Take Time

Effective communication does not just happen. We must take time to build trusting relationships with the families we serve. Here are some ways we can create meaningful relationships.  

1.     Introduce yourself. Share who you are with the family. Make first contact(s) positive.

2.     Use family friendly words to convey meaning. Avoid technical jargon.

3.     Tell the truth. Never lie or over-promise. Honesty is the basis of a trusting relationship.

4.     Maintain confidentiality. Keep sensitive information private. Do your best to control what you say and write when it comes to confidential information.  

5.     Put yourself in the family’s shoes. Taking the perspective of another can create empathy.

6.     Share resources. If you are aware of needs, you can share what you know and/or do research to locate resources for families.

7.     Build on family strengths (not deficits).

 Spend time each day connecting with parents and families. Checking in on a regular basis with parents can support the bond we have with the families we serve. Children benefit when we invest time in creating mutually beneficial partnerships.

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Sparklicious Snacks

I am forever looking for healthy recipes to make my family. Specifically, I am on the hunt for things to make children that are free of peanuts due to allergies. If you are looking for sparklicious snack ideas, look no further. Here are three recipes that your children might like.  

Bean Dip:

Open a can of your child’s favorite beans. Crush the beans after cleaning them. Add a dash of garlic powder, cumin, and lime juice (optional). Serve with carrot sticks.

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Yogurt Dipping Sauce:

Start with 1/2 cup (or 4 ounces) of fat free plain yogurt. Next, add the following ingredients to the yogurt: 1 teaspoon of honey, 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon of ginger, a dash of nutmeg and lemon juice. Serve it with your child’s favorite fruit.

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Ants on a Log:

Instead of peanut butter, use sun butter to spread on celery sticks. Sprinkle some raisins on top.

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Haircut

A child’s first haircut is an exciting time. It can also be scary for the child. Consider all the objects, smells, and activities that go on in a hair salon. Children may become overwhelmed. Select a time of day when the child is not tired and/or hungry. Children may feel comfortable bringing a familiar object from home. Assure the child s/he is safe, and the haircut will not hurt her/him. The following vignette offers an example of a child’s first haircut.

The scared little girl walked into the salon. A backpack full of toys, a doll, and dolly salon chair were comfort objects the child towed into the salon. “How-can-I help you,” asked the hairdresser.

“We are here for a first haircut,” said Mom.

“What is your name?” asked the hairdresser.

The little girl hid behind her Mom, looked at the floor, and did not respond.

Mom followed the hairdresser. The child followed Mom to the place where haircuts happen. The child saw the adult size chair that resembled her toy chair fully equipped with the hydraulic pump to make the chair go up or down. Even though there were familiar items in the salon, there were many peculiar arrangements of those familiar items. There were combs in jars with blue-green liquid on the counter. A big hair dryer like her Mom’s was sitting next to the counter in a big barrel with a long cord that resembled a snake. The unusual environment with the unfamiliar objects scared the child.

The hairdresser was wearing a black apron and offered the child a cape to wear. “I don’t want to wear that! It has buttons,” the child proclaimed. Ever since she turned three, she decided buttons are her enemy. Part of her wanted to wear the cape. After all, superheroes wear capes. Plus it had exotic animals from the savannah on the special cape. A zebra, giraffe, cheetah, and lion peered between stripes on the silky cape with buttons. “No thank you!” replied a conflicted child on the offer to wear the cape. “No worries. You do not have to wear the cape,” said the hairdresser as she put the cape on the counter.

Next, she grabbed a booster seat. She asked Mom if she would like to hold the child or if the child would like to sit in the booster seat. That is when it happened. She started to cry. It was a raw shriek that got the attention of everyone in the salon. All eyes looked at the child now. The unfamiliar environment, strange objects, the cape, and now this expectation she sit in a chair high up off the ground was too much to take!

She was afraid of getting into the chair. Will the hairdresser hurt me? What is she going to do with those weird, shiny knives she has on her fingers? What is the strange smell in here? Why do I need to have a haircut in the first place? Tears streamed down her face as she sat on the floor with her toys all around her.

The hairdresser sat down on the hairy floor with the child. They started talking about Samantha, the American Girl doll the child brought from home. “How do you like to do Samantha’s hair?” asked the hairdresser.

“I like to brush her hair. Then I pull her hair back with these barrettes,” instructed the child.

The two talked and played with the comforting toys from home.

The child was feeling safe now with the hairdresser. She was also having fun playing.

“Would you like to play on my chair and see it go up into the air?” asked the hairdresser.

“Yeah!” answered the child excitedly as she jumped from the floor and into the hydraulic chair.

The hairdresser spritzed her hair so it would be wet. She used her comb to get the tangles out. Last, she used her superhero scissors to create an artistic masterpiece. When it was all done, the hairdresser gave Mom strands of hair to keep as a memento. This was a special milestone. The first haircut!

Marisa's Chicken Cheetos

Have you ever wanted to make something for dinner only to discover a half hour before mealtime that you do not have the correct ingredients? It is frustrating. My family likes baked chicken cutlets. I was about to prepare the cutlets one night for dinner when I realized I ran out of Panko bread crumbs, and had no bread to make bread crumbs. What’s a Mommy to do?

A bag of Cheetos was in the pantry. I figured the orange-dyed, jagged, crunchy delicacies might work the same way bread crumbs do. So I pulverized (I love this word but awkward to use in daily conversation) what was left of the Cheetos bag to create a crumb mixture. Chicken and Cheetos? Who knew!

Marisa Macy’s Chicken Cheetos

Ingredients:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins

2 eggs

1 cup of Cheetos crumbs (to make: pulverize a small bag of Cheetos in a Cuisinart)

Directions: Cut chicken tenderloins into strips or nuggets. Coat the chicken with the egg wash. Then dip the egg-coated chicken into the Cheetos crumbs. Place chicken onto a glass baking dish or cookie sheet that has been greased with olive oil. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until done. Buon Appetito! 

Ice Cream

Nothing says summer quite like ice cream. It can be licked, bitten, slurped through a straw, spooned and shoveled. It comes in many flavors. It is cold and refreshing on a hot day.

But there is something about ice cream and young children that can be confounding. How can a child eat only two bites and be done?

Researchers at Penn State University have a line of research I call the Mac-n-Cheese Study where they experimented with how young children clean their plates. They found that preschoolers typically eat about 1/3 of their food, or 186 calories, when given a one cup portion of macaroni and cheese. But, when given a two cup portion of the "comfort" food the kids ate about 1/2 of their food, or 258 calories.

The more food the adults put on the plate, the more the preschoolers ate.

Larger portions encourage overeating. Avoid portion distortion by placing too much food on their plates. Youngsters do not need membership in the clean-your-plate club. Kids may be done after a couple of bites.

Instead of encouraging eating all of their ice cream the next time I hear a child say they are full after a couple of licks… I will celebrate with song by singing my Dad’s favorite tune for the occasion:

I scream!

You scream!

We all scream for ICE CREAM!

The leftover ice cream can be saved in the freezer for another day.

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