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    August 26, 2014
    Anxious Kids And What To Do About Them

    When I was a child, I was extremely outgoing. I would talk to anyone about anything. I was confident and loud and I didn’t care what anyone thought of me! Then, sometime after puberty, everything changed. Maybe it was because we moved into a new state where I knew no one, but I became extremely withdrawn and self conscious. Or maybe it’s just because that’s part of growing up. I still struggle with being shy today. Either way, I know how it is to be around (and BE) an outgoing kid, and also a shy, anxious one. As a parent, it can be like pulling teeth to get your introverted child to engage in social situations. My advice? Don’t force anything, and only make them do what they’re comfortable with. For more help on dealing with anxious little ones, read this post by Kristina at Toddler Approved. Heck, most of them can even be applied to shy adults:

    -Stay in close proximity when around new people. 

    -Have low expectations and allow for choices… recognizing child is just trying to hold herself together. 

    -Recognize that the new faces, routines, situations can be uncomfortable/stressful/scary and acknowledge that verbally and offer emotional support. 

    -Encourage people to give child space and wait for him/her to come to them/initiate interactions with them.

    Photo Credit: Billy Rowlinson 

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    August 21, 2014
    Books For New Siblings

    Adding a new member to the family can be an emotional time for kids you already have. They’ll experience a wide range of feelings: excitement, joy, maybe even fear, or uncertainty. Maybe jealousy. There are plenty of ways to prepare the older sibling for the transition from only child to big brother / sister. One of my favorite ways to cope with life changing events is through books! It can help to know that another person has gone through what you’ve gone through (even if they’re fictional). Check out this post by Lauren Wayne at Hobo Mama for her favorite “big sibling books to prepare for baby,” as well as reviews for each book:

    What Baby Needs

    (written by William Sears, Martha Sears, & Christie Watts Kelly; illustrated by Renée Andriani)

    I’m a Big Brother

    (written by Joanna Cole; illustrated by Rosalinda Knightley)(There’s a companion book called I’m a Big Sister.) 

    On Mother’s Lap

    (written by Ann Herbert Scott; illustrated by Glo Coalson)

    Sophie and the New Baby

    (written by Catherine Anholt; illustrated by Laurence Anholt)

    Photo Credit: Jencu

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    August 19, 2014
    Simple Parenting Hacks

    Teaching kids good habits is much harder than it looks. When I was younger, I hated eating veggies, and refused to clean my room or help with chores. My parents tried all the tricks in the book: they tried grounding me, taking away privileges, giving rewards, and setting ultimatums. Usually, it worked. Now I eat a little healthier (only because I know it’s for my own good now; I STILL hate veggies), and I pick up after myself like a real adult! However, I know my parents would have had an easier time if they had seen some of these Buzzfeed hacks:

    -Hide healthy vegetables in desserts and smoothies. Try spinach brownies or zucchini crisp.

    -Teach saving habits early with a compartmentalized piggy bank. (seen in picture)

    -Change the wifi password and make them do chores in exchange for it

    -ANY chore can become a game. Get creative!

    Photo Credit: Buzzfeed

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    August 7, 2014
    Dinner Time Conversations

    One of the most important parts of bonding as a family is having dinner together, at a table, distraction free, every night. In fact, the reason I think I am so close to my family is because my parents stuck to that principle so hard. I don’t remember ever experiencing awkward, silent dinners; there were never any lulls in conversation. Probably because we’re all so talkative! However, if you have a more reserved family, or you’re just now trying out eating together, it may be a little awkward. What do you talk about, beyond “How was your day?” For some family dinner conversation starters, check out this post by Natalie Wright at Organized Mom (she suggests throwing them in a jar, pulling one question out per meal, and discussing it):

    -What did you do today that you are proud of?

    -What did you dream about last night?

    -What makes you happy when you’re sad?

    -What is your favorite book?

    -What is your favorite thing about the person next to you?

    My personal favorite? This: Tell us something new that you learned today!

    It lets kids review things from school, and lets all family members learn from each other.

    Photo Credit: Scott & Elaine Van der Chijs 

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    August 5, 2014
    Strengthening Sibling Relationships

    One thing that has always baffled me is siblings that aren’t close. Maybe it’s just because my sister and I are basically attached at the hip; she’s my best friend in the whole world, and I know she’s all I’ll have when everyone else is gone. I see her almost every day, I love my nephew (her son) more than I’ve ever loved anyone, and we’ve always been inseparable. That’s why it kills me when I talk to some of my friends, and they say they aren’t even on speaking terms with their sibling, or they just don’t ever visit with them. I understand that sometimes, things happen, and you have to cut toxic people out of your life. But simply not caring about your sister or brother? I can’t even fathom that. Sibling relationships are some of the most important you’ll have in your life. As a parent, it’s your job to encourage these bonds from an early age. For some tips, read this post by Krissy Sherman Bonning at B-Inspired Mama:

    -Teach respect

    -Encourage empathy and understanding

    -Model positive sibling relationships

    -Don’t leave anyone out

    -Let them fight, and help them make up

    -Create a sibling book together

    Photo Credit: Carmella Fernando 

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    July 31, 2014
    Temper Tantrum Termination

    I love babies and toddlers and kids of all ages, really. They’re insanely cute, I love playing with them, laughing at their silliness, doing crafts, making up games, and watching kid’s movies and TV. Sometimes, I even think I’d like to have my own child one day…. But then I go to the grocery store, and witness a toddler having an earth-shattering, ear-splitting tantrum. And I change my mind really quick. Seriously, there is usually no better form of birth control. But, tantrums are just part of having a kid. Children, especially younger ones, are still learning how to express their emotions. Negative feelings like anger, sadness, jealousy, and wanting something you can’t have are a lot to process, and sometimes they come out in the form of tantrums. It’s your job as a parent to help them deal with them, both by showing them that there are healthier, easier ways to express negative feelings, and by showing them that tantrums are unacceptable and don’t work. Check out this post by Crystal Underwood at Growing A Jeweled Rose on how to put a stop to them:

    -Ignore and walk away- don’t give your child the attention they’re trying to get; it only reinforces that throwing tantrums will give them what they want. It also gives them a moment to process what they’re feeling by themselves.

    -Distract and avert- get their minds off whatever they are currently fixated on

    -Check the vitals- hungry, thirsty, tired children are cranky children.

    -Always stay calm, cool and collected- getting angry with them will absolutely not help and will probably make it worse

    -Don’t give in.

    Photo Credit: Bob Jenkin 

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    July 22, 2014
    Child Discipline Blunders

    Raising a child is extremely difficult; the ups are amazing, but the downs can make you question everything you believe in sometimes. One of the hardest parts of parenting is discipline. You love your kids, hate yelling at them, but want them to grow into adults who can tell the difference between right and wrong. It’s especially hard for me: I hate confrontation, being aggressive (or even assertive), and I wish everyone could just get along. I’m a hippy-dippy feel-good idealist; and I’m extremely happy with who I am. The only problem is that it makes life difficult not everyone is on the same page as me. Honestly, I have no idea how to discipline kids. The idea of it makes me sick, but so does the idea of having spoiled, entitled, rude brats. For what NOT to do when disciplining a child, check out this post by Matt Jacobson at For The Family. It’s written from a Christian perspective, but I think parents of other faiths, or even secular parents can benefit from the advice:

    -Do not discipline in anger: it is extremely destructive in the long run

    -Do not discipline because of pride: punishing your kids to get a stranger’s approval is harmful

    -Do not discipline with continued condemnation after repentance: once they do the time, move on.

    -Do not discipline without listening: gather all information before handing out consequences.

    Photo Credit: Circa Sassy  (Isn’t it great?? Hahahaha!) 

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    July 21, 2014
    Raising Grateful Kids

    In my life, I’ve found that being grateful is a huge key to being happy. If you constantly focus on what is wrong with your life, wishing you had more money, more things, a different body, a different job– you’ll always be unhappy, and will never be satisfied no matter how much you improve yourself. Instead, I try to focus on what makes me fortunate: I have a roof over my head, a supportive family that loves me, food every day, my dream job, time to relax and create things, I’m relatively healthy– there are so many things I feel incredibly grateful for every day. In fact, just being alive is astounding. Do you know how nearly impossible that is? We’re the only planet (that we know of) with intelligent life– check out the Drake equation for all conditions that need to be met for a planet to support life– it’s almost impossible. Then, when you think about everything in the past that must have happened in order for you to be here: all your ancestors, all the decisions they made, all the chance encounters for thousands and thousands of years that has lead to you existing and being where you are now. It’s enough to make anyone grateful. There are plenty of ways to connect with your kids and make them understand feelings of gratitude as well. Teaching kids to be thankful for what they have will help them become happier, kinder people (and prevent them from becoming spoiled brats!) Check out this post by Debra Dane at Home Life Simplified for activities:

    • Create a gratitude journal – older children can write on their own / photograph things they are grateful for and younger ones can be part of a family journal
    • Reflect together on the best parts of their day – doing this regularly can help them pause and find the good in their days
    • Volunteer formally in your community if kids are old enough (preschoolers and primary kids can often get involved in  nature conservation or animal shelter assistance in many places)
    • Volunteer informally amongst your local community

    Photo Credit: Brianna Lehman 

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    July 10, 2014
    Common Potty Training Mistakes

    All parents can’t wait until their babies are potty trained, but the training process itself can be a nightmare. Kids usually are pretty reluctant to learn- after all, pooping whenever you want and having someone else wipe it up for you is a pretty sweet deal. The idea is not that hard: you sit them on the toilet and teach them that’s the time to go. In reality though, it can be so, so difficult. To avoid a large chunk of tantrums and mess, check out this post by Anne at Zephyr Hill blog for common potty training mistakes:

    -Don’t be unrealistic- make no assumptions, try not to establish timelines.

    -Don’t pin all your hopes on friend’s and family’s advice- every child is different.

    -Don’t buy too much stuff- until you know what works for you

    -Don’t lose patience and don’t take it personally!

    Photo Credit: makelessnoise 

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    July 8, 2014
    Money Conscious Kids

    Raising kids that know about money is extremely important if we want an economically secure future. There are too many adults now who spend more than they make, and that is exactly what caused that recession. That, and lenders that let them get away with it. While our credit-based economy is partially to blame for that– when was the last time you paid cash for a car, a college degree, or a home?– you can’t help but wonder that if kids were taught better about money that they’d actually know what to do with it when they grow up. Check out this post on raising your kids to be financially responsible by Kerri Anne Renzullo at

    -Tie a “No” Today to a “Yes” Tomorrow- show that you are not spending on pizza and games tonight in order to save for vacation next month.

    -Let them make spending mistakes- having buyer’s regret over a $3 toy is better than a $3,000 mistake down the line.

    -Show them that work is rewarding- pay them for chores.

    Photo Credit: Hobbies On A Budget 

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