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IconDon#146;t Give Up -- Try Our Two Secrets to Success At Home Creativity Persistence By: Jill Hart Working from home can be a very rewarding decision. There are so many benefits including freedom to create your own schedule, choosing the type of business that you want to represent, and being able to raise your children yourself. However, running a business can also become a very stressful situation. It takes time to build a successful business and many entrepreneurs become discouraged if they don#146;t achieve immediate results. Often times they give up too soon and regret it later. This doesn#146;t have to happen to you. Let us share with you what we found to be two top secrets to help you achieve success at home. One important thing that many work-at-home moms do not recognize is that it can take six months to a year at minimum for your business to be successful financially. If you are aware of this going into the business and have planned accordingly, then you are already one step ahead of the game and won#146;t become unnecessarily discouraged. Also, be aware that the time frame it takes to start a business will vary depending on the type of business that you are starting. For example, for those that are starting in direct sales, you may be able to jump in, hold some home parties, and see an income right away. In this case, then you just need to focus on maintaining this income to keep it successful. However, if you are starting an Internet business selling your own products or services, it may take much longer to see the fruits of your labor. For some, it can take a year or even two to create a #147;presence#148; online and for people to recognize and seek out your products. You will find that the benefits are well worth the time and effort in the end, but it can be discouraging waiting to see a profit. So, how does a person make it in the work-at-home world? I think the two most important aspects of running your own business from home are creativity and persistence. Creativity#151;Be creative in how you market your products and/or services. Start by thinking of ways that you can reach customers that will make you stand out from others who offer similar types of products. Design contests, free offers and other types of marketing strategies that will bring customers to your website. Then, try to determine what your customers are looking for once they reach your website and offer the most popular products on your front page. Keep in mind that it#146;s important to keep your website fresh so consider changing the items or text on your website#146;s front page often. This will continue to pique the interest of your customers each time they visit and encourage them to come back. Persistence#151;This is key when you are running a business from home. Don#146;t start out strong marketing yourself in every way possible and then simply stop marketing because you haven#146;t seen many sales. Most profitable businesses must continually be marketing their services to keep it successful. Try to think of a successful business that does no advertising. Can they just sit back and let the sales roll in from their website? Not really. It just doesn#146;t work that way. EVERY business must continue to advertise in some way to stay successful. For example, we found at Christian Work At Home Moms ( CWHAM.com ) that those that achieve the most success are the consistent advertisers, the ones who advertise regularly and keep their businesses, banners, and other promotions in front of their potential clients. This does not mean that you must spend hundreds of dollars a month to advertise your home-based business. What it does mean is that you must be persistent in the advertising that you choose to do. Budget your advertising dollars in a way that you can do a small amount consistently. Get involved in groups online and ask advice from other successful moms. Whatever you do, don#146;t stop talking about your business! And most importantly, don#146;t give up. Success IS possible. Take the time to be creative in how you are marketing your business. Be persistent and don#146;t expect profits immediately. Set realistic goals for your business and be patient while your business grows into something you can be proud of. Soon you#146;ll be among the millions of work-at-home moms who are enjoying it all: Being home with the kids, financial freedom, and the pride of having their own home-based business. Jill Hart is the author of the e-book, 2 Weeks Devotional Journey for Christian Work at Home Moms , and the founder and editor of Christian Work at Home Moms CWHAM.com . This site is dedicated to providing work at home moms with opportunities to promote their businesses while at the same time providing them spiritual encouragement and articles. E-mail Jill at jill@cwahm.com for additional information or stop by her site at CWHAM.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. This article is free to reprint if the Author#146;s Bio remains in tact. For additional articles, please contact Jill Hart. More >>

Icon#147;Hey Mom, there are lumps in my food!#148;: Introducing Food Textures By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers Lumpier and chewier foods help develop your baby#146;s oral (mouth) skills and build muscle tone. This is an important developmental step for your baby as better oral skills can influence how well your baby eats, speaks and makes facial expressions. When your baby is eight to nine months old, you can begin introducing different textures into her food. You can begin with tiny, soft, unnoticeable lumps in your baby#146;s foods. At first, she may selectively spit out these lumps, but in time, she will master the ability to control these little lumps in her mouth and swallow them. Slowly, you can move on to introducing mashed, ground or chopped table foods. To introduce textures simply mix some textured foods into your baby#146;s smooth, pureed baby food. Examples of foods that can be mixed with baby food to add texture include: fork-mashed banana mashed avocado mashed tofu puffed rice iron-fortified baby cereal oatmeal cooked rice fork-mashed baked potato (no skin) fork-mashed baked sweet potato, butternut or acorn squash cooked pastina (or very small, mashed pieces of pasta) melted cheese (stirred into food and allowed to cool before serving) Continue to feed your baby softly, pureed baby foods for most of the meal, and transition to more textures over a six- to eight-month period. All children develop at a different pace, and many children are very sensitive to textures. If your baby is having a tough time, just take it slowly, and discuss the behavior with your child#146;s healthcare provider. To smooth the way for introducing textures, here are few tips that will help you out: Always feed your baby in a #147;seated position.#148; Don#146;t be in a rush. Introduce new food textures one at a time and slowly add different ones. Start with foods your baby likes. Introduce new textures with other #147;smooth#148; baby foods that you know your baby will eat. Alternate new textures with familiar ones, this may help keep your baby interested. Apple Carrot Casserole 2 tablespoons fresh apple puree (or baby food) 2 tablespoons fresh carrot puree (or baby food) 1 tablespoon cooked pastina or finely chopped spaghetti Directions: Mix all ingredients together. Warm slightly (optional) and serve. Makes one serving. Fruity Breakfast Cereal 2 tablespoons rice baby cereal 2 tablespoons peach puree (or baby food) 2 tablespoons pear puree (or baby food) 1 tablespoon fork mashed cooked rice 2-3 tablespoons of breast milk or formula Directions: Mix all ingredients together. Warm slightly (optional) and serve. Makes one serving. About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children, and founders of Fresh Baby ( www.FreshBaby.com ). Raised by parents who love fresh foods and entertaining, their mom, a gourmet cook, ensured that they were well-equipped with extraordinary skills in the kitchen. Both with long track records of business success, they decided to combine their skills in the kitchen with their knowledge of healthy foods and children to create Fresh Baby. Cheryl and Joan put a modern twist on the conventional wisdom that when you make it yourself, you know it#146;s better. Their goal at Fresh Baby is to make the task of raising a healthy eater a little bit easier for all parents. Fresh Baby#146;s breastfeeding accessories and baby food making supplies provide parents with practical knowledge and innovative tools to support them in introducing their children to great tasting, all-natural foods #150; easily and conveniently. Visit them online at www.FreshBaby.com and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family's healthy eating habits! Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

IconGot Substance#133; With Your Child? by Lesley Spencer, MSc; Founder President HBWM.com Inc. http://www.HomeBasedWorkingMoms.com How would your child answer the question, #147;Who knows you better -- us or your friends?" We hope our children answer us, but would they? What about those deep conversations with your son or daughter that truly allow you into their world. Do you know the last time they cried or why they cried? Do they come to you with celebrations or things they are excited about? Or do they go to their friends? Where would they go in a crisis? Do they consider you a safe place to come if they needed help or guidance in their life? What about just to share a unique joy or something fun that happened during their day? Who would be the first person they would tell? If your kids would not come to you, perhaps now is the time to make that an appealing and natural option for them. What are some ways you can enter into your child's life and really become part of their world? Here are a few suggestions. The idea is to spend time with our children strengthening our relationship and opening the lines of communication with them. Parent / Child Date Night - This could be dinner out or simply asking your child what he or she would most want to do with you on your special night out. If possible, treat each child to his or her own date night with mom or dad. Boy#146;s / Girl#146;s Weekend Away #150; This could be an inexpensive camping trip or a hotel getaway for just the boys or just the girls. Family Game Night #150; A great way to get the family laughing and having fun. Interacting as a family strengthens your bond and opens the lines of communication. Dinner Time #150; Make it a point to eat dinner together every night if possible. Start a tradition of discussing the best thing that happened that day or what you are most thankful for that day #150; anything to get a positive conversation going with your family. Ice Cream Fun #150; Make your own or go out for ice cream and enjoy discussing events and people in your kid#146;s lives. Ask about their day. What was fun or what was hard about their day. Girl#146;s Manicure or Pedicure Fun #150; Most girls enjoy pampering so mom and daughters get out some nail polish and have some fun or head to a salon and get pampered. Boys and Balls. Get out the football, baseball or basketball and use this time to engage your son and enter into his world through the love of sports (or whatever hobby he or she may have). Mission Trips #150; My 10-year-old daughter and I participated in a mission trip to Mexico this year. It was a great bonding experience and a great way to more fully appreciate the many blessings in our lives. (You can learn about available mission trips by searching the Internet.) Family Camp #150; Probably the most powerful bonding experience I have had with my kids is family camp. This is our fourth year to go to family camp and it is the most anticipated and enjoyed event of the year for my kids. The camp we go to well balanced with focused time with God and Bible lessons, family time, couple or individual time and group fellowship time. There is no shortage of fun, adventure and relaxation. I can think of no better experience for families than to spend a week growing spiritually and bonding as a family. Lesley Spencer is founder and president of the HBWM.com, Inc. Network whichincludes: http://www.HomeBasedWorkingMoms.com , http://www.WorkAtHomeKit.com , http://www.edirectoryofhomebasedcareers.com , http://www.momsworkathomesite.com , http://www.HBWMconferences.com , http://www.HBWMcanada.com and http://www.HireMyMom.com (coming soon!). She has a Master's Degree in Public Relations and has been featured in numerous media outlets including CBS News, Forbes, Business Week, Parents, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. She has been working from home for over 10 years and has two children whom she absolutely adores! Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

IconCharacter First; Designer Jeans Last By Anne Leedom Kids today are very fortunate. They have so many activities to choose from compared to what was available thirty years ago. However, parents might be cautioned to take a moment and decide#133;.is it really in your child#146;s best interest that she take on the next round of activities? Does your child need the expensive items? Do you really have your child#146;s best interest at heart? Let#146;s take a look at what the experts say. Research is very clear on this one. Kids who are taught the virtues of empathy, compassion and self-control#133;those are the kids that succeed. They succeed in relationships, academically, and financially. So, next time you are thinking of what to nurture in your child, think character first. These guidelines can help your child get the most of their activities without compromising the most important goals parents have#133;.teaching their kids to do the right thing. Set limitations in your household. It#146;s all too common to hear what other kids have or get to do. However, we each need to decide in our own homes what is appropriate and best and then stick to it. Have your children earn their own spending money. They will scale down their wish list to affordable quantities and bargains. Children will reason: #147;I can#146;t afford this, but I can afford that#133;#148; Life is about learning to make wise choices. Fill Kids Up From the Inside Out. Your children may be telling you that they feel empty inside, that they need artificial stimulation because they are hungry#151;hungry for you, the strong family unit. Talk to them more. Do activities together (not shopping). Make sure to have a family dinner hour to listen to them- try to listen more and only speak unless asked to. The best gift is yourself and your time. Do volunteer work with your children. Let them see the internal side of life, not merely the external, and how they can make a positive contribution Exercise with your children. Exercising will help children get rid of stress, raise their endorphins and make them happier. Encourage creative expression. This can be through writing, painting, music, sculpting, carving, cooking, etc. Original thinking will encourage children to become nonconformists, take the road less traveled by and therefore not need the validation of looking like everyone else. Fashion and materialism are expressions of personal style; encourage your children to develop their individual style. I will be the first to say that money is a nice thing to have. It#146;s a wonderful thing to provide well for your kids and enjoy the perks of life if you can. Just remember to incorporate a steady and consistent dose of gratitude and self-control, or the benefits you many be trying to give your child can actually come back to haunt them#133;and you. Anne Leedom is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of www.parentingbookmark.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

IconDiscipline, not Punishment By Anne Leedom It#146;s kind of tragic that just as we master the baby and toddler years we are thrown a whole new set of curves. Our kids grow and develop new and not always desirable behaviors and we now have to learn how to cope once again. So I set out to construct the perfect plan and I am proud to say it has stood the test, at least for now. Behavior battles seem to be at a minimum in our home. Based on information from a variety of experts, I have put into motion a strategy that should provide long term relief and a much happier and harmonious day. The Set Up Let#146;s face it. We just push our kids too far. We stray from the routine to the point where even the most accommodating child will break. It could be preventing them from getting their rest, letting them get too hungry, asking them to be overly patient while we do our errands, chores or work, or providing so much fun and stimulation that they simply go on overload. This is a critical element to watch, or you will have the perfect situation for the ultimate tantrum. Watch the Barometer Without warning kids can suddenly hit their limits and patience begins to wane rapidly. Too often parents try to dictate in this moment how they want their child to behave. Unfortunately, the barometer is rising and our wishes will almost certainly fall on deaf and increasingly angry ears. As soon as you notice the struggle, begin to take the child aside to a quiet location and try to reason with them. For example, #147;I don#146;t want to take a bath#148; can become a conversation about whether to take a bath or shower. In these crucial early moments, giving kids a small choice can go a long way toward preventing a potential meltdown. Change the Course Even the most prepared parent will encounter those horrid moments when kids are just going to wail. The key in this moment is to move past the moment as quickly and quietly as possible. Deciding to give them a bath in the morning instead of right at that moment or letting your child read in bed with the door closed for five more minutes will almost certainly restore harmony. Sure, you may not be able to expedite the plan you had in mind, but the goal is to work together. It#146;s not about giving your child control; it#146;s about giving your child some control. Disciplining your child is a team effort . You need to involve your child in the solution so they are more willing to cooperate. Parents who raise kids in this manner have kids who will cooperate more often than not. The battles are over before they begin and you will not be caught wondering what to do when those difficult moments arise. Keep in Mind No one reacts well to the word #147;no#148;. There are dozens of ways we can say no without over-using this word. Simply saying, #147;Gee, that#146;s a thought. I will think about that,#148; has a completely different sound to a child. Kids know when we mean no. But once again, they like to feel they are being considered in the process. A little tact is another key ingredient to raising kids with at least a few less tantrums. Ultimately, these strategies give parents something we all long for. We want to feel like we can actually overcome the battles and feel like we have won, but not at the expense of our kids#146; love and respect. Discipline that empowers the parent and the child is a winning formula for the long haul. Anne Leedom is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of www.parentingbookmark.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

IconSpoiling Children: The Eight Myths By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller Myth #1 You will spoil your baby if you handle her too much. You should let her cry sometimes. Reality: You can not spoil a baby. Babies need to be touched, squeezed, coddled, and held. Babies cry because they are hungry, sick, wet, messy, or desire attention. Pick up your baby and hold her. Do it as often as you like. Myth #2 Kids should not grow up believing they can have anything they want. Reality: It is desirable and an example of effective parenting to teach children they can have anything they want. They may have to work for it though. And they may not get it at this moment. When you are shopping and your child asks, #147;Can I have one of those?#148; respond with, #147;Sure, how are you going to pay for it?#148; or #147;What are you willing to do to get it?#148; Ask, #147;How much money do you have?#146; or #147;#148;Do you have a plan for getting it?#148; Our job as parents is to help our children learn they can have whatever they want if they are willing to work for it. During the process of figuring out how to get whatever it is they desire, they may learn about problem-solving, planning, setting priorities, and goal achievement. They may even come to see themselves as being able to create what they want in their own lives. That is about as far from being spoiled as you can get. We call this phenomena self-responsibility. Myth #3 Spoiled children exist. Reality: There is no such thing as a spoiled child. Spoiled is an inference, a judgment that people make after noticing behaviors. Are there children who act as if they are entitled? Yes. Are there children who whine until the parents cave in? Yes. Are there children who pout if they don#146;t get their way? Yes. Are there children who seem unappreciative of small gifts? Yes. Does that make them spoiled? NO. It makes them children who have learned or are trying out new behaviors in an attempt to get what they want. Children who do the behaviors in the paragraph above are not spoiled. They are children who are choosing inappropriate behaviors, behaviors that need to be redirected, that need to be replaced with other choices. These are children that need to be taught more effective ways of interacting, of asking for what they want, of expressing their feelings. Myth #4: Spoiled is a good descriptor of some children. Reality: Spoiled is never an accurate descriptor of children. Spoiled does not describe a behavior. It judges it. Do not label children as spoiled. Not aloud, nor in your head. When you label children as spoiled you tend to believe they are spoiled. When you believe they are spoiled you are more likely to notice anything they do that could be interpreted as spoiled. When you see things that can be interpreted as spoiled you prove your belief to yourself that the child is indeed spoiled. Your belief then becomes entrenched and you eventually communicate your belief to your child and she begins to see herself as spoiled. Myth #5 It#146;s important to tell children when they are acting spoiled and call them on it. Reality: Labeling children spoiled or telling they are acting spoiled in never a good parenting move. When you call a child spoiled what he likely hears is not #147;spoiled.#148; He is more likely to hear #147;spoiled rotten.#148; Do you want your child thinking of himself as spoiled rotten? When you notice yourself thinking a child is spoiled, ask yourself, #147;What is the behavior he is doing that I am judging as spoiled?#148; Then communicate a description of that behavior along with any other helpful information you need to share. #147;Jenny, I see you sitting with your head down and a frown on your face. Would you like to tell me about that?#148; #147;Chico, that sounds like whining. Whining doesn#146;t work with me. Your best hope of getting what you want is to tell me in a normal voice and explain what you are willing to do to help get it.#148; #147;Roland, I noticed you paid little attention to grandma#146;s gift and shared no words of appreciation. Is there some way you could honor her giving even if you didn#146;t like the gift?#148; Myth #6: Children who have an abundance of material things are likely to be spoiled. Not true. A friend of ours recently bought a horse for his two young boys. A close friend of his, hearing of the purchase said, #147;There you go again spoiling your children.#148; Is it spoiling the children if they contribute to the purchase price, clean stalls, and play a role in feeding and grooming the horse? Is it spoiling them if they learn lessons about safety around large animals, bond with another of God#146;s creatures, and learn about the self-discipline it takes to become an accomplished rider? Is it spoiling them if they connect with their father working side by side in the barn, sweating, laughing, and learning about each other? Whether a child has a 10 speed bicycle, a horse, or a convertible is not an indication of whether or not she is spoiled. Look instead to how the material object was obtained, how it is used, and to the child#146;s attitude about it. That will give you more information about #147;spoiled#148; than the amount of material things she has. Myth #7: Spoiled children need to change No, parents need to change. Parents need to change their attitudes about spoiled children and see instead a child who is attempting to satisfy his needs with an ineffective behavior. They need to change their own behaviors and be willing to take the time to teach new behaviors to their children. They need to be willing to confront, deal with conflict, and take the time to do solution-seeking. Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose . They also publish a FREE email newsletter for parents and another for educators. Subscribe to them when you visit, www.chickmoorman.com or www.thomashaller.com . Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are two of the world#146;s foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. For more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their websites today. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

IconKeeping Growing Kids Safe from Negative Influences By Anne Leedom One thing all parents have in common is the awareness that kids grow up so fast. You really do blink and they have moved into another phase, another age and with it come a whole new set of attitudes, behaviors and potential dangers. I find it very comforting that I no longer have to worry about my babies succumbing to SIDS or choking. My house is no longer baby proofed. However, there is still a serious threat everyday of new and often more frightening dangers that threaten my kids. One of the most frightening aspects of these new dangers is that I won#146;t always be five feet away to protect them. I have spent years researching the many ways to keep my kids safe and help guide them to know on their own how to do the right thing. Here the most important factors I have discovered to increase their chances of staying safe through their growing years. Provide a sanctuary at home Giving your kids a home where they feel comfortable is one of the most important things you can do to keep your kids safe. Let them know they can have their friends over. Know the kids your kids are hanging out with. Don#146;t worry about everything being perfect. One wise father I know puts together a wonderful party at his house for his kids during school dances. He gives his kids a place to come to with their friends where they can have a great time and not feel like they have to be in a place that might not be in their best interest. Be a positive role model One of the primary needs all human beings have is that of belonging. Give your kids a sense they are part of a family, whatever your family set up might be, that they feel proud of. Let them see you living a life you are happy and proud of. It#146;s a natural magnet. Kids really do want to be around their parents if their parents are happy and productive and excited about life. The best gift you can give your kids is to include them in a world where they feel blessed and life is good. Keep communication lines open One of my favorite times growing up was sitting in the kitchen talking with my mother while she made dinner. This didn#146;t happen every night, but it did provide a frequent and relaxed environment to discuss the day and what happened to both of us. The key element that kept communication flowing is that she shared things with me as much as she wanted me to share with her. It was a two way, respectful relationship where we both felt valued. This made it very easy to come to her with more difficult issues as they arose. Make sure your kids feel treasured There is a big difference between feeling loved and feeling treasured. When kids feel treasured and special they understand more deeply how much they hurt others by making poor decisions. Take a moment each day to write your child a note, put a flower in your daughter#146;s room, and spend some one on one time with them. Small, creative gestures build a special feeling in kids that they are truly valued. This not only builds self-esteem, but it also builds a sense of self-protectiveness in your child. When they feel connected to others who care about them, they are far less likely to place themselves in harms way. So ask yourself if your child FEELS loved, not just if you love your child. Connect your child to the world As kids grow they need to feel they are part of a bigger world than just their immediate family. Sheltering our kids too much sets them up for poor relationship choices. Involve them in outside groups and with other families YOU feel are in their best interest. By controlling initially where they spend their time outside of home, you will go a long way toward giving them healthy and safe alternatives. Be constantly aware of changes in your child The most attentive and involved parents may still find themselves facing challenges with their kids and the negative influences that confront kids everyday. One of the best tools to keep your kids safe is to be aware of changes in their behavior and or attitude that could signal that something is wrong. Signs of withdrawal or hostility and be normal as kids naturally become more independent. Be on the lookout for extremes or unusual and unexplained changes and be insistent on knowing what#146;s happening with your child. Don#146;t let them brush you off. By being consistent without being too invasive you can maintain a pulse for your child#146;s inner world and be a life saving device if needed. Anne Leedom is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of www.parentingbookmark.com and a contributing editor to www.tadpole.com . She has been quoted in national print including Parents, Redbook and Nick Jr. Magazines and has been a guest on National Public Radio Affiliate WHWC on the show "Mental Health Today with Dr. Minette Ponick." Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

IconWorried about Toddlerhood? Don#146;t. Just Let Them Play! By Jodie Lynn www.ParentToParent.com Just Let Them Play! Parents can get pretty busy and our relationships with our kids, spouse and ourselves can be extremely strained leading to an unhappy mom. Our world is a whirlwind filled with schedules and constant deadlines. Make sure you are taking time out for a simple but important pleasure with your kids: PLAYING. This doesn't mean you have to always entertain them, even have company over for them everyday, or even sign them up for every single activity possible to enrich their whole being of a "perfect child." Take a breather here and there to monitor their playtime and implement unscheduled time for them to just be a "kid" #133;for you to just be a mom and for good old dad to just be a "kid" -- er, a dad. Playing With Others If you are wondering if it#146;s OK for your child to be perfectly happy playing with play dough by herself, don#146;t fret. It#146;s not a big deal. In fact, it#146;s perfectly normal to stand back and watch others interact. Most toddlers aren#146;t into social behavior until the age of two or three. Check out this handy checklist and relax. (Birth to age 15 months) - Repetition play helps the child to learn about her world. Dropping an object is one of the most common games. Even a six-month old will drop something and watch to see if someone will pick it up. If it does get picked up, it delivers pure delight when she gets to drop it over and over until someone stops picking it up. While it may drive many of us nuts, it is an excellent way to help the child gain control over her immediate environment while mastering a new skill. (Age 15 months to 2 years) - Observing others but not participating is often referred to as the onlooker stage. This is common among all children. Playing by themselves is called solitary play. Here they just play by themselves. While older kids do this as well, it is not as popular as actually engaging in activities unless the child is reserved (which most parents refer to as being "shy.") Whether observing or playing, both help the child learn how to get along with others, building social skills while exposing them to language. Kids do not have to be a perfect little social butterfly -- and neither you nor your husband needs to feel stressed if they want to be alone. (Ages 2 to 3 years) - Most older toddlers play side by side but are not really playing. This is called parallel play. There may not be any real interaction but it still provides a perfect chance to begin learning what belongs to whom...but mostly "mine." As they watch others and maybe dress up while pretending to pour and serve a drink, milk of course, they are experiencing their first taste to role-playing. All of this helps develop gross motor skills as well as some fine motor skills. So, relax, mom and dad, she will come around when ready. (Ages 4 to 4 1/2 years) - This age group displays very unstructured organized play called associative play. An example of this would be when children are all sharing a box of action figures, but may all be playing different things with their own figures. Another example would be where children decide to play with a common aspiration in mind, like entertaining each other by singing a song for a pretend audience. The more interaction children have with other children, the better understood the rules of getting along would become. Playing with others teaches how to share, encourages language and the introduction of being fair. This age group can become quite creative and gain great self-esteem (especially if parents let go of the perfect child syndrome) and play right along the side of your bouncing rolling and free to be me kiddo. (Age 5 and up) - Here is when things begin to turn into clear competition. While younger children often feel frustrated with rules of winning, the positive side is that games and rules offer the chance to build character and choose friends. As they grow older, they will enjoy being part of a group (some like large groups while others prefer small groups) which will help them become aware of different children and different ideas. This is especially a fun time for dad who often times acts like a big kid himself and children love it! All in all, if your child is not into other kids, don#145;t push too hard. She will come around when she is ready. For now, give her the space she may need to become more independent while still being there when she needs you. copy; 2007 Jodie Lynn Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. ParentToParent.com is now going into its tenth year and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to many sites including eDiets.com and is the Mom to Mom Expert for BabyCenter.com. She has written two books and contributed to two others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest best-selling parenting/family book is Mommy CEO, revised edition . Preorder Lynn's new book, "Mom CEO: Avoiding the Distressed Housewife Syndrome and Winning at Motherhood," online or from any bookstore. 2007 Permission granted for use by Dr. Laura. More >>

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