Children and giving at Christmas

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Ever since I was a child myself, I have absolutely loved Christmas! It may be because I have always been surrounded by children and you can’t help but be joyful when everyday is spent with beautiful little people or maybe it’s because secretly I’m just a big kid myself  – but I love everything about it! From spending time with family and friends to the decorations, Christmas carols, Christmas craft, fancy food, present giving and Christmas parties – I love it all. Each year I begin planning earlier and earlier so that Christmas lasts even longer. Yet while I enjoy all aspects of it, I’m always mindful that it isn’t like that for everyone. Christmas is a wonderful magical time for many but for others it can be quite the opposite. It may be a time of great loneliness, neediness and depression. Although colourful lights, Santa and Christmas trees are a huge exciting part of Christmas, it is really important that as adults we do not lose sight of the big picture and the wider community.  There is nothing wrong with celebrating, decorating, buying gifts, etc. but children should also be taught about caring for others.  Charity should be a part of our lives throughout the whole year but Christmas brings the perfect opportunity to teach children about giving to those less fortunate and also about the real meaning of Christmas.

Teach them about the real meaning of Christmas

Whether you believe in Jesus and the Christmas story or not, it is important to share it with children so that they know why Christmas is celebrated.  Some people celebrate Christmas as being the end of the year and do not associate it with Jesus being born but I think it’s important for children to understand how it all began.  The best way to do this is through children’s books or a child friendly bible. Regardless of your faith, present it as a story or as what some people believe but children should be educated about such a huge yearly event.

Teach them to GIVE

Teach your children to be gracious and grateful by showing them to care for others and to give, not only at Christmas but always.  Make sure you explain why you are giving and how important it is. Here are a few of my favourite charities and ways that you and your children can give at Christmas time:

World Vision

 World Vision has some great gifts you can buy for people in poor communities. When you  buy a gift from World Vision, the recipient receives a Christmas card detailing what you bought and how it helps. Presents begin from $5.00 and that will buy school pencils which will enable children  to dream and create.  Some other great gifts you can buy to support these communities in need are:  chicken and eggs $10.00,  mosquito nets $15.00,  much needed child immunisation or school books   $25.00 each,  blankets to keep warm  $35.00 and for $125.00 you can train a teacher or buy food for life! There are also lots more options of things to buy which will make a difference to children, families and communities.     And if you want to help the whole year through, consider sponsoring a child. For more information visit: http://trans.worldvision.com.au/Gifts/GiftCatalogue/Gifts.aspx

UNICEF

At UNICEF you can buy gifts that are delivered straight to needy children.  $34.00 will buy polio vaccinations for 200 children, $27.00 will protect 100 children from the measles, and $466.00 will provide a water pump for the whole community, plus there are many more gifts to choose from. Your loved ones will receive a card detailing the wonderful gift you bought in their name. We take healthcare for granted but these children won’t survive unless more people open their hearts. You have the power to make a difference to so many people’s lives and help a whole community. Find out how you can help at www.unicef.org.au

RSPCA

At the RSPCA you can help make a difference to many animals lives who have been abused, neglected and mistreated. Be their voice by supporting the amazing work of the RSPCA. Buy RSPCA Christmas cards or gifts and the proceeds will help make life better for many darling precious animals. Find out how at  www.rspca.org.au

Cancer Council

Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by Cancer and so much more help is needed if we are going to eradicate this insidious disease. Give your support this Christmas by buying Christmas cards, donating money in lieu of gifts or asking others to donate money instead of buying you a gift at http://www.cancercouncil.com.au.

Make A Wish Foundation

The Make A Wish Foundation, with the sponsorship, donations, and  support of the community grants the wishes of children with life threatening illnesses. Support them by buying cards and gifts from Make a wish at www.makeawish.org.au

Another beautiful way to teach children about giving is to allow them to help you when volunteering your time.  As a family you can collect gifts, food and other necessities for families in need; help out in soup kitchens; or by delivering presents to needy families, etc. Also, check with local churches or charities and find out other ways you can donate or volunteer.

These are all great ways to get children into the real Christmas spirit and to show them what giving is really all about.  It’s important for children to know that giving isn’t about expensive presents it’s about helping those less fortunate than ourselves.  Make Christmas time the time to begin teaching your darling precious children a lesson so valuable that when taught consistently throughout the year will last a lifetime.

Happy guiding and a giving Christmas

from

Darling Precious Children

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By darlingpreciouschildren Posted in Christmas

Sparkly Christmas Baubles

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What you will need:  foam ball, coloured paint, paint palette/container, plastic cup, plastic wrap, paint brush, glitter paint/glue, plastic tablecloth or newspaper to cover surfaces and a variety of the sparkliest sparkles you can find e.g stars, sequins, etc. 

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Step 1 – Cover your surface area with newspaper or a plastic tablecloth and get out everything you will need to make your Sparkly Christmas Bauble. Then place plastic wrap fairly loosely over the rim of your plastic cup and let your foam ball sit securely on the plastic wrap.

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Step 2 – Hold onto the plastic cup and use it as a stand for your foam ball as you paint one side of the foam ball in your favourite Christmas colour paint.  Then turn the ball over and paint the other side.  Leave it to dry for a few hours or overnight and then repaint one side – letting it dry –  and then turn it over to paint the other side again. Leave it for a few hours or overnight once again to make sure it is completely dry.

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Step 3 –  Use the plastic cup and plastic wrap once again to help hold the foam ball. Then put some glitter glue paint into a paint palette/container and generously paint one side of the ball with glitter glue paint.

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Step 4 – Using your fingers, carefully sprinkle or gently place some of your sparkliest sparkles all over one side of your glitter glue covered foam ball and let them sink in and stick.

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Step 5 – After one side has completely dried turn the foam ball over and repeat step 4 on the other side. Then let the bauble completely dry again.

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Step 6 – When the bauble is completely dry, press a piece of tinsel pipecleaner into the top at two points, making a hanging loop.

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Your Sparkly Christmas Bauble is complete and ready to sprinkle its Christmas magic, so place it where everyone can see it and feel the magic sparkle of Christmas!  Not only will your darling precious children love making these but they are also developing their fine motor skills, creativity, and an appreciation for all things sparkly : )

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Happy guiding and a magical sparkly Christmas

from,

Darling Precious Children

By darlingpreciouschildren Posted in Christmas

Heart Print Christmas Wreath

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What you will need: A strong cardboard plate, white paper, scissors, paint brush, green paint, glitter paint, red pom poms, blue-tack, craft glue/PVA, a Christmas Poem from the heart, laminater + laminating sheets, and some teeny tiny hands : )

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Step 1 – Paint green paint on the child’s hand or let them paint their own if they are able to.

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Step 2 – When the hand is completely covered with paint help the child to press it down firmly on the white piece of paper without moving it, then lift it gently. Repeat the same process several times so that you have at least five or six prints with one hand and then do the same with the other hand. You should have about ten to twelve prints all up.

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Step 3 – After the green paint has dried, paint the handprints with glitter paint and let that dry.

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Step 4 – Carefully cut out each hand print and then laminate them. When laminating is complete, carefully recut each print leaving a small edge of laminate around each hand.

Step 5 – Either write or find a Christmas poem – written from the heart. Type it up, cut it to size and print it, then laminate it and cut it out.

Step 6 – Get cardboard plate, blue-tack, handprints, Christmas Poem, pom poms and craft glue/PVA ready.

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Step 7 – Blue-tack the handprints around the plate exactly where you want them and then adjust them as you see necessary.  When you are happy with how they fit, remove one handprint (removing the blue-tack) and put a line of glue on the plate where you want to paste it. Firmly press it down  and then repeat the process with each handprint one by one until each handprint has been pasted on.

Step 8 – Glue your laminated heart-filled Christmas Poem in the centre of your plate/wreath.

Step 9 – Glue your red pom poms randomly around your poem with fairly even spacing between each.

Step 10 – Your gorgeous Heart Print Christmas Tree is complete, so place it somewhere special where everyone can see it and feel the Christmas love.

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This is a fun and fabulous activity for developing creativity, fine motor, and an appreciation for the real meaning of Christmas!

Happy guiding and a heart-filled Christmas,

Darling Precious Children

p.s  – If you have more than one child it is lovely to combine all the different hand/heartprints in the one wreath as I did : )

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By darlingpreciouschildren Posted in Christmas

Developing Your Child’s Confidence

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With support and effective teaching and parenting techniques, a child’s spirit, confidence and self-esteem can be nurtured and developed. This is a huge topic and one that cannot be covered in one blog, but this is a fantastic place to start! The first and most important way to do this is to always begin from a place of love and respect. This means making all your choices – especially as a parent – based on love. Another basic way to do this is when you are introducing new tasks/experiences to the child or class. Give children the skills they need to learn the new task/experience that they are endeavouring at and then scaffold their development until they have mastered it.  Sounds too simple? Well it can be, just keep working at it. My aim is to develop confidence in all children so that they have the inner belief  that they can achieve all that their heart desires.  It’s all about having the tools to reach your fullest potential!

Make all decisions based on respect and love for the child!

This is the absolute most important point I will ever make about guiding children and nurturing their spirit. When making any decision at all relating to a child, think to yourself – am I making the decision based on love, respect and the child’s needs or out of my own needs and the quest for control?   If you make all your decisions with this in mind you can never truly go wrong. Loving and respecting the child means listening carefully to what it is that they want and never using your power as a bigger and older person to control the child in any way. I will make this point clear – never ever aggressively scream at, bully or belittle a child! They have just as much right to be respected (in my opinion – even more so!) than any adult. Would you disrespect an adult in this way? If your answer is yes, then you have a lot to learn and probably need far more help than I can offer. If it is no, then why would you do it to a child? Make this the day that you stop! Calm loving behaviour is far more effective than being aggressive.  All aggression does is result in tension, anxiety and anger and has no place whatsoever in guiding and nurturing a child! It is also one of the quickest and most effective ways to break your child’s confidence and self-esteem – Don’t do it!

Failure is not a bad thing, it’s another opportunity to learn!

It is so important for children not to see failure as a bad thing but as another opportunity to learn. Many psychologists agree that the risk of failure may hold children back from learning new skills.   By not attempting new tasks a child’s developmental growth can be stunted. Never let children’s failure reflect on their self-image or self-worth.  Failure is a means to an end – learning and eventually succeeding.  (stay tuned for my upcoming blog – Famous Failures)

Help them achieve their goals!

Find out what your child’s needs and interests are. What would they like to learn about or be able to do? – then help them achieve their goal.  Children usually achieve far more when adults provide them with clear instruction, ample time to practice, give positive prompts and feedback and allow that child to practice a skill until its achieved. If a child does make a mistake the worst thing an adult can do is tell them that they are wrong, instead show them the correct way without being condescending and  domineering.

Praise and Encourage!

Praise and encouragement is imperative in developing confidence. Encouragement helps children know that they are good enough as they are. Some experts say that praise and encouragement should be used sparingly in order for children to acquire intrinsic self worth and motivation but I totally disagree. Praise and encourage that child as much as it needs you to – better to encourage too much than not enough!

Here is a practical example:

Your three year old child says; “Can you please show me how to make a sandwich?” You get out the butter, bread, butter knife, Vegemite and place two slices of bread on a plate.  Begin by demonstrating how to place your knife into the butter and carefully spread it on the bread. You then give your child a turn. The first time you could say “Lets do this together,” and let them hold the knife and spread the butter while you hold the top of the knife and guide their hand. Then let them have a turn on their own. If you see that they are having trouble and putting big chunks of butter in one area on the bread, you don’t say “That isn’t right let me do it for you.” Instead you would say “Great job, can I just show you how to scrape the butter off this side and put a bit more on the other side?” or something similar which is still positive and gives the child the opportunity to say yes or no.  If the child would like you to repeat the task then you can show them again, if not there will be other opportunities and that child has been given the confidence to try again. Follow the same procedure with spreading the vegemite and cutting the sandwich in half. 

More Practical examples to come : )

Where to next?

Each day or as necessary, repeat the same strategies.  If the child would like to try a new task – encourage them. Then go through each stage together e.g. demonstrating, describing, listening to their concerns, encouraging, praising, reinforcing, scaffolding. Scaffolding is based on the work of Vygotsky – a well known psychologist – and is a process where an adult or more competent peer provides support and assistance to a less competent child.  They adjust the amount and level of support (according to need) as the child progresses. This helps the less competent child become more competent and ultimately they’re able to carry out and complete the tasks independently.  I use this method often in my work with children and what I find is that as they progress, their confidence shows a huge increase from not having the confidence to independently attempt challenging tasks at all; to being able to show a younger child how to do these tasks.  

Nurture and value the child as an individual!

By following the child’s needs and interests with love and respect and by giving them the tools they need to achieve independence, adults can aid the development of confidence.  In addition, they do this by loving, respecting, nurturing and valuing the child as an individual, this validation leads to better self-esteem.  With the confidence to try new things, children believe that they can achieve anything and this gives them hope.  Hope is usually a normal part of development but it can be stunted or allowed to flourish depending on what is going on around the child. Therefore, always provide positive opportunities to help a child develop new skills and encourage and praise them often in order to keep building their confidence and self-esteem!

Happy guiding,

Darling Precious Children

P.S

Checkout my recent blogs: The Importance of Building Confidence and Darling Precious Roly Poly Christmas Tree.  And stay tuned for more great Christmas ideas +  upcoming blogs about Famous Failures AND Getting your child ready for big school!