At Parents, we believe when the toy does less, the child does more; in fact, that’s been the philosophy behind our toy line for the past 10 years. We make our toys to withstand years of play and outlast trends. They help children learn new skills, use their imaginations, and, of course, have lots of fun.
And now, for the first time, you can find our whole toy line right here on Parents.com! We currently have 56 toys, games, and puzzles available just in time for the holiday season. Whether you’re shopping for a baby, toddler, or preschooler, the Parents line has something for every little one on your list.
When our daughter Penny was diagnosed with Down syndrome two hours after she was born, I immediately worried about her future, her health, our ability to take good care of her, and our community’s willingness to accept her. I thought my world would shrink into a closed room with four walls labeled disability, special needs, developmental delays, and early intervention. But by the time she was one year old, I wanted to introduce her to strangers on the street so that they could share in her infectious smile and ready wave. I’m only five years into parenting a child with Down syndrome, but I’ve learned a few things that have helped me become a better mother to Penny (and to her younger brother and sister, who have developed typically).
Learn to Give and Receive
Before Penny was born, I treated life as if it were an equation. Hard work plus a happy childhood equaled a productive and satisfied adult. Penny helped me to understand that human beings aren’t products on an assembly line. We all have different needs and different abilities. Penny’s needs are more obvious than mine, and her body is more vulnerable. And yet her classification as “disabled” has served to show me my own weaknesses—my impatience, my tendency to judge people based upon surface impressions, my stubborn independence. I remember a time when a young woman with Down syndrome came to our house. She didn’t speak very clearly, and she needed assistance with some simple household tasks. But she sat on the floor with our son, William, who was being fussy, and her gentle, soothing presence brought him great peace. This event is one example of what I have learned–to see life as a web of relationships based upon giving, receiving, and mutual care. Penny has taught me not only to receive her as a gift, but to view every person in my life as a unique being with something to offer.
Stay Focused on One Thing at a Time
Early on, I learned that I couldn’t predict when Penny would reach developmental milestones. The half-dozen baby books on my shelf wouldn’t help me if I wondered when she “should” roll over or clap or eat with a spoon. For a while I thought I needed to let go of goals for her altogether because I didn’t want to equate her value as a human being with her ability to walk or talk. But eventually I realized that Penny would learn and grow, even if she did so at her own pace. My husband and I started to focus on helping Penny learn the next thing, whatever that might be. Now that she’s in kindergarten, we ask: What’s the next thing she needs to learn about reading? About numbers? About friendship? It’s easy for all parents to spend too much time worrying about the distant future; trying to focus on one thing at a time has provided me emotional freedom.
Concentrate on Character Instead of Comparisons
When Penny was a baby, I often found myself analyzing other children her age and wondering how she measured up. If I discovered that she could do something another kid couldn’t, I felt self-satisfied and superior. On the other hand, when other kids her age could run across the room and Penny still hadn’t begun to crawl, I felt panic rattling inside my chest. I finally realized that whenever I met another child, I asked, “What can she do?” and the comparison would push me away from that child and parent. If I changed my question to “Who is she?” it allowed me to focus upon the child’s character. Every child became valuable and interesting once I stopped comparing them.
Now, with a happy, healthy child who has just started kindergarten, I wonder sometimes why I felt so scared. Having a child with Down syndrome has expanded my world, and my heart.
The Playgrounds! app from Parents and KaBOOM! and sponsored by Keen is the newest must-have app for parents. The iPhone app uses GPS or a zip code to instantly find the best local playgrounds closest to you.
But Playgrounds! is more than just a playground locator. The free app allows users to rate and review playgrounds, and post pictures of the space so other parents can check it out beforehand. Parents can even use Playgrounds! to coordinate playground playdates with other families and check-in on Facebook.
The app is already being used by parents across the country, including one very famous mom: Michelle Obama. After helping build KaBOOM!’s 2,000th playground last month in Washington, D.C., the First Lady used the app to post a picture of the new play space.
Dana Points, editor in chief of Parents, says “It’s so important for families to have access to safe places for children to play and the Playgrounds! app makes finding those spaces and setting up play dates so easy.”
The app is free, easy to use, and ready to download today. What are you waiting for? Go play!
As adults, we may laugh amongst ourselves when curses are used in a childlike context (see “Go the F–k to Sleep’“), but it’s less funny when a child is cursing out of context.
In a new study commissioned by Care.com, parents believe their children are cursing more than they themselves did as kids. Of the 700 parents who participated in a recent online survey, 86% believe that kids ages 2-12 have loose lips when it comes to unmentionable words…and 54% said their children had actually cursed in front of them.
In some cases (12%), the kids were just repeating a parent’s curse word and 20% didn’t believe their kids understood the meaning of the word. Eight out of ten parents also confessed to cursing in front of children, even though 93% also tried to suppress the urge to do so. Along with blaming themselves, parents also cited other reasons why their kids picked up curses: daycare, playgroups, older siblings, television, games, and movies.
According to Dr. Robi Ludwig, Care.com’s Parenting Expert and psychotherapist, “cursing is something that is definitely going to happen, and parents should know this is something to expect and not a reflection of being a bad parent. However, there are steps parents can take to stop the language before it continues, from creating consequences to monitoring the TV shows and movies your kids watch to correcting houseguests and encouraging the use of alternate words.” A few more of Dr. Ludwig’s tips to prevent cursing include: don’t overreact, be honest, nip it in the bud, and don’t be tempted by YouTube fame. (So, parents, put away the recording camera!)
How vigilant are you about not cursing in front of the kids? What are your tips and advice for dealing with or preventing cursing?
A new study released by the Pew Research Center have found there are two dominant types of fathers in America: fathers who are actively involved in family life vs. fathers who are not because they live apart from the kids.
According to CNN.com, the Pew study found that today’s fathers are more active in their kids’ lives than 50 years ago, but fathers who live outside the household have also more than doubled since the 60s. Those who live with their families are more in tune with their kids, with 93% talking to their kids a few times a week, over 50% transporting their kids to activities, and 9 out of 10 eating a few weekly meals together.
Education, income, and race are still factors that determine fatherhood – white fathers with higher education and incomes usually lived with their familes. Only 21% lived apart. Even though 44% of African-American fathers lived apart from the family, they were still the most active group of fathers who lived outside.
Another Pew survey revealed that 69% of the survey takers believe fathers living in the house contribute to a child’s happiness. Not surprisingly, it’s important for fathers to be actively involved with their families, no matter if they’re living inside the house or not.
Depressed Dads More Likely to Spank, Shortchange Kids: Study Depressed dads are more likely to shortchange their children and use physical punishment, even on tots who are still crawling, new research suggests.A study involving fathers of 1-year-olds found they were more likely to spank and less likely to read to their youngsters than mentally healthy fathers. The finding adds more weight to the emerging awareness of “postpartum depression” among new fathers. [Yahoo News]
Mom’s Prenatal Stress Raises Child’s Disease Risk The children of women who experience a stressful life event either during or before pregnancy are at an increased risk of being hospitalized from infectious disease, according to a new study. Children whose mothers experienced a stressful event, such as the death of a loved one or divorce, while they were pregnant were 71 percent more likely to be hospitalized with a severe infectious disease than children of women who did not undergo prenatal stress, said study researcher Nete Munk Nielsen, an epidemiologist at Statens Serum Institute in Denmark. [MSNBC]
Children Still Play the Old Schoolyard Favorites Children still enjoy playing traditional games like skipping and clapping in the playground despite the lure of mobile phones, computer games, and television, a study published on Tuesday found. Playground games are “alive and well … they happily co-exist with media-based play, the two informing each other,” it said. [Yahoo News]
Updates Urged for Kids’ Heart, Breathing Rate Guidelines Guidelines for children’s heart and breathing rate reference ranges need to be updated, say researchers who reviewed 69 studies that included a total of about 143,000 children. The review produced new reference ranges that differ widely from existing published guidelines, according to Dr. Matthew Thompson, of Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues. The reference ranges are used for assessing and resuscitating children. [Yahoo News]
This past weekend, a friend (who is Chinese) sent me a link and I read, with a mixture of horror, amusement, disbelief, and slight agreement, the Wall Street Journal article by Amy Chua, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”
Being Chinese myself (and not even an American-Born Chinese or ABC), I wish I could tell you scary stories of what it was like growing up with an exacting, overbearing, and terrifying Chinese mother who would verbally beat me into submission. Except, believe it or not, I don’t have any. Growing up, I attended sleepovers and had play dates, watched TV, chose my own extracurriculars (including theater, but I didn’t act), rarely got grades less an an A (until college), and never played the violin (piano, yes, though I was far from being Lang Lang).
However, I did have Chinese friends with mothers like Amy Chua – and, those friends did excel better than me and also went on to Ivy Leagues, but some of those friends also grew up crying, feeling inadequate, and believing parental love and approval came with straight As. They extinguished their creative and artistic sides and prepared for life-long careers in medicine, engineering, and law. Over 147, 718 people (presumably Asians), including some of my friends, have shared Chua’s story on Facebook—and most of the comments have been the same: they remember what it was like growing up feeling criticized, never good enough, and uncertain whether the paths they chose was what they really wanted.
Amy Chua would probably say my parents became too Westernized when they moved to America and didn’t try hard enough. My own parents would probably be considered hippie Chinese parents even though they aren’t familiar with the term “hippie.” My parents never once yelled at me or called me “stupid, “worthless,” or “garbage.” They let me pull out of Chinese school when I refused to go and they encouraged my love for reading, art, and writing. As Patty Chang wrote on Huffington Post, not all children are the same so they can’t all be force-fed the same parenting style.