5 ways to build character using media and tech

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The following is republished with permission from Common Sense Media

By Sierra Filucci Executive Editor, Parenting Content, Common Sense Media

As parents, we have many hopes for our kids. We want them to grow up to live happy, successful lives. We hope they’ll find love, maybe have kids of their own, and pursue their dreams. But at the bottom of all these wishes is the hope that our kid turns into a decent human being — someone who is kind, respectful, and honest.

How do you bolster these strengths as well as teach key skills such as teamwork, communication, and perseverance? For the most part, kids will learn these things by following your example and through experience gained at school and in their communities. But media is another entry point. Since movies, TV shows, books, video games, and social media are such a huge part of kids’ lives, it makes sense that kids can learn important lessons about character through media.

Here are some specific things you can do or say to reinforce character:

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Searching for ye olde Renaissance Faire bathroom

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*Parts of this story were exaggerated for dramatic effect.

Anyone who has ever cared for a preschool-aged child knows the feeling of dread that comes over when said child needs to use the bathroom and there isn’t one in sight. Three-year-olds don’t understand the concept of waiting for anything, let alone a toilet, so you plan accordingly. You make sure they go before you leave the house. You bring extra clothes, just in case. You scout out the bathroom situation of every park, rec center and play space.

No matter how well you prepare, inevitably you will face potential potty pitfalls. Such was the situation I found myself in while attending the New York Renaissance Faire.

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Early bedtimes are not just about the kids

6:30 p.m. The late summer sun still glows brightly in the sky, nightfall is hours away, and I am ushering my kids to bed. The routine begins with a bath, followed by some quiet play time, stories, stretching and finally, sleep. The slow process finally concludes at 7:30 p.m. I tip toe down the stairs, fix my long-awaited dinner, and ease my tush into my couch for an evening of television that doesn’t star someone from the “Paw Patrol.”

I know many parents will shake their heads and laugh at the thought of their kids going to bed this early. You might even be reading this at 11 p.m. while your still wide-eyed toddler pretends the couch cushions are perfect for his version of “American Ninja Warrior.” I’m not here to judge. I have had those nights. Some nights, the kids are just not going to bed early no matter what you do.

I strive to make those nights few and far between. If both of my kids are asleep by 8:30, I consider that a good night, and earlier than that, even better. Continue reading

When did babywearing become a status symbol?

I practice babywearing for a variety of reasons. I love the convenience of being able to hold your child while still having your hands free to accomplish other tasks. Laundry, for example, is a chore I often perform with a little one strapped to my back. I love how babywearing helps ease the burden of schlepping a baby around town. If you ever got caught alone with a stroller on a NYC subway, you know just how much of a pain in the ass they can be. Most of all, I love the connection fostered between myself and my kids.

There is another reason to babywear that never occurred to me until I saw an article on my Facebook feed about the popularity of Tula carriers:

Status.

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Butternut squash mac ‘n cheese for the win

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My son loves macaroni and cheese, or as he lovingly calls them, “yellow noodles.” Key word being, “yellow.” You try to serve him some fancy Fontina/Gruyere concoction, he will summon the depths of his rage and unleash his fury upon thee. Only noodles tinted with the yellow-orange hue of the sun will appease my picky eater.

Fortunately, there are several options in the organic/all-natural department. Amy’s brand frozen mac ‘n cheese is delicious, and tastes the most “home made.” My son loves it and could eat a package or two a day if I let him. While it is one of the “healthier” choices, it’s still a frozen meal, which tend to be higher in sodium, and they aren’t exactly cheap. At one Brooklyn supermarket, a single-serve box could cost as much as $6. I’m no mathematician, but even I know there are better ways to stretch a dollar.

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Making connections and forging friendships at BlogHer 2016

Way back in the early days of 2015, I attended a live reading of several excerpts from the book, Listen To Your Mother. It was here that I met Melisa Wells, the woman responsible for all things social media at BlogHer, and its parent company, SheKnows Media, the sponsors of the event. I got to chatting with Melissa and a few other women from BlogHer, including Sponsor Experience Manager Liz Katkics Thompson and co-founder and COO, Elisa Camahort Page, and learned about their annual conference. I was completely bummed, because, although the event was in my home city, I already had plans for that week.

Not one to wallow over disappointment, I accepted my fate, and became determined to attend the following year. In the year that followed, I kept writing, achieved many of my publishing goals, and slowly grew my social presence. All the while keeping tabs on news regarding BlogHer 2016.

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Thank you, Daniel Tiger, for the awesome parenting adviceĀ 

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My family was journeying home for dinner one evening, when my husband complemented me on the ease in which I coaxed our son away from the local playground. Shortly before we had to leave, I informed my then two-year-old that he could choose one more activity and then it would be time to go. I even had a little ditty to express my point:

“It’s almost time to stop, so choose one more thing to do. That was fun, but now it’s done.”

Hearing that song prompted my son to pick his last activity (one more time on the slide, from what I can remember), and I successfully prevented the dreaded meltdown.

Where did I procure this genius gem of parenting know-how? From one of the dozens of books authored by experts with multiple degrees? Or perhaps from one of my trusted mom friends or family? Nope, this came straight from the tiger. “Daniel Tiger.”

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