What word defines what you want to focus on enhancing in the New Year?

New Years’ resolutions can get a bit weighty and difficult to follow. So when I heard of the concept of choosing one word to focus on for the year, I loved it! The idea is to decide on a word that represents an area of your life that you would like to enhance this year.

My word for 2013 is presence. My goal is to increase the time I’m truly present in the moment – not worrying about the future or ruminating about the past. I will especially try to do this when I’m with my husband and kids.

To help me remember my word throughout the year, I have put this quote from Lao Tzu on the bulletin board by my desk.
"If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present."

-- Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)

What is your word for 2013?

Kids Frightened About the Predicted Apocalypse

There is a lot of talk about the end of the Mayan calendar on Friday, December 21st along with predictions that this coincides with the end of our world.  NASA astrobiologist David Morrison has received thousands of questions about the potential doomsday.  Some of the concerned questions come from children.  Children who have access to watching TV shows and YouTube videos claiming that the end of the world is near are especially vulnerable.

During an interview on NPR Morrison said "But I am so sorry for the people, especially young people that are really scared. And I don't know what I can say. I can tell them the facts, the science, that it's all just a fantasy. But you know, if the kids' friends in school are telling them the world is going to end, if they turned on the TV and it says the world is going to end, it's pretty scary."

Children are susceptible to believing what they see on TV or in videos.  It looks and sounds convincing so they think it’s probably true.  If you have kids who may have been exposed to these ideas about an apocalypse, take the time to talk to them about why these types of predictions are popular and why everything they see on TV or videos isn’t necessarily true.     

Priceless Preschools Provides Continuing Education for Child Care Providers

If you are a preschool teacher or child care provider, you play a critically important role in the lives of many children. What you do during the hours you spend with these children literally wires their brains.

Your work requires you to complete continuing education in order to prepare for the ongoing challenges you face. Now you can learn at your pace and place through online classes from Priceless Preschools.

These classes are specifically designed to bring the latest research together with practical applications for your classrooms. All classes involve video, answering questions and applying the new ideas to your classrooms.

What classes are available?

We are pleased to announce the first four classes:

• Anger and Consequences Versus Empathy and Solutions
• Communicating with Babies and Toddlers Using Sign Language
• Learning Through Experimenting for Babies and Preschoolers
• Understanding the Impact of Media on Babies and Preschoolers

Each class is worth two hours of credit and costs $29.

How Can I Sign Up?

Learn more about each class and register at Priceless Preschools.

Are you a teacher or child care provider in Washington State?

If you work in Washington state and participate in the STARS system, you will receive two hours of STARS credit in the MERIT system. Washington state also provides reimbursement up to $100/year for continuing education. You can learn more at the Washington Association for the Education of Young Children's site.


If you have any questions, feel free to call 425-770-1629 or email Kathy@PricelessParenting.com.

Inspiring Kids to Think Positively About Themselves

A preschool teacher said she was worried about some of the negative things her preschoolers were saying about themselves. They'd say things like "I'm a bad boy." or "I'm naughty." This was disturbing to her as these kids declared it as the truth.

After watching the movie "The Help", she started using a quote from the movie. Every day she would tell her preschoolers, "You are kind. You are smart. You are important." She said their faces just lit up whenever she told them this.

If she heard them say something negative about themselves, she would respond by repeating "You are kind. You are smart. You are important." She found that reminding them of this brought out the best in their behavior.

photo credit: cafemama via photopin cc

Teaching Your Children Generosity Through Giving Gifts

One of the fondest memories I have from when my children were young was when they would give us a gift they had made. It was often a gift they had made at school – a rock with their picture glued on it, a painted tile, a handprint with a special poem or a decorated plastic placemat.

They were so excited to present these gifts to us. They waited in anticipation as we opened their special gift. It was something they had made themselves with love which made it so meaningful.

Generosity Comes From the Heart

When you receive a gift that someone has made or picked out especially for you, you feel their love within it. Children are particularly good at putting their love into gifts and cards. I treasure the homemade cards my kids have created throughout the years. Their expressions of love contained in these cards are the most valuable gift they’ve given me.

Throughout the world people give gifts to each other as an expression of what’s in their hearts. In her book Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, Angeles Arrien discusses generosity.

"Generosity of heart is extended cross-culturally through the practice of giving gifts. Every culture of the world gives gifts as offerings of respect, love, good will, and gratitude. There are no exceptions. December is our month of gift-giving, especially to those we love, to those for whom we feel immense gratitude, and to those who are in need or are suffering. Notice the difference in gift-giving when it is motivated by love, generosity, gratitude, and respect rather than by a sense of obligation to participate in a meaningless ritual."

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Deciding What Not To Say

The older your children become, the more you may find that holding your tongue is one of your most powerful parenting tools! Equally important as deciding what to say to your children is deciding what not to say.

For example, when my daughter was in high school she practiced gymnastics 25 hours a week. This meant by the time she got home and finished her homework, it was often pretty late. Instead of going right to bed, she’d often play a game of Spider Solitaire on the computer with her dad. She loved having this special time with him.

I bit my tongue to avoid a mini-lecture about how late it is and how I think she should go to bed. Instead I just wished them a good night and went to bed myself.

Anger and Consequences Versus Empathy and Solutions

It’s natural to feel angry when children misbehave. However when we respond with harsh words and consequences, the children’s focus turns to our response instead of their poor choices.

While responding to your child with anger will usually stop the behavior in the short term, it damages your relationship and does a poor job of preventing the same behavior in the future. The more serious the misbehavior, the more you need to figure out and fix the underlying problem.

If you're interested in understanding how empathy can be used to find real solutions to problem behaviors, check out the new online class "Anger and Consequences Versus Empathy and Solutions".

Child care providers and preschool teachers may take this class to receive two credit hours of continuing education.

(Kathy Slattengren teaching the class)

Teaching Kids to Successfully Join Playing With Other Kids

If your child asks other children, "Can I play?" the answer will be "No!" about 60% of the time according to researchers. The other children are already engrossed in their play and it's easier to say "no" than to figure out how to include someone else.

A better question to teach your children to ask is "How can I play?" This invites the other kids to figure out a way to include, rather than exclude, the new child. It's a simple way to rephrase the request and increase the likelihood of being welcomed into the play.

Talking to Tots Through Teens About Sexuality

You are your children's primary teacher about their bodies, relationships and sex. It's one more important thing on your to-do list as a parent!

Around age 3, young children will begin asking basic questions about where babies come from or the differences between boys and girls. Kids are curious about their world and ask questions to gain a better understanding of it.

If you'd like a little help thinking through how to discuss these topics with your kids, the site "There's No Place Like Home ... For Sex Education" is a wonderful resource. They offer age appropriate information for kids from 3-years-old to 18-years-old.

Reading through this information can help you clarify your own values and approach to discussing those values with your kids. Teens report wanting to hear more from their parents regarding relationships and sex. Unfortunately, without enough information teens often underestimate the likelihood of contracting a sexually transmitted infection or becoming pregnant.

When a teen becomes pregnant, the parents pay a heavy price. The U.S. Census 2010 figures show that 3.1 million grandparents had grandchildren living with them. While these aren’t all cases of teenage pregnancy, this data certainly motivated me to talk
to my two teenagers about sexuality and the incredible responsibility involved in having a baby.

Start these conversations early and plan to have many small talks throughout your children's growing up years.

Discover the Secrets to Successful Parenting

You love your children. You work hard to provide them healthy food and a happy home. You try to teach them right from wrong. You know you need to set limits on inappropriate behavior.

You have all the right ingredients and yet sometimes your interactions with your kids don’t live up to your expectations. There’s too much yelling and stress – not enough fun and enjoyment. When you’re in the middle of it all, it’s hard to figure out what needs to change so there’s less conflict and more cooperation.

This reminds me of my experience of making Red Thai Curry. I had all the right ingredients, followed the directions and yet it never tasted as good as a restaurant’s version. Finally after enjoying the Red Thai Curry at the Bangkok Thai Restaurant in Enumclaw, I asked the chef the secret to her delicious sauce. She told me to cook the red curry paste in oil for a few minutes to bring out the flavors and then add about 1/4 can of the coconut milk and cook it another 10 minutes before adding the rest of the can, soy sauce and brown sugar. Wow - cooking the paste in oil first made all the difference!

Likewise, you’ve got the right ingredients for being an awesome parent. Now you just need to fine tune your approach to bring out the best in your kids. Learn how in our online parenting classes:

If you live in the Seattle area, you are invited to join me for a 6-week parenting class at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, WA. Two sessions are available starting:
  • Jan. 11 to Feb. 15, 2013 9:30 - 11:30 AM (ages 1 to 5)
  • Jan. 11 to Feb. 15, 2013 noon - 2:00 PM (ages 6 to 12)
Space is limited. You can learn more and register today.

Reducing Tantrums for Babies and Toddlers

A mom wrote "This week my 10 month old has started throwing terrible tantrums when she doesn't get her way. I read its a normal part of development but its like I have a completely different child these days. How long does this phase usually last? I think she doesn't feel understood and throws a tantrum about it. Is there anything I can to do ease her frustration? Thanks in advance :)"

I responded back "It is normal for young children to throw tantrums. They don't gain enough emotional regulation to 'hold it together' until they are somewhere between 3 and 5-years-old. Even at that age it is still a developing skill so if they are tired, hungry or coming down with a cold, they may have a meltdown.

One idea is to teach her some sign language so she can communicate what she would like. The Baby Sign Language site has a bunch of free videos showing how to make various signs.

The mom replied "She doesn't sign yet but when I sign what she wants she has the biggest smile on her face since I 'understand' her. I will encourage her to start signing and hopefully that will relieve some of her frustration. Thank you so much!"

Resolving Conflicts using Collaborative Problem Solving

Do your children exhibit any challenging behaviors? If so, you probably have tried numerous things that haven't worked: time outs, grounding, withholding privileges, taking away toys, taking away the computer, TV or cellphone, and talking about the problem. Nothing has helped!

By definition, challenging behavior is difficult to solve. If it were easy, the simple consequences should have worked. The reason nothing has worked is because the underlying cause of the problem is not being addressed. The trick is figuring out the root cause of the problem behavior.

Forcing Children to Behave

While it is tempting to try to force children to behave through the use of punishments or rewards, these attempts often fail. Children realize that you are trying to control their behavior and may respond by doing just the opposite of what you'd like.

Dr. Ross Greene talks about three approaches to misbehavior in his book The Explosive Child. "Plan A" involves trying to impose your will on the child.

He writes "If you respond to an unsolved problem by imposing your will - by saying things like 'No,' 'You must,' or 'You can't' - you're using Plan A. If your child often has trouble completing homework and you respond by insisting that the homework be completed, you're using Plan A. If your child often doesn't brush his teeth with the frequency or diligence you expect and you take away screen time until your expectation is met, you're using Plan A."

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Get Your Kids to Happily Drink Their Fruits and Vegetables

Is it a hassle to get your kids to eat their fruit and vegetables? Try having them drink them instead!

When we added delicious fruit and vegetable smoothies to our meals, it helped our kids significantly increased their intake of these healthy foods. If you've never tried a green smoothie, Kris Carr is just the person to show you how good it can be.

Her latest book Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolutionwill give you plenty of ways to make eating fruits and vegetables fun!

She also provides some free smoothie recipes on her website. Yum!

You Must Versus You Can

The words you choose can make the difference between getting cooperation from your children or getting resistance. When you start a request with “you must”, it invites kids to think “No I don’t!”

Read the statements below and see what difference you feel:

"You must brush your teeth." versus "You can brush your teeth and then we'll read a story."

"You must use the bathroom before we leave." versus "You can use at the bathroom before we leave."

"You must pick up your toys." versus "You can pick up your toys before dinner or after dinner."

"You must wash your hands before lunch." versus "You can wash your hands and then join us for lunch."

"You must study harder." versus "You can choose how hard to study."

In each of these situations, the children are ultimately in control of their behavior. When the statements begin with “You must”, it is an attempt to force the children to comply. However, just trying to force this compliance can send kids in the other direction just to prove their own sense of control.

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc

Removing the Struggle From Naptime

Do you ever struggle with putting your child down for a nap? The older children become, the more likely they are to resist napping when they’d much rather be running around playing!

One preschooler teacher recently shared with me her secret to getting kids to cooperate. She gives them a choice. She explains to them “You need to rest your body so you have enough energy for our next activities. However, you can decide if you want to rest with your eyes open or your eyes shut.”

When they know they can lie down but don’t have to shut their eyes, they are far more cooperative. Most of them end up shutting their eyes and falling asleep – but it’s on their own terms!

photo credit: jrishel via photopin cc

Helping Young Children Find Something Appropriate To Bite - Not Another Kid!

A preschool teacher told the story of Sophia, a toddler who was in the habit of biting other kids. Although the teachers tried to intervene and show Sophia how sad the other children felt when she bit them, Sophia continued to bite.

They finally solved the problem by attaching a teething ring to Sophia's shirt. Whenever they saw she was looking like she might bite, they gave her the teething ring to bite instead. This actually solved the problem of Sophia biting other kids as she learned to bite the teething ring instead!

When You Overreact Your Kids Shutdown

If your kids have something difficult to share with you, they may tell you a little bit about it and decide how much more to tell you based on your reaction. If they don’t think you’ve been able to handle the first piece well, they are unlikely to tell you more.

You want your children to come to you for help in finding a safe way out if they are ever in a dangerous situation. In order for them to feel comfortable doing this, they need to trust that you’ll be able to hear the message without overreacting.

Honesty is important even if it means bad news. When you encourage your children to let you know what is really going on regardless if it will bother you, you are in a far better position to help them.

photo credit: Found Animals via photopin cc

Celebrating When Kids Achieve a New Personal Best

Most of our kids are not going to be the best player on the team, the top academic score in the class or the first chair instrument in the band. By definition, only one child can be number one which leaves a lot of kids out.

Striving to be the absolute best in some area can leave children feeling depressed when they repeatedly miss the mark. A more helpful approach is striving to do your personal best.

The coaches for the cross country team that my son is on promote kids trying to improve on their personal best running times. Everyone celebrates when someone sets a new Personal Record. Anyone on the team has the possibility of achieving a new Personal Record on any race.

By focusing on improving against one’s own personal best, everyone has the chance of winning and being celebrated. The kids support each other and cheer each other on – a great lesson for life.

Keeping Digital Devices Out of Your Kids' Bedrooms at Night

Do you let your kids take their cellphones, laptops, Kindles, iPads or video games to bed with them? If so, it's a good time to think about changing your family policies around digital devices at bedtime.

There are multiple problems with kids having digital devices in their bedrooms. Some of the problems parents have reported include: kids texting each other late into the night, updating Facebook postings at 3:00 AM, watching porn and becoming upset due to social media comments.

Also these digital devices interfere with relaxing and falling to sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, "Doing work, watching TV and using the computer, both close to bedtime and especially in the bedroom, hinders quality sleep. Violent shows, news reports and stories before bedtime can be agitating."

If you want to avoid the potential problems with your kids and their digital devices at bedtime, decide on a place and time that all devices should be turned in for the night. Some kids may wake up in the middle of the night to use these devices, to avoid that problem store the devices somewhere difficult to access like your bedroom.

photo credit: tbone_sandwich via photopin cc

How to Discipline When Children Misbehave

Your kids will misbehave and they will make mistakes. Mistakes are part of learning. Ultimately what they learn depends on how you respond.

What Are These Children Learning?

In a recent "Ask Amy" newspaper column a concerned neighbor wrote "What do you think about a parent who smashes and completely destroys kids’ electronic games and equipment (these were parent-approved gifts to these young children) because the kids were fighting over them? It seems to me that it might not be the best example of how to teach a child to deal with frustration. It actually sounds borderline violent and abusive to me!"

Amy chided the neighbor for not knowing what went on before the violence. She then provided an example of a mom who "had warned her kids about their television-watching habits and then, one day -- when she was trying to talk to them and they were ignoring her and watching the TV -- she pitched the television out the second-story window." Amy concluded "Violent? Yes. But it did the trick."

Destroying the equipment certainly solves the immediate problem. But what is the cost? Are these parents trying to help their children learn that it is acceptable to destroy property if they are really angry? Probably not.

Keeping Your Cool in Tough Situations

The parents in these situations acted on their feelings of rage. Once strong emotions take hold, one’s ability to think clearly is compromised.

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Dealing with a Naughty Child

Patty is a preschool teacher who has plenty of experience dealing with challenging children’s behavior. This fall when parents were bringing their children to school for the first time, Kyle’s parents told her “He’s a naughty child.” They referred to Kyle being naughty a number of times in front of him.

Did Kyle live up to his label? Yes! When he didn’t get attention, he would sometimes throw things, hit or spit.

Labeling a child as “bad” or “naughty” produces feelings of shame in that child. Those feelings can lead to acting out or withdrawing. In Kyle’s case, he turned to acting out.

When the teachers responded to his acting out by removing him or holding him down, his behavior escalated. Trying to punish him for his poor behavior made it worse.

What finally worked in changing Kyle’s behavior was to guide him to a secluded area with toys where he could calm down. After about 10 minutes the teacher returned to get Kyle and he was calm and ready to cooperate. When Kyle was treated in a respectful way that communicated the belief in his ability to choose better behavior, he chose that better behavior.

photo credit: gemsling via photopin cc

The Pain of Being Excluded

Being excluded is a painful experience that your children will go through at some point. It might be learning that there is a birthday party coming up but they’re not invited or kids are playing a game but don’t want to include them. It hurts.

If your child is going through a tough experience of being excluded, it’s helpful if you can be there to listen and validate your child’s feelings. Even though you cannot change the other children’s behavior, you can show empathy and understanding of what your child is going through. Being heard is healing.

It can be difficult to sit with your children in their pain without being able to solve it. However, just being there and listening is critical. Your loving attention will help your child through the difficult situation.

photo credit: theloushe via photopin cc

Disobeying Due to a Lack of Understanding

Are your children purposefully disobeying you or do they not understand your request? Rita explained how frustrated she was when her 3-year-old daughter, Sidney, colored on the table rather than staying on the paper. She had repeatedly told Sidney to keep her crayons on the paper but Sidney often forgot this rule.

One time after telling Sidney once again to keep her coloring on the paper, Rita asked Sidney “What did I just say?” Sidney replied “I don’t know.” Rita explained again to keep the crayons on the paper and asked Sidney again what she had just said. Sidney again claimed “I don’t know.” Rita found yet another way to explain it to Sidney and this time Sidney was able to repeat it back in her own words.

Once Sidney could say it back, she followed the rule and kept her coloring on the paper. Rita learned to check with Sidney’s understanding of a request before jumping to the conclusion that Sidney was purposefully disobeying.

How to Increase Kids' Compliance with Following Rules

Wouldn’t it be great if your kids always followed your rules? A simple way to increase compliance with rules is to give your children some type of rational for why the rule exists and why the consequences exist.

Watch the video below from Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules for Baby, explain and demonstrate this concept.

Introverts Struggling to Fit into an Extrovert World

Is your child an introvert or an extrovert? According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, a third to a half of the population are introverts. However, schools and other places children gather are often designed for extroverts.

In her TED Talk, she explains,

"Shyness is about fear of social judgment. Introversion is more about, how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. So extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they're in quieter, more low-key environments. Not all the time -- these things aren't absolute -- but a lot of the time. So the key then to maximizing our talents is for us all to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.

But now here's where the bias comes in. Our most important institutions, our schools and our workplaces, they are designed mostly for extroverts and for extroverts' need for lots of stimulation. And also we have this belief system right now that I call the new groupthink, which holds that all creativity and all productivity comes from a very oddly gregarious place."

If your child is an introvert, listening to this talk will give you more insight into the challenges your child may be facing.

Handling Crucial Conversations Well

When your emotions are high and you’re discussing something you care dearly about, you are in a crucial conversation. You might be talking to your partner about how to handle a situation where your child has misbehaved, speaking to a teacher about how to best work with your child or bringing up a touchy subject with your child. Because of the dynamics, it can be challenging to stay focused and be at your best during discussions like these.

If you’d like to handle these types of conversations better, check out the book Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. It is filled with ideas for performing well when discussing something you care deeply about.

You’ll learn to notice when someone has stopped contributing to the conversation by using silence or violence. You’ll also develop the skills to bring that person back into the dialogue by making the situation feel safer. Improving your abilities in handling crucial conversations will allow you to address important issues while maintaining healthy relationships.

Increasing Motivation to do Homework by Making It a Game

Do your kids ever procrastinate on doing their homework? It’s hard for most people to get started on something they don’t really want to do. How can a task like homework be made more fun?

Difficult tasks become more engaging if they involve the attributes of a game:
  • Focus on Accomplishing Tasks to Win
  • Time Limit
  • Scoring
  • Prizes
Your kids can make homework more like a game by doing the following:
  • Write down the homework tasks that need to be done.
  • For each task, write down the time they think it will take.
  • Set a timer for a task. If it’s accomplished before the timer goes off, score one point.
  • Determine the prize for the points. It can be as simple as running outside and shooting 10 baskets or eating three strawberries.
  • Check that item off and go to the next task.
By transforming homework into a game, they will have more fun doing it.  They will also gain the important life skill of writing down what needs to get done and checking it off once it's done.

Lying, Cheating and Stealing

Lying, cheating and stealing are some of the behaviors you do not want to see in your children. So how do you teach your children to be honest?

Being honest is much more difficult than it initially might sound. Being human and being honest don’t naturally go together.

Dan Ariely, a professor at Duke University, has devised clever experiments to measure dishonesty. He details his findings in his book, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves. For example, when given the opportunity to cheat on a test to solve math matrices, the average person reports solving 70% more problems correctly than the control group who couldn’t cheat. Wow!

When Kids Start Lying

It’s a developmental milestone when a child learns to lie. Researchers have found that most children reach this milestone by age 3. Lying is possible once children realize that the information they have is different than the information other people have.

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Why does the the AAP discourage media use by children younger than 2?

In the video below, Dr. Ari Brown explains the research behind the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation of limiting media use by children younger than 2.

Three questions are answered:

  1. Do infant-directed programs have any educational value?
  2. What harm has been found in children under age 2 watching TV shows?
  3. What harmful effects have been observed from children under age 2 being exposed to secondhand TV (background media)?

As part of the third question, researchers have found that if a TV is on with an adult show, a child under 2 will look up at the screen 3 times per minute (every 20 seconds). No wonder kids who are playing in a room that has a TV on are not as engaged in their toys!

Getting Caught Cheating on Chores

When Nancy was staying with her grandparents, one of her chores was to clean up the bird seed on the floor under the parakeet’s cage. One day she was doing this chore but taking a short cut. Instead of sweeping the seed up and putting it in the garbage, she was simply sweeping it under the dresser – a much quicker way to get done!

Her grandfather happened to go by just as she was almost done sweeping it all away. He gave her a disappointed look and said “That’s not how Peterson’s do it.”

She felt horrible she had let her grandfather down and proceeded to clean up all the bird seed by correctly putting it into the garbage. This incident happened when she was 10-years-old. She’s now 60 and says she often remembers this story. It has helped inspire her to make better choices over the last 50 years.

Creating a Simple Book to Help Kids Cope with Tough Situations

Are there situations that are especially stressful for your children? It might be when one parent goes away for a few days for work, going to the doctor, the first day of school or moving to a new home.

One way to help your children better understand the situation and cope with it is to create a simple book about it. For example, if your child finds it difficult when one parent is away from home for a few days for work, you could help your child create a book about it.

Begin by finding or taking pictures that tell the story –

  • The parent waving good-bye
  • A car arriving at the airport
  • A plane flying in the sky
  • The parent working in an office
  • Your child talking to the parent on the phone
  • The parent flying back home
  • A big welcome home hug

Next attach these pictures to paper and write a sentence or two about what’s going on and how the child feels. Staple the book together and be prepared to read it many times!

Toddlers mesmerized for hours by software - serious impact on developing brain

Why does the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend no screen time for babies and toddlers under age 2? Are they just trying to drive parents crazy? No!

They actually have research behind their recommendations. In their article titled “Media Education” they state, "research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers (eg, child care providers) for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills."

Recently a press release for a new app for toddlers was emailed to me. It explains "Inspiration for the endeavor started when Brisky’s infant son Paul became enamored with his father’s iPad and would delight in tapping images on the screen. Seeing his son’s obvious joy, Brisky created “Bonk! Bonk!” – an interactive app where every time Paul would tap the screen a sound and colorful image would suddenly appear mesmerizing him for hours."

Having a toddler mesmerized for hours by an iPad application is obviously seen as a very positive thing by this dad. In fact he’s packaged it into an app so other toddlers can enjoy it. Likely he is a loving dad who just doesn’t see any problem with babies and toddlers spending time on screens.

While you may choose to let your baby or toddler have some screen time, it's important to consider the impact of that screen time on your child’s developing brain.

Violence is Declining - Including Violence Against Children

The latest news often brings stories of violence or tragedy. There always seems to be somebody randomly shooting and killing other people. It's downright depressing.

That's why reading Steven Pinker's book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined has been so refreshing. He carefully documents the decline in violence through the centuries. After being reminded of just how acceptable torturing and killing people has been in the past, it's clear we've come a long way.

He explores how violence against children has declined as part of the human rights movement. No longer is it acceptable to kill a baby or child that isn't wanted for some reason. Beating misbehaving children is now against the law in most developed countries.

If you'd like to understand how far we've come in reducing violence, you'll enjoy this book.

Warning Your Kids Multiple Times Escalates Everyone's Emotions

When your kids are misbehaving, do you ever find yourself giving them multiple warnings to stop? One mom told the story of how she was planning to go out to lunch with a couple other moms after picking their kids up from preschool. She was looking forward to enjoying pizza and visiting with her friends.

However, her son wasn’t behaving well – he was pushing the other kids, running ahead and not listening. She warned him that if he didn’t hold her hand while walking and start behaving that they would go home instead of out for pizza. She proceeded to give this warning a dozen times before she decided to take him home kicking and screaming.

As she carried him home, his behavior got worse as he started hitting her on the head. All she could think of was getting home so she kept walking despite being hit. Later on she realized she could have put him down and waited for him to calm down enough for him to walk himself. They were both upset by the time they got home.

When your kids ignore your first warning, you know they’ve decided not to comply and they know it. With each warning the stakes go up as to who is going to cave in. Emotions naturally rise.

A better approach is to tell your child once and then follow through. In this case it would have meant this mom telling her son that he needed to stop pushing the other kids or they would have to go home. After he did it again, she would have left with him. He still wouldn’t have gone happily, however, the situation would not have escalated as far as it did.

A Mom's Difficult Journey through Her Young Daughter's Cancer Treatment

When Judith and John Hannan learn that their sweet, 8-year-old daughter, Nadia, has cancer their whole world is turned upside down. After cracking her jaw while eating a piece of candy, Nadia is diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer which is in her jaw. As Nadia enters the painful world of tests, chemotherapy and operations to save her life, her Mom is by her side every step of the way.

While John and Nadia’s brother and sister, other family members and friends help out, the majority of Nadia’s daily care falls onto Judith. In her book, Motherhood Exaggerated, Judith recounts the painful journey from Nadia’s initial diagnosis through her treatment and ultimate recovery.

After the surgery which took bone from Nadia’s leg to replace the cancerous bone removed from her jaw, Judith describes her daily routine. “Since leaving the hospital post-surgery, I was busier than ever. In addition to the routine care of the Broviac, dispensing pills to make Nadia more comfortable, and administering the G-shots to help stimulate white-blood-cell production, I had to change the dressing on her leg, give her iron supplements and shots of Epogen to increase her red-blood-cell count, wean her off pain killers, and make sure she did her jaw and neck exercises.”

Taking care of a child who is undergoing cancer treatment is one of the most challenging experiences any parent can go through. This book provides an intimate look at one family’s story through this heartbreaking process.

Developing Habits to Succeed in School

Can developing good habits help your kids succeed in school? Yes! Habits are powerful patterns of behavior that automatically unfold in certain situations. By establishing helpful habits, your kids will have routines that help them succeed in school.

The brain loves to establish habits because it takes less thinking and energy. For example, when your children are learning something like how to tie their shoes, it will take all their focus to accomplish the task. Once they master it, their brains will use far less energy as the process becomes automatic.

The problem is that your child's brain is just as happy to establish healthy habits as unhealthy ones. Establishing the habit of either reaching for a pastry for breakfast or having a bowl of cereal with fruit is equally appealing to your child's brain. waitress

Given how powerful habits are, it is worth figuring out which ones will help your kids succeed in school.

Looking at How Habits Form

In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg describes a three step process he calls the habit loop:

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Biggest Positive Influence on Your Parenting

Someone recently asked me what was the biggest positive influence on my parenting. The answer that quickly jumped out was the parenting classes my husband and I took when our daughter was 3-years-old and our son was a baby. The classes were taught by a mother who had kids a couple years older than ours and she was a wealth of wonderful ideas.

Parenting classes allowed us to discuss different approaches to parenting and come up with an approach we both agreed on. We figured out how we would respond to misbehavior in ways that allowed our children to learn from their mistakes. Being able to take a little time away from our kids to sharpen our skills was the best thing we could have done.

What has been the biggest positive influence on your parenting?

Why did you do that?!

When your children misbehave, it can be tempting to ask why they did it. The question itself leads the child to thinking about an excuse for their behavior.
  • “Why did you hit him?”
  • “Why did you push her?”
  • “Why did you grab that shovel out of his hands?”
However, an unacceptable behavior is always unacceptable regardless of the reason. Good explanations do not provide a free ticket for poor behavior.

Rather than asking children why they behaved in a certain way, describe the results of the behavior and discuss how to make amends. In the example where the shovel was grabbed, you might say “You grabbed the shovel out of his hands and now he’s crying. What do you think you can do to make him feel better?”

Younger children will need more guidance in figuring out how to share or express their feelings without hitting or pushing. Teaching them these skills will serve them better than asking them why they did it.

Setting Expectations Using Clear Language

Using wishy-washy language when setting expectations with your kids leads to weak statements. If you want to set clear expectations, you need to use clear language.

Below are some cases where the first version sets a weaker expectation than the second statement. In the first example, saying “I expect” is stronger than saying “I hope”:
  • I hope you will get your chores done every day.
  • I expect that you will get your chores done every day.
Beginning a statement with “when” sets a stronger expectation than saying “if”:
  • If you get your homework done, you can go to Ryan’s house.
  • When you get your homework done, you can go to Ryan’s house.
Making an observation instead of request does not set a clear expectation:
  • It seems reasonable that when I call you for dinner, you come right away.
  • From now on when I call you for dinner, I expect you to come right away.
Making a statement that invites other opinions also muddies the expectation:
  • I think it’s time to start picking up your toys and get ready for bed.
  • It’s time to start picking up your toys and get ready for bed.
By clearly stating your expectations, you’re more likely to get the behavior you would like from your children.

I'll tell you but you can't tell anyone.

Sometimes your child may want to share something important with you but wants assurance that you won’t tell anyone else. How do you respond if your child says to you “I'll tell you but you can't tell anyone”?

Begin by reassuring your child that you want to hear what she has to say. However, promising not to tell anyone else is something that you may or may not be able to do depending on what she reveals.

You might respond, “I’m glad you’re coming to me and I want to hear what you have to say. I can’t promise that I won’t feel like I need to tell someone who can provide more knowledge or help. However, I can promise that if I believe we need someone else’s help, we’ll look for that person together.”

By letting your child know how you will handle the situation if you feel you need to get someone else involved, you are being honest. You will then be able to act with integrity if the situation requires telling someone else.

Rephrasing an Accusation into a Request

When you fire an accusation off at your children, you are likely to get a defensive response. People who feel they are being blamed, tend withdraw or get angry rather than engage in meaningful conversation.

Read these statements and think about how they make you feel:
  • You always yell and have a fit whenever you don’t get your way.
  • You never remember to feed the dog.
  • You’re too lazy to clean up your dishes!
How did they make you feel? Are you motivated to change your behavior? Probably not!

Now let’s rephrase these same statements into requests.
  • I feel irritated when you yell at me. If you’d like to do something different, please let me know using a respectful tone.
  • I’m frustrated that you don’t remember to feed the dog on your own. What can you do so that you can remember your chores without my reminder?
  • When you leave a mess in the kitchen, I feel angry. How can things change so that you remember to clean up when you’re done in the kitchen?
In this second set of statements, I’m focusing on how I feel about a specific behavior. I’m also requesting a change in that behavior.

By using a request instead of an accusation, you increase the likelihood of getting cooperation instead of resistance from your kids.

Teaching Your Kids How to Lose Graciously

Losing is part of playing games – often the most difficult part. When your kids are really trying hard to win and come up short, it can be hard for them to graciously accept the loss. What can you teach them to better handle losing?

One mom taught her son to thank the other people for playing. Before he would start playing a game, they discussed how he would act at the end of the game.

He could usually remember to thank the other players and sometimes was even able to congratulate the person who won. Even when he lost, he glowed when she showed appreciation for his good sportsmanship and the effort he put into playing the game.

Questions that Encourage Kids to Do More Thinking

When you give your kids orders, you are doing the thinking instead of them. You are figuring out what to do and then passing along this information. When you do the thinking, the connections in your brain involved in this processing are reinforced. When your children do the thinking, their brain connections are strengthened.

Part of guiding your kids to thinking on their own is giving them opportunities to practice. Instead of giving orders, asking questions helps kids do their own thinking. Below are some examples of orders versus questions.

Order #1: Get your pajamas on and brush your teeth so you’re for a bedtime story.
Question #1: What do you need to do before you are ready for a story?

Order #2: Go get started on your homework.
Question #2: What is your plan for getting your homework done today?

Order #3: Your chore for today is vacuuming and I see it's still not done. It’s time for you to get that done.
Question #3: When will you be doing your chore for today?

Order #4: Rinse your plate and put it in the dishwasher.
Question #4: What needs to be done after you’re done eating dinner?

By asking questions, you encourage your kids to do more thinking. Giving orders is often such a natural response that you may not even notice you’re doing it. This week try paying special attention to when you are about to give an order and see if you can replace it with a question.

Sorry Honey, That’s Not My Table

You only have so much time and energy to spend every day. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. If you spend your precious time on things that truly aren’t your highest priorities or taking on tasks that should be someone else’s responsibility, you will become depleted and discouraged.

When You Take On Too Much

This concept was demonstrated well in a story told about a waitress named Mary. When she was first starting out as a waitress, Mary tried to help whichever customers requested her assistance even if they weren’t sitting at one of her assigned tables. If a customer from another server’s table requested more rolls and butter, Mary ran to the kitchen to get them.

Everyone loved the way Mary jumped in to help except for the customers seated in Mary’s section. They resented having to wait longer as Mary served customers in other sections. Soon Mary found herself exhausted. She also found her customers starting to complain about her slow service. These complaints caught Mary’s attention as well as her boss’ attention.

Mary knew she needed focus on her own tables to keep her customers happy. She learned to handle requests from customers outside her assigned tables by responding “Sorry honey, that’s not my table. I’ll send your server right over.”

Where Are You Taking On Too Much?

As a parent, can you relate to Mary’s wanting to help everyone and then feeling overextended and underappreciated? From your kids asking for your assistance on things they could handle themselves to the multiple volunteer requests from school or church, it’s easy to agree to doing too much.

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

What To Do When Kids Are Bored

Do your kids ever struggle to find something constructive to do that doesn’t involve watching a screen? If so, have your kids write down things they like to do that don’t involve screen time on small slips of paper. Next have them create and decorate a “fun ideas” container to hold these pieces of paper.

When your children need inspiration for an activity, they draw two or three papers and then decide which idea they want to do, either as a group or individually. If you want some ideas that other kids have written, a "boredom busting activity ideas" list is available.

It’s not your job to entertain your kids all the time. It’s their job to figure out how they would like to use their time in constructive ways. By giving them freedom within limits, you can help them develop new skills and find ways to enjoy themselves without having to be entertained by some outside entity. Developing this ability will serve them well thorough out their lives.

Compromising with Your Kids

Gina felt strongly that she did not want her children using play guns. A member of Gina’s family had been killed with a gun and she wanted her kids to know guns were not play things. She knew too well how guns can cause death.

However, her young son really wanted a squirt gun so that he could play with the other boys in the neighborhood. Gina explained that it was still a gun and so he couldn’t have it. He begged her to please let him have one.

Realizing how much this meant to him, Gina sat down with Jake to discuss possible compromises. They decided that if Jake got a squirt gun that was brightly colored and clearly a kids’ water toy, Gina could be comfortable with that. They went to the store and found the perfect brightly colored squirt gun and both of them were happy.

Getting Enough Sleep to Parent Well

How important is sleep? It’s critical! In fact it’s essential to living and people with the rare disease fatal familial insomnia actually die from being unable to sleep.

Lack of sleep can lead to depression, headaches, inability to concentrate and difficulty controlling emotions. How is this related to parenting? If you are not getting enough sleep, you won’t be able to do your best parenting.

One Dad I recently spoke to had set up his schedule so that he worked the evening shift from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. After working, he came home and fed his 6 and 10-year-olds breakfast before getting them off to school. He then caught a quick nap before his 2-year-old woke up. Since his wife worked during the day, he was then up with the 2-year-old until she took a nap in the afternoon.

His schedule was set up so that he regularly got 4 or 5 hours of broken sleep. He wanted to be a loving parent for his kids but he found himself sometimes lashing out at his kids. He had been beaten as a child and did not want to beat his children; however, he did exactly that one day when his son misbehaved.

His lack of control with his son was a huge wake-up call for him. He knew he needed help and the first step was figuring out a new schedule so that he would regularly get enough sleep. Without enough sleep, he would not be able to be the parent he wanted to be.

Are you concerned about your child entering puberty too soon?

Doctors use the term “precocious puberty” for children who enter puberty significantly before the normal time frame. The normal time frame for girls to begin puberty with breast development is around age 10. If a girl begins breast development before age 8, it is considered precocious puberty. The normal time frame for boys to begin puberty with testes growth is about 11 1/2. If a boy begins early than age 9, it is considered precocious puberty.

If you are interested in hearing a doctor discuss precocious puberty, you can watch this 10 minute discussion from the Khan Academy:

Solving Your Parenting Disagreements

Do you ever disagree with your spouse or partner on how to parent your kids? Most couples find they have different ideas on a number of parenting issues.

Solving Your Parenting Disagreements
by: slattenk

One Mom's Secret for Handling Begging at the Store

Often when they went grocery shopping, 6-year-old Matt would beg his mom to buy something. Kari was tired of negotiating with Matt and explaining why she wouldn't be buying what he wanted. She decided she needed a new approach to their shopping trips.

Before she went shopping the next time, she sat down and wrote a list of everything she planned to buy. When they got to the store, she gave the list to Matt along with the duty to check things off as they put them in the cart.

When Matt wanted something her to buy something not on the list, she'd ask him to check if it was on the list. If he couldn't find it on the list, then they weren't buying it today. To Kari's amazement, Matt offered to help make a better list next time but he stopped begging her for things not on the list!

20 Things Kids Need to Know About Money

Are your kids smart about money? There's a lot to know about finances. How do you know what to teach your kids at different ages?

The financial problems in the United States prompted the creation of the Money as You Grow web site. It's described as providing "20 essential, age-appropriate financial lessons — with corresponding activities — that kids need to know as they grow. Written in down-to-earth language for children and their families, Money as You Grow will help equip kids with the knowledge they need to live fiscally fit lives. The lessons in Money as You Grow are based on more than a year of research, drawn from dozens of standards, curricula, and academic studies."

For example, kids ages 6 to 10 should be involved in comparing prices and begin understanding how interest in a savings account works. By the time your child is 14 to 18-years-old, you should discuss how a credit card bill should be paid off every month. One Dad missed this discussion with his daughter and was amazed that she didn't realize she would be charged a huge amount of interest if she didn't pay off the full amount. She was in her early 20's when she learned this expensive lesson.

Prepare your kids now to be financially knowledgeable using this helpful site.

Do your kids know the difference between tattling and telling?

Do you give your kids the following two conflicting messages?
  • "Come to me if you have a problem." and
  • "Don't tattle."
The "don't tattle" message often comes across loud and strong from the kids' peer group. One group of kids said they would never tattle because "Snitches get stitches." No wonder they're scared to tell!

How can you help your kids see the difference between snitching and reporting? When someone is snitching or tattling, the underlying goal is to get another person in trouble by making the problem bigger and more public.

On the other hand, the goal of telling or reporting is to correct something that is wrong. Your child is telling you or another adult because the problem is too big for her to handle.

So if your children are wondering if what they are about to say is tattling or telling, they can ask themselves "What is my goal?" If they realize they are really trying to get their sibling in trouble, then it's tattling. However, if it's a problem that they truly need assistance in solving or someone is in danger, than it's telling.

Talking through a few pretend scenarios can help your kids figure out when they should be telling and when they can probably handle it on their own.

Turning Summer Boredom into Opportunities to Grow and Learn

How will your children be spending their time this summer? Summer vacation with time off from school provides many opportunities for growth, fun and also trouble. It's the trouble that you want to avoid!

Concerns about How Kids Will Spend Their Free Time

Some parents look forward to the unstructured time their children can enjoy during the summer while others worry about how their children will fill those extra hours. What are your greatest concerns about the amount of free time your kids have during the summer?

When I recently asked a group of parents some of their concerns were:
  • Spending too much time watching TV
  • Arguing more due to having so much time together
  • Kids being home alone
  • Going to a friend's house where there is no adult supervision
  • Knowing what they are really doing when they are away from home
  • Playing too much Xbox or other video games
  • Forgetting what they've learned in school
  • Struggling to figure out what to do that doesn't involve watching a screen
  • Not wanting to read because "I'm not in school now."
  • Getting into a routine that will be difficult to break when school starts again
A number of the concerns these parents expressed revolve around the fact that they and their children have different priorities.

Developing a Plan for a Successful Summer

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Brain Science Tools to Help Your Children Better Understand Themselves

You've probably heard of the idea of connecting with your child's emotions before attempting to correct any misbehavior. Why is this a better strategy than just yelling at your kids if they're misbehaving?

Brain researchers now know enough about how children's brains operate and grow to explain why certain parenting reactions are better than others. In their book, The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive, Dr. Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson give practical tips for parents based on the latest research.

They provide useful ideas for responding when children are reacting emotionally. These responses help kids integrate their experiences. In their book they describe "That's what integration does: it coordinates and balances the separate regions of the brain that it links together. It's easy to see when our kids aren't integrated - they become overwhelmed by their emotions, confused and chaotic. They can't respond calmly and capably to the situation at hand. Tantrums, meltdowns, aggression, and most of the other challenging experiences of parenting - and life - are a result of a loss of integration, also know as dis-integration."

This book will give you tools for helping your kids handle the more challenging parts of life.

Knowing the Difference Between Unsafe Secrets and Fun Surprises

Do your kids know the difference between fun surprises and unsafe secrets? Helping them understand this distinction can provide guidance to them in tough situations.

Surprises are usually fun and have an ending when they are revealed. One of my favorite surprises growing up was when my mom, my brothers and I would make Gingerbread Man cookies as a surprise treat for my dad when he came home from work.

My younger brother had a tough time keeping the surprise until dessert time. My older brother and I encouraged him not to say anything so it would be a surprise. Much to our chagrin, he found a way around this by announcing to my dad upon his arrival home "We didn't make gingerbread cookies today!"

Surprises typically have a good intention like birthday presents or surprise parties. The surprise ends when it is revealed.

On the other hand, secrets are something meant to be kept indefinitely. Teach your child that if an adult says something like “Shh … don’t tell.” or “This is our little secret.”, this means they should tell you or another trusted adults. Even if the adult threatens to do something bad to your child or someone else, your child needs to know that they should tell.

Developing Your Kids' Positive Body Image by Avoiding "Fat Talk"

Your kids' ideas about their bodies are greatly influenced by what they hear you saying. The more "fat talk" they hear from you, the more likely they are to develop a negative image of their bodies instead of a healthy one.

Shawna Kelley works at the Emily Program which provides personalized treatment for eating disorders. According to Kelley, parents often engage in fat talk without really being aware of it and the impact it has on their kids. Some examples of fat talk are:
  • "I need to lose 10 pounds."
  • "Do I look fat in this?"
  • "That dessert isn't good for me."
  • "I might as well just stick this sweet roll on my thighs because that's where it's going to end up!"
  • "I really need to start watching what I eat."
When your kids hear you making these types of comments or similar comments about their bodies, they are at risk for developing a negative body image. The Emily Program reports that among adolescents, the prevalence of eating disorders is 14 percent among females and 6.5 percent among males.

Rather than focusing on weight and dieting, focus on eating healthy and getting exercise. Kelley emphasizes teaching your children that people come in all different shapes and sizes; being thin does not necessarily mean being healthy.

Fostering Growth using the Mentoring Parenting Style

What is your normal parenting style?  Do you give your kids orders?  Do you do a lot of things for them that they are capable of doing thems...