Toddler speech boost tips from an immigrant mom

Hearing our kids speak is a real delight to every parent in this world. It’s an important milestone in our kids life, saying that I am an Indian mother, living in Germany, who have a daughter who overcame her speech problems with little magical push from my side. Speech problem in kids especially living in other land is more common, as we live away from the family. The main problem for immigrant kids, who live in a foreign land is the lack of family environment like grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins etc. If a kid grows in this unavoidable situation, then it’s our (parents) duty to put some extra effort to boost our kids to speak.

If you are that worried parent, then I would like to shed some light on your path of encouraging your toddler’s speech process with the tips which worked for me:

1. Speak with clear words even in early stages: Start your full on conversations from the day one (actually even earlier while in the womb). Parents often think the babies cannot understand them and start using words which are not clear and babble like their babies do. That’s a proven wrong method and in later stages your toddler will delay in speech.

2. Sing songs with your child : Singing songs is the best and effective way to develop speech in early stages. It’s the attractive method for kids and my daughter loved to sing songs and rhymes. As a 4 year old now she sometimes use her own words in the rhyme and converse with me, which I find so funny and creative.

3. Read lots of books: Reading books as early as possible is a great way to boost their speech and imagination. I started to read to my daughter when she is just few months old. Start with picture books and few lines stories and slowly upgrade. Spending your time in reading for your kids is definitely a great investment for their future developments.

4. Your facial expressions matters a lot: Facial expressions always helps kids to read your emotions in a better way. It’s a great way of boosting their speech and understanding. Your expressions and bold body language make them understand you better which will lead to conversations. Majority of the speech therapists got positive results by playing emotion identification games with kids.

5. Repeat words: It’s a important thing to do with kids. Repeating words helped my child a lot when she struggled with speaking. I used to have five words in my mind which I repeat for the whole week to her in different situations when she starts picking up that word I will then switch to next five, which helped her a lot.

6. Ask lot of questions: Always be a fool in front of your kid. Act as if you doesn’t know anything and ask questions. Please avoid asking yes or no questions, once they feel comfortable in it then they will fix on it.

7. Role play: This method is my favorite method and it worked out well for me. I used to be her baby and my daughter will be my mom. When we started playing this, I noticed her using more words as she pretend to be me. When kids start to be like us then definitely their mind will search for words to speak like their mommy or daddy.

8. Explain in a way they understand: When kids struggle in understanding you, then take your time and speak with them in a way they understand you. They never expect any logical answers from you so, stop thinking how you explain things and make them understand easily.

9. Go on the flow with the nature: Make kids understand that we get everything from nature like sounds, rhythm, tone etc.. Sound like a birds and animals, make them hear even tiny sounds like the sound of the wind, clock ticking sound, water dripping sound etc.

10. No pressure on kids: My final point for all parents out there is not to pressure the kids to speak. Pressure will most of the times backfire so just go with the flow. Keep trying and make them feel speaking is a real fun.

“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on Earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” – Brook Hampton

Hope these 10 points help you in boost your child’s speech. To immigrant parents like me who works hard in developing speech in your kids, keep trying and your success is not too far. Have a happy parenting.

Disclaimer: I am not a speech therapist, nor do I have any professional medical certificate. I hold a medical technologist masters degree and worked for short time. Only this and my experience as a mom are just about it.

Please do comment your tips below which might help other moms.

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Some best German foods for Indians to give a try in my experience

I am basically a non red meat eater, so most of the dishes in Germany are ruled out for me. Still I love certain German food which I really enjoy. This blog is mainly for people who are preparing to come to Germany or new to Germany, who are scared and have lot of questions about German food for you and your kids. I am completing 6 years in Germany now and I can assure that not only you and your family survive but also you can keep your taste buds happy. One important thing to keep in mind that you should be ready to come out of your shell and start to explore German food without judging by comparing with Indian food.

I have divided the German foods into 2 sections, On the go cheap breakfast foods and Restaurant foods.

On the go cheap breakfast foods:

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A typical breakfast in Germany starts off with bread (Brot) or bread rolls (Brötchen) with various spreads and toppings. Which are not expensive and easily available in bakeries. German breads are really worth to try.

1. Butter Brezel/Bretzel (Pretzel ): One among my favorite is Butter Brezel/Bretzel (butter pretzel).

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2. Spinat Käse Brot (Cheese spinach roll): My second favorite is the Spinach roll, These crescent rolls stuffed with spinach and cheese make for a quick and simple breakfast, lunch, dinner or appetizer recipe. These cheesy spinach rolls are so yummy, the kids won’t even mind the spinach.

3. Schneckennudeln (German Cinnamon Rolls): It is a traditional south-west German pastry but I eat for my breakfast most of the time. It is a traditional Swabian recipe and it consist of ground nuts filling, which is my favorite! There are also different kinds of filling like almond, raisin, poppy seeds, hazelnuts etc.

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4. Croissant: Croissants are staple of any Sunday brunch in Germany, and thez are sometimes referred as Hörnchen (little horns) because of their shape. Croissants are often enjoyed with jam or Nutella.

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5. Salami: Typical German breakfast consist of meat and especially salami with bread. Salami and Wurst are the most attractive thing for children. Even you have never exposed these in India, Children get easily attracted by this as soon as they enter Germany. We as a Indian family who doesn’t prefer red meat will always go for Geflügel-Salami (which is made from duck, turkey and chicken).

Restaurant foods:

The best part in German restaurants is they serve a bowl of salad with most dishes. Do try different types of salads while you are Germany. Some German foods which I really find good for my Indian taste bud without red meat are as follows

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1. Spätzle (German noodle): It is the most common meatless dishes found in Germany.  If you enter German restaurant and ask for noodle, you will get Spätzle. They are made with eggs. If you are a lover of cheese then you can get Käsespätzle (cheese noodle). You can aslo get Spinatspatzeln (Spinach noodle).

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2. Kartoffelknödel/Kloß (Boiled potato dumplings): You get different types of Knödel made with bread, flour, meat, cheese, potatoes etc. It comes with salad and sauce. Make sure to order vegetarian sauce  because once I didn’t give any preference to sauce and ended up with meat sauce.

3. Kartoffelpuffer (Potato pancakes): They are shallow pan-fried pancakes made from grated or mashed potatoes mixed with flour, egg, onion and seasoning. Sometimes you will get it as a side dish to a main course of meat or fish, or sweet with apple sauce, blueberries, sugar and cinnamon.

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4. Schnitzel (Meat cutlet): They are thin pounded meat dish which is fried. It’s my daughter’s favorite  dish and luckily it is made with duck or chicken. It doesn’t need any sauce and kids love with ketchup and mayo and it comes with fries.

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5. Lachsfilet mit Butterkartoffeln salat:  As my family love to eat fish, we always tried to find a good German fish food. I would this dish is pretty good and also Cord and Salmon pan fry is also my favorite.

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There are more food items to add to this blog. Will definitely add some of my other favorite German vegetarian foods too in my next blog. Please leave your favorite German foods in the comments below so, that the newcomers to Germany will benefit from it. Stay tuned for my favorite German street foods in coming blogs.

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How parental insecurity affects the child and things to avoid it

Every human have some kind of insecurities and  it’s quite normal to have such feelings of self-doubt sometimes. Few carry those insecurities in some part of their life, whereas few live with those insecurities for their whole life. But in one stage of life these insecurities which you have will really start affecting the other person, it’s nothing but a parenting stage.  Yes, its starts affecting your kids very early in their life.

As a kid I always grown with some kind of social fear and always needed someone to push me forward (even now sometimes :)). So, before having my child I decided that, I should not show my insecurities to her and wanted her to grow independent and self deprived. But, once I had my daughter, I realized having the thought alone doesn’t gonna work because, even as a small kid she picked my fears whenever I stumble in something. Kids are highly intellectual when comes to picking even small nuisances from their parents, say it good or bad. These behaviors that children can easily learn through observation. Sometimes I stress how this behavior came to her, without even realizing that I am the person showing her how to behave like that, through my actions. We are the examples for our kids in each and everything.  I write this blog for myself as a greater recall down the line about the things I want to follow as a parent to avoid such insecurities affecting my kid. I hope this post helps parents like me.

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Calm and balanced parenting really works:

Kids are prone to questions. When our kids ask something, even a silly, no sense question, be sure that you don’t panic or get mad. The best way of hiding your insecurities is staying calm and balanced, and make sure to have a good interaction with your child, which will make your child to develop the same behavior you showed them. If you find difficultly in staying calm and balanced, you can always seek a medical help or through yoga or meditation.

Don’t take your social insecurities to your kid:

Nowadays everyone is facing some kind of social pressure, which is unavoidable but being insecure about certain things and taking those to your kids is not okay. For instance comparing your kid with other kid and constantly telling this to your kid will lead to worse. Your kid will start believing that others are better than him and that he is incapable of performing well or living to the expectations of the parents. This feeling will damage his/her self-worth and self-esteem.

Listening your kids:

Have a conversation with your kid and let your child tell you what he/she needs from you. You are indirectly teaching your kids to listen to others by you listening to them. Never underestimate their feelings. Always be their support system and make sure you don’t pass on your insecurities to them. Trust your kids which will make them to trust the world.

Don’t ever show your emotional imbalance to them:

Being relaxed  in every situation is not easy but being over reacting to certain situations like your child’s illness, injury etc., will definitely pass on your insecurities to them. Convey them that you are with them in whatever they do, thus you are teaching them to be independent and also safe and secure.

Use your experience to help your children:

In your entire life you’ve likely developed a toolbox of coping strategies for your insecurities. If you think your child have genetically inherited certain insecurities like yours then you can pass along to your children some strategies you’ve learned and developed.  In my case I always have the fear of unknown, so I always make sure I learn as much as I can about a new situation before I make that first leap. Now, I use that for my daughter in few instances.

As I always say parenting is not easy, when you decide to grow a strong minded and healthy child. This can be done only as a parent you override your fears and stand confident in front of them.

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3 Best English-German toddler bilingual books that works great for my kid

As I already told in my last blog, which is 5 Best books that helps my kid to learn German in daily basis, now I am going to reveal my 3 best English-German books which helps my daughter to learn both languages simultaneously.  If you are considering introducing these two language to your child at the same time then this blog is going to benefit you and your kid. For everybody trying to raise a bilingual/multilingual child, whatever your background and reason, it’s very important to realize that acquiring a language requires massive exposure to that language. This can be attained by parents talk as much as possible to their young children, to read a lot to them and sing to them.

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1. Englisch spielend leicht (mit CD): Ein Bildwörterbuch:

This book really work very good for my daughter. This is ideal for above 2 years old kids. It has small phrases which is actually easy for kids to catch up words quickly without getting bored. It covers all the basic phrases and words in day-to-day life. At every end  of the page, a small box with easy grammar explanations (see the picture below) are given which is probably useful for mommies like me out there. The exciting part is the CD with this book, which is really good and my little one loves to hear in the car ride.  It costs around 7.99€.

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2. The Toddler’s Handbook: Bilingual (English / German) (Englisch / Deutsch) Numbers, Colors, Shapes, Sizes, ABC Animals, Opposites, and Sounds, with over 100 Words that every Kid should Know:

This is one of the favorite books for many parents. It is little bit on the pricey side, costs around 15.00€. But the quality of the book is ideal for little kids. This book can be used in early months and babies get very excited about the colorful pictures. I couldn’t find good  and quality books like this a lot.

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3. Mein allerschönstes Wörterbuch (Kinderbücher):

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This is one of my favorite books and it’s a oldest book of all and many native Germans recommend this book. This book is on the pricey side, costs around 24.00€, but it’s worth the buy. I got this book from a second-hand shop for 10€. If you guys could buy it or just lend this from a friend or buy in second hand shop like me, then that would be great, because it really works for my child. I highly recommend for kids above 2 or probably 3 years old, as the book is a paper book. It’s designed for both genders, you can see the pic below.

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I hope this helps for mommies to choose the right book for their kids. Stay tuned for more English and German story books for little kids.

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3 Best Freizeitparks for kids under 10 in Germany in my experience

 

As summer is near, we all can’t wait to plan for family trips with our children. We all love to explore beauty of Europe by visiting places and enjoy the idyllic landscapes, unspoilt nature, dense forests, rustic pastures and majestic mountains, whereas our kids definitely need some real fun by letting out their energy which they saved throughout  the winter. One of the best way to entertain them is by taking them to amusement parks. Something which I love in Germany is, there are theme parks which is made also considering little kids. We are family who love theme parks and if you are one like us then definitely this blog is gonna help you. We have explored quite a few theme parks in Germany and the following three Freizeitparks will always pop into my mind as we enjoyed there to the core.

1. Phantasialand, Cologne

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Phantasialand in Winter is quite different with more winter attraction

Visiting Phantasialand with your little kids is the best option for your family in this Summer. Phantasialand is conveniently located between Cologne and Bonn. From Brühl train station, Phantasialand shuttle buses are available  for  3.00€ per person to and fro. The ticket prices for children and Adults can be found in the link. Children under 4 years old with ID proof can go for free. The exciting thing is that everyone gets in for free with the proof on their birthdays.

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The park is divided into various themes (Asia, Mexico, Africa). There are eatery joints inside and they are okay, so need not worry to take food with you. They maintain the park really tidy which attracted me for sure. The Black Mamba roller-coaster is best ride for roller-coaster lovers. We really had so much fun and I highly recommend it for Kids. The park opens this year by 1st of April.

2. Conny Land, Bodensee

If you are planning for Bodensee trip, then do include Conny Land into your list. This park is the fabulous place for children with great variety of rides, activities, nice animal shows and water play. Most of the rides were suitable for below 10 years old. The fact that it’s not too big is also a plus as you can take it easy and still go on all the rides in a day with no big queues unlike other theme parks. There are water rides really good for small kids, better take a swim suit with you. It has parrot and sea-lion shows which my little one enjoyed a lot. The entrance ticket is 29€, which is highly reasonable. Seniors and kids under 3 can go free. Children up to 14 years old on the day of the birthday upon presentation of a valid ID can go for free. For young kids it really a mini paradise. Food was really good in the food court. The park opens this year by 3rd of April.

3. Steinwasen Park, Freiburg

Best way to visit this park is by having the black forest red card, by which you can visit this theme park for free. This is one of the best attractions for kids when you plan for black forest trip. It’s not a big of an amusement park but definitely worth to go with kids and  the atmosphere in the middle of the woods is quiet attractive. It’s not only you enjoying rides but also you get some wonderful fresh forest air. Children under 10 will really have a great time. There’s a small zoo as well there. The interactive wild park is also a best attraction here.  There were lots of rides inside and out as well as a water splash, a luge bobsled type run, a sommerrodelbahn (mountain coaster) etc.  I highly recommend for a family outing. The entry ticket if you doesn’t have red card is 23 euros. Kids below 4 years old can go free. Children under 12 years old on their birthdays can go free.

This is really a small gist about these Freizeitparks which we love, as I covered all the three in one place I couldn’t give detailed description. But, I hope this will give an idea for you and your family to plan for best trips in coming summer.

Tschüss, Biss dann!!!!

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Getting through sudden weaning from breastfeeding. My experience and tips

To start with my experience I was very satisfied mom in breastfeeding until my daughter was 1 year and 3 months old. Real struggle started after that. My daughter’s nutritional attachment has become more of emotional attachment and she started asking for milk all the time, which made me frustrated and exhausted.

I was all alone in Germany without family support and husband worked full-time and he could support only in evenings so, no distraction for her to stop asking for milk. I somehow slowly started reducing my breastfeeding sessions in daytime. I gone through all the articles related to weaning and everything seemed to be simple and experience of others weaning their kids seemed to be natural and easy. I know everyone’s experience is different, for some it’s easy and some it’s a struggle.

In my case, the struggle was real once I tried to reduce feeding in night-time. It was terrible when she started feeding more in night-time than before which lead me sleep deprivation. I couldn’t bear and as I didn’t have family support here, I decided to fly to India and finally stopped my breastfeeding cold turkey with the help of my mom and sister. I didn’t feel emotionally bad or depressed but more relieved and happy mama. It took only one week and she was all okay and happy. When I asked her whether she wants some milk and she just said no mommy and went, which surprised me!!!

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Take a look at some tips from my experience:

Wear a support bra. My first and foremost suggestions for moms who decided to wean is to choose a bra which supports your breast and not too tight. If you choose to wear tight bra thinking it will stop your milk production like me, then will definitely lead to clogged breast. Being bra less once you have engorged breast is also not a good idea.

Relieve engorged breast. Remove a little milk when you feel your breast are too much engorged. Too much pumping or hand expression of milk will make your body to continue producing even more milk.

Use only cold compress. I made a huge mistake by using hot packs on my breast which gave a short time relaxation but lead to more pain. Thankfully I didn’t use for longer. Later when I consulted doctor, he told hot packs will lead to severe damage in ducts. Cold cabbage leaves and ice packs relieve the inflammation and pain of swollen engorged breasts. It will even help to reduce the milk production. The product that I mentioned below is a life saver for me. These pads can be used both warm and cold and the cooling method helped a lot to ease the pain.

Plan to stay home for few days. Your breasts are definitely going to leak and the discomfort from the swollen breasts will make you highly uncomfortable so, just plan to stay home for few days.

Ibuprofen, Tylenol or Advil for help. There are some chances of getting fever so, keep meds in case. For me more than fever I suffered a lot from neck and shoulder pain due to my breasts engorgement.

Seek family or friends support. Seeking family help is the best thing happened to me. Your toddler will be totally distracted instead of clinging to you and crying. And most importantly, support with the house work will reduce the burden from your shoulders.

Reduce the physical touch. It doesn’t mean you have to avoid your child. Having too much cuddling time will lead to your child asking for milk. So, do some activities like coloring or puzzle instead of hugging and kissing.

Don’t skip eating. I was so scared to eat as I thought it’s going to make me produce more milk and ended up being hungry and frustrated along with the breasts pain. So, don’t starve. Better to avoid non vegetarian foods.

I weaned my daughter when she was around 2 years old, she was a toddler so, it is easier for me (technically my family) to distract and family support made me less stressful. Weaning from breastfeeding is not same for everyone especially with small babies. Going cold turkey will affect them as well as you from emotional depression so, consult your pediatrician before weaning.

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Engaging kids in home. Ways that I follow

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Back then, in my childhood I used to always play outdoors, of course it’s India and especially I am from South India and the weather there always is favorable for outdoor games and yes weather plays a main role in engaging kids. Here in Germany, after having my daughter I realized, how hard it is to engage a kid in home especially in winters. Her terrible two drove me crazy and I was constantly thinking for ideas to engage her. Kids have a lot of energy to let out. Being a minimalist parent I don’t want to invest more on toys or expensive stuffs, while we have a lot of things around us which bring joy to our kids.  So, Parents here you go, take a look at some of my ways to engage kids indoor.

Be with your child. I know, not every parent has enough time to spend with their kids. But, when you do have time to spend with your child, do things that they enjoy. Giving our time is a big thing that we can do for our  kids. Even simply sitting near them and staring at what they play matters a lot to a kid. In case if you are working parent, avoid bringing work home with you. In case you have to, then allow your child to sit with you and do some coloring or do puzzles etc. But all they need is your presence.

Fun Reading sessions. My daughter loves books in any form. Sometimes she take my novel and start pretending to read :). Reading sessions are really a good way to engage kids and also make them to start their interest in reading at very young age. Since early on, I have been reading books to my daughter. After I finished reading a story book to her, I would always tell her it’s quite time now for mommy and you to read the book by ourselves. And she will just stare the pictures of the book and keep saying the words from the stories which I read. It’s a good way for improving their memory and creative thinking.

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Involving kids in household chores. I would say it’s one of my favorite task because it always makes my household chores less stressful by seeing the cuteness of her doing those chores. Give chores which excite them. For example, I say my daughter to clean the television because it shows you your favorite cartoons or wipe the mirrors as it shows your beautiful face everyday to you etc. Involve them in kitchen for putting veggies in respective baskets and cooking. My daughter roll her own tiny Chapathis (Indian bread), sometime peeling carrots with my assistance and baking with kids are always fun. Involving them in house hold chores make them to teach cleanliness, discipline and also how to look after themselves and the house.

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Painting. Which kid is not the fan of painting, be it hand painting or with brush. My daughter sometimes do it on her face too. It’s okay to be messy while having fun. Creativity starts from colors and using them on papers , so encourage kids to paint more and don’t forget to encourage them by showcasing their creativity on walls or doors or like me by hanging it in a notice board.

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Doing exercise together. It’s a great way for both to have fun. We laugh a lot while we do mommy daughter exercise. There are a lot of videos out there which you can play in TV and just do by seeing it. It is quite a good way to be fit and also incorporate healthy activity for the kid in indoor. For us sometimes exercise sessions will change to dance sessions too :).

Make use of old cardboard. Before you throw away those cardboard of your new washing machine arrived in, you need to check out all of the brilliant things you can make with them. Amazing play houses for no cost can be made for your kids. My daughter used to stay in that for whole day and play. It doesn’t need to be so perfect (your kid doesn’t need that too).

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Her dolly sleeping in the cardboard house

Do a magic show. I made her a backdrop with two chairs and said mommy is ready for your show, that’s it my daughter got so excited to make her own show.  It made her to think all interesting things for the show like shadow puppets, magic toys arrives from shopping basket etc., which was so fun and it really encouraged her creativity.

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Magic show – She asked me to close my eyes and took toys from the shopping basket 🙂

Role play. Every kid has their favorite story and favorite character in it. Find the stories which they are obsessed with and start playing a role play, It’s not only fun but also helps them identify good from bad while encouraging bravery.  You can choose a superhero or a fantasy characters such as unicorns, dinosaurs, princess tales etc. Along with being fun, using imagination in their play improves their creativity. It’s not necessary to buy those costumes, just make those with what is available near you. Kids will never complain about it for sure.

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Role play – Little red riding hood (obviously I am the Wolf :))

Do try these methods, they are cost-effective, develop the skills, bonding and also engage them in home. Please do follow me and share you experiences in comments which might help a lot of people out there.

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