Helpful Tips For Raising Responsible Kids

Sometimes it can feel like we’re just grasping at straws when it comes to raising our children right.  Teaching your kids responsibility can seem extremely difficult, but these simple tips will successfully help you raise responsible young adults with minimal stress and frustration on your part.

Tips For Raising Responsible Children

Before we start, I just want to preface by saying that if you’re a stay-at-home parent, you are absolutely NOT allowed to feel guilty for having your kids do chores that you are capable of doing yourself.  The point of being a parent is not to cater to your child’s every need, but rather to teach them how to fend for themselves so that the transition from responsible child to responsible adult will be painless.  That being said – here are some helpful tips for teaching your child to be responsible.

1.)  Start them early!  Try to start teaching your child responsibility at a young age.  Toddler age is best.  If you wait too long to start teaching your child – it’ll only confuse them and make it a more painful process.  So don’t wait!

2.)  Teach with your actions.  Don’t just TALK to your child about responsibility – show them  through your actions!  Use the word “we” a lot, like saying this when you’re done with dinner: “Okay..now we’re all going to put our dishes in the sink.”  Ask loved ones and babysitters to do the same so that there’s no confusion.

3.)  Let kids help you.  Kids actually like to help!  They like to feel useful and important. Make them feel like they’re needed and that they have an important role to play by asking them to help!  You’ll be surprised at how willing they are.

4.)  Edify and thank your children.  Positive reinforcement is key.  Say things like: “I’m so proud of you for doing _____!”  or “Thank you for _____!”  They’ll develop a sense of ownership for these tasks and it’ll build their confidence.  It’ll also help them take initiative when at school or in other situations.

5.) Give them praise, time, and self-confidence rather than rewards.  There is a time and place for rewards, but this is not it.  Give them your time and boost their self-confidence with praise and positive edification instead.

6.)  Teach about consequences by enforcing rules.  Consistency is key for this point.   If your child refuses to pick up their toys, calmly let them know that as a consequence, they won’t be able to play with these toys the next day if he leaves them out.  This makes it their choice and reinforces the value of responsibility.

7.)  Provide a structured routine with a positive end.  Kids thrive on structure.  Instead of offering rewards, set a positive end to their routine.  For example, your child must eat breakfast, put their dishes in the sink, and brush their teeth before playing their favorite game.  The game is not the reward, but rather the end of the routine.

8.)  Recognize effort rather than perfection.  Your child may not make their bed perfectly, but it is the effort involved that counts.  Don’t expect perfection!  Eventually they’ll learn the value of a job well done, but right now what counts is that they’re making a good effort.

Instilling responsibility in your child may seem hard, but what about parenting is easy?  Teach your child responsibility now, and it just may end up being one of the greatest gifts you could give them.  Follow these tips to help raise your child into a responsible adult.

Check out our Parenting Resources section at JM Cremps for books designed to make your parenting adventure a little easier and more enjoyable!

Advertisements

Saying “Thank You” Instead of “Sorry”, and Other Tidbits for 2017

Hey folks – it’s already 2017.  Crazy, right!?  As New Years is a time of reflection, a lot of us have probably sat down with pen and paper and after some careful thought, written down a few resolutions for the new year.  After some reflection of my own, there were a few important things that stood out in my mind.  Both good and bad experiences serve to help us grow, and these are a few of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the past year that may help you as well.

Tidbits to Make 2017 The Best Year Yet

1.) Family is top priority.  Life gets crazy.  Life gets hectic.  But sometimes you have to let the laundry pile up and dishes accumulate while you play “Pirates” or some other imaginative game with your 2 year old.  These are memories they’ll cherish forever, while that basket of clothes..well..it’ll just have to be patient.  Maybe set aside a family game night once a week to get the whole family together and involved in some fun activities!  If you’re looking for the best games out there – try JMCremps’ extensive collection of board games, card games, & more.

2.) Little goals are key.  Sometimes the mountain of things we have to get done can get overwhelming.  Break everything down into little goals (it might help to write it down) so you can create a series of little finish-lines.  According to a study by Thai Nguyen, completing these little goals actually releases dopamine, which motivates you to take action towards your goals, desires, and needs!  For me, it’s even more satisfying when I can cross it off of a list.  Don’t forget to create a new goal before you’re done with your current one.  This ensures a consistent pattern for experiencing dopamine.

3.) Soak it in.  Vow to live more in the moment this year.  It’s a bit startling to think that each moment is fleeting and unique, and will never come again.  Each moment is precious, so be THERE for all of it.  Be thankful for all of it.  Put your phone down until you’re by yourself.  Show your loved ones that the time you spend with them is very important to you.

4.) Say “thank you” instead of “sorry”.  Instead of apologizing every time you mess up, try saying “thank you” instead.  If you’re late to a meeting with a friend, saying “thank you so much for waiting for me!” instead of “so sorry I’m late” sends out a much more positive message.  Of course there are times when an apology is necessary, but I’ve found that giving gratitude instead an apology to another person leaves both sides feeling better.

5.) Get outside.  This one should be obvious.  Put aside more time this year to get out into the great outdoors and get some fresh air.  I don’t need to quote scientific studies for this one..it’s obvious how much better we feel when we take the time to go do some kind of outdoor activity.  Spending time out in nature can boost your creativity and cognitive function.  Not to mention the vitamin D we get (however little it may be in winter.)

I hope you’re able to use these tidbits to help improve your life even a tiny bit.  Let’s make 2017 the best year yet!

Silent Night: The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce, 1914

On a beautiful, crisp moonlit night in 1914, voices rose up in the frosty air, carrying out over the bleak expanse of no-man’s land to reach the trenches of the opposing side.  This is the heartwarming story of the Christmas Truce that happened during WWI.

The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce of 1914
An artist’s impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

Perhaps it was a bit of curious Christmas magic that caused the truce to simultaneously break out over parts of the western front.  Maybe it was the message in the songs sang by both sides on Christmas Eve, speaking of peace on earth, good will towards men.  Regardless of how it started and why, two-thirds of German, French, Belgium, & British troops – about 100,000 men – participated in this Christmas miracle.

Most accounts say that it happened with the singing on Christmas Eve.  As Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled, it was “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere.”  Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it with a bit more detail:

 

quote

The following morning across the trenches, German soldiers emerged, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English.  Allied soldiers warily left their own trenches to greet them.  In other places, Germans held up signs that read “You no shoot, we no shoot.”  Throughout that Christmas day, troops from both sides exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons, and hats.  The truce also allowed both sides to bury their own dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on no man’s land.  One account mentions a British soldier receiving a hair cut from his pre-war German barber.  Other accounts speak of a pig-roast, impromptu soccer games, and other festivities.

The truce didn’t happen across the entire western front, however. In some places the fighting continued.  While other moments of peace happened over the course of WWI, none came on such a scale as the Christmas truce of 1914.  In one of the most violent times in history, for such a truce to happen is a truly remarkable occurrence.  The truce is symbolic of the human desire for peace and humanity.

We hope this story warmed your heart this chilly Christmas like it did ours.  If you enjoyed this story, be sure to check out JMCremps collection of other wartime stories.

 

Say Hello To The Best Gingerbread Cookie Out There

Picture this: the presents are all wrapped and under the tree, the kids are asleep dreaming of peppermint sticks and puppies, the stars twinkle overhead  in the frosty air, and all is peacefully silent and still at last.  As you plop backwards onto the couch, what do you reach for on the end table at your side?  Why, only the best, most delicious, delectable, iconic Christmas treat there is out there.  Grandma’s Ginger Cookies of course!  Whether setting them out for Santa on Christmas Eve or adding them as a staple food to your diet throughout the entire holiday season, folks will be raving about these cookies until next Christmas rolls around.

 

Best Gingerbread Cookies

Grandma’s Ginger Cookies

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces) (tip: Crystallized ginger comes in pkgs in the produce aisle or in the spice aisle)
  • granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.

Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1 ¾-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the sheet pans. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a minute or two, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy, but don’t eat too much! You’ll want to save room for dinner after all.

Life-Changing Financial Principles to Teach Your Children

One of the most valuable (pun intended) things you can teach your child is how to responsibly manage money.  Of course parents teach by example from the day their kids are born, but there will also come a time when we need to begin teaching them certain principles that they will use for the rest of their lives.  Listed below are several simple principles that will be a huge help for your child.

Life-Changing Financial Principles to Teach Your Children

  1. Show them that everything we receive in this life is a gift that comes from God, and we must look to him for all of our needs.  We teach them to be at peace in their heart and minds by helping them to understand submitting to his authority where money is concerned.  
  2. A perfect first subject to teach would be the simple principle of tithing 10% first, saving 10% second, and living within the remaining 80%.  As your children become more familiar with this concept, encourage them to increase the tithe and savings amounts as their self-discipline increases.
  3. Budgeting.  Teach your child how to budget, and you will also be teaching them how to plan ahead.  A valuable principle in every area of their lives, this will help them greatly.  As Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  When your children start getting older, give them a chance to open their own checking accounts, budget their own money, and absolutely to make their own mistakes.
  4. A penny saved is a penny earned.  Kids need to learn to save for three things: purchases, an emergency fund, and wealth-building.  Saving for purchases is my favorite, and also the easiest! The other two are just as important though.  For teens, $500 for the emergency fund might be a good start, as this will cover things like car repairs or any unexpected purchases.  By having this emergency fund, they’ll learn to start being independent rather than relying on you whenever an emergency hits.  It’s a win-win!  And of course your kid doesn’t have to be a stock market guru, but if you can help them understand the power of compound interest, you’ll be setting them up with financial success for the rest of their lives.  
  5.  Give, give, & give again.  One lesson that was pounded into my head as a child was “for heaven’s sake, can you just SHARE already?” While it may have been frustrating for my parents at the time, they really instilled the important value of giving into my life. Giving is so powerful because it not only changes the recipient, but the giver as well.  This is one principle that is important for your children to see modeled by you.  When your children see the positive consequences shine in your life, it’ll drive the lesson home.
  6. Be wary of debt.  As a teenager, your child will soon face the temptations of credit cards and student loans.  They’ll hear a lot of things as they head off to college like: “Normal is broke.”  “Car payments are just a part of life.”  “You can’t live without a credit score.” and my personal favorite “It’s not even possible to live without debt.”  Absolutely NONE of these are true, and it’s best to help them understand this before they step out into adulthood.  

 

Remember that more is caught than taught!  It’ll stick in their heads better to see you living out these principles in your own life rather than just giving them lectures here and there.  You don’t have to be perfect when it comes to money (no one is), but you do need to make sure you’re being a strong example or none of what you say will stick!  Also, be honest with your kids about financial mistakes you’ve made.  Allow them to learn from your mistakes!  By teaching your children these essential financial principles, you’ll have given them confidence and a hand-up in life.

Don’t forget to check out our selection of toys and products that are great resources for teaching kids financial principles.  We believe it’s never too early to teach youngsters about money, finance, and even investing.  While play money may seem just like another toy, it can be used to teach kids about finances, saving, and math. In our minds, that’s a toy with some real value!

How To Naturally Improve Concentration and Focus in Your Child

Whether you’re a homeschooling parent or not, you have likely struggled with the issue of a child’s lack of concentration at some point during your parenting years.  Of course we know that children are curious, energetic discoverers.  This is natural.  However, some children struggle more than others.  Many frustrated parents don’t know where to turn for help.  What if there were some simple antidotes and tools you can use to improve concentration?  There is.  Of course no solution will work for everyone, but we think you’ll find the following suggestions extremely helpful.  Your sanity will thank you!

How to Naturally Improve Concentration and Focus in Your Child

So, how can you motivate and improve your child’s focus?  There are several different tools available.  In the beginning, it’s best to try them all to see what works best for you and your family.

1.) Attend to physiological needs.  Ensure your child gets 9 hours of sleep every night.  Reduce sugar intake & increase protein levels (lean meat, almonds, & eggs).  This stimulates dopamine which makes concentration easier, particularly for lethargic kids.  Taking frequent breaks for exercise will have a similar effect.

2.) Remove distractions at home.  Make a list of things that may prevent concentration (i.e. noise, people, lighting, fighting, tiredness, & hunger). Then go through each distraction and come up with a solution.  Make sure you implement those solutions daily!

3.) Create the right mood for concentration.  Playing calming background music, placing a fish tank (with fish) in the environment, and reducing fluorescent lights have all been proven to be successful in creating the right mood.

4.) Introduce sequencing & organization activities (i.e. following recipes, setting the table, and putting things in alphabetical order.)  Board and card games help as well.  Chess has proven to be particularly good for improving focus long-term. Their minds become incrementally stronger, alleviating the concentration problem, and in many cases, almost entirely curing it. The study of chess also instills patience and can help a child’s attitude.

5.) Find out which activities your child focuses on best.  Some kids do best with hands-on activities, and some do best with a lot of visual cues.  Look for activities that your child gets lost in for hours.  These activities can enhance your child’s concentration levels.

These are only a few of the tools we’ve found helpful through the years.  I’m sure there are many more that you’ll find that will work in your home. Before assisting your child with their concentration habits, pay close attention to their pattern of concentration and observe if there are any obvious links between diet, energy pattern, sleep, and your own behaviors.  Remember to lead by example!

Concentration can be improved and made automatic.  Picture the first time you drove a car.  No doubt the prevailing, panicky thought in your head was, “How on earth can I focus on all of this stuff at the same time?!”  After enough practice, your brain built pathways of concentration, and the task of driving has become a smooth and easy one.  Take action today and make the process of learning a lot more enjoyable for both you and your children!

How to Make a Mask Using Tin Foil and Tape

A perfect mask can be made using surprisingly few products that can be found at home: tin foil and tape. Not only is this mask incredibly simple to make, but the tin foil enables it to perfectly fit your face. Once the mask is made, there are so many possible characters it can be adapted to.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 1: Overlap 3 sheets of aluminum foil in a stack.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 2: Push the stack of sheets onto your face. Push down as hard as you are comfortable pushing. Do it carefully, so the foil does not become punctured. (It might be useful to have a helper do this part.)

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 3: Check you have the general outline of your face imprinted: nose, lips, corners of your eyes and cheekbones. Use a marker and trace around your eyes (it might be good to follow the bones around your eye socket) for where you want to place the eye holes in your mask. Also, trace around anything else you want cut out. (Breathing holes are useful for breathing!)you might also want to cut a hole for talking too.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 4: Carefully remove the foil from your face. Cut with sharp scissors around the edges of the mask. And note––once you cut it, you can’t really go back easily, so leave extra.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 5: Carefully cut out the eyes. Do this either by puncturing the foil with a toothpick and tearing the foil out, or snipping in the center of the area with the tip of scissors and folding the foil back.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 6: Cut holes or slots in the side of your mask. These are for the ribbons/cord/shoelaces to attach the mask to your face.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 7: Cut small sections of tape. While pressing the mask to your face to keep the features strong, gently place the tape onto your mask. When you feel the mask’s features are firm enough, place all the sections of tape, overlapping, across all visible places of foil, including the back (foil is itchy next to the skin).

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 8: Tie the cord to the holes in the side of your mask. Leave enough length to both wrap around your head, and to tie in a nice knot or bow.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 9: Decorate using acrylic paints. Paint whatever you want, making sure to leave it to dry out of the way of people or pets. 

Paint completely black for the ideal Ninja disguise, or add colorful paints and sequins for a masquerade ball!  You can also add things like horns, a pointed nose, or antlers by simply making the form with tin foil, and covering with tape like what you did in the previous steps.  Become whatever character you’d like in a few easy steps!

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How To Make A Mask Out of Tin Foil and Tape  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Celebrate Your Child’s Individuality With Online School or Homeschool

The advent of the internet has opened up an entire new WORLD of possibility to our society.  While in the past students have been limited to the options the particular school they attend has, with the internet there is a world of information virtually at their fingertips!  Many are utilizing this incredibly valuable resource in the form of online school or homeschool.

Celebrate Your Child's Individuality with Online or Homeschool

Perhaps your child has been diagnosed with something like ADD or ADHD. A child with these tendencies may not do so well in a public school, because they’re not so easily able to conform to the system. Perhaps their mind wanders a bit more than the other children, or they have a hard time sitting still. Arguably one of the greatest benefits for online school and homeschool is the ability to form your curriculum perfectly to your child’s particular needs. You can specialize their learning to be more hands-on and interactive. No matter what kind of learner your child is, they will thrive under this type of education!

Another awesome benefit of online learning is the ability to study almost any subject out there.  You have access to such a vast array of teachers and books. There have been many times that I was unable to study a particular subject at school, simply because the school didn’t have the funds to fit it into their curriculum.  With online or homeschooling, your options are nearly endless!

We’ve all witnessed the way a child’s brain works. They’re focused for MAYBE 10 minutes, and then a bird flying outside the window or a stray thought that wandered into their head will throw the entire train right off the tracks, and it’s a struggle to get them motivated and back on track again. Of course it’s important to have goals for each day, but how wonderful for them to be able to take breaks as often as they need? Even as an adult, I’ve found that I am at my most efficient and focused self when I give myself even a short break every hour or so. Creating their own schedule allows your child to absorb those nuggets of knowledge so much more thoroughly, and wonder of wonders, actually enjoy the process!

Of course there are some benefits to public schooling, such as certain programs like theatre or the important aspect of having peers and social interaction, but these are easily overcome as well!    Public schools are often willing to work with you and allow your child to take a particular program if you don’t have the resources available.  There are also many independent programs, classes, and communities outside of public school that your child could get involved in.  A well-rounded education is a great thing!

Celebrate Your Child's Individuality with Online or Homeschool

Let’s celebrate the fact that we are all vastly different individuals with vastly different ways of learning.  We are all so lucky to be born in this age with so many opportunities and options available.  Take advantage of it!  If you’re currently looking for materials for this year’s online school or homeschool curriculum, you’re not going to want to miss these Learning & Discovery Kits, Books, Woodworking Kits, & more!  Truth be told, I get a little envious thinking how much more fun and interesting school would’ve been for me if I had just had access to materials like these and to the varied curriculum that online school offers.  Even if your child is happily content in public school, these books and kits are an excellent way to supplement their education, or just give them a fun, educational activity to do on a rainy fall day.  So let’s cast off, and embark on this adventure into education!

Download Your Free Summer 2016 Family Adventure Guide

Let’s face it. Sometimes it can be a bit of challenge to keep the kids occupied all summer long.  As summer drags on and the excitement immediately following the end-of-the-school-year wears off, you may notice that your kids gravitate toward their devices more and more.  Instead of spending the afternoon running around the neighborhood or building forts in the backyard, you may find them on the couch with their eyes glued to a screen.  If the amount of screen-time is beginning to creep up, then it’s time to download the JM Cremp’s Summer 2016 Family Adventure Guide.

In it, you’ll find some creative ideas to keep the kids busy as well as some good parenting advice.  Oh, and there’s also a valuable coupon inside valid at www.jmcremps.com.

Happy Adventuring!

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 11.58.53 AM
Click the image above to download your free copy today!

How to Break Your Kid’s Technology Addiction the Fun Way

Are you part of the generation that remembers when a few old blankets were the makings of a perfect hideout, and the most drama you had to deal with was whether to baseball, ride your bike, or pretend you were a cowboy?  If you are, then it can be quite a challenge to see your perfectly healthy kids curled up on their bed with an iPod in the middle of a beautiful summer afternoon.  Believe me, I feel your pain!

Adventure for Boys
A 2010 Kaiser Foundation Study found that children and teens on average spend almost 8 hours each day on entertainment media.  The naked truth is that technology is here for the long haul, and your child’s love of it isn’t going to go away anytime soon.  Fortunately, there are some simple things that you can do to break their addiction to electronics and rekindle their adventurous spirit.

First, encourage them to explore those things that interest them, and to do so in a hands-on manner.  If your child loves science, then get him/her a simple science experiment kit, and let them learn first hand.  If they loves bugs, get them a bug magnifying kit and let them get down and dirty in the mud.  If it’s a fascination with the outdoors, then a basic survival book and a Pocket Tool will be the beginning of a life-long love of the outdoors.   It’s been proven that on the whole kids, especially boys, thrive when they can learn by “doing”, and there’s no better time to start than when they are young and full of curiousity.

The second thing you can do to inspire your child’s love of learning and adventure is through story-telling and reading.  Inspiring true stories such as I Pledge Allegiance or The Civil War Graphic Novel 2-Book Set can inspire your children to do and achieve more than they ever thought possible.  Fictional stories about heroes and warriors can broaden their world and teach them to dream big and reach for their goals.

Third, be a good example.  Be active yourself, so the next time you encourage your couch potato to get outside and explore the world they live in they can’t say, “But you never do!” Better yet, be active and learn together as a family.  Take the time for a family hike or an afternoon together at your local historical society.  Go camping for a weekend or even a night in the backyard. Whatever your chosen activity, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow together as a family.  A love of adventure may start when you are young, but a true adventurous spirit never withers.

To find thousands of ways to inspire a passion for learning and to ignite an adventurous spirit within your children, visit www.jmcremps.com.  Request FREE copy of our Adventure Guide Catalog today, and you’ll discover why over 100,000 families rely on JM Cremp’s as their go-to resource for hands-on activites, ideas and toys to enhance active imaginations, fun gear for outdoor adventures, parenting resources, and educational tools for creative learning.

The point of all this is to swap your child’s addictive electronics with a few simple replacements that are engaging, appeal to their interests, get them moving, and challenge their minds.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming, but it will take a little effort in the beginning.  Then again, most things that are rewarding take some effort, but they sure are worth it in the long run!