Parenting

Jun
12
2014
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Kids, Parenting, Research Parents Should Know About!

Difficult conversation with your child

Superheroes with the power to read, salt and pepper shakers that talk and toe tapping strategy songs are a large part of my day. They serve as a means to help preschoolers share, cooperate and enjoy their environment that they are a part of.

So, how do we talk to kids about the not so enjoyable..the troubling and scary events that occur in the real world?

Less is more.

The best course is to answer the questions in a clear, concise way. Don’t offer up extra information. And for the very little ones, it’s best to shield them from what’s happening all together (an easy way to do this is to avoid having the news on when they’re in the room).

As kids move into grade school, they are much more aware of the world outside of themselves. They also have great difficulty understanding the distance between that world and themselves. How they see the world will depend on how we, as parents, help to paint the picture.

When it comes to the tragedies that they’ll inevitably hear about, it’s best to focus on the facts and what you can do to help. One of the workers at my daughter’s school lost a large portion of his family in an earthquake. We talked about it as a family and focused on what we could do to help. My daughter wrote a letter telling him how sorry she was and we helped collect food and supplies for the people affected. The worst part of these situations for kids is their feeling of powerlessness, so enabling them to take control by being proactive about helping is important.

Sarah Solves It

 

Here are 3 more tips to help you talk to your kids about topics you may tend to avoid:

  1. Listen first, then talk. With the less is more philosophy, listening to our children in an empathetic, interested way is of utmost importance. Find out what they want to know, what questions they have, and take cues from the way they are talking. Do they want a hug? Reassurance?  Answers?
  2. Be truthful, calm and explain the situation. If children ask about a specific situation, such as natural disasters, a good answer is: “Yes, this was a terrible tragedy but it is very unlikely that it would happen here. We prepare ourselves for emergencies such as these. We have a lot of people whose job it is to keep us safe.” Even kids as old as twelve need to be reassured.
  3. Make them feel safe. Many specialist’s believe that it’s better to apologize and explain if an improbable, traumatic event does occur rather than have kids live with the fear that something “could” happen. PBS does an excellent job of explaining the science of tsunamis, earthquakes and the improbability of it happening to us on Savage Earth.

 

Please share some communication tips that have helped your little ones feel more secure after a difficult time, because we’re all in this together!   

 

 

Jan
29
2014
by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues, Kids, Parenting

be A man

Act like a man!

What does that even mean?

Especially today.

 

It means A LOT.

Especially since I have two daughters.

 

It definitely doesn’t mean what I thought it meant when I was making that mysterious transformation, into becoming a man. That’s certainly because most old fashioned attitudes teach our young men to stifle who they truly are and make life changing decisions for often absurd reasons and superficial rewards. That sounds like the opposite of manly to me.

 

I saw the poignant but powerful documentary from The Representation Project on goodmenproject.com. Hopefully it will aid young boys in their transformative years. To teach them what  ”Act Like A Man” should mean.

And especially what it NEEDS to mean..for all of us

Jan
23
2014

I like to call it the “quarter-life crisis”. Out of college & in the “real world” for a few years, and suddenly panicking about whether the job you have now – the one you worked so hard in high school and college to land – will lead to a fulfilling and gratifying life-long career.

Studying towards my Masters in Developmental Psych. at Teachers College, Columbia U., I was certain that my passion was to work with children in some capacity, but I found myself at a crossroads, with 2 outstanding career opportunities – a very fortunate “problem” to have! Children’s Media or Speech and Language Therapy? Although they seem like wildly different professions, they are actually quite intertwined.

Exposed to several Language Development & Speech Therapy courses in my program at Teachers College, I decided to explore the SLP profession in the actual field. I was privileged to meet with Speech & Language Therapist, Lauren Turk, M.S., CCC-SLP, who kindly allowed me to shadow a few of her therapy sessions in school settings.

Ranging in ages from 3-16 years, and with a variety of different speech & language disorders, her clients did have 1 important aspect in common: the comforting & motivating environment that Lauren carefully established. It was inspiring to see how a speech therapist can really make an impact on a child to live a better, more fulfilled life.

TherapyfindRThere has been a greater awareness about the importance of early identification of speech, language, swallowing & hearing disorders in young children, but people may not necessarily know who to approach, or how and when to get treatment. Luckily, Lauren Turk has devised a new website, TherapyfindR, which enables parents to search for qualified therapists by zip code. Search results display profiles of therapists with their personal description, credentials & specialty so the family can carefully select the therapist that is right for them. The site is a FREE service to help you find the right therapist for your child’s unique situation and needs.

 

Daniel TigerAs for me, I simply could not leave the children’s media world (Have you seen how cute that Daniel Tiger is??). My work as Associate Producer at Out of the Blue enables me to enrich children’s lives, & particularly their communication skills, in a slightly different way, but I feel that my (brief) exposure to the SLP career has shaped the way I view educational children’s television: While I feel I am able to reach and make an impact on many more kids at once, it is important to keep in mind that each and every child behind the screen has distinctive strengths & weaknesses and comes from a unique family & school environment.

 

Thanks again to Lauren Turk for opening my eyes to the significant field of SLP, and make sure to check out her new site at www.TherapyFindR.com!

 

Alexandra Cassel is Associate Producer at Out of the Blue Enterprises, LLC. She is completing her M.A. in Developmental Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. Alexandra received her B.A. in Psychology and Media Studies from Colgate University.
Dec
11
2013
by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues, Kids, Parenting

Esnow1Like everyone these days, not only does this Dad’s plate overfloweth but I haven’t caught a glimpse of the plate in weeks! So when my girls had a snow day yesterday, the old man in me grumbled something about pushing much of my to do list to yet another day.

 

Though my 10 year old couldn’t hold back from getting into her winter gear, she quickly learned that her older sister didn’t share that sentiment.

Needless to say, she was not happy with that..at all.

Esnow2

I’m not sure if my youngest thought the duo’s sleigh riding reign was officially over, but she was certain that she had reached “THE WORST day of her life”.

Esnow3

Far be it from me to allow her to believe such, so on went my ski pants and out the door we flew. Today, my to do list is just as long as it was last week, but I’ve got a ten year old that went to sleep with a big smile on her face.

Calvin & Hobbes illustration by Bill Watterson

 

Sep
26
2013
by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues, Parenting

robot“I don’t need you anymore Dad.”

Seriously. That’s what my (newly) 10 year old told me yesterday afternoon! I was, according to her, “too busy” when she returned home from school.

Working from home has allowed me to be privy to the overall snapshot of my girls’ school day, the daily dish of drama or, at least, allow me to assist with their quiz/test preparation. But after today, that’s all in the past.

A mere memory of a time long ago.

Apparently vocab review no longer resides within my job description. Surely I get sidetracked and the five or thirty minutes I took to check on some files I had to ftp, was not sufficient grounds to take away some of my parental rights. Or perhaps she too, is on that dark and lonely independent course, journeyed by her older sister. A road that used to be less traveled, in which there’s no need for the big guy to get bogged down in the minutiae of their lives.

I should now assume that their “Don’t worry Dad. I did it. It’s in my bag” is all the interaction necessary when it comes to anything within the confines of academia. I’m okay with that..no, really.Bookbag

 

I walked into the kitchen. Though I presently can’t seem to remember what exactly I was looking for, I saw her there. Doing her work at the kitchen table. I then learned that it wasn’t that I was obsolete, BUT I was being replaced!

Normally that wouldn’t sit well with me, especially since she’s my youngest! But what I saw made me smile.

My daughter had typed her entire list of words and definitions into my iPhone. This, I understood as Siri read each word aloud. My daughter continued to go through the words one at a time, pausing Siri after each word to deliver her answer, only to unpause to check if her answer was correct.

siriI’m not out of the game yet. But when I am, my replacement’s gotta be at least version 9.o!

Aug
27
2013
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Parenting

Back to School

Throughout the years, the back to school theme has made its into many of my preschool TV scripts. Probably my favorite one is the Blue’s Clues script I wrote when Steve (our main character) goes back to school, leaving for college in 2002..YIKES! Feel free to not do the math here. Blues Clues Logo

We wrote 3 episodes leading up to the introduction of the new host, Joe and Steve’s going back top school. This way, when Steve left for college, Blue and the kids at home were already comfortable with the idea of Joe. The key was getting the audience used to the change before it actually happened. Who knew that, still today, many parents are up in arms about the change?! But back to my point, which is that the process was pivotal.

I try to always look at everything from the kid perspective. So, every fall I have a few back-to-school prep steps that seem to help the kids with the transition.

I hope that these 5 Tips will help you through a seamless transition:

Start the back-to-school routines a week before school starts: We go to bed on “school time”, start doing some “homework” and try to keep our nights low key. This especially helps with the stress of the mornings, when school starts back up.

Get the wipe on/wipe off calendar ready: We keep track of everything two months at a time. My kids are encouraged to add to the calendar as well. However, they think: “If it’s on the calendar then we do it!”..hence all of the waterpark and trampoline room notations

Blues Room Back to School

Put a bulletin board up in plain sight:  We use this for all of the paperwork that goes back and forth (permission slips, projects, field trips). Sounds simple but it’s amazing how quickly our papers get lost or overlooked without it.

Have a spot for the inevitable miscellaneous stuff: We empty a whole drawer in the kitchen for each of my girls for them to put all of their “stuff” in. We keep art projects (big paper plate man? Cute! On the fridge then in the drawer!), homework that has been returned, anything that comes home in the “folder!” Then we organize it into a big bin, labeled with each child’s name, at the end of each month. This keeps everything in one place while we’re busy during the school year.

Schedule Playdates: If my girls are feeling anxious about seeing old friends, playdates with our school friends are imperative. It also gets them excited about seeing the rest of the gang at school.

Please let us know what tips have helped you & your family get over the September Blues

Aug
06
2013
by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues, Parenting

13My oldest daughter turns 13 in five months

The fact that she’s almost a teen has been staring me down for some time now.

When I look at her baby picture on my desk..yup, almost there.

When I see her talk to friends using my very own mannerisms..yup, almost there.

When I do the final check of the house before going to sleep, amazed at how her toes already touch her bed’s footboard. Yup. There too

 

Well on Friday evening, she was going to see a friend perform in a show. Before the performance, she planned to meet two “old friends” who’d join her. A girl, who has little to do with this story..and a boy.

This b-o-y happens to be a couple years OLDER than my little girl who, just yesterday, would only wear sequined, crinoline tutus and pigtailed hair. 

It also needs to be mentioned that it couldn’t be any clearer that this boy enjoys my daughter’s company..very much

So, yes:

  • I agreed to send my daughter
  • without her parent
  • out into a dark theater
  • with a boy that really digs her

I knew this was it.

I’m gonna throw up!

 

The age that I started “dating” is completely irrelevant here! Or is it? Yes, it is..it is.

I felt as if I could have flown round trip to Fiji waiting for my daughter to return home that night. But when she finally came into the house I knew I could not..must not, blow the exchange, so I nonchalantly went about my business..let a second or two pass and then casually inquired about her evening.

 

Did I get what I got because that’s what I wanted to hear?

I don’t care.

Because she was happy and I was happy.

 

Any parental tips are gladly appreciated in the comments section below. In other words..HELP!

 

 

Jul
24
2013
by: Greg | Filed under Kids, Parenting, Stuff We Love

 

Our friend, Alice, took our girls on a Cupcake Tour of New York, visiting the most scrumptious bakeries in lower Manhattan. While each shop is made up of culinary artists that offer uniquely special creations, there’s only 1 best. With that said, here’s our..

 

Top 5 List of NYC bakeriesCrumbs

#5 Crumbs Bake Shop starts off our list. Crumbs bakes more than 50 delicious varieties of cupcakes daily, including the gourmet chocolate cupcake. It’s hard to believe they started only 10 years ago on NYCs Upper Westside.

amorino

#4 Yes, it was a cupcake tour, but the finest Italian gelato at Amorino couldn’t be overlooked. When you try it you’ll understand it’s inclusion on our list!

Gelato

 

Magnolia Bakery

#3 No sugary tour would be complete without a trip to the famous Magnolia Bakery in NYC for a red velvet cupcake! Magnolia has been cherished for its classic American baked goods, vintage decor & warm, inviting atmosphere.

 

[Continue to find our Favorite Bakery in New York City]

 

Jul
24
2013
by: Greg | Filed under Kids, Parenting, Stuff We Love

 

Our friend, Alice, took our girls on a Cupcake Tour of New York, visiting the most scrumptious bakeries in lower Manhattan. While each shop is made up of culinary artists that offer uniquely special creations, there’s only 1 best. With that said, here’s our..

 

Top 5 List of NYC bakeriesCrumbs

#5 Crumbs Bake Shop starts off our list. Crumbs bakes more than 50 delicious varieties of cupcakes daily, including the gourmet chocolate cupcake. It’s hard to believe they started only 10 years ago on NYCs Upper Westside.

amorino

#4 Yes, it was a cupcake tour, but the finest Italian gelato at Amorino couldn’t be overlooked. When you try it you’ll understand it’s inclusion on our list!

Gelato

 

Magnolia Bakery

#3 No sugary tour would be complete without a trip to the famous Magnolia Bakery in NYC for a red velvet cupcake! Magnolia has been cherished for its classic American baked goods, vintage decor & warm, inviting atmosphere.

Baked By Melissa #2 The runner-up goes to Baked by Melissa. New Yorkers (especially my girls) love Melissa Bushell’s cupcakes! Especially the signature tie-dye cupcake, inspired from her love of the care-free rock ‘n roll culture of the 60′s & 70′s.

Molly's Cupcakes#1 And our hands down winner in the best NYC Bakery is.. Molly’s Cupcakes! While there, you can (and should!) create your very own cupcake. Pick a cake flavor, choose a frosting & then dress it up with tasty toppings.

Molly's

Comments overheard at Molly’s: “Yummy!”, “Can we live here?” and “This is amazing!!!”

Molly’s was the team favorite due to their red velvet cake and their vanilla cake with butter cream..extra sprinkles.

“Do they have swings in the store” you ask?

Of course they do!

Much thanks for a wonderful day Aunt Alice! Aside from “a daughter’s” decision to wear ill fitting footwear, the day was a complete success. The girls arrived home with full bellies & smiles.

Cupcake Walk

 

 

And wouldn’t you know it?! Richard Cohen’s Sugar Love: A Not-So Sweet Story aired yesterday on the Diane Rehm Show! Just teeing up the balance for you :)

~Greg

 

And if you have a bakery you’d like to add to our list, PLEASE let us know!

Jul
14
2013
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Kids, Parenting

EHnBlue

Happy Birthday to my (newly) 10 year old! There are no more children with single digits in my home [sigh].

But while there’s a lot I miss about her younger years, there’s so much I have to look forward to on the road ahead.

 

Thank you for your inspiration and for being the incredible person that you are! Enjoy 10!