother of two in Arizona and founder of Personal Child Stories, creates stories about her children — with photos to boot. "When others ask my kids about their books, they beam from ear to ear. My son says, 'My mom made this for me!' "

Bonnie Russell, a California mother of two children in their 20s, says that she wrote down "the cute things they did or said when they were little, figuring I'd need to remember why I loved them when they became teenagers.

"It turned out that whenever they asked me to read to them, it wasn't anything from a commercial author on a bestseller list. They always wanted me to read them 'their' books. It made them feel special."

Chris Shaw of North Carolina gets very creative with her sons. Recently, on a rainy day, they made a movie. "Not a home movie — a real movie — with a script, props, and costumes. We let my 7-year-old write the script, help make costumes, and create props."You can see her family's movie here.

Ask for help

It's all too easy to treat a child like a child and do everything for him. But including him in your tasks can instantly make him feel important and special.

Life coach Leverrier says, for instance, let your child choose what's for dinner now and then. "Take him to the grocery store to pick the food and let him help prepare the meal."

Amy Oztan of New York, who blogs at SelfishMom, says her two kids "always complain that I'm on the computer all day. So when they're feeling ignored, I let them pick out pictures and videos and help me post them to our family's website, for all of the grandparents, aunts, and uncles to see."

Writer Hilary Miller of Littleton, Colorado, says even though her son Nicholas isn't yet 3 years old, "he loves helping me set the table or helping Dad flip burgers. And he mows the lawn with Dad — with his little plastic mower."

Break the rules

Kids love to break rules. So imagine how fun it would be just to have waffles for dinner — or stay up past bedtime and watch a movie with Mommy or Daddy.

Lori Quaranta of Connecticut made a deal with her daughter when she was in first grade that if she "kept up at school, we would enjoy a 'skip work and school day' together."

So, twice every school year, they "skipped school" to have a mother-daughter day — "which usually included some type of shopping. We did this until she graduated high school. My daughter is 22 years old now."

Luann Udell, mother of two in New Hampshire, remembers one night she and her kids were all "in a bad mood, being ornery, picking fights." Even her husband was crabby. Instead of cracking down and sending everyone to bed, she said, "Let's go get ice cream!"

"We drove to a local restaurant, and I told everyone to order any kind of ice cream they wanted — no holds barred. You could feel the bad mood lift and dissipate."

And this writer followed suit and let her child have a brownie this morning. Let's just say there were no protests that morning in our home!

Have fun at bedtime

Bedtime is a perfect time to make your child feel special. Daniel Hallac, cofounder ofKidmondo, says that he and his wife started a bedtime routine six years ago with their son called "relax."

After teeth brushing and a story, it's time for "the relax," which "is really just hanging out in his bed with the lights out," says Hallac. "We just talk about anything he wants to talk about. Like many parents, we are very busy and pulled in a million directions. But during 'relax' time, we focus 100 percent on him."

When their son was younger and guests were over, he insisted the guests do "the relax," too.

Dominek Black, mother of two sons in Brooklyn, says that her "2-year-old loves to get in the tub with me." So, before bed, Mom relaxes while her son draws with crayons on the tiles. (Let's not talk about cleanup the next morning!)

Amanda Johnson of Oklahoma rocks her 3-year-old daughter to bed every night — but not like you'd think. Every night, she and her husband carry their daughter "by her arms and legs, swinging her into bed. Her favorite part is when we swing her back and forth, counting to three and then flopping her into bed while we all scream 'Banana Pants.'"

Banana Pants? "We're not quite sure where that term came from," admits Johnson. "But she laughs hysterically every time."

Get silly

Being silly is something kids understand well — and appreciate wholeheartedly in others. There's no better way to get a kid's attention than by being wacky — and it can make them feel like you're in their world with them, instead of up in your adult world.

Mom Gina Luttrell gets goofy when she sings to her 3-year-old every night: "Instead of reciting the exact words to "You Are My Sunshine,' we sing 'You are my sunshine cupcake head.' Or, instead of 'You'll never know dear,' we sing 'You'll never YES dear.' "

Or you can make bath time a blast. Author and speaker Edna Ellison of South Carolina puts her kids in the bath with a dab of shampoo. Then she announces that there's going to be a hairdo contest. "At the end of a bath, we celebrate the crazy hairdos!"

And, of course, from a kid's point of view you can never have too many special occasions — as long as the fuss is all about him! Andrea Tompkins of Ontario, Canada, says she celebrates her kids' half-birthdays with a half-cake. "There are no presents or balloons. We just sing half of the "Happy Birthday" song and eat our half-cake."

Use your words

Parenting experts agree that while it might feel most natural to say "I love you" or "I'm proud of you," focusing on the you instead of the I can make your child feel special.

"If you want to raise your children's self-esteem, you don't want them to be overly concerned about your pride," explains parenting expert Marilyn Suttle in Michigan. "Try focusing on their own pride by saying something like, 'You must feel so proud of yourself!' "

Linda Miles in Florida, author of All Aboard the Brain Train, Teaching Your Child to Live a Purpose-Filled Path, echoes this advice. "Repeat positive thoughts and ideas like 'You can do it and I will help' or 'It's okay to take your time.' "

Pediatric nurse and mother of three, Jennifer Walker — a founder of Moms On Call — says that another fun way to acknowledge your children is to let them "hear us praise their good behavior in front of the people they love and admire."

Walker explains that you might mention their achievements at the dinner table: "I told Jerry he couldn't have some ice cream for breakfast and he didn't throw a tantrum. He was sad for a moment and then he moved on and went to play with his toys."

Or, you might even let your child eavesdrop on your bragging, like Silvana Clark, author of301 Bright Ideas for Busy Kids. She calls her mom on the phone when her daughter is in earshot. "Then I let her 'overhear' me talking on the phone to Grandma about something positive she did."

And just pay attention to the little things

No matter what, parenting experts agree that sometimes it's the smallest, simplest things that make our children feel so good.

Anne Wear of North Carolina, for instance, says that she makes her three kids feel special by giving them unique nicknames: "Midge," "Bean," and "Mr. Boo."

"I've told them this is a special name that I call them to let them know how great they are," says Wear.

Stress and wellness specialist Beverly Beuermann-King of Work Smart Live Smart leaves notes for her sons when she's traveling for work. While she's gone, her husband "puts these notes in their lunch boxes. I also stick notes to their pillows that say 'Sweet dreams.' "

For author and essayist Kaui Hemmings of Hawaii, showing her daughter that she's special means volunteering in her preschool class. "It makes her really happy when I go on field trips with her preschool. I'm not sure whether she feels special because I'm there, or if she's proud to show me her world and her rules away from home."

And although she never imagined herself as a mother who wrestles, Michelle Garrett of Ohio is just that. "I will drop everything to wrestle with him," she says about her 6-year-old son.

For Richie Escovedo, father of two, a little dancing does the trick. "During Dancing With the Stars, my daughter dressed up in one of her Disney princess costumes and danced. It melted my heart to hear her say, 'Dance with me, Daddy!' There is nothing better."

And even just using the word "special" can make your child feel special.

Mom of three Carol Schiller in Washington state says that "the word 'special' is very powerful."
"Ever since they were very little, I have asked them: 'Who is my special boy (or girl)?' " says Schiller. "Of course they all know the answer is 'Me!' Now, whenever we are together I can ask 'Who is my special?' to the group and they all chime in together, 'ME!!' — even my 2-year-old."
Here are some simple, inexpensive (or free!), and ultimately very meaningful ways to make your child feel special.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Monday Inspiration

Be brave this Monday....
You might be surprised what lies just beyond what you know.

Love L&V

Wednesday, 31 October 2012