Teaching Your Kids about Child Sponsorship

 

My husband and I have sponsored a child through Compassion since our own first child was a baby. His name is Jerome; he lives in the Philippines; he will be 8 in August. We liked his Mickey Mouse shirt in his picture and that his birthday was close to our wedding anniversary. I try to write to him at least once every two or three months. At first, we got letters from his mother, which wasn’t quite as much fun. Now, we get letters hand-written by Jerome – and illustrated, too!

But in all this time, Libbie (4 1/2) hasn’t really shown any interest in the picture of the boy hanging on our fridge. I’ve never involved her in letter-writing. My husband and I have made the decisions about when to send extra monetary gifts for his birthday and Christmas.

Libbie’s to a point, now, where she’s beginning to grasp more concepts. She’s always been aware of our efforts toward Operation Christmas Child’s shoebox-packing program. She knows that I collect toys throughout the year that are not for her – they are for kids who don’t HAVE toys and need hygiene items. In lieu of a third birthday party, we even had an OCC Shoebox-Packing Party.

So really, it’s high time we exposed her to child sponsorship. It’s a big concept, though! How do we do it?

The other day I sat down with her and asked her if she would draw a picture for Jerome. I showed her his picture, told her he lived VERY far away, and that we send money to help him get school supplies and clothes and other things he needs. She seemed very interested and asked about visiting him one day. But then she flat-out refused to draw a picture. We’ll have to try that one again.

Worried about messing this up, I asked my friend OhAmanda – the wisest and most godly mom of young kids I know! – how she goes about this with her own kids. Her advice was to just make it natural. She keeps pictures of her sponsored children up. She prays with her kids for these children. Her own kids are involved in making “flat crafts” to send with letters to their sponsored children.

{Kristen from We Are THAT Family describes pretty much the same routines with her children. Plus, well, they go to Africa.}

So there are my first baby steps. Involving Libbie and David in praying, writing, crafting. Seeing. Understanding will come in time.

Compassion also has an online game called Quest for Compassion that I think we’ll have to try out!

Do you sponsor a child? How do you involve your kids in it?

 

Real Life Solutions: Pacifier Use

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Pacifiers in the tree
source: Dilona

Q: I have been trying very hard not to have my baby use a pacifier. I’m the only one of my friends who seems to be overly concerned about this. My mother-in-law is telling me to lighten up. I’ve read that pacifiers can affect a baby’s speech. Am I overreacting?

A: This is a generational question that parents must consider. Pacifiers are typically used to soothe and distract a baby.

Here is what we know. One positive finding about pacifier use is that it has been linked to reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in sleeping babies. On the negative side, thumb sucking, pacifier use, and even bottle use have been associated with an increase in the risk of speech disorders when the sucking is long-term.

Breastfeeding did not have this effect on children and in fact, promotes positive oral development. And pacifier use can interfere with breastfeeding.

In terms of pacifier use, the results from a 2009 study published in BMC Pediatrics were based on children who used pacifiers for more than three years. These kids were three times more likely to develop speech impediments. Now, the authors of this study also said that pacifier use and thumb-sucking for less than three years increased risk. The reason has to do with how the sucking motion changes the normal shape of the dental arch and bite.

We also know that pacifier use can be associated with middle ear infections. However, the Mayo Clinic tells us that when the risk of SIDS is the highest (birth to six months), rates of middle ear infections are also low.  The recommendation to reduce SIDS is to offer a pacifier at bed or naptime until the age of one.

So the information is a bit confusing. I don’t believe you are overreacting. The concern about pacifier use grows as your baby grows. You can choose other ways to soothe your baby. I’m a big believer in nursing because there are so many benefits to the baby and you. If you are breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you wait until four to six weeks after birth to introduce a pacifier. Certainly, don’t give a baby a pacifier all day, choose a silicone one-piece to avoid breaking (a choking hazard), and don’t force the use.

Resource: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5

Herbs and Breastfeeding

Sage
source: sporkist

Breastfeeding? Use caution with herbal supplements. Some herbs may lead to side effects in nursing babies. If you are breastfeeding, check with your pediatrician before using herbal supplements or teas.

While there is not much studied information on herbs and breastfeeding, here are some herbs that are known to lower milk supply in breastfeeding mothers:

  • Black Walnut
  • Chickweed
  • Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
  • Lemon Balm
  • Oregano
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)/Menthol
  • Periwinkle Herb (Vinca minor)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
  • Spearmint
  • Thyme
  • Yarrow

Normal amounts of herbs used in cooking will probably not affect your milk supply or baby; this list refers to herbs taken medicinally. As always, though, do check with your pediatrician for the most current information.

Source: KellyMom.com

A Twist on Tummy Time by Brian Dembowczyk

Tummy time
source: dryfish

Tummy time helps your baby develop muscles that help with rolling over, sitting up, and crawling. Always put your baby to sleep on her back, but she can enjoy tummy time during the day.

For a new twist on tummy time …

  1. Use a bolster or rolled up towel to prop up your baby.
  2. Dim the lights and lie down next to your baby.
  3. Shine a flashlight on the wall.
  4. Draw your baby’s attention so she can focus on the beam of light.
  5. Move the light side to side very slowly.

Did your babies enjoy tummy time? 

Christmas Break Training 101: Making Yours a Success by Erin MacPherson

sequoia and rachel, sittin' by the tree... - _MG_6719
source: seandereilinger

We love the idea of using Christmas break as a time to “train” your kids. I wrote about sleep training my daughter during Christmas break in December‘s article “Sleep Tight.” Whether you’re sleep training, potty training, moving your kid to a big-boy bed, or training your kids to eat something other than chicken nuggets, setting aside a dedicated time to do it is a great way to make sure you end up with a fully-trained (or at least mostly trained) kid.

Here are six tips to make sure your Christmas break training is a success.

  • Read up on the strategies. Before you even think about training your kid to do anything, check out a couple books from the library or ask good ole’ Mr. Google what other parents have done right … and wrong.
  • Know your kid. You know what makes your kid tick, and you know how he is going to respond to the training, so trust your instincts and come up with a plan that works for you and your family.
  • Write down your plan. If you’re sleep training, write down who is going to get up when and under what circumstances. If you’re potty training, plan how you’re going to do it and decide who is on “potty” duty when.
  • Get your supplies. Make sure you’ve stocked up on everything you need—stickers, books, caffeinated beverages for you—before the break starts.
  • Talk it up. Start talking about how excited you are about training early on. Trust us: If you’re excited about it, your kid will be excited about it.
  • Don’t let setbacks get you down. There are always accidents. You will have setbacks, and that’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day.

Erin MacPherson is an author, blogger, and mom to three preschoolers. She blogs at www.christianmamasguide.com.

Growth Spurts: Birth to 1

Not An Apple
photo source

Baby choices

Choices are important for baby development. Your baby develops thinking skills as he looks at two toys and makes a choice of which one to grasp. He exercises muscles as he reaches for a toy. He remembers and develops preferences for certain objects. He begins to explore independence as he acts on those preferences. As he makes choices, he is beginning to develop decision-making skills and confidence in his abilities.

Comment on what he chose: “You chose the red ball.” As he grows, offer more opportunities for him to make choices. In the future, your child will face many decisions. He will hear lots of ideas and beliefs. The ability to make tough decisions and develop spiritual convictions is rooted in these first choices.

Well-Baby Visits

Well-baby visits are frequent checkups to monitor your baby’s growth and development. The pediatrician will check the following:

  • Measurements. Your baby’s length, weight, and head circumference are measured and recorded on a growth chart to observe steady growth over time.
  • Head. The doctor will check the fontanels (the soft spots) of your baby’s head, as well as any flat spots.
  • Ears. The doctor will observe your baby’s hearing and check for fluid or infection in her ears.
  • Eyes. The doctor will track your baby’s eye movements, as well as look for blocked tear ducts and eye discharge.
  • Mouth. The doctor will examine your baby’s mouth for thrush, a common yeast infection. As your baby grows and starts teething, the doctor will examine her incoming teeth.
  • Heart/lungs. The doctor will listen to your baby’s heart and lungs to ensure that breathing and heart rhythms are normal.
  • Abdomen. The doctor will check for hernias and enlarged organs.
  • Hips/legs. The doctor will move your baby’s legs to detect any dislocation.
  • Genitalia. The doctor will check for tenderness, lumps, and infection.

Do you dread or look forward to well-baby visits? I feel like I didn’t mind them until my toddler was underweight … now I feel like I’m being reprimanded every time!

10 Books to Read with Your Young Children

It gripped me this year as school began that I only had three years left with Libbie truly under my wings; she will be almost 6 by the time she goes to kindergarten but still, it doesn’t seem long enough! We love reading together, and I try to make a point of choosing some books that open spiritual conversations with her. Here are seven that I love (including some series, so really, a lot more!) and three that I think I would love.

 

1. Gigi, God’s Little Princess series (and I would assume Will, God’s Mighty Warrior series as well) – I love the OH SO PINK illustrations in the Gigi books as well as the message. Mr. V tells Libbie every night now, "Good night, princess. Sweet dreams." I just love Sheila Walsh’s sense of humor that makes these books readable for parents, too.

2. The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs – A recommendation from Amanda (as MANY of these have been!), this book is an Easter parable by prolific author Higgs (see my review of Mine Is the Night here).  A daughter is given a gift that she finds pretty worthless: a flower bulb in a crate of dirt. But she finds out maybe it was the most beautiful gift of all.

3. Miss Fannie’s Hat by Jan Karon – More pink, more fun, great Bible verse to memorize, wonderful lesson about giving. See my post at Impress Your Kids with some craft ideas to go along with the book!

4. Just Like Jesus Said series by Melody Carlson – Melody Carlson is another author who writes for children, teens, and adults. This set of four books convey stories in rhyme and help teach basic Bible lessons: sharing, caring, giving.

5. My ABC Bible Verses by Susan Hunt – We haven’t been real methodical about this book yet, especially since the stories are longer with only one picture. Plus, the Bible verses are in KJV. But it teaches practical lessons and I like the idea of doing letter Bible verses! (And we’re going to do these alphabet Scripture cards from I Can Teach My Child, definitely!)

6. Jesus Storybook Bible – Sometimes I wish that EVERY Bible story were in this wonderful Bible. But otherwise, it’s pretty perfect. Every single story points to Jesus and His salvation of the world. Stories are usually three to four pages long, perfect for bedtime. And having Libbie come up to me and say, "Will you read me the Bible?" is just … perfect!

7. God Thinks You’re Wonderful by Max Lucado – Libbie has yet to sit through this entire book, but it’s a sweet concept and I am sure she will with a few more months. It’s so Lucado – the line about "if God had a refrigerator, He would hang your picture on it" just makes me smile!

I’m sure I will think of a zillion other books as soon as I hit publish, but that’s all I can think of for now … but here are three more I haven’t read but think would be great:

 

8. Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer

9. What Is Easter? by Michelle Medlock Adams [UPDATE: I bought this book before Easter in 2012. While it’s not very "in depth," it’s a good, short read that helps the kids understand what Easter is about.]

10. Heaven, God’s Promise for Me by Anne Graham Lotz

What are your favorite Christ-centered books to read to your kids?

 

Originally published at Vanderbilt Wife, October 2011. 

Summer Parenting by Jessie Weaver

libbiebeach.jpgI love summers, I really do. As the stay-at-home wife of a teacher, summers are a great opportunity for us to spend a lot of time together as a family. We travel, which we can’t do much together during the school year. We visit parks and museums and try to get outside when it’s not a trillion degrees. We swim and play.

But each year I also realize how difficult it is for my toddlers to adjust to our no-schedule summers.

From a fairly rigid week – two days of Mother’s Day Out, one day of Bible study, church on Wednesday nights, and 8 p.m. bedtime – to a lackadasical schedule that has us darting here and there, being with family often, and leaving no expectations of what might happen throughout the day. This spells TORTURE to a toddler/preschooler who thrives on knowing what’s happening each minute of every day. (The first thing my daughter asks in the mornings is, "Where are we going today?")

And every summer I find myself struggling with disciplining our strong-willed girl (now nearly 4), yelling in anger, wishing for an hour to lay down and read a book. As Libbie’s brother, David, is learning to talk now at 19 months, we’re entering new territory with him as well.

davidpool.jpg

My husband and I are very laid-back, which makes it feel like we’re in constant conflict with our schedule-craving wee ones. I don’t want to plan each day during July. I don’t want to explain to my child yet again why daddy is home and not at work. I don’t want to answer questions about when Christmas is coming again when it’s 103 outside.

But I find, as always, that our quality of life almost always comes around to my attitude and my behaviors more than it does my childrens’. If I stay calm and in control, they will settle down. If I’m willing to make a plan, they are 900% more content. If I write out ideas for three meals a day and shop for the groceries, meal and snacktimes are less harried and happier – and produce much more pleasant kids.

Perhaps you’re nearing the end of your summer … or maybe you are out of school ’til Labor Day. Do you find parenting harder in the summer? Or is it all bliss on your end?

S-S-Stuttering by Christi McGuire

Portrait of Little Confused Girl

 

Q: My 4-year-old stutters. What should I do?

A: Children between the ages of 2 and 5 often struggle with stuttering because their brains think faster than their language skills allow. According to the National Stuttering Association, the majority of children who stutter stop doing so within a year after its onset. If your child stutters, encourage him in the following ways:

  • Downplay it. Don’t draw attention to his stuttering; instead, let him know you are interested in what he is saying. Give your child extra time to communicate what he wants to say. Don’t frustrate him more by demanding he “hurry up.”
  • Show support. Your facial expressions and body language are as important as what you say to your child. Be patient with him.
  • Slow down. Be a good role model by talking more slowly and enunciating your words.
  • Ask only one question. Allow your child to think about and respond to one question at a time. Answering multiple questions all at once can jumble his thoughts and speech.

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Spiritual Development for Little Ones by R. Scott Wiley

little girl

At a young age, your child cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy. To him everything is real and true. As he gets older, he begins to understand more about real versus pretend.

Encourage him to think about the difference. When he tells you a story, ask: “Is this a pretend story or a story about something that really happened?”

Gather a stack of books and videos. Help your child create two stacks–those that tell pretend stories and those that tell things that really happened. Include a Bible. Stress that stories in the Bible are true and really happened.

Thriving Family magazine suggests the following questions for some follow-up dinnertime or bedtime conversation with your child:

 

  • How can you tell the difference between an imaginary story and a true story? 
     
  • What’s your favorite movie? Is it true? (Even if a story is based on a true incident, talk about how movie writers change things to make a better story.) Where do movie writers get their ideas?
     
  • What is your favorite Bible story? Is it true?
     
  • Who wrote the Bible? Where did these writers get their ideas? (Explain that men wrote what the Holy Spirit told them to write.)
     
  • What is the difference between a good story from a book and an event in the Bible?
     
  • Is it possible to know for certain that God’s Word is true? How?

 

Repeating short phrases from Scripture will acclimate your child to Bible memorization and implant the truth in her heart! Here are some simple ones for preschoolers. 

 

  • Love one another. 1 John 4:7
  • God loves us. Psalm 117:2
  • Help one another. Galatians 5:13
  • Jesus loves you. John 15:12

Scott Wiley is a curriculum editor, kindergarten Sunday School teacher, and student of many subjects. He blogs at Brick by Brick

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.