Kids need structure

Imagine one of the nation’s most powerful public figures at a school near you.  He shares ideas about being a leader and a good citizen.  Then, he yells, “At ease!”  The kids quickly stop talking and listen.  He has their attention.

Colin Powell, the former U.S. Secretary of State, has been traveling the country and sharing an important message with children that discipline and respect is essential to be a good citizen.  He also encourages parents to provide structure at home and says this is where success starts.

“It begins, the first time with a child in his mother’s arms, he looks up and says, this is my mother, she is the one that feeds me,” Powell said.

He continues the message by sharing how a young child trusts the loving adults that provide for her needs.  The mother, father, grandparent or sibling will talk with the baby, feed the baby and change the child’s diapers. This is when structure begins.

“By three months of age … that is when language, love and structure begins,” Powell says.

He emphasizes the importance of reading to a child, teaching a child and spending quality time together.  His message states that this is the nation’s responsibility- with Head Start, preschool and prenatal care.  But it is also the responsibility of parents.

“The education process begins, even before the child is born,” Powell says.

He says that parents should be reading to their children.  A high indicator of lifelong success for a student, and a child, is their ability to read in third grade.

“If you are not at the right reading level in third grade, you are a candidate for jail at age 18,” he said.

Powell freely offered that he was not the best student in preschool or elementary school and got his records to prove it.  He even tried a few college programs, which didn’t work for him.  Finally, he found structure with the ROTC and excelled.

He notes how the military provided him much success because of the structure.

He then traced his success back to his upbringing and having a community that believed in him.

“You can self-improve and self-educate as you go along.  But, this begins with the gift of a good start,” Powell said.

He attributed his good start by being raised in a nice family, a family that believed in him.

“It is so essential that we put this culture back into our families.,” Powell said.  “We are not just investing in our kids, we are investing in our future.”

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

What role does birth order play in shaping personality?

Have you ever noticed how children from the same family can be so different?  Do you often look at your children thinking how am I raising these kids with such opposite personalities?

In his book, The Birth Order, Dr. Kevin Leman explains that many of these differences can be attributed to the order in which your children were born.  We share some of his theories below.

  • First born.  A child who is born first tends to be a perfectionist. This child has a lot of adult attention since they are the first baby in a family. Parents have high expectations and ask their children to perform well in school. First-born children tend not to break rules and like to follow directions to please people, namely their parents.
  • Middle child. The second child, or those born in the middle of other siblings have characteristics of being a peacemaker. They tend to be more quiet or easy-going.  This child typically likes their older and younger siblings and might serve as the bridge between the two.  At times, this child will try very hard not to be their older sibling.
  • The youngest.  Older children will say that this child gets away with everything.  Some believe that parents are more tired and just don’t have as many rules or are less concerned about enforcing the rules. This child tends to like attention and have things his or her way.


Leman’s book goes on to describe how birth order affects children throughout their lives. Sometimes it shapes the careers that is chosen and/or whom we marry.  Leman’s theory argues that first born children will tend to marry youngest or middle children; whereas, a middle child will marry a younger or oldest child.   He states that we like the roles we play in life and enjoy abiding by what we know.

In the career world, older children take something stable like a government job, accounting or a leadership role. Younger children like to have careers that are noticed- a radio deejay, a politican or a dancer.  Middle children will find a role where they can nurture or keep the peace, like a teacher or in healthcare.

Similarly, children might have different interests based on when they were born. An oldest child might enjoy academic activities or be the captain of the football team. As a reminder, the oldest likes to excel in what he does and possesses maturity in his role.  Younger children will be more outgoing and seek to perform- dance, music or acting might be more their style.  They enjoy the spotlight.

Parents should not be concerned if their children do not easily fall into one of these categories.  Kids who are the only child can possess each of these characteristics. Likewise, if there is a big gap in your children’s ages, you might have two children with first-born characteristics.

Overall, it important to love and nurture your child where they are at without having expectations that the second or third child should be just like the first child. Enjoy celebrating the different characteristics in each of your family members.  Variety is the spice of life!

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

It’s a Wacky, Wacky Wednesday!

Dr. Seuss inspired us to celebrate the days of the week. In his book, “Wacky Wednesday,” he specifically focuses on the middle of the week and the numerous funny things that can happen in one day.

Children love to read this book. It is extra fun for them since that have to interact with the pictures in the book by identifying and counting all of the wacky things that are out of place.

We thought it would be fun for you and your family to recreate some of the funny things that happen in the “Wacky Wednesday” storybook. Here are some of the ideas we came up with.

  • Wall shoe. Since the book starts out with the “crazy shoe on the wall,” mimic this. Tape a shoe to the wall or many shoes. Put one or two on the ceiling, if possible.
  • Wacky alphabet. Start by writing the letters A-Z on note cards. Mix them up so they are not in order. Even put some of the letters upside down. Can your child identify which ones are wacky? Ask him why. Then, help him rearrange the letters into the correct alphabet order.


  • Upside down photos. Turn the photos or wall hangings in your house upside down. We found that command adhesive strips work well for this. See if your child notices the wackiness of upside down photos!
  • Backwards nap. During naptime, sleep on the opposite end of your bed. Put your head where your feet should be. Make sure to put your feet on your pillow.
  • Fruit tree. The book shows upside down bananas in a tree. Can you creatively put fruit in a tree by your house? Ask your child to find the fruit. If you don’t have a tree, hide fruit around your home. Take turns finding the fruit. Eat it together as a snack.
  • Mixed-up clock. Put removable labels over the numbers on your clock and mix up the order of the numbers. Put the 12 where the 6 should be and so on. Ask your child if he notices anything different about the clock.
  • Shoe table. Place a shoe on one of your kitchen table legs. This would be similar to what happens at the school in the book.
  • Count the wackiness. Have your child count how many wacky things she can find around the house.
  • Roller skating parent. If possible, put on roller skates or rollerblades in the house. (Make sure to be safe!). Act like everything is perfectly normal.
  • Funny signs. At one point of the book, there is a sign outside that says “Four Sale.” To highlight this idea, put funny signs all around your home. See how many funny signs you can create. Ask your child to count how many funny signs he sees.

When you are finished hosting your real-life Wacky Wednesday, we encourage you to end the day by reading “Wacky Wednesday” by Dr. Seuss.

As your child gets ready for bed, ask him what was his favorite part of the day. Discuss which wacky thing was the funniest and why.

Ask him if Wacky Wednesday was going to happen again, what wacky thing would he like to see? Consider incorporating this into your next Wacky Wednesday day!

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

What to expect at doctor appointments

Bringing your newborn baby to the doctor for the first time can be scary. Some parents wonder what to expect, others may fear that the “mean” doctors will make their babies cry with shots whereas some are excited to see how much their child has grown.

We, at Let’s Talk Kids, believe that information is power. Thus, we have created this “cheat sheet” for parents on what to expect for doctor’s visits.

  • Time.  Most appointments are relatively quick and take less than 30 minutes. Some appointments may take longer if children need to have blood tests.  You can call the office ahead of time to ask.

  • Weighed and measured. Little ones most likely will get weighed and measured at every doctor’s appointment. Please note that it is helpful to bring extra diapers since babies usually get weighed nude.
  • Temperature. Oftentimes, nurses will take the temperature of your child. Most are now taking the temperature in the ear or across the forehead.
  • Shots. You can call your doctor’s office beforehand to see if your child needs a shot during the visit. You can also give your child Tylenol before the appointment to help minimize the pain associated with getting a shot.
  • Development questions. Please note that your doctor will ask how your child is developing. He or she might ask questions like, “Is your child eating, walking or talking properly?” These questions will be geared towards your child’s age and the appropriate skill levels for his age. Please note that it is good to be honest with your doctor as there are special services that can aid a child in developing properly. Catching any problem early is more likely to result finding a workable solution and getting your child appropriately caught up. For instance, a child who is not crawling can meet with a specialist to help strengthen his core so he can start crawling.
  • Car seats. New government regulations help ensure children will be safe while riding in vehicles. Your doctor may ask if your car seat is expired, has been in a car accident and/or if it remains current. As you may know, car seats should be replaced every 6 years. Your doctor might also discuss proper installment of your car seat.
  • Living conditions. A doctor may ask about your home life and if you have pets, if anyone smokes or if your child attends daycare. These questions are being asked to help your doctor understand about your child’s health and if she has allergies.  Make sure to answer truthfully to best prepare your child for a healthy upbringing.
  • Examination. When your doctor is done asking you questions about your child, she or he will examine your child. The doctor will look into your child’s ears, nose, throat and at her eyes. She will check your baby’s neck, chest, back and stomach. She will examine the diaper area for rashes or infections. Doctors will also check a child’s legs and feet. Basically, doctors are checking to make sure your baby is healthy.
  • Ask questions. If you have any concerns or questions, a doctor’s appointment is the perfect time to ask. Make sure you feel confident in caring for your child’s health. There is no time like the present to ask a simple question or two.
  • Finishing up. Your doctor will finish the appointment by asking any necessary follow-up questions, by providing advice or giving you a report from what was found. Your doctor will advise you on when your child should come back for his next appointment. If necessary, a doctor will provide you with any prescriptions that you may need filled and may give you a handout of the day’s progress.

Remember that the going to the doctor doesn’t have to be scary. Arm yourself with questions you may have, bring your child and consider packing items to entertain your baby during the appointment.  Knowledge, love, doctor visits and attentiveness are all in the recipe for good child health!

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014



We are a Minnesota Cup semifinalist!

Let’s Talk Kids is one of 10 semifinalists in the Minnesota Cup’s Social Entrepreneur category.  The Minnesota Cup is a premiere small business competition.

Candi and Wendy Walz presented to a room full of judges and the public about Let’s Talk Kids’ learning kits.

2014 Minnesota Cup Semifinalist

The next step of the process is submitting a 10-page business plan and 15-slides about our business by the end of July 2014. The judges will choose 3 finalists from the 10 semifinalists to advance to the next round. We also will be given a business mentor. We are so humbled and honored to be at this point of the process. We will keep you posted as we learn more.

How do you communicate love?

Each of us has a special language that helps us communicate our love and gives us new opportunities to receive love. After decades of serving as a marriage counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman has boiled down love to five categories- words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.  He has shared these ideas in his book “The Five Love Languages.”

According to Chapman, we speak and receive love in these five ways.  Each of these languages can be present in our lives, but some languages are more prevalent to individuals than others. Applying this idea to children, you might have one child who speaks or communicates in one love language whereas your other children might speak in a different language.  This week, we encourage you to take the time to understand and discover the love languages your child speaks.  Then, give him the opportunities to receive and give love. It will pay off in huge dividends.
Here are the definitions of the five love languages and some ideas you can do to share love with your child in each language.  We have also included ideas to let your child speak love in the corresponding language.


  • Words of affirmation.  Adults can speak words of affirmation to their children by praising them for a job well done or encouraging them to do tasks.  Chapman points out that sometimes people don’t want to do a task if they are nagged but instead might do the task since others have encouraged them.  For instance, by telling your child he is a great dishwasher, you might get him to do the dishes more often than saying, “why don’t you ever help with the dishes?”Speaking words of affirmation can be done through words or by giving a card or note saying how special your child is.  Children communicate  in this language by giving a card, or speaking their love by saying, “You are the best mom, ever” or “Dad, I love when we play baseball together.”
  • Quality time.  Communicating love as quality time means spending time together and giving your child your undivided attention. This means shutting off  the TV or radio and really enjoying your time together.To speak this language, think of fun things you would like to do as a family.  Maybe your idea is to go on a hike, go to the library or have ice cream together. Quality time is an opportunity to unplug and focus on your company.  Children who speak this language might come across as needy when they want your continued time and attention.  Be aware of giving them time and asking them what they would like to do together.
  • Receiving gifts.  Speaking love through gift giving doesn’t have to be costly.  You can give your child a small toy, or something that reminds you of them.  You can also do cost free gifts like draw a picture for your child, writing a song or finding a special rock while you are out on a walk.  People who like to receive gifts find any thoughtful gesture to be an act of love.Children can speak this language by giving parents a feather, flowers she has picked or by coloring a picture for family members.
  • Acts of service. Sometimes, we just want children to do chores without asking. Children who speak in acts of service will be quick to jump in and lend a helping hand. They might keep their rooms organized or clean. They might love cleaning up toys since they know it is helpful to dad or mom.Parents continually speak in acts of service, especially when children are born. Parents have to change diapers, feed babies and rock their youngsters to sleep.  All of this is done as an act of love.
  • Physical touch.  Giving hugs or kisses, holding hands or cuddling on the couch are all examples of physical touch. Children that communicate in this language might like to sit close to family members or touch their hands.  To speak and receive in this language, be open to giving and receiving touch.

Stay in tune with your child and “listen” to the way that she communicates love. It might just help you relate to your child in a new way.  And, we can all use more love in our lives.  Someone wise said, “Love makes the world go around!”

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014


Thank a teacher or two!

Take a moment to think of your favorite teacher.  Did she encourage you to learn by building you up or teaching you a new skill? Did he have interesting, engaging lessons?

We all have a special place in our hearts for the teachers that made a difference in our lives. Some say that teaching is a thankless job, but we disagree. There is nothing better than sharing your knowledge and seeing your students grasp a new idea or lesson.

Parents spend a lot of time and energy requesting good teachers. Each wants their child to learn from the best.

Involved parents also realize that their interactions with teachers support students better. You might think that teachers provide education, but instead, it is a two-way street. Parents also need to reinforce study skills and learning at home.

Staying involved in your child’s academic career will lay a foundation to a positive experience in school.

Here are important tips to follow to build that relationship with the teacher and/ or say thanks for the work that they do:

  • Say thanks with flowers. My sister and I have vivid memories of cutting lilies of the valley from our yard and bringing a vase full of these to school for our teachers. We always felt proud to bring something special to our teachers. We think it made the teacher feel special, too.
  • Think about the support staff. There are many workers at the school that encourage your child throughout the day- this might be the school nurse, the custodian or the lunch staff. Find ways to say thanks to these wonderful people as well. Perhaps have your child write a poem, draw a picture or give a thank you photo to these staff members.
  • Share a card of thanks.  Have your child write a note to say thank you to his teacher(s).  Let him share words from the heart.
  • Send electronic communications. As the parent of a child, tell your child’s teacher he is doing a great job through email.  Sometimes a simple thank you means the world to a teacher!
  • Go out of your way to call the teacher. I still recall getting a call at work about one of my students from her dad. He thanked me for being a positive influence on his daughter and went above and beyond to share about the joy that my class brought to his daughter.  These words of thanks will help keep any teacher going- from preschool to college!

As the school year winds down, we encourage you and your family to say thanks to the important teachers in your life. We also hope you will continue to stay involved in your child’s education career.  It will make a difference!

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

Activities to celebrate Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a day of love. Kids hug parents, partners give cards to express their feelings and children give gifts to classmates at preschool or school.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we ask you “What do you do to share your love? How do you show love to your child? How does your child express love?  Here are some ideas on how to share love on Valentine’s Day.

  • Make a hanging heart. Start by drawing a big heart on tag board or construction paper. Use ribbons, glue, markers and lace to decorate the heart with your children. Hang this above your kitchen table for others to enjoy.

  • Sort heart candies. Start with a muffin tin and a box of candy hearts. Label each tin with a different color. Have your child sort the hearts into the corresponding tin.
  • Play pin the heart on the person. This game is a mimic of pin the tail on the donkey. Start by drawing a person on a piece of tag board with a heart outlined in the center. Tape this to the wall. Then, cut out a heart for each person with tape on the back. Use a blindfold and cover each person’s eyes.  Spin them three times and have them “pin the heart on the person.”  The closest to the heart outline wins.
  • Fill Valentine bags. Take a paper lunch bag- white or brown – and decorate these with hearts, sayings for about love, handprints or drawings. Fill these with candy, fruit, pencils, trinkets or small toys for family members or friends. Give them to the people you love or have a scavenger hunt to find them.
  • Trace and cut hearts. Use empty heart candy boxes to trace hearts. If you don’t have any empty heart boxes, trace hearts on cardboard. Allow your children to trace these and cut them out.
  • Host an indoor heart search. Cut 20 hearts out of construction paper. Put these around your house while your children close their eyes or sit in another room. Let them dash around the house to see who can find the most hearts.
  • Create Valentine’s headbands. Start by cutting out 2-inch wide strips of paper. Measure these to your child’s head to make sure the strips are long enough. Glue on paper hearts, use heart stamps or foam heart stickers to decorate your headbands.  Staple these together when you are done decorating. Wear these for your Valentine’s Day supper.
  • Make Valentine’s Day magnets. Start with wooden hearts (you can usually find these at a craft store) and paint them in your favorite colors. Put a magnet on the back and place it on your refrigerator.
  • Host a Valentine’s Day dance party. Invite your friends over to dance with you to the music.
  • Create a Valentine’s Day coupon book. Include coupons that can be used throughout the year. Consider writing things like “a free hug,” “I will make my bed today” or “I will read a story to my sister/ brother.”

Enjoy spending time with your loved ones you love this Valentine’s Day by making special projects for them. Take time to share why you love all of the people in your life this season.

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

Join together for a play date

Some parents find hosting a play date to be complex since you need to coordinate many details. Other adults love when children get together and play. They say that having kids over helps keep the little ones engaged and entertained.

When hosting a play date, find activities all kids will enjoy!

When hosting a play date, find activities all kids will enjoy!

There is an important social aspect to hosting and attending play dates  – children learn how to share, behave at someone else’s home and also follow rules. A play date can also provide a new adventure!

To ease the process of planning a play date, we have shared these ideas to help things run smoothly.

  • Plan in advance. If you are seeking to bring many children together, you might need to plan a date in advance. Since all families have different schedules, it might take awhile to find a date that works for everyone.
  • Age appropriateness. When you are determining who to invite, consider how old a child is or what development level they are at. Some children play really well with babies while others might find babies to be dull. A good rule of thumb is to invite children who attend preschool or school with your child. It will be fun to visit with friends outside of the classroom.  You can also find older children that like younger children and vice versa. If in doubt, ask your child what she prefers.
  • Make play fun. Seek to do a group activity like a treasure hunt or play bingo. Consider playing games or doing activities that you cannot complete with just your family members.
  • Coveted toys. You might want to put away your child’s favorite toy or game so it doesn’t break or pieces don’t go missing during the play date. Children might also become very possessive over their coveted toy.  To remove this potential barrier, put favorite toy away until after friends have left. (It might also help children cope when their friends leave.  You can say, “now you can play with your favorite doll”).
  • Open communication. Before the play date, make sure to speak with each child’s parents and ask about any pet or food allergies the child might have. You want to make sure you have a safe environment. You should also invite the family to send a few of their child’s toys along.  This way, everyone will have something new to play with.
  • Drop off and pick up.  Consider arranging a specific drop off and pick up time. Are you going to meet at school or preschool?  Will one parent drop off the child and another pick up the child? Will the child stay for supper? Make sure expectations are well communicated.
  • Plan ahead. Part of what makes a play date extra fun is doing things you wouldn’t normally do. Consider planning a craft project or making a fun snack. (This week’s activity and recipe can both be completed by many children at once, you can also find more activities at:  If you plan an activity, make sure to have all of the needed supplies on hand.  We also recommend having some go-to items set aside if kids get bored or don’t know what to do. Playing with bubbles, reading books, playing a game, painting a picture or drawing together are always fun options.
  • Clean up. Parents of all children should tell their child that it is expected that everyone helps with clean up. Before anyone can leave, toys should be put away, books should be on shelves and the house should look just as good as before the play date happened. Taking responsibility together helps lessen the burden of picking up when children leave. You can also make a game out of cleaning up and try to put everything away before you count to 30 or sing a song about cleaning up.

These are just a few ideas to help make your play date more successful and fun for everyone. We hope you and your child have many fun play dates.

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014

But why?

All parents know that children are inquisitive. They ask many questions about the world around them, for instance: Why do we have to go to the store? Why do we eat dinner? Why does daddy have to go to work?

Hearing these questions may seem like a nuisance at times but children need to ask questions to learn how the world works. They also want to spend time exploring the world together with the loving adults in their lives.

Giving your child an opportunity to ask questions helps develop brainpower in a child. Being inquisitive at a young age also helps children become better students in school. They will be taught it is okay to ask questions and seek answers.  Curious children will already know the answer to some questions but will also be skilled in thinking through an answer.

Here are some tips on how to handle the all-important question of why.

  • When your child asks the question “Why?” direct it back to them. Turn the question around when they ask and state, “Why do you think it is cold in winter?” or “Why do you think the sky is blue or the grass is green?” Allow children the opportunity to brainstorm answers with you.
  • Children are seeking to understand the world whey they ask why. When your child asks why the sun is out in the day and the moon is out at night, feel free to tell them the true answers.  Start with the discussion of the planets and how the earth revolves around the sun. Explain that as the earth rotates, we see stars and the moon during the evening and the sun in the morning. Also explain how the sun rises and sets.
  • As an adult, try to answer the simple why questions – for instance why do we have to eat breakfast or why do we hold hands in the parking lot? On the flip side, guide your child to answer the more difficult questions like why do dolphins communicate?  If you cannot figure out the answer, feel free to research it together.  Use it as an opportunity to research the topic at the library or on the internet. You will be role-modeling good studying behavior.
  • Schedule discussion time into your daily routine. Set aside time to sit down together and answer the question of the day or to work on a project or problem.  For instance, maybe you want to freeze water and see how a liquid turns into a solid. You can also work together to drop a leaf and a ball of socks off the stairs. See which drops faster and how they fall differently. By conducting these experiments you can solve problems and answer the questions before they are asked.
  • Take why questions as an opportunity to learn about your child’s world. View the world from your child’s perspective. Think about why they are asking the questions and what the answer may provide. Slow down and take time to listen to your child.
  • A child may also ask you a why question when something is bothering her. She might ask why she has to go to school or sleep alone. Instead of jumping in with an answer to provide a solution, discuss the issue with your child.  Say you think she seems worried. Have her explain what is bothering her and take time to listen. Work together to create a list of potential solutions and then determine which option is the best.  This process will both open the line of communication, and also helps relieve your child’s stress.

Remember the why questions are not asked to confuse you or frustrate you. Children ask why to learn about the world and situations around them.  Keep your answers simple and to the point. Children don’t need to know every specific detail but they do need a loving adult to support them as they learn about the world. Recall that answering the questions provides an opportunity to learn together and help develop your child.

© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014