Being a mom to 6, a parenting writer, as well as a former nanny I know just how important it is for kids to have a variety of good books. New and interesting books should be added often to keep kids interested. Here are a lucky 13 baker's dozen of must-have children's books for gifts or any occasion! Enjoy!
Many children are afraid of the dark and parents are constantly searching for new ways to lessen that fear, and preferably make it non-existent. Throughout the years, parents have tried and invented many methods for this purpose. However, for some reason, it still remains as one of the many quests of raising children. On my quest to solve this mystery, I tried many things. However, none of the traditional ideas seemed to work. That's when I was forced to use my creative side. I decided that to get rid of the fear of the dark, we would have to teach any children with it that the dark was fun. Hence, the "dark party" was born.
What is a Dark Party?
A dark party is simply a party in the dark. It is a party in which the dark is celebrated by playing games and doing things you would normally do with the lights on. By doing regular everyday things, as well as playing games and having fun, it may help "normalize" the concept of darkness in a child's mind, which could help to take away some of the fears associated with being in the dark. A dark party can last any length of time the children are comfortable with. I find that one hour seems to be the best.
Planning & Organizing the Dark Party
The first step in planning a dark party for your child or children is deciding upon who needs to attend. A child who is afraid of the dark will feel more secure if people he or she feel safe with attend the party. This means the parents and siblings should be there. All children in the family who are afraid of the dark should attend the dark party. Also, if your child has friends who are afraid of the dark, invite those children and their parents to the dark party as well. The dark party should take place when it is dark outside, unless you have a room that will not be affected by the light outside. Have an emergency flashlight on hand in case of an accident or a child getting too scared. That way it will be easier to get to the light if necessary.
Explaining The Dark Party to the Children
Shortly before the dark party begins, you'll want to explain to the children the meaning of the dark party. Explain to them that the lights will go out soon and that there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark. The dark can be fun. Let them know that the party will help them so they won't be afraid of the dark anymore. Be sure they know they will be getting treats and playing games, just like any other party, but it will all be done in the dark.
On To The Dark Party
To hold the dark party, simply play the games listed below and give children treats during the time you wish. Parents and others there for support should participate in the game-playing. Having the light for significant amounts of time might encourage night lights, instead of encouraging the children not to have fear, so be sure that your dark party stays dark, unless someone’s fear of the dark gets too strong. Parents should have any treats within easy reach, possibly inside of a gift bag with handles, so that it can be held on to during the party.
Dark Party Game #1: Dark Charades
This is played like charades, but in the dark. Instead of motions, the players will make sounds. The players cannot speak words, but can make sound effects to hint as to what they are portraying. To play, the first acting player decides what he or she wants to do and gives a small hint in one word to the other players. He or she might say "movie" or "thing". The acting player must then make sounds that will get the players to guess what he or she is portraying. The first player to guess correctly then trades places with the acting player. The game continues as long as the host or guests would like.
Dark Party Game #2: What's My Secret?
For this game, all of the players should be seated in a straight line. The first player tells a secret to the next person and that person whispers it to the next until the secret has been passed to the last person at the end of the line. That person tells the secret out loud. It may be quite different than the original. The original secret teller then tells what was actually said. The end result is often pretty funny. This is similar to the long-played game of “telephone”. The main difference is that this one is played completely in the dark.
Dark Party Game #3: Where Are You?
This is similar to the popular game of Hide N' Seek. The player who is "it" will just stay where he or she is and close the eyes and count to ten. While he or she is counting, the other players will hide. All players should hide in the same room. Players may hide behind objects, but not underneath or inside objects. Once the person who is "it" counts to ten, all players must be hidden. "It" will search for players asking "Where are you?" Once they’re all found, the last person to be found (or the person who cannot be found) is named as the new “it”. Because this game is played in the dark, it will be slightly trickier than the original.
Dark Party Game #4: Silly Stories
This one is simple. Party guests should make up silly stories together. Each person says one sentence at a time until players end the story. This can be done over and over. These can get quite funny. This is a good way to get rid of a fear of the dark, since it gets very fun.
Dark Party Game #5: Guess The Treat
For this game, each guest eats a treat and must guess what they've eaten. Be sure to account for any food allergies beforehand. If anyone is allergic to anything, don't put it in any of the treats, since you will be doing this game in the dark.
Remember that the author is not a medical or psychological professional. This method may not work on all children and it's possible that some won't be open to trying it or might be traumatized by it. The author has had success using this with her children and it is her sincere hope that it can help many other children combat this fear as well. The author is not responsible for any consequences that may arise from attempting this method with children. One should use their own discretion and the advice of a medical/psychological professional when working with a child's fears.
Does your child have a fear of the dark? Have you conquered a fear of the dark with a different method? Have you tried the author's method with either success or failure? Leave your comments and suggestions below.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Who doesn't love a good family karaoke session? But how do you know which songs to sing? My kids and I enjoy karaoke often. Here are some tips and some of the songs we feel are the best for a family karaoke night.
Choosing good family songs
Good songs for family karaoke night will run the gamut, as far as style and artist. Be sure to choose songs appropriate for the ages of all family members. It's also good to have a variety of different styles of music. This way no one is left out. Don't forget to account for both male and female vocals and remember that males can sing female solos and vice versa. Just let everyone choose whatever they like.
Family karaoke night activities
When kids are involved, it's good to mix things up and have different activities surrounding the karaoke. This keeps them interested for longer than a few minutes. One idea is “Musical Karaoke”. Play it just like “Musical Chairs” except instead of stopping and starting a radio, the person singing karaoke stops and starts at random.
Best songs for family karaoke night
“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
“A Whole New World” from Disney's Aladdin movie
“I'll Stand by You” by Carrie Underwood
“Flying Without Wings” by Ruben Studdard
“Part of Your World” from Disney's “The Little Mermaid” movie
“Wild, Wild West” by Will Smith
“I Hope You Dance” by LeeAnn Womack
“Wild Horses” by Natasha Bedingfield
“You are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson
“Just a Girl” by No Doubt
“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
“Something More” by Sugarland
“Hakuna Matata" from Disney's “The Lion King”
Are your kids bored out of their minds? Just need something free to pass the time? Maybe you're broke but still want to have fun. Either way, these five free ways to have fun with kids are sure to entertain.
Sing Silly Songs Together
Yeah, yeah I know this may sound old-fashioned. But try it. It's great for laughter and helps bring families closer together. This is especially good after a really long day. A family karaoke night is always fun as well.
Play Tag In the Rain
If it's raining outside, no need to stay inside unless there is severe weather. Play a free, fun game of tag in the rain with the kids. It adds a fun element and also teaches kids to appreciate the beauty of mother nature.
Explore the Neighborhood
Do you know what your neighborhood looks like? The full details - not from a car window. Take a stroll around and explore things with the kids. You might be surprised at the nature and landmarks you can discover without being contained by four doors.
Weed Out and Donate
This may seem an odd thing to put on a list of fun things to do. But kids really enjoy knowing their unused items can help others. Go through clothing, books, toys, etc and see what can be given to the less fortunate. Keeps the kids busy and it also helps someone out.
Family Talent Show
Everyone has something special they can do. One kid might be able to sing. Another may be an artist. Maybe another is into fashion. No matter everyone's interests, they can all be combined to create a fun family talent show. You can charge admission with play money for effect.
"Mommy can you wash my water?" That has to be one of the funniest things any of my kids ever said to me as a toddler. She was about three. Wash water? Isn't water already clean? What's the funniest thing your toddler ever said to you? Here are some of the funniest toddler quotes in my family.
So, what was washing the water all about? She wanted me to dump out the water and make it even colder. With seven kids, and also the fact that I am a former nanny, I have heard plenty of interesting things from toddlers.
Another that sticks to me is the time my then 4 year old son was sitting on a playground swing. He's now a teenager. At the time, his fear of the swing moving with him in it was still present. He knows my profession and knew I had the laptop at the park. I go to push him and he says "Don't push me, Ma! You really need to write that article!"
Horse or Dog?
Then, there's the first time my oldest daughter (then a year and a half, now an adult) met a horse. It was the Juneteenth parade in Denver and the policemen were there with their Clydesdales. They were welcoming petting. So, toddler in arms, I pet one horse's beautiful mane. I tried to get her to do the same. She looked at me crazy, looked the horse up and down, and looked back at me exclaiming "Uh, uh Mommy! That's a BIG doggie!"
This next one is more of a funny name for something. For some reason, my second oldest had these favorite shoes when she was 4 years old that she liked to call her "dockies". None of us ever figured out why she called them that.
I recently hung a curtain over the archway that connects the kitchen and living room. I then tied the curtains back so that the space stayed open. My 4 year old then says to me "Mommy, you put that there because the kitchen cooking is open." Apparently, she looks at the kitchen as a restaurant.
Leave your funny toddler quotes in the comments section below.
Last updated 2/19/2022
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The Upstream Parenting method will help you learn how to connect with your children, raise them to be independent thinkers, and how to gently guide them to succeed on their self-chosen path. Upstream Parenting is a proven child and growth-focused method that has been put to use with all six of my children, as well as with countless kids I've nannied over the years.
What is Upstream Parenting?
The Upstream Parenting journal contains articles full of tips based on the parenting method invented and made popular
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