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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Teachers Agree: Kids Who Travel Do Better in School

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Here’s a good reason to book that overseas excursion.

If you’re looking for an excuse to book your dream family vacation, here’s one you’ll love: Kids who travel do better in school, according to a survey of those who know best—teachers.

More than 1,500 teachers were surveyed as part of a poll commissioned by the Student and Youth Travel Association, and more than half (56 percent) said travel has “a very positive impact on students’ education and career.” And almost three-quarters (74 percent) of educators agreed that travel has “a very positive impact on students’ personal development.”

The survey specifically took a look at the benefits of student travel—i.e. far-flung field trips. Surprisingly, teachers are a fan, even though the trips take kids away from the classroom.

Students don’t usually have time to practice their reading, writing and arithmetic while traveling, so just how does it help them get ahead in school? According to the survey, 53 percent of teachers say the first-hand experience of exploring a new area or culture helps students better understand the curricula, while another 54 percent say it positively impacts their performance at school.

That’s because travel often inspires a “transformation”—an increased ambition to know, learn and explore, they report.

It makes sense. Traveling to another state or country is an eye-opening experience. Learning about other regions, cultures, religions and languages help children grasp big-picture concepts like tolerance and curiosity—and those skills can help tremendously in the classroom. Teachers said student travel led to more intellectual curiosity (55 percent), increased tolerance of other cultures and ethnicities (52 percent) and increased tolerance and respect overall (48 percent).

Learning how to navigate a new place also helps build self-reliance. Teachers also reported that student travel led to increased independence, self-esteem and confidence (56 percent) and better adaptability and sensitivity (49 percent).

While the survey mostly focused on student travel, it’s easy to imagine the same benefits apply when traveling with family. So don’t feel guilty about booking an exotic getaway with your kids. After all, teachers agree: It’s educational.

 

This article was written by Audrey Goodson Kingo from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Millennial Parents Are Ditching *This* Bedtime Ritual (and, According to Science, It’s Important to Bring It Back)

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Rock-a-Bye Baby, Tura Lura Lura, Frère Jacques—all were as signature to your childhood bedtime routine as bath, books and lights out.

Not anymore, according to a new YouGov poll commissioned by the Lullaby Trust  (and reported on by The Telegraph) in the UK.

Nowadays, just over a third of new parents with kids under the age of five sing lullabies at bedtime, per the study. Not only that, the majority of parents who do are age 45 or older, which means that millennial parents are phasing out the musically-inspired bedtime tradition almost altogether.

But here’s the rub: Numerous studies—including this one out of the University of Montreal—report that singing keeps babies calm twice as long as talking to them. Lullabies are also scientifically proven to be an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional well-being, according to Sally Goddard-Blythe, director of the UK’s Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology.

So, whether you sound like Céline Dion or Countess Luann, it may be worth delaying bedtime another three to five minutes so you can make time for a lullaby. And if your kid nods off even a hair faster than typical? Well, that’s just a credit to you.

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Set Up a Playdate for Your Kid When You Don’t Know Where to Start

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Recently, I was lamenting to my friend (a kindergarten teacher) that I wanted my son to have more playdates but didn’t know where to begin. I’m not super close with the other parents, and the idea of calling up a near stranger and asking her to come over with her child at 11 a.m. on a Saturday felt, well, daunting. More to the point, I actually didn’t even know whom to approach, since my son’s narration of his life at preschool is suspect, to say the least. (Oh really? Your best buddy is Marshall from Paw Patrol?) 

My friend (never one to let me wallow) had a genius idea: Ask his teachers who he plays with.

Emboldened, I texted the head teacher, Diane, letting her know that I was looking to set up some weekend playdates and wanted her advice for who to invite. Within 30 seconds, she had responded: Caroline, Jake, Asher and Rosie.*

I then dug up the preschool listserve and emailed the moms one by one. “Hey! I was chatting with Diane the other day, and she mentioned that our kids have been playing together really well. We’d love to host a playdate so they could see each other on the weekend some time.”

The response was overwhelming. As it turns out, everyone was feeling the same way—wanting to plan social get-togethers but nervous to make the first move. And, because I was inviting kids we knew he got along with, the playdates have, for the most part, gone really well. (What’s a pee accident or two among friends?) 

The takeaway: Your child’s teachers are angels from heaven. Ask them for help. And give them really nice Christmas gifts.

*Names have been changed to protect the non-toy-sharers

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Six ways to raise a resilient child

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Helping our children navigate the stresses and strains of daily life is more important than ever. Figures released in November last year by NHS Digital show a worrying rise in young people’s mental health problems; sadly, my experience as a GP confirms this. One in eight children aged between five and 19 in England has a diagnosable mental health condition; the prevalence of emotional disorders, including anxiety and depression, has risen by 48% since 2004. “The pressures young people face range from school stress, bullying and worries about job and housing prospects, to concerns around body image,” says Emma Saddleton, helpline manager at the charity YoungMinds.

While we may not be able to remove all these challenges, we can pass on skills to help young people cope with stress and adversity. “It’s what’s known as resilience,” Saddleton says. “The ability to overcome difficult experiences and be shaped positively by them.” Our brains respond to the information around us, so resilience can be taught, modelled and nurtured at any age. “By doing this, through strong support networks and encouraging communication, we can help young people understand when they feel down and know what they can do to make themselves feel better,” she adds.

As a parent myself – I have a son of eight and a daughter of six – it’s something that’s high on my agenda, and I’ve discovered some effective techniques. Crucially, they don’t require you to overhaul your parenting style, but simply to make a few tweaks that will help your children thrive.

Have one-on-one time with each child, without distractions

I have a full-on job, two school-age children, and an elderly mother to care for, so I understand that we’re all busy; I’m not trying to pile on the guilt. But I’ll never forget what my daughter, then four, said one day. We were working on a jigsaw, but I kept nipping to the kitchen to check my phone. When I rejoined her for the third or fourth time, she rightly observed, “Daddy, you’re not really here, are you?”

Resilience comes from relationships; children need nurturing. It’s not a magical “inner strength” that helps kids through tough times; instead, it’s the reliable presence of one, supportive relationship, be it parent, teacher, relative, family friend or healthcare practitioner. My key point is, it’s quality, not quantity, that counts. Ten minutes of fully focused attention is better than an hour when your mind is on other things. If you’re on your tablet at the dinner table, you’re teaching them it’s OK to always be distracted. And that they are not important enough for your sole attention.

One-on-one time doesn’t have to be time carved out of an already hectic schedule. Make bathtime, car journeys, meals, queues count. Chat, listen, talk about your feelings, encourage them to express theirs. Once these one-to-ones become regular, your children will know they always have a safe space to open up.

Give sleep a chance

I see so many children who are struggling to sleep, waking tired, with dark circles under their eyes. A lack of good-quality sleep is a huge driver for stress: it has a negative effect on memory, concentration, cognitive function, and decision-making.

One of the fastest ways to improve sleep – for all of us – is to limit screen time before bed. The type of blue light emitted by digital devices suppresses production of melatonin, the hormone that signals to the body it’s time for sleep. In addition, looking at screens before bed keeps us emotionally wired and stimulated, making it harder for us to switch off.

It’s a steely parent who can ban tech completely, and I don’t think you need to. But I would urge you to issue a household ban on devices at least an hour before bedtime. Turn off the wifi, if need be. (TV isn’t so bad if you need that as a compromise; we tend not to sit as close to the screen.)

Earlier in the evening, insist everyone uses “night-time mode” on their devices, which swaps the blue light for a warmer glow. You can download apps that do this (such as f:lux), too, or buy blue-light-cancelling glasses. It’s also worth switching your children’s night lights to red ones – red has the least impact on melatonin production. When I did this in my children’s rooms, they slept in more than an hour later the next morning.

Get out and exercise

We all know that regular activity is important, and that most of us, children included, need to do more of it. But what if I told you that, as well as keeping them physically fit, exercise will increase your child’s resilience? It actually strengthens the brain.

It’s well documented that exercise is on a par with medication when it comes to treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety. This could be because it gets the body used to moving more fluidly in and out of the stress state. The same hormones released when we’re stressed (cortisol and adrenaline) are raised temporarily when we exercise. Regular physical activity teaches our stress-response system to recover more efficiently.

It can be a lot of fun to do this together, and I’ve learned that kids do what they see us doing, not what we tell them to. I’m a big fan of “movement snacking” – short bursts of exercise throughout the day. I’ll put on the radio before dinner and we’ll all dance around in the kitchen. Or my kids will join me doing squats, star jumps, bear crawls or frog hops. The sillier I look, the more they seem to enjoy it.

Teach delayed gratification

Resilience means understanding you can’t always have what you want as soon as you want it. It’s an important concept to pass on in the age of Amazon Prime, Spotify, Netflix and Uber. Psychology teaches us that people who can accept delayed gratification lead happier, healthier lives. Without the ability to defer pleasure and reward, our kids are losing an important skill for their wellbeing.

One of the best ways to teach it? Playing board games. These require impulse control, turn-taking, and mental flexibility. They exercise the prefrontal cortex, the rational part of the brain involved in decision-making, emotional regulation and, yes, resilience. Board games are also a good way for you to model resilience by being a good loser.

But there are no shortage of other ways to encourage delayed gratification: learning a musical instrument; listening to whole albums instead of skipping from track to track online; mastering a new sport; even watching a TV series together week by week, instead of bingeing in a couple of sittings.

Eat the alphabet

Nutrition has a significant impact on mental health. Good-quality food changes the composition of our gut bugs, which helps send calm signals to the brain. Poor-quality, highly processed food sends stress signals instead. A diverse diet, rich in fibre, will lead to greater diversity in our gut bugs, which in turn will help make us more resilient, and anxiety and depression less likely. Persuading kids to eat more healthily can feel like an uphill battle, though, especially if they’re fussy, so this is not about becoming a top chef – just trying a few tricks that can really benefit them emotionally.

Related: ‘It’s been bittersweet’: three Indian women on 50 years in the UK

I like to challenge the whole family to “eat the alphabet” over 30 days. I think it’s a realistic goal to consume 26 different plant foods in a month: A for asparagus, B for banana, C for chickpeas, and so on. It turns healthy eating into a game, and encourages children to try new foods. Turn it into a competition and see who can tick off all the letters first.

Model gratitude

Instead of pestering your children with questions such as, “How was school?” and, “What did you do today?”, teach them to reframe their day.

The following is a game I learned from a friend, who played it with his daughter over dinner. Everyone must answer three questions:

1) What did someone do today to make you happy?

2) What did you do to make someone else happy?

3) What have you learned today?

I love this simple exercise for how it helps us all find the positive in every day. It teaches gratitude, nurtures optimism, and recognises kindness. It doesn’t matter what may have happened at work or school, or how stressed any of us may have felt when we sat down at the table; the whole mood seems to lift once we’ve played this game. I learn things about my kids that they’d probably never have thought to tell me otherwise. Try it. It might just become the highlight of your day.

 

This article was written by Dr Rangan Chatterjee from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

What Is Authoritative Parenting and Should You Try It?

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While The Goddard School does not endorse the use of time-outs to discipline children, we do understand that parents have their own philosophies on parenting, so we present this article in its entirety.

You know what they say: Raising a kid doesn’t come with instructions. Fortunately, there are a few helpful tools at your disposal, including a tried-and-true parenting technique called “authoritative parenting.” Here’s what you need to know.

What is it? Coined by developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind in the 1960s, authoritative parenting is a style of child-rearing characterized by setting high expectations for your kids but giving them the resources and emotional support they need to succeed. It’s considered to be the happy medium between authoritarian parenting (where the focus is on obedience and punishment) and permissive parenting (a style with a lot of warmth but few rules). In other words? It’s all about balance. Experts agree that authoritative parenting leads to happier and healthier children who are well-equipped to handle future challenges.

How do I do it? Authoritative parents are warm and nurturing, making sure to listen to children and validate their feelings. But they also let them know that there are consequences for bad behavior and consistently enforce these boundaries. Unlike authoritarian parents, however, they don’t expect their kids to obey blindly—they take the time to explain why and work with their child to turn mistakes into learning opportunities. Here’s how an authoritative parent might handle their kid hitting another child.

Child: Charlie took my toy away!

You: It’s all right that you’re angry right now.

Child: I want my toy back.

You: I understand that you wanted to get your toy back. But hitting someone is not OK and when you do that, you get a time-out. 

Child: I don’t want a time-out.

You: Hitting is not nice. When you hit someone, it hurts them and it could be dangerous. Can you think of something else you could do the next time someone takes your toy away instead of hitting?

Child: Get a grown-up? 

You: That’s a really good idea. After your time-out, let’s think about some more things you can do when you get upset so that you don’t hit.

The important thing here is to follow through (don’t forgo the time-out just because your kid looks miserable and it was kind of Charlie’s fault) and to let your kid know that you’re here to help them learn how to navigate the conflict.

How does it work? Authoritative parenting fosters independence, teaching kids how to be responsible and make good decisions on their own. Consistent rules also help kids know what to expect, ensuring they’re not anxious or confused about who’s in charge. (That’s you, obviously.) Sure, it’s more work than authoritarian or permissive parenting, but like most things in life, the extra effort is so worth it.

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

8 Parenting Trends That Will Be Huge in 2019

Parenting is all about personal style: Maybe you’re relaxed and free-range, maybe you’re a total worrywart. That said, parenting trends do come and go. (Remember the rise and fall of the Tiger Mom?). Here’s what’s hot in the kid-rearing world for 2019. (Take from it what you will.)

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Authoritative Parenting

This trend is a bit like Goldilocks: As a mom (or dad), you’re not too strict/rigid, but you’re also not a total pushover. Authoritative parents (a term coined by developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind) are flexible and more democratic, a balance-focused approach that’s picking up steam going into 2019. A few common traits of the authoritative style: Having expectations for kids, but providing them with the resources and emotional support they need to succeed; listening to your children and pivoting based on their opinions; placing limits on their behavior and fair and consistent discipline when rules are broken.

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Raindrop Baby Names

If you’ve noticed a lot of Liams, Arias, or Emmas in your kid’s class, you’re not alone. So-called “raindrop” names pack two or more syllables into four (or fewer) letters. They also include soft consonants only—think M, N, L, R or Y. And while they’ve been climbing the charts for years, we expect them to blow up, come 2019.

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No More Gender Reveals

After *this* gender reveal gone (very) wrong, it’s safe to say that hosting a Pinterest-inspired party just to announce the sex of your baby is kinda passé. Don’t get us wrong: It’s great to be excited and celebratory about the arrival of your kid, but forcing your closest pals to show up and toast a yet-to-be-born baby at a party that’s either all pink or all blue is a bit over the top. It also forces your newborn to subscribe to gender norms while they’re still in utero, a concept not all parents are into.

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Subscription Everything

No, we’re not just talking about Amazon Prime. We’re talking subscription baby food, toy kits, diapers and more. In fact, there’s even a subscription service that helps with postpartum recovery items. Because apparently you can never have too many sitz baths.

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Grandparents-Only Photo Sharing

In 2018, locking down an Instagram handle for your baby before they were born was all the rage. But going into 2019, parents are opting to be a bit more intimate (and targeted) with their photo updates. Case in point: Tiny Beans. The photo sharing app allows you to add specific people and post a pic a day (plus a caption) into a calendar-like grid. Grandparents near and far get an email alert that a new photo has been uploaded…and you’re spared the internal dialogue as you decide whether or not it’s kosher to post a bathtime shot.

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Audio Books vs. Screen Time

According to Pinterest, searches for “audio storytellers” are up 126 percent going into the new year. What does this mean? For parents, audio books are the ultimate screen time work-around. It gives parents a distraction mechanism for kids resisting bedtime (hey, it’s not a screen, but it has the impact of a screen) and helps them calm down and settle in at the end of a rowdy day. Where to start? Check out Epic!, which features a range of audio versions for best-selling titles, like Giraffes Can’t Dance or Goosebumps.

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Lawnmower Parents

Brace yourself, this term was actually created by a real live teacher dealing with this parenting style in her classroom…and it’s not pretty. In a nutshell, a lawnmower parent acts in a way that cuts down any problem that dare cross their child’s path. “Instead of preparing children for challenges,” the teacher describes, “they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place.” The problem with a lawnmower parenting approach is that your child never has to struggle or fail as they go through their early life. (And you thought being a helicopter parent was bad.)

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Hands-Free Breast Pumps

It’s yet another Pinterest reveal: Moms are on the hunt for wireless breast pumps. (Search for the term is up 114 percent.) If you haven’t heard of the Willow Breast Pump (or the Freemie), familiarize yourselves. This fairly recent technological wonder slips underneath your bra and doesn’t need to be hooked up to an outlet, meaning you can do housework, your makeup, run a meeting…you get the idea.  (Now, if only they could figure out how to spill-proof the bottles…but that’s a problem for 2020.)

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Turn off the tech early so kids get a great night’s sleep

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CHILDREN’S tech obsession can be hard enough for parents to deal with during the day – but new evidence suggests they should be concerned about the effect it’s having on kids at night too.

Research shows that the 40% of children aged between six and 11 years who use mobile phones, laptops or tablets in the hours before bedtime are getting around 20 minutes less sleep a night than kids who don’t use tech in the run-up to bedtime. So children who use tech before bed every night could end up with a sleep debt of around 121 hours a year.

The research, led by cognitive developmental psychologist Dr Anna Weighall from the University of Sheffield, in conjunction with the University of Leeds and Silentnight, questioned 1,000 parents, and also found that on average, children slept 60 minutes less if technology devices were in the room, compared to those who slept in a tech-free zone.

“Technology can benefit our lives in so many ways,” says Dr Weighall, “but parents need to be aware of the negative impact it can have on children when it comes to sleep.

“The presence of tablets and phones in a child’s bedroom, even if they’re switched off, can leave them feeling unsettled.

“A 20-minute sleep debt may not seem a lot, but if you look at it over a year, or even throughout their childhood years, you begin to see the significant impact of a tech-filled bedtime routine. Having clear rules about the use of technology close to bedtime is a small change that has the potential to make a really big difference to our children’s daily lives.”

When light levels drop in the evening, our circadian timer switches on and stimulates the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, but the use of tech before bed disrupts this natural process, explains Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, Silentnight’s sleep expert.

Dr Ramlakhan says screens on phones and tablets emit blue light which suppresses the production of melatonin and stimulates production of the chemical dopamine, which makes us feel alert.

“By establishing a regular sleep routine, without mobiles or tablets, children will sleep better, perform better at school, and be happier and healthier as a result,” she stresses.

“Concentration and the ability to learn can be severely affected by lack of sleep, so I urge children and parents to put down technology at least 90 minutes before bedtime.”

The research also showed one in 10 parents feel unable to ensure their child gets the sleep they need. However, child sleep specialist Andrea Grace has these tips to help school-age children get a good night’s sleep: TEN LITTLE STEPS TO THE LAND OF NOD SCREENS OFF. Turn all screens off at least half an hour before bath time and don’t have TVs or computers in the bedroom.

ROUTINE IS VITAL. A consistent bedtime routine will help your child feel safe, and ready to sleep, although Andrea warns that parents with more than one child must be organised.

EARLY HOMEWORK. Try to get homework done well before bedtime. It’s nice to have quiet time together before bed, chatting or reading.

NO STIMULANTS. Avoid fizzy drinks, chocolate or other foods containing stimulants. Encourage your child to have a nourishing evening meal which is rich in carbohydrate and protein.

GIVE THEM A COMFY BED. Make sure your child’s bed and mattress are comfortable, and they have the right amount of bedding for the room temperature.

ATTENTION PLEASE! During the preparation for bed, give your child or children your fullest possible attention, and try not to take telephone calls.

“As well as feeling safe, children need to feel loved in order to sleep well,” explains Andrea, “so show your child how important they are by giving your time, even if that time is being shared with siblings.”

 

This article was written by Lisa Salmon from Derby Evening Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Holi…daze.

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Create Calm.

Daze. Do you ever find yourself in a daze during December days? I call in the Holi…daze. I have found myself, dazing out the window…worrying. At times, I have found myself paralyzed.

Dependent on how you celebrate December and what you choose to put on your ‘to do list’, chaos may be created. I am challenging myself and all of you to choose to create calm. My 2017 mantra is “Create Calm”. I strive for this daily and don’t always succeed-but, I will continue to try and try again, like the “Little Engine that Could” because it finally did, right?

Create Calm. Calm may help our creativity, our circle of trust, our clarity. We are all balancing chaos during December: the holiday gatherings, school activities, shopping, working on year end deadlines, but…we don’t have to make lunches for kids for 2 weeks? That’s cause for decking the halls! I plan for December Days every year and it still hits me hard. So, I’m leaving you with some “how-to’s”. Here are a few tips that I try and follow during this month (hoping they are helpful):

1 . Lists Santa isn’t the only one who needs a list this time of year. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s all good (said in the Pete the Cat-like voice). This is a time of year for fellowship, spending time with family and friends. Every night, I re-write my list of what I WILL do (include breaks, workouts, what you will eat, etc…every detail). In moments of chaotic craziness, this will act as your guide book when the “December Daze” decks you.

  1. Keep it Real. Will you really be able to accomplish all you have listed?

  2. Forgive and Forget. Forgive yourself or having the move a few things to the next day or 2 on your list and the hard part, FORGET ABOUT IT.

  3. Have fun. Focus on Friends & Family. Phones forgotten. The holidays equal fun. The definition of holidays is not to be in your ‘holidaze’. We’ve all witnessed or felt “dashing. dashing”-not through the snow, but through December. By creating calm, let us tattoo the traditions and thoughtfulness from the top of our head to our toes. Traveling through and really practicing playfulness, peace, and presence.

How will you create calm during December? Can you do it? I think you can…

 

This article was written by Rachana V.S. Garg from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to know your kids are contagious (and when to keep them at home)

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No one likes to be sick. As a parent, when you feel terrible, you just wish that the world would stop and you could just curl up on your bed and sleep. Unfortunately, this is not how the world works. Even when you are sick there are things that have to be done.

However, when your kids are sick, you’ll need to decide whether they are contagious or not before sending them off on their way. You don’t want to spread whatever your child has to the entire school.

So how do you know when your child is contagious?

1. Fever

Fever is a sign that your body is still fighting the virus or bacteria. A fever is always a sign of sickness, so if you notice that your child’s temperature is running high, it’s a sign they should stay home today.

2. Runny nose

If their sinuses are draining, they are sick — despite the color of the drainage. “All colds are contagious regardless of mucus color.” says Sara DuMond, MD.

3. Feeling sick

We live in a culture where even if you are feeling sick, you just keep going. When our kids say they feel sick, it can be easy to ignore it and send them on their way.

However, that might not be the best approach. DuMond said, “When your child is feeling his worst (days three through five), he’s most contagious. But symptoms can last for up to two weeks, and he’s contagious as long as he’s sick. Of course, you can’t quarantine him for days. So wash your hands frequently after touching him, and keep him away from other kids during the … peak.”

“In most of us, flu is contagious for about a week. By the time you’re feeling better, you have probably stopped spewing virus particles everywhere,” Dr. Salber says. Therefore, if you are feeling really sick you are probably still contagious.

When should you keep the kids home?

If you suspect your child is contagious you should keep your kids home — it might be inconveinent, it might be unexpected, but it’s the right thing to do.

What to do?

If your child is sick there are a lot of options. You can see if you can work from home, take a sick day yourself or call the grandparents or a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your child. Be sure to call the school and excuse your child’s absence and work on getting their day’s work so they don’t fall behind.

 

This article was written by Christa Cutler from Family Share and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

6 questions you should ask your kids every single day

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In today’s digital world it is becoming harder and harder to actually connect with our children. They come home from school to the waiting television and usually end up playing video games on the tablet while watching TV (no judgement, we all do it). We don’t really know our children because none of us really know how to communicate anymore.

The typical daily parental question is, “How was your day?” And the typical response from our kids is “fine,” “good,” “OK” or any other one word response they can come up with without actually thinking. This question is lame. It will always get you a one-word answer and leave you wondering why you even bothered to ask. The key to understanding our children is to trick them into talking by asking questions that cannot be answered with “fine” or “good.”

Here’s some proven suggestions that will give you true insight into your child’s life.

1. What made you laugh today?

The random things that kids find funny are absolutely hilarious. My nieces and nephews tell the worst jokes, but their insane laughter is contagious and we always end up laughing together. You know what they say; families who laugh together, stay together!

2. What made you sad today?

Hopefully the answer to this question is nothing too major and depressing, but kids have emotions too. No one likes to voluntarily share sad things that happen every day and our kids are no different, but children are also inherently honest. When asked point-blank, in a place they feel safe, they will open up. You may have to pry, but it will be worth it.

3. Who did you play with today (note that teenagers prefer the phrase”hang out”)?

As much as it may worry us, our kids’ friends will have a huge impact on who they become, which is why we have to know who they are. This is a subtle way to find out if Susie is still hanging out with bad news Bobbie or if she has found new friends to play hopscotch with during recess. When you know your children’s friends, you don’t have to hope they will stay out of trouble.

4. What made you proud today?

Sometimes we are too preoccupied to fully appreciate the lint collection being shoved in our faces right at dinner time, so give your children this chance to brag a little bit and show off their creations or good deeds for the day. This also creates a killer opportunity to praise your child and to reinforce good behaviors.

5. Who made you smile today?

People are the source of true happiness and true friends will bring that joy to the forefront. The people who make your kids smile on a daily basis are the ones worth keeping around. Those are the true, lifelong friends that will hopefully be in their lives forever.

6. What’s something interesting you learned today?

This is the ultimate show and tell moment for your children. Despite what they may think, our children really are learning new things daily. This question makes them actually stop and think about what they learned and helps them internalize those things by condensing and sharing them with you.

You may be thinking there is not enough time in the day to sit and ask all of these questions and that’s OK. Tweak these questions to work for you and your family. Ask them all at once or twice a week, ask a couple each day or ask them all every day. If it is hard to talk during family dinner time, then bedtime is the perfect opportunity to review the day. Sit on the side of your child’s bed (even your teenagers) tuck them in and ask these six great questions. Try it in a way that works for you. You will be grateful you did, even if your kids do complain you’re getting repetitive.

 

This article was written by Kelsey Robertson from Family Share and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.