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Friday, 17 December 2010

Strategies for Challenging Holiday Situations

Holiday excitement and routine changes can be very difficult for children. This article focuses on three challenging areas families face during the holidays: giving and receiving gifts, managing holiday excitement, and understanding schedule changes.

1. Gift Giving and Receiving – The excitement of getting gifts can be overwhelming for children. Help them understand polite giving and receiving of gifts with these strategies.
Involve Children in Giving – Let children help pick out and wrap gifts. By participating in the gift giving process, children become interested in seeing other people’s reaction to the gift. Even young children can choose between two gifts, put a bow or tape on the wrapping paper, and decide where the gift should go under the tree.

Practice Receiving – Role play receiving a gift and thanking someone for it. Make writing thank you cards part of your family routine so children understand how to thank people politely for presents.
2. Holiday Energy – Holiday events often mean sweet foods and late bedtimes. Use the strategies below to manage energy levels and make bedtime successful.
Keep Children Active – Sledding, walking, and playing games outside during the day can help children use their energy in a healthy and positive way. Keep children active during the day so they will be tired at night making bedtime easier.

Limit Sweets – Candy, cookies, and soda are prevalent during the holidays. These foods are high in sugar and caffeine. They cause children to be overly active and make falling asleep difficult. Set rules about how much and when these foods can be consumed and provide healthy alternatives.

Stay on a Sleep Schedule – Even when children are not in school, a consistent sleep schedule is important. Have children wake up and go to bed at a regular time. Plan morning events such as holiday shopping to motivate children to wake up and get ready for the day.
3. Holiday Schedule Changes – Many children benefit from consistent routines and have difficulty with change. Make holiday schedule changes less stressful with these simple tips.
Use Visuals – Have a holiday calendar that lists events in writing, drawing, or picture format depending on the child’s level. Refer to the calendar to prepare children for the day’s events and help them understand what is going on and when.

Involve Children – Let children add new events to the calendar. If there are important events the family must attend, explain why attending is important. If there are events that are debatable, include children’s input in decisions about attending the event.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

8 Ways to Make Outings Less Stressful

1. Set expectations - Be sure to let kids know what to expect. Clearly tell kids, “We are going to the doctor. We will wait in the office and then Dr. Klein will see you. I will be with you if you are afraid or have any questions.” If you are doing more than one thing, let the child know, “We are going to the store, the post office, and then the park.”

2. Provide support for the child to be successful - Some children benefit from having information in writing or in a drawing format. Reading stories in advance that discuss what is going to happen can reduce anxiety. Images from stories including Success Stories provide a way for children to see what is expected of them. Use illustrations and/or words during an event to reassure children.

3. Involve kids in planning the day - Often children are told what to do and have little ownership in decisions. Letting kids make a few choices in an outing helps them feel they are a part of the process. For example, let the child pick which errand the family does first.

4. Praise kids for a job well done - As you go through the day, be sure to reinforce kids for listening, following directions, and being kind to others. This shows children they get more attention for following the rules and routines than for breaking them.

5. Update kids regarding schedule changes - Schedule changes are likely to happen on a regular basis. When changes occur, let kids know what the change is and how it will affect their plans. For example, “James, the library is not open. We will still go to Aunt Jen’s but we will go to the library tomorrow.”

6. Plan for delays - Rarely do things go exactly as planned. Prepare for basic concerns such as hunger, boredom, and delays by packing snacks and portable activities like games or books. Make sure to have a back up plan if restaurants or stores are busy.

7. Let kids be involved - Children are less likely to break rules if they are busy. When you are shopping have the kids help you locate groceries. If you are in the doctor’s office have the child help you fill out the forms by eliciting their responses to simple questions like name, address, etc.

8. Be consistent - If you create a reward system where the child earns something for doing X, Y, and Z or a promise is made for the child to get something after going to the store, be consistent. If you say, “You get to play your game when we get home if ….” be sure to reinforce them only if they actually accomplished their goal. When children are given mixed messages about rewards, the inconsistency can lead them to expect rewards when they have not met their end of the deal. Although it may be difficult at first, children will quickly learn you mean what you say if you hold your ground.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A Message from Kate McCann

There are several different reasons as to why I finally came to the decision with my husband Gerry to write and publish a book. This decision has not been an easy one. Many factors needed to be given thorough and careful consideration, not least the impact of such a book on the lives of our three children. My reason for writing is simple; to give an account of the truth.

Publishing this book has been a very difficult decision and is one that we have taken after much deliberation and with a very heavy heart. However, in the last few months with the depletion of Madeleine’s Fund, it is a decision that has virtually been taken out of our hands.

Every penny we raise through its sales will be spent on our search for Madeleine. Nothing is more important to us than finding our little girl.

We are hopeful that this book may help the investigation to find Madeleine in other ways too. Our hope is that it may prompt those who have relevant information (knowingly or not) to come forward and share it with our team. Somebody holds that ‘key piece of the jigsaw’.

Bill Scott-Kerr, Publisher at Transworld, bought the book from the Christopher Little Literary Agency for publication in Spring 2011. All royalties will be donated directly to Madeleine’s Fund – Leaving No Stone Unturned Limited.

Bill said: ‘It is an enormous privilege to be publishing this book. We are so pleased to be joining Kate and Gerry McCann in the Find Madeleine campaign."

The McCanns' Literary Agents, Christopher Little and Neil Blair, said: "We are honoured to be part of this emotive project and to support the McCanns in their search for Madeleine."

Thank you for your continued support.