Eating at Restaurants With Kids

A restaurant is first an foremost, a public place. It has rules of behaviour and etiquette. Learning how to act in different situations and places is important for children. Which is why you should read the following article that shares with us 8 ways to enjoy eating at restaurants with your kids: http://www.parents.com/kids/development/social/eating-at-restaurants-with-kids/

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8 Ways to Enjoy Eating at Restaurants With Kids

By Kirsten Matthew

Are you ready to let your child dine in a public setting? Try these techniques for a peaceful restaurant experience.

Some restaurants across the country have started banning children or implementing “No Screaming” and “Be Respectful” edicts for pint-size diners. Sure, kids can be unruly at mealtimes and they can make eating out less than relaxing for everyone in the dining room. But how do you teach kids to behave in a restaurant if they’re not welcome? Learning how to act in different situations is important for children — it improves their confidence and helps them develop social skills– and proper restaurant behavior at a young age gets them off to a good start. Whether you have a toddler or an older child, see if she’s ready to begin eating out in a restaurant. Prepare her by trying these helpful techniques for a stress-free outing.

1. Make Sure Kids Are Welcome
Not all restaurants embrace children; some are explicit about that, others are not. Play it safe and call ahead. This is a good opportunity to check that there is a children’s menu or something on the regular menu that your kids will eat. Some places will tailor dishes if they don’t have a children’s menu or leave out ingredients that are too complicated. Others go out of their way to accommodate small customers, with stroller check-in and portable DVD players to keep them entertained.

“Mealtimes are so important for families, especially in cities where everyone is short on time,” says Marc Murphy, who, as chef and owner of the Landmarc restaurants in New York City, has made his eateries both adult- and child-friendly. “I have kids, and I wanted to create restaurants that welcome families and that have enough stuff for kids to eat, but that don’t make adults feel like they’re eating at Chuck E. Cheese’s.” Just don’t wait until you’re sitting at a table to find that out.

2. Ease Slowly Into Fine Dining
If this is your first foray into dining out with the little ones, choose somewhere nice, not too fancy, and family-friendly. In the beginning, order just one course (skip the appetizers and desserts). “Most parents can gauge what their children can handle,” says Jessica Ritz, creator of Taster Tots LA (tastertotsla.com), a blog that lists child-friendly restaurants with adult-friendly food in Los Angeles. “By a certain age, some kids enjoy dining role-play too, like placing a cloth napkin in their laps.” Murphy adds, “Don’t underestimate your kids — they really enjoy being treated like adults!”

3. Eat Early
An overtired or over-hungry child is no fun for anyone, so hit your favorite spot in the midafternoon, after your little one has had a nap, or while the Early Bird Special is still available. The restaurant will be quieter, you’ll be less likely to disturb other diners, the waitstaff will be less frazzled, and (best of all) your child won’t be exhausted. “There’s no such thing as being too early to eat dinner in a restaurant with kids, especially if they are very young,” Ritz advises. A 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. dinner also means staying on track with evening routines and allotting extra time in case the evening’s plans get derailed.

4. Pack Your Own Distractions
Just in case boredom or restlessness sets in, pack a few toys, books, tools for coloring, or anything that will keep your kids quiet and won’t make noise that will distract other diners. Murphy cautions against electronics, though. “Coloring is fine, but please leave the iPads, iPods, DS games, and any other electronic device at home, Parents want peace and quiet when they eat, but the way to get that to happen is not to reinforce that children will get to watch a movie if they scream loud enough,” he says. Even though Ritz agrees that a low-tech outing will pay off in the end, she admits to pulling out the iPhone in moments of desperation.

5. Explain Expectations
Before you leave home, tell your kids what kind of behavior you want to see at the restaurant as a sign of respect to other diners. Even if your child is too young to understand, try to convey what you can or demonstrate what you expect. Expectations may vary from parent to parent, but children of all ages should be told to sit up at the table, keep the noise down, use good manners, and eat their meal with utensils.

Explain how long the outing will be (45 minutes is a reasonable goal if you’re just starting out) and explain that no running, shouting, or throwing food will be tolerated. “I can’t stand it when parents let their kids run around a restaurant because ‘they’re just kids,'” Murphy says. “That’s not a fun dining experience for anyone. If you don’t tell your kids how they should behave, they’ll never learn and you’ll spend more time chasing and reprimanding them than eating dinner.”

6. Think About Seating
Request a corner table rather than one in the middle of the room or ask your server where the least conspicuous spot in the dining room is. Your kids will be out of the way of other diners and more contained in a private area. This will also help keep any kids’ noises or disturbances from being too noticeable and make the overall experience more enjoyable.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Discipline
If your children act up, act on it, but try not to make a scene. “The sound of loud kids is only surpassed by the voices of stressed-out parents trying to restore order,” Ritz points out. Remove upset tots from the table as soon as their behavior gets disruptive and take them into the bathroom or outside to calm down. But be prepared to leave if you can’t restore order. Your fellow diners and the staff will appreciate your consideration if you ask very nicely for your meal to be wrapped up to go, and stop the mayhem and take the meltdowns home instead.

8. Always Say “Thanks”
“What better setting for adults to model and teach good manners than in restaurants?” Ritz asks. Take the opportunity to explain how important it is to say “please” and “thank you” to waiters when making a request and to say “thank you” again to the restaurant host at the end of the meal. If the kids are old enough, teach them about tipping for good service, and get them to help count out the tip. “If you can spare a minute before you leave, make an effort to tidy up your area a bit,” Ritz says. “Especially if it’s a place you want to eat at again!”

Kirsten Matthew is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Post, InStyle.com, and NYmag.com. You can read her blog at kirstenmatthew.com/blog.
Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

10 Activities to help your baby’s brain development

Parents typically respond intuitively to cues from their child, picking them up when they cry, talking to them when they are excited. What many parents don’t know, is that by simply responding to their baby’s cues, they are helping their newborn child’s brain develop.

Check the following article to discover 10 activities to help your baby’s brain development: https://www.parentscanada.com/baby/10-activities-to-help-your-baby-s-brain-development

For your convenience, we put the information about these 10 activities below on this page. Have a pleasant reading.

To illustrate what brain growth looks like, Dr. Clinton holds her hands six inches apart and moves her fingers about like tentacles to show what a baby’s neuropathways look like at birth. Slowly she brings her fingers closer together until they are touching. Then she overlaps her fingers and neatly clasps her hands together. This represents how stimulation affects a fully formed brain. These are the top 10 activities that will help build your baby’s brain.

EYE CONTACT

Baby researchers have a term for the simple interplay between a parent and child. They call it “the serve and return” because, says Dr. Clinton, it’s like a game of tennis in which you play back and forth. “When they look at you, you respond by smiling or talking. That’s just what we know how to do as parents. You don’t need fancy tablets or flash cards. You just need to connect with your child.”

TOUCHING

“Touch is a primal need,” says Dr. Clinton. That’s why babies love to be held. The late Clyde Hertzman, who was director of the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) and Canada Research Chair in Population Health and Human Development at UBC, said touching also helps babies begin to define their boundaries. “There is evidence to show that children who were neglected and not touched have real trouble defining where their personal boundaries begin.” Clyde said even the simple motion of picking a child up and putting them down is an important touch for babies. “They begin to be able to intuitively define where the self ends and where the non-self begins, where their body ends and where the next persons begins.”

PLAYTIME

At some point all children learn the game of throwing food over the side of their highchair and watching mom or dad pick it up. Through this simple game babies are learning about action and reaction and how to interact with their environment. “They love the anticipation of peekaboo,” says Dr. Clinton. “It’s all about cause and effect and object permanence. You’re teaching them that even when you don’t see me, I’m still here. That’s hugely important.”

Babies also like things to be predictable, says Adele Diamond, Canada Research Chair Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia and B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. “They LOVE seeing their actions produce an effect and being able to re-produce that again and again, like kicking or pulling the string of a mobile to see it move or pressing on a button to make a buzzer sound.” Adele suggests giving babies challenges that make them work hard but that are still doable. For example, between eight and 12 months, you can place a desired object where the baby can see it, but out of reach, under a cloth, or behind a transparent pane. The baby needs to figure out that getting the object requires pulling on the cloth or reaching around the barrier.

READING

Reading to your baby is one of the most powerful things you can do because it is multi-sensorial, says Dr. Clinton. “When you hold and rock your child while you are reading, it involves sight, hearing, touch and smell.” Studies show newborns even recognize books their mothers read aloud while they were pregnant.

BATHTIME

The sensory experience of soothing water can help boost brain development. For an added bonding bonus, climb into the tub with baby to maximize precious skin-to-skin contact.

SMELLS

Introducing different scents can be a fun way to stimulate your baby’s brain development. Try applying lavender lotion during a nightly massage or take a trip to the garden to smell the flowers.

RESPONDING

Parents often receive mixed messages about when and how often to respond to their crying baby. Crying is a response to stress for a baby and is the only way they have to communicate. When we pick them up, says Dr. Clinton, we are teaching them that the world is there for them, so don’t secondguess your instinct to pick them up. Babies who get picked up and soothed will likely cry less because they’re developing their own self-soothing techniques, said Clyde. “Children are influencing their environment right off the bat and you responding to the cues they’re giving is a huge thing. It’s telling them that you hear what they are saying.”

GENDER VARIETY

Studies show that, regardless of culture, men play differently with children than women, and babies benefit from both kinds of play. “While women tend to cuddle with baby, men tend to pick baby up, hold them out front and walk their fingers along them from the bottom to the top,” says Dr. Clinton. “It’s terrific because mom is soothing and dad activates excitement so the little one hears dad’s voice and gets excited.” This applies to grandpas, uncles and male friends, too.

TALKING

By talking to your baby, you are helping them develop their vocabulary even when they’re infants. “All that babbling and cooing that’s going on early, that’s the child’s prelanguage skills developing,” said Clyde. “Babies express their needs and start to communicate in a variety of ways. Parents need to recognize that’s communication.” Studies have shown that the number of words a child learns by the age of three grows in direct correlation to how many words are spoken in the home.

RELAXING

Cuddling with your baby is as important as being active with them. “Don’t make it all about language and brain,” said Clyde. As with so much parenting advice, it’s all about balance. “If we’re frantically saying to new parents that they have to make every single moment count, their presence is being stolen by their anxiety. When you’re connecting with your child, think about what you’re doing with your child as a person, not about whether you’re building your child’s brain.”

Denise Davy has written extensively about children’s mental health, and recently won a journalism award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to study the link between poverty and children’s mental health.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, May/June 2013.

The Perfectionist Children

Kids can be perfectionists too! While this certainly isn’t a bad thing, sometimes it can lead to a child’s frustration. At home, at school, looking up to parents, teachers and other classmates – it can create highly raised standards for oneself.

This source will provide you with advises on how to help kids achieve the sense of balance between striving hard and being too hard on him/her-self: http://www.parents.com/kids/development/social/perfectionist-child/

You will also find the content of this article below on this page.

Pint-Size Perfectionist

By Tamekia Reece from Parents Magazine

Children this age think that they should be able to do everything exactly right all the time. Help your child understand that making mistakes is part of life.

A few months into kindergarten last year, I thought that my son Darren’s handwriting looked awesome — so much better than the barely recognizable letters on his preschool papers. He had a different opinion: It was “terrible” because it didn’t exactly match the examples his teacher wrote. I wouldn’t have been as concerned about his criticism if it were an isolated incident. But just weeks before the penmanship problem, he’d had a melt-down when he couldn’t remember all the stances from his first karate class. And when he recently had to draw a volcano for a homework assignment, he burst into tears and crumpled the paper because his rendition didn’t “look like the ones on TV.”

I chatted with Darren’s teacher and a couple of child-development experts because I was concerned that his behavior might be a sign of low self-esteem. What I was relieved to find out: It’s perfectly normal for some children his age to become obsessed with doing everything perfectly and start comparing themselves with their classmates, their teachers, and even you. “In kindergarten and first grade, many kids think there is one right way to do things, and everything else is wrong,” says Peter Stavinoha, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. “They have a hard time understanding why they don’t have the same skills as their classmates or even adults and why they can’t master something immediately.” So you have some explaining to do. Use these expert tips to help your mini perfectionist strike that delicate balance between striving hard and being too hard on himself.

Compliment the Process

Think about how you praise your child. Maybe you say things like, “Wow, I’m so proud that your team won the soccer game!” or “You tied your shoes perfectly.” When you constantly focus on the end result rather than the journey, your kid will think that success is what really matters to you, explains Michele Borba, Ed.D., Parents advisor and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. Instead, help her realize that enjoying an activity and learning from it are much more important than winning or losing. Next time, emphasize your child’s effort (“You’re working so hard on drawing your picture for Grandma’s birthday”) or how much fun she’s having (“It looks like you had a great time playing Chutes and Ladders with your friend”). It won’t take long for your child to realize that playing for enjoyment can be just as much fun as winning.

Let Your Kid Make Mistakes

Darren writes his letters and numbers backwards once in a while. I used to point out the error immediately, but now I usually don’t say a word — even if the mistake is on a homework sheet that he has to hand in for school. “When you’re always correcting your kid’s mistakes, he’ll think that you want him to be perfect,” says Wendy S. Grolnick, Ph.D., coauthor of Pressured Parents, Stressed-Out Kids. “On the flip side, if you allow your child to turn in schoolwork that is truly his own, he can get comfortable with constructive feedback from the teacher. That will help give him the confidence that he can succeed without your help.”

More Tips

Dare Not to Compare

It’s natural to want to know how your child is doing in relation to her classmates or even siblings — after all, you’ve probably been making comparisons since she was born. But try not to talk about it in front of her. When you say things like “Your painting was the best at the open house,” or “Jamie learned how to ride her bike without training wheels when she was your age,” you’re simply fueling your kid’s desire to do things perfectly. Sure, you need to know if your kid is on track developmentally, but save your comments for your child’s teacher or pediatrician.

Keep It Real

If your child thinks she should be able to get the hang of a sport or grasp a new math concept the first time out, she’s setting herself up for disappointment, says Dr. Borba. Use your family’s experiences to help her understand that even people she admires weren’t always as good at something as they are now. For instance, encourage your kid to ask her T-ball coach how long he’s been playing the game. Or talk to the dentist about how many years of school it took to get his degree. Also pick up a few kid-oriented biographies at the library. Two good picks to read along with your child: You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! and Who Was Walt Disney?

Play Creatively

Finger-painting, Legos, Play-Doh, sand art, and other open-ended projects are ideal for helping young perfectionists chill out. Because there’s no right or wrong result, these activities foster something that’s important for all children to learn: There are usually many different ways to do things.

Point Out Your Own Imperfections

If you tell a kindergartner that he can’t be perfect, he’ll take it personally. He doesn’t realize that you mean no one can be perfect. To help him understand, note your own goof-ups, like when you accidentally spill the juice or forget to put something on your grocery-shopping list. “It’s helpful for kids to see that everyone makes errors,” says Dr. Stavinoha. Then model how to deal with your gaffes because children will watch your reaction. “Rather than getting upset about something that went wrong, convey to your child that mistakes are just part of learning,” says Dr. Grolnick. “Point out what you could have done differently so it won’t happen again.” It will take a while, but eventually your child will copy your reaction and not get so flustered or frustrated when something doesn’t go the way he’d planned.

Originally published in the November 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

Children and Watching TV

Watching TV is something our children do a lot, maybe even, to often. Yet if you want your child to have better imagination, a more agile mind, and treasured memories of quality time spent with family, then limiting their time in front of the TV might be a good way to start. Your child will become more focused and more physically active. In other words, raising kids without television will improve their quality of life.

If you want to raise “No TV Children” and would like some advises on how to do it, here is an article we recommend: http://www.wikihow.com/Raise-No-TV-Children.

As always, for your convenience we’ve added the content of the article below.

How to Raise No TV Children

Nowadays it can be very hard to raise a so-called “No TV Kid”. Yet if you want your child to have a better imagination, more free time, and treasured memories of quality time spent with family, getting rid of the TV could be a great option. Moreover, studies link frequent television viewing with obesity, lower academic performance, and other issues, so raising children without television can improve their quality of life. By choosing the right method of ending TV viewing, and by planning alternative activities, you can get your children on board with the idea and enrich their youth.

Part 1. Starting the Lifestyle

1.Explain your concerns.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two do not watch TV at all, and that all other children have no more than one or two hours of screen time per day.Explain to your children that you are trying to do what is best for them, and to encourage healthy habits.

2.Avoid ever introducing a television into your home, if possible.

It can be much easier to raise children with a “no TV” policy if they have never experienced having a television at home. While there will still be temptations to watch TV in other locations, you will start strong by keeping it out of your home.

3.Set a good example.

If you want to raise a no-TV child, then you will have to model good behavior. Whether you completely eliminate television from your child’s life or simply restrict the amount they watch, set your own viewing policy to match the same standards that you set for your child. Showing a good example for your children will make it more likely that they adopt the no-TV lifestyle.

4.Start by removing the television from your child’s room, if there is one.

Studies show that having televisions in childrens’ room can have a detrimental impact on their health and academic success. If you are trying to ease your children off of television, you can begin by taking them out of their rooms; the children could still watch some TV in another room, but this step will already reduce screen time significantly.

5.Go cold turkey.

For some families, starting a no-TV lifestyle “cold turkey” (immediately cutting out all TV without a period of gradual reduction) is too difficult. For others, however, the quickest method will be the easiest. If you want to try going cold turkey, talk to your family ahead of time about the change. Set a date to begin the no-TV life, and stick to it.

  • Whether you go cold turkey or make a gradual change, the goal should be to eliminate TV and offer your child more enriching alternatives.

 

Part 2. Creating Alternatives

1.Reduce the amount of time a child spends watching television.

Studies show that there can be some benefits to watching some amount of television in certain cases. For instance, children that watched certain enriching programs have slightly larger vocabularies, according to some research. Thus, you might decide not to cut out all television right away, but to gradually reduce the amount of time the child is allowed to watch TV.

  • For instance, try reducing the amount of TV your child is permitted to watch by one hour per week, until it is zero or almost zero.
  • You can also suggest that the whole family watches a movie on television together on the weekend, but ban TV at night during the week.
  • Similarly, you might have a rule that no television is permitted until the child completes all homework or chores.
  • If you do watch some TV together, talk about it afterwards. This helps increase comprehension, raise vocabulary, and generally promote bonding.

2.Establish “screen-free” zones and times.

If you have not immediately removed all televisions from your household, you can start by deeming certain areas or times to be “screen-free.” For instance, you can establish a rule against watching television at mealtimes, and remove televisions from areas where other activities take place, such as kitchens, dining rooms, or game rooms.

3.Make sure the child has access to non-electronic media and entertainment.

Books, newspapers, games, art supplies, and other items can be immersive, entertaining, and beneficial to a child. Make sure that your child has plenty of access to these more enriching alternatives to television.

4.Plan family and group activities.

There are many, many wonderful opportunities to spend time time together that don’t involve television. You can help your child thrive without TV if you are proactive and plan alternative, group activities ahead of time—especially if you are switching from a lifestyle involving lots of TV viewing to a no-TV one. Good choices include:

  • Game nights (the whole family can get together to play a favorite board game)
  • Reading out loud
  • Crafting
  • Playing music
  • Visits to the library, zoo, a museum, a park, or other favorite place
  • Playing outside with other kids in the neighborhood
  • Extracurricular activities (sports, dance, outdoors, crafts, etc.; these are great ways for your child to connect with other children, build confidence and skill, and avoid screen time)

5.Plan individual activities.

There are all kinds of benefits to spending no-TV time together as a family. Children also develop well when they are given time to spend by themselves. Children can benefit from having time to immerse themselves in free reading, drawing or coloring, and other activities.

  • Sometimes, you can take a combined approach. For instance, an entire family can read silently together, each person immersed in a book. That way, while everyone is together, they also get to act individually. This sets a good example for your child, and makes great use of no-TV time.

6.Exercise.

There is a link between obesity and watching large amounts of television, so one of the most beneficial ways to use your and your child’s time instead of watching television is to exercise. Good activities include:

  • Games such as tag and hide-and-seek
  • Dancing
  • A family walk or hike
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Sports (baseball, basketball, etc.)

7.Let your child direct activities.

If your children feels like they have a say in planning the no-TV life, it can be empowering and lead to success. Talk to your children about activities that they might like to try instead of watching TV, and be supportive of the ideas. Set aside time during the week to do the activities your child wants the family to try.

Have fun trying out your child’s ideas, no matter what they are: building a pillow fort, having a tea party, playing with blocks and action figures, etc.

Playing to learn

Learning might be boring, but not when you are playing and learning at the same time! This is a very common trick among parents because it works wonders. If you want to help your children have fun and learn while at it, we found an interesting article about this topic.

Just click on the link and read more: http://www.parentscanada.com/baby/playing-to-learn

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Playing to learn

By ParentsCanada staff on September 09, 2013

Playing is what kids do best, and it’s a good thing, too, considering play is instrumental in your child’s development. So this year, as you start your holiday shopping, keep that in mind. Toys should be fun, but also contribute to intellectual, sensory and behavioural growth.

0 to 6 months

Does a baby really need toys?
Yes! Look for items that entertain the eyes, ears and hands.

  • Go with simplicity. Babies don’t need complicated toys that will be frustrating. Look for simple items.
  • Get colourful. Newborns enjoy colours, especially ones that have high contrast.
  • Add music. Music is soothing, especially for the youngest of kids. Search out items with fun playtime music, as well as calming bedtime tunes.
  • Offer hand-helds. Grasping items is an early motor skill that needs nurturing. Have plenty of teething rings, cloth books and rattles to play with.

6 to 12 months

Watch out! Your baby is going to be on the move. Look for toys that encourage activity.

  • Appeal to touch. Little ones love different textures and shapes. Invest in crinkle books, rattles and toys with buttons to push.
  • Get active. Toys that encourage rolling, crawling and (yikes!) walking are a great idea.
  • Build it up. To develop fine motor skills, find items that are stackable, like blocks, nesting cups and stacking rings.
  • Wheel around. For some reason, kids love wheels. Provide cars, trucks and pull-toys. It gets kids active and starts to spark imagination. Note: avoid mini-cars. They are too small for this age.

 

12 to 18 months

It’s all about the rewards. At this age, kids love cause and effect items. Look for toys that provide a goal.

  • Sort it out. Shape sorting toys are always a big hit. Look for puzzle-style shape sorters, or toys that ask children to identify shapes and push correct buttons.
  • Be safe. With more independent play comes the need to be extra careful with toys. Make sure there are no small pieces or sharp edges. Keep an eye on your toy box for broken toys.
  • Get wet. Water is really entertaining for little ones. Simply washing their hands can be a source of excitement. Build on this by offering fun bath toys that squirt, pour, float and sink.

18 to 24 months

Let’s pretend. Your child’s imagination kicks into high gear at this age. Look for toys that encourage the creative mind.

  • Dress up. Hats, shoes and funny dress-up clothing are simple, but entertaining “toys”. As parents, you’ll have to wear many silly clothes during this time.
  • Act it out. Dolls, stuffed animals and other action figures are the perfect way to play makebelieve. Play kitchens, toolboxes and houses can also build a creative imagination.
  • Begin with ABCs. Yes, your child might be a little young to start reading, but toys that show the alphabet can give them a head start when it comes to letter recognition. It can’t hurt!
  • Be puzzling. Help out those problem-solving skills with large, simple puzzles. Be patient and let your toddler work at it. Offer help if frustration sets in.