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23 Jan

911 Emergency Plan for Kids

In a world full of unknowns it’s important to have an
emergency plan in place, so your family knows exactly what to do in the case of
an emergency. It’s also extremely important to make sure your children
understand what an emergency is, and how they should react in the event of one.
I’ve compiled a list of ideas and reminders that will help you create an
emergency plan in your home.

Communicate: I’m a firm believer that parent-child
communication is essential for success in just about every circumstance, and
communication is definitely key in establishing an emergency plan, too. Start
by talking to your children to learn what they already know about dealing with
emergencies, discuss different types of emergencies and ensure they understand
exactly what constitutes an emergency. Make sure your discussion is
age-appropriate; how you discuss the idea of an emergency will vary from
toddlers to teenagers, of course.

Write Down Numbers: Have emergency numbers written down on
or near the fridge. In our house, we have an emergency binder that has phone
numbers for just about any occasion including: our neighbor’s phone numbers,
grandparent’s phone numbers and more. If your child is old enough to carry
their own cell phone then make sure they have all of the important numbers
programmed in their phones for emergency situations.

Proper Alarms for Early Warning: Make sure you have smoke
alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in place within your home, and test them
every six months to ensure they’re working properly. These early warning
devices could save your life. For information on where to purchase these
devices and how to properly install them in your home visit: http://www.firstalert.com/ or an
alternate credible source.

Practice Drills: As is the case with many things, practice
makes perfect. If your family is faced with an emergency you’ll want to be
prepared, and you’ll want your kids to know what to do. Have several practice
drills within your own home to help determine a plan of action for an emergency
situation. You may feel silly while practicing, but you’ll be grateful for
those drills in the face of an actual emergency.

Look to the Media: There is so much information available to
teach children about emergencies. I suggest looking to kid-friendly books,
television shows, movies, etc. to help solidify the idea of an emergency, get
advice from an additional source and help your child become more familiar with
the whole concept.

No matter how you develop an emergency plan that works best
for your family, the most important thing is that you’re prepared.


Daddy Nickell

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22 Jan

Childhood Vaccinations

Becoming a parent comes with so many responsibilities. One of these responsibilities is making healthcare decisions on your child’s behalf. For the last 20 years, my career has been dedicated to supporting people with disabilities and their families. I have met hundreds of families. It is not uncommon for a mother to say, "my baby was fine. She was meeting her milestones. After she got a shot she got a high fever, had seizures and has never been the same." I am not a medical professional. You can do a google search and find evidence and testimony to validate whichever side of the controversy you lean towards. 

I had my first child 7 years ago. I was really torn about vaccinations. On one hand, the shots protect against vey serious childhood illness. On the other hand, the recommended shot schedule fills tiny little bodies with many chemicals and viruses at the same time. Can that really be safe? (That was my biggest question). I was so fortunate to meet the man who became our family doctor. He is a homeopathic doctor who is in support of childhood vaccines. But he let me know we have options. After discussing pros and cons with our doctor, we agreed on a delayed schedule. We chose to start vaccinations at age two. We chose to do only one vaccine series at a time (for some reason it comforted me to have as little co-mingling of chemicals and viruses as possible). This schedule assures that our children have all of the required vaccinations in time to start kindergarten. (Each state has different vaccination laws regarding public school).

My intention is not to persuade you to either side of the controversy. My intention is to let you know that you have options. You will not be told of your options unless you bring it up to your child’s healthcare provider. Do your research. Talk to your Pediatrician. Most will give you pressure to follow the APA shot schedule, but please know that you don’t have to. 

Proud can find the ingredients in each vaccine by doing a simple google search.

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05 Dec

Is Santa Real?

 When your child comes to you questioning if Santa is real and asking
you, the parent, to confirm – one way or the other – I suggest taking a step
back and a deep breath before responding.


Begin by asking your child why they’re asking this question in the
first place. Did they hear something from another child at school? Or did they
determine on their own that “Santa’s job” is seemingly impossible? If they’ve
thought about it long enough and critically enough to determine on their own
that Santa might not be real then it might be time to explain to them that
they’re, in fact, correct. Don’t forget to put a silver lining on it; something
like, Santa is able to personify the spirit of Christmas; the joy, happiness,
love, selfless giving, empathy and more that encompass the whole idea of
Christmas, and when you think about it that way Santa is simply the face of


If, on the other hand your child explains to you that another child
from school just happened to claim loudly that Santa isn’t real then your child
still likely believes in Santa and is looking to you for answers; if this is
the case, I suggest letting them know that not everyone believes in the same
things, and that’s perfectly okay, but that if your child believes Santa exists
then nobody can take that belief away from them.


With seven kids of my own ranging in age from 1 year old to 27 years
old, I have kids who believe, and kids who now know better. It can be fun to
get your older kids involved in keeping the idea of Santa alive and real for
the younger kids in your family. Include your older children in the shopping,
the wrapping of presents and more while your younger kids still believe he
exists. The older kids will enjoy sneaking around at night to devour the milk
and cookies left out for Santa, and the younger kids will revel in the mystery
that is Santa Claus.


Tackling the “Is Santa Real” question is tricky and not the easiest
subject to tiptoe around. Remember to be sensitive, understanding and even
creative in your response! 


Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind there’s no one-way to
handle this sensitive issue, and different techniques will likely work for
different families.


Happy Holidays!



Daddy Nickell

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14 Nov

Tips to Handle Bullying

Unfortunately bullying exists in your child’s world, but
there are ways you can help. As a dad to 7 kids between the ages 11 months and
27 years old, I’ve learned the dos and don’ts of handling schoolyard bullying.

Do: Teach your child the best ways to handle a bullying
situation. If your own child is being bullied, teach them the best method is
not to provoke a fight, but to simply and calmly (as hard as it might be) walk
away and find the nearest adult (teacher or principal) who can help you. If
your child is not the person being bullied but rather is witness to another
child being bullied they can help by alerting a teacher or principal and being
a kind and empathetic friend to the child being bullied.

Don’t: As a dad it’s hard not to want to fight a battle for
your child (figuratively speaking), but do not overstep your boundaries. You
could possibly make it worse for your child. If you’re a concerned parent call
the school and talk with a principal or teacher and tell them the severity of
the bullying situation. They’ll take the necessary measure to better watch the
bully and give out consequences based on future actions.

Do: Talk! A lot! Talk to your child as much as possible
about what’s going on at school, with their friends and their overall lives –
you’ll be surprised by the things you’ll learn. Use the opportunity to build
your child’s self-esteem as being a victim of bullying can often make a child
feel puny. Discuss ways in which your child succeeds in school and at home and
the things that make your child really happy. Be their rock. Build upon their
strengths by giving them defense mechanisms like talking calmly, making jokes
and more.

Don’t: Do nothing. Doing nothing does not work. And as a
parent it’s your responsibility to do something to help your child in any
situation. Be sure your moves are calculated, as your child will likely be
watching and learning from your way of handling the situation.

Handling bullying can be hard, but there are ways in which
parents should help by getting involved and teaching their children the best
ways to handle situations. It’s important to be on the lookout for signs of
bullying, and to handle each situation delicately and with dignity, as your
child will be watching and learning from you.

Bottom line: teach your child to be a kind and empathetic
human being who looks out for others and knows how to react and handle a
bullying situation should they ever be caught in one.

Good luck and happy parenting!


Daddy Nickell

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17 Oct

Homework tips for kids who have ADHD

The new school year is in full swing. For a lot of children, homework time is no fun. For children with ADHD, homework can be down-right painful. According to Vicki Siegel in an article published on ADDitudeMag.com, " Homework demands more discipline and consistency than many children with attention deficit disorder can muster." You can make homework time easier for yourself and your child by creating a routine built around three key questions: When? Where? and How?

1. When?

  • Schedule homework for a set time each day. Base this on your childs temperment rather than what is most convenient for yourself. Perhaps he is at his best right after school, or maybe after an hour of down time. Avoid late evening.
  • Be consistent from day to day. If after-school activities interfere with consistency, post a daily plan or weekly calendar that includes homework start times each day.
  • Schedule enough time to complete assignments without rushing.
  • Give advance notice of homework time. This is so important. Children who have ADHD do not easily shift from one activity to another.

2. Where?

  • Help your child select a homework place. Try the kitchen table, where she can spreat out materials. Or perhaps your child would like a desk in the quiet den.
  • Steer clear of proximity to electronics. But if your child concentrates best with soft noise, try some gentle background music.
  • Stay nearby (if possible). Kids with ADHD concentrate better when they know you are near. If your child needs to use the bathroom, remind him to come right back.

3. How?

  • Set up rules. Print a copy of the rules to review with your child. Specify start and finish times, place, when and how long breaks are, and that you will be nearby to help.
  • Help, offer assistance, but do not do the homework for your child.
  • Avoid arguments–calmy refer to the homework rules.
  • Help him start. Make sure your child knows what the assignment is and how to proceed. Offer assistance that matches his learnal style. For a verbal processor, read directions out loud to him. For a visual learner, show him how to use highlighters and colored markers to outline key words and sentences.
  • Keep him going. If your child tries to stop before he is finished, encourage him to go on a bit longer, and remind him there will be a break soon.
  • Give her a break. Kids with ADHD may become fatigued due to distractibility, challenges to concentrating, frustration and restlessness. Help your child recharge by scheduling frequent, short breaks.
  • Review your child’s work when he is finished.
  • Offer praise. Compliment not only the work, but staying on task and focusing. Don’t only praise when the work is finished. Praise the process!
  • Give rewards. This may be a favorite snack or extra playtime.
  • Don’t give up. Homework time can be challenging in any household. Helping your child set a routine and feel good about academic accomplishments will go a long way.
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01 Oct

Protect Your New Grandchild from Germs

Grandparents always love to “show off” their adorable,
sweet, perfect newborn grandbabies, but it’s important to practice caution in
doing so as there are harmful germs that can cause your grandbaby to become
ill. With seven kids of my own ranging in age from 7 months to 27 years old,
I’ve learned a trick or two about how to help grandparents feel confident
showing off their new grandchild while practicing safety and caution in the
presence of germs and public spaces.

Sanitize: I never
leave the house without some hand sanitizer and wet wipes. These two items come
in handy more often than you think. And when there’s a new baby around we
encourage all of our guests or baby handlers to thoroughly wash their hands (or
use sanitizer if on-the-go) prior to touching the new baby. When the
grandparents are out and about with baby ask them to keep a bottle of hand
sanitizer nearby. Then when a friend or passerby wants to get close to the baby
they can quickly and easily sanitize their hands before they touch the baby.

Stay In: One of
the best things I’ve discovered is the importance of controlling the
environment around a newborn baby. Instead of taking baby out and about – why
not encourage the new grandparent to stay in and have people come to their home
instead? That way they won’t have strangers trying to touch their grand baby
and their friends won’t likely be offended when they’re asked to wash their
hands before holding the baby. Staying in is always a great idea as it allows
for more personal time and bonding while still giving grandma the opportunity
to show off her new grandbaby.

Sign the Stroller: Make
or purchase a sign to pin on your stroller beginning the day you leave the
hospital if you want to. The sign could say, “Please Wash” implying you’d like
people to wash their hands before handling the baby. The sign might feel a bit
intrusive right off the bat; however, you’ll get used to it and come to love
it. People passing by will be less likely to try to touch your baby and it’ll
be a reminder to you, too – to wash your hands as often as possible in order to
lessen the chances of your baby becoming ill. With a sign on your stroller, the
proud new grandparent will be ready to go, and you’ll be confident your baby
will be safe and germ-free.

Cover Baby Up: When
you, or a grandparent, are out in a public space such as a super market or a
mall with a newborn cover the baby up by placing a blanket or car seat canopy
over their stroller seat. They make convenient covers now that let you easily
check-in with baby (to ensure they’re safe and well) while keeping them under
wraps. If there’s a cover over your stroller people will be less likely to try
to get a look at the baby since they’ll think he’s sleeping. The grandparents
can do their shopping alongside baby without being bombarded by baby-crazy

When you have a newborn around you have to remember to
create a germ-free healthy space for the child to thrive in. Have a discussion
with the new grandparents early-on to remind them the hazards that come with
germs, the importance of requiring all baby-handlers to wash their hands and
that not everyone needs to be touching the new baby.

I hope these simple tips will help the proud new
grandparents in your life show off their new grandchild while keeping him safe
and healthy, too.

Happy parenting!

Daddy Nickell  

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01 Aug

Preparing for the First Bus Ride

 Preparing for the first day of school can be stressful
enough for parents and children, and when you add a first bus ride to the mix,
well it’ll make you realize just how brave, outgoing and incredible your young
children are.

I’ve experienced many first days of school and first bus
rides and I’ve put together some tips that will help ensure these important
firsts go smoothly.

Routine: Beginning
towards the end of summer it’s important to set up a morning routine with your
children. Get them comfortable with the routine prior to the first day or
school so they’ll be prepared to jump back into the swing of things when the
time comes. Having a routing will help school mornings run more smoothly, your
child will be less flustered, more confident and less likely to miss the school
bus when it stops on it’s daily route.

Get the Schedule: Prior
to the first day of school pick up the school bus schedule and make sure you
fully understand it. Know where the bus will stop and at exactly what time.
Also make sure you know where it stops both before and after your stop – in the
off chance you’re running early or late one day you’ll be able to drive your
child to catch the bus during it’s route. If you have questions regarding the
bus schedule please contact your school system ASAP, so there is no confusion when
it’s time for the first bus ride to school.

Hello and Goodbye: It’s
important – for safety reasons if nothing else – to walk your child to and from
the bus stop each day. Additionally, the consistency of seeing your face each
time they board the bus in the morning and get off the bus in the afternoon
will be reassuring for your child and essentially make the bus riding
experience a little less stressful and hectic.

Memorize: Go over
the schedule with your child and have them memorize it. Ask them where the bus
will pick them up and where the bus will drop them off and also make sure they
know what time. I know you’ll be walking them to and from the bus stop, but
having an understanding of exactly what’s going to happen will give your child
confidence. I also suggest reading books about riding the bus, watching
television episodes about riding the bus, etc. This way your child will really
know what to expect.

Practice Run: I
am a supporter of practice, and my family has drills or practice runs for
activities quite often. Before its time for the first bus ride I suggest you do
several practice runs so your child will know how the bus riding experience
will work into their daily routine. Walk with them to the bus stop at the
proper time – morning and afternoon – explain to them that a bus will pick them
up here and then drop them off here at the appropriate time.

The start of a new school year can be chaotic, but if you
begin discussing the routines and happenings in advance you and your child will
do great.

Good luck!

Daddy Nickell

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06 Jun

Celebrate Dad this Fathers Day

Father’s Day, or Daddy’s Day as I like to call it, isn’t all
about presents, it’s about celebrating dad and letting him know you appreciate
all of his hard work and dedication. This year, make Dad feel extra special –
without wrapping up a present! Some of my very favorite Daddy’s Day memories
don’t include traditional presents at all, but simple memories sharing love and
gratitude with my family.

So here are my top 5 suggestions that’ll help ensure Dad
gets an extra special Daddy-friendly celebration this year:

1. BBQ Time: It’s a known fact that dads love to barbeque – a
whole lot of them do, anyways! If the dad in your life loves to grill then I
suggest planning an extra special Daddy’s Day barbeque complete with dad’s
favorite foods, favorite beer and favorite people. You can leave the grilling
to Dad, but make sure you take care of everything else! Family barbeques are
great for bonding, laughter and lots of fun. Don’t have a yard or a barbeque?
Don’t fret, check out local parks and find a great spot that will work for you.
And make sure you pick up something for dessert to end the night “sweetly”!

2. Garage Makeover: Know a dad who loves his garage or “man
cave”? This Daddy’s Day give his special hideout a makeover! It’s up to you
whether you want to ask for Dad’s help or turn it into a surprise!! Make sure
you frame a family photo and place it in just the right spot to show Dad you’re
always by his side and you understand he might need a place to escape to from
time to time! Kids can help their dads organize tools, get rid of old toys and help
clean up a garage or “man cave” space that dad will love.

3. Daddy’s Day Out: If the dad in your life is always
talking about a new restaurant he has been dying to try now’s your chance to
take him out! Daddy’s Day (or night) Out should be entirely planned by you and
your children ahead of time. Figure out what it is that Dad has wanted to do
and just do it! Daddy’s Day Out will make Dad feel both loved and appreciated,
while allowing him to enjoy some family time participating in an activity or
visiting an establishment he’s been talking about for months.

4. Surprise: A good surprise goes a long way. If you have
older children or family members you haven’t seen in a great deal of time,
Daddy’s Day is the perfect day to get everyone together to surprise Dad! You
can all meet at a specific destination or have someone get Dad out of the house
for a few hours and throw the surprise party there. The efforts taken to gather
loved ones will surely touch Dad’s heart and make memories he’ll reflect on

5. Adventure: Some dads love adventure! And Daddy’s Day is
just the day to show the dad in your life just how adventurous you and your
children are. Has Dad been talking about renting a boat and exploring a nearby
lake or cove? Has he been hinting about his desires to take a camping trip?
Whatever it may be, show Dad you appreciate his adventurous side and take a
special family outing altogether! Make sure to think out of the box, be
creative and don’t forget to plan the details.

No matter how you choose to show the dad in your life just
how much he means to you make sure by the end of the day – he knows just that.
Make time to express your favorite moment, tell him the top 10 reasons you’re
happy he’s you’re dad or allow time for each family member to “toast” to Dad!

At the end of the day, Father’s Day is about celebrating
dads! So have fun and shower Dad in love and appreciation – he’ll be sure to
remember the special day for the rest of his life.


Daddy Nickell


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04 Apr

Summer Is Here (Almost)

The end of the year can be one of the most difficult times
for school aged children as they tend to lose motivation as summer and summer
break near closer and closer. As parents, it’s our job (one of our jobs,
anyways) to keep them motivated straight through to the end. So I’ve compiled a
list of tips that have helped my kids throughout the years, and I’m sure they
will help yours, too!

Plan Weekend Fun: To your kids, summer break may seem within
reach, but a month or two can really drag when you’re waiting for summer. One
thing that has worked for my children in the past is looking forward to more
attainable breaks and activities – and that’s what weekends are for! When
possible, plan special outings and activities on the weekends that will
motivate your children to get through each remaining week. I suggest beach
days, spring skiing, hikes, bike rides, attending a concert or play, etc. Be
creative and plan an activity your kids can truly look forward to and enjoy.
Additionally give them goals to achieve each week in connection to these
weekend activities; this will help keep them focused and driven, because, let’s
face it, they’ll do whatever it takes if it means a trip to Disneyland is in

Stick to Routine: Just because your kids think they can taste
summer break doesn’t mean it is actually here – or even that close. During the
school weeks, do your very best to stick to your child’s regular routine to
keep them in the swing of things and remind that them it’s not actually summer
break quite yet. In our household, in the past, our routines have been
variations of the following: my kids come home from school, eat a snack, complete
their homework, have dinner with the family, take a bath and head to bed. Of
course you can add in some extra fun with a special movie on a Friday night or
a fun craft project, but for the most part, sticking to routine will remind
your children that school is still in session and help them get through the
final remaining months.

Be a Cheerleader: Be a super motivator and cheer your
children through to summer break. Sure they might roll their eyes when you’re
hoorahing them out the front door at eight in the morning, but it’ll surely be
a brief distraction – at the very least. I suggest sneaking inspirational and
motivational notes into their lunchboxes reminding them to “keep their eyes on
the prize” (so to speak) and letting them know you believe in them. With a
doting and encouraging parent behind them – they’re sure to make it through to

Look to the Future: When in doubt, look to the future. Plan
an exciting summer trip and let your child help with the plans. The family trip
will give them something to look forward to instead of just summer. Make sure
they understand, however, that they’ll need to stay motivated at school during
the last couple of months in order to actually go on said trip.  Make goals and stick to them. If they achieve
their goals then they’ll get to go on the trip – it’s really a win for

Create Countdown Activities: And finally, countdown
activities are great for the youngsters. They can help put into perspective
just how far off – or close for that matter – summer break actually is. Some
ideas include printing off calendar pages and letting your child stick a
sticker onto each day at its end or making a paper chain and ripping off one
link everyday (kids like to watch the chain shrink). Be creative and make the
countdown activity something you and your child enjoy doing together.

The last couple months of school may be as exhausting for
you as they are for your child, as we all know being a fulltime cheerleader is
a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it. I hope these tips and ideas will
work for you and your family as they’ve worked for me in the past.


Daddy Nickell

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07 Mar

Easter the Daddy Way

With seven kids of my own I’ve participated in my fair share
of Easter celebrations throughout the years. From the traditional to the
creative, as long as the family is together, we always have fun. Here are my
top suggestions to make your Easter extra special.

Lawn Games: Venture
beyond the traditional Easter egg hunt and create a series of lawn games that
your family can participate in all together. I suggest a family relay race
while balancing an egg on a spoon; “hopping” like a bunny in a sac race across
the yard or even an egg toss (similar to a water balloon toss) – might I
suggest using hard boiled eggs?

Family Outing: Take
advantage of your time together by doing something as a family. You could
attend Easter service, take a picnic to a park, head to the beach (if you live
near one), take a Spring family ski day, or even do something completely
non-traditional like go to Disneyland! It’s not everyday that the whole family
can be together without the interference of work or school. Whatever you do, leave
the cellphone behind and be present and together all day long!

The Hunt is On: Of
course it wouldn’t be Easter without an egg hunt. Gather all of the children
inside for a snack and sneak outside to hide eggs everywhere! Divvy out baskets
and let your kids loose to run around the yard gathering eggs and candy! It can
be really fun to put homemade coupon cards inside of the plastic eggs, too. It
doesn’t have to be all about candy! Create coupons for “Ice cream with daddy,”
“an outing with daddy,” etc. Your kids will love it, and they’ll be “cashing”
in their coupon cards in the months to come!

Arts and Crafts: My
kids have always enjoyed making things; therefore, arts and crafts are a must.
When Easter rolls around each year we like to make bunny masks and decorate
eggs, too! Everyone enjoys being creative and there are always smiles around
the table.

Remember – above all else, Easter is a
celebration of Jesus Christ so make sure to take time during the Easter meal to
say a prayer and give thanks.  Please enjoy the time you’re spending with


Daddy Nickell

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