Tag Archives: parents

Judgey Wudgey Was A Mom

I like to think as a parent I’m more tolerant of kids screaming in the aisles and having meltdowns. After all, I haven’t been immune to them myself and often think “Oh, I’m sure they understand what I’m going through” when they look at me out of the side of their eyes.

Today, however I found myself being a little judge-like. I was in Costco shopping with my 3 1/2 year old. It was morning, so she was still in a good mood and snacking her way through Costco due to the samples. Which put her in a really great mood. My kid is a happy eater, and for those few minutes a silent kid (bonus for me!).

Anyhoo…we were checking out. In the lane next to us was a mom and dad and their 3 kids. Guessing around 7, 5 and 3 from the looks of things. The youngest, a boy, was sitting in the cart screaming. Who knows why. I didn’t pay much attention to it. But the screaming kept going and going. And it didn’t seem like either parent was caring much to stop it. Don’t get me wrong, I understand sometimes you can’t stop it and the only recourse you have is to muddle through and get hell out of dodge as quickly as possible. But they didn’t. Get the hell out of dodge that is.

Photo from HERE.

Since it was lunchtime, we stayed for lunch. For some reason, a Costco lunch excites my kid like few things and is considered a big treat. Since it costs me all of $3.50 to feed us both, how could I say “no”? So, we placed our order and sat down. The family appeared to be sitting 2 tables in front of us, but then moved to a bigger table next to us. The first thought that popped into my head “ugh, why do they have to sit next to us?” And yes, sonny boy was still carrying on. He continued to carry on and scream through most of our meal, except for the few moments when food was actually in his mouth. I didn’t give the parents any sort of nasty look, but did glance at the kid from time to time trying to figure out what his problem was. Which was odd, because if his parents couldn’t figure it out what made me think I could?

That’s when it hit me. I wasn’t as non judgemental as I thought I was. I’m not naive enough to think I don’t judge how others raise their kids and vice versa. But I did think I was above this.

The realization did hit home with me, and I guess as an adult that’s a positive sign. We can’t work on ourselves if we don’t realize what we are doing wrong. So, I spent the rest of the meal not glancing over at them and focusing on my own child. I gave her kisses and told her how proud of was of her good behavior. After all, who doesn’t like to hear good things about themselves? I’m sure I also said a quick silent prayer for not letting the screaming kid be mine.

Next time, I hope to be quicker with a smile whether it be to the child or the parent and to realize we all have bad days.

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Tips To Improve Your Parenting

There’s an old saying “you can’t see the forest through the trees.” Basically, you’re too close to see the obvious. I believe parenting is like that too. You’re too involved on a day-to-day basis to see what you are doing well, and what you are doing wrong. Sometimes it is behavior we need to change as parents and sometimes it’s just the simple way of saying something, or rephrasing how we say it that has a greater impact.

Nobody is perfect, and I hope as parents we are all willing to take advice and learn how to be better parents. I know I am. Sometimes when you hear/read certain advice, it’s like that old V8 commercial…just a “duh” slap on the forehead.

Here are some great parenting tip from HubPages. I’m sure there is something in it you can use. I know the first one hit home for me.

By TPSicotte

Parenting Tips #1. Tell kids what you want them to do, not what you don’t want!

Instead of stop yelling, we might say use your inside voice. Rather than saying don’t argue we might suggest asking them to play peacefully or cooperatively. If we focus on the negative that tends to be where they will go. For example, if I say don’t think about a green giraffe, no thinking about a green giraffe, stop thinking about a green giraffe we all know what we will think about. It is only natural. Our brain just can’t shut off that way. The same thing happens when we say no, don’t and stop when we are talking to our children. The behavior we want our children to avoid becomes something they keep thinking about. They really can’t help it and that’s because that is where we directed their attention.

It might take time to find the positive alternative to what you don’t want your children to be doing but in the long run it will be worth it. This is the first of our dozen positive parenting tips because the value of finding the positive opposite of the behavior we don’t want can never be underestimated.

Parenting Tips #2. Mean what you say and say what you mean!

The second of our dozenparenting tips is fairly straight forward. Simply put, children need to have limits that can be enforced by parents and that are appropriate for the child on the basis of his/her age and level of development. If we as parents can’t follow through on a consequence or we enforce limits inconsistently our kids will be getting mixed messages. This only makes our jobs as parents more difficult. Keeping it simple is the best policy. Try to be consistent and follow through on the consequences you have stated to your children. Research indicates that maladaptive behavior in kids is often associated with inconsistent parenting.

Parenting Tips #3: Be aware of your body language and tone of voice.

You may think you need to be a buddy when parenting your child so you try to always be positive even when setting limits or maybe you like to think of yourself as the boss and you simply want compliance. When directing our children, an overly ‘buddy-like’ tone is unlikely to sound like a directive. I have heard parentsup-talk (rasing pitch of their voice at the end a sentence) when being directive and this approach tends to sound more like a question or even mild begging.

Try to be calm but firm without being aggressive in tone or stance when giving directions to your children. When parenting our children we want to be positive in the words we choose (see tip #1) without being wishy-washy in our tone of voice or body language. While setting limits with our children, positive parenting occurs when we can be a confident and firm yet still be warm and caring.

Parenting Tip #4: Say please!

This might be the easiest tip to follow in our dozen tips for parenting but that doesn’t make it any less important. Children are more likely to comply with our directions when we say please. Some parents feel that they are somehow pleading with their children by saying please. They believe that as leaders in their home they are in charge and therefore the child should do as they say, and that saying please in some way diminishes their authority. This argument is not supported by evidence based research, which has shown that saying please is far more effective than the do what I say and do it now approach.

Using please suggests that children have some choice and therefore because you have respected that choice they are more likely to comply. The more choices we give children the less likely they are to engage in power struggles. This is especially true for teenagers who are far more sensitive to being bossed aroundand thus more likely to be noncompliant when they feel their parents are power tripping. Besides, using please is really just good manners. And please don’t forget the thank you and your welcome as well!

Parenting Tips #5: Show empathy when following through on consequences.

There are two types of consequences, natural and logical. Natural consequences are not imposed, they just happen as a result of naturally occurring processes. An example of this would be when a child keeps leaving his skateboard in the yard and it gets stolen. Logical consequences are the rules we create as parents. An example of this is when a child leaves her toys out and because her parent has to put them away they are placed in a storage space and not released until the child pays a fine from his/her allowance (by the way, this is a good way to find out how many toys they really don’t need).

When these consequences occur it can be helpful to show empathy and understanding. Some parents feel the need to say I told you so or follow through in a harsh manner. This is unnecessary. In fact it usually leads to children feeling defensive and sometimes acting defiant or like they don’t care. It is helpful when we as parents tell our children that even though we know it can be frustrating to learn from our mistakes, it is an unavoidable and important part of life. Let them know that learning to cope with these frustrations is just one of life’s little challenges. Just don’t let your child confuse your empathy with a potential change of heart with following through on a consequence.

Parenting Tips #6: Proximity.

Get close to your child if you want them to pay attention to your directions. Sometimes it seems easier to call out a command of some sort to our kids but this often yields poor results. Imagine your boss yelling at you from across the room telling you to do a task. Now imagine your boss calmly approaching you and asking you to perform the same task. You might perform the task in both instances, but I am guessing you would be more willing and committed to performing the task in the second instance. The closer you are to your children the more you are able to use the calm assertive tone and body language needed to genuinely influence them.

Many parents don’t understand why their children ignore them after they have shouted some command at them from across the house. Often the child doesn’t respond until their steaming parent is standing in front of them, exasperated from the lack of response (sometimes assumed as a lack of respect) from their children. When the child does finally respond, the parent believes it is the result of their anger. In reality, it is more likely the immediacy of their proximity that has led to the desired impact. Try getting closer to your children when giving directions and notice the difference in how they respond.

Parenting Tips #7: Practice new behaviours.

You might think your child will be able to repeat something after they have done it once or twice. This is not always a realistic goal. Children sometimes need to perform a task many times for them to be able to do it consistently. You may be thinking ‘I know she knows how to make her bed’ when she really has not learned to perform the task consistently.

Give your child several opportunities to practice the task under your guidance. They will usually let you know when they no longer need your help. This will provide you with an opportunity to have them demonstrate the behavior and for you to praise and reinforce their achievement. Remember, even though they performed the task properly yesterday it doesn’t mean they will do it the same way today. Positive parenting means being patient  and knowing that repetition becomes habit.

Parenting Tips #8: Praise praise praise!

Young children cannot get enough positive reinforcement. Positive parenting carried out with enthusiasm is incredibly powerful. A parade around the house for using the potty properly or a loud cheer for cleaning his/her room is only going to reinforce the behaviour. Older children might require a little less enthusiasm but they still respond well to our encouragement. A high five or nod of approval might be enough for your young teen.

We are all social creatures so it is only natural that we learn through positive social interactions. Try to be as specific as you can when giving encouragement: i.e. that was awesome, I really like the way you organized all the books on your shelf as opposed to you’re a great kid. Try to catch your children doing things right. It is easy to notice their mistakes. Taking the time to notice their efforts and noticing small improvements in their behaviour will pay off in the long run.

 

To read the rest of the tips, click HERE.

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Parents Might Not Have Much Influence Over Kids Food Choices

Ut oh! The LA Times recently ran an article which states that parents don’t have that much influence over their kids eating habits. How is this possible? I know we spend a lot of time here discussing healthy food choices, making food appealing and the effects food choices have on kids. I’ve got to hope that the good we’re doing now, while they are still young, will benefit is down the line when TV, internet and friends become a larger influence in their lives.

Taken from LA Times.com. By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times. December 8, 2010, 1:35 p.m.

Parents are instructed to cook healthful foods, hold regular mealtimes and limit snacking in order to raise healthy, normal-weight children. Certainly parental influence — and the examples parents set — matters. But a new study suggests that parents are fighting many other forces in trying to help their children eat healthful diets.

A study published Wednesday reviewed 24 studies on parents’ influence on their children’s eating habits. The studies covered populations around the world from 1980 to 2009. The authors, from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that parental influence appeared to have grown weaker over time. Parent-child correlations regarding caloric intake and fat consumption are weaker in the United States compared with other countries.

The lack of parental influence “is likely because young people’s eating patterns are influenced by many complex factors, and the family environment plays only a partial role,” said Dr. Youfa Wang, the lead author of the study. “More attention should be given to the influence of the other players on children’s eating patterns, such as that of schools, the local food environment and peer influence, government guidelines and policies that regulate school meals, and the broader food environment that is influenced by food production, distribution and advertising.”

The study appears in the December issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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Preventing Temper Tantrums In Parents

Recently, we’ve been discussing our No Yelling Challenge here. I saw this on one of my favorite blogs, and thought it was pretty funny. I thought I’d share it with you. Maybe if all the kids got together to understand how not to piss off their parents, the no yelling challenge would go a lot smoother.

I’ll warn you, if language or sarcasm isn’t your cup of tea, you probably won’t find this as amusing as I do.

Taken from BedtimesAreForSuckers.com Go visit it! Now!

You know how it is:  You were supposed to be out the door for preschool 20 minutes ago,  you’re naked and suddenly your mom’s screaming bloody murder about the stable you’re building in the living room for your My Little Ponies using chairs laid on their sides, a laundry basket and wet grass pulled from the backyard (they’ve got to eat right?) Such a drag.

So, what do you do when a parent loses it?

The truth is, some parents are more prone to tantrums than others. If you’re lucky to have one of those mellow moms, more power to you. My mom on the other hand blows a gasket on a regular basis.

Meltdowns for parents are not cause for alarm. They’re simply a way for them to vent frustration when, during their job’s restructuring phase, they’ve been told they now report to someone 15 years their junior.

My mom’s been having tantrums as long as I can remember. When I was a toddler it was so easy to push her to the edge by hurling food off of my high chair in my ‘gravity versus weight ratio’ experiments. You could set your watch by it.

Unfortunately, parental temper tantrums are a part of life but there are ways of preventing them before they start:

Avoid situations likely to ignite a tantrum.
If your mom is on the phone with Budget Car Rental trying to figure out why one full month after she rented a car she’s suddenly being charged for a scratch on the bumper it’s not a good time to sing the The Itsy Bitsy Spider song at the top of your lungs substituting the word “spider” with “poo.” Most moms, I’m sorry to say, cannot appreciate the absurdist utilization of the non sequitur. I, however, think it’s freakin’ hilarious.

Give your parent the illusion of control.
When your parent is desperately trying to do the laundry and get dinner together let them choose if they want to play Candyland 20 times in a row OR engage in a round of Ariel verses the Polly Pocket army.  These little choices won’t make much of a difference to you, but they’ll make your parent feel as though they at least some control over their own life — even though we know better.

Let them believe they are the best drivers in the world.
First thing you’ve got to understand about parents: They think everyone is a shitty driver except them. With that in mind they are likely to lose their temper multiple times in one car trip. Calm them down by parroting back exactly what they yell out the window at the offending “crappy” driver.  Remember imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Make sure your parent is well-rested.
A tired parent is a cranky parent. If you got up at 5AM and now it’s 10PM and you’re in the middle of a bedtime filibuster/puppet show your parents are likely to go all Charlie Sheen on your ass. Let them get at least 5 hours of continuous asleep (unless of course you need a drink of water, a doll that’s fallen on the floor, protection from monsters, or just an impromptu chat during the night.)

 

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10 Actions ALL Parents Can Take To Help Eliminate Bullying

Bullying. It’s been a persistent topic lately, especially when you hear the stories of young girls hanging themselves in their closets. Recently, in New Jersey, it’s really hit home due to the suicide of Rutgers Student Tyler Clemente, who was being bullied by his roommate through electronic media. While the internet brings us so many great things, it also brings a voice to cowards who would never say the words they write on the internet to someone’s face. It’s horrible, and as a parent raising a young child, I can only imagine what the future is going to hold for them. I just hope parents take action and instill good values in their children and let them know that (1) they won’t stand for their child using bullying behavior in any way , shape or form and (2) you won’t stand idly by and watch them be bullied.

Education.com has a wonderful post which all parents need to read. Be an advocate in your child’s life and stop the act of bullying.

Taken directly from Education.com

The latest research shows that more than half of all children are, at least on occasion, directly involved in bullying as a perpetrator, victim, or both. And many of those who are not directly involved witness others being bullied on a regular basis. No child is immune – kids of every race, gender, grade and socio-economic sector are impacted. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As parents we have the power to help reduce bullying. Here are Education.com’s top ten actions you can take to help address bullying:

  1. Talk with and listen to your kids – everyday. Research shows that parents are often the last to know when their child has bullied or been bullied. You can encourage your children to buck that trend by engaging in frequent conversations about their social lives. Spend a few minutes every day asking open ended questions about who they spend time with at school and in the neighborhood, what they do in between classes and at recess, who they have lunch with, or what happens on the way to and from school. If your children feel comfortable talking to you about their peers before they’re involved in a bullying event, they’ll be much more likely to get you involved after.
  2. Spend time at school and recess. Research shows that 67% of bullying happens when adults are not present. Schools don’t have the resources to do it all and need parents’ help in reducing bullying. Whether you can volunteer once a week or once a month, you can make a real difference just by being present and helping to organize games and activities that encourage kids to play with new friends. Be sure to coordinate your on-campus volunteer time with your child’s teacher and/or principal.
  3. Be a good example of kindness and leadership. Your kids learn a lot about power relationships from watching you. When you get angry at a waiter, a sales clerk, another driver on the road, or even your child, you have a great opportunity to model effective communication techniques. Don’t blow it by blowing your top! Any time you speak to another person in a mean or abusive way, you’re teaching your child that bullying is ok.
  4. Learn the signs. Most children don’t tell anyone (especially adults) that they’ve been bullied. It is therefore important for parents and teachers to learn to recognize possible signs of being victimized such as frequent loss of personal belongings, complaints of headaches or stomachaches, avoiding recess or school activities, getting to school very late or very early. If you suspect that a child might be bullied, talk with the child’s teacher or find ways to observe his or her peer interactions to determine whether or not your suspicions might be correct. Talk directly to your child about the situation.
  5. Create healthy anti-bullying habits early. Help develop anti-bullying and anti-victimization habits early in your children, as early as kindergarten. Coach your children what not to do – hitting, pushing, teasing, “saying na-na-na-na-na,” being mean to others. Help your child to focus on how such actions might feel to the child on the receiving end (e.g., “How do you think you would feel if that happened to you?”). Such strategies can enhance empathy for others. Equally if not more important, teach your children what to do— kindness, empathy, fair play, and turn-taking are critical skills for good peer relations. Children also need to learn how to say “no” firmly, and how to avoid being mean to others. Coach your child about what to do if other kids are mean – get an adult right away, tell the child who is teasing or bullying to “stop,” walk away and ignore the bully. It may help to role play what to do with your child. And repetition helps: go over these techniques periodically with your Kindergarten and early Elementary school aged children.
  6. Help your child’s school address bullying effectively. Whether your children have been bullied or not, you should know what their school is doing to address bullying. Research shows that “zero-tolerance” policies aren’t effective. What works better are ongoing educational programs that help create a healthy social climate in the school. This means teaching kids at every grade level how to be inclusive leaders and how to be empathic towards others and teaching victims effective resistance techniques. If your school does not have effective bullying strategies and policies in place, talk to the principal and advocate for change.
  7. Establish household rules about bullying. Your children need to hear from you explicitly that it’s not normal, ok, or tolerable for them to bully, to be bullied, or to stand by and just watch other kids be bullied. Make sure they know that if they are bullied physically, verbally, or socially (at school, by a sibling, in your neighborhood, or online) it’s safe and important for them to tell you about it and that you will help. They also need to know just what bullying is (many children do not know that they are bullying others), and that such behavior is harmful to others and not acceptable. You can help your children find other ways to exert their personal power, status, and leadership at school, and that you will work with them, their teachers, and their principal to implement a kindness plan at school.
  8. Teach your child how to be a good witness. Research shows that kids who witness bullying feel powerless and seldom intervene. However, kids who take action can have a powerful and positive effect on the situation. Although it’s never a child’s responsibility to put him or herself in danger, kids can often effectively diffuse a bullying situation by yelling “Stop! You’re bullying!” Kids can also help each other by providing support to the victim, not giving extra attention to the bully, and/or reporting what they witnessed to an adult.
  9. Teach your child about cyberbullying. Children often do not realize what cyberbullying is. Cyberbullying includes sending mean, rude, vulgar, or threatening messages or images; posting sensitive, private information about another person; pretending to be someone else in order to make that person look bad; and intentionally excluding someone from an online group. These acts are as harmful as physical violence and must not be tolerated. We know from research that the more time a teen spends online, the more likely they will be cyberbullied – so limit online time.
  10. Spread the word that bullying should not be a normal part of childhood. Some adults hesitate to act when they observe or hear about bullying because they think of bullying as a typical phase of childhood that must be endured or that it can help children “toughen up”. It is important for all adults to understand that bullying does not have to be a normal part of childhood. All forms of bullying are harmful to the perpetrator, the victim, and to witnesses and the effects last well into adulthood (and can include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, family violence and criminal behavior). Efforts to effectively address bullying require the collaboration of school, home, and community. Forward this list and articles you’ve read to all the parents, teachers, administrators, after school care programs, camp counselors, and spiritual leaders you know. Bullying is an enormous problem but if we all work together, it’s one we can impact.

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15 Lures of Sexual Predators

Parents, grandparents, guardians…who ever you are/whatever your title, if you are involved in the life of a child then you need to read this. Everyone that surrounds a child in a circle of love should know what child predators look for and to be aware. No, it’s not happy reading, but necessary none the less.

Taken from abusewatch.net

Abusers rely on deceit to achieve their goals in approaching and seducing their victims.
Read the 15 commonly used lures to learn more about how you can proactively protect
your children.

Affection Lure
Most acts of molestation are committed by a person known and trusted by the child.

Assistance Lure
The methods are unlimited and are meant to entice children away from safety. The offender may pretend to be disabled and in need of a helping hand, which children are usually too willing to offer.

Authority Lure
Children are taught to respect and obey adults. The offender takes advantage of that respect and obedience by using their positions as coaches, clergy, parents, scout leaders, etc. to intimidate or force children into sexual exploitation or abduction.

Bribery Lure
Bribes such as candy, money, and drugs are used to entice or manipulate children into situations and/or settings where sexual contact and activity can be initiated.

Ego/Fame Lure
Molesters use compliments and offers to fame and fortune to lure children into abuse or abduction. Children may be offered private auditions and told to keep it a secret from their parents.

Emergency Lure
This is used by abductors to confuse or worry the child. The child is then easily manipulated due to their anxiety and fear.

Fun and Games Lure
Offenders may suggest innocent body contact games such as tickling or wrestling to facilitate sexual contact.

Hero Lure
Molesters may abuse a child’s adoration for them, using it to molest and/or abduct them.

Job Lure
The offer of a short-term job or errand may be used to molest or abduct a child. Adolescents and even college students may be attracted by promises of high paying or interesting jobs.

Name Recognition Lure
Marking clothes and other belongings with the child’s name enables the offender to call the child by name, creating a false sense of familiarity and security.

Playmate/Companion Lure
The victim may be encouraged or coerced by the offender to usher other children into an abusive setting.

Pornography Lure
Many child molesters routinely expose their intended victims to pornography thus “normalizing” sexual activity and setting the stage for seduction.

Threats and Fear Lure
Molesters may blackmail or threaten children into cooperation or silence. They may even confront the child with an actual weapon (i.e. “Get in the car or I’ll shoot you/your family”).

Drug Lure
Molesters will often use drugs, especially alcohol to incapacitate or seduce children. The lure of drugs is often used in conjunction with pornography.

Computer/On-Line Lure
Some molesters spend hours online chatting with thousands of children, ultimately luring some into dangerous situations. [See DateLine NBC Chris Hansen To Catch a Predator]

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Find the Best Interactive Toys for Toddlers

Interactive toys can be great learning tools. But there are so many on the market, it’s often hard to decide which toy is best. Check out the top picks by Parents that will encourage your child to learn, move, and just have fun!

LeapFrog Alphabet Pal
Let her laugh while she learns. This silly animated caterpillar walks, flashes colorful lights, and giggles while singing the ABCs and teaching your child about letters and colors. Connect to the online LeapFrog Learning Path for customized learning insights and ideas for other fun activities.  LeapFrog; Ages 1 and up; $19.99; target.com

LeapFrog Zippity High-Energy Learning System
Get them moving. This learning system will motivate your kids to get active — they’ll dance, jump, stomp, swing, bop, and march, all while expanding their minds. Try all eight built-in games featuring Mickey Mouse, Tigger, Pooh, and more. LeapFrog; Ages 3 and up; $79.99; target.com

Fisher-Price Splatster
Paint all day — mess-free! This interactive plug-and-play system includes a base and a wireless paintbrush. Kids can choose from a variety of activities, including painting in one of eight themed worlds (each with unique brushes, stampers, and effects) and creating colorful spin art. Then print your digital art to brighten up the refrigerator door! Fisher-Price; Ages 3 to 8 years; $54.99; fisher-price.com

Fisher-Price Smart Fit Park
Boost his energy and his brain. This plug-and-play learning mat will encourage your little one to walk, run, jump, and stomp through 18 different learning games and races. Let him customize his on-screen character and control its actions through the mat. He’ll be having so much fun, he won’t even notice that this game is focused on learning letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. Fisher-Price; Ages 3 to 6 years; $39.99; fisher-price.com

Step2 Sing & Learn Monkey
Sing along with this cuddly monkey. Perfect for young learners, this colorful monkey sings the ABCs as well as nursery and number songs. Your child will be singing along in no time! The Step2 Company; Ages 6 months and up; $14.99; step2.com

Infantino Under the Big Top
Step right up to learning fun. There’s nothing more fun than a carnival! This mini version will help improve your child’s hand-eye coordination and understanding of cause-and-effect relationships. Fun noises and effects from the popcorn popper, teeter-totter, cannon, and more will motivate her to explore. Infantino; Ages 1 and up; $24.99; amazon.com

Fisher-Price Learning DJ
Make music a learning tool. Boombot the DJ moves and dances with your child while helping him learn his numbers, letters, shapes, and colors through songs and games. The DJ is portable and the microphone is attached so your little one can take his show on the road! Fisher-Price; Ages 2 and up; $31.49; target.com

Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Smart Sports
Stay active indoors. Does your child miss playing baseball, tennis, and golf when the weather is poor? With this learning system, she can stay active with her favorite sports all year long. There are three games for each sport, all of which focus on learning numbers, letters, colors, shapes, matching, math, and more. Fisher-Price; Ages 3 and up; $64.99; fisher-price.com

Chicco Talking Vacation Car
Improve language skills–in both English and Spanish. This bilingual talking convertible car helps children develop imagination and creativity through stories and riddles. Your child will work through three levels as her skills improve. Let her follow along with the stories in the included picture book shaped like a suitcase. Chicco; Ages 18 months and up; $34.99; chiccousa.com

Fisher-Price My Toon TV
Dance with your personalized cartoon! Just take a picture with the built-in camera and select one of 11 funny cartoon characters to create your own personalized cartoon creation. Then laugh and sing along as your character dances with you on-screen. My Toon TV includes five songs, but use the auxiliary plug-in to play additional songs from any device. Fisher-Price; Ages 3 and up; $69.99; fisher-price.com

Chicco Billy Fun Wheels
Let him drive like Mom or Dad. Hold on tight — this remote control car is powered by an intuitive steering wheel that will make your child feel like he’s really driving. Just turn the wheel right and left to drive Billy Fun Wheels around the house or on the sidewalks. With a real horn and lights, this little truck will be a huge hit. Chicco; Ages 2 and up; $34.99; target.com

Fisher-Price Smart Cycle Extreme
Combine exercise, learning, and fun. The Smart Cycle Extreme is one of the hottest new video games on the market. Just plug the stationary bike into your TV and choose one of three ways to play: Driving, Learning Arcade Games, or The Big Race. Once you’ve maxed out the included software program (Learning Adventure Extreme), you can get moving again with six other titles including Hot Wheels, SpongeBob, and Toy Story. Fisher-Price; Ages 3 to 6 years; $99.99; fisher-price.com

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