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Little Rock Family Blog

Events, activities, news, insight and opinion from the trenches of parenthood by Little Rock Family Magazine Editor Heather Bennett and her editorial staff. Share tips, news and feedback with Heather here.
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Shop 'Til You Drop: Partners Card Week Begins Friday

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It's time again for Partners Card week, the annual fundraising project of the volunteer auxiliary of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

More than 190 shops and restaurants in central and northwest Arkansas will offer discounts for Partners Card holders, valid from Oct. 24-Nov. 2. For those 10 days, shoppers and diners who purchase the $50 cards will receive a 20 percent discount at the participating locations.

You can view the full list of participating retailers and restaurants on their website here. A few of our favorites include The Toggery, Whippersnappers, Good Earth Garden Center, The Painted Pig, Wordsworth Books and Company, Damgoode Pies, Beyond Cotton II, Cynthia East Fabrics, Pigtails & Crewcuts and many more.

All proceeds from the sale of the Partners Card benefit the Cancer Institute auxiliary and are used to fund projects for cancer patients in Arkansas.

To purchase a card or to find out more info, call (501) 686-8286 or visit UAMSPartnersCard.com.

Pinocchio Takes the Stage at Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre

Image by David Hohn

From Oct. 24-Nov. 9, families can enjoy the classic tale of Pinocchio at the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre.

The wooden marionette, Pinocchio, simply wants to become a real boy, but he must learn an important lesson first. Families will recognize familiar characters, like the caring wood carver Geppetto, and everyone's favorite Talking Cricket.

Performance times are 7 p.m. Fri., and 2 p.m. Sat. & Sun. The production runs Oct. 24-Nov. 9. School performances will be Oct. 24-Nov. 7; to request reservations for a school group, click here.

Tickets are $12.50, members $10. Pay What You Can Night is Oct. 31. For more information, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org.

10 Events for Weekend Fun: Cheese Dip, Hayrides and Jack-o-Lanterns

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It's another big Halloween weekend with tons of festivals and family activities. Kiddos can dress in their Halloween best and head to the Little Rock Zoo's Boo at the Zoo or Magic Screams at Magic Springs Water & Theme Park. Plus, the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre stage comes to life -- it's the opening weekend for "Pinocchio," a musical based on the classic tale.

We've also found 10 fun events, including a festival observing National Bullying Awareness Month, a pumpkin-carving contest, a cheese dip extravaganza and more!

1. Stand Up to Bullying Arts and Film Festival at CALS Ron Robinson Theater: In observance of National Bullying Awareness Month, Songbird Multimedia and Central Arkansas Library System present a unique performing arts festival to feature music, plays, art show, free film screening, and essay contest about bullying. The award-winning documentary, “Bully,” directed by Lee Hirsch, begins at 1 p.m. Events at 11 a.m. for kids and 2 p.m. for teens include essay readings and performances. Pay what you can for admission to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. events. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 25. For info: (501) 612-0864, click here.

2. Annual Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at The Wonder Place: Little ones who aren't ready for all of the frights and thrills can hang out at this sweet soiree that includes goody bags, storytime, special crafts and a scavenger hunt. Family-friendly costumes are encouraged. As always, the second adult in the family receives free admission! $5, children under 1 free. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 24. For info: (501) 225-4050, TheWonderPlace.com.

3. Mac-O-Lanterns at MacArthur Park: This pumpkin-carving contest and event features music, food trucks, face painting and libations at MacArthur Park. Pumpkin carving begins at 3 p.m. and the evening celebration goes from 5-8 p.m. The lighting of the lanterns begins at 6:24 p.m. Pumpkin carvers must pre-register by Oct. 22. 3 p.m. Oct. 25. $5, kids under 12 are free. For info: (501) 375-0121, MacArthurParkLR.com.

4. 4th Annual World Cheese Dip Championship at Bernice Gardens at South Main Street : Watch competitors from around the nation test their skills at creating the world's best cheese dip. Winners of the championship, which will be divided into Amateur and Professional divisions, will be determined by a panel of local celebrities, politicians, and food critics through a series of blind tastings. Your ticket lets you sample all the entries and cast a vote for the People's Choice Award. Proceeds go to Harmony Health Clinic. Advance tickets are $8, and tickets are $10 at the gate, children under 10 free. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 25. For info: CheeseDip.net.

5. 2014 Farmers’ Market Fall Festival at Farmers' Market Pavilions: Enjoy the Farmers’ Market fall decorations and “Trunk or Treat” where children can pick up candy from participating farmers. The whole family (pets, too!) is encouraged to dress in costume and enjoy face painting, pumpkin painting (small pumpkins provided), fall decorating demonstrations for adults, pumpkin carvings and more. 10 a.m.-noon. Oct. 25. For info, click here. FREE!

6. Halloween Hayride at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Experience a different kind of Halloween and enjoy a fun-filled evening hayride complete with a roaring campfire and treats. Advance payment and registration required. $12; children ages 6-12 are $6. 5-7 p.m. Oct. 26. For info: (501) 868-5806, ArkansasStateParks.com/PinnacleMountain.

7. It's the Great Pumpkin Halloween at Bass Pro Shops in Little Rock: The Halloween fun is just getting started at Bass Pro Shops. Enjoy free crafts & pictures with the Peanuts gang 5-8 p.m. Mon-Fri.; noon-5 p.m. Sat. & Sun. Free glow-in-the dark glasses for first 100 kids who get their photo taken Mon-Fri. Scavenger hunts 1 & 3 p.m. Sat. & Sun. Special events will also be held the day of Halloween. Oct. 24-31. For info: (501) 954-4500, BassPro.com/Halloween. FREE!

8. 12th Annual Mud Run at Two Rivers Park: Participants run, walk, skip, trot, cavort through our 5K course, which winds through the scenic trails of Two Rivers Park. Participants must overcome an “obstacle” or two along the way. Then finish with a spectacular frolic through our world-renowned 300-foot mud pit, which is filled with rich Arkansas mud. $35 with shirt, $25 without shirt. 8 a.m. Oct. 25. For info: (501) 371-4639, MudRun.org.

9. Family Fall Festival at Murray Park: Arkansas CureSearch presents an event for the whole family with 100 percent of the proceeds to benefit cancer research for children. Activities include inflatables, live music, hayrides, face painting, nail art, horseshoes, costume contest, and much, much more! Noon-5 p.m. Oct. 26. For info: ArkansasCureSearch.org. FREE!

10. Family Fest at Arkansas Arts Center: An art-making festival for families will be held this Saturday with four engaging, hands-on stations in the Atrium and a scavenger hunt through the permanent collection. Two of the maker stations focus on Drawing and the 2-Dimensional elements of design, the other two activities are 3-Dimensional and focus on the elements involved in Sculpture. Refreshments will be provided. $5, free for members. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 25. For info: (501) 372-4000, ArkansasArtsCenter.org.

For more events, browse our full online calendar here.

Embracing the Chaos of New Fatherhood, Ready or Not

Arkansas Business Online Editor Lance Turner with his wife, Laura, and daughter, Elizabeth.

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I’m a father.

Yeah. I can’t believe it, either.

It’s been hard for me to think of myself as dad material. Measured against my own dad, I fall embarrassingly short. Sometimes I wonder, when Elizabeth gazes up at me, wide-eyed and quiet, if she knows this. Or at least suspects that I’m not ready.

I certainly wasn’t ready that first night, on no sleep and little patience, sequestered in recovery with my wife, Laura, and that new little stranger who required so much.

Between learning how to care for and feed a newborn and the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion of the day, that first night was tough. The next morning on the phone, I told Mom and Dad that I’d started rethinking this whole father thing. I was only half joking.

But nearly three months in, I’m feeling better about it. I’m settling into a role for which I am spectacularly unprepared and wholeheartedly determined not to screw up too badly.

Laura, of course, is brilliant.

Before Elizabeth arrived, she’d read all the books, talked to young mothers and logged endless hours online researching Everything About Babies. She’d monitored her diet and stayed in shape. She’d thought through feeding schedules, supplies and logistics.

She’d done the homework. She knew what was coming. I did not.

It wasn’t because I wasn’t interested. And I didn’t not prepare. I’d done the traditional “fatherly” things: painting the nursery, assembling the furniture, plotting the financial arrangements, baby-proofing the home. I’d gone with Laura to register for baby showers, gave thoughtful consideration to diaper bags and car seats, and spent hours upon hours weighing what we’d name her.

I even read a great book for fathers-to-be called “The Expectant Father,” by Armin Brott and Jennifer Ash, and devoured, with great appetite, each and every BabyCenter.com newsletter plotting our daughter’s growth, week by week.

But when it came to the nuts and bolts of what our lives would look like after Elizabeth arrived, I was oblivious. And now I’m playing catch-up.

This has required some adjustments, particularly when it comes to time management. Looking back, I’m astonished at how much time I had on my hands, pre-Elizabeth. I squandered some of it, reading the Internet and binge-watching Netflix. But I also spent a lot of extra hours at work, a trap most of us get sucked into.

So now I’m trying to work faster and more efficiently. Most days, I don’t linger too long at the office. I’m trying to delegate more to a talented staff that’s more than capable of picking up where I leave off. And, yes, I’ve even watched a few episodes of “Game of Thrones” on my iPhone, rocking Elizabeth to sleep in my arms.

I’ve also tried to “embrace the chaos.” That’s the personal guidepost of a friend who’s had more experience as a father and husband. And during the last few weeks, it’s really helped my world view.

Because it’s easy for me to look around the house and become overwhelmed by the little domestic tasks left undone, sabotaged by baby’s sneak attacks: a half-filled basket of clothes in front an open dryer door; the bed just barely made, its pillows lacking the shams; the trash left haphazardly by the door to the garage; my wife’s cellphone and a used burp cloth laying by the play mat splayed out on the living room floor; my office in disarray, desk piled high with papers and bills and checks half-written.

All this stuff—things left lying around, undone, nearly-but-not-quite accomplished as we tend to our little Elizabeth—would usually drive me mad with an urge to put away, do, complete. But, as my friend says, sometimes you’ve got to “embrace the chaos.” There are, and will be, worse things than this. I mean, Elizabeth isn’t even crawling yet!

But being a dad is more about mastering the tedious tasks of everyday childcare. It’s also about parenting: keeping your child safe, educating her and helping her learn to make good decisions.

On that front, the jury’s still out. I still have no idea what kind of parent I’ll be. Laura and I are lucky to have good role models, so we know good parents look like, even if we’re not sure how they did it.

And the truth is, they probably don’t know how they did it, either. I figure that my dad, looking down at me nearly 40 years ago, didn’t think he was ready either. But he made his adjustments and, like me today, had a brilliant partner to lean on.

Lance Turner has been with Arkansas Business Publishing Group since 1999, overseeing content for ABPG websites including ArkansasBusiness.com, where he edits the Daily Report enewsletter. He also delivers daily business news on “THV 11 This Morning” and is a regular panelist on AETN’s weekly public affairs program, “Arkansas Week.” He and wife Laura welcomed their first child, Elizabeth, in June—the topic of this month’s Family Chatter. You can follow their adventures, and those of their corgi Carly, on Instagram @lanceturner.

Fit Families Challenge: Meet the Nippers and Follow their Healthy Journey

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Editor's Note: Over the next six weeks, we're following along with the Nipper family as they take the Fit Families Challenge from Special Olympics Arkansas. The program is designed for individuals with special needs and their families, and encourages physical activity and healthy eating for the whole family. Read more about the free program here, and look for more installments from the Nipper family on our blog in the coming weeks.

"Ready, Set, Go" yells my wound-up 3-year-old as he races through the living room, dining room, kitchen and loops back around to the living room. He repeats this over and over and over again until our applause is clearly lacking as much enthusiasm as it had in the beginning. He stops to "stretch" and I can’t help but laugh and be amazed by how much he has picked up from tagging along to cross country practice with me every day.

My name is Christy Nipper and I am the head Cross Country coach at Little Rock Christian Academy and the mom of two sweet little ones -- Miles (3 years) and Molly (9 months). My husband, Luke Nipper, is the coordinator for 4-H ExCEL, a team-building and leadership program at the 4-H Center. We are both thankful to have jobs that keep us active and hope that our children will continue to be influenced by the exposure to physical activity.

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My son Miles began his career as my assistant coach at 2 weeks old. Nestled in a front carrier, he tagged along for the team’s second meet of the season…and he has been a huge part of the team ever since. It is so fun to see him try to imitate the runners as they warm up, do drills and run striders. When the workout starts, he changes gears and begins "coaching." He will imitate me by looking at his wrist and pretending to yell out times as the runners pass or cup his hands around his mouth to yell directions. I’m pretty sure Miles thinks he has 55 brothers and sisters as each member of the team will play with him, correct him, chase him, and include him in everything. The 7-12th grade students that run on our cross country teams are so supportive and inclusive of Miles and that means more than they will probably ever realize.

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When I was 16 weeks pregnant, I received a phone call from my doctor informing me of some "abnormal" test results. The next two weeks were a blur as we visited specialists and eventually learned our son would have Down syndrome. At the time, it was a very scary diagnosis as I knew very little about Down syndrome and had never really been around anyone with Down syndrome. In those early days all people tell you about is the potential health problems, the cognitive delays, and how much longer it will take your child to accomplish tasks such as crawling, walking, and talking. 

After three years I can honestly say that Down syndrome really is not the scary, hard journey we were warned about. In our experience, the journey has been filled with laughter, joy and some really fun dance parties. Sure, Miles receives 8 hours of therapy a week (PT, OT and Speech) and he does have to work a lot harder to reach some developmental milestones, but that makes the success that much sweeter! I remember and appreciate milestones many people probably do not even notice.

When we found out Miles would have Down syndrome, my biggest fear was how others would treat him. Watching the students on my team interact with Miles each day is a constant reassurance that he will be loved and accepted. The fact that Miles loves to be at practice reassures me that Miles will enjoy being active even with the extra challenges he experiences due to that extra chromosome.

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Miles has low muscle tone and a slower metabolism, which makes being active and eating well extremely important. When the fabulous staff at Miles’ school, Access, told us about the Fit Family program through Special Olympics, we were really excited to sign up! We want to start out teaching Miles and Molly the importance of being active, eating well and leading a healthy lifestyle.

The challenge comes with our busy schedules. By the time we get home from work, the kids are hungry and anxious for dinner, and then it seems like we only have about an hour before we have to begin getting them ready for bed. We are going to dedicate these next six weeks to really trying to find fun ways to fit in exercise. Follow us over the next six weeks as we strive to find fun ways to encourage exercise, target therapy goals, and make healthy eating choices!

How to Safely Include Pets in Halloween Festivities

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Including pets in your family's Halloween festivities can be a fun, but with all the excitement comes the chance for pets to get into danger or trouble.

Keeping your pet away from candy and other Halloween treats is especially important because so many favorites include chocolate, which is potentially toxic for dogs. It's also an ideal time to practice obedience commands with your four-legged friends, as crowds of unfamiliar people, costumes and lots of open doors can create temptations too hard to resist.

To include your furry family members while still keeping them safe during the fun, follow this advice from the pet experts at PetSmart:

Trick-or-treating together

  • Before hitting the streets, make sure your dog is socialized around kids, adults and other animals.
  • Bring water and dog treats to reward your dog for good behavior and reduce the desire to go for kids' candy.
  • Increase nighttime visibility with LED leashes, collars or harnesses, or look for light-up Halloween outfits.

Paw-sitively good party manners

  • Before guests arrive, practice "leave it" or a similar command. This is useful to help pets avoid candy or food they might encounter on the ground. Trainers can help you get it down right.
  • Establish a rule that guests don't feed the dog -- candy or human food. Many ingredients commonly found in Halloween candy can be harmful to your pet. For example, xylitol, found in gum and candy can cause dangerously low blood sugar or liver disease in dogs. Chocolate can create a range of symptoms, from vomiting to abnormal heart rhythm to death. Even snacks that are healthy for humans, such as raisins can cause a toxic reaction. Instead, offer a new interactive toy or long-lasting rawhide to keep your pup busy and out of temptation's way.
  • Prevent your dog from running out an open door by working on a "stay" command. PetSmart's expert trainer Debbie McKnight explains how to teach this trick: Ask your dog to sit, and praise him when he obeys. While your dog is sitting, say "stay" and place your hand flat with your palm facing the dog. Wait 2-3 seconds then give your dog a treat. You can increase the time he stays by a couple of seconds every three repetitions, working up to 30 seconds.
  • If you aren't confident about your dog's abilities, keep him on a leash while the doorbell is ringing.

Costume comfort and safety

  • A costume should never constrain or bother your pet. If your pet isn't comfortable, try a strap-on costume that attaches loosely with snaps, or find other ways to look festive.
  • Once a costume fits properly, make sure your pet won't trip on anything like a cape or ribbon. Check for little parts within chewing distance and keep identification tags on collars.
  • Throughout the evening, watch your pet and make adjustments as needed. You may need to cut or remove portions of the costume to increase a pet's comfort. The most important part of the evening is your pet's safety.

For more tips on pet safety, as well as costumes and events, visit your local PetSmart or PetSmart.com/halloween.

Article courtesy of Family Features and Petsmart.

5 DIY Halloween Costume Ideas, Plus How To Save

Gallery by Savers

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Thrifty parents know where to go to find affordable Halloween costumes -- local thrift stores like Goodwill and Savers, where you can cobble together your own DIY costumes (see five ideas below) while sticking to your budget.

Not into DIY? Even the most craft-challenged will find options at some of these stores. For example, each Savers location has a costume consultant to help customers create unique get-ups. Plus, the Halloween section has new and used costumes, wigs, masks, makeup, jewelry and more. That's right: If you aren't feeling up to the costume challenge, you can still pick out a packaged costume at a lower price.

Now for the hard part: Helping your family choose who (or what!) they want to be for Halloween! Find several ideas, including mad scientist and Charlie Brown, in Goodwill's "Chamber of Costumes" here.

Plus, here are five DIY costume tutorials from Savers:

1. Elsa from Disney’s Frozen

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What You’ll Need:

  • Fancy or frilly blue dress, blue slippers or flats
  • A wand, cape, and blonde wig

How to Create the Look:

Stay within your budget by combining a base piece, such as a fun or fancy blue dress from your child's closet (or thrifting one). Pair the dress with accessories like a blonde wig, snowflake wand and shimmery cape to create an Elsa look.

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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What You’ll Need:

  • Mix a solid color shirt or shorts in your favorite TMNT color—Raphael (red), Michelangelo (orange), Donatello (purple) or Leonardo (blue)— with black or green (shirts or shorts/tights) and black boots.
  • A TMNT backpack, nunchucks and matching bandana and/or socks. Other options include: gloves, matching sweat bands.

How to Create the Look:

It’s easy to put together a fun costume by mixing and matching solid color tops or bottoms in a mix of your favorite TMNT color, black and/or green. Don’t forget to accessorize with a TMNT backpack, nunchucks and a pizza box.

3. Katniss from The Hunger Games

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What You’ll Need:

  • Black long sleeve shirt, black pants, brown leather jacket, and boots
  • Bow and arrow set and brown wig long enough to braid

How to Create the Look:

This is an easy costume to put together. Many of the basic pieces can be found in your own closet, including black shirt and pants, and brown leather jacket and boots. Finish off the look with a bow and arrow set, and a long brown wig (if you need it).

4. Dracula

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What You’ll Need:

  • Black pants and red or black shirt
  • Patterned vest, Dracula cape, fangs, vampire makeup and Gothic jewelry

How to Create the Look:

Start with a button down red or black shirt, black slacks and dress shoes from your closet, and pair them with a patterned vest, Dracula cape and some Gothic jewelry from the Halloween section. Vampire fangs and makeup pull the whole look together.

5. Zombie Princess or Bride

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What You’ll Need:

  • Princess dress or fancy white dress
  • Princess crown or wedding veil, colorful hair extensions, tights, dress shoes or boots and zombie makeup

How to Create the Look:

Zombify your costume this Halloween by ripping and shredding the skirt of an old dress. Next, throw it in the dirt or even run over the costume with your car. Add black combat boots, ripped black tights, colorful hair extensions and a tiara to create a deathly frightening costume. Finish the look with a zombie makeup kit.

6 Ways To Help Your Kids Banish the Boogeyman

In addition to being a short-order cook, housekeeper, and 24/7 chauffeur, I’m also my kids’ #1 fear-fighter. I check under their beds for bad guys and stick my own arm in the toy bin “to make sure the crab isn’t real.”

My daughter believes zombies live in our attic and my son swears he’s seen a green ghost in my bedroom. I tell them, “Monsters are just pretend,” but neither child believes me. They’re convinced that danger lurks in the darkness.

Where Fears Come From

Kids’ fears are as unique as their personalities. Many young kids are afraid of animals and insects, characters in costumes, and things that go bump in the night. Others fear loud noises or believe they’ll be sucked down the toilet when it flushes. Even kids who don’t believe in the boogeyman may fret about schoolyard bullies.

“Some kids are more fearful than others because they are born with a predisposition to worry,” says San Diego, Calif., clinical psychologist Joanne Wendt, PhD. Other fears grow in response to trauma. For example, a child may start to fear bees after being stung himself or seeing a classmate get stung on the playground. A little information can be dangerous: Kids who learn about killer bees may believe backyard bumblebees are mini-mercenaries.

Adult role models can also fuel kids’ fears. A mom who is deathly afraid of escalators may pass along her anxieties by telling kids moving stairs are slippery and insisting the whole family take the elevator. Tamar Chansky, PhD, author of Freeing Your Child from Anxiety, says, “Parents need to be mindful of the signals they send so they don’t send fearful messages about objects or situations that are basically safe, or can be managed,” she says.

Fight Fears Together

Dismissing kids’ concerns isn’t the answer. “Parents can unintentionally feed kids’ fears by reassuring them they have nothing to worry about,” Wendt warns. The best approach is problem-solving. Here are some ways to do it.

Identify the issue. When your child comes to you for help with a fear, engage in some critical thinking. Questions like “Why are you afraid of this spider?” and “Have you been hurt by a spider in the past?” encourage your child define her fear more clearly. Once she’s defined her fear, she can start to question its legitimacy.

Teach kids to think twice. First, ask your child what worry is telling him about the situation, using a funny voice or puppet to represent worry. “Then, using his ‘smarter mind,’ ask your child what he really thinks will happen,” Chansky says. A worry might be saying, “The 6th-grade bully will toss me in the trash can,” but your child’s smarter side knows, “The trash can has a locked cover.”

Fight scary with silly. Have your child draw a picture of the thing that scares her. Then, do a goofy makeover complete with a ballet tutu and hair curlers. Coach your child to imagine the monster slipping on a banana peel or falling off a cliff. “This allows her to take charge of her fear and her imagination,” Chansky says.

Practice self-soothing. Kids can learn breathing and muscle relaxation techniques to calm themselves. The easiest strategy is to breathe slowly while counting to four and breathe out while counting to seven. This focuses your child’s attention and puts him back in control. “Repeating a special word, phrase or affirmation, such as ‘I can handle this,’ also eases anxiety,” Wendt says. Practice these calming behaviors every day so they become automatic.

Step it up. Use a technique called systematic desensitization to approach the feared situation gradually. “Make a simple drawing of a stairway from the side view and put your child’s goal at the top,” Chansky says. Then start at the bottom and write in steps from the least to most threatening. For example, a child whose goal is to pet a dog might start by looking at pictures of dogs, visiting a pet store or animal shelter and letting a dog sniff her hand. Remind your child to take deep breaths as anxieties escalate.

Be patient. Forcing kids to confront their fears when they aren’t ready will only increase their anxiety. Talk about your own insecurities and model a courageous approach to the unknown. When your child feels overwhelmed, allow him to step back and observe the scary situation from a distance. Before long, he’ll probably be ready to reengage.

If Ghosts Won’t Go

All kids have occasional worries, but some suffer from intense and persistent fears. “Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders, affecting between 10 and 17 percent of children and teens,” Chansky says. “They are also the most treatable.” Using cognitive-behavioral therapy, kids can learn to turn down their over-reactive emotion systems and teach their brains new tricks.

If your child’s fears keep her from enjoying everyday activities at home and at school, reach out to your pediatrician or school psychologist. A professional fear-buster can help your child say “Boo!” to ghosts and other childhood anxieties.

Outsmart Anxieties

Research and logic can help kids shrink fears down to size. “Have your child write down three facts about his feared situation to put it in perspective,” says licensed professional counselor Neil McNerney, LPC, of Reston, Va. A child who is afraid of thunder storms might note:

  1. Thunder makes a loud boom, but it can’t hurt me.
  2. I can keep myself safer by staying inside during a storm.
  3. The odds of being struck by lightning are only 1 in 700,000.

Bottom line: Fear is a healthy response to a dangerous world. Encourage your child to learn from it.

Helpful Picture Books

Scary stories allow kids to practice coping from a safe emotional distance. These books confront kids’ fears head-on without inspiring nightmares.

"The Dark, Dark Night" (2008) by M. Christina Butler and Jane Chapman. A fearful frog mistakes his own shadow for a swamp monster in this sweet read.

"A Not Scary Story About Big Scary Things" (2010) by C.K. Williams. A growling monster begs a brave boy to believe in him in this silly story.  

"Wemberly Worried" (2000) by Kevin Henkes. Anxious kids will recognize themselves in Wemberly, a shy white mouse with lots of worries. 

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About The Author
Jennifer Pyron is the Associate Publisher and Editor of Little Rock Family magazine. She is the go-to gal for family events, activities, news and opinion. She and husband Charles are the proud, exhausted, penniless parents of Charles Jr. and Emily. Plus, should you need a pop culture lifeline on "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire," you may call her.
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According to the National Down Syndrome Society, one in every 691 babies in the U.S. is born with Down syndrome which makes it the most common genetic condition. Although strides are being made, there are several myths about Down syndrome.

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