Sunday, November 27, 2011

THE ENGAGEMENT OF RULES - Setting Up Rules and Boundaries

Children may have a set of rules and boundaries at their own homes…or not…but for OUR sanity and safety, and THEIRS, it makes sense to establish ground-rules early on. This goes for visits, car rides, plane trips, outings, and almost everything we do with our great-grandchildren.

Establishing rules and boundaries isn’t just “adult speak”. As soon as children have language, they can participate in the creation of safe and healthy boundaries. In order for them to be effective, children need to be involved. When it is appropriate, you can write everything down, and post it in a suitable place.

Around the kitchen are many tempting and hazardous opportunities. Justin, age 3, tries to turn the stove knobs. At that moment, one would need to intervene. However, afterwards, it’s helpful to talk with Justin and ask him what kind of rules there should be when he’s in the kitchen. If he’s not sure, help him understand why they are important. Later, or another time, ask him to repeat these to you. Soon you won’t have to remind him.

Emily and Sadie are sisters, both under 8 who are often in each other’s faces. Before they come to spend the day at your house, have a discussion about what they think should happen if one or the other starts a fight. Help guide them to a non-violent resolution, which hopefully can be implemented at the time a disagreement occurs. Remind them of the “rules” they set up, which may include using a timer for sharing, using non-hurtful words, and asking you to help mediate.

Children have so much going on in their lives, and sometimes, they just can’t abide by the rules, even if they made them. Occasionally, your great-grandchild will test you, ignoring the rules that they’ve helped establish. If you can keep your calm, try to support you great-grandchild’s angst, and at the same time, tell him/her that you expect the rules to be followed. Use this as their “warning”. If the problem persists, there is always the proverbial, non-violent “time-out”.

Holidays are a time when families get together and when rules are easily “forgotten”. It’s a good time to revisit the boundaries you and the great-grandchildren have set. Keep in perspective all of the hype and attention that surrounds us during this busy and stressful time. After all is said and done, the bottom line is that you and your family stay safe. Rules and boundaries help make that happen.

June & Laurie

Thursday, September 15, 2011

SCARY, CONFUSING TIMES: 9/11, Hurricanes, Tsunamis and More

The TV and newspapers have recently been full of images and discussions about very scary happenings: 9/11, hurricane Irene, earthquakes, tsunamis, wars and neighborhood violence, among other things. While some of our great-grandchildren may be too young to read about it or actually watch it on TV, they certainly can hear us all talk about these terrible, frightening tragedies. No matter the age, children sense our fears, anger and concerns, and even though they may not totally understand the specific incident, they internalize our feelings, overt or not…they can read us like a book.

Every generation has real dangers to worry about: AIDS, nuclear bombs, presidential assassinations, wars, etc. But it seems that this generation has it more vividly and immediately “in their face”…making it seem closer to home.

We’ve written about this topic in several venues, but still feel that the person with the BEST perspective was Fred Rogers. While some of our children and grandchildren may not be aware of his great contributions to children and families, we know that after reading this, you too, will be pleased to remember him with great respect. These words of advice apply to ANYONE involved with children.

Helping Children Deal withTragic Events in the News:
Timeless wisdom from Fred Rogers
During his lifetime, Fred Rogers became known for his reassuring way of helping families of young children deal with difficult times, beginning with his response to Robert Kennedy’s assassination. Over the years since then, there have, unfortunately, been other tragic events during which parents and educators turned to him for his calming and thoughtful insight. Fred Rogers’ wisdom is timeless, and his messages continue to be valuable for children and the people who care for them, as we deal with the events of today’s world.

In times of community or world-wide crisis, it’s easy to assume that young children don’t know what’s going on. But one thing’s for sure, children are very sensitive to how their parents feel. They’re keenly aware of the expressions on their parents’ faces and the tone of their voices. Children sense when their parents are really worried, whether they’re watching the news or talking about it with others. No matter what children know about a crisis, it’s especially scary for them to realize that their parents are scared.

Who will take care of me?
In times of crisis, children want to know, “Who will take care of me?” They’re dependent on adults for their survival and security. They’re naturally self-centered. They need to hear very clearly that their parents are doing all they can to take care of them and to keep them safe. They also need to know that people in the government, in their community and in the world, and other people they don’t even know, are working hard to keep them safe, too.

Helping children feel more secure
Play is one of the important ways young children have of dealing with their concerns. But, even playing about the news can be scary and sometimes unsafe. So adults need to be nearby to redirect that kind of play into nurturing themes, such as a hospital for the wounded or a pretend meal for emergency workers. When children are scared and anxious, they might become more dependent, clingy, and afraid to go to bed at night. Whining, aggressive behavior, or toilet accidents may be their way of asking for more comfort from the important adults in their lives. Little by little, as we adults around them become more confident, hopeful and secure, our children probably will, too.

Scary, confusing images
The way that news is presented on television can be quite confusing for a young child. The same video segment may be shown over and over again through the day, as if each showing was a different event. Someone who has died turns up alive and then dies again and again. Children often become very anxious since they don’t understand much about videotaped replays, close-ups, and camera angles. Any televised danger seems close to home to them because the tragic scenes are taking place on the television set right in their own living room. Children can’t tell the difference between what’s close and what’s far away... what’s real and what’s pretend... or what’s new and what’s re-run. The younger the children are, the more likely they are to be interested in the typical news scenes of close-up faces, particularly if the people are expressing strong feelings. When there’s tragic news, the images on TV are most often much too graphic and too disturbing for young children.

Turn off the TV
When there’s something tragic in the news, many parents get concerned about what and how to tell their children. It’s even harder than usual if we’re struggling with our own powerful feelings about what has happened. Adults may be somewhat surprised that their own reactions to a televised crisis are so strong, but great loss and devastation in the news often reawaken our own earlier losses and fears... even some we thought we have “forgotten.” It’s easy to allow ourselves to get drawn into watching televised news of a crisis for hours and hours; however, exposing ourselves to so many tragedies can make us feel hopeless, insecure, and even depressed. We help our children—and ourselves—if we’re able to limit our own television viewing. Our children need us to spend time with them—away from the frightening images on the screen.

Talking and listening
Even if we wanted to, it would be impossible to give our children all the reasons for such things as war, terrorists, abuse, murders, fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes. If they ask questions, our best answer may be to ask them, ”What do you think happened?” If the answer is, “I don’t know,” then the simplest reply might be something like, ”I’m sad about the news, and I’m worried. But I love you, and I’m here to care for you.” If we don’t let children know it’s okay to feel sad and scared, they may try to hide those feelings or think something is wrong with them whenever they do feel that way. They certainly don’t need details of what’s making us sad or scared, but if we can help them accept their own feelings as natural and normal, their feelings will be much more manageable for them. Angry feelings are also part of being human, especially when we feel powerless. One of the most important messages we can give our children is,”It’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to hurt ourselves or others.” Besides giving children the right to their anger, we can encourage them to find constructive things to do with their feelings. This way, we’ll be giving them useful tools that will serve them all their life and help them to become the world’s future peacemakers... ...the world’s future “helpers.”

Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: “My mother would say to me, ’Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”

Helpful hints
• Do your best to keep the television off, or at least limit how much your child sees of any news event.
• Try to keep yourself calm. Your presence can help your child feel more secure.
• Give your child extra comfort and physical affection, like hugs or snuggling up together with a favorite book. Physical comfort goes a long way towards providing security. That closeness can nourish you, too.
• Try to keep regular routines as normal as possible. Children and adults count on familiar patterns of everyday life.
• Plan something that you and your child can enjoy together, like taking a walk or going on a picnic, having some quiet time together or doing something silly. It can help to know there are simple things in life that can help us feel better, both in good times and in bad.
• Even if children don’t mention what they’ve seen or heard in the news, it can help to ask what they think has happened. If parents don’t bring up the subject, children can be left with their misinterpretations. You may be surprised at how much your child has heard from others.
• Focus attention on the helpers, like the police, firemen, doctors, nurses, paramedics and volunteers. It’s reassuring to know there are many caring people who are doing all they can to help in this world.
• Let your child know if you’re making a donation or going to a meeting, writing a letter or e-mail of support, or taking some other action. It can help children know that adults take many different active roles...and that we don’t give in to helplessness in time of crisis.

Children need to know that EVERYONE has fears…but using some of these timeless and time-tested ideas, can help mitigate the intensity.

This material is excerpted with the permission of Family Communications, Inc., from The Mister Rogers Parenting Book. Family communications is the nonprofit company founded by Fred Rogers to produce Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and a wide variety of material for and about children. The company continues to support Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in its national broadcast on PBS and to expand Fred Rogers’ legacy in new directions.For more information on Family Communications and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, visit their website at . Text copyright 2004 Family Communications, Inc

Thursday, July 28, 2011


We know from our own professional and personal experience that many children have imaginary friends. As great/grandparents, how do we react to this: Are we the ones to bring reality to the scene or do we participate in the fantasy?

Haven’t you ever wanted someone to be your friend, available day or night, who would: not judge you, not talk when you wanted silence, protect you from scary things, take the blame for any accidents, sympathize with your daily problems and rejoice in your everyday victories, participate in your adventures (real or fantasy) and keep your secrets safe?  During their early years, kids make these friendships possible all the time. Viola, meet your great/grandchild’s “imaginary’ friend.

As we’ve written in other publications: “When children become verbal and until school age, around six years old, one of their major developmental tasks is to learn the difference between reality and fantasy. What is real and what is pretend? They may include an ‘imaginary’ friend, ‘Robin’, in their play, and not want anyone to sit on the empty swing next to them, because it’s being occupied by ‘Robin’. During these years of figuring out what is real and what is fantasy, dramatic play with imaginary friends is a normal and productive exercise.”

If your young great/grandchild has an imaginary friend, it may be puzzling. You may wonder if there is something missing from the child’s life if s/he has to depend on a friend you cannot see, hear or understand. Are tea parties with two place settings and wonderful, intimate conversations an OK thing when the child is the only one present? How about a card-table tent that has room for two astronauts and only the child is talking and acting out a lunar landing with a never-to-be-seen buddy?

Imaginary friends, at this age, can be a comforting and creative way for young children to deal with the joys and stresses of daily life. Wyatt may be able to share his concerns about starting a new school with his imaginary friend, while not wanting to appear afraid to the rest of the world. Emma may be able to talk and think about her siblings in a hateful, but safe way. Jason comments on how unfair things are at home when he has to put away his toys, but his older sister is free to play on the IPad.

Because children’s sense of time is so different than ours, often when children are asked to play by themselves, they may experience the time as loneliness. An hour to a child can be “forever” while an hour to us may seem like not long enough. When some children feel this way, it may call for bringing the imaginary friend into the picture and compensate for feeling lonely

Children could also be concerned with a family’s pressures, and an imaginary friend can come in handy. Margaret Taylor, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, says “this is a common occurrence---over 65% of children have imaginary companions”.

What role do great/grandparents play in this kind of fantasy? Some may feel comfortable entering the fantasy life of the child; joining the tea party or becoming an astronaut. Whether you decide to participate or not, it’s important to be respectful of the child’s imaginative play and understand that this is a normal part of the developmental process. Young children need support in the difficult tasks of growing up. Having an imaginary friend may or may not be the way that these vital childhood challenges are handled. Some children may need their “blankie” or transitional object to help them. Some children may need none of the above, or both. But providing them with the opportunities to create their own unique way of working through these stages gives them the courage to take on the next steps of growing up.

Friday, June 10, 2011


First of all, we want to tell you, WE’RE BACK!!! It’s been a long three months since we last posted on our blog, but life kind of got in our way. We’re so excited about starting to write again. Hope you missed us as much as we've missed you.

Making each great-grandchild feel special is a challenge, especially when there’s more than one in the family. One way we do this is by plugging into what’s currently the “hot interest/s” of the child/ren, because it’s fun and easy to do. We can find all kinds of activities to nurture those interests…for example: reading books about dinosaurs, watching TV programs about dinosaurs, finding fun facts on the computer about dinosaurs, playing with puppet and toy dinosaurs, going to the Natural History Museum, etc. BUT, sometimes, often depending on gender, when there’s more than one child in the family, one “interest” can dominate the household.

Let’s face it! We know how important it is for each child to develop their own interests, as well as expand their experiences. Many times family schedules are filled with “together” activities, and that is how it should be! However, as great-grandparents, we can make some special time with each individual child, to help each one broaden their horizons with new and different experiences.

For example:
• Henry, age 7, is the oldest of three children, and is fascinated with magic. He has a trunk full of magic paraphernalia, and engages the entire family with his shows. He goes to local magic shows, has a bookshelf full of “how-to’s”, and watches professionals on his parent’s I-Pad. While it’s important to support his interests, how about you and he planting some sun flowers, going on a “site seeing” bike ride, attending a local walk-a thon for charity, or some new and different activity you can do together.

• Allison, age 4, is the second in the same family. She is very into her dolls, dressing them up, and playing house. She has a closet full of dolls, doll clothes, and other doll oriented toys. When Henry and Allison play together, he wants the dolls to participate in his magic show, and she wants him to join her in her tea party instead. On your “date” with Allison, how about going together to visit the fire-house, or watch a live college girl’s basketball game, or teaching her some yoga poses? Again, these are fun activities that hopefully will expand her interests, and give you both an entertaining, and special together time.

• Benny is 2 ½ and is the baby in the family. He’s NOT interested in magic OR dolls, but really wants to be part of Henry and/or Allison’s play. Henry’s interested if Benny will help with his magic, and Allison wants him to be “her baby”. He’s very physical and wants to run and tumble in the grass, knock over his sibling’s projects, and climb anything he can find outdoors. A special “date” with Benny might be: watching the planes land at your local airport, a visit to the local zoo, attending a story-time at the library, or drawing pictures on the sidewalk with chalk. Again, these are engaging, together times that add to Benny’s experiences.

The activities we’ve suggested don’t have to be expensive or expansive…they are relationship building times between you and your great-grandchild and sometimes just visiting a local park or library with a fountain can be enough. When planning a special time “date”, you might want to open some doors to things (being aware of age appropriateness) that you particularly like such as: hiking, chess, board games, gardening, building things, painting, collecting shells, knitting, history, cooking, architecture, etc. If you live far away, consider some of these things when your great-grandchildren next visit you, or you visit them.

Rather than feeding only into the children’s current interests, although this is important as well, we have the opportunity to expand their experiences early on. And don’t forget, if there’s only one great-grandchild, stretching his or her ideas and activities through a special time together, can also be rewarding. It’s good for them and it’s good for us.

Monday, February 14, 2011


We think it’s important to take some time to have fun and to celebrate important and not so important dates in history AND our lives. We’ve been so busy “celebrating” this year, that it’s already past the beginning of Feb. and we’re just NOW getting around to posting our Calendar of Fun and Thoughtful Dates **. We’ve included January, just so you can see what you may have missed. You’ll have the rest of the year to plan for some of the other things…and many dates will evoke some very clever things to do with your great-grandchildren and family. Whether you live close or far away, here are a lot of “spring boards” for creative ways to stay in touch. Also, any day that refers to “parents” can definitely be substituted with “great-grandparents”. If you print this out, leave some room to add your own important remembrance dates (birthdays, retirement, anniversaries, successful sleepover dates, “you turned a certain age AND you’re still here”, etc.), and remember that next year many of these dates will change. TIME FLIES….WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN.

Clean Up Your Computer Month
International Creativity Month
National Mentoring Month
National Soup Month
National Thank-You Month
1 New Years Day
1-7 Celebration of Life Week
2-8 Someday We’ll Laugh About This Week
4 Trivia Day
6 Día de Los Reyes Magos (The Day of the Three Kings or the Feast of the Epiphany)
8 Bubble Bath Day
8-14 Universal Letter Writing Week
9 Step-Father’s Day
10 United Nation’s Day
11-17 Cuckoo Dancing Week
16 Appreciate a Dragon Day
16-22 Hunt for Happiness Week
17 Kid Inventor’s Day
18 Martin Luther King’s Birthday
21 National Hugging Day
24 Belly Laugh Day
24-28 No Name Calling Week
27 Holocaust Memorial Day
28 National Kazoo Week

Bake for Family Fun Month
Black History Month
Library Lovers Month
National Parent Leadership Month
1 Freedom Day
1-7 Children’s Author & Illustrator Week
1-7 National Parent Recognition Week
1-7 National Women’s Heart Week
2 Groundhog Day
2 National Girls & Women in Sports Day
3 Chinese New Year – Year of the Rabbit
4 Bubble Gum Day
5 Wear Red Day
8 Buddhist – Nirvana Day
9 National Stop Bullying Day
12 Lincoln’s Birthday
14 Library Lover’s Day
14 Valentine’s Day
16 Mardi Gras Day
17-23 International Friendship Week
20 Love Your Pet Day
21 Family Day - Canada
21 President’s Day
22 George Washington’s Birthday
28 National Tooth Fairy Day
29 Leap Year Day (not one is 2012)

American Red Cross Month
Deaf History Month
Expanding Girl’s Horizons in Science Month
Music In Our Schools Month
National Nutrition Month
National Women’s History Month
Sing with Your Child Month
Youth Art Month
1-7 Write a Letter of Appreciation Week
2 Read Across America – Dr. Seuss’ Birthday
3 Prophet’s Day - Islam
4 National Grammar Day
4 Shabbat Across America/Canada
5 Potty Dance Day
6-12 Celebrate Your Name Week
6-12 National Pancake Week
6-12 Return the Borrowed Books Week
7 Daughters’ and Sons’ Day
8 Day For Women’s Rights & International Peace
8 Mardi Gras
8-14 Universal Women’s Week
9 Ash Wednesday – Lent Begins
9 Get Over It Day
9 Learn What Your Name Means Day
11 Johnny Appleseed Day
13 Daylight Savings Begins (Spring Forward)
17 Absolutely Incredible Kid Day
17 Saint Patrick’s Day
20 Purim
20 Vernal Equinox
20 Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day
21 Memory Day
21-27 World Folk Tales & Fables Week
26 Make Up Your Own Holiday Day
27 Education & Sharing Day
31 Cesar Chavez Day

Celebrate Diversity Month
Global Child Nutrition Month
International Guitar Month
Month of the Young Child
National Card & Letter Writing Month
National Humor Month
National Poetry Month
World Habitat Awareness Month
1 April Fool’s Day
1 Good Friday
2 International Children’s Book Day
2 International Pillow Fight Day
2 National Love Our Children Day
3 Mothering Sunday - UK
5 One Day Without Shoes Day
10 National Sibling Day
10-16 National Library Week
10-16 National Volunteer Week
10-16 Week of the Young Child
17 Blah! Blah! Blah! Day
17 Palm Sunday
18 Passover Begins
21 High Five Day
21 Kindergarten Day
22 Earth Day
24 Easter
24-30 National Playground Safety Week
25 thru 5-1 Safe Kids Week
28 Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day
29 Labor Day
29 National Dance Day
25 Día de los Niños

Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Get Caught Reading Month
Jewish- American Heritage Month
Latino Books Month
National Family Month
Young Achievers of Tomorrow Month
1 Día Del Trabajo
1 Join Hands Day
1 May Day (ribbons around the May Pole)
1 Mother Goose Day
1 National Dance Day
1 Step-Mother’s Day
1-7 Be Kind to Animals Week
1-7 Kids Win Week
2-8 Children’s Book Week
2-8 Teacher’s Appreciation Week
2-8 Work at Home Mom’s Weeks
3 National Teacher’s Day
3 National Two Different Colored Shoes Day
5 Cinco de Mayo
7 Child Care Provider Day
7 National Babysitter’s Day
8 No Socks Day
8-14 Reading Is Fun Week
8-14 Salute to Mom’s 35+ Week
8 & 10 Mother’s Day in US (in Latin America it’s the 10th)
10 Buddah Day
10-16 Universal Family Week
13 Friday the 13th (this is the only one this year)
14 National Chicken Dance Day
15 International Day of Families
16-22 National New Friend, Old Friends Week
18 International Museum Day
18 Visit Your Relatives Day
21 World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialog & Development
22 Neighbor Day
23-30 National Backyard Games Week
24 Brother’s Day
25 Cookie Monster’s Birthday (Frank Oz’s Birthday)
25 National Senior Health & Fitness Day
30 Memorial Day

Children’s Awareness Month
Effective Communications Month
Great Outdoors Month
International Men’s Month
National Safety Month
Potty Training Awareness Month
1 National Go Barefoot Day
1 Say Something Nice Day
1 Stand for Children Day
5 World Environment Day
5-11 National Sun Safety Week
11 Worldwide Knit in Public Day
12-18 National Flag Week
12 Multicultural American Child Awareness Day
14 Family History Day
14 Flag Day
14-20 Universal Father’s Week
19 Father’s Day
19 Juneteenth – African American Freedom & Achievement Day
21 Summer Solstice (Longest Day of the Year)
24 Take Your Dog to Work Day
27 Happy Birthday to You Day

 Family Reunion Month
National Black Family Month
National Make a Difference to Children Month
National Recreation & Parks Month
1 Canada Day
1 US Postage Stamp Day
4 Independence Day (4th of July)
4-10 Freedom Week
7 Chocolate Day
7 Father-Daughter Take A Walk Day
17 National Ice Cream Day
19 National Hug Your Kid Day
23 Gorgeous Grandma Day
24 Cousins Day
24 Parent’s Day
24 Tell An Old Joke Day
30 Father-in-Law Day

American Indian Heritage Month (See also November)
Get Ready for Kindergarten Month
1 Respect for Parent’s Day
1 Spiderman Day
1-29 Ramadan
3 Watermelon Day
5 National Underwear Day
6 Hiroshima Day
7 Sister’s Day
7 Friendship Day
7-13 International Clown Week
8-14 Exercise with your Child Week
12 International Youth Day
15 Best Friend’s Day
18 Cupcake Day
21 Senior Citizens Day
22-26 National Safe at Home Week
26 National Dog Day
30 National Toasted Marshmallow Day

Baby Safety Month
Library Card Sign Up Month
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
September is Healthy Aging Month
5 Labor Day
6-10 Play Days
8 International Literacy Day
11 National Grandparent’s Day (YEAH!!!)
12-17 Line Dance Week
13 International Chocolate Day
15 National Hispanic Heritage Month Begins
16 Mexican Independence Day
16 Step-Family Day
17 Constitution Day
18 National Respect Day
18-24 National Clean Hands Week
18-24 Turn Off Your TV Week
19 Talk Like A Pirate Day
22 International Day of Peace
24 Family Health & fitness Day USA
24 thru 10/1 Banned Books Week
25 National Museum Day
25 thru 10/1 National Keep Kids Creative Week
28 Rosh Hashanah
29 National Attend Your Grandchild’s Birth Day

Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month
Children’s Magazine Month
Halloween Safety Month
National Book Month
National Popcorn Poppin’ Month
1 International Day of Older Persons
1-7 Universal Children’s Week
2 International Day of Non-Violence
2 World Farm Animals Day
2-8 National Carry a Tune Week
3 Child Health Day
3-10 No Salt Week
5 World Teacher’s Day
7 National Diversity Day
7 Yom Kippur
7 World Smile Day
7-9 National Storytelling Weekend
8 Universal Music Day
10 Columbus Day
10 Native American Day
10-14 Kids’ Goal Setting Week
12 Día De La Raza
12 International Top Spinning Day
12 National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work & School Day
16 Dictionary Day
16-22 Teen Read Week
16-22 Freedom from Bullies Week
17-21 National School Bus Safety Week
23 Fall Equinox
23 Mother-in-Law Day
24 United Nation’s Day
28 Frankenstein Friday
29 National Cat Day
31 Books for Treats Day
31 Halloween
31 National Knock-Knock Jokes Day
31 National UNICEF Day

American Indian Heritage Month (also see August)
Family Stories Month
International Drum/Percussion Month
National Peanut Butter Lovers Month
1 National Author’s Day
1 National Family Literacy Day
1-2 All Saints Day/All Soul’s Day (Día De Los Muertos)
3 Sandwich Day
4 Use Your Common Sense Day
6 End of Daylight Savings (Fall Back)
7-13 Dear Santa Letter Week
7-13 National Young Reader’s Week
8 Election Day
8 National Parent’s As Teacher’s Day
8-14 World Kindness Week
9 National Young Reader’s Day
11 Veteran’s Day
13 International Tongue Twister Day
13 World Kindness Day
13-19 American Education Week
15 I Love To Write Day
15 America Recycles Day
16 International Day for Tolerance
19 Family Volunteer Day
20 Children’s Day
21 World Hello Day
20-26 National Family Week
20-26 National Game & Puzzle Week
21 World Peace Day
26 Muharran – Islamic New Year
24 Thanksgiving
25 National Native American Heritage Day
27 National Day of Listening

Safe Toys and Gift Month
Universal Human Rights Month
1 Special Kids Day
1-7 Cookie Cutter Week
1-7 Tolerance Week
2 National Mutt Day
2 Special Education Day
5 Bathtub Pary Day
10 Day of The Horse
10 Human Rights Day – United Nations
10-17 Human Rights Week
11 UNICEF Birthday
16-24 Las Posadas
20-27 Hanukkah Begins
22 National Re-Gifting Day
22 Winter Solstice (Shortest Day of the Year)
24 Noche Buena / Christmas Eve
25 Christmas
26 Boxing Day
26 National Thank-You Note Day
26 – 1/1/12 Kwanzaa
28-29 National Chocolate Day(s)
31 New Year’s Eve
31 World Peace Mediation Day



Saturday, January 15, 2011


The incident in Arizona reminded us how scary and baffling this and other events can be for us all. Violence is all around us: in our neighborhood, schools, on TV, in computer and online games, etc. Although we’ve written about this topic in other venues, we feel it’s time to bring it to the blog because terrifying things happen and our children and grandchildren feel frightened, unsafe and insecure.

Turn on the TV, radio or computer, and your family is bound to see startling images and hear talking heads discussing, from their perspective, a devastating event. In the Tucson attack, a 9 year old girl was killed, which brings it even closer to home for children. Depending on their age and level of sensitivity, children will internalize this information in different ways. Grandparents may take this opportunity to start conversations with the parents and children about these issues.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Open discussion is paramount but it is also important to think about the age and temperament of each individual child. The threat of anything like this happening to them is probably uppermost in their minds. And fantasy can take hold and intensify the fear. As the ever wise Fred Rogers explained: “In times of crisis, children want to know, "Who will take care of me?" They're dependent on adults for their survival and security. They're naturally self-centered. They need to hear very clearly that their parents (and grandparents) are doing all they can to take care of them and to keep them safe. They also need to hear that people in the government and other grownups they don’t even know are working hard to keep them safe, too.”

Talking With Children
While we, as adults, want to hear, see, read and know everything about events, it’s not necessary for the kids to know all the gory details. Encourage the children to talk about their feelings, and listen to their cues as to how much information they really need. We can reassure them that our job is to do everything we can to protect them. This is an important declaration for all the children. However, as children grow up, their reality will change and simple reassurances may not cut it. “By providing consistent support and an accepting environment, you can help reduce children’s anxieties and fears.” (Talking With Kids About Tough Issues – Kaiser Family Foundation and Children Now, 1999( )

Take A Stand
Be clear about your own values and those of the parents. Listen carefully to the questions children ask, and then respond honestly and reassuringly. For instance, if you’re in favor of gun control, explain your position and show how it could have impacted the situation. You have the right and the responsibility to explain your values.

Some Very Helpful Hints from Fred Rogers
Although this was written for parents, it certainly applies to great-grandparents. We feel it can’t be stated better than this:

• Do your best to keep the television off, or at least limit how much your child sees of any news event.

• Try to keep yourself calm. Your presence can help your child feel more secure.

• Give your child extra comfort and physical affection, like hugs or snuggling up together with a favorite book. Physical comfort goes a long way towards providing inner security. That closeness can nourish you, too.

• Try to keep regular routines as normal as possible. Children and adults count on their familiar pattern of everyday life.

• Plan something that you and your child enjoy doing together, like taking a walk, going on a picnic, having some quiet time, or doing something silly. It can help to know there are simple things in life that can help us feel better, in good times and in bad.

• Even if children don't mention what they've seen or heard in the news, it can help to ask what they think has happened. If parents don't bring up the subject, children can be left with their misinterpretations. You may be really surprised at how much your child has heard from others.

• Focus attention on the helpers, like the police, firemen, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and volunteers. It's reassuring to know there are many caring people who are doing all they can to help others in this world.

• Let your child know if you're making a donation, going to a town meeting, writing a letter or e-mail of support, or taking some other action. It can help children to know that adults take many different active roles and that we don't give in to helplessness in times of worldwide crisis.

Resources for You and Your Family
We are so impressed by the Family Communications website and the National Campaign to Support Parents, that we’re providing links that they and others recommend. It’s worth it to check these out.

Fred Rogers talks about Tragic Events in the News  

Full Report –

American Psychological Association

American Academy of Pediatrics

Children Now/Kaiser Family Foundation

Kaiser Family Foundation

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Educators for Social Responsibility

Institute for Peace & Justice

National Institute of Mental Health