Celebrate your children and count your blessings

Heads up! June 12th is Children’s Day! Celebrate them! Children are so very special, and vulnerable, and so willing to love even sometimes when it isn’t returned.

It doesn’t mean we have to spend a lot of money. The best things in life really are free. But now you have some heads up notice if you want to plan something. What it means is that at least for a whole day, our children know they are absolutely and totally loved.

I think they also need to know that it is possible for a parent to be angry at something the child did and still love them. I didn’t figure that out until after I’d gone to college! I just thought that sometimes they loved me, and sometimes they didn’t.

Perhaps that is why in parent effectiveness tyraining classes they tell the parents to tell their children every day that they love them. Every day. They won’t get tired of hearing it. It’s food for their beings. They also teach conflict resolution skills, so sides can listen to each other, and create positive solutions.

In my house a lot of silence happened when someone was mad at another. That creates a negative feeling for everyone, who is trying to guess what will happen next!

So I told my kids that I could forgive anything, but that I might get angry and give consequences for something that they did. That was tested three weeks ago in my house when a granddaughter spilled a bottle of blue nail polish onto my mostly ivory oriental rug. I howled and grieved, but said I loved her. We hadn’t had the talk yet …

How you celebrate your children will depend a lot on how old they are. But there is one place we have access to where every child can find something interesting to do, and that’s at a beach, especially by a rock jetty.

Older kids can snorkel, younger ones use goggles, little ones play on the shore. Babies can be in parents’ laps as they float up and down in an inner tube. And many kids just like to hang on dad, and go up and down or around and around.

Maybe the children could choose some of their favorite foods for dinner. The shopping, and prep could be a family adventure while also teaching children some kitchen basics. And everyone cleans up together too. If one child protests his chore, swap for another and take turns for two minutes each if they are young, five minutes if they are older.

A great website entitled “100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap” is at http://zenhabits.net/100-ways-to-have-fun-with-your-kids-for/ I’ve condensed many, and here’s a start. Summer is here now. And of course you can ask your children what they would like to do:

1. Read or write stories together.

2. Play ball together in its many manifestations.

3. Paint or draw together.

4. Create a fort in your living room out of blankets and/or boxes.

5. Take a hike.

6. Have a picnic.

7. Play board or card games.

8. Go to a museum, park, botanical garden, playground.

9. Play hide-and-seek.

10. Ride bikes.

11. Rent a DVD and make popcorn.

12. Tell stories, even the “Round Robin” style when each person tells a sentence or two and it goes to the next person.

13. Have a scavenger or treasure hunt.

14. Make mazes or puzzles for each other to solve.

15. Plan and plant a garden with kids choosing some things to grow.

16. Go to the library.

17. Work on a family scrapbook, and have children write stories to go with the pictures.

18. Make a family movie.

19. Fingerpaint. You can look up recipes online, or use packaged pudding.

20. Make popsicles from juice using ice cube trays and popsicle sticks or chopsticks.

21. Make play-doh from scratch. Recipes are online. Add food coloring for colors.

22. Bake cookies. Let the kids help. They can add raisins or nuts for faces.

23. Make music or sing together. (One day I came home from work, and my son had learned how to sing and play “Somewhere over the Rainbow” on his sister’s ukulele, by listening to Bruddah Iz, and finding the lyrics and ukulele chords on line.)

24. Hand paint T-shirts or jeans from diluted acrylic craft paints.

25. Do a science experiment.

26. Fly kites. Maybe even make them first.

27. Go through stuff to donate to a thrift store. Then let the kids have a little money to shop for something when you drop it off.

28. Camp out overnight outside, or in a tent in the living room. Who cares???

29. Make up dance steps and teach each other your dances.

30. Face paint or put tattoos on each other. Brown marker looks like henna.

31. Have a water balloon fight.

32. Explore the neighborhood for all the different kinds of flowers, insects, rocks, birds, etc. you can spot. You could photograph them, and that becomes part of the scrapbook.

33. Make up guessing games about yourself, such as “My favorite _______ is?”

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Hale ‘Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org For more information about Hale ‘Opio Kauai, please go to www.haleopio.org

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