What To Do When Your Child Lashes Out

Dear Dr Justin,
My 9-year-old son lashes out at his younger siblings when they bother him and often ends up hurting them. He feels terrible afterwards, but he can’t seem to get his anger or his reactions under control. What should I do?

Lashing out in anger is something that can easily turn into a habit for our children – and for us as adults. Anger, however, is not a “primary” emotion. Anger is usually based on a strong sense of fear or sadness.
What’s really happening when a child is lashing out in anger is that their emotional brain becomes overwhelmed, takes control, and reacts to the big emotions it’s processing.
This can be distressing for us, for them, and for the sibling or friend affected by their outburst. First, we need to work on managing the aggressive behaviour. Then we need to find its root cause. Finally, our focus should be on shifting the habit.

Avoid the situation where possible

Our first step is to try to stop a recurrence of the violent behaviour. You can do this by watching out for, and avoiding when you can, triggering situations. If you see that your son is becoming overwhelmed or upset, or if everyone is overtired or hungry, separate your kids or find something else for the others to do. It won’t fix everything, but avoidance and distraction can be handy strategies at times.

Tend to your hurt child

If your son lashes out again and hurts another child, your immediate attention should be on the hurt child. Let the aggressor know you’ll chat with him soon and encourage him to find some space to cool down.
This will be hard! You will want to express your righteous anger! You will want to set your kid straight! But just like our kids need to learn to control their reactions, we do too.

Emotions up, intelligence down

When we are angry our thought processes aren’t so clear. Kids catch our cranky. But they’ll also catch our calm. To diffuse anger in someone else, we have to be calm ourselves. It helps to remember that something has happened inside of our child to stop him from being able to regulate his emotions. There is a root cause to his aggression. And without a doubt, he is in distress. He needs your help too. You can only do that when you are calm.

Respond to your angry child

So, what do we do? Time out? Loss of screen time? Spanking? No, no and (definitely) no. Punishments after the fact don’t work. When a child becomes enraged, his brain stops working. He literally cannot remember any punishments (or lessons from those punishments). Punishing him may make us feel better, but it won’t help him learn to control his aggression.
Aggression is a red flag. It tells you that your child is hurting. The best way to help your son is to dig down to the root cause of that anger. Look him in the eye, and say, ‘You hurt your little brother. He is really scared. You must be feeling really bad to hurt your brother like that. What is going on?’
Studies show that empathy from parents leads to reduced risk for aggression in their kids. Stay compassionate while you work through the issues. Give cuddles and comfort.
And when your child is calm, help him brainstorm better ways to respond (calling out for help, walking away, speaking firmly). Help him practice those responses so that they become easy to implement before he loses control.

Show him you love him.

Finally, show him love – kids need to know that their parent’s love for them is unconditional even when they’ve misbehaved. There’s no need to worry that you are somehow reinforcing his bad behaviour by showing love. The reality is, you’re giving a hurting child exactly what he needs.

Lashing out or acting up are not attention-seeking behaviours. They’re connection-seeking behaviours.

The post What To Do When Your Child Lashes Out appeared first on Dr Justin Coulson's Happy Families.

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Helping Our Kids Feel Good By Doing Good

We all want our kids to feel good. Ice cream. Cake. Beach days. Playdates. These are all great for bringing joy. But typically, these good feelings don’t last. Once the ice cream is gone, or the playdate is over, our kids often lose the zest and pep they were feeling.

So, how do make and keep the feel-good feelings?

Feeling Good versus Doing Good

Ice cream, cake, beach days and playdates all ‘feel good’ but they don’t help us to have lasting happiness. Instead, feel-good pursuits give us an immediate rush of euphoria, but leave us craving for more.

And this can lead to an addictive cycle known as ‘the hedonic treadmill’. In that case, one cookie won’t be enough to give us good feelings, we’ll need two. And maybe the next week, we’ll need three. (Until we have so many that we feel bad. Really bad!)

Doing good, however, is the key to living a more meaningful and happier existence. The ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle knew it was true, and modern research bears it out – altruistic behaviours are associated with greater wellbeing, health and longevity. In short, we feel good when we do good.

And interestingly, people who feel good are more creative, more open to learning, have better psychological and physical resilience, less stress, anger, anxiety and depression, and more gratitude, empathy and compassion. It might sound trite and cheesy, but the happiness that comes from doing good for others seems to last longer and feel deeper.

Kind Kids

Every parent wants happy kids. It’s the most common answer I receive to the question, “What do you want most for your children?”

But how many of us knew that if you want kids to be happy, you should teach them to be kind?

Moreover, studies highlight that our kids actually want to be kind. They know it makes them happy! Research shows that from as young as 14 months old, kids consistently want to help others achieve individual goals and cooperate with others to achieve shared goals. This desire to help is something they’re born with – even that child of yours who doesn’t seem to want to help anyone!

In fact, a recent landmark study shows even very young kids find helpful and kind acts to be intrinsically rewarding. In this study, toddlers under the age of two exhibited greater happiness when they gave treats to others, compared to when they received treats themselves.

In other words, they want to help because they feel good when they do.

Teaching Our Kids to Do Good

Bottom line, kids want to help, and it makes them feel great. So, it’s our job to help fulfill this natural inclination by guiding them to age-appropriate opportunities to do so.

Here are 5 ways to do just that:

  1. Be a good role model. Kids learn to be helpful and kind from you.
  2. Perform small acts of kindness. You don’t have to run out and paint someone’s house or mow their lawn for a year – although you can. Being kind, saying something nice, helping tidy up; these small acts are just as powerful and effective.
  3. Make helping a family project. Get your kids involved when you take a meal to a family who have just had a new baby or visit a sick friend in the hospital.
  4. Be a good neighbour. In other words, help your kids learn to keep an eye on others, whether it really is your neighbour, or a boy on the soccer team. Teaching your kids to notice what’s going on in the lives of people in their community teaches awareness and empathy.
  5. Be grateful. Expressing gratitude is one of the best ways to do good. In fact, nothing can improve your life (and the life of others) like gratitude.
The Takeaway

Doing good is what makes us human. It lifts the burdens from others and lifts us by activating the joyful part of the brain. And teaching our kids to do good is the best way to help them have lasting ‘feel good’ feelings. Of course, you should eat cake too. But sharing it with a friend is even better.

 

 

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The Case Against Boredom

Recently there has been a groundswell of popular opinion extolling the value of letting our kids be bored. A recent New York Times article argued, ‘Boredom teaches us that life isn’t a parade of amusements. More important, it spawns creativity and self-sufficiency.’

The “experts” say: kids are over-scheduled these days; life is too busy; it’s not your job to entertain your children, so let them be bored. It’s good for them.

It’s tempting to jump on the boredom bandwagon and encourage everyone to stop stimulating their kids with so many opportunities, gizmos and classes.  But I can’t. It’s bad advice, and the research bears that out.

 

Boredom Makes Us Feel Bad

While these self-proclaimed experts claim that being bored will teach our kids to figure out how to amuse themselves and be creative, there isn’t any actual evidence to support that idea. In fact, I haven’t found a single study where boredom in our kids was studied at all.

Wherever these experts are getting their data from, it doesn’t seem to be science.

What limited data does exist comes from adult or young adult studies. And they support the opposite conclusion – that boredom is unpleasant, unsatisfying and leaves those suffering it with a craving for relief.

In fact, boredom is so powerful that in one study participants who were forced to spend time alone only with their thoughts chose to self-administer electric shocks rather than deal with being bored. Pain was preferable to boredom.

Boredom is Associated with Negative Outcomes

Boredom is also associated with negative outcomes and wellbeing, and can lead to unhealthy and unsafe choices.

Research indicates that students who are bored perform poorly at school, put in less effort, and have an increased likelihood of quitting school altogether.

Teens who are often bored are also 50% more likely than their peers to take up smoking, drinking and illegal drugs. And it’s a frequent trigger for binge eating. It also leads to an increased risk of depression and anxiety, and a diminished sense of life satisfaction and purpose.

Being bored is NOT good for our health.

The Argument: Boredom leads to Creativity

Some limited research does show how boredom can lead to creativity. And anecdotally parents know this is true. Think about a bored five-year-old who fancies a mohawk on his little sister or a bored 15-year-old who thinks he could probably manage to drive the car down the driveway.

Being bored leads to creative outcomes. But while people with high levels of self-control may motivate themselves to find positive, safe and healthy creative outlets for their boredom, not everyone responds to boredom wisely. I got up to more mischief as a teen when I was bored than I ever did when I was occupied.

Should We Let Them Be Bored?

It seems that whenever we have an issue, opinions become polarised. On one side are the ‘uber-parents’ that over-stimulate and over-schedule their kids. On the other side are those that believe children need to be bored.

I suggest a more moderate approach. Evidence supports providing enriching activities for our children. They offer opportunities to explore and expand interests and relationships and build confidence and competence.

And parents should be encouraging ‘down-time’, where activities are not scheduled and device usage is reduced. This is not boredom but a time when children can autonomously choose how to re-create themselves. We can help by having play dates, setting up a table for painting or providing a smorgasbord of books.

This gives them the space, time and opportunity to develop the emotional and cognitive resources that will enable them to pursue their own creative interests in a safe and beneficial way.

Let’s stop pushing our kids too hard or giving them something to swipe or stare at every time they complain that they lack stimulation. But let’s also stop encouraging boredom. There’s no evidence to support it. And what evidence does exist suggests it’s harmful.

 

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Tips to Strengthen Your Marriage While Raising Kids

Having kids really does change the dynamics of a family unit, but it doesn’t have to ruin your marriage. Learning new ways to strengthen your marriage while raising kids will ensure that you keep your bond together while dealing with the ever-changing lives of your kids. Today I’m featuring a few tips to strengthen your marriage while raising kids so that you can feel better together and keep that marital bond strong through all the stages of raising kids together.

Have Date Nights at Home
Try to schedule a date night at home for just the two of you after the kids go to sleep. Check out these ideas to bond with your spouse at home.

Switch up Chores
It can become quite mundane when each of you do the same chores every day or week. Try switching out chores so that your partner does a chore that you normally do a few times a month. Ask the kids to help with the chores, too, to free up more of your own time. It’s also great to surprise your spouse by doing a task they normally do during a particularly tough week.

Do Something New
Gather up the kids and try something new every couple of months as a family unit. This will keep the family bond solid and help strengthen your marriage as you work together to plan a new activity that the entire family can experience together. Our family likes to sneak away for a long weekend once every few months.

Fight Smarter
All marriages have disagreements, but it’s not worth a huge fight over. Learn to fight smarter and practicing saying “I hear you” more often than not. This will ensure you both communicate effectively and feel the bond of marriage grow stronger.

Be Affectionate
Make time to cuddle up together and enjoy each other’s physical company. Many married couples get so busy raising the kids and working a job that they neglect to realize that affection matters. Take time each day to hold your partner’s hand, give them a hug, and a kiss no matter what.

Go to Bed Early or Sleep In
When your kids start to get older you can work to strengthen your marriage by sneaking off to an earlier bedtime on weekends while letting your older kids hold the fort down. Older kids can easily be trusted to have their own later bedtime while you and your partner get some extra sleep. On weekends, set out granola bars or cereal to allow yourselves a few extra minutes of sleep.

There are many ways you can work to strengthen your marriage while raising kids. The true key is to take time to show each other that you still matter. Small gestures like affection, switching chores or having a game date night at home can make all the difference in staying reunited as a happily married couple while raising kids.

The post Tips to Strengthen Your Marriage While Raising Kids appeared first on Healthy Happy Thrifty Family.

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Colorado Springs Family Friendly Hikes that are Great for Kids

I wanted to share our favorite hiking spots in (and around) Colorado Springs! Some, but not all, of these would be suitable for strollers or younger children, so make sure to read about each one before you head out!

Colorado Springs Family Friendly Hikes that are Great for Kids

Garden of the Gods

This is a great place to hike as a family, as there are trails with different levels of difficulty. This is a popular tourist spot, so it can get busy on weekends and during the summer months. If you want an easy trail, you can stroll around the central garden trail area. This area around the main formations is paved, accessible and suitable for strollers. Restrooms are also available at the main parking area. For something a bit more challenging, we love the Siamese Twins trail. It has a great view of Pikes Peak at the top. It’s an intermediate level trail with some stairs.
Garden of the Gods website

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Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Red Rock Canyon has similar red rock to Garden of the Gods but is usually less crowded. The parking lot that has picnic table and portable restrooms. While not paved, the Red Rock Canyon Trail is a wide access road and is stroller friendly. You pass a small pond on this trail, where you might see ducks or other wildlife. My kids really enjoy exploring the quarry, particularly the steps carved in the rock. If you continue of the quarry trail, it is not stroller friendly.
Red Rock Canyon website

Painted Mines Interpretative Park

(Calhan, CO)
A short distance from Colorado Springs, the Paint Mines are worth the drive! The formation are really cool and you can walk right down to them. From either entrance, you’ll have to walk less than a mile to access the beautiful formations. The area around the formations is not stroller friendly. Portable restrooms are available at the parking areas.
Paint Mines website

Helen Hunt Falls and Silver Cascade Falls

Helen Hunt Falls is located just steps away from the parking lot in North Cheyenne Canyon Park. There is also a visitor center and portable restrooms. You can climb stairs to view the waterfall from a bridge across the top. If you continue up the trail about half a mile you can also view Silver Cascade Falls. That is a more difficult trail with stairs and a significant elevation gain. It’s best for older children and isn’t suitable for strollers.
Helen Hunt/Silver Cascade website

Seven Bridges

The is a longer intermediate trail at about 4 miles total to go out and back. There is a 0.7 mile hike from the parking lot to the trail head. The access road is stroller friendly, but the trail itself is not. There are no restroom facilities. It’s a bit challenging in spots, so it’s probably best for school-age children. If you’re taking younger kids, a backpack carrier would be a good idea. There are seven numbered bridges along the trail, so it keeps the kids motivated to find the next one. The trail runs along and crosses North Cheyenne Creek. This trail gets busy on weekend, and it can be difficult to find parking by mid-day.
Finding this trail is a bit tricky. Drive into Cheyenne Canyon toward Helen Hunt Falls. Once you pass the Helen Hunt Falls visitor center keep going up until you get to a large unpaved parking area. From there, you’ll want walk up Gold Camp road. You go past the gate on the West side of the parking lot (not High Drive!) for 0.7 miles until you hit the Seven Bridges trail head marker 622.
Seven Bridges website

Do you know of other great family hiking spots in Colorado Springs? Share them in the comments!

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Making Pocket Money Easier

My 9-year-old was carrying $48 in her wallet. Cash. She’s been saving well for some time, and the cash has accumulated. Her plan was to walk to the shops with her big sister to buy a treat.

Me:     I’d prefer that you didn’t take all that money in your wallet. I’d hate for you to lose it.

Her:    But dad if I leave my money here someone might take it (she was referring to her little sister who, aged 5, has a history of pinching cash when she finds it) or I might forget where I put it!

Me:     But if you take it to the shops you could lose it all if you put your wallet down…

And around and around we went.

I don’t like my kids carrying cash. And they don’t like leaving cash laying around in their room (or anywhere in the house).

A few days later (it was school holiday time) my 12-year-old tells me she wants to go to the movies and

Her:    Can I please have some money?

Me:     I don’t have any cash. (After checking with wife and realising we’re all empty…) You’ll have to take my credit card.

Her:    (Eyes light up) Oh, ok. How much can I spend?

Me:     Just tap it. And no more than (and then I think I mumbled some random amount that I hoped would be enough)

I hate giving my kids my credit card but when there’s no cash, sometimes there’s no other option. (One of my friends gave her daughter the credit card for the movies and it cost them over $100! That’s a lot of popcorn and ice-cream!!)

Three days later I received an email about ZAAP.

“The Universe” provided the solution.

In a nutshell, ZAAP is Australia’s first pre-paid Mastercard for kids. And no – it’s not a credit card. It’s literally a card (or wristband) that your kids can use instead of cash. And they can only spend the money that you’ve loaded onto the card via an app. It’s easy. It’s safe. It has literally solved my pocket-money problems.

Here’s how it works:

First, I went to zaap.com.au and ordered our ZAAP cards and bands (the kids can choose from over 50 designs or design their own). Time taken: about two minutes.

A few days later when the ZAAP package arrived, I downloaded the ZAAP app and followed the instructions to activate their ZAAP account set up an automatic transfer from my parent wallet (facility within the ZAAP app) to happen every Sunday night without me thinking about it, and that’s about it. Time taken: about 5 minutes.

It’s that simple. I kid you not.

Now each Monday morning when they wake up, their pocket money is on their card and all set to go. Pocket money paid, and no issues trying to find cash to give them or worrying that they’ll lose their money. Oh, and I’m not handing over my credit card when they need cash and no one has any.

And it’s brilliant.

If I’d had ZAAP my 9-year-old wouldn’t have any cash concerns on her trip to Woolies for a treat. The wristband has “tap” functionality which means the kids don’t even have to carry their card in their wallet, so my 12-year-old could have tapped her wristband at the cinema with cash I’d instantly transferred from my account on the spot.

The kids’ eyes lit up when their cards and wristbands arrived in the mail. They felt so grown up. And our first trip to the shops (so they could buy a treat by tapping their wristband) was gorgeous. They walked like they were 3 metres tall.

We’ve only been using ZAAP for a short while, but here’s what we love:

  • Mostly, we love the convenience. Pocket money is automatically set up to transfer. The kids don’t need to hassle us for money.
  • We love that the kids don’t have to carry (and lose) cash but they still have access to funds
  • It’s a relief to not get stuck handing over our credit card when we have no cash spare
  • The ZAAP app has a spending and saving component which has allowed us to have some really important money conversations, and since the kids can log into the app too, they’re excited to see their savings grow. The financial literacy component of ZAAP is something we really like
  • The kids feel so independent
  • A couple of times the kids have needed some cash and we’ve been able to do an instant top up in the ZAAP app. One daughter called from a friend’s house wanting $10 to grab lunch unexpectedly. I opened the app, did the transfer and she had money available on her card and wristband within about 10 seconds.

There’s the added bonus that for parents who want to know exactly what their kids are up to, the app shows you where your kids are spending their hard-earned pocket money (and how much they’re spending). The ZAAP app gives you peace of mind, or it highlights important conversations to have with your kids when you notice their spending habits aren’t wise.

Is ZAAP something you need?

Of course not. There are loads of ways to help the kids out financially without ZAAP. In our family, we’ve done them all.

But the reality is, we haven’t liked some of the ways we’ve had to deal with money and kids in the past. We’ve wondered what they’re spending. We’ve seen them lose cash – sometimes significant amounts. We’ve worried someone was going to steal their wallet. And we’ve handed the credit card over more times than we’d like to admit.

So, even though this is a sponsored post, we have felt that ZAAP is logical, convenient, and safe. It’s a simple idea that gives parents a little more control, kids a little more freedom, offers security, and makes transferring money to the kids (and their access to it) friction free.

Check out ZAAP at www.zaap.com.au.

 

* This is a sponsored post. Dr Justin Coulson is a paid spokesman for ZAAP.

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It takes a village… but the village is sick

In recent weeks, to surprisingly little fanfare, the Morrison Federal Government has announced a new Children’s Mental Health Strategy. Announced by Health Minister, Greg Hunt, at the National Press Club, the strategy is aimed squarely at building resilience in childhood to prevent mental illness for all Australians.

Minister Hunt has been explicit: Primary School-aged children will be the target of this strategy. Its focus is a systematic approach to identifying and treating depression, anxiety, and eating disorders in children.

While little has been written or said about the strategy, this initiative must be applauded loud and long. We know that approximately 1 in 7 children experience mental health issues. This number is rising. It is increasingly obvious that anxiety has become the common cold of mental health disorders, with children as young as four routinely diagnosed with some form of anxiety, and the numbers of children taking medication for mental health issues (such as depression, ADHD, and anxiety) continuing to rise. Half of all mental health conditions in adulthood emerge by the time a child is 14.

Supporting children by supporting their parents

We also know that effective programs for supporting parents have positive impact. We can reduce depression by over 20% by providing the right support as prevention. Government intervention that includes preventive screening to identify mental health issues early is vital. But what may be even more helpful is Government education and incentives aimed at supporting families as they seek to raise their children resilient. For example:

Paid parental leave during the vulnerable transition to parenthood and its attendant risks of post-natal depression (for both mums and dads) would support families and provide a powerful support structure to assist families at the arrival of a new child. Economic pressures force parents to make decisions that are rarely in the best interests of either the child or parents as they rush back to work to meet financial obligations.

Supporting children by reducing pressure

The Federal Government could also encourage states to make changes to early childhood and early school years curricula to encourage more play and reduce (or eliminate) formal testing of children up until at least Grade 4. The Western Australian State School Teacher’s Union is actively campaigning for more physical activity and play-based learning in the early years because we know this approach encourages better mental health and improved academic outcomes in children. Shifting away from homework in the early years would also be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, and encouraging wellbeing.

Building and protecting the family

The Federal Government’s Raising Children Network offers useful resources for parents. But the most useful focus for the Government would be to focus on initiatives and strategies that build and protect the family. This is because Government initiatives can support, but never replace, the protective factors for wellbeing necessary to raise children resilient.

Creating a healthy parenting environment is a significant protective factor. Parents who experience mental illness are at greater risk of developing disruptive attachment patterns with their children which can negatively impact on that child’s mental health. Moreover, research indicates that there is often an intergenerational transmission of mental illness. By providing skills and resources to assist parents to manage their mental health more effectively, children will be more likely to be born into families that can flourish.

Supporting the most vulnerable

Cost of mental health support is also a factor, and those most vulnerable to mental illness often have the least financial resources. While many struggling families receive in-person support from qualified case-work personnel with government assistance, such help is sometimes unreliable due to stretched and stressed workers carrying loads far too large for any one person.

What can WE do?

Beyond government intervention, we can also work responsibly ourselves to support our children’s wellbeing. Research is abundantly clear to a child LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E. Children flourish when parents are available to enjoy quality time together. Even better if that is time spent outside. Nature is fuel for the soul – ours and our children’s.

Finally, reducing pressure on our kids is vital. The trend towards hiring tutors for pre-school-aged children and the push-down of pressure for academic success at younger ages is not in our children’s best interests. When our ladder of success is focused on economics and academics, we become unbalanced. It profits our children nothing to be rich and well-educated, yet miserable and anxious.

Connections with parents and peers, developmentally appropriate skill acquisition through play, physical activity outside (daily), time to be still (without screens), and the opportunity to give to something larger than the self are scientifically shown to bolster mental health and sustain resilience through life’s challenges. It takes a village, sure. But the village needs to slow down and concentrate on what matters most.

 

The post It takes a village… but the village is sick appeared first on Dr Justin Coulson's Happy Families.

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Back to School Snacking with Once Again

I feel like I say this every year, but the summer went way too fast! It’s already time to start thinking about school lunches and after school snacks! I try not to limit how many individually packaged snacks we use to help with the grocery budget, while keeping the snacks somewhat healthy! I also like to keep things simple, with minimal prep needed!

We had the opportunity to try Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread, so I’m including that in our back to school snacking! We already love the Once Again Nut Butters in smoothies and on biscuits, but it was our first chance to try this dessert spread. Thanks to Mom’s Meet for the free samples!

Fruits and Veggies for Dipping!

My kids love fresh fruits and vegetables, especially when they have something to dip in. We like to dip our veggies in hummus or guacamole. This Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread was great for dipping berries and apples! It’s a little sweet with milk chocolate, but also has a great almond flavor! As you can imagine, this plate disappeared in just a few minutes. And, I may have found someone licking the bowl!

Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread on Toast

My kids also love the Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread on toast. We always eat our toast as a sandwich to control the mess! When I’m feeling motivated, we use food cutters to make fun bite-sized shapes with our sandwiches, but these were simple triangles!

More About Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread

The spread is gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, and healthier than other dessert butters.

You can find Once Again products at most natural food stores and also on Amazon.com -> Use this store locator for a full list of locations!

Nursing Mamas – Try subbing Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread for the peanut butter in these No Bake Lactation Cookies!

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Starting Kindergarten with TinkerActive Workbooks

My youngest started Kindergarten last week. We’re doing a combination of homeschooling and a public school enrichment program. I was so excited to add TinkerActive Workbooks to our library. They’re not your typical workbook! There are fun activities that can be done right in the book, and hands on projects that help reinforce the skills. It’s so refreshing to find a workbook that encourages outside the box thinking and learning through play. Most of the activities are flexible, so you can modify them to meet your needs or the supplies you have available. My daughter was extra excited to find out that some activities have stickers involved! At the end of the workbook, they get a special badge as a prize!

I received complimentary TinkerActive workbooks as part of a Moms Meet blogger program. All opinions are my own.

Starting Kindergarten with TinkerActive Workbooks

Learning about Weather, Seasons, and Sun

With summer coming to an end, it was the perfect time to talk about weather and the changing seasons. We had out first cool morning today, and we talked about how our clothing would be changing for the cooler weather. We’ll have to start wearing a light jacket in the morning!

Talking About Melting

My daughter loves playing with ice an watching it melt. We tested it out in the sun and the shade to see which melted first. Then we tested it on different surfaces.

Shadow Art

My older kids wanted to do this, too. It was a lot of fun! We used our plastic animals and traced their shadows. It was fun to do some art outdoors while enjoying the beautiful weather!

Reverse Shadows

My daughter wanted to make the letter R as a shadow, so we used some natural materials to try it out.

Learning about Numbers, Counting and Sorting

The beginning of the books includes counting numbers up to 20. We had fun reviewing our numbers. My daughter loves the MotMots, which are cute, fuzzy creatures that appear throughout the books.

We went outside and did more counting and sorting while playing!

I love how these workbooks are so interactive. They’re great for visual, auditory and especially kinesthetic learners and aligned to common core standards!

Where to Purchase TinkerActive Workbooks

TinkerActive Workbooks are available wherever books are sold. To buy online click here.

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8 Quick + Powerful Videos That Will Make You an Even Better Parent

Inside: Here are the best, most inspirational positive parenting videos that will make you a better parent, especially on the days when you lose your cool.

Every parent I know would love to stay calm, cool, and collected no matter what their kid throws at them.

But when your toddler unspools a roll of toilet paper into the toilet bowl and flushes, and overflowing musty wastewater all over your hardwood floors?

It’s human nature. Your emotions are bound to get the better of you. While you clean up the mess, you might huff, stomp, or raise your voice in frustration.

So much for being a calm and loving parent no matter what.

The Secret to Being a Calm Parent Isn’t What You Think

I used to think that if I could just figure out the secret for becoming a “zen mama,” positive parenting would come naturally to me every moment of the day.

But then I had an epiphany that changed my whole outlook on positive parenting.

Here’s the important thing I realized: Many people want to have a happy life. But happiness isn’t something you achieve one day and check off your list.

Being a calm parent is the same way. It’s not something you check off your list and never have to think of again. It’s a temporary state.

In other words, nobody can be perfectly happy all the time, just like nobody can be a perfectly calm parent all the time.

When you're struggling to be a calm parent, try these positive parenting videos

Here’s What You Can Do: Quick Positive Parenting Videos

In order to exist in that calm parenting mode as much as possible, we need to continually inspire ourselves to be better, more chill parents.

But if we’re being honest with ourselves?

As busy parents, we don’t always have the time or mental…freshness to read long think-pieces about parenting in the New York Times.

Sure, we need to keep reminding ourselves of our positive parenting goals, but how are we supposed to focus long enough to read a parenting book or inspirational article?

My favorite quick fix is to watch one of a few powerful positive parenting videos I’ve curated over the years.

Related: 24 Best YouTube Videos for Kids to Change How They See The World

8 Positive Parenting Videos That Will Make You a Better Parent

Below, you’ll find a list of the best, most inspirational parenting videos I’ve discovered over the years.

Not only that, they’re short – perfect for when you need a quick dose of inspiration to reclaim your zen parent status.

When you’re struggling to keep your cool because your kid Facetimed your boss while you were in the shower, watch one of these quick positive parenting videos and you’ll get back on track.

Go ahead and bookmark this page, and come back to it when you need to.

Also, I know firsthand that a houseful of loud kids can make it impossible to watch even a short video. So where possible, I’ve also included snippets of quotes from the videos so you can quickly scan for inspiration.

1. Does Your Face Light Up?

When Toni Morrison made an appearance on Oprah to talk about her books, she just so happened to drop one of the most powerful pearls of parenting wisdom I’ve ever heard.

“When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. And so, you think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them.

It’s not.

When they see you, they see the critical face. ‘What’s wrong now?’

But then if you let your…face speak what’s in your heart? When they walked in the room, I was glad to see them. It’s just as small as that.” – Toni Morrison

2. Which Wolf Will Win the Fight?

This is a powerful analogy about two wolves fighting in your heart. When I watch this, I think of the red wolf as the anger and frustration I feel as a parent – and everything clicks.

“There is a story, usually attributed to the Native American tradition, which illuminates different ways of paying attention.

An elder, talking to a child, says, ‘I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is fearful, vengeful, envious, resentful, and deceitful. The other wolf is compassionate, loving, generous, truthful, and peaceful.’

The child asks, ‘Which wolf will win the fight?’

The elder responds, ‘The one I feed.’

…That doesn’t mean we try to deny or hurt or kill the angry wolf. If we did that, we’d end up in a long battle, all the while somehow making that wolf more powerful through our hostility and fear.”

3. Things We Should Say More Often

This is just one of many gems from Kid President. Too often, we forget that our kids deserve the same courtesy and kindness that we would extend to one of our adult friends. Out of all these powerful + positive parenting videos, this one is most likely to put a big smile on your face!

Here’s a sample of the list…

20. Thank you. (And not just on Thanksgiving, everyday!)
19. Excuse me.
18. Here’s a surprise corn dog that I bought you because you’re my friend. (There’ll be more corn dogs and more happy people. This is a good idea!)
17. I’m sorry.
16. I forgive you.
15. You can do it!

4. Love the Kid You Have

This short film has no dialogue but always reminds me of this quote:

“Parenthood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you’d have. It’s about understanding your child is exactly the person they are supposed to be. And if you’re lucky, they might be the teacher who turns you into the person you’re supposed to be.” – The Water Giver

To read more about this short film, check out How Society Kills Your Creativity – In An Award Winning Pixar-Esque Short Film.

5. The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto

This clip is from an appearance on Oprah with Dr. Brené Brown, who is a researcher, professor, and author. Dr. Brown is also a parent, and Oprah asked her to share her Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto.

Here’s a taste for you:

“Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable.

You will learn this from my words and my actions, the lessons on love, and how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness.

You will learn that you are worthy of love belonging in joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability.

We’ll share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both…” – Dr. Brené Brown

6. The Way We Talk to Kids Matters

This video is a little different than the other positive parenting videos in the list because it’s targeted to people who work in schools. Still, this one always makes me reflect on my own tone as a parent.

And when the school administrator talks to the teacher about her students’ behavior, I cringe because I have definitely done the same when telling my husband about our kids’ behavior…in front of the kids.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. Everyone we meet throughout our day can make a difference. All the difference.

Talk with us, not at us.

Teach us what we need to know. That’s how we get smarter.

And when you talk with us and teach us, give us bigger and bigger words. Words that we can use to read and understand. And that will take us places we could never reach without you.”

7. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen to You

Josh Shipp is a parent, author, and advocate for youth. He has a few great positive parenting videos, but this one’s my favorite.

“When you ask a kid a question, you are inviting and evoking critical thinking. And ultimately as parents, that’s what we want. A fully functioning teenage human being who – without us there, in our absence – can analyze a situation and know in that moment what the wise choice is.

Focus on questions [and] get them to come to those conclusions so they will own those conclusions for life.” – Josh Shipp

8. Your Normal May Be Their Magic

This sweet video shows a normal day from both the mother’s and the child’s perspectives. Never forget that your “normal” may be their magic.

Download my FREE cheat sheet as a bonus for joining my newsletter: 16 Miracle Phrases to Help You Reconnect With Your Child

Your Turn

What are your favorite positive parenting videos? Share in a comment below!

8 Best Positive Parenting Videos to Make You a Better Parent

Author information

Kelly

I’m a mom of four, a recovering perfectionist, and the author of Happy You, Happy Family. Parenting is hard enough without all the guilt we heap on top of ourselves. So let’s stop trying to be perfect parents and just be real ones. Sound good? Join my mailing list and as a bonus, you’ll get 25+ incredibly helpful cheat sheets that will ease your parenting struggles.

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