Send anyone this way to read along, but for permission to reprint, please contact Gail.
© Gail Underwood Parker

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Quick Takes: Kids Easy-Bake Chicken Recipe

Today's Quick Take is an easy recipe for kids learning to cook.

Easy Coated Chicken:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut boneless chicken into chunks.
Shake [in a small bag] or dredge to coat with dry salad dressing mix.
            [We use1-2 packets of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix]
Place chicken on a cooking sheet and put in the oven to bake.  [I usually turn it once halfway thru]
Bake 30-40 minutes depending on size of chunks and your oven.

[For best food safety teach your kiddos to use a food thermometer to check internal temp. Safe for chicken is 160 degrees]

That's IT.... Two ingredients. No fuss. No stirring.

Try it tonight!

PS: It works with pork too!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Anything Can Happen: YOYO dinner

All of us have had nights we didn't feel like cooking!
Whether you don't feel good, are sick, or the opposite... that it has been too beautiful a day to be in the kitchen, or that you are making huge headway on a project you are still knee deep in.... We all have times we don't feel like fixing the meal.

Turn it into fun!

In my house it was "Make Your Own Dinner" nights.  But at a recent parent training with other foster parents I heard of a MUCH more fun name for the night... one that sounds way more cool to your kids...

YOYO  night.

Not Yo-Yos as in the toys... YO YO as in:

You're On  Your  Own

Give it a try at your house... [make sure you have sandwich makings, salad stuff, or leftovers on hand for such an occasion, too!]

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Parenting Tips: Using a Calm Spot

Last week I talked about teaching your children with a "Calm Spot" rather than a "Naughty Chair."  I promised this week to detail how you use a Calm Spot... so no pictures today, just concrete info.

How do you use a Calm Spot?
When a child begins to seem out of control, you use a very calm, matter-if-fact tone and ask them if s/he would like to use their Calm Spot for a few minutes. 
If s/he does great.  When s/he comes back, ask "Did your Calm Spot help?" "Are your ready to xxx now?" and praise them for using their calm spot!!

If they choose not to go to their calm spot, say something like "That's fine. If you can calm down by yourself, great. But if you change your mind, go ahead and use your calm spot if you need to."

If they calm down... celebrate their success.  If they don't after a bit, or if things escalate, then explain that you insist that they go to their Calm Spot for a few minutes to get back in control of their feelings. 
Still stay calm.  
Still be matter-of-fact rather than punitive.  
Re-state, when you pick him up and move her to a quiet spot, that it's because you understand s/he needs some time and space to calm down. You are helping them. Do not give the impression that it is a punishment. If your attitude or words are punitive, they will view it as punishment.  It is up to you to always treat it as an opportunity for them to regain the control they need. The message they get is that you believe they can control their feelings, given the time, space, and support they need.  A powerful message.  

P.S.  Sometimes when they have done something that really upsets me, I will tell them [often as I help them to their Calm Spot] that I need to calm down too. That I am going to MY Calm Spot. I go to a quiet place in the house [assuming I can find one!] and do something to calm myself, whether calling a friend, reading a meditation, listening to music, etc.

Everyone needs a Calm Spot.  

Next Thursday:  What stuff can you use in a calm spot to help achieve calm?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Soapbox: Friendship Economy

Here is my second post in the series on Dr. Patch Adams' Rx for a better society. This is #7 in Adams' 10 challenges and it involves friendship. He asks us:
How can we move to an economics of friendship?
I've never met Patch Adams, and I am not completely sure what he means by "economics of friendship." My desktop dictionary defines economics as "the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services." How many goods and services of friendship do we produce, distribute, and consume?  

My father once talked to me about friendship as a bank account. He was trying to teach me as a child that you must put into a friendship as well as take out. You will certainly lose many friends if all you do is consume the goods and services of friendship. But you are also likely to lose friends if you only produce and distribute friendship.  This was a surprise to me, but has turned out to be true as I grew up.  Part of keep a friendship healthy is the balance of give and take.  Let you friends help you sometimes, just as you help them.  

There is a lot of talk in the news about our economy of money.  One of the things I enjoy on the news are the people stories of those who have stepped up in these tight times to help others.  The people who are definitely producing and distributing the goods and services of friendship.  But we can all do it better I expect. Maybe we could keep track for a week of how many actual goods and services of friendship we each produce distribute and consume.  How many quick check-in phone calls, or an occasional long listen to someone,or a visit, or card, or kindess extended?  If the economics of friendship were monitored as much as the financial economics I suspect the strains of a rough stretch would be far far easier to bear.

Image credits:,,

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Caring Heart: Dad's in Jail

Whether Dad or Mom, the reality is that many children in this country have parents who are incarcerated. Foster, kinship and adoptive parents are trying to find the path to helping those children.

Dad's in Jail

There will be no visit with Dad today.  Last night I got the call canceling the visit.  He is in jail now and will not be allowed visitation for at least a month.  In some ways I am a little relieved, but I dread the questions this little guy will ask me. Will he be heartbroken? Secretly relieved? Will he understand or be frightened or confused?  Will I be able to know what he is feeling or will he hide it deep within himself?  Help me teach him to maintain his privacy and yet be truthful when other people ask questions that put him in a social dilemma.  Help me give him a way to accept this separation without further damage to his emotional safety.  Help me allow him to feel the emotions as they come, and perhaps as much peace and acceptance as reasonable for his age.  If there comes a time when his father is allowed visitations at the jail, give me the strength to manage those circumstances.  Grant that this time of incarceration will be a time of reflection and growth for his father.  By your grace may the possibility of a better person and a better relationship with his son become reality and blessing for this child.

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker   Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Quick Takes: Homemade Beads

Make or use a batch homemade modeling playdough [see yesterday's post for one possible recipe].
Roll beads to desired round, oval, square, rectangular shapes.

Make a hole in each bead with a nail or a rounded toothpick.
[Make it big enough for the string or lace you will be using later.]


....roll in food coloring without blending, shape and cut into beads before adding holes and baking.

.....Paint to decorate if using white or plain dough.

Bake at 225 degrees a few hours until hard [or leave out overnight to dry thoroughly].

For easy bead-stringing without a needle, dip the end of a string in glue and shape the end into a point. Hanging with the point down, let it dry thoroughly. If you have made the hole in each bead wide enough, a shoelace will also work.

Note:  For younger children be very careful to make the beads large enough to avoid a choking hazard. 

Image credits and thanks to:,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Anything Can Happen: Homemade Modeling Dough

Today a quick recipe for inexpensive, quick to make modeling clay.  Make it ahead yourself or let the kids join in the mixing and kneading. [Adults only adding the boiling water.] 

Mix together:
            3/4 cup flour
            1/2 cup salt
1  1/2 teaspons oil
1/3 cup boiling water
Stir until well blended. [May seem crumbly before kneading.]
Divide and add food coloring, then knead until smooth.

Dough can be used to create beads or little creatures or dollhouse furniture and dishes, decorations or art sculptures.

Younger children can experiment with simpler rolling and making different colored pinwheels, mixing colors, and make impressions with small "tools."

Dough can be stored in an airtight container for relatively short periods of time. To double the fun, join in the creating with your children!

Tomorrow: Hints for turning the dough into baked beads for further creativity.

Image credits and thanks to:,,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Parenting Tips: Calm Spots

I live near the ocean and as a child spent some time each summer by the ocean.  Somehow over the years, I began to equate watching the water [especially waves] with calm.  If I am having a terrible day, the most healing place to go is to sit [in my car if it is December!] by the ocean and watch the waves for even just 5 minutes.  Somehow as each wave recedes it takes away some of my anger and frustration, and as each fresh wave comes in it brings me a bit of resilience and renewal. 

I have come to believe that everyone needs a calm spot. My calm spot of choice is the ocean. That concept has helped me with some of the kids who tend to be explosive, or defensive, or any of the other types of high emotion that seem to be beyond their ability to control. 

What is a Calm Spot?
I have asked each of my kiddos to chose a Calm Spot.  They can try out different ones to find the best.  Sometimes they need to change their spot. What is a calm spot?  I tell them it is a place they can go when they feel like their insides are going too fast, their feelings are going to explode, etc. It should be a place where they can calm themselves down and be safe until they do.  

Next Thursday I will tell you how I set up each child's Calm Spot, what I put there, etc. 
Happy Thursday!

P.S. Sorry, no time for finding photos this morning.... late waking up and an all day training to get to..... Fill i with a mental picture of YOUR calm spot!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Soapbox: Public Joy

About a year and a half ago I ran a series during my Wednesday Soapbox slots that people really seemed to appreciate.  I have been asked to rerun those posts. If anyone misses my usual soapbox posts, let me know and I will return to them.  Otherwise we will revisit Dr. PAtch Adam's Prescription to Change Society.

 Has anybody heard of Dr. Patch Adams?  Yes, the one on whose life the Robin Williams movie was based. Although the movie oversimplified his approach [of course] he did believe that "laughter, joy, and creativity are an integral part of the healing process." He once wrote a list of Ten Questions he thought could change our society.  Called "Patch's Prescription" it is his "Take 10 and call me in the morning." So I got thinking that maybe we could try one or two each week and see if we saw any difference in our lives or those around us. [Check out the link if you want to know some of what the soapbox will be looking at in the next few Wednesdays.]

Since we've been talking joy... let's look at his question about joy:

"If being publicly joyful, even silly, were beneficial for our society, would you participate?"

You can choose to do something small but silly like wear a clown nose, or two ties, or mismatched socks. Get some friends to join you! You can try being a bit more daring anonymously with a chicken dance in public or with some friends like the Inspired Mayhem group who also tried some silly walks in public to see if others would join in. Flash mobs are one of the better known examples of large groups and public silliness.
Some flash mobs create the effect by doing nothing in the middle of a grocery store.  

In NYC and other major cities there is an annual, really radical: No Pants Subway Day  [3500 participated in NYC in January]
In the UK they did two public art projects to revive the sense of silly in adults.

Sometimes silly even catches on and becomes a fad [Think hula hoops, pet rocks, and silly bandz!]

So. I challenge each of you to participate in an act of public joy this week.  If you are more radical or more daring, organize a group activity. Let's see what happens.  Let's make joyfulness contagious!  Think what could happen. I suspect Dr. Adams would be proud.  

Image credits:,,,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Focus on Fostering: Un-huggable?

Most children love to be hugged. But, sometimes children who have been through trauma actually shrink from hugs. Here is a strategy for giving them the affection without physical contact and gradually acclimate them to the idea of hugs. Give them a way to receive, give, and even exchange visual or by-proxy "hugs" until they are comfortable with that direct contact. 

Take some pink felt, some stuffing, and a permanent marker. Cut out two matching heart shapes. Write HUGS on one of the hearts. Stitch 3/4 the way around the two hearts, then stuff the heart and sew the opening closed.
If you want to be fancier… use embroidery thread to stitch the word HUGS and stitch around right sides together and then turn the hearts before stuffing to hide the seams inside once you stitch it closed. 

After you explain the stuffed hug to your child leave it for your child  to find... on their pillow at night, next to their lunch bag, at their table place etc. Tell your child that they can either give it back to you directly or can leave it someplace for you to find. 

The next step is to make it more personal and interactive. When you want to give the child a hug, hug the pillow in a gentle, affectionate hug, then hand the “hug” to the child and have him/her copy by giving the pillow a gentle hug. Explain it to the child and then give them their own hug pillow that they can use when they want to give a sign of affection by giving a “hug.”  Eventually most children will graduate from giving stuffed hugs to real hugs and you will have helped them take one more step in healing.

Until you get your stuffed hug ready... try web-searching for images of hugs, print some up, and leave a visual hug to surprise your child on their bed, in their binder,  under their laid-out clothes, etc.  Get creative and have fun with it!

Image credits and thanks to:, and especially...

Monday, March 19, 2012

School Bell: Absentee tricks

Does your child sometimes miss part of a school day because of dental or doctor appointments?  How about colds or strep throat? With younger children there is little The best plan is to plan ahead. [Isn't that often the case?]

The Set-Up
Have your child pick a "buddy." 
Good candidates? 
... someone who is pretty dependable. 
... someone who lives nearby and could drop off books or papers.
For upper grades legible handwriting is a bonus as is having a similar class schedule.

The Deal
The bargain is that if either of you is out of school or misses a class the other one will gather the papers handed out, assignments made, and notes given for the absent one.  If you know the night before that you are going to be absent, call your buddy and give them a heads up to remind them.  If you see your buddy out of a class, do the same for your buddy.  When school is over, stop by or phone to pass along the information. 

Note-Taking Trick:
The simplest way to take notes for someone else is using a sheet of good old-fashioned carbon paper. One sheet can be used several times and makes the copy as your write with no need for a copy machine etc.  Just slide the carbon and a plain sheet under your notebook page and the extra copy will be made as you write your own notes. Another possibility if the absence is going to be longer [like out for a hospitalization, chicken pox etc.] talk to the teacher and see if the teacher could photocopy the teaching notes for the one who is absent. 

Special Needs Kiddos: 
If writing is a problem, or a challenge for learning or physical disabilities, talk to the teacher and see if they would be willing to support either of the above strategies. They may even suggest someone in the class who takes good notes that would be allowed to share them with you.  

Image credits and thanks to:,,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Caring Heart: Figuring out the Fears

This is for all the parents of children who deal with anxiety.

Figuring Out the Fears

What happened to him?  He doesn't know.  We don't know.  The counselors don't know.  The department doesn't know.   But we all know something happened to him.  Maybe once, maybe more. Sometimes we can guess the cause. But other times not. There are certain places, certain types of situations, that just paralyze him with fear.  He doesn't even understand why.  He just knows he is suddenly terrified.  It sometimes seems so random.  No apparent link, no pattern.  Just a twisted knot of events that we can't seem to unravel. If we could just figure out the cause maybe we could find the road to a solution. But how can we do that when no one knows.  Give us clear heads, observant eyes, keen ears, and the empathy to put it all together.  Guide us to the answer, Lord, that we cannot seem to find ourselves. And if we cannot find the answer, so be it. But help us free him from his fears. Help us lead him out of this place of fear so that he can learn to enjoy this world around him.

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker   Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Quick Takes: Edible Art

For the youngest— [and the young at heart]

Edible fingerpaint:

Make vanilla pudding and let it cool. 

Divide into three different dishes.

Add different food colorings to each bowl. [red, blue, yellow]

Small children can draw on plain paper to their hearts delight and if they get covered with "paint" they can lick their fingers without concern. 

If staining or allergies are a concern, be particular about the coloring used.  

[Alternative: Do the same thing with plain yogurt.]

Image credit and thanks to:,

Friday, March 16, 2012

Anything Can Happen: Bubble Bonanza

When much of the United States is having unusually mild weather kids are especially itchy to get out side and play.  Even adults are enjoying the sun and mild weather... so here is an idea for celebrating the next warm day...

1. Save money and create extra fun making your own giant bubble liquid!

Mix the following ingredients [proportions can be approximate]:
1/2 cup liquid dishwashing soap
2 cups of water
4 Tablespoons of glycerin*

Glycerin is what makes the bubbles bigger and also stronger. If you don’t have any glycerin, some cooking oils  will work to a lesser degree. *
Another blogger suggests a bit more water and 1/2 cup of corn syrup instead of the glycerin. I haven't tried it, but it sounds simpler to do on the spur of the moment especially. Thanks Mamas Weeds! []  
2. Make unusual bubble wands from things at home:
...metal coat hangers and poles
...pipe cleaners for smaller one
... string and poles
For directions on how to use yarn and straws to make giant bubble wands at home click here for a post by fellow blogger "MamasWeeds" full of pictures and step by step help.

If you read her post you will see other photos of even just using your hands to make awesome bubbles. 

Whatever your age.... give it a try.  It's good clean [albeit a bit sticky] fun! 

I can almost guarantee laughter, delight, and memories that will last far beyond the best bubble.

Image credit and thanks to:,,

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Parenting Tips: Indoor Sandbox

Do rainy days leave your kids housebound and grumpy?  Try this solution for the sandbox set in your house....Great for apartments or for indoor rainy day play!

Take out a large baking pan [I use to keep a large tin turkey roaster on hand for this.] On a grander scale, try a shallow plastic storage tub [great because the lid makes it reusable for long periods without getting spilled or spoiled].

Fill with cornmeal . Add some baking spoons, measuring spoons, cups, a few funnels… even a small sand toy will work. 

I used to hide some small plastic or rubber toys [my kids used to love small cars, toy dinosaurs, and jungle animal figures. They would scoop and funnel and sieve until they discovered their “finds” and then play in their make believe world. 

Whether I used cornmeal, or rice [my favorite], or even oatmeal…. I didn’t have to worry if they put some in their mouths during the process. 

Image credit and thanks to:,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Soapbox: Let Them Be Children!

Yesterday I saw a family of five in the mall.  They were two parents and three daughters, and they brought me up short.  I don't know if they had come from having a picture taken or from a special family event or what, but they were clearly dressed up  in their best.  I was transported back to times when my girls and I were all dressed up.  But I was a bit stunned by the differences I saw.  When my girls were young, dressed up meant Polly Flinders smocked dressed with "Peter Pan" collars and fully fluffed bows in the back. Hair was pulled, tugged and cajoled into braids or ponytails.
Even older girls of middle school age wore "children's" styles, although the hair styles began to have more era-reflected variations. They still wore clothes distinctly different from the grown women or high school/college girls.

Now I know that styles change, but my point is that there was a difference in the style of girl's clothes and mom's clothes.  No mothers wore Polly Flinders smocking or big bows in back [although there was an occasional Peter Pan collar on a blouse or dress.].  There were distinct style differences between kids clothing and adults clothing.
It seems now that the only difference is size and proportion.

Little girls clothes now more often wear clothes that are just like their mother's clothes only miniaturized. It makes me a bit sad.  There is so little that is left to be special and distinct about childhood for children now.
It also makes me worried.  If we dress them as mini-adults from toddler years why are we surprised when they attempt/affect other adult styles and behaviors at a too-early age?

I won't rant on about this... just pose that question. But, I am going to spend a few posts over the next few weeks celebrating the fun of childhood activities and moments, of considering rediscovering some of the old pasttimes for children... before iPods and iPads and DVDs and more.  Come along... try a few.
Let's bring back childhood!

Image credits and thanks to:,,,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Focus on Fostering: Saying "I Love You"

Do you have an adolescent who is mortified when you say “I love you” in front of their friends?  Don’t stop giving them the messages of love and connection. Instead come up with a “secret” family code that means “I love you.”  You can still tell them you love them, and they can return the affection without embarrassment, and with the special touch of bonding through a secret code. 

In our family we used the deaf “I love you” finger sign longer before it became widely recognized in the hearing world.  Later we would call out “RILY” to stand for “Remember, I love you!” 

One day one of my children discovered that when you say “elephant shoes” your lips make the same moves as in saying “I love you.” Bingo a new secret code was born…. Most strangers, hearing us say,  “Don’t forget elephant shoes!” to a departing loved one are just left to wonder where they are going, and what they do!

Image credits:,

Monday, March 12, 2012

School Bell: Multiplication Tables Trick

Having trouble helping your kids learn those blasted multiplication tables?  Try this almost no fail trick for the 1-6 tables....  Work them into a game.  

1. Pick a game with a long trail [like Parcheesi, Sorry, etc.]. 

2. Explain that when you roll the dice you won't move the total of the two dice, but the product of the two dice. That means that the range of random dice rolls will mean moving anywhere from 1 space [1x1] to 36 [6x6] !

So what would have been a move of 6 can turn into a move of 5 [1x5], 8 [2x4], or even 9 [3x3]. A roll that might have been 12 [6+6] becomes a whopping 36 [6x6]. becomes While it will slow down the turns a bit while the child figures the math, they will move around the board faster too. The options of 1-36 will keep it moving and exciting and anyone's game.  

It's not a cure, but it is a way to sneak in some extra practice in a fun, enjoyable way.

For beginners:
--make the move in sets [a roll of 2 and 4 means moving 4 spaces twice or 2 spaces four times to discover the total move is 8].
--allow a multiplication table, or calculator

If you have only a bit of time:
--Choose any trail game and just see who is first to get one playing piece all the way around the board and back to the start. 
--Skip all the other rules and sidetracks and just make it a race once or twice around the board. 

For advanced tables: 
Buy two special ten-sided dice 0-9 for 30¢each from enasco
OR---After they have mastered the 1-6 tables roll the dice twice.... The first time for the first number, the second time for the second number.  This lets you get the 7-12 tables.  
OR---Use two plain wooden cubes [under 50¢ at craft stores] and label with 7,8,9,10,roll again, and lose turn. 

Image credits and thanks:,

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Caring Heart: Smoking

This concern is universal, going far beyond the world of foster care or adoption.  Every parent wants their child to be healthy and safe. 


I found three cigarette butts in her wastebasket.  How could I have missed it?  I can usually tell when someone has been smoking.  She must have stuck her head out the window to keep her room from getting that smell. Maybe she isn't smoking that much yet? Or is it that she isn't smoking that much here yet?  I know that many, many kids try smoking.  But it is sooo bad for her.  I know that anything I say will go in one ear and out the other.  That I will just seem old-fashioned, overbearing, or even hypocritical.  But it IS bad. And, it IS still illegal at her age.  Hot to mention that doing it is secret in her room is deceitful and actually dangerous to all of us.  If she dumps an ashtray in her wastebasket, or smokes in her bed, or if she quickly throws one behind a dress to avoid being caught.... there so many ways that this can be a fire risk for the whole house.  Help me find the words to talk with her.  Help her see my fear for her, rather than anger. Help her hear me. Help us.

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker   Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Quick Takes: A Joyful Sound!

I saw this just before leaving for my trip but had to wait until now to be able to post it.  They reported on this phenomenon on NBC Nightly News. I then did some online research and found an article about the project, composer Eric Whitacre's 2010 virtual choir performance and a blog about how he creates each virtual choir.  [Note: There has also been a YouTube virtual symphony]   Whitacre  made an instructional video for singers to learn their parts and then continued working to create his exceptional concert.

Can you imagine?....  music created by a virtual chorus.... nearly 3,800 strangers who have never met, probably never will.  Each one singing alone in their own home, office, bedroom, facing their computers individually, yet part of an amazing chorus.

Singing each part alone, yet together via that nebulous "cloud" that is the internet.... they joined together to make amazing and beautiful music!

Cyber music

A Cyber, Joyful Sound !

His 2011 results can be heard here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Anything Can Happen: The Joy Team

In keeping with what I asked us to think about in my Wednesday Soapbox post... how exactly can one go about scattering joy?  Think about what makes YOU smile.
Is it a baby's throaty chuckle?
Is it a bunch of joyful dancers in an unexpected flash mob?

While in Oregon I heard about the JOY billboards that are designed to spread joy and sponsored by the Joy Team [see below].  Maine has a law that forbids billboards of any kind. But imagine signs like this scattered across the country!
Check out their website to see how it is done and to see other examples of their projects.   a site devoted to spreading joy to millions through billboards, directories of love, joy, kindness, etc.
Note:  They also have a site geared for kids called the Junior Joy Team

If you need more ideas for happiness check out some of these websites!  [found by googling and exploring the results of searching "happiness"     an antidote for all the sadness and tragedy in the regular news programs  "How to Create the Happy Life You Deserve   site by the author of the book about a year searching for happiness    daily happiness tips, funny photos, etc.  People post photos and descriptions of their happiest moments

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Parenting Tips: TV Teaching.... pt 3 social learning

Television can often be a good teaching tool about social interactions and character. You can help your children learn to recognize mistakes and strengths, risks and choices by watching with them and discussing what you are seeing during the ads. 

1. Start with younger kids by talking out loud to the tv or to the characters in the show so that your children can hear your reactions to what the characters are doing and being. ["That's not very nice!", "Being mean like that will hurt her feelings" etc. ]

2. As soon as your children can answer back, engage them in the conversation. ["Why is the Queen being so mean to the Princess?" or "Why do you think the Prince like's Cinderella better than her sisters?" etc. ]

3. During elementary school continue watching together, identifying and discussing the behavior and choices of the characters they watch.  

Note: Television is an especially useful took if you have a child or adolescent who struggles with social interactions.  Sometimes they can learn to recognize things on the screen before they can sense it in themselves or people to whom they are close. 

4. Entering middle school or junior high you can use the choices of characters in teen shows to bring up topics for discussion without seeming to pinpoint or corner your child.  Almost any given teen show episode will give you an opportunity to discuss your personal family values and how kids handle social behavior challenges and peer pressure.  Don't miss this golden opportunity! Research shows that teens who are clear about their own family's moral standards are better able to resist peer pressure. And... you can give valuable advice to your children by talking to the tv characters about other ways they might have handled the story's situation, other answers they might have given, etc.  New or old rerun shows work equally well. 

[This is the third installment of ways to use television as teachers.  Check out the posts on Feb 6 and 20th if you missed them and watch for part 4 on March 26th's School Bell.]

Image credit and thanks:,,