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Helping Your Child Cope with Stress

6 Apr

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Although stress is often associated with being an adult issue, children can also struggle with stress. There are plenty of factors that can lead to your child feeling these emotions—change of school, friends, seasons, classwork, and siblings—just to name a few common stressors. You as a parent, of course, want to ease these emotions, as best you can, and nurture your child’s mental health. Here are some recommendations to consider when mentoring your child on their stress management. (Please note if you have noticed an extreme change in your child’s behavior, please seek help from a mental health professional)

Good vs. Bad

Stress is normal. A little stress can motivate a child to achieve goals, learn new things, and explore new experiences. The first step in helping your child is identifying if your child’s stress is normal or unhealthy for them. Are they concerned for a certain test or testing in general? Are they worried about a certain situation or a long list of possibilities? Possible negative stress symptoms include increased crying, headaches and stomachaches, trouble sleeping, drastically changing emotions, and anxious body moments (like leg shaking and nail chewing). Listen and examine to decide if they just need a few extra words of encouragement or help with their entire stress management.

Stress can be contagious

As adults, we are often stressed about something in our lives. Regardless of the causes, this stress can be passed down to your child. Although they may have no direct ties to what is stressing you, they can reflect those emotions in areas of their own lives. Work towards creating a “stress free” home. Take the time to have relaxing family moments and vacations. Demonstrate how you ease your stresses to your little one. Whether it’s yoga, deep breathing or simply laying out in a hammock in the back yard, showing your child how you release your stress can help them release their own. Also, choose wisely on when and where is the appropriate time to vent about your own stressors because little ones are often listening and can pick up on your emotions. Stress can be contagious to a family, but if you make a conscious effort to identify and minimalize the stress you can create a happy and safe space for everyone.

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Stress relief techniques

Once you have identified what has stressed your child, it is then time to help them manage those feelings. First, pay close attention to your child’s behavior when they are feeling stressed. Do they increasingly rub their eyes? Do they sleep more? After you have noticed a sign that their stress has increased, it is time to initialize a stress relief technique. Consider the following:

  1. Outdoor play is an excellent way to help your stressed out little one. The exercise releases endorphins, which is a great natural relaxer. Explore our blog post on active play for more outdoor play ideas.
  1. Organization can also be key to relieving a child’s stress. We recommend the children’s book Get Organized Without Losing It , which is perfect for showing how being organized can be a great stress reliever.
  1. Consider small toys such as Theraputty and Tangle Therapy, which are designed to redirect stressful behaviors. These are also perfect for on-the-go relief when other techniques may not be an option.
  1. Lastly, simply teaching your child to slow down and just breathe can do a world of good for them. Taking multiple deep breaths, while having their eyes close, can melt away stress and refocus their brain.

Children will respond to stress differently, as long as you help them identify and manage their stressors, they should improve their own stress management, ultimately leading to a happy and relaxed life.

Sources and Resources:

http://americanspcc.org/signs-stress-kids-teens-reduce/?gclid=CKSDn_6ti9MCFcWPswodNpIE8Q

https://psychcentral.com/lib/7-tips-for-helping-your-child-manage-stress/

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/stress-coping.html

Creating Cozy Nooks to Encourage Reading

23 Feb

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We all know that warm and cozy feeling of curling up with a good book. When the environment is just as enjoyable as the words on the page, reading becomes less of a task and more of a relaxing entertainment medium. Encourage your kids to read more by creating a perfect reading nook at home. Use our tips to create their very own secluded place to read, play, dream, and grow.

Seating. Decide what type of seating is best for your child’s temperament. Do they like to curl up and get comfortable? Get them their own big comfy chair or create a fort of pillows. Do they tend to move more and hate sitting still? Consider a more flexible seating option that allows for both movement and focus. There are many different learning styles and adjusting to them is an easy way to ensure development and progress.

Fuzzy Friends. Fill the reading area with some of your child’s favorite friends or new stuffed animals and encourage them to read aloud to them. Tell them that they’re the teacher, reading a story time book to their “class.” This creates a more engaged experience that will help children learn while enjoying the developmental process.

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A Mini Library. It doesn’t need to be a huge selection; even just a few choices will prevent kids from getting bored easily and will encourage more reading time. You can use a small bookshelf or even stack some storage bins on their sides to create a makeshift shelf. Of course, every reading nook needs books! Children often fly through their favorites, check out library sales and garage sales for new books or ask neighbors and friends if they have any books they’d be willing to part with. And be sure to check out all of the books that Kaplan Toys has to offer.

A Spot For You! Reading together is great family time, so be sure to make some space for you to join your child as they engage with their favorite books. A few minutes can create memories that are sure to last a lifetime. You have the power to make reading a lifelong love, so make some time to read with your little ones!

The perfect reading nook doesn’t have to be Pinterest-perfect or extravagant. Simply creating a space that’s perfect for your little bookworm will help them foster a love of reading that’s sure to continue throughout their lives. For more items to create the perfect reading nook, head to www.kaplantoys.com.

Gratitude and More! Character Education for Kids

10 Nov

Since Thanksgiving always falls in November, it’s a great month to focus on not only gratitude, but also overall character education. Social and emotional growth is an important part of learning for young children as it teaches them how to interact with others. Here are five virtues you can instill to teach character education in children from an early age:

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1). Gratitude

Give your child a chance to model gratitude as you call attention to moments in your day when you express thanks for things or people. Whether it’s thanking your toddler for helping clean their room, thanking whoever is cooking this Thanksgiving for their time and commitment to making the holiday special, or even bringing in a Teacher Appreciation gift to show your child’s teacher their efforts are not forgotten. Be sure to engage your child in dialogue about gratitude by reading books like Greta the Grateful Goldfish that deal with how to show gratitude to others.

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2). Kindness

Sunday is World Kindness Day: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org. Talk to your child about what it means to be kind to peers and family. One way to show kindness is by visiting a park and giving out a “care kit” to the homeless. Another way is to visit a nursing home and have a conversation with the elderly. Seeing curious little faces can go a long way to brighten up someone’s day. Whatever you decide, there are always moments throughout your day to exemplify what it means to show kindness to one another. Books like I Can Be Kind are great conversation openers.

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3) Service

Practice dramatic play by setting up a play date for a tea party or imaginary meal. Encourage your child to practice serving others first, asking how they are, and taking their coats or bags before pulling out a chair for them. Serving imaginary food is always a great way to put others first! For inspiring ideas on how to serve in your community, check out The Busy Family’s Guide to Volunteering.

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4) Courage

Encourage your child to try new things. It’s ok if they want your help at first, you can practice courage together and ask them if they think they can accomplish the new task at hand on their own next time. Try climbing a rock wall for kids or tasting food they’ve never had an interest in before. Taking a step into the unknown goes a long way in instilling lifelong character lessons. Have Courage encourages children to develop self-confidence and a sense of purpose as they play.

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5) Responsibility

Teach children that everyone has responsibilities by assigning them little tasks around the house. Completing assigned jobs increases self-confidence and gives your child insight into the home being seen as a community of people who work together for the common good. Be sure to commend your child on a job well done when the task is complete. Another way to teach responsibility is by giving your child a pet to take care of – without the messes, of course. This cuddly dog hand puppet is the perfect companion: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/32055/dog-hand-puppet?c=24%7CKTPP10


How do you teach character education in your children? Comment below or tweet your answers to @KaplanToys.

4 Stress Busters for Little Learners

26 Apr

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Does your child struggle with stress? There are many life stressors, both in the home and in the classroom. As a parent, there are resources and practices you can put into place that will teach young children how to redirect negative emotions into positive self-talk and behavior. Here are some of our favorite tools for redirecting stress into hands-on learning!

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1. Tangle Therapy

 Many times, learning challenges or peers can frustrate children. Tangle Therapy is the perfect tool for relieving stress as children twist textured surfaces into different shapes. It’s a useful aid for redirecting behavior as children exchange negative emotions for complete fascination:

 

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2. Cooperative Board Games

 Competition is another stressor to many young children. Instead of putting precedence on winning, cooperative board games promote cooperative play as children work together to beat the game. Children can work on social–emotional skills while building self-esteem at the same time! Choose from the cooperative board games below:

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3. Sing the Stress Away!

Singing is a creative stress reliever for children. Positive lyrics can reinforce positive self-talk and self-image while helping children develop concentration and memory to be ready to respond to learning opportunities. Learn more about focusing attention on the present moment with the Here, Now Know-How CD: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/20524/here-now-know-ho-cd

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4. Present a Challenge

Finally, stress can be alleviated in children when they are presented with a different challenge so that focus is shifted away from their current stressor. The Swingy Thing Spinning Game is a hypnotic challenge that gets children’s minds working as they play either alone or together to beat the Swing Thing Spinning Game’s challenges!


What do you do with your children to provide stress relief? Share with us by commenting below!

Teaching Responsibility to Toddlers!

23 Feb

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Did you know February is Responsible Pet Owners Month? Celebrate by talking to your children about what responsibility means and what it can look like when taking care of household pets. Teaching responsibility is a key part of social-emotional learning in children. Here are a few ways you and your family can participate in keeping pets healthy:

  1. Training: Did you know one of the biggest reasons for pets ending up in shelters is behavior problems? By socializing your pet, it leads to better behavior and reduces their chances of getting lost and ending up in a shelter. It’s also a great example to teach children the benefits of disciplined learning.
  2. Grooming: Getting your pet out and ensuring they are well-groomed shows responsibility to children. Brushing a pet can also be a bonding experience for your child and their favorite critter!
  3. Cleaning Up: Showing your children how to not only clean their pets, but also pick up after them as well as clean the spaces they dwell in will go a long way in teaching responsibility. It can also lead to conversations on how children can keep their own spaces clean by picking up after themselves!
  4. Exercise: Get those pets moving! Going to the park for a walk or throwing ball is a great way to keep pets (and children) healthy. Talk to your kids about proper exercise and diet choices for their pet as well as the benefits of higher immune systems.
  5. ID Tag: Be sure your pet has some type of identification. This will come in handy when your furry family member ends up lost or in a neighbor’s yard so they can be returned safe and sound!
  6. Talk About It: Finally, be sure you sit down with your child and talk about ways to take care of family pets. Ask children what their current responsibilities are and why it’s important to follow through.

Source:

Have you had the responsibility talk with your little one? Have them draw a picture of their pet and submit it here to enter our Pet Portraits Contest for a chance to win a Set of 6 Jumbo Pets: https://petportraits.pgtb.me/gQ54KK

Toys to Teach Diversity at Home

11 Jan

Diversity: “having different forms, types, ideas” or “having people who are difference races or who have different cultures in a group.”

Sending your child from home to school opens them up to a variety of new ideas, different cultures, and peers of different races. One way to encourage, support, and prepare your child for a transition that instills openness and acceptance of differences in classroom is by using learning resources that teach diversity at home. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we have a compiled a list of our favorite toys and books to help you promote diversity in your children from an early age:

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 1. Kuddle Dolls 

Especially for visual learners, one of the best ways to teach diversity is through being inclusive in toy selection. These huggable fabric dolls offer a variety of different races to help celebrate diversity!

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 2. Emotiblocks 

Teach children to become familiar with their emotions while instilling tolerance, empathy, and racial diversity. You will have fun asking your children to describe what they see as you discuss different features of the board characters.

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3. Learning to Get Along Book Set (Set of 6)

Many times teaching diversity not only entails recognizing it in the community, but learning social emotional skills to know how to respond to those differences. The Learning to Get Along Book Set presents real-life situations and concrete examples for you to read-aloud and discuss ideas with your children on how to properly respond to each.

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4. International Food Collection 

One fun way to embrace diversity is by integrating it into kitchen play! Teach dramatic play and diversity at the same time with the International Food Collection as you introduce foods from around the world! It’s a great conversation starter about different cultures.

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5. Friends Like Me Differing Abilities Puzzle Set (Set of 4)

 Embracing children with special needs and varying abilities is an important part of acceptance in your child’s peer group. These puzzles are an engaging visual aid for showing real images of children with differing abilities. Use them as the perfect opportunity to discuss diversity with your kids!


We’re curious! How do you talk to your children about discovering diversity in the classroom and community? Let us know by commenting below with learning tools and questions your children ask about diversity.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Bullying

6 Oct

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Having conversations in the home with children about bullying can not only prevents potential conflicts in the classroom, but can also prepare your child for being confronted by a bully. Here are five strategies for talking to young children about bullying:

 1. Get to Know Their Social Life

Checking in daily with your child is the best way to know when social dynamics begin to change in a way that could indicate bullying. Encourage your child to talk about their friends, sports teams, and how their classes are going. Your questions are a great way to show that you care while also allowing you to keep track of any environmental changes that may be problematic.

2. Build a Trusting Relationship

Ensure your child knows the lines of communication are always open when it comes to talking to you about what is going on in their life. Even if your child tells you something that is shocking, suspend disbelief to instead let them know you trust what they are telling you.

3. Establish Rules for Online Conduct

Surprisingly, a high percentage of bullying occurs online. With the prevalence of technology at home and in the classroom, it is imperative to establish online conduct rules for children from an early age. This will develop an understanding of responsibility for communications both verbal and virtual. You can encourage your child to keep protected by following these two guidelines:

  1. Never say or do anything online that you wouldn’t say or do in person.
  2. Never share any information that you wouldn’t tell a stranger.

4. Involve Child in Problem Solving Discussion

Work together to come up with a solution so that your child feels empowered. Trying to directly contact the parent of the aggressor can sometimes lead to additional bullying and rarely solves the situation. Instead, take active steps to talk to your child about ways they can bring conflict to an end. Find more resources on standing up to bullies here: http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/talking-about-it/

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5. Focus on Social-Emotional Learning

Showing children that everyone is different and speaking openly about the emotions certain actions can evoke is a key part of developing your child’s social emotional skills. Concepts like responsibility, respect, and kindness need to be taught before children can fully understand what a bully is and how to ensure they don’t become one unintentionally.

From books to games, the resources below can help you build social emotional learning in your children as they prepare for interacting with their peers:

Sources: