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How to Encourage Your Kids to Get Better Grades

How to Encourage Your Kids to Get Better Grades

We all want our kids to do well in school. While some kids are intrinsically motivated, others not so much. They may need an extra nudge or two to truly put their best foot forward when it comes to schoolwork. If your child needs that extra encouragement, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Provide help with homework

Everyone needs a helping hand at least once in a while. Our kids are no different. When our children struggle in school, their motivation to do well takes a hit. They may believe that they will never understand a subject, thus believing that there’s no point in studying. If your child is in this position, consider providing them with some extra help either from yourself or from a tutor.

Set realistic expectations

Some kids will never be straight-A students. And that’s ok! Grades don’t always correlate with intelligence. Your child may struggle in math and science, but they may excel in art or music. Nevertheless, we still want our kids to do their best. So, instead of pushing your kids to get straight-As, encourage them to get grades just above what they are currently receiving. For example, if your kid has a C in Math, encourage them to bump it up to a B-.

Offer incentives

Incentives can be a great way to motivate kids who simply do not care about school. But make it an incentive that they truly care about. For instance, if your child loves soccer, tell them you’ll let them go to a summer soccer camp if they get their grades up. For young kids (such as kindergarteners or first graders), give them a special treat like new books, toys, or their favorite meal.

Here at The Zoo Factory, we offer plenty of stuffed animals for your child to choose from. To get started, look through our inventory today!

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Scientific Reasons Why Kids Love Stuffed Animals

Scientific Reasons Why Kids Love Stuffed Animals

Studies have shown that more than 50 percent of Americans are still hanging on to the teddy bears they had when they were growing up. The idea of keeping a stuffed animal for years on end might seem silly. However, there are actually scientific reasons why so many kids—and adults—love their stuffed animals so much.

Stuffed animals make kids feel safe

It’s human nature for kids to yearn for feelings of peacefulness and safety. Often times, they’re able to find those feelings in the arms of a teddy bear. Studies have shown that kids who spend a lot of time holding a stuffed animal tend to feel calmer and more secure than those who don’t.

Stuffed animals can help fill a void

The average stuffed animal can’t walk or talk. Nevertheless, they can help kids overcome psychological trauma and fill a void in their lives. They can also make kids feel like they have some control over the things happening in their lives since they’re able to use their imaginations with their stuffed animals.

Stuffed animals prompt affection and nurturing behavior

Stuffed animals, and teddy bears specifically, are built to have many of the same facial features and proportions as humans. So, when kids hug a teddy bear, it makes them feel like they are caring for their teddy as much as they believe their teddy cares for them. Even though this stuffed animal is an inanimate object, a bond is formed.

Would you like to give a teddy bear or another stuffed animal to a special child in your life? The Zoo Factory has countless options for you to choose from, including farm animals, wild animals, and more. Order yours today!

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How to Help Your Shy Child

How to Help Your Shy Child

Shyness is often seen as a negative trait by many parents, but in reality, it can be a strength. Shy children are polite, attentive, and great listeners. Their shyness isn’t something that needs to be fixed, but your children may need help learning to cope with it as they’re introduced to new environments and new people.

Why is my child shy?

The first step in helping your shy child is learning more about shyness. Shyness is considered a complex trait, meaning that their shyness was caused by a combination of genetics and life experiences. Put simply, if your child is shy, they will likely be shy for the rest of their life, no matter what you do to “get them out of their shell.”

Don’t see it as a problem to be “fixed”

Many people see shyness as a problem, and that they have to “fix” it in order for their child to live a happy and carefree life. However, this isn’t the case, and telling your child that their shyness is a problem will only hurt their self-esteem. Just because your child doesn’t jump to introduce themselves to every stranger doesn’t mean they can’t be happy in their own way.

Instead, help them cope with their shyness

Shy children will likely be shy for their entire lives. Instead of trying to fix their shyness, teach them how to accept, cope, and live with it. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: CBT teaches children how to face their fears and manage their anxiety in tough situations.
  • Social Scripts: Teach your child what to say and how to behave in certain situations. You can teach them by using toys or stuffed animals to practice social interactions.
  • One-on-one interactions: Introducing your child to a large group of people will just frighten them. One-on-one interactions are much easier for them, and you’ll have more success getting your child to open up.
  • Be patient: If your child shrinks away from a social situation, don’t lose your patients with them. Understand that it will take time until they’re completely comfortable around certain people.

Stuffed animals can help children cope with anxiety and learn social skills. At The Zoo Factory, we have many lovable stuffed animals that can help your shy child throughout their lives. Look through our inventory to get started!

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How to Divide Chores Between Your Kids

How to Divide Chores Between Your Kids

Chores can teach our kids valuable life lessons, making them more independent and more successful later on in life. But when you have multiple kids, dividing chores amongst them can be a chore on its own. After all, you don’t want things to feel unfair, but you also don’t want to give your kids more than they can handle.

Here we discuss how best to divide chores between your kids to keep everyone (mostly) happy in your household:

 

Make it age-appropriate

The types of chores you assign to your children will depend largely on their age. For instance, a 12-year-old could handle vacuuming their own room, but you can’t expect the same of your 6-year-old. Keep the chores age-appropriate so that everyone can handle their fair share. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate for your child, look through this list here.

Use a buddy system

A buddy system can ease the burden and even make chores a bit more fun for everyone involved. A younger sibling can help an older sibling with their tasks, allowing both to get through their chores quickly. You can also pair similar-aged siblings together to complete the same chores.

Rotate chores

If your kids are close in age, then the fairest way to divide chores is to rotate them. In other words, if Stacey cleaned the toy room last week, then it’s Tom’s turn to clean it this week. This keeps things fair, but it also changes it up and prevents chores from becoming too monotonous.

Have a reward system in place

Frankly put, your kids won’t do their chores just because you tell them to (though we certainly wish that were the case). A reward system will motivate kids to keep up with their tasks and do what is asked of them. This reward system can be a simple allowance, or it can involve presents such as a trip to the ice cream shop or a new toy.

If your kids have been keeping up with their chores, then consider rewarding them with a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory. Look through our inventory today to get started!

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How to Teach Your Kids About Vaccines

How to Teach Your Kids About Vaccines

Vaccines can protect our kids from deadly diseases such as measles, mumps, and, of course, COVID-19. Currently, more and more people are receiving their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, and before we know it, our kids will be receiving their shots as well.

While we understand the importance of taking the COVID-19 vaccine, our kids may not be. That leaves it up to us, their caregivers, to explain the importance of not only the COVID-19 vaccine, but all other vaccines as well.

Keep it simple

Explaining how vaccines work is a good way to convince your kids of their importance. Nevertheless, you need to keep it simple. If you start talking about mRNA, white cells, and antigens, your kids won’t understand what you’re saying (most adults won’t understand either). Instead, explain how vaccines are like a practice run for your body—they teach the body how to fight against a virus so that they won’t get sick in the future.

Emphasize that the vaccine will help them protect others

Vaccines are never enjoyable to receive, and this can make your child reluctant to receive one. Emphasize that while vaccines may hurt, the little bit of pain is worth it to protect other people (specifically people like their grandparents or other elderly family members). Once again, keep the explanation simple by pointing out that if you don’t get sick, other people won’t get sick.

Use characters and toys

Sometimes kids respond better to vaccines when they see characters, role models, or even their favorite toys take part. For example, you could show them this video of Elmo and the Surgeon General explaining the significance of vaccines. You could also use your child’s toys or stuffed animals to demonstrate how vaccines work (this is the method behind many teddy bear clinics).

Be a role model

Just like characters and toys can be a role model for your kids, so can you. If your kid is nervous about getting the vaccine, take them with you when you go for your own shot. Seeing you get the vaccine will ease their anxieties and help them realize there’s nothing to be afraid of. As you’re receiving your shot, be careful not to flinch or appear scared (even if you are nervous yourself), as it’s important to put on a brave face and show that vaccines are no big deal.

For further parenting tricks and tips, read through our blog today!

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How to Get Your Kids Interested in Art

How to Get Your Kids Interested in Art

Art is a great way to teach your kids creativity and fine motor skills. Plus, art can come in so many different forms. From drawing to painting to Papier-mâché, your kid can try their hand at any art form that takes their fancy. But how exactly do you get them interested in art in the first place? Here are a few ways to start:

Let them do what feels right

For kids to truly enjoy themselves, they need to do what they feel is right. For instance, don’t force them to paint if they don’t like painting. Instead, let them explore the different types of art forms and do what feels right for them.

Take them to a museum

Art museums are a great way to introduce your kids to art. We don’t recommend dragging them through every exhibit, ignoring their pleas to go home. Rather, let them wander and explore the museum on their own accord (while being supervised, of course). That way, they can see artwork they’ll truly enjoy rather than what you think they’ll enjoy.

Join in

Art doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. It can also be an opportunity for some bonding time. Kids love spending time with their parents and caregivers, and making artwork together will leave a lasting impression. If you’re not an artist yourself, don’t worry. Your own work will show them that it’s ok if their artwork isn’t perfect.

Encourage a project that coincides with their interests

Does your kid love the Avengers? Or maybe they’re a fan of Mario? Whatever their interests, try to find some way that those interests can coincide with their art. For example, you can give them an Avengers coloring book, or you can encourage them to draw their favorite characters or stuffed animals.

Here at The Zoo Factory, we want to encourage every child to flex those artistic muscles. For more parenting tips, read through our blog today!

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How Parents (And Kids) Can Celebrate Valentine’s Day During COVID-19

How Parents (And Kids) Can Celebrate Valentine’s Day During COVID-19

Like every holiday since the COVID-19 Pandemic, Valentine’s Day looks a little different this year. Instead of dropping the kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s and having a romantic evening out with your spouse, you’re now stuck at home with the kids in tow.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great evening. Here we discuss a few ways parents (and kids) can celebrate Valentine’s Day during the COVID-19 Pandemic:

Plan a family activity

We understand the desire to get some time away from the kids, but it really is important to include them in some of the festivities. Unable to celebrate it at school with their peers, your kids may feel left out. Instead, plan one or two family activities for the day. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Make a chocolate dessert together for dinner
  • Create Valentine’s Day cards to send out to friends and family
  • Have a movie marathon
  • Play Valentine’s Day-based, pretend play games with their toys and stuffed animals

But plan some alone time too

After almost a year shut up in the house with the kids, the urge for some alone time with your spouse is real. We get it. So, if you can, try to carve out some time to spend with just your spouse. This year, Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday, giving you ample time throughout the day (or at least, more than usual). We recommend doing those family activities mentioned above during the day. Then, once the kids have gone up for bed, cuddle up with your spouse on the couch, turn on a movie, and relish in some peace and quiet.

Whether it’s for your kids or your spouse, teddy bears are the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Check out our collection here at The Zoo Factory to get started!

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How to Make Learning Fun at Home

How to Make Learning Fun at Home

We don’t have to sit our kids in front of a blackboard all day, every day, to make them learn something. Learning can be fun, both in the classroom and out. To further encourage our children’s love of learning, try some of these tips to make learning fun at home:

Encourage their interests

We mostly associate learning with books or the classroom, but children can learn from almost anything they do. Sports can teach them cooperation and coordination, while art can encourage creativity and fine motor skills. If your child expresses a special interest in something, then invest in that interest. You never know what lessons they might pick up.

Play games

Playtime may seem like silly games, but they actually have concrete benefits. Pretend play, for instance, can enhance critical thinking skills, social skills, and language skills. Even video games (something many parents complain about) can have an impact, improving coordination, memory, problem-solving skills, and more.

Put on some tunes

When you were taught the ABCs, did you also learn the song? If so, there was a reason for it. Music has plenty of cognitive and emotional benefits, and those benefits are ten-fold if a child learns an instrument. Put another way, you learned the ABC song because the music would help you memorize the actual ABCs.

Turn on the TV

We don’t want our kids spending all day in front of the television, but TV shows and movies can be educational. Even if they’re not specifically an educational show, kids can still glean some information from their favorite show or movie.

Are you looking for the perfect stuffed animal for your child to play with? Then look through our website today to get started!

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How to Encourage Your Child to Wear a Mask

How to Encourage Your Child to Wear a Mask

As adults, we understand how important it is to wear a mask. Our kids, however, might need more convincing. If you’re struggling to get your child to wear their mask, then read over these helpful tips:

Explain why they need to wear one

Simply telling your child to wear a mask isn’t enough. You need to explain why they should wear one first. As you’re doing so, it’s important that you don’t scare your child. Instead, focus on the positives of wearing a mask, such as how they can help protect ourselves or family members.

Get the right mask

Even if a child understands the importance of wearing a mask, they may not wear one if they don’t like the mask they have. To further encourage them, get a mask that’s comfortable and easy for them to wear. Additionally, consider getting one that is stylish, or has their favorite color, sports team, or character on it.

Be a role model

Children do what their parents do; they also don’t do what their parents don’t do. If you’re not wearing your mask, then don’t expect your child to wear theirs. Be a good role model by always wearing your mask whenever appropriate.

Give masks to their toys or stuffed animals

You can be a role model to your kids, but so can their toys or stuffed animals. Having their favorite stuffed animal wearing a mask will further encourage your child to wear their own mask. Plus, getting a mask for their stuffed animals is easier than you think. The Zoo Factory carries face masks that fit our stuffable animals, as well as other stuffed animals your child may already have.

Read through our blog for more tips on how to protect your kids during the coronavirus pandemic.

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How to Help Your Child Build Their Self-Esteem

How to Help Your Child Build Their Self-Esteem

We all want our kids to have high self-esteem. After all, high self-esteem can make our kids more capable and confident, both now and into the future. But self-esteem doesn’t just appear on its own. There are things that we, as parents and caregivers, can do to further promote our children’s confidence in their abilities.

Here are just a few but impactful ways that you can help build your child’s self-esteem:

Show your love

Our kids aren’t mind-readers. While we know how much we love them, they may be less sure if we are more stoic about our emotions. So, be sure to show them how much you love them each and every day. It doesn’t have to be something overt. Instead, it can be something as simple as a hug goodbye, a kiss on the forehead before bed, or listening to them talk about their day.

Give them responsibilities

Chores and other responsibilities will show your kids that they are capable of much more than they thought. If you always take care of everything, your kids will think that they can’t do anything on their own. So, don’t be afraid to give your kids some age-appropriate chores to do, as well as an allowance for each chore they complete.

Let them be independent

Allowing your kids to be more independent will, similar to added responsibilities, show them what they are capable of. Confidence and independence are directly linked, with one building off of the other and vice versa. While your kids may make mistakes, they will learn and grow from it more than they would if you take care of everything for them.

Play with them

Spending fun, quality time with your kids is another way to show them that you love them. Plus, the more our kids play, the more they learn; and the more they learn, the more confident they will become. Not to mention that regular playtime is a great stress reliever, especially during these difficult times.

Here at The Zoo Factory, we carry plenty of lovable, stuffable animals for your child to play with. Have questions? Then feel free to contact us today!