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Love Message Bouquet

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching! Since we have a few more days until the holiday is here, I wanted to post one last idea for you to try out with the little ones! This is a beautiful craft to make together and is also a great activity to practice spelling and handwriting.

For this craft you will need:

  • assorted colors of card stock or construction paper
  • patterned paper {optional}
  • bamboo skewers
  • green paint
  • green pipe cleaners
  • thin black marker or pen
  • glue, scissors, tape

1 Cut heart shapes out of your paper that will be used as the ‘flowers’ in your bouquet

2 Using a glue stick, attach the hearts to patterned scrapbook paper. Cut around the heart shape so that one side is a solid color, and the other reveals the patterned paper. This step is optional, but makes the bouquet look more professional and polished when displayed in a vase!

3 Paint some bamboo skewers with green paint for your stems. Let dry. Tape one heart to the top of each skewer to make the flower and stem.

4 Cut some white pieces of paper for your ‘messages’. Use a glue stick to attach them to your hearts and write a message that will continue onto each heart. Example, I needed five heart flowers to create “Love is in the Air”.

5 Add a green pipe cleaner to each stem to create the leaves for your flowers. Optional: add some red or pink glitter to your hearts to make them extra festive!

6 Place your heart flowers in a vase or glass and enjoy!

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Lucky Tree Craft for Chinese New Year


This fun and easy craft is a great way to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year on February 10, 2013. Considering this is the year of the Snake, I wanted to create something a little cuter… so this Lucky Tree fits the bill! The fruits can be clementines or oranges… whatever you wish!

For this project you will need:

  • brown markers
  • colored dot sale stickers
  • yellow, white and red paper
  • gold glitter and glue
  • a thin, black marker
  • decorative stickers, like goldfish
  • a glue stick and regular glue
  • scissors

1. Using your glue stick, center a small white piece of paper on a larger red piece to create a nice ‘frame’. Prepare a vase shape by cutting it out of yellow paper. Gather some dot stickers {can be found in any dollar store} and cut the green ones in half to use as leaves later.

2. Glue your vase shape on the white paper and draw some branches with a brown marker like the ones below.

3. Now peel stickers off and attach to the branches for the fruits. Orange stickers work best… I used red because that’s a lucky color for Chinese New Year. This is definitely the funnest part for kids! Peel some green cut stickers and use them as leaves. Use your thin black marker to add some faces to the fruits if you wish!

4. For some final touches, add gold glitter around your picture. Lastly, add a sticker to the vase. A goldfish is perfect for the occasion!

Every year I try and attend the Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown. It is a fun and educational event for children with awesome confetti, fire crackers and great food. Here is a link to this year’s parade:http://betterchinatown.com/

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Fun and Easy Window Paintings for Kids

Moms, this is a great rainy day activity for you and your children! All you need are some acrylic paints which you can find in any arts and crafts store. {I know Jersey City doesn’t have many, so check the art supply isle of Shop Rite or even your local dollar store!} The most important thing is that the paint you buy should be non-toxic, water based paint, because it will be very easy to remove. Always test a small design first to make sure it wipes off of your desired surface easily!

For this project you will need:

  • acrylic paints {water based only!}
  • various small paint brushes
  • window cleaner for removal

1 Choose a design to paint on your window, or even your bathroom mirror! Snowmen are a great choice for January, or hearts for the upcoming Valentine’s holiday. Young children might want to practice drawing their design on paper before starting painting on the window.

2 Dip your brushes directly into the small bottles of acrylic paint and begin painting on your windows. Using too much paint will cause it to drip, so remember to wipe your brush on the side of the bottle before beginning. For multiple colors… let the first color dry first before adding other colors on top. For example, paint the snowman body first. Let that dry, then add black for buttons and a nose and eyes, etc, etc.

3 Let your beautiful creations dry and wipe away any mistakes with a wet paper towel.

4 Remove your drawings any time you wish by spraying with window cleaner, then wiping with a wet rag.

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Who’s The Boss; You or Your Child?

Many parents feel as though they shouldn’t “push” their child to do things, and this could not be farther from the truth. For example, if your child doesn’t like soccer or baseball, but you want your child to do either of these things, this could present suppressed emotions and resentment years later. Research on power assertion, emotional involvement, and child adjustment show that “pushing” our child to do something he/she doesn’t want to do could create negative inner-atmospheres in early and middle adulthood. This is ONE type of parent.

Another type of parent relies solely on their child’s approval to perform daily tasks such as putting their toys away, completing simple chores, taking a bath, and eating healthy foods. As a result, parents will forego initiating obligations and responsibilities early on in order to please their children and gain approval. This is the OTHER type of parent.

Who is the boss here?

One confused and frustrated parent asked my advice on this over dinner, and explained that her daughter was defiant towards her decision not to go to bed when she was told to. This parent allowed her child to stay up late on school nights in order to avoid further conflict. I replied, “You’ve created your worst nightmare; a 4-year-old who is telling YOU what to do!”. Another parent required approval from her son in regards to “bath time”. She stated, “Well, if he doesn’t want to take a bath, should I make him? Why fight it out?”. I replied, “Because you are the parent, that’s why. And taking a bath is 99.9% your responsibility. That small percentage left is HIS responsibility to dip his legs in and get washed.”

Kids can be dominant, but as parents, when necessary, we are required to assert ourselves so that our children develop appropriately; clean, fed, healthy, etc.

Isn’t it a good thing when a child seeks to become the one in charge?  Shouldn’t such independence be commended and encouraged?  While it might look cute when a 2 year old tries to run the family, it can become a parent’s worse nightmare when a 4-or-5-year old tries to do it.  It is developmentally unhealthy for any child to be the one in charge.  Let’s explain why.

 

When a child doesn’t recognize that their parents know what is best, or refuses to take directions, they become very difficult and exhausting to parent.  It leads to a battle of wills where you feel like your child is playing for the opposing sports team; for one to win the other has to lose – but no one likes losing.  It’s a real struggle to gain a sense of parent satisfaction when your child is constantly challenging you. By challenging the parent over and over, respect and authority becomes lost and further experiences will increase in difficulty.

 

Wanting to be boss isn’t genetically wired into a child.  Any child has the potential to become an alpha.  Let’s make sense of this child.  Hardwired into every child’s DNA is the need for closeness – someone is there to take care of me.  It’s called attachment.  When a child is safely attached to their parent they feel protected and comforted.  This gives them a sense of security and rest, “someone is there to take care of me so I am safe.”  But if the child perceives rightly, or wrongly, that their parent isn’t there to take care of them they will try to assume the role themselves.  Every child knows that to be safe someone must be in control . . . and if no one is there they will try to do it themselves.

 

The way the alpha child outwardly behaves (dominating, leading, being in charge) is the very opposite to how they feel on the inside.  Alpha children are alarmed children; behind the bravo image is a scared child.  It’s highly alarming when you are 3 or 4 year old and you think you have to take care of yourself.  There are many reasons why a child might feel their parent isn’t there to take care of them and they are described below for your convenience. Are you enabling your bossy child?

To change the alpha child parents have to become the alpha in the relationship.  Attachment is always hierarchical: someone has to be in charge before they can take care of another.  While alpha is defined as being dominant in the relationship, it in no way implies being domineering.  Alpha parents don’t bully or intimidate their children!  That’s not an alpha.  The alpha in a wolf pack is the one who protects the pack.  If danger or threat appears the alpha wolf is first on the scene to take care of the rest of the pack.  Alpha is a protecting and comforting role.  The rest of the wolf pack feel safe because they have an alpha who they trust will defend them against any attack.

For a child to feel secure and safe they must see you as their alpha.  If they don’t they will assume the role themselves: “Help!  I’m only 4 and my dad and mom aren’t in control.  Someone has to be boss around here if I’m to be taken care of . . . if it’s not dad and mom, I’ll have to do it myself!”  That’s a scary place for any pre-schooler and doesn’t make for healthy development.  The alpha child has to learn to be taken care of.  As Dr. Cooper of the Circle of Security (2011) suggests, parent should always be bigger, stronger, wiser and kind.  When you are all of these qualities for your child they can rest knowing they will be protected, comforted and a source of delight.  When children find rest they’re a lot easier to parent.

So what contributes to a child who is the boss of you?

Our egalitarian society.  Democratic parenting that gives the child equal rights with their parents.  The person who takes care of a child can never been an equal – for a child to feel safe the parent/teacher must always be the alpha.

Parenting on demand.  As parents we are so busy these days.  When we get home there are so many demands (dinner prep, housework, washing, bathing, etc.) that we can find we are only responding to our child’s demands.  When this happens it puts our child in charge of closeness.

Parent needing the child.  Sometimes because of our own life history we can look to our child for comfort, love, security and joy.  This again makes the child feel they are responsible for taking care of us.  Adults are meant to be alphas to each other, not their child being alphas for them.

Encouraging pre-mature independence.  There is too much pressure on children these days to grow up quickly.  Becoming independent too young has many pitfalls.  These children are more likely to become peer attached and parents find they have lost their influence when their child is in primary school, let alone high school when a teenager needs parental guidance.

Hesitant parenting.  Today parents are so afraid that they might damage their child they become hesitant to do what should come intuitively to them.  When a child senses hesitancy they feel unsafe, so take on the alpha role.

Alpha by defense.  For children who have experienced emotional wounding (abuse) they defend against their feelings of hurt by putting on a tough exterior.

It may be too late to turn your child around, but this can be avoided! By instilling (proactively) the principles necessary to maintain YOUR role as mother or father you will be better able to maintain your role as “the boss”. Being proactive isn’t deserving of rewards per se, but the reward is a child who respects and perceives your role as his/her nurturer and authority.